Each March I am reminded of the proud history of our Texas as the 2nd day of the month rolls around and we celebrate Texas Independence Day. That prideful streak displayed by those courageous heroes all those years ago is easily translated into the music scene that now inhabits the sacred ground they walked back then.
As a group of people, from the start, we as Texans have always been a tad ornery and love the challenge of being told we can’t do something. It’s the spirit of the land and it just seems to permeate your being subconsciously. Whether born here or adopted by this great land, a heaping helping of attitude is ingrained in your being. That doesn’t mean we are rude…it just means we know what we want, what we stand for and what we’re willing to do to get our way.
175 years ago the Texan founding fathers fought for what they believed in while standing up to a large, imposing enemy…and against long odds the Texans prevailed.
On a much more trivial scale, those battles mirror the ones fought by the artists of Texas today.
Recently, famed adopted Texan Mark Cuban tweeted this thought out:
“First there are the innovators, then there are the imitators, then there are the idiots. Which is your idea or business ?”
I immediately saw the parallel between this and the music business/scene. What I think we as a scene like to support are the innovators. We embrace and hold up people with innovative music, lyrics and ideas…even if the artist in question wasn’t born between the Red and Rio Grande.
Of course, this independent streak of music started back when Willie told the record execs in Nashville to go to hell. They infamously tried to add all sorts of lush horns and sounds to his Red Headed Stranger album. Willie again told them to go to hell and trust him.
He had a vision, or more appropriately a sound in his head. He knew it would work if given the chance. Soon, with “Blue Eyes Cryin’ In the Rain” a ubiquitous radio single and Willie packing them in at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, the face of country music and music in Texas had been forever altered.
Willie standing his ground and drawing a figurative line in the sand was a hallmark moment for music and the ripple effects are still being felt around these parts some 36 years later. The shockwaves Willie created paved all the roads the artists we love travel down today.
Had Willie been born elsewhere, it is debatable whether he’d have had the gumption to stick to his guns.
A more recent example that typifies this independent nature is Larry Joe Taylor. As a struggling singer/songwriter in the late 80s, LJT got tired of looking for quality gigs and decided to create one based on his experiences at the Terlingua Chili Cookoff and other similar large events.
Despite common sense warnings and laments from his peers, LJT forged ahead and set about creating a top flight festival in a small field. The first year wasn’t a huge success, but gave enough hope for Taylor to try it again the following year. Well, that was 25 years ago and now nearly 50,000 pack into a large field that LJT now owns to enjoy one of the premier outdoor music festivals in the world.
There are countless other examples of this dog-headed determinedness.
After the Trishas got together for a one-off gig in Steamboat at the Kevin Welch tribute many people doubted they could give it a go as a full-time group. Here we are a couple years later and they’re the ultimate hip girl group in Texas or anywhere.
Ryan Bingham was told that his gravel voiced, rodeo travel tales would never work….then he won an Oscar.
Hayes Carll followed his muse from dodging bullets and knives busking on Crystal Beach to the Tonight Show.
Texas transplant Drew Kennedy tried following the blueprint for Texas Music success before realizing he had his own ideas…he’s now arguably the most successful completely independent musician in this entire scene.
Randy Rogers was told after his first gig at Gruene Hall that he might need vocal lessons if he ever wanted to make it. A few years later, Rogers and his band stand as the measuring stick of modern country music in Texas or anywhere for that matter.
The examples are endless and the fact that we do have so many examples is a true testament to what we as Texans and music fans feel is the most important element in music: innovation.
-So, Greenfest was nominated for a LSM Award. Too cool. We’ll be trickling out the line-up a little bit at a time starting next week. Have you booked your hotel, cabin, camping spot yet for July 27-28 in New Braunfels?
-We’re still trying to rebuild the archives from the crash and get The Drop back up and remixed. The Drop should be back up sometime this weekend with new jams.
-March also means spring and the kickoff to festival season. I can smell the corndogs of LJTs now.
-Our LJT contest and happenings will be unveiled soon. Another great campsite concert will be up for grabs!
-If you haven’t seen Cody Johnson and you never got to see Chris LeDoux…go see a show immediately. Same energy, passion and style. There’s a reason his live show is one of the most buzzed about right now.
-I like basketball…just not as much as football and baseball…so the time between the Super Bowl and March Madness/MLB opening day/The Masters has got to be the worst time for sports during the year. No?
-I heard they were going to remake Fatal Attraction with Taylor Swift in the Glen Close role.
-I hate cold weather and winter is my least favorite season. I’m glad it’s almost over and that it hasn’t been too terribly powerful this year. Bring on the bluebonnets.
–This month’s recommended album: Quaker City Nighthawks-Honcho. Righteous country-rock straight out of the Funkytown just west of Dallas. I don’t know that I can describe the way this record sounds better than the band’s bio which I will leave you with below:
QUAKER CITY NIGHT HAWKS BRAND OF HARD ROCK N’ ROLL IS BRED FROM TEXAS BOOGIE, MEMPHIS SOUL AND HEAVY BLUES. THEIR MUSIC IS SOUTHERN ROCK RIGHT OUT OF ’75, PLAYED WITH THE FERVOR OF A SERMON CRACKLING OUT OF THE RADIO IN A ’68 LINCOLN. THEY’RE THE WHISKEY BOTTLE YOU FINISHED SATURDAY NIGHT AND THE PRAYER YOU SAID THE NEXT MORNING. LIKE A COUNTRY GUNSHOT ON A HUMID NIGHT AND YOUR FIRST ILLICIT BEER, QUAKER CITY NIGHT HAWKS ARE THE SPIRIT OF ROCK N’ ROLL. COME SHAKE YOUR HIPS!
-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.”-Mark Twain