Texas country music

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Texas country music (more popularly known just as Texas country or Texas music) is a rapidly growing subgenre of American 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 subgenres by featuring straightforward, 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. Texas Country Music can also be called, "Red Dirt" country music, which originated in Texas and Oklahoma. The two states, Texas and Oklahoma, have influenced the scene of this particular genre. Both states have fled the scene of recent main-stream country music, to create their own respective sound.[citation needed]

Although it is often anti-Nashville, neither the location of birth nor the location of upbringing seems to calculate in the definition of a Texas country artist, as long as the origin is not in the corporate Nashville scene. Though many are Texas natives, many outside the state lines have tested the Texas waters. Artists such as Chris Knight are often considered Texas country musicians, despite his Kentucky ties. Adam Hood, an Alabama native, also has had success in the Texas country market. Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of a Texas Country artist is that they hold the majority of their concerts in Texas venues and their music is charted in one of the two Texas Music Charts as opposed to the Billboard chart. Even international musicians, such as Alberta, Canada native Corb Lund have been successful in the Red Dirt scene.


The acoustic guitar is essential in Texas country music. While the acoustic guitar is the most often used, electric guitars are not uncommon, and the use of steel guitars or pedal steel guitars is also prevalent. Bass and percussion usually round out the essentials for a bar-touring band, but a piano, baritone guitar, banjo, accordion, fiddle or harmonica on studio recordings (or in larger shows) are the norm for the genre.


The line of delineation for vocals is also unclear. Artists considered Texas country each have diverse and distinctive voices. While traditionally a male dominated genre, women have had chart success in recent years, allowing more diversity in the genre and concert venue tour circuit. The Texas "anthem" is a common song type, referencing and sometimes embellishing on the different positive characteristics of the state. Many of these have been popular on the Texas Music Charts.[1]

Live performances[edit]

The live performance is at the very root of the Texas country scene. Enthusiasm is the best descriptor for both band and crowd at a live Texas country performance. "It is not an uncommon sight 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 or "Man Fans" in khakis and college girls pressed up against the stage".[2] An important factor Texas Country's success is in the frequency of live performances. It is not uncommon for a Texas Country band to tour 200+ dates a year, all, or nearly all, in the State of Texas[citation needed]. This allows the fan to attend a band's show more often, thus interacting with the music on a more personal level. Popular venues include, Gruene Hall (Gruene), Billy Bob's (Ft. Worth), John T. Floore's Country Store (Helotes) and Luckenbach Dance Hall.[3]


Lyrical content is the backbone of Texas country. Willie Nelson, a legendary Country Music Outlaw, inspired his friend Waylon Jennings, an outlaw country music legend himself, who is sometimes cited as an inspiration to present day Texas country musicians, to say, “Your melody goes where the words take you”.[4]

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".[5]



Country music from Texas has been a popular since the spread of the cowboy culture in the late 1800s. Texas helped popularize country music through the world and the state’s rich and varied traditions continue to redefine country music.[6]

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 Allan Coe retreated from the Nashville Country Music scene to Austin, Luckenbach, College Station and Houston. 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. All these stars have rated higher than 43 on the Texas Music Scene charts[citation needed].

These artists were followed in turn by the work of singer-songwriters such as Pat Green, Robert Earl Keen, Max Stalling, Wade Bowen and Cory Morrow.

While the genre has roots in Texas, Oklahoma artists such as Jason Boland, Stoney LaRue, Mike McClure, and Cross Canadian Ragweed have had a major influence on Texas Country. For this reason, "Red Dirt Music" is becoming a more popular term for the genre to pay homage to its Oklahoma influence. The term was coined in reference to the miles of red dirt that is common throughout the two states.


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".[7] 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", a song many music fans regard as the paradigm for Texas 'Country anthems'. Joe Ely and other Texas musicians have recorded cover versions of “The Road Goes On Forever”.

2000s and the Texas Influence in Nashville[edit]

Cory Morrow, a Houston native, had been on the Texas scene since the mid-90s. With the release of his fourth album Outside the Lines, Morrow found more mainstream success on the country music charts.[citation needed] Pat Green, also an artist from Texas, began his career as part of the Texas country scene later went on to widespread commercial success with gold album Wave on Wave after switching to a "Shania Twain/ Garth Brooks" Nashville style of country music. The album's title track hit No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart and won a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song.

Kevin Fowler, a former hair-metal/glam rocker was Dangerous Toys guitarist from the late 1980s until 1993, followed by his own founding of Thunderfoot, a Southern rock band based out of Austin. Originally from Amarillo, he self-released his country debut album One For The Road in 1997. This followed with his smash independent follow-up album, Beer, Bait, and Ammo. He has since found national success, on a major label.

Texas country's influence continues to be felt in the mainstream music genre with artists such as Jack Ingram, who had already established a name for himself in Texas country, who won a CMT Music Award in 2007 and the 2008 Academy of Country Music award for New Male Vocalist of the Year. He has also scored top 25 singles on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart with songs such as "Love You" and his cover of Hinder's "Lips of an Angel". Another one of his singles, "Wherever You Are", went to number one on the Billboard Chart.


Texas country is unique in that radio stations throughout Texas have embraced the subgenre and regularly mix Texas country into a Country radio format. Two Texas music charts exist to track radio play throughout the state, the Texas Music Chart and the Texas Regional Radio Report, respectively. Several radio stations across Texas have adopted a "Texas Country Only" format. These stations include:

In addition, at least two regionally syndicated programs feature the format: the CDTex radio show hosted by Cowboy Bobby Lopez and the Official Texas Countdown hosted by KHYI morning host Chuck Taylor.


The following artists are often classified as members of the Texas country movement:


  1. ^ TX National Anthem voting (sponsored by Lone-Star Beer company)
  2. ^ Lone Star Music. Kevin Fowler Biography. November 9, 2006 LoneStar Music.
  3. ^ Best-Spots-To-Hear-Live-Music-In-Texas
  4. ^ Jennings, Waylon and Lenny Kaye. Waylon: An Autobiography. New York: Warner Books, 1976.
  5. ^ Clayton, Lawrence. "Elements of Realism in the Songs of the Cowboy." American Renaissance and American West. Ed. Durer, Christopher S. et al. WY: University of Wyoming, 1982.
  6. ^ Hartman, Gary. The History of Texas Music. N.p.: Texas A&M University Press, 2008. Print.
  7. ^ Wolff, Kurt. Country Music: The Rough Guide. London: Rough Guides Ltd, 2000.

Further reading[edit]