The times they are a changing…Bob Dylan once sang that and it’s never been more applicable to Texas Music.
July 2000. I had just turned 21 and along with a ton of friends we descended on the waters of the Guadalupe with plans to shower and shave in a bathroom stall then hit up Gruene Hall that evening for a Pat Green show. I couldn’t envision a better way to spend my 21st and it worked out amazingly well as we floated, ran into Cory Morrow during the float, bumped into some cougars with sangria, and chugged enough Lone Star beer to float a battleship.
By the time we made it to that Texaco to clean-up we were on cloud 9. As we strutted into Gruene Hall that evening, our musical guru was about to put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen anyone deliver. The floors creaked in time with the music, we ran up a bar tab so high that Bill Gates would’ve been ashamed, several in our crew met some upstanding, morally ambiguous ladies and I focused on staying up-right despite about 18 hours of straight drinking on little food. I screamed along to all the songs as Pat played for nearly three hours and included an acoustic set at the beginning of his show.
It was a landmark moment for me and this music. As we left, I told our designated driving 19 year old buddy in speech that resembled Joe Namath hitting on Suzy Kolber that Pat was my f*cking hero. I’d been listening to this music since ‘98 or so but this was the lynch pin moment that made me realize I wanted to do more. Soon, I was learning guitar and hanging out with that Rogers kid at Cheatham Street every Tuesday night. And as the years went by each artist I discovered was chained to the one I found out about the week before.
Before I knew it, it was July 2005 and I was burnt out on what used to really groove my soul. I wasn’t necessarily searching for something deeper…no music snobbery. I didn’t want to put on a John Prine album and talk about the art of his songwriting. I was just looking for something more. Based on the success RRB found by focusing on the craft of songwriting over the craft of the party I thought that was the direction the entire scene was moving. As it was definitely the direction I was going. I’d already been there and done that with the songs of tacos, beer, rivers and roadtrips. There was nothing wrong with those topics…they just felt stale.
It was like if a young R&B crooner came out with gold sequined gloves and danced around on a bright floor to the strains of a song called “Willie Dean”…no thanks…I’ve seen that act before.
What I and many others didn’t account for was that there is always a generation of kids coming up behind you that rediscovers what you once dug. What’s old is new again and all that jazz. It is the same reason that AC/DC’s Back in Black has been a go-to party record every three years since it’s release in 1980. Kids keep realizing how awesome it is and it spreads to a whole new set of people. Same thing with this music. Every year a new set of kids get their licenses and head out to pasture parties blaring old school Pat Green, REK, Great Divide and enjoy the freedoms of cruising down the road in a beat up Ford.
And, as we’ve arrived in the summer of 2010, there seems to be a definite cutting of the ties with what has come before.
Like no other time I can recall in Texas/Red Dirt music we have had significant changes that are going to permanently alter the landscape of this music. A new era to be sure.
Ragweed is in effect, “retired”. Jack Ingram is still enjoying national notoriety. Pat and Cory are somewhat old hat. Randy Rogers Band and Wade Bowen are successfully chasing muses beyond the borders of our little scene and so on. There has been a void for a couple years now waiting for someone or a couple someones to step in and fill the vacuum these guys have collectively left.
We now have a total new generation of fans and bands spurring the scene along while the rest of us stand at the rudder and wheel and try to hang on and keep up. These are kids that were born IN the 90’s! A kid that was born in 1992 is now the 18 year old at the show with huge black X’s on their hands.
Some of what speaks to these kids isn’t what I dig…and some of it is. I’m no old fogey yet…but more power to them. I remember getting hated on by old hippies at REK shows in the late 90’s. They thought Pat Green was going to solely destroy what they’d enjoyed since the 70’s. And, after wondering if the Casey Donahews of the world would destroy what we all love, I’ve come to the realization that no one band can build or tear down this scene.
In a couple years, the kids that dig Casey so much now will look back on these days with a nostalgic laugh as they’ve since moved on to other things, they will pull him up on their iPod and be transported back to the summer of 2010 when they rocked out to him in the truck, floated the river and then caught his show at River Road Icehouse.
Now, if you’ll excuse me…I’ve got to go crank up songs about “Songs About Texas” and return to New Braunfels circa July 2000.
-This NBA free agency madness got me to thinking…what if musicians/artists were free agents so to speak…who would be your most coveted?
-Really enjoying baseball season this year, (Rangers in 1st place!) but I’m very ready for football season to kick off. Is it too early to start talking trash to your fantasy leagues?
-Ignorant question: f they have paint with no VOCs available…why isn’t all paint made with no VOCs?
-GreenFest is just a couple weeks away…this is going to be a good one…and I hope you can join us. Floating should be supreme to burn off the hangovers from Saturday night before the Sunday show.
-I can’t decide if Katy Perry is hot or annoying? I can’t decide if Lady Gaga is a man.
-Remember when Lindsay Lohan was not a hot-cracked out mess?
-I listened to the radio the other day during a long drive. Usually, I’d have it locked into a sports-talk station, but I decided to check out what was going on. I listened to a country station and a pop station for about 30 minutes each. I didn’t recognize one song/artist on the country station and knew every single one of the acts on the pop station. Weird.
-Mother Nature just can’t make up her mind. This has been the craziest weather I can recall during the summer in Texas. Hot, then cool, then rainy. Rinse. Repeat. I’m loving the cooler temperatures but tired of all the rain. This isn’t Seattle!
-This month’s recommended film: I recently rediscovered the awesomeness via a late-night cable re-run that is known as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I hadn’t seen it since I was a kid and I’d forgotten just how cool Paul Newman was in it. If you dig westerns, this is a must to re-visit. It mad Robert Redford a star, but Newman steals the show. The gleam in his eye was definitely stolen by Val Kilmer for his Doc Holliday.
-This month’s recommended album: Alejandro Escovedo-Street Songs of Love. Escovedo’s often toiled under the unsolicited banner of the Texas Springsteen. While he evokes sounds that are Boss-y, he is definitely his own man and artist. This is a collection that rocks without being overbearing and simmers without overcooking. A great set of tunes.
”Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.”-Mark Twain