November 2010: Musical Pilgrims

At the risk of trotting out a cliché writing trick for the month of November (shameless, I know), I want to commemorate Thanksgiving by examining how we as Texas Music or alt-country/music fans are essentially musical pilgrims.

Just as the original Pilgrims migrated from a tyrannical English homeland to the world of opportunity the Americas provided despite the risks involved; musicians and fans of this type of music have gravitated to this music to escape the confines of a rigid, formulaic music industry.

After repeatedly being told the game could only be played one way, Willie Nelson led a movement of artists to play by their own rules that has never waned in Texas.

While not a matter of life or death, the sentiment is the same. Texans (and Red Dirt brethren) are fiercely independent and willing to fight for what they believe in. If that means protesting taxes or not writing songs about taking a girl on a date via a green tractor then so be it.

Started by Willie all those years ago, this movement has undergone decades of turmoil and success. The best thing about musical pilgrimage is that success is on the artists’ own terms.

Success isn’t defined by radio play or album sales, but it can be. It can also be signified by writing a killer song or having someone come up after a gig and tell them job well done.

But, the key thing is that the artist is able to develop their own personal measuring stick. In the modern music business this is becoming a more common approach because the old way of doing things is dead.

From the fan perspective, it is great to be a musical pilgrim because we long ago realized we don’t have to dig what Clear Channel and CMT tell us is cool.
In my teens, I thought the music I listened to defined me.

But, as I’ve grown older I’ve learned that there is more to it than that. Saying that music defines someone is too limiting. The music I listen to not only defines me, it inspires me, pushes me, questions me and at times even confuses me.

Somewhere along the way I realized that there was more music available than just what I was listening to and began to seek it out in a ferocious manner.

We are the tastemakers, we make the choices and our homegrown options are plentiful and fantastic. It is a very freeing feeling to realize that there is a whole new world of music out there waiting to be discovered. Then, once you have found it, you feel compelled to share it with as many people as possible. Before long, a community or scene will form around the music you love.

Music is powerful and music changes lives. Deciding if you will determine where it takes your or if you let the industry machine dictate your course is up to you. But, don’t be afraid to hop on board a boat full of like minded musical folks and travel across the unknown to find a musical promised land.

-Recently, someone pointed me to some comments over on Rita Ballou that questioned our reviews here on Galleywinter and said that we had directed them to spend money on albums they didn’t like; as well as, wondering why we don’t ever give bad reviews. On the first point, I’m sorry you didn’t agree with our opinion…but that’s just what it is…an opinion. Secondly, the reason we don’t have negative reviews is because we like to accentuate the positive and only focus on the stuff we truly dig. We have always had a review by omission policy. If we review it, it means we think it is special. In our opinion, it does no good to tell you how awful someone’s record is…we’d rather just share the one’s we think are very cool.

-What a strange sports year! The Cowboys and Longhorns look like Pop Warner teams and my long suffering Rangers made it to the World Series. Baylor is playing like it is the 1980’s and my Master’s alma mater Boise State is getting serious pub for a national title opportunity. It is truly a twilight zone.

-Why are none of the shows on Tru TV actually true? Despite their actuality claim,
everything on there is phonier than Heidi Montag’s face. Which is a shame, because I think if they’d just do actual documentaries about the occupations and places they cover it would be even more fascinating than the fiction the producers create.

-Don’t know what’s more out of control: election night studios or NFL countdown shows. How many folks can we fit on the screen that fake laugh at each other and scream over each other?

-Taylor Swift scored some sort of record for singles on the Billboard chart and did N’ Sync circa 2000 one-week sales numbers. Why haven’t teen girls moved past her as quick as they did the boy band trash of the late 90’s/early 00’s? How much longer can this cycle continue?

-Cody Canada is in the studio with his new band…very interested to hear the output.

-The holidays will soon be here. The time of year when you can’t wait to be around all your family for several hours….until you are actually around your family for several hours.

-I know we’ve been promising Galley 3.0 for a long time, but it is closer than ever. Several folks have test driven the new look for us and are helping us work out bugs. It’ll be here soon!

-This month’s recommended film: Due Date. Zach Galifinakis and Robert Downey Jr. star in this comedy that liberally borrows from Planes, Trains and Automobiles and director Todd Phillips first feature, Road Trip. But, the results are generally funny and worth the price of admission. Phillips shows more of a Jonathan Hughes type heart than he has in his previous works without skipping the funny.

-This month’s recommended album: Bleu Edmondson-The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be. Bleu brings his Springsteen inspired country gruff to a new collection of gritty, earthy tunes. Edmondson’s pen is sharper than ever and the production is adept at conveying the emotions contained in his lyrics. Edmondson follows up the critically acclaimed Lost Boy with a strong effort that builds where that record left off.

-“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

3 thoughts on “November 2010: Musical Pilgrims

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