Texas / Red Dirt Artists Get Big Opportunities on Grand Ole Opry

Texas and Red Dirt country music fans—just like independent and underground country fans—are used to being overlooked and underappreciated by the rest of country music, so much so that it’s become institutionalized in their thinking that they’ll never get a fair shake.

But things in country music are changing, and across the board, even at an old relic like the Grand Ole Opry. Of course, it’s days of launching stars overnight are long gone. But you ask any artist in country music, and they’ll tell you that making their Grand Ole Opry debut is a lifetime bucket list achievement. And now under the management of Dan Rogers, more and more artists are getting that opportunity, especially from the Texas and Red Dirt realm.

On Tuesday night, September 6th, Austin-based honky tonk band Mike and the Moonpies will be making their Grand Ole Opry debut. It’s something both the band and their fans probably never thought they’d see, despite The Moonpies’ incredible run of recorded albums, and their reigning designation as one of the greatest live bands out there in all of country music. Mike and the Moonpies are the embodiment of the overlooked and underappreciated country band.

“The Moonpies thing was a joke,” Mike Harmeier says in a new Tomboy Sessions video for the band also released on Tuesday (see below). “We started doing it as a dancehall band back in the day. From 2007 to 2010 we just played dancehalls and four hour shows all the time. The Moonpie thing was just hilarious to us, and now it’s gone way too far. We can’t change it anymore, so we’re stuck with that thing.”

Mike and the Moonpies is just where the upcoming opportunities for Texas and Red Dirt artists begins.

“When you play country music there’s no bigger stage than the Grand Ole Opry,” says songwriter Jason Eady. “I’ve thought about being up there since the first time I picked up a guitar. And now on November 18th, it’s happening! Thank you to the Opry for the invitation.”

Jason Eady will be making his Grand Ole Opry debut only a couple of weeks after Oklahoma-born Kaitlin Butts makes hers on November 5th. Kaitlin released a landmark album earlier this year called What Else Can She Do? and packed out Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth for her headlining debut at the historic Texas venue.

And though Adam Hood is from Alabama and not Texas or Oklahoma originally, he regularly pops up as a songwriter in the scene. He’ll be making his own Opry debut on October 22nd.

“I pride myself on being a product of my influence, a student of the masters and someone who concerns themself with the craft of songwriting,”
says Hood. “Everyone who is doing it the best seems to come across that stage at some point in time. It’s one thing to write for these people and it’s an awesome feeling to now be one of those people. This is a nice, solid pat on the back. It’s an acceptance into the industry that we work in and I feel honored to be invited to play.”

This all comes as Red Dirt legend Jason Boland and his backing band The Stragglers made their Grand Ole Opry debut late in 2021, as did Texas group Flatland Cavalry. Of course, Texas and Red Dirt artists aren’t the only deserving performers getting Opry debuts. Virginia’s 49 Winchester just made their debut on August 30th. And meanwhile, up-and-comers from across the country music landscape continue to receive similar opportunities at a frequency we just didn’t see in previous eras.

We can’t all be at the Opry in person of course, but you can always listen to the Grand Ole Opry on WSM 650 in Nashville, as well as online, or on Willie’s Roadhouse on Sirius XM.


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