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Music of Texas

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Texas has long been a center for musical innovation. Texans have pioneered musical developments in tejano music, punk rock, mariachi, country music and the blues. Famous Texan musicians and groups include Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Selena Quintanilla and ZZ Top.

 

Country music

 

Texan honky tonk country musicians like Alvin Crow and Bob Wills helped invent Western swing and other genres of country. Some, like Marcia Ball, combine country with Cajun influences. The first popular Texan country song was "I'm Walking the Floor Over You" by Ernest Tubb, a song which set the stage for the rise of stars like Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Horton and George Jones.

 

Ponty Bone, Joe Ely, Lloyd Maines, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Tommy Hancock, among others, helped invent the 1960s Lubbock sound, based out of Lubbock, Texas. Outlaw country was another offshoot that had roots in Texas, with Texans like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson leading the movement, ably supported by writers like Billy Joe Shaver. It was this scene, based out of Austin, that inspired performers like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, whose poetic narratives owed much to the folk tradition and who proved enormously influential on such artists as Nanci Griffith and Steve Earle as part of the later alternative country scene.

 

Tex Ritter and Jim Reeves both grew up in Panola County in East Texas.

Modern musicians like George Strait continue to carry on the tradition of country music in Texas. (Strait is a graduate of Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas).

 

Within country music, the works of singers such as Pat Green, Robert Earl Keen, Cory Morrow and others are often dubbed "Texas music". Brian Burns, a product of Central Texas, sometimes called The Last True Texas Troubadour, has achieved note especially through his historical ballads about Texas.

 

Texas blues

 

The blues originated in the Mississippi Delta and had spread to Texas by the beginning of the 20th century. African American workers at lumber camps, oilfields and other locations loved the music, and avidly attended local performances. When the Great Depression hit, many of these musicians moved to cities like Houston and Galveston, where they created a style known as Texas blues. Blind Lemon Jefferson (in and around Dallas) was the first major artist of the field, and he was followed by legends like Blind Willie Johnson (who was principally a gospel singer) and Big Mama Thornton. By the 1970s, Texas blues had lost its popularity, but was revived by the blues rock stylings of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, who set the stage for the 80s revival led by Stevie Ray Vaughan.

 

Rock

 

The first major Texan musical star was Buddy Holly, a very famous rock and roll musician from the 1950s. Another up and coming singer, from Wink, TX, was also making waves in the music scene. His name was Roy Orbison. He was followed by Bobby Fuller and rockabilly star Ronnie Dawson. In the next decade, Doug Sahm's Sir Douglas Quintet released several innovative performances, as did psychedelic rock underground legends 13th Floor Elevators, led by Roky Erickson.In 1971, Bloodrock from Ft. Worth released "D.O.A.",an international hit. Don Henley of the Eagles grew up in Gilmer, Texas. More recently, Texas, especially the cities of Austin and Denton, has produced garage rock, punk and indie rock bands like Lift to Experience (Denton). San Antonio produced Butthole Surfers in the '80s, and El Paso was the home of At the Drive-In and its two offshoots, Sparta and The Mars Volta. Also in the 1980s, Pantera came out of DFW.

 

Punk rock

 

Texas has long had a distinctive punk rock sound spread across copious cities, especially Austin and Houston. Austin in particular was considered a significant punk city; major venues there in the late '70s-early '80s included the Continental Club on south Congress and the (now defunct) Club Foot on Guadalupe. Houston's punk scene flourished in the early '80s producing bands like Really Red, The Degenerates, The Hates, The Judy's, the Volumatix, DRI, Sik Mentality, the Killerwatts and Culturecide. A newer punk band among the scene is The Jonbenet. Some notable Houston clubs were the Island, Cabaret Voltaire (a punk rock garage in the warehouse district outside of downtown), the Axiom, Fitzgeralds, and Numbers (a predominantly new wave club). In the mid '90s post-punk act At the Drive-In formed in El Paso.

 

Alternative rock

 

Several alternative rock bands from Texas also reached a level of popularity during the late 1980s and early 1990s. These included bands like Toadies (whose biggest hit, Possum Kingdom, was named for a lake west of Dallas), Tripping Daisy, and by the end of the '90s The Polyphonic Spree. In the 2000s, Bowling for Soup reached popularity, as well as Black Tie Dynasty. Least we forget Raul's

 

Ragtime

 

Scott Joplin

 

Religious music

 

Sacred music has a long tradition in the state of Texas. The East Texas Musical Convention was organized in 1855, and is the oldest Sacred Harp convention in Texas, and the second oldest the United States. The Southwest Texas Sacred Harp Convention was organized in 1900.

 

Sacred Harp and other books in four shape notation were the forerunners of seven shape note gospel music. According to the Handbook of Texas, "The first Texas community singing using the seven shape note tradition reportedly occurred in the latter part of December 1879. Itinerant teachers representing the A. J. Showalter Company of Dalton, Georgia -- including company founder A. J. Showalter -- ventured west to Giddings in East Texas and conducted a rural music school that lasted for several weeks." Texas has been home to several gospel music convention publishers, including the National Music Company, Stamps-Baxter Music and Printing Company (founded in 1924 by V. O. Stamps, who later partnered with J. R. Baxter), and the Stamps Quartet Music Company (founded by Frank Stamps). Convention gospel music and community singings still occur in a number of Texas towns, including Mineral Wells, Brownfield, Jacksonville, Seymour, and Stephenville.

 

Tejano music

 

Tejano music is the fusion of several different musical influences, such as German polka, Mexican rancheras, jazz, among others. Santiago Almeida, Flaco Jimenez and Narciso Martinez remain some of its most influential figures. The genre's undisputed star, however, is the legendary Selena Quintanilla, who added influences from Colombian cumbia before her untimely death.

 

Austin

 

Austin, Texas's liberal community helped popularize bands like The Police and Elvis Costello in the American midwest. Tex-Mex/New Wave act Joe King Carrasco & the Crowns gained some national fame. Local punk and New Wave bands in the late 1970s included The Huns and The Skunks, along with The Textones, Terminal Mind, The Violators, The Delinquents, D-Day, Delta, The Next and Standing Waves. These bands soon clashed with an influx of hardcore punk bands like Sharon Tate's Baby, The Dicks, The Offenders, The Inserts, Big Boys and MDC Stains.

 

Austin, especially through its central music scene on 6th Street, has been dubbed The Live Music Capital of the World. The Tejano Artist Music Museum and Texas Music Hall of Fame are also located here. The Austin/Georgetown area is home to the fall session of the Southwest Texas Sacred Harp Singing Convention. Austin also hosts South by Southwest, one of the largest annual music festivals in the united States. Austin has long been a hub of innovative psychedelic sound from the pioneering Roky Erikson and the 13th Floor Elevators to the Butthole Surfers.

 

Austin is currently home to a number of bands that are enjoying popularity as part of the indie rock scene that is gaining prominence in the United States. These include Spoon, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness and Explosions in the Sky, among others.

 

Beaumont-Port Arthur

 

This area was also home to many legendary musicians: George Jones,Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Janis Joplin, Edgar and Johnny Winter, J.P. Richardson aka "The Big Bopper," and rappers Pimp C and Bun B of UGK.

Carthage

 

The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame is located in Carthage, Texas.

 

Dallas

 

Dallas has a rich musical heritage. The number of prolific musicians who played in the Deep Ellum Central Track area was rivaled in the south only by Beale Street. T-Bone Walker, Leadbelly, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson, and even Robert Johnson himself first recorded in this area, just as Bob Wills and the Lightcrust Doughboys were leaving the studio. Throughout the 1940s, 50s and 60's, country, western, and blues continued to flourish, producing a plethora of notable entertainers. As rock'n'roll swept the land, Dallas has also become a hotbed for producing progressive, edgy music... a trend that has continued to this day. Dallas has a vibrant live music scene, that continues to center around the Deep Ellum area. Unfortunately the City of Dallas has restricted the growth of this neighborhood, an attempt to control traffic and crime, to the point where the history and heritage no longer thrive, but are a distant memory being replaced by "less offensive" tenants.

 

Denton

 

The music culture that exists in Denton was seeded initially by the 1947 birth of the University of North Texas' College of Music Jazz studies program, the first of its kind in the country, but in the last 20 years Denton's vibrant and diverse music culture has grown beyond the rigorous, disciplined and collegiate world of UNT's College of Music. In 2004 and 2005, the roster of the town's performing and touring music acts remained between 90 and 100, a high number considering the town's 2000 U.S. census population figure of only 80,537 people. Denton bands include: longtime mainstay and twice Grammy award-winning Brave Combo, Norah Jones, Lift to Experience, Centro-Matic, Brutal Juice, Slobberbone, the Baptist Generals, Midlake, South San Gabriel, the Marked Men, and Bosque Brown. Denton's music culture makes the smaller town Texas' only other city, outside of Austin, that could claim such a title as "music town", a reflection of city's own creative and progressive dominant cultural base.

 

El Paso

 

Ed Ivey's Rhythm Pigs launched a small scene.

 

Fort Worth

 

In 1971, Bloodrock had 3 albums at once on Billboard Magazine's top 100 charts. After 8 albums on E.M.I./Capitol, they maintain a world-wide cult following. The Toadies' debut album Rubberneck went platinum in 1996. Ornette Coleman hails from Fort Worth, as does T-Bone Burnett.

 

Houston

 

Houston has been home to the more experimental and extreme groups of Texas. From Mayo Thompson's psychedelic free music group the Red Crayola to the hardcore rap of the Geto Boys and the primordial sludge rock of Rusted Shut, the 713 has long waved the freak flag over the Lone Star state. The Pain Teens and Richard Ramirez (musician) are among the better known Houston Noise Bands. Among the city's most influential punk bands were the hardcore Really Red and DRI. Culturcide, Mydolls, Verbal Abuse, Stark Raving Mad, Sik Mentality, Dresden 45, Legionaire's Disease, The Hates, AK-47, The Killerwatz, Free Money, The Recipients and The Degenerates also played. It is known for its screwed and chopped rap music, popularized by DJ Screw and the Screwed Up Click. Houston also is the home of lo-fi music straddeling blues, folk, and modent antiphonal traditions, as epitomised by elusive cult hero Jandek and the slightly more visible Jana Hunter. Houston is also the birthplace and final resting place of Chris Whitley (1960-2005) who won a Grammy for his Livin with the Law album and revolutionized the National steel Dobro guitar and enjoyed a massive cult following, but died prematurely of lung cancer in 2005. Houston is home to Beyonce Knowles and the other three original members of Destiny's Child. Destiny's Child is the best selling female group of all time.

 

Lubbock

 

Lubbock has been the crossroads of many famous musicians with country roots. Ranging from The Flatlanders, to Waylon Jennings, to Lubbock's native son Buddy Holly. The city has numerous honky tonks and bars with live music playing seven nights a week.

 

San Antonio

 

Known primarily for tejano music and heavy metal, San Antonio is known for Fearless Iranians From Hell, Boxcar Satan, Two Tons of Steel and the Butthole Surfers, a hardcore band that broke into the mainstream in the mid-1990s. The Tejano Conjunto Festival is an annual three-day event celebrating conjunto music. San Antonio is also home to the Texas Music Coalition (http://www.texasmusiccoalition.org/index.php), a non-profit organization which aims to educate all about the music industry and to promote growth and development of Texas musicians. TMC sponsors many events throughout the year including seminars, performances, mixers, showcases, and fundraisers.

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