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Texas Country Music (more popularly known just as Texas Country or Texas Music) is a rapidly growing subgenre of American country music. Texas Country is known for fusing traditionalist root sounds (similar to neotraditional country) with the outspoken, care-free views of outlaw country. Texas Country blends these sub-genres by featuring a "take it or leave it" approach, a "common working man" theme, and witty undertones. These often combine with stripped down music sound. "Red Dirt" is often associated with Texas Country, but is it’s own genre entirely. Sounds from Texas and Oklahoma have influenced the scene of this particular genre, and it is most popular throughout Texas and parts of the Midwest.

Neither the location of birth nor the location of upbringing seems to calculate in the definition of a Texas Country artist, as long as the origin is not in the corporate Nashville scene as the genre tends to be anti-Nashville. The genre differentiates from Nashville country with its rejection of pop influences that is found in Nashville Country recently, but does not necessarily mean the artist/group is Texas based. For example, Chris Knight is considered by some to be a Texas Country musician, despite his Kentucky ties. Adam Hood, an Alabama native, also has had success in the genre. Even international musicians, such as Alberta, Canada native Corb Lund, have been successful in the Texas Country scene. This just shows how many musicians all over the world have adopted the Texas sound.

Contents

InstrumentationEdit

The acoustic guitar is essential in Texas Country Music. However, the use of electric guitars, steel guitars or pedal steel guitars in the genre is not uncommon. Bass and percussion are used in live performances. The sounds of piano, baritone guitar, banjo, accordion, fiddle or harmonica on studio recordings are the norm for the genre.

VocalsEdit

The line of delineation for vocals is unclear. Traditionally, the Texas Country scene has been a male dominated genre, however many women have had chart success in recent years. The Texas "anthem" is a common song type, referencing and sometimes embellishing on the different positive characteristics of the state. Many of these types of songs have been popular on the Texas Music Charts.[1]

Live PerformancesEdit

The live performance is at the very root of the Texas Country scene. Enthusiasm is the best descriptor for both band and crowd at a live Texas Country performance. "It is not an uncommon sight to see clubs all over Texas packed to the rafters; girls and boys in cowboy hats and Wranglers two-stepping next to the mosh pit, where college boys or "Man Fans" in khakis and college girls pressed up against the stage".[2] An important factor Texas Country's success is in the frequency of live performances. It is not uncommon for a Texas Country band to tour 200+ dates a year, all, or nearly all, in the State of Texas[citation needed]. This allows the fan to attend a band's show more often, thus interacting with the music on a more personal level. Popular venues include, Gruene Hall (Gruene), Billy Bob's (Ft. Worth), Cowboys Red River [3] (Dallas and San Antonio), John T. Floore's Country Store [4](Helotes), Luckenbach Dance Hall, and Blue Light Live [5] (Lubbock).

In addition to local and state wide venues hosting live performances, the Texas Regional Radio Report hosts the annual Texas Regional Radio Music Awards Show where the Texas Red Dirt artist and radio stations are recognized for the outstanding achievements throughout the year. The winners in 25 categories are nominated and voted on by fans, friends and industry professionals and are awarded the night of the show. The voting membership has grown to over 32,000 voting members in five years and continues to expand every year. The awards show is open to the public and fans alike who cheer on their favorite artist/entertainers and radio stations. Information about the show and voting procedures can be found at https://trrma.net/

ThemesEdit

Lyrical content is the backbone of Texas country. Willie Nelson, a legendary Country Music Outlaw, inspired his friend Waylon Jennings, an outlaw country music legend himself, who is sometimes cited as an inspiration to present day Texas country musicians, to say, “Your melody goes where the words take you”.[6]

There are 4 different types of themes in Country Music. These include the following categories: "It's All Over" (songs with a core theme of loss or regret), It's Not Working Out (songs with a focus on frustration over a relationship), "Love and Devotion" (sappy love songs) and "The Right Way to Live" (songs with a dominant theme of pride and homespun wisdom).[7]

Songs about traditional dance halls, open roads, family farms and hometown bars, along with other illustrations of Texas landscape, are all found in present-day Texas country artists' catalogs. The ties of landscape and music seem to serve as remembrance and gratitude, as evident in most songs. Appreciation for surroundings is not the only limitation for this theme. The "average man" and his struggle with nature do appear as well. "The songs definitely incorporate a spirit of the times and constitute a spontaneous and fairly comprehensive record of life".[8]

A few things Texas Country Music also have in common are topics that are in their songs such as Religion, Patriotism, Red Neck Lifestyles, and Nostalgia. Religion tends to play a big role in Country Music since its roots are in religion – being born from Traditional Southern Folk and Gospel music.[9] Patriotism is also big since they love to talk about how much they love their country. For example, "American Soldier" by Toby Keith is a great example of patriotism being expressed. Texas Country also involves singing about "redneck lifestyles" which includes their country living with trucks, tractors, fishing, and guns. Nostalgia is also considered a characteristic that most songs Country songs have.

HistoryEdit

OriginationEdit

Country Music from Texas has been popular since the spread of the cowboy culture in the late 1800s. Texas helped popularize Country Music through the world and the state’s rich and varied traditions continue to redefine Country Music.[10]

Texas Country's roots lie in the Outlaw country movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Texan artists such as Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and David Allan Coe retreated from the Nashville Country Music scene to Austin, Luckenbach, College Station and Houston. Other artists who were inspired by this movement included performers like Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, Gary P. Nunn Steve Young, Kris Kristofferson, Joe Ely, Terry Allen, Steve Earle, and Townes Van Zandt. All these stars have rated higher than 43 on the Texas Music Scene charts[citation needed].

These artists were followed in turn by the work of singer-songwriters such as Pat Green, Robert Earl Keen, Max Stalling, Wade Bowen and Cory Morrow.

While the genre has roots in Texas, Oklahoma artists such as Jason Boland, Stoney LaRue, Mike McClure, and Cross Canadian Ragweed have had a major influence on Texas Country. For this reason, "Red Dirt Music" is becoming a more popular term for the genre to pay homage to its Oklahoma influence. The term was coined in reference to the miles of red dirt that is common throughout the two states.

1990sEdit

Robert Earl Keen's No. 2 Live Dinner, released in 1996, had it all; comedy accompanied with "a sharp wit, a laid-back cowboy style, and an eye for detail... combined in [his] songs that are as easy on the ears as they are packed with insight".[11] Keen's home calling came after a short stint in Nashville, where he quickly became uncomfortable. His 1996 live album release truly showcased the “wide range” of the talented Texas musician and popularized the single "The Road Goes On Forever", a song many music fans regard as the paradigm for Texas 'Country anthems'. Joe Ely and other Texas musicians have recorded cover versions of “The Road Goes On Forever”.

2000s and the Texas influence in NashvilleEdit

Cory Morrow, a Houston native, had been on the Texas scene since the mid-90s. With the release of his fourth album Outside the Lines, Morrow found more mainstream success on the Country Music charts.[12][citation needed]Pat Green, also an artist from Texas, began his career as part of the Texas Country scene later went on to widespread commercial success with gold album Wave on Wave after switching to a "Shania Twain/ Garth Brooks" Nashville style of Country Music. The album's title track hit No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart and won a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song.

Kevin Fowler, a former hair-metal/glam rocker was Dangerous Toys guitarist from the late 1980s until 1993, followed by his own founding of Thunderfoot, a Southern rock band based out of Austin. Originally from Amarillo, he self-released his country debut album One For The Road in 1997. This followed with his smash independent follow-up album, Beer, Bait, and Ammo. He has since found national success, on a major label.

Texas Country's influence continues to be felt in the mainstream music genre with artists such as Jack Ingram, who had already established a name for himself in Texas Country, who won a CMT Music Award in 2007 and the 2008 Academy of Country Music award for New Male Vocalist of the Year. He has also scored top 25 singles on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart with songs such as "Love You" and his cover of Hinder's "Lips of an Angel". Another one of his singles, "Wherever You Are", went to number one on the Billboard Chart.

Radio StationsEdit

Notable artistsEdit

The following artists are often classified as members of the Texas country movement:

Further readingEdit

  • Abernethy, Francis E. "Texas Folk and Modern Country Music". Texas Country: The Changing Rural Scene. Ed. Lich, Glene. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 1986.
  • Barr, Gregory. "Randy Rogers Band: Just a Matter of Time". Best in Texas Music Magazine.
  • Carr, Joe and Allan Munde. Prairie Nights to Neon Lights. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 1995, ISBN 9780896723658
  • Dawidoff, Nicholas. In the Country of Country: People and Places in American Music. New York: Random House, 1997, ISBN 978-0375700828
  • Fox, Aaron A. Real Country: Music and Language in Working-Class Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0822333487
  • Harrington, Ann Marie. Roger Creager - Long Way to Mexico
  • Jennings, Waylon and Lenny Kaye. Waylon: An Autobiography. New York: Warner Books, 1976, ISBN 978-1613744697
  • Malone, Bill C. "Growing Up With Texas Country Music." What's Going On? (In Modern Texas Folklore). Ed. Abernethy, Francis E. Austin, TX: The Encino Press, 1976.
  • Middleton, Richard. Studying Popular Music. Philadelphia: Open University Press, 2002., ISBN 978-0335152759
  • Specht, Joe W. "Put a Nickel in the Jukebox". The Roots of Texas Music. Ed. Clayton Lawrence. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2003.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ TX National Anthem voting Archived 2008-07-03 at the Wayback Machine (sponsored by Lone-Star Beer company)
  2. ^ Lone Star Music. Kevin Fowler Biography. November 9, 2006 LoneStar Music.
  3. ^ "Cowboys Dancehall: Dallas and San Antonio". CowboysDancehall.com. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  4. ^ "John T. Floore Country Store". John T. Floore Country Store. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  5. ^ "The Best Places for Live Country Music in Texas". Wideopencountry.com. 1 March 2017. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  6. ^ Jennings, Waylon and Lenny Kaye. Waylon: An Autobiography. New York: Warner Books, 1976.
  7. ^ Smith, Lindi (2016-05-03). "Chart Shows the 4 Themes in Country Music Over 50 Years". Wide Open Country. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  8. ^ Clayton, Lawrence. "Elements of Realism in the Songs of the Cowboy." American Renaissance and American West. Ed. Durer, Christopher S. et al. WY: University of Wyoming, 1982.
  9. ^ Rogers, Ashley (2013-09-05). "The ten biggest tropes in country music". Westword. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  10. ^ Hartman, Gary. The History of Texas Music. N.p.: Texas A&M University Press, 2008. Print.
  11. ^ Wolff, Kurt. Country Music: The Rough Guide. London: Rough Guides Ltd, 2000.
  12. ^ kbec (2017-10-24). "Texas Music Facts and Some Tales". KBEC 1390. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  13. ^ "99.5 The Wolf".
  14. ^ "New Country 96.3".