As we head into the weekend, I thought I would share a post discussing one of my favorite passions: music. The State of Texas has produced a wide range of high-profile musicians: Waylon Jennings, Buddy Holly, Lyle Lovett, Roy Orbison, Townes Van Zandt, Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top, to name but a few. While these musicians have certainly earned their places in the canons of Texas music history, below I discuss some lesser known Texas artists who have excited me in recent years.
The Gourds. Almost impossible to categorize, The Gourds represent a blend of music that ranges from county to rock to zydeco, with some bluegrass thrown in for good measure. They achieved some notoriety in the late 1990s with their cover of Snoop Dog’s “Gin and Juice.” The Gourds have a well deserved reputation for incredible live performances. Recommended album: Heavy Ornamentals
James McMurtry. One of my absolute favorite songwriters. He is the son of Pulitzer Prize winner Larry McMurtry and he certainly inherited his father’s storytelling chops. James McMurtry’s songs range from outrageous accounts of family reunions (“Choctaw Bingo”) to sublime tales of weathering a hurricane (“Hurricane Party”). Recommended album: Just Us Kids
Okkervil River. Okkervil River is one of the bands that I have been most excited about of late. I suppose one would categorize them as indie-rock (although I’m not sure what that means as a genre). I’d make a favorable comparison to Wilco. Okkervil River is defined by phenomenal songwriting (“John Allyn Smith Sails”) and occasionally abstract musicianship (“Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe”). Recommended album: The Stage Names
Old 97s. One of the pioneers of the alt-country scene, along with the likes of Uncle Tupelo and Whiskeytown. Rhett Miller and company’s tunes reflect the careful combination of country music and punk rock, although they have been known to write the occasional sentimental ballad (“Question”). Another great live act. Recommended album: Wreck Your Life
RTB2: Denton boys done good. Two dudes playing straight ahead blues rock on a guitar and drum kit. Ryan Thomas Becker writes moody, rocking tales of everyday life (“The Spilling Blood Child”). RTB2 have become local critical darlings of late, so I am expecting big things. Recommended album: The Both of It