Over the years, I’ve prided myself on always having an answer when asked a variation of the following question.
“Who should I be listening to?” “Who’s the next big thing?” “Who’s about to blow up?”
This past Sunday at our big Texas Music Flood Waco event, I had no new names when this question was posed to me. This time a year ago, I was telling people that Koe Wetzel would be the hottest draw on the scene within a year. Over the years, at this website, we’ve prided ourselves on living ahead of the curve. In that sweet spot between buzz and boom. Pre-buzz. Pre-boom. 2017 has been a weird year for music. Dominated by titans such as Isbell, Turnpike and the like, it has been hard for newer artists to get their foothold.
I was able to mutter some utterances about Kody West, Read Southall, Zephaniah OHora, Jackie Darlene, Kensie Coppin, plus whatever’s kicking up in Lubbock right now, yet it felt disingenuous. I dig all those acts and think they’re all on the path to something greater. But, they’re not there yet and they’re certainly not on the cusp of immediate regional fame.
For a music fan, promoter, blogger, whatever…this is quite the conundrum. A doldrum of fresh inspiration. This doesn’t mean there isn’t great music out there. It just means it’s being made by people we’re all already familiar with. Some drafts aren’t stellar. Some musical periods hit a lull. We’re there. This isn’t a make Texas Music great again opinion. It’s just the pendulum of music, art and life. Things fall out of favor and back in. Trends come and go. Inspiration wanes and then floods.
Much like writing. I go through periods of prolific scrawling, soon enough I’m clawing together to get 500 words on a given idea.
That’s how our songwriting heroes are too. The well is there. Sometimes it is full of water and sometimes it is bone dry. But, the truly special ones are those who manage to grind through that limestone of doubt and strike gold.
Which brings me back to how I should answer that question as asserted the other day. My answer is, what’s old is new again. Sometimes there just aren’t a plethora of new artists knocking down the doors. And sometimes, the old dogs are doing the best work. This is crystallized in the latest efforts from Turnpike and Drew Kennedy. The Turnpike record is a continuation of their brand and style that may just be the best collection of tunes they’ve thrown together. The DK album is the best-sounding effort he’s ever put forth. Both albums and artists are transcendent in their own way without being new. And that’s the key. They’re not new, they’re fresh.
Artists who stop growing and challenging themselves die off, fade away and give up. Those with the gall, guile, fortitude and wherewithal to push forward and chart their own paths become the answer to that question “Who should I be listening to?” Whether it’s their first record or their 12th. Keep grinding, we’ll keep listening.
-It’s mid October and still in the 90’s…just ain’t right. I enjoyed a county fair experience twice last week and ate my fried food under a blast of heat and humidity that was at peak August levels. Not acceptable, Mother Nature.
-The Texas Music Flood experience was trying and hard…and absolutley one of the best things I’ve done in two decades of being a part of this music scene. Hats off to all who helped (shoutout Jennifer Allen), donated, played, raffled, auctioned, traveled to support our Harvey suffering friends down south. As I told one TV interviewer, with the wildly turbulent news cycle, we wanted to make sure these folks weren’t forgotten. We haven’t forgotten about them and you showed that by showing out for all of the TMF shows! Thank you!
-Feels weird to not have the Rangers involved in playoff baseball, and by the looks of things…it will probably be a while before it happens again. It was fun to be relevant for 5 years. Good luck Astros.
-Stoked for this Mile 0 Key West fest experience. Who else is going?
-Football is in full swing, but for whatever reason I’ve been disenchanted with it this year…and not for political reasons. It just feels stale. The teams I love are bad. The game itself at the non-professional levels takes too long to play. It’s still my favorite sport, but we’re having a moment.
-Get well Tommy Alverson…we love you.
-This month’s recommended album: Slaid Cleaves – Ghost on the Car Radio. My favorite work of his since the epic Brokedown. Slaid creates songs out of the gray emotions and days of life. Like a melancholy Chris Knight. This album is the best of that style.
-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain