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