March 2015: Connections

Aaron Watson barnstormed the national country music scene last week during CRS.  His The Underdog album raced to the top of the charts and spurned many think pieces in the wake of the Gary Overton spewn ignorance. The passion and fervor displayed by his core fanbase spurred him to the top of the charts and the forefront of the ongoing “where is country music headed?” conversation.

This passionate underbelly of support comes from the fanbase Aaron has built one show at a time for well over a decade on the Texas circuit.  His authenticity and genuine nature has allowed him to connect to audiences on a grander scale than many of his Texas peers.  He shares his life from the stage and speaks about his wife and kids in such a reverential tone that you want to emulate what he does.  He’s a God-fearing man burning the honky-tonks down.  People respond to that.  People respect that.  People relate to that.  Fans feel connected to Aaron Watson on a deep level.  The type of level they could only dream of attaining with an artist on the Blake Shelton level of fame. Aaron speaks directly to them and not down to them.  He shakes their hand after the show and signs anything they want signed.

Aaron is one of many in the larger Texas scene who utilizes this approach.  Some artists use the kiss the baby approach until they attain a certain status only to quickly slide straight from the stage to the bus after they reach a certain status. Others such as Aaron never forget where they came from.

That simple approach is one of the hallmarks that has always set the Texas scene apart, even when its reeking of its most mini-Nashville-ness.  The artists are almost all universally approachable and accessible.  That “they’re one of us” aesthetic finds its way into songs, shows and after parties. In this modern age of social media it’s also found there.  We see how these men and women live.  See their homes, their families, their hobbies and more.  We feel as if we truly know them.  Maybe we do, maybe we don’t.  Either way the facade leads us to connect to them and their music.

With that connection in place, when you hear their songs you can’t help but link things together. Hearing a love song, flash to that pic they Instagrammed of their wife.  Jamming a rowdy drinking song you flash to the pic of them throwing it down in the bus lounge. Subconsciously or not you are blurring the artist and the art together.

This blurring of lines enables us to  feel more investment in these artists.  People are willing to overlook subpar music or things they don’t necessarily agree with if they feel particularly connected to the artist. They are our friends.  They are ours.  Hence when one makes it big we don’t always want to share with the rest of the world.  At the core of every successful act that has sprung from the Texas scene is this connection. How well they maintain that connectivity as they rise goes a long way to how long they maintain their headline status.  Aaron Watson has navigated that balance better than just about anyone.  Can he continue that?  Who else can pull it off?  Who has failed?  The answers to those questions will answer themselves.  Meanwhile, we can all sit back and enjoy the show.  And the music. And the social media. And the merch table conversations.  Staying connected all the while.


-LJT time is nigh upon us.  Our contest is in full swing.  Bart Crow, No Dry County and Austin Meade among others will jam some songs in a private show just for you!  Enter now!

-Greenfest is almost all the way out of the box too.  Putting the finishing touches on it this week!

-After Sons of Anarchy ended, I thought I was done with fictionalized motorcycle drama.  However, I’ve been pulled into the History Channel’s Gangland Undercover schmaltz. Check it out if you dug SOA.  It’s slicker and a little bit cornier…but just as intense.

-Also really enjoying Better Call Saul, but can’t recall the last time I watched a series like this in non-binge fashion. Feels odd.

-Rangers are snakebitten.  Blame it on JD. Blame it on the Nolan snowmonkey curse. Who knows.  At either rate we should be able to get nice seats this summer at the Temple.

-Pat Green’s most prescient lyric is perhaps…”everybody gotta get away sometime..”

-Really, really looking forward to this Doug Sahm documentary. Find that groove.

-The loss of Kent Finlay won’t be fully known for some time.  He was like an ombudsman for the scene at large.

-Results of our informal SXSW poll:  the event is OVERRATED.

-This month’s recommended album: James McMurtry – Complicated Game.  Classic McMurtry.  Kent would be proud.  The songwriting is on a whole ‘nother level as they say.  This time the music meets it.  Smart, winking and provocative, yet wholly rowdy in the right spots.

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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