April 2009: Get Some Hood Schoolin’


Get Some ‘Hood Schoolin’

Texas Music has gotten soft.

A few years ago I called it Nashville with a Waylon mask…and as I’ve worked with several bands over the past few years I’ve felt this to be incredibly true. Same games on a smaller scale.

What would remedy this?

There are countless fixes. But, one that I can’t get out of my mind is the fact that we need to be more street.

We need to go back to the roots.

We need to represent our ‘hood in with the same passion that hip-hop artists do. Take no guff from anyone. If another artist need to be called out, do it. There needs to be a sense of anger at the establishment, instead of being the establishment. There’s nothing dangerous or exciting about most of the music I hear from this scene now. And the acts that are breaking new ground are struggling financially while only a handful of us attend their shows.

Yet, there are guys rolling down the highways in buses, selling boatloads of merch that are not any better than what you hear in an average karaoke bar on a good night. And, the instrumentation on their studio albums often resembles that of a karaoke bar backing track. When they play live their backing band sounds worse than Landry’s garage band on Friday Night Lights. It’s all a mess.

Todd Purifoy very astutely pointed out that country radio looks for least common denominator when determining songs and playlists. Well, it’s a sad day in Texas as that seems to have happened down here too.

This thing must be broken down to the street level. That’s how the big dogs of the scene got on top in the first place. I was having a conversation with Michael Devers of LoneStarMusic recently and we were discussing the difference between some of the artists that have “made it” and others that have fallen by the wayside who were perhaps more talented. The biggest difference was work ethic and attitude. They simply wanted it more and were willing to work harder for it. Doug Moreland echoed this sentiment when talking to me about seeing many artists over the years that had the talent and no ambition. Yet, seeing lots of guys out here doing their thing successfully who have virtually no talent but all the drive in the world.

So, we have to get this thing back to basics.

I’m talking about breaking this thing down to the notion of selling mix tapes out of the trunks of ’83 Buicks, stapling flyers to telephone poles at 2AM, hitch-hiking to a gig if you have to, threatening anyone who dares challenge your authority, and regaining the attitude of having nothing to lose.

So many of the acts I run into now have a sense of entitlement instead of wanting to work for it. It’s offensive.

That DIY attitude has to find its way back for this music to not be such a lame experience for so many.

Get the hunger back. Biggie Smalls sold dope on the corner of the ghetto before he sold records worldwide. He sold the drugs as a means to his ends. He was hungry, driven and talented.

I’m not encouraging anyone to start slangin’ dope on the corner to pay for their van’s gas. But, I am saying you need that hunger. That desire to do anything.

We seem to have an influx of cats who just want to party and not work for it.

On the come up of Texas Music, there were no games to be played only because nobody knew any better. Now, I think people just try to blindly follow what others have done to be successful instead of just letting what other people have done inspire them.

Be your own person. Blaze your own trail.

You can represent your hood, in this case Texas/Oklahoma, without blatantly including cliché landmarks and name dropping other artists in your lyrics.

In the heyday of rap, guys like Tupac and Nas were as real as it got. They rapped about what they knew and where they were from without spelling it out in big bold letters. I’ve never been to south central LA or Queens, but when I listen to their music I know all I need to know about it.

Time was Texas Music did that. I’m not talking about that cheesy, yee-haw US 281, Guadalupe Shiner country either. I mean songs like “Feelin’ Good Again”…Robert Earl Keen talks about hanging with friends at Arkey Blue’s bar without coming right out and saying “Hey y’all…I took a backroad through the Hill Country and I’m getting drunk at a bar, drunk y’all…at a bar…with my friends…”.

It’s in the attitude. It’s in the sound. Music is image and attitude set to sound.

We need that attitude back here in Texas. We used to be able to notice the carpetbaggers and ignore them. Now it seems some of their charades have people fooled.

I’ve seen some of the most talented and driven people I know drive 5-7 hours to play for the door. Paying dues after dues. Singing songs they’ve written about their life and experience. Which in turn is our life and experience. Just like a good rap song.

Like rap, country music is a derivative of the blues and African tinged folk music that arose from the deep south way back in the day. Guys like Hank Sr. and Elvis felt the rhythm so deep in their soul they were called to share it with an audience that wouldn’t listen otherwise. It’s time to revisit the African-American influence on our music, and I don’t mean Hootie. It’s in the attitude.

Be proud, yet subtle. Be passionate, yet wise.

Don’t talk about it…be about it.


-Walt and PG were right. Sometimes you just need a little Hill Country. Ever since I moved up to DFW, I’ve relished the moments when I’ve been able to get away and get back to basics. What an amazing weekend that just passed down in New Braunfels and Luling. Talk about reinforcing my faith in Texas Music! I saw so many old friends dating back to the guys that first pulled me into this scene and let me sell a t-shirt or help them write something, or just put out a cd that I bought and rocked out to for many an hour. Modern Day Drifters live recording was at River Road on Saturday night. It was a really cool event and I look forward to hearing how it turns out. Before the show we ate at Adobe Verde, where low and behold one Josh Norman was performing. Great stuff, $13 margaritas not withstanding. Sunday morning came early as we headed out to Luling. The Tom Webb show is always such a moving event and this year was no different. What I enjoyed the most is the fact that not much changes. The line-up varies a little bit, but it’s always the same vibe. Great music for a great cause. Then, it was back over to Gruene for the inaugural LoneStarMusic Awards. Over the course of 12 hours I ran into just about every person involved in this music scene. It was like a SXSW just for Texas Music. Congrats to Wade Bowen on his well deserved wins. Killer show. And, congrats to Michael and Clair for putting on such a cool event. Here’s to next year!

-It’s so good to have Justin Frazzell back on the airwaves. Welcome back brother!

-I hear rumors that the aforementioned Friday Night Lights program will make it back to the air for two more seasons as Dusty Chandler’s nemesis was seen buying a house in Austin. That’s good news because it’s the best show on tv having supplanted 24 and Lost over the past year.

-In what universe am I living in where I post a photo of Randy Rogers with Turtle and Drama from Entourage, and it gets less hits on the message boards than a disturbing post about peanut butter in General Discussion?

-Baseball season is upon us. Very excited. But, as with each year, I’ll be burnt out on it by the time two-a-days rolls around and the Rangers are languishing 20 games back in the August heat.

-Typing most of this one-handed was not fun. I injured my wrist during load-out a while back and had to rock a pimpin’ splint for a while. At least when my vanity allowed me to do so.

-After partied the other night in the same cabin that became infamous after Greenfest ’05. Only difference this time was no Stoney playing bass for Josh Ward; no fights; no signed body parts and no mass Whataburger run at 3AM.

-This year’s Greenfest is July 25 and July 26. Mark it down. Artists/venue to be revealed soon! Let’s just say we’re going old school in the vibe, and a bit new school with the tunes.

-I hate it when bar owners think they are more important than they are. Hey buddy, these bands can go right down the street and not have to deal with your b.s.

-Mother Nature decided to turn our roof into a batting cage/driving range the other night. Had visions of last year’s LJTs. Which is upon us. I’m so excited. Look for some extended unique coverage this year as my wi-fi and laptop have already been set-up thanks to Mandatory FM. I’ll be live blogging, doing some interviews, hopping on the air with Shayne in the afternoons and tweeting my fingers off to give those of you not there the scoop.

-This month’s recommended film is: I Love You, Man. Jason Segel gets the best lines, but it’s comedy’s underrated MVP, Paul Rudd who steals the movie. You’ll never watch a bass player the same way again. As another review I read said, it’s the best Judd Apatow movie he had nothing to do with.

-This month’s recommended album is: Stephanie Briggs-Birds Barely Know Us. I first caught Stephanie many moons ago as part of Rodger Wilko. It wasn’t until the infamous “Colt 45” video that I saw her and discovered she was still knocking around making music. And, my are we lucky that she is? Stephanie is making music that colors outside the lines of what many consider Texas Music to be. She imposes an artsy will on the music and a poet’s pen on the lyrics. Check this out if you’re in a rut and looking for something unique. Fantastic record.

-“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

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