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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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
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.
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.
The following artists are often classified as members of the Texas Country
Robert Earl Keen
Cross Canadian Ragweed (Actually from Oklahoma)
Jason Boland and the Stragglers (Actually from Oklahoma)
Randy Rogers Band
Eli Young Band
The Lost Trailers
Dean Seltzer and the Redneck Mothers
Jason Allen Band