January 2020: Fresh Starts

The traditional New Year falls on January 1.  But, for Texas Music the calendar doesn’t really reset until MusicFest in Steamboat Springs, CO.  Much like The Super Bowl which once sold tickets for $5 and was a television afterthought before growing into the biggest show of the year; MusicFest has grown over the past 35 years from John Dickson’s super cool excuse to get a few of his favorite songwriters together in one of his favorite towns into a multi-day, 100 artist extravaganza.  Every square inch of Steamboat is populated by sponsored content. There insn’t a stage, ballroom or condo that doesn’t have a guitar clanging or voices howling at all hours of the day.

It used to just be hailed as “The Big Ski Trip” and Pat Green/Cory Morrow led the charge.  As tastes have ebbed and flowed and new headliners have come and gone, the MusicFest charges ever forward.  The thin air revealing what’s the big buzz of the coming year. Also like the aforementioned Super Bowl, the event now has a de facto radio row.  Artists and hangers on tramp through the wind, snow and cold through a bevy of over the air and online broadcast platforms for interviews, performances and hangs. This ESPN like car wash has canned some of the magic that used to happen up there organically, but that’s a microcosm of the scene as a whole.  It’s now so long in the tooth, that nothing is truly innovative or new anymore. We’re all slicing off different angles of the same pie. But, just because it isn’t fresh doesn’t mean it’s not cool. The Dickson gang throw together an organized hootenanny better than just about anyone. The roster of artists has grown so large that there truly is something for everyone.  Straight up country, songwriters, western, soul, rock, Red Dirt. It’s all there. Sometimes all on the same stage from the same artist…which is what makes our music scene so great.

Perhaps the coolest spot and the one most dear to our hearts here at Galleywinter, is the open mic stage. In the spirit of Kent Finlay, there’s a sign up sheet posted and eager songwriters of all stripe work to get on the list and get a time on stage at Steamboat.  And this is where I’m driving to. Some of our favorite artists of 2020, started out on that stage just a few years ago. Jade Marie Patek and Kaitlin Butts come to mind. 4-5 years ago they were singing their hearts out on that stage to their friends and the assembled strangers.  By 2020, they’ve each become two of the most buzzed about and anticipated artists at the entire festival.  

That is what makes Steamboat great.  That is what makes Texas Music great.  Our farm system is unrivaled. They can’t match it in LA, Nashville or NYC.  Down here you must live it and be about it. You must put yourself out there and grind for negative dollars and zero people sometimes.  Iron sharpens iron and eventually you’re iron hot. This scene fosters and forces songwriters to get better or get out of the way.  

Now, our scene has added the wonderfulness of Mile 0 Fest to the rotation.  Add in boutique ventures like the fantastic Red River Songs Fest and the musical calendar for Texas Music is in sweet hands.  Some artists and fans make every festival. Some only one. But, each are a part of the fabric of what makes this music special.  It’s the relationships, the miles and the memories that connect and bond us to this music so deeply. It just means more. And it means more when you can see it on display in such grand and exotic fashion. I’ve said many times that seeing this music close to home is one thing.  But, seeing your favorite band in a place like Steamboat or Key West just ratchets up the intensity and enjoyment. For band and fan alike. I hope you’re getting to experience this. Even just once. It’s worth it if you love music.

MINOR CHORDS:

-I can’t imagine how crazy Bourbon Street was after LSU won.  Hopefully they put some bleach in the street sweepers.

-Football season is over, baseball season is nigh upon us.

-The retirement of Mike Rhyner stunned us all.  But as a fan and advocate of the Irish goodbye, I’m envious of the manner in which he was able to pull it off.

-The most buzzed about acts coming out of Steamboat were:  Jade Marie Patek, The Cole Trains, William Beckmann and Kaitlin Butts.  Right on. 

-The all-encompassing GW Greatest Hits playlist is an ongoing venture to curate and maintain the most significant songs of this scene’s history.  Not necessarily always “the best”. The response has been overwhelmingly cool. Don’t sleep on our The Drop playlist either. As always, it features the best of new songs, artists and the like.

-The new design of the website is getting a lot of cool raves too. Have you checked out our forums?  Jump in on the conversations.

-Houston sports lately. Man.

-Cedar fever is the devil.

-This month’s recommended album: Kolby Cooper – Good Ones Never Last.  This kid is making waves with a sound that while not wholly unique, is entirely pleasing  Catchy hooks, big guitars and a knack for zesty, youthful songwriting grab your ears and don’t let go.

-”Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain

Brad Beheler

Raised in Waco, refined in the Hill Country, escaped from DFW. I've worked in just about every facet of the music business for 20 years. I like to write about it all. e-mail Brad Editor-in-Chief

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