July 2014: Authentic Coats From the Cold

One of the many things that originally attracted me to this music so many years ago was the reverence paid to the forefathers of the “genre” by the young guns.  The first time I heard Walt Wilkins via Pat Green sing about Jerry Jeff and Guy Clark being coats from the cold cleverly resonated with me to my core.  Here were new artists reaching out and paying respect to the road-pavers of their cottage industry.  This doesn’t happen in a genuine fashion in other realms of music.  The faux cries about Hank and Waylon from the Nashville bro-crowd ring hollow.  But, when Cody Canada cuts a record of underground Red Dirt classics, that’s legit.  For every Aldean Lite that is pumping up Johnny Cash, there’s a Randy Rogers promoting the goodness of a Kent Finlay.

That’s not to say we haven’t had our fair share of fake callouts that stand alongside exuberant, exaggerated river trips that float atop suds of Shiner and Lone Star Beer. Thankfully, these are easily identified and castigated for what they are:  trash that is no better than the stuff I derided in the first paragraph.

I’ve said it so many times, but it bears repeating…what we all crave is authenticity.  Be yourself.  Be true.  People will respond.

In the instances I’m talking about here, pay true homage to your heroes.  Don’t do fake shoutouts in your songwriting and live shows because you think that’s what people want to hear.  When Drew Kennedy revels onstage about the music of a Bruce Robison, it resonates true.  There are few too instances of this far and wide though.

Namechecking musical heroes of the past must mean something.  There’s a whole generation that only knows Willie Nelson as a marijuana activist that ocassionally makes funny cameos.  They don’t know Phases and Stages or Shotgun Willie.  If you’re going to talk about Willie, talk about his music first.  He changed the game and you’re still playing by many of the rules he created 45 years ago.   If you’re going to mention Hank, do it in the way Matt Hillyer and Jason Boland do, not the way Brantley Gilbert feebly attempts. And so on.

Standing on the shoulders of giants requires great balance.  Wear your influences on your sleeve.  In the case of Pat and Cory that was clearly Robert Earl Keen.  Now there’s a generation that proclaims their love for Pat and Cory.  Be yourself.  If you’re in Texas that may mean emulating Reckless Kelly.  If you’re a Clear Channel bro, that most assuredly means emulating some sort of combo of David Coverdale, Vanilla Ice and Daughtry.

The coats of the legends can only cloak  your art for a finite amount of time.  To make your art infinite, you must take the legendary palatte and make it your own.  Make it an authentic coat of your own.  Authenticity is the key.  July is a tad hot for a coat, but I hope to see some proverbial ones being tossed on soon.


GREENFEST 14 is here!  The best, most expansive line-up we’ve ever assembled is ready to play for you in 3 weeks!  We have something for every taste, a few surprises up our sleeves and the vibe of a family reunion full of people you actually want to see!

-I’m heading to Boston and NYC for the first time the week prior to Greenfest and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve got most of my trip planned out, but if you have any bar/restaurant recommendations, please drop them below.

-I, like many Americans, got completely swept up in World Cup fever.  I don’t understand the backlash of  soccer hate from some folks.  Is it going to replace football, baseball or even basketball? No.  But, to deny it’s growth or fun is dimwitted and short-sighted.  The sport is growing within our borders, and the World Cup is a fun summer distraction between the doldrums of pre-All Star Break summer baseball and the start of football.  So, every 4 years fire up your USA pride and yell GOOOOALLLLL!

-The stories coming out of New Braunfels regarding the littering of the rivers is sickening.  Do the right thing…don’t mess with Texas or her rivers.  It’s pretty easy.  Clean up after yourselves.

-The official numbers may not indicate it, but this seems like the most rain-filled summer I’ve ever experienced. You?

-Late to the party on this topic, but I haven’t listened one minute since Bobby Bones went country. Just judging by the social media posts, I dug him much more on a pop format.  Seems like a square peg in a round hole.  And the Kacey Musgraves bashing bit was just silly. What say y’all? Crazy that he’s now one of the most powerful folks in the entire genre.

-I’ve been able to play golf more the past few months than I have in the past few years combined.  Funny how having kids makes you not able to pick up as many tee times.  My game is finally rounding back into shape after being rather rough the past couple years.  It’s been fun, and I was even part of a winning scramble team the other day.  Good times.

-I’ve been in the market for a new vehicle.  Reading used car ads is funny.  I love how no matter how big of a jalopy the car is, the salesman advertises that the “A/C blows ice cold!”  Well, I should hope so.

This month’s recommended album:  Texas Renegade –  Surviving the Flood.  The TXR guys have been around for a while, and relatively quiet over the past couple years.  Gigging less and less, but apparently they’ve been spending that extra time in the studio getting things just right for this new release.  Easily their best and full of songs you need to hear.  Check it out.

-“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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