August 2010: Death of a Scene, Birth of a Connection

Recently, Mattson Rainer at 92.1 Radio New Braunfels had Will Hoge in for an excellent interview (Will Hoge 92.1 Interview). The topic of how do you describe Americana music to someone who is unfamiliar came up. Mattson interjected that it’s as hard or harder of a question that having to answer in a very brief context just exactly what rock n’ roll is. Is rock n’ roll Dylan? Is rock n’ roll the Stones? Is it Elvis? Is it Zeppelin? And, so on.
Basically, Americana is an umbrella term that encompasses roots rock, singer-songwriter acousticness, old-school flavored country, a touch of bluegrass and Texas/Red Dirt music.

The Texas branch of the tree is in and of itself a quagmire of various styles including swing, Tejano, singer-songwriter, country, rock, and alternative rock among others. It is a stew of the lands that make up the Texas Red Dirt market. The Tejano Brothers have a bit during their set where they take a tour through Texas and showcase how each region has influenced Texas Music overall.

That’s why it is disconcerting when, at times, so many copy the Robert Earl Keen playbook with such poor success just to be a part of the scene. As Randy Rogers once sang, “you put on a show, just to be on the scene.”

There is more to it than that and those that find their own niche are the ones that survive. Granted, that niche may be slightly altering or copying what came before you with your own twist. But, the key is the slight alteration. Carbon copies will fly by the wayside in the long run.

So, what that means, in my opinion, is that we must support bands that do it their own way and not just blindly support the scene at large as we once did.

This idea was something I’d knocked around my head a few times before I rediscovered the brilliance of the Phil Pritchett led P2 Podcasts this past week. I had listened to the first few installments when it was launched before life got in the way and I forgot to make it appointment listening each week.

More accurately, I am often so bombarded by digital and electronic stimulations from my phone to my laptop to tv to all the various social media outlets that I often forget which way is up. I do good to catch up on the nightly sportscast via the loveliness that is dvr.

Going through the vaults of the P2 archives, I found out that one segment of a podcast had even been dedicated to examining a piece I’d written that talked about the evolution of Texas Music.

Basically, I had said, via a Biggie Smalls reference, that too many bands now develop a marketing plan before they develop songs. Sadly, that’s only gotten worse despite the glowing flickers of artistic goodness to be found out there.

The most striking thing I heard was the perfect mantra related to our site and scene at large. Referencing scenes like punk, hair metal or what have you…they stated that it is better to be a fan of the specific things and bands you dig instead of just being a fan of the scene at large…because the scene will inevitably let you down.

All scenes die.

There is a reason that Sunset Strip is not still populated with people in spandex and AquaNet-teased hair.

The good bands will carry on and adapt. Everything must evolve. Tastes will change. Longtime fans become the old guard and the new wave pushes them out of the way until that new wave is the old guard and the cycle continues viciously as the scene changes textures and styles.

Unknowingly, we’ve sort of adopted that mantra in the past couple years here at Galleywinter. While we do support the scene, or what’s left of it, we’ve definitely shifted to showcasing new music and/or bands we believe in instead of just solely flying the flag for Texas Music in a larger context.

And, the good news is it is working. Amid this transition, we have heard from bands that say what we are doing here is making a big difference in what they do. It’s very cool and rewarding that we as a platform fueled by fans can translate our efforts into making a difference for new bands, as well as, established bands.

A lot of this has to do with the newest wave of Texas Music. We are back to very much an underground thing. In an age of dying radio and increasing online opportunities, it is important to have good word of mouth from people that truly dig the music.

That’s how bands grow and that’s how scenes start in the first place. And, that is precisely what we are trying to create here.

The core of Galleywinter and music fandom in general has always been feeling a connection. Whether that connection is between you and the artist onstage or you and the person next to you singing along to the words or you and your own soul as you loudly sing along to your favorite song. You are making connections. That will never change.

The slogan of this place has always been for the fans, by the fans…and that is something else that will never change.

The connections we are making in 2010 are the building blocks to something really cool. Enjoy the ride my friends, enjoy the ride.

Minor Chords:

-Another GreenFest is in the books. This was the most stressful one yet. New venue, big-time competition down the street, pregnant wife, in-laws there, trying to be as social as possible while overseeing the entire thing. It ages me every year. Everything leading up to it had gone so smoothly I should’ve known. All in all it was a good time though. Recovering and already thinking about the next one.

-Check out Drew Kennedy’s video for “Room 27” that we posted on the homepage. It’s a very cool production that’s on a par or better than most big-budget CMT videos. CMT, are you listening?

-I’ve got a cool article I’m still refining and looking for mass publication for. I’ve interviewed a ton of people for it and we all want it to hit the broadest stroke possible. Hopefully, someone is interested in an article about how Nashville and Texas are intertwined.

-The success of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” proves that the lowest common denominator name-dropping geography song is not only popular in Texas. Ugh.

-Football season is finally upon us. Went to Cowboys training camp during GreenFest and it was like a rock concert. Throngs of people wanting autographs and even some danging bras over the railings as they squealed for Tony Romo and Miles Austin. Will this translate to Super Bowl? I doubt it.

-John Henson begat Joel McHale begat Daniel Tosh. How do the hosts of basic cable clip shows keep getting funnier?

-This month’s recommended film: I’ll join the buzz-train. Inception will make you feel like you’re on an acid trip. Allegedly.

-This month’s recommended album: Paul Thorn-Pimps and Preachers. Not much to say about this record other than it is songwriting excellence. Thorn is one of the most respected songwriters that nobody knows about around this scene, although he is starting to gain some traction. Check out this album.

-”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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