This year, we continue our November tradition of surveying folks across the Texas/Red Dirt/Americana genres about a musical topic they are thankful for. This year, we asked folks: what song, album or artist are you most thankful for this past year? Not necessarily what their favorite record was, but which one were they most thankful for. It could be a new record, or maybe an an older project they’re just now discovering (or re-discovering). As always, the answers are varied, insightful and, yes, ripe with gratitude. Please leave the artists, songs or albums that resonated with you this past year in the comments section.
Dan Adams, singer/songwriter
“Closed Hand, Full Of Friends” by Foy Vance. After 10 years in Nashville, I made the decision to move to Austin this year because I wanted to be in the epicenter of the kind of music I love to write and perform. This is a song about moving to a new place, and being full of hope for the fresh start….leaving behind the negative things, holding onto and taking with you the friendships you made, and starting over with renewed purpose and drive. I’m thankful for this song because it really resonated with me this year.
Chris Allbright, singer/songwriter
I found a strong appreciation for Jason Boland’s song, “See You When I See You” off of the Dark and Dirty Mile album he released this year. This song hit close to home for me as I downloaded this album two days before I moved to Lubbock. Heck of a lot of dirt between here and south Texas, but it’s good to be here.
Jennifer Allen, program director/disc jockey Aggie 96 and WACO 100
I am most thankful this year for rediscovering Road Trip by Gary P Nunn. I started listening to that cd in 1994, the year it was released and it was my first introduction to the Hill Country sound. I listened to it incessantly for months, and caught Gary P’s live shows whenever I could. I ran across it again this summer and opening up the sunroof, rolling down the windows and blaring “Cruisin down US 281, we’ll be two stepping, skinny dipping, soaking up sun, with the top down, gettin’ brown, ain’t it great to be alive” sounded just as cool as it did when I first heard it. Watching Gary P perform at this year’s Larry Joe Taylor Music Festival confirms that not only has his music stood the test of time and the evolution of the Texas sound, but so has Gary P. as an iconic artist.
Switching gears drastically, I am thankful and excited at the new, fresh sound that Rachel Loy as producer is lending to our scene. I love what she and William Clark Green did with Rose Queen, it sounds like nothing else right now. I’ve heard a few other cuts she has produced and she has an ear that seems to be to be slightly ahead of the curve, not to mention her talent as a musician. Obviously, Rachel and Brian Keane work well together, their production on “Bar Lights” is dynamic and I look forward to hearing the entire album. Plus, I’m fairly certain this year those two managed to produce the only human that will be singing harmony at her Pre-K graduation ceremony!
Fred Andrews, singer/songwriter
The Shouting Matches-Grownass Man. This record speaks to me! Some songs are jammy, some are fun. It’s got a real live feel and the songs aren’t your typical standard in the box kind of things. Great musicians, great tone. Saw the band live at ACL and they killed it.
Tony Avezzano, venue owner-Hat Trick’s
I’ve gotta say Josh Weathers. He is doing a “farewell show” at Billy Bob’s in January, and I don’t know if it’s the last show he will ever play, but I know it is going to be an extended break. With that being said, I’m thankful to have had Josh play Hat Tricks probably as much as anyone ever has over the last 4-5 years. Obviously, Josh is as talented of a musician as there is bar none, but he really had a very special relationship with my dad (late Dallas Cowboys coach and noted music aficionado Joe Avezzano). He played “I Will Always Love You” for the first time here at Hat Trick’s, and my dad was blown away and told him he would play that tune the rest of his life. There is a video on YouTube of my dad singing onstage with Josh and dancing… basically just having the time of his life. So, I am thankful for the crazy talent that Josh Weathers is, and I am thankful for what a great friend he has been and always will be to Hat Tricks and the Avezzano Family. I am also thankful for him providing me with one of the happiest memories of my dad, and the fact that he continued to play that song at most shows. Live music venues and fans across Texas are taking a huge loss as long as Josh Weathers is not playing live music!
Rob Baird, singer/songwriter
I recently started listening to a lot of Butch Walker after hearing his name for quite some time. He has produced a handful of mega pop records so I was slightly skeptical that I would be into it. I bought the Butch Walker and The Black Widows record and I was instantly hooked. I have found his tunes to be quite refreshing and honest which can be rare these days. It is always such a blessing to connect with an artist that you have not previously heard.
Lloyd Banks, venue owner-Rockin’ Rodeo
I am most thankful in 2013 for the new music I have been able to hear from Matt Kimbrow. It is head and shoulders above anything he has done previously. Although the rest of the world will have to wait a little longer to hear it, I am anticipating it will be some of the most listened to music by the end of 2014. Seriously great stuff Texas music fans are going to love! Zac Wilkerson is also going to be a name you are about to start hearing…saw him live for first time recently on acoustic song swap show and everyone in the crowd plus the other artists were blown away.
