We’ve all heard of the “Class of ’89” in country music, right? That was the year that Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Travis Tritt, and others came to power. Well have you ever heard of the “Class of ’87”? That was the year Todd Snider, James McMurtry, Bruce Robison, Hal Ketchum, and Terri Hendrix all played regularly at an old wooden music venue in San Marcos, Texas called the Cheatham Street Warehouse.
Nothing Shines Like Neon has all the liquor, beer, bar scenes, and sultry interactions with lovers you might hear on some mainstream country record, except it tells the story from the opposite perspective—the more realistic perspective. It’s where libations aren’t just flowing to party hearty, but to help douse heartbreak.
On Monday, the official lineup for the 2016 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was “announced” by astronaut Scott Kelly from the International Space Station. Perhaps the aeronautical histrionics were a bid to distract everyone back on Earth from the fact that this year’s lineup is the most mundane, most mainstream-centric and generic pop tart Kellogg’s cereal assemblage of plastic talent ever accrued on this beautiful blue planet.
Abbi Walker, Billy Currington, Bri Bagwell, Cole Swindell, Cooper Wade, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Houston Rodeo, Jamie Richards, Jason James, JB and the Moonshine Band, Josh Ward, Justin van Sant, Little Big Town, Max Stalling, MIke and the Moonpies, Miranda Lambert, Randy Rogers, Sam Riggs, The Band Perry, Trent Willmon, Wade Bowen, Zane Williams
Too often in music we tend to focus on the here and now, the young and the new. Who are the hot names that are rising up in the ranks? Who’s going to make a big splash in music in the coming months and years? All this talk is understandable. It’s fun. But this is not always the best exercise for fleshing out who actually has the music most worthy of being recognized.
Being willing to go where a song takes you is the challenge in the heart of every music lover. Hopefully one of these songs released in 2015 will take you some place you want to be, or somewhere you’ve never been before. These songs were selected on their own merit, not from the strength of the artist or album from where they came.
Brennen Leigh, Cody Jinks, Dawes, Eric Church, Eric Paslay, Evan Felker, James McMurtry, JB Beverley, John Moreland, Justin Townes Earle, Kacey Musgraves, Love and Theft, Mo Pitney, Randy Rogers, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sunny Sweeney, Turnpike Troubadours, Wade Bowen
2015’s Album of the Year candidates might constitute the most wide open field of contenders since this exercise has been in practice. There’s no clear front runners, anyone could win, and each candidate has pluses and minuses. Like every year, your opinion counts, and may even count more this year with no clear front runner.
Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, Don Henley, James McMurtry, Jamie Lin Wilson, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Jason Isbell, Jason James, John Moreland, Kacey Musgraves, Lindi Ortega, Lonesome Wyatt, MIke and the Moonpies, Rachel Brooke, Randy Rogers, Roo Arcus, Ryan Bingham, Turnpike Troubadours, Wade Bowen, Ward Thomas, Whitey Morgan, Whitey Morgan and the 78's, Yelawolf
A common criticism of Texas country is that it has become a kissing cousin to Nashville’s Music Row over the last few years, especially with so many of the region’s top acts, including the Randy Rogers Band, signing with Nashville-based outfits. But the band returning to their independent roots is a good sign they will make whatever album they wish, without the influence of Music Row’s commercial interests.
The first two weeks in June 2015 were some of the darkest moments the greater independent country world has experienced in quite some time. After Jon Hensley passed away on June 1st, so did Randy Howard and a newborn of Texas artist Randy Rogers on June 9th. Then just two days later, Jim Ed Brown died. It has made the month of June a time of deep sorrow, and July as a month to pay tribute.
Thoughts and prayers continue to pour in for Randy Rogers, his wife Chelsea Rogers, and the entire Rogers family after the Texas country star revealed that his recently-born daughter Rumer passed away Tuesday night (6-9) after battling a rare brain condition. A memorial for the newborn is being planned. “She died in our arms and in no pain. She was absolutely beautiful in every way,” Randy said in a statement.
Being willing to see where a song takes you is at the heart of every music lover, and in this spirit I present eleven hand selected songs released in the first half of 2015 that will hopefully take you someplace you want to be, or somewhere you’ve never been before. This is the cream of the crop in my opinion; the gut punchers not for the faint of heart.
Charlie Parr, Chris Knight, Cody Jinks, Eric Paslay, James McMurtry, John Moreland, Justin Townes Earle, Lee Ann Womack, Love & Theft, Miranda Lambert, Randy Rogers, Townes Van Zandt, Wade Bowen, Whitey Morgan
So we’re close enough to the half way pole in 2015 to start thinking about what the best has been so far, and to get ready for what is sure to be a pretty exciting second half of 2015 for album releases. There’s been some big surprises, a few letdowns, but overall 2015 so far has been a pretty varied season for releases.
Bad Omen, Best albums of 2015, Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, Complicated Game, Cowboys & Sunsets, Fear & Saturday Night, Hold My Beer, James McMurtry, Lonesome Wyatt, Love Story, Rachel Brooke, Randy Rogers, Roo Arcus, Ryan Bingham, Sonic Ranch, The FIrewatcher's Daughter, Traveller, Wade Bowen, Whitey Morgan, Yelawolf
Boy howdy did Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers absolutely clobber the ball out of the park with this one. When I first heard they were making this album, I thought we’d something more for the serious Red Dirt fan. Instead we get a completely fleshed out album full of original songs that rival or potentially surpass the work either of these Texas country stalwarts have done on their primary projects.
Not your run-of-the-mill country protest song, “Standards” makes use of sharp wit and country stylings to land a poignant and cutting point about the plight many musicians face when they interface with the music industry. Though protest songs droning on and on about how Nashville is no longer country are just as clichÃ© as the songs they’re criticizing, “Standards” has an appeal beyond…
That’s right, the long-running legendary Texas country tour, and the long-anticipated album complimenting the collaboration is finally happening. Hold My Beer, a studio record featuring A-list Texas country talent Randy Rogers of The Randy Rogers Band and Wade Bowen trading licks back and forth will finally be released.
Ahead of this self-titled release, the buzz was immense. There was a sense this wasn’t going to be simply another Wade Bowen album—that his experiences of the last few years helped Wade see himself for who he really is, instead of who everyone else wants him to be. Two songs in, and this album already delivers on any promises and expectations preceding it.
Aaron Watson, Brandy Clark, Cody Canada, Eli Young Band, Jason Eady, Josh Abbot Band, Randy Rogers, Randy Rogers Band, Rodney Clawson, Sarah Buxton, Sean McConnell, Shane McAnally, Travis Meadows, Vince Gill, Wade Bowen, Waylon Jennings, Will Hoge, Willie Nelson
Down here in Texas they call him Wylie Lama. Musicians flock from all around the country and world to see if some of Hubbard’s songwriting prowess or production ear can rub off on them. And musicians from all over the spectrum. People like Hayes Carll, whose new album KMAG YOYO is getting tons off buzz, to The Black Crowes front man Chris Robinson.
When I first caught wind that a movie written by legendary Texas songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard was in the works, and that it starred Kris Kristofferson and Dwight Yoakam, my ears perked to say the least. But as the movie neared release, it was clear something about Last Rites of Ransom Pride was off. Information about the film was sketchy at best, and despite my best efforts to obtain more, emails and phone calls weren’t returned.
Cody Canada, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Deadwood, Dwight Yoakam, Earl Brown, Gary Busey, Gurf Morlix, Hayes Carll, Jack Ingram, Kris Kristofferson, Last Rites of Ransom Pride, Lloyd Maines, Randy Rogers, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Taryn Manning, Tiller Russell