Texas Best Americana Red’s Volume 2
Volume 2 (G-L) of the signature song from just about every artist to ever touch this scene in some way is below. For a full description of this project, check out VOLUME 1.
*YouTube links are provided for each song (if available).
Gary Floater- “Y’all Watch This” (2011)
The greatest artist of all time…in his own mind.
Gary P. Nunn – “London Homesick Blues” (1973)
A true story that Nunn has related many times. While on a tour of Europe backing Michael Martin Murphey, Nunn found himself cold and alone in a busted London flat. Every lyric is true and by the time ACL decided to make it a theme song it had already found it’s way into the heart of every homesick Texan. Ever.
The Gougers – “Everybody Knows” (2007)
Shane Walker and Jamie Wilson fronted this immensely talented band that blended Gram/Emmylou in a modern way. This was one of their best.
Grady Spencer & the Work – “Things To Do” (2013)
Cowtown rockers who have just enough country in their influences to make it interesting. Unique yet comfortable. They’ve got many things to do, including rocking out songs like this one.
The Great Divide – “Pour Me a Vacation” (1998)
Mike McClure is a Red Dirt legend and The Great Divide cranked out several fantastic albums and songs. However, it is this Buffett-esque tune that became their most well-known hit. McClure grew to resent the song in some respects, broke away from TGD and started a successful solo career that took him down folk (12 Pieces) and rock paths (every MMB record). Mac’s orange boogie+country=genius.
The Groobees-“Cheap Trucker Speed” (2001)
Formed in Amarillo and taken to notoriety via Dixie Chicks cover of band member Susan Gibson’s “Wide Open Spaces”, the Groobees were an anomaly in a sea of Pat Green beer soaked madness. A true band creating timeless music. Groobee Scott Mellot was the yang to Gibson’s yin and would go on to produce the Randy Rogers Band’s debut album Like It Used To Be.
Guy Clark – “Dublin Blues” (1995)
The master. Where does one even start? This one is from his latter catalog, but has seemed to grow in endearment and response with each passing year. It’s oft-covered and receives a fair amount of radio play for a maudlin tune about being heartbroken in a bar.
Haley Cole – “Goodwill” (2015)
Co-written with Susan Gibson, this song finds Cole belting it out in confident phrases that make you sit up and pay attention to her good news. Power has never been this pretty and effortless.
Hank III – “Mississippi Mud” (2002)
Never short on controversy or rabid fans, Hank III inspires a wide range of reactions. He made a mark on OKOM with his Risin’ Outlaw album and cemented his spot with the Lovesick, Broke and Driftin‘ record that features this infectious dobro-riff and what sounds like one hell of a good afternoon.
Hayes Carll – “Down the Road Tonight” (2005)
The rapid meter of this song is reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and would provide a template that many future Carll songs would find themselves within. Colorful, snarky, double entendred lyrics find a home here as they would on each of Carll’s releases. Plus, Michael Jackson really did peak at Thriller. And it’s always good advice to listen to Ray Wylie Hubbard.
Harris & Rhyden – “Texas Bound Again” (2000)
True life cowboys who met while serving as ranchhands in Wyoming, they came together to form a musical duo in Texas. They carried on in the modern Michael Martin Murphey sense and made an early, lasting mark on Texas Music.
Holly Williams – “Drinkin’ “ (2013)
Hank III isn’t the only Bocephus offspring to make their own mark in the family tradition. Holly Williams bounced around musical label homes before catching her stride with one of the finer albums of the past five years. This plea to a distant, alcoholic, aloof husband is as raw and authentic as country music gets.
Honeybrowne – “Texas Angel” (2000)
Fred Andrews fronted this band named after a beer. Alex Weeden was on guitar and he’d go on to find a steady gig playing lead guitar for Miranda Lambert. This slow dance classic has never faded from jukeboxes, playlists, bars, dancehalls and cover band sets.
Houston Marchman – “Viet Nashville” (1996)
Marchman left Texas for Nashville in the early 90’s and saw the machine from the inside. He moved home to Texas in 1995 and released an album with this as the title track. A more striking and daring shot across the bow of Nashville than Morrow’s take on it…this one leaves a jaded mark. “Son you gotta write for an 8th grade level divorced housewife here in Nashville…it’s about money…”
Jack Ingram – “Biloxi” (1999)
After a string of successful but not transformational albums, Ingram signed to Sony’s Lucky Dog records and released a crowning achievement with Hey You. Chock full of memorable songs, mostly about relationships and the struggle of communicating with the opposite sex. Yet, it’s this deeply personal album opener that slow burns a piano riff into Ingram’s growl of “Where in the hell did you go?” and leaves us all searching for the approval of a disparate, gambling, absent father.
Jackie Darlene – “Diamond in the Rough” (2016)
This young female upstart has good music in the genes as her grandfather is famed songwriter Whitey Shafer. Darlene’s rasp is reminiscent of Stevie Nicks, but this girl is a hardcore troubadour living the life. She’s literally scraping change together for gas money to get to the gig and lives to sing about it.
Jackson Taylor – “Outlaws Ain’t Wanted Anymore” (2006)
A definitive outlaw playing by his own rules and setting those rules to music.
Jade & Bryan – “Two Steps” (2016)
Another spin on the duo angle in Texas, Jade & Bryan wrote and released this song with a familiar title and a unique viewpoint.
James McMurtry – “Choctaw Bingo” (2002)
This son of a literary genius has carved out a niche for himself as a songwriting savant. An upbeat song with downright gnarly narrative. Popularized around these parts by Ray Wylie Hubbard, McMurtry’s own version remains the standard.
Jamie Richards- “Drive” (2008)
Surviving a stint on a Nashville label and as a house songwriter in Music City, Richards returned home to Texas’ welcoming ears and struck gold with “Drive”.
Jamie Lin Wilson – “Just Like Heartache” (2015)
Fresh from being part of several band projects, Wilson freely embraces her Emmylou Harris vocal prowess and let’s this cheery tune come out of the gate with heartworn wisdom.
Jarrod Birmingham – “Jesus and Johnny Cash” (2010)
Blessed with a booming voice and a take no shit approach, Birmingham has been cranking out his brand of thumping honky-tonk for quite some time. This is one of his best with an assist from Kevin Fowler.
Jason Allen – “John Boat Blues” (2006)
Staunch country traditionalist who also happens to be a guitar prodigy that loves Stevie Wonder (check his cover of “I Just Called To Say I Love You”). This bluesy tribute to the joys of fishing in the most basic way is country brilliance disguised as simplicity.
Jason Boland & the Stragglers – “Somewhere Down in Texas” (2001)
Boland’s debut album set a precedent for who he is as an artist. The rolling drumbeat of Brad Rice is accompanied by the swaying fiddle of Richard Bowden and Lloyd Maines pushed all the right buttons. But, the true showcase here is Boland’s knack for vivid lyrical imagery. The rays of light through the Shiner Bock bottle is cooler than any poetry you hear in school.
Jason Eady – “AM Country Heaven” (2012)
By taking modern country music to task for being superficial and often downright stupid, Eady transitioned from a Delta baked swamp-stomper into a bonafide country music hero with this tale about when the folks coming through your speaker were ugly women and forty year old men. It sounds like a Vern Gosdin lost track.
Jason Isbell – “Cover Me Up” (2013)
Isbell has pushed himself into greatest living songwriter territory with his past two albums. This intensely intimate song speaks of love in a fostering, nurturing, sobering manner that few others have even com close to touching. Hearing it live when inpirational muse and wife, Amanda Shires, is playing in his band only serves to make it far more superior.
JB & the Moonshine Band – “The Only Drug” (2012)
This east Texas crew has become known for a hard-driving brand of country music, yet it’s this more tender sentiment that evokes the best response.
Jerry Jeff Walker – “Mr. Bojangles” (1968)
When Ronald Crosby penned this tune about spending the night in a New Orleans jail cell with a dancing homeless man, he couldn’t have known how big it or he would become. Crosby would go on to become gonzo redneck rocker Jerry Jeff Walker and the song would become an American classic. The live from New Orleans version linked here is the definitive one. It captures the wild eyed madness just under the surface of all Jerry Jeff experiences.
Jody Booth – “Nashville” (2011)
Talented multi-instrumentalist Booth has been called the greatest singer you may not have heard of. He’s a pro’s pro with more talent than he knows what to do with…he put the pieces together on this one.
Joe Ely – “Me and Billy the Kid” (1987)
Ely’s fiery brand of country rock made him a phenomenon that toured with The Clash. His west Texas rock updated Buddy Holly’s innovations, layered on the country and was obviously delivered with a punk rock attitude. This song has it all.
