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Texas Country

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Texas Country Music (more popularly known just as "Texas Country" or "Texas music") is a rapidly growing sub-genre of 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 straight-forward, truthful lyrics, a "take it or leave it" approach, a "common working man" theme, comical, witty undertones, intense live performances, and loyal fan-bases. These often combine with stripped down music, increasing the intimate connection between a singer and audience.

 

Characteristics

 

Instrumentation

 

The acoustic guitar is essential in Texas Country Music. While the acoustic guitar is the most often used, the electric guitar is not completely uncommon and the steel guitar (or "lap steel") is also quite prevalent. Bass and percussion usually round up the essentials for a touring band, but appearances by a 12-string guitar, piano, baritone, banjo, violin and harmonica on studio recordings or in larger shows are not considered odd to the genre. Instrumentation often lies in the gray area when defining Texas Country, but the music is centered and focused around the acoustic guitar.

 

Vocals

 

The line of delineation for vocals is also unclear. Artists considered Texas Country, such as Pat Green, Kevin Fowler, Roger Creager, Robert Earl Keen, Randy Rogers, and Reckless Kelly, each have distinct voices. Texas Country "anthem songs" are often loud and equally loud vocals are characteristic of these tunes.

 

Live Performances

 

Enthusiasm is the best descriptor for both band and crowd at a live Texas Country performance. "It is not an uncommon site 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 in khakis and college girls in Juicy Couture are pressed up against the stage". It is definitely true that Texas Country shows are rowdy and interactive.

 

Origination

 

Neither the location of birth nor the location of upbringing seems to calculate in the definition of a Texas Country artist. Though many are "born and raised" Texans, it has not been uncommon for many outside the state lines to test Texas waters. Artists such as Cross-Canadian Ragweed, Jason Boland & the Stragglers, and Stoney LaRue are often considered Texas Country musicians, despite their Oklahoma ties. The distinctive characteristic in location is that all artists hold concerts in Texan venues.

 

Themes

 

Lyrical content is the backbone of Texas Country. Waylon Jennings, an Outlaw Country music legend, who is sometimes cited as an inspiration to present day Texas Country musicians, once said, “Your melody goes where the words take you”.

Drinking

 

Alcohol often takes dual roles in Texas Country music. The melancholy route is usually related with alcohol abuse, which has affected artists such as Randy Rogers and takes a deeper, life-altering meaning. The more popular route is that of recreational or social drinking.

 

Mexico

 

The importance of Mexico in Texas Country Music is apparent from the get-go. The positive aspects of visits to Mexico (i.e. cheap beer, care-free attitudes and relaxed environment) often inspire entire songs in Texas Country music. More interesting, these same positives often are attributed back to Texas and instead, Texas is praised because of its proximity to the neighboring Country.

 

Landscape

 

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".

 

History

 

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 Allen Coe retreated from the Nashville Country Music scene to Austin, Luchenbach, and Dallas. Other artists who were inspired by this movement included performers like Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, Steve Young, Kris Kristofferson, Joe Ely, Terry Allen, Steve Earle, and Townes Van Zandt.

 

These artists were followed in turn by the work of singer/songwriters such as Pat Green, Robert Earl Keen, Cory Morrow.

 

1990s

 

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". 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”, the song many claim is the paradigm for Texas Country anthems.

 

The 1998 release of Roger Creager’s Having Fun All Wrong had an immediate impact on the Texas scene. “The Everclear Song” reached “hit single” status when it quickly spread across Texas college towns.

2000s

 

Cory Morrow, a Houston native, had been on the Texas scene since the mid-90s. It was not until 2002, with the release of his fourth album "Outside the Lines," that Morrow received his well-deserved fame. The album's success on the Country Music charts proved that Texas Country was making its way into the ears of many.

 

Kevin Fowler, a celebrated Texas Country artist, self-released his album “Beer, Bait & Ammo” in 2000. The title track and “100% Texan” gave his fans a peek at his Texan roots. With Songs like “Lord Loves the Drinkin’ Man” and “Loose, Loud & Crazy” off his 2nd major album, Fowler gained further notoriety in a short amount of time. His personal ode to Willie Nelson, “Don’t Touch My Willie,” demonstrated the significance of Outlaw Country on his work and solidified his place in Texas Country Royalty.

 

Progression

 

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

 

Robert Earl Keen

Cory Morrow

Pat Green

Roger Creager

Dub Miller

Cross Canadian Ragweed (Actually from Oklahoma)

Jason Boland and the Stragglers (Actually from Oklahoma)

Jimmy LaFave

Jesse Brand

Randy Rogers Band

Eli Young Band

Kevin Fowler

Reckless Kelly

Stoney LaRue

Jarrod Birmingham

Bleu Edmondson

The Lost Trailers

Dean Seltzer and the Redneck Mothers

Django Walker

Charlie Robison

Bruce Robison

Aaron Watson

Kelly Wilis

The Gourds

Jason Allen Band

Wade Bowen

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