January 2017: Where Do We Take It From Here?

The great 90’s rock philosophers Semisonic once wisely and sagely sang every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.  A clever way of describing life.  Life, relationships, work, sports, the music biz.  Ah, the music biz.  That vain temptress that clings to our emotions, wrings hope from darkness and if the mood is right can sour sunshine with the blues.  Much like the music at its core, the business side of things is multi-faceted and layered.  It’s fast and slow.  Happy and sad.  Innovative and reflective.  This entry marks 15 years of me blabbing on the internet about the music I love.  Nearly half of my life has been spent spreading the gospel.  I used to have a hard edge to my writing where I called out posers and injustices.  Yet, much like Rita Ballou I’ve mellowed in my seniority.  I truly just dig the music.  My axes have all been ground.  That’s partially due to age and greatly due to lack of inspiration.  There hasn’t been anything truly groundbreaking in our scene since Turnpike and Bingham.  The true innovators are found just on the fringe of our stuff.  Acts like Sturgill, Isbell, Cauthen, Musgraves.  The rest of us seem to be on some sort of NASCAR track.  Making the same circuit of festivals and bars…using the same producers and following blueprints long ago created and discarded by Pat Green back in the late 90’s.

Everything seems staid and stuck in the mud.  That’s one of the reasons the founder of this website and community, JonPaul “Hogleg” Long has stepped into a completely honorary emeritus non-contributing role.  He hasn’t been jazzed about the tunes in a long, long time.  And it’s hard to blame him.  When you were on the ground floor of something new it’s hard to get just as excited about version 9.0.  Chasing that dragon just to find out the berry isn’t as sweet.  Many  of the scene headliners have confided much the same to me.  They feel unmotivated and uninspired.  As if they’re just going through the motions for the sake of it.  Start the year in Steamboat, hit LJT in April, play the fairs in the fall and squeeze in the Wild West Neon Rodeos in the between. There’s a reason Willie constantly experimented with his sounds (and it’s not marijuana); there’s a reason Ray Wylie Hubbard dug into roots music and blues; Jerry Jeff chased jazz; Merle Haggard added horns; Mike McClure toyed with arena rock aesthetics.  At a certain point, singing songs about Texas with three chords in the same place you were at 3 months ago loses it’s luster.  Especially when you know you’ll be back in 3 months. It’s still fun to an extent, but it’s missing that fulfilling and joyful quality that makes you want to rip your femur out just to bang on the snare if you have to.  That part that makes you want to hop in a broken down Econoline and drive 400 miles to play for $40.  Success causes complacency and laziness in most.

So, how does one revive that desire?  How do you not only chase that dragon but catch it, ride it, write it, sing it and live it again? You must get out of your comfort zone.  This is a strange place to reference Steve Harvey, but he had a viral video a while back related to this topic.  When asked what separates successful people from average folks, his response was they’re jumpers.  When successful people come upon a cliff, they don’t stand there and evaluate for a lengthy period of time.  They assess and see their dreams and goals across the canyon and say I’m jumping over there.  Whereas the average folks look around and say, you know what…it’s not so bad here. We need some jumpers in 2017.

There’s continually a new generation discovering George’s Bar, The Road Goes on Forever, Beer Bait and Ammo, Tonight’s Not the Night, 17, Somewhere Down in Texas etc…and to them it’s new.  The key to reviving and refreshing this scene that all too often feels like a bunch of dinosaurs making tracks in a triangle between Lubbock, DFW and Austin/NB is fresh blood.  It’s there in the fan sense and occasionally flames up in the artist sense.  For long term growth one of these new acts is going to have to be truly transformational. Not just good at what’s come before, but innovative.

Where do we take it from here?  Pat Green’s George’s Bar record came out 20 years ago this year.  RRB’s Rollercoaster is now a teenager.  REK has done a sequel to No. 2 Live Dinner.  I first saw Ragweed 17 years ago.  The flagship band of this movement is Turnpike Troubadours and they’ve been able to meld the smart lyrics with melodic music better than just about anyone.  They innovated.  Who’s next?  I can’t wait to see.  We’ve often gotten credit for being way ahead of the curve on breaking new acts.  The last few we’ve really dug and promoted haven’t reached commercial heights…but that may change.  In 2016 they may have been too lyrical, too eclectic or too soon.  Timing is everything and here’s to hoping in 2017 we take it to the future.  Will it be Red Shahan?  Flatland Cavalry? Dalton Domino? Koe Wetzel?  Who’s going to be the dynamic leader this scene is thirsty for?

Who/what do you think is going to lead OKOM into the future?


-Hogleg has retired, but his spirit pumps out of this place hourly.

-Year 15 of ranting, rambling, praising, critiquing.  Been blogging and social networking since before that was cool.  Blows my mind sometimes.

-Still working on the Best of All Time addendum list.

-I still jam that Cauthen record an unhealthy amount.  A DJ friend of mine called it “so layered I have to concentrate…like the Beatles”.  That’s fair.

-Greenfest 17 planning is underway.  Hope to have some announcements soon.

-I was trying to avoid that coming off like a Lefsetz rant…but it did anyway.

-Pitchers and catchers report next month.

-How ’bout dem Cowboys?  Don’t have to leave Texas to win the Super Bowl.  Dak’s destiny.

-Despite this year’s success, I’ve maintained that Tony Romo remains one of my favorite athletes of all time. Related to the above blog, it may have a lot to do with us being the same age and we’re both old now. Lolz

-Give me 100 over 20 any day.  Degrees that is.

-You kids don’t break anything up in the ‘Boat.  This may be the first time we’ve never had an official GW rep there.  That may happen at LJT this year too.

-This year’s recommended album:  Aaron Lee Tasjan – Silver Tears.  If this is what the future sounds like, we may be on the right track.  Elements of Corb Lund crossed with Lincoln Durham.  It’s an interesting sound not for everyone all the time, but everyone should check it out once.

-“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

20 thoughts on “January 2017: Where Do We Take It From Here?

  • January 5, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    you’re right about getting out of your comfort zone..some people get in a rut and decorate it..i got out of a rut and got in a groove and thats a pretty good place to be for an old cat..or a young cat too i would guess.

  • January 5, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    Time marches on and for the record, Brad, you are not old. I AM. Great article.

  • January 5, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Good one as usual, Brad. Times have definitely changed. And that’s not always a bad thing. There are still a ton of people making great music and I’m still proud to be a fan.

  • January 5, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    Well done as always my man. I, as always, wish I could stay as inspired & open minded about the scene as you but inevitably I always feel more like JP. The paragraph about the next generation is some of the realist shit you ever wrote, if you will…now get on the podcast with us

  • January 6, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Nice entry Brad. I think there are several factors that contribute to shoulder shrugging tone of “well, what do we do now?” Like you said, you’ve been doing it longer than anybody. I’m sure you’ve had several rounds of fatigue and this is one of those rounds. I’ve been reading GW for 15 years. Age and parenthood change everything as well. Energy levels drop and the energy you do have has to be expended on loved ones, keeping the ship afloat. Free time vaporizes. Plus if you’ve done it all, then yeah I could see how it can become routine. Good news is that a lot of these acts we fell in love with (PG, Canada, Bowen, Ingram, etc.) are right with us so at least we get to see it all work out together. For me, trying to get to know the people behind the music is just important as the music itself. The stories, their families, all cool and interesting stuff. It helps to explain the music for sure. Would love to have a beer and hear some of your stories some time. I’m sure you have a ton.

  • January 6, 2017 at 9:47 am

    And dude, RWH wrote to you on your blog. I know you are probably used to it, but damn that’s freakin’ cool.

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