Brad Beheler, co-owner/editor Galleywinter.com
2013 has been rather tumultuous and eventful. As usual, music was my therapy and crutch at times. In the winds of turmoil, I reached back to the tried, true and familiar. That came in many forms this past year, but the one song that stood out was Rusty Wier’s “Silly Rhymes”. I’ve always admired the line “Pick up your loose ends, take ‘em to your friends…they’ll put ‘em back together again…if you let ‘em”. What was for many years just a clever lyric, rang with more poignance and truth this year. Also, I must make note of Drew Kennedy’s continued brilliance, as well as the emergence of Zane Williams. Drew challenges himself and listeners a little more each time out and his take on intelligent folk/singer-songwriter music is the best balance of intelligence and catchiness on my iPod. I stubbornly dismissed Zane’s music upon first listen back in 2012 as being a little too slick for my raw tastes. Yet, his Overnight Success album prompted me to dig back in anew. As a father, “While I Was Away” knocked me off my feet the first time I heard it and its impact hasn’t lessened with successive listens. So, Rusty thanks for the wisdom, Drew thanks for the inspiration and Zane thanks for the reassurance.
Ray Benson, band leader Asleep at the Wheel
Kat Edmonson’s new album Way Down Low. Such a unique voice, and incredible songs done by some great players and wonderful arrangements. Who could ask for more? Of course my new solo record, A Little Piece comes out in January. Took 10 years to finally do it. Very thankful it’s done.
TJ Broscoff, singer/songwriter
“No Place to Fall” Townes Van Zandt. This was a song I loved years ago and fell back in love with it a few months ago. Maybe it’s the time of year that always brings back certain memories or just the shear simple lines of the melody and deep thought out lyrics. This is a song I wish I wrote and I strive to write my own songs in this vein. I’m thankful for Townes and all he gave us in his tragic short life. I’m thankful that people continue to share his music and I’m thankful to have poets like him to look up to in my career.
Brian Brown, lead vocalist Sloppy Joe/venue owner-Cinema
Forgive my cheating, but I have 3. With the state of music today, see Miley Cyrus, The CMA’s, radio, etc, I am thankful for artists out of Austin like Dave Scher, Karl Morgan and Baby Atlas. Not only tremendous musicians, but great songwriters, putting out wonderful and refreshing original music.
Bart Crow, singer/songwriter
Man that’s a tough one…but I’d say Gram Parsons-Grievous Angel. There’s a Tom T Hall track on that record called “I Can’t Dance” and every time it plays on our record player, my son Townes grabs me a guitar, his momma a guitar, and gets his bongos for himself…then we end up having a family concert for the remaining album. When your 2 1/2 year old gets that fired up about a record or song, it’s a beautiful thing to watch how music can really move a soul or spirit. Too young to be jaded or judgmental, so it’s the core of real music moving a person, which is what made me fall in love with music to begin with.
Ben Danaher, singer/songwriter
This year and all years, I am most thankful for my father Bob Danaher. In his entire career as a songwriter he never got a cut, or a hit. But up until the week he passed away he was still writing. It was always about getting better. He was never afraid to use his ability as a songwriter to try to change the world. I would not still be writing songs if it hadn’t been for him.
Kelly Dearmore, music journalist Dallas Observer
I’m thankful for two storytellers. One is beginning a new phase of his already excellent career, and another one is looking back on a beloved bunch of tunes too good to keep hidden away. I’m thankful for Jason Isbell’s ability to find the strength in his sobriety. His ability to tell the stories that make up his stellar Southeastern should be remembered and admired for years to come. Each song rolls off the record as if they were expertly-crafted four-minute films. I’m thankful that Cody Canada defeated his own bitterness as he came to the realization that songs outlive both us and the drama we all find ourselves entangled within during the course of our lives. More generally speaking, I’m thankful that storytellers such as Drew Kennedy, Chris King, John Moreland, Zane Williams and Kylie Rae Harris gave us all more reasons to stop, sit and listen in 2013.
John Dempsy, singer/songwriter
I’ve really gotten into Kelly Joe Phelps, thanks to Derrick Dutton. Songs like “Leavin’ Blues” and “Lead Me On.” Really anything off of his Lead Me On record just calms my soul, man. He’s got a way of ministering peace thru his songs. Sometimes in this world I just need that. Very thankful for his music.
Nick Dennard, lead guitarist Jason Eady
This year I have been really thankful for Glenn Campbell. I rediscovered him this year. He has always been one of those artist that I knew that I liked but never really paid enough attention to his entire catalog. I’m thankful that I was able to rediscover such an amazing musician.
Adam Drake, disc jockey KORA 98.3 FM
With so much good music out this year, it’s hard to say one, but I think I’m most thankful for the new Zane Williams’ Overnight Success. It’s got a lot of songs that just hit me deep in my soul. “When You’ve Got A Woman”, “The Simple Things”, and “While I Was Away” are songs that are about my daily life. No matter what’s going on at work or in the world, I can listen to one of those and smile thinking of my loving family waiting for me at home.
Bobby Duncan, singer/songwriter
The album I am most thankful for this past year would be Jackson Browne’s Solo Acoustic Vol. 1. I’ve listened to this record on and off for a few years, but never as much as the past few months. I’m at a point in life where I respect more every day his ability to sit there with a guitar or piano and just bang out his life’s story. It’s more impressive every time I hear it.