Joey Green – “Nathitoches Blues” (2009)
Fort Worth’s underground MVP, Green delivers the type of rootsy groover that also holds a linear story you can’t help but pay attention to.
John Baumann -“Potter County” (2012)
Baumann flashes promise as one of the brightest young songwriters around. This is a tale of bad habits, feigned redemption and the adventure of it all. It sounds like one imagines Jackson Browne would sound like if he were from Texas.
John David Kent – “Back to the Country” (2011)
Breaking away from the band Radish with Ben Kweller, Kent set out to stake his own claim in Texas Music. This track wasn’t just another bold claim, it was reality.
John Dempsy – “Are You High?” (2011)
Few writers pour as much life and emotion into their songs as Dempsy. A multi-instrumentalist-producer that is able to convey his ideas in sharp focus, Dempsy makes you feel it all.
John Evans – “Bad Thoughts in a Good Way” (2008)
Mercurial music legend with a diverse, unpredictable style. A guru, if you will. As fine an entertainer as you’ll see and able to showcase his various influences sometimes all on the same song. This is one of those.
John Fullbright – “Until You Were Gone” (2014)
An Oklahoma piano prodigy who grew up to write songs in the grandest Woody Guthrie tradition, Fullbright has become one of our greatest musical treasures. This particular track is simple in conception, brilliant in production and heart-wrenching in its connection.
John Moreland – “Nobody Gives a Damn About Songs Anymore” (2013)
A refute of musical indifference. A damning claim with more truth that most would like to admit. Moreland questions why he’s doing what he does, yet does it so well he (and the audience) both know he can never stop.
Johnny Cooper – “Texas To You” (2007)
Cooper blasted onto the Texas scene when he was just a teenager backed by hired gun grizzled vets. He went on to make a name for himself with a strong work ethic and radio and club friendly songs such as this.
Jonathan Terrell-“Raining Sundays” (2008)
In the vein of Hayes Carll, this songwriter delivers thoughtful poetry with strained vocals that is poured over straight up honky-tonk.
Jonathan Tyler – “Gypsy Woman” (2007)
Easily one of the most rocking songs on this list. During the Northern Lights major label era of JT’s career, this song is bombastic and groovy. This track blasts out of speakers with a peerless ferocity. The guitars and harmonies will have you singing, but the beat makes you move.
Jonny Burke – “Problems” (2014)
After years of co-fronting The Dedringers, Burke went solo and kept his raspy voiced Dylan does Texas style and showed the world he may have problems, but writing songs isn’t one of them.
Josh Abbott Band – “She’s Like Texas” (2010)
Abbott established a career with cheesy songs pointedly marketed toward female, college aged females. A supremely smart business plan that culminated in the release of this pervasive smash regional hit. No, we’ve never seen a bluebonnet in the summer…but that didn’t matter to the thousands of girls who downloaded, streamed, bought, screamed along to this song (and continue to do so). Easily the song used in the most social media bios. Abbott has gone on to push himself into greater artistic challenges and triumphs, but this song and the other early one’s in his collection are what he remains well-known for.
Josh Fuller – “Old Whiskey” (2012)
Phil Pritchett climbed into the production chair to unleash Fuller’s version of a teenage, alcohol soaked nostalgia…with great success.
Josh Grider – “White Van” (2014)
Grider had been stumbling on the edge of greatness for nearly 15 years when he broke through with a string of Texas radio hits in 2013. Years of toiling in the honkytonks took this New Mexican to Nashville and back. This song embodies what most musician’s lives are like in this scene…especially Josh Grider’s.
Josh Norman – “Never Liked Austin Anyway” (2006)
Norman has played in bands for years and has been a staple of the Houston area music scene for quite some time, but his finest songwriting moment may just be the time he collaborated with Brandon Wayne Jones on a distaste for the capitol city.
Josh Ward – “Hard Whiskey” (2012)
Country revivalist who is actually a country boy. When he sings about hard whiskey and soft places to fall, you know he’s actually been there.
Josh Weathers – “Big Night in the City” (2012)
There are probably no artists on this list as naturally God-given talented as Mr. Weathers. A soul-rocker with a country boy’s heart, this cat could do it all. He catapulted into everyone’s view after his cover of “I Will Always Love You” went viral, but it was this original that samples Bruce Channel’s 1961 hit “Hey Baby!” in the bridge that bonded Weathers to regional superstar status. After a taste of the limelight, Weathers retreated to do incredible missionary work and play the sporadic gig to raise funds for Indian orphanages.
Justin Townes Earle – “Harlem River Blues” (2010)
Yet another artist on this list in the shadow of a famous father, but this time also blessed/cursed with as the namesake of one of the best poet’s to ever pick up a pen. JT Earle skillfully made his own mark with a record of rockabilly/Muscle Shoals infused Americana that few could duplicate. This title track is aces.
K Phillips – “Kat’s Song (What I Can’t Have)” (2012)
A renaissance wildman akin to Jerry Lee Lewis on the piano, but with enough artistic sensibilities to sometimes just flat out make it weird on purpose. This song finds him mining the more sensitive side of his manicness as he laments what he has…and what he doesn’t.
Kaitlin Butts – “Wild Rose” (2014)
A songwriter with wisdom far beyond her young years, Butts showcases a knack for delivering smart songs in a sweet manner. She’s a wild flower, the kind you take time to admire.
Kasey Chambers – “We’re All Gonna Die Someday” (1999)
What’s an artist from Australia doing on this list? Well, one listen to this song will tell you why. As the Americana scene that would swallow up much of Texas Music was coming into its own, Chambers was a forerunner. Her distinctive vocals were always paired with winning lyrics…never more effectively than on this hedonistic romp about saying to hell with it, we’re all gonna die someday so let’s have fun today.
Kayla Ray – Room 402 (2014)
A throwback female country artist living the songs she sings and championing authentic, old school country music. With albums produced by Jason Eady, Ray makes no bones about where her stylistic impulses lie and that’s a good thing.
Keith Davis- “Before There Was You” (2007)
An acclaimed sideman and producer who has worked with a number of fantastic artists took his turn releasing some music of his own and this one connected with audiences in a solid way.
Keith Gattis – “Big City Blues” (2005)
Worldclass musician and Dwight Yoakam lead guitarist successfully writes songs for everyone else, then makes his signature album title tracked by this jewel regaling skinny dipping in the Perdenales River and getting away from it all. Nasty in the best sense.
Keith Sykes- “Those Were the Days” (1998)
In a career that’s taken him from major label artist to Jimmy Buffett’s guitar player to songwriter to the stars and back to writing for himself, this late 70’s rocker is a good amalgam of Sykes’ style.
Kelley Mickwee- “River Girl” (2014)
Hailing from Memphis, Mickwee first landed on Texas radars in the duo Jed and Kelley prior to joining The Trishas and then releasing a knockout of a solo debut that featured this sultry soul smash as its lead single.
Kensie Coppin – “White Trash Widow” (2016)
A young female artist normally doesn’t have this much vitriol in her, but Coppin has been wronged by the wrong people and puts it to music especially well in this piece.
Kent Finlay – “They Call it the Hill Country”
Chief proprietor of Cheatham Street Warehouse and dreams, Finlay penned this opus as a keen musical response to the invasive nature of Hill Country expansion. Kent will long be known for many things, but this song is near the top of the list.
Kevin Fowler – “Beer, Bait and Ammo” (2000)
Fowler’s journey from hair metal guitar player to Texas Music redneck provocateur is well-documented and it all started with this trip down the road to Bubba’s.
Kevin Welch – “Patch of Blue Sky” (2010)
As a songwriter, Welch picked up a number of big cuts from the biggest artists of the day in the 80s and 90s. Yet, it was when he moved down to Wimberley and took his time making a late career solo record that he truly found his greatest brilliance. All any of us are waiting on is a patch of blue sky and Welch finds his here.
Kimberly Kelly – “Gravy Train” (2007)
Give a girl a mandolin, provide her some of the best music education on the planet and let her run. Kelly pulls off her best peak Dixie Chicks impersonation on this rollicking track about a gravy train on biscuit wheels. A toe-tapping good time. That twang you hear isn’t inflected, it’s authenticated.
Kirk Baxley – “If Only” (2015)
Former rocker Baxley connects with this song, and shows a sign of things to come on his forthcoming release.
Kristen Kelly – “I Remember When” (2010)
Shedding her band’s name Modern Day Drifters, putting hers on the marquee, but keeping the same players proved to be a stroke of genius on Kelly’s part. Soon after this song raced up the Texas charts, Kelly was signed to a major label and began hitting radios/tv screens across the country with “Ex Old Man”.
Kyle Bennett – “Come On Radio” (2008)
Who hasn’t wanted to hear that one song come on the air…pleading come on radio give us what we want. Bennett did for a short time before the band that backed him went on to greater notoriety as the Thieving Birds.
Kyle Park – “Leavin’ Stephenville” (2011)
Park’s made a career out of staying in his lane of easily digestible country music. A bouncy fiddle melody punctuates this road weary tune about heading south on 281 after a long run.
Kylie Rae Harris – “Waited” (2012)
KRH took a swim through Nashville and was featured on a behind the scenes reality show and in the process wrote and delivered some of the most heartfelt musical reality imaginable. Real and raw has never sounded so good.
Larry Hooper – “Background Music” (2006)
A true songwriter, Hooper tells the tale of so many plying their trade of hand-crafted songs in a loud, inattentive barroom.
Larry Joe Taylor – “Meet Me Down in Corpus” (1994)
Texas’ answer to Jimmy Buffett released a slew of independent Third Coastal inspired albums prior to his festival becoming the biggest stage in the state. It’s lighthearted and fun…and will definitely make you want to grab a Tecate dressed with lime and hit the beach.
Leon Bridges – “Smooth Sailin’ “ (2015)
Former Rosa’s Cafe busboy teams up with the best musicians in Fort Worth to make a retro soul album that creates such a buzz the major labels come calling. Soon thereafter stardom does too. On the winds of throwback jams this tasty, it was only a matter of time.
Leroy Powell – “Satan Put It on My Tab” (2013)
Shooter Jennings’ collaborator steps out on his own to create a string of critically-acclaimed independent albums that dance between metal and Americana often enough to end up being some fine country music. The protagonist in this song knows he’s up to no good, and is just delaying payment.
Lew Card – “Condo Town Rag” (2016)
Native Tennessean Lew Card lived in Austin for well over a decade before returning home. He was a part of the Austin music scene, and city at large, during a massive tranformation. Card saw the sleepy, college town become California east and wrote about it in a Leon Redbone style.
Lincoln Durham – “Clementine” (2012)
Fiercely intense, gothic one-man band shows his softer side and it becomes his most well-known hit.
Lost Immigrants – “Song to Sing” (2006)
Hill Country duo write a song about doing what they love and how much they love doing it. Sometimes you don’t need to overthink the formula…you just have to make it real.
Lost Trailers – “The Battery” (2004)
Atlanta’s Lost Trailers stormed the Texas Music scene in 2004 with their massive album Welcome to the Woods. It was a revelation and these Georgia boys were instantly embraced, even playing an early Greenfest. This song showcases everything this scene loved about this band before they lost themselves. Winning guitar riff, southern gospel harmonies and southern gothic lyrics. The band soon lost their way and were one of the earliest purveyors of bro-country with a song called “Holler Back”. It’d be cool if the Trailers weren’t lost anymore.
Lucero – “Nights Like These” (2002)
Ben Nichols has been grinding away for twenty years. And despite the rise in notoriety for he and his band over the years, you can still feel that grind each time you spin this tune.
Lucinda Williams – “Can’t Let Go” (1998)
The album from which this song comes, 1998’s Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, is hailed as one of the finest Americana records of all time, with good reason. The album had 13 tracks…all of them good. Lucinda wrote or co-wrote 12. All but this Randy Weeks groovy gem. A load out staple of many a fine soundman.
Luke Olson – “Panhandle Sunset” (1999)
San Antonio’s Olson found success in the early Texas Music scene of the late 90’s and early 00’s with his western folksy take on the subgenre. Produced, as most of the best of the day, by Lloyd Maines this title track is a good testament to what made Olson a solid alternative for those fans back in the day seeking something more than Shiner Bock and Lone Star.
Lyle Lovett – “That’s Right, You’re Not From Texas” (1996)
Lovett helped, unwittingly or not, revive the Texas Music genre after the 70’s heyday had begun to fade. Lovett became a star and meandered around different styles and inspirations prior to 1996’s The Road to Ensenda album which features this iconic track he co-wrote with Willis Alan Ramsey and Alison Rogers.