October 2013 – “Complacent Culture War”

Our content has been slowed to a trickle the past two months due to not much going on.  We discussed forcing content and writing articles just for the sake of writing something.  But, we’ve always striven to provide quality content over quantity content.  As we’ve sat back and watch the past few weeks unfold, very little newsworthy things have happened.  If they did occur, we were able to handle it via a few tweets.  Nothing substantial.

And we’re still waiting really.

There have been a few cool album releases, of which we’ll have some reviews posted this week.  There’s also our upcoming 20 Questions return with Will Hoge.  But, overall the lack of buzz and the stagnant nature of this music scene is an indictment of its current state.  A state of blah.

When is the last time something truly transcendent and exciting happened?  The last time a record truly knocked you off your feet and made you replay it over and over?  A record that didn’t sound like watered down Jason Aldean with smarter lyrics.  Something fresh.  Something cool.  Something dangerous.  Something that pushes the boundaries.  Instead, for the most part we’re stuck in the same cycle of the same bands playing the same venues and putting out a new album that sounds like their last album over and over.  It’s like watching the same movie repeatedly and being able to quote all the lines.  It’s fun the first 20 times.  Soon, you find yourself drifting off, tuning out and looking for a new flick.  I feel like the whole scene is quoting those lines over and over to our favorite movie.

We’re all stuck with a case of the blahs.  Complacency is the enemy of progress.  And some progressive movements are what we need.  To be sure, there are still bands selling out your local Midnight Wild Rodeo West each Saturday night.  But, the crowd isn’t there for the music.  They’re there because they feel obligated to go.  The past few shows I’ve been to, the bands are merely background music between opening a tab and hearing the ChaCha Slide or Cupid Shuffle the moment the band exits the stage.

A few people have recently pinned this blame on the fans.  I don’t completely.  Why sure we’re to blame for supporting the garbage and perpetuating the subpar music…there’s the old saying “nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”  This has never been truer than it is currently with Texas Music…or country music in general.  The bar has been lowered to such a degree that even Eric Church seems cutting edge on the national scene.

Earl Dibbles Jr. is the hottest ticket in the scene and Kevin Fowler’s new song sounds like a parody of a radio jingle for a used car lot in east Texas.  These examples are small ingredients of a larger culture war that folks much smarter than me have written about.  Essentially, the mainstream media likes country folks to act, dress and comply in a certain manner.  Cornpone, God-fearing, yes ma’am, gun-toting rednecks (think Duck Dynasty).  While that is certainly a facet of our culture, it is not the end all, be all.  We are so much more than that.  “How Country Are Ya?” doesn’t speak for all of us.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it, other than it paints us with a broad brush.  There’s room for everyone. Songs and acts like this just speak to a small percentage of our being.

Thankfully, there are artists such as Will Hoge, Jason Isbell, Drew Kennedy and Walt Wilkins who tackle the more well-rounded facets of southern life to a charming degree.  Texas, the south and country music in general is a broad spectrum of people, places, ideas and history.  To pigeonhole any part of it is silly and misbegotten.  Fans must do their part to support the guys doing the true yeoman’s work.  But, the artists must also deliver the goods.  Don’t pander to ignorant stereotypes and use songwriting as solely a marketing tool.  Write and perform from your soul…not your bank account. With 10-12 tracks on a record there’s room for both.  With 90 minutes or more for a gig…there’s room for both. Show us what you got.


-ACL got rained out.  Too bad they couldn’t just turn it into some sort of Woodstock/LJT mudfest.

-Really excited for Lincoln Durham’s new record and the Cody Canada acoustic record.  A game changer and a legacy.

-League of Denial about the NFL’s concussion cover-ups is the most disturbing documentary I’ve seen in some time and I’ve seen plenty.

-The local fair charged folks $15 at the gate, $5 to park and then another $16-$51 to enter the “Music Zone” to see acts that ranged from RRB to EYB to Aaron Watson to Chris Young.  I’m not forking over that much coin for many acts I can see at Wild West for $12.  Good idea HOT Fair, bad execution.

-Despite the victory over OU, I think this is Mack’s swan song.  And I don’t think Art Briles is headed down 35.  But I’ve been wrong many times before.

-We are going to crank back up a tad around here with some new writers (again).  If you’re interested in joining the team, hit us up.

-It’s rained more in the past 4 days than in the entire past 4 months combined.  Texas.

-LJT planning is in full swing and Steamboat is ramping up to nearly full speed.  They’ll both be here before you know it.  Suppose we should start putting our Greenfest planning hats on.

-Check out the Drop…we’re constantly adding tunes.

-This month’s recommended album:  Charlie Robison-High Life.  Essentially a covers record, this is one of Robison’s finest.  Covering tunes from his sister, brother, Doug Sahm, Ry Cooder and Bob Dylan among others, Robison strikes a melancholy good times vibe that echoes the title of the record.  Full review to be posted later this week by one of our new writers.

-“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

6 thoughts on “October 2013 – “Complacent Culture War”

  • October 14, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Which is why show like The Sideshow are so needed. We give listeners tuning in from all over the world every night the chance to hear something a little different. Locally, guys like Grady Spencer and Austin Allsup are about as far away from “how country are ya?” as you can get. They write about more than trucks and dirt roads. Guys like Mando Seanz, Charlie Shafter, and Slaid Cleaves all come to mind as the kind of artist that can put out great music without having to adopt a new “country” persona or wardrobe.

    We can only change things with our wallets. Go to the shows you support and buy merch, and buy hard copies of albums. Thanks for a great article.

  • October 14, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    One of the things i’ve noticed in the last few years is much like nashvile Texas/Red Dirt music is starting to disregard it’s older artists that still have so much to give. Go see a Brian Burns or a Tommy Alverson go see Chris Wall and so many others that still put out high quality music and put on high quality shows.

  • October 14, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    I can go to wings & rings on a thursday night & watch a 3 hour song swap that is more inspiring & far more talent than Gruene hall usually has all weekend. Every festival reads off like an old school lunch menu..same old stuff every time, every line up. Just like every song seems to be written from some mad scientist really bad formula..1. Write a song 2. Add beer, rivers, trucks, love my girl, dog…outlaw 3. Some idiot will unfortunately call it great & the rest of us have to suffer through listening to it. Its not great, its not awesome, its not good…its crap & its way past time for a “Lets rid the music scene of crap revolution” if you want to hear the good music unfortunately you have to dig below the surface dirt & grime, effort reaps reward.. do it

  • October 14, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    Like I said on Twitter: Inspirational article, I liked it. I’ll tell you when you write a shitty one, Brad. I pinkie swear.

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