This year, we once again continue our annual November tradition of surveying people across the Texas/Red Dirt/Americana genres about a musical topic they are thankful for. This year, we asked folks: what song, album, artist, show or moment 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). This year instead of publishing all the submissions (thanks to all who sent them in; we whittled them down to the ones we felt were most poignant or representative of the general flavor of responses we received). 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.
Kevin Russell, singer/songwriter/dance party enthusiast/ukelele playing brains behind Shinyribs
On Valentine’s Day 2015 at Gruene Hall- several things culminated that have made this a stand out show of the past year for me. Firstly the on-going steady rise in popularity of my band, Shinyribs brought me the opportunity to play. The traditional appeal of Gruene Hall coupled with the sex groove fun of The Ribs was a stroke of genius on the part of all involved. It seemed a natural fit. Second, I had always dreamed of playing a specially curated show wherein all things would be focused on love, lust and laughter. This was the perfect opportunity. The icing on the cake though has to be the addition of Alice Spencer and Sally Allen as back-up singers that night. This show was the fruition of all my musical dreaming and scheming over the last few years. And the Shiny Soul Singers is a final, crucial piece to the puzzle. Since then we have been evolving and growing into this large, fascinating entity. My writing and arranging are concerned mainly with this line up. All of my future musical plans revolve around this version of,”the band of my dreams.”. I truly feel like the luckiest song and dance man alive. This group of musicians are among the best people and the best players I have ever worked with. Their support, professionalism and high artistic standards are truly an inspiration for me. I am grateful every show, every song, every note for them: Keith Langford-Drums, Winfield Cheek-Keys, Jeff Brown-Bass, Tiger Anaya-Trumpet, Mark Wilson-Sax & Flute, Alice, Sally, sometimes Danny Levin-fiddle and Trey Worth who helps us all get it together. And I sincerely hope we will be able to make this music for a long time to come. And I will never forget the night all my wishes came true. Valentine’s at Gruene Hall. Who’d a-thunk? Thanks to everyone who made it happen. And all that were there to dig it.
Haley Cole, singer/songwriter
Josh Grider, singer/songwriter
Drew Kennedy, singer/songwriter
Guy Clark’s “Dublin Blues” has been a favorite song of mine for a very long time. While driving to a show earlier this year it wandered its way through my speakers thanks to the shuffle feature on my iPhone. As I was listening, a favorite verse of mine hit me in an entirely new way.
I have been to Fort Worth
I have been to Spain
I have been too proud to come in out of the rain
I have seen the David
I’ve seen the Mona Lisa too
And I have heard Doc Watson play Columbus Stockade Blues
I realized that (and this is my own interpretation here) Guy wasn’t just listing great works of art, but that he was valuing each of them equally. Three works of art that are each great benchmarks in their particular mediums. The sculpture, the painting, the song. Just because my work won’t ever hang in the Louvre or rest on a pedestal in Florence doesn’t mean it can’t reach the same level of respect or reverence in my chosen line of work.
I’m not saying that anything I ever write will be celebrated like those three, but that realization certainly helps me focus when I’m writing. Guy makes no distinction between the “high” art of the first two and that of the third. That idea matters to me, and it serves as an ample reminder that every time I lift my pen I should be aiming for greatness. I never hit the mark, of course, but the work I’m doing isn’t just for kicks– it’s forever.
It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a band play it’s first note and felt like I immediately needed to know their entire catalog. When Houndmouth took the stage at Spotify House this SXSW, I was enamored, hooked, in-love, floored, and ready to tattoo their name on my chest. A Motown-esque bass line kicked off their set with “Black Gold,” and until their finale of “Runaround Sue” I watched four people sing, switch instruments, break a strap (when his strap broke, the bass player ran over to the drums so he could sing his harmony part into a drum mic and continue playing until someone came on stage and fixed it), and break some hearts. Americana, rock-n-roll, indy-rock, call it what you will, Houndmouth isn’t just a band, these four people eat, breathe, and die music. This year I’m thankful for Houndmouth and the stories they have to tell.
Rich O’ Toole, singer/songwriter
I’m thankful for Chris Stapleton winning at The CMAs. I think his win opens the gate for more traditional and Americana Country acts getting the credit they deserve by a wider audience. It’s a win that validates what so many have been working toward for so long and Stapleton is representative of so much to so many.
Dan Adams, singer/songwriter
I’m thankful for the way the Texas music scene wholeheartedly supports good independent music. We’ve seen it with Isbell, Stapleton, and Sturgill. We see it day in and day out with all of us who are regional indie artists based in Texas. Texas radio pushes good local/regional music. Fans go out to festivals and venues, and share what they love with other fans to spread the word. All of this exists as a unique infrastructure to promote what is actually good – instead of what record companies spend millions trying to force feed to listeners. It’s truly a rarity. What happens with music here in Texas is organic and pure and I can say from experience that it doesn’t exist anywhere else. I feel lucky and blessed to be a part of it.
Ronnie Fauss, singer/songwriter
I am thankful that Brent Best of Slobberbone/Drams fame released his long-awaited solo album, Your Dog, Champ. The songwriting is top notch and chilling. It was worth the wait!
Brad Beheler, editor-in-chief Galleywinter.com
Music has always been a tremendous support system for me. Good times and bad times it’s like that favorite pair of jeans. During some really trying times this past year I leaned on it heavily. The record that pulled me through the most was Dawes-All Your Favorite Bands. The lyrics resonated with me like none that I can ever remember. I know it’s only because they hit me at the time in my life they did, but they are phenomenal. I thank God for sending that music to my heart and ears when I needed it most. Taylor Goldsmith is a genius. I implore everyone to check out this band, starting with this album.
But somewhere along the way
I started to smile again
I don’t remember when
Somewhere along the way
Things will turn out just fine
I know it’s true this time