I’ve written many times about the role certain people had in shaping my musical taste. Parents, sister, friends, acquaintances. As a father, I’m currently trying to combat the inundation of societal Imagine Dragons type musical norms on my children with heaping doses of Shinyribs, Willie Nelson and Beatles. Their palette is wide and varied, but they still mainly like whatever is popular among their peers. As most of us do. In the hyper-connected world in which they’re living the monoculture drives global branding over local melodies. It was different back in the day. I could only know what was immediate to me. Sister, parents, friends etc. Now, kids have that direct network and a vast world of “friends” via mobile devices that they can lean on, discover and share music with.
We are all constantly seeking arbiters of cool. Seeking affirmation and confirmation of that what we’re digging has validation in the eyes and ears of others. At some point, those of us into this kind of music transition from caring what others think to just enjoying it on our own terms. I fought the fight for years of playing things like Randy Rogers Band and Turnpike for friends and family who loved Luke Bryan and Toby Keith. They didn’t like it. It used to frustrate me. No longer. Now, it’s a bade of honor. Liking this music is akin to being part of a secret club. To gain membership you just have to raise your standards and lower your hits. Becoming more discerning and wanting more from your music. Not everyone wants that. That used to bother me, it bothers me no longer.
There used to be the thinking…”if they could just see Stoney sing once…” or “If they’d go see a Wade Bowen show they’d get it…” etc. And while sometimes that proved to be true…more often than not, th0se folks not ingrained to love this music just didn’t care. If it wasn’t on the radio and deemed worthy by the iHeart gods it didn’t exist to them. The validation they need is a spot on one of the umpteen country awards shows and song that gets played twice an hour before becoming part of an off brand tequila ad campaign. Be it politics, religion or sports…humans stubbornly draw their battle lines and are very rarely unencumbered enough to adjust them. It takes the right song, band, moment…person.
I’d have probably found my way to Robert Earl Keen back in the day by osmosis, but it happened deliberately when a friend of mine ended up with a busted cassette tape that had “Road Goes on Forever” on it and I was hooked. That led me down the road I ended up at today. Digging REK in a world of Garth takes a bit of a contrarian nature. It’s a badge of honor. “Oh, you don’t know about REK? Well,….”I’ve had countless, similar conversations and interactions over the years regarding bands dating back to the Pat Green days all the way up to the current Koe Wetzel days. I used to force it, now I just let the music do the talking. It says it better than I ever could. If people are meant to truly hear it, they will. Nothing else needs to be said.
-River Jam. New Braunfels. July 27-29. Do it.
-Worst stretch of DFW sports I can recall. All across the board. I watched the entirety of All or Nothing in the span of like 12 hours. It was depressing all over again.
-LeBron needs to find Jason Witten’s hair guy.
-I’m not sure why they stopped making cool westerns, but I do know that Tombstone and Lonesome Dove are two of my favorite films of all time and I’ll stop down anytime I come across them. I’ve seen each of them dozens of times. One summer during college, we screened Tombstone each day for an entire summer. Westerns are dead…but if they’re done right, there’s nothing cooler.
-Perhaps if they made Doc Holliday have superhero powers Hollywood would bankroll it.
-All commencement speakers should keep it under 10 minutes. Tops.
-What are there more of: Americana bands or podcasts?
-This month’s recommended album: Leon Bridges – Good Thing. Picking up where he left off with Coming Home three years ago, Bridges toils in the 60’s throwback vein with flourishes of country, soul, blues that are unmatched. This is the soundtrack to your summer, be it 2018 or 1968.
-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain