Monthly Archives: February 2015

Nashville Country versus Texas Country

My roommate is from Nashville, and I’m from Dallas, so when we moved in together, I thought we would be listening to the same country artists. But after a few days of her not knowing some of my favorite artists, such as Josh Abbott Band or Turnpike Troubadours, I discovered that there is a huge difference between Nashville and Texas country music.

Nashville artist Tim McGraw

Nashville artist Tim McGraw

Through asking her a couple questions about what she thinks the difference between the two is, I found a couple key differences. Nashville country is going more pop and mainstream, probably because artists that aren’t country also live and record there. Consequently, Nashville country is more electric than Texas’s, and my roommate also identified that there is a different beat to the songs, possibly because of more of the electronic feel of the artists. Nashville also has a lot of very well known artists, ones that everyone, even people who aren’t into country, know, such as Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and Luke Bryan. Here is an example of a Nashville song that is definitely more appealing to the masses.

Texas country, on the other hand, is much more instrumental. Most songs or bands have a fiddle, and it’s more traditional and has stayed instrumental, not really conforming to the changing to pop that Nashville country has evolved to. Texas songs have more conservative elements and motifs, and I think this is because artists in Nashville are celebrities, and celebrities are traditionally Democratic, while in Texas the majority of the population is Republican, so the song elements are more conservative to appeal to the masses. Some artists are nationally known, such as George Strait, but others, like Pat Green or Casey Donahue, are very famous in Texas, but most people from Nashville, like my roommate, had never heard of before.

Texas artist Pat Green

Texas artist Pat Green

Both have similarities, such as the instance of themes such as beer, God, and trucks, but in Texas it feels more authentic, because these artists are not national celebrities and are known to be down-home country people that drink beer, go to church, and drive old trucks. Texas country is simpler than Nashville country, because the Nashville artists are trying to appeal to the whole country, while Texas country is trying to appeal to a smaller group. Texas country also sings about Texas a lot, as evidenced by this Josh Abbott Band song.

I personally like both styles of country music, because I am the type of person that really enjoys variety when I listen to music, but I know that some people prefer the traditional country of Texas, and others prefer the more mainstream, pop-radio friendly country that some artists in Nashville are producing. Some people find Nashville music not country anymore because it is so pop, and this is why many people turn to Texas music for the well known, stereotypical country sound.


Filed under New Country, Texas

Jesse James


After listening to troubadour by George Strait and hearing Jesse James’s name I was curious too how many country songs talk about him in their lyrics and why. Some of the people that sang about Jesse James included Johnny Cash a well known country artists and also Woody Guthrie. A lot of older traditional country songs talk about him and I was kind of curious as to why. After listening to a few songs I start to see a pattern to Jesse’s story, which he was known for being the fastest gunslinger in the west, bank/coach robber, outlaw, and a murderer.

After hearing those songs I wanted to see whether the stories had any truth too them. I found some information about his story and parts of the stories are truth but some of them were just rumors and myths. So I did some more digging and found out that he was from Missouri where he lived on a slave farm with his mother Zerelda James, his father Robert James, and his brother Frank James. I read on about his outlandish lifestyle as an outlaw. It all started when he joined the confederate guerrillas lead by Bill Anderson known for terrorizing his enemies with scalping and other inhumane tortures.

Shortly after Jesse joined the guerrillas the civil war had been won by the union, so eventually they had to surrender too but of course as we know the story for Jesses James continues. He goes on to rob banks, coaches and trains. Eventually he becomes the greatest known outlaw, muderer, and robber. As I had said previously a lot of older country songs talk about Jesse James and I believe for one is because he was such legendary southern outlaw so it would have been stories that most of those country singers would have heard about as a child, which we all know, or at least I do, and who wouldn’t have wanted to be an outlaw like Jesse James? I believe it inspired their wild side and the song was a way for them to escape reality and show that they were just like him and they could be free and wild-spirited.

So in conclusion I think that Jesse James plays a big role in older country for the simple reason his stories were told by so many songs and still to this day he is talked about in songs, movies, even an music artist’s stage name is Jessie James so that their fans can resonate them with Jesse’s wild side. Time and time again you will hear Jesse James story being told through country songs because he is what you would have called the real southerner.

And if you want to learn a little more about Jesse James here is a short interesting documentary about his life where I got most of facts about Jesse James.


Filed under Uncategorized

Missing the Houston Rodeo

hlsrIf you are from Houston, Texas and you say you have never been to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, your fellow Houstonians pretty much look at you as if you are from another planet. Such a thing is almost unheard of.

Every year since I can remember, I have attended the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, with the exception of last year (my first year of college). Unfortunately, this year might be my second year without the rodeo. As a native Houstonian and fan of country music, this truly saddens me. With all that is currently going on in my life, I have learn to prioritize and come to accept the fact that there will always be next year.

Although the rodeo does not begin until March, the hype usually begins when the New Year rolls around. Everyone who is a usual Houston rodeo attendee knows that the lineup is released in mid-January, which causes a suspenseful beginning of the year. As soon as the lineup is released everyone is on the internet already planning out which rodeo concerts they are going to attend.

Every year, like my fellow Houstonians, I partake in this waiting game anxious to discover who will be performing at the rodeo this year. However, this year I did not even bother to participate and instead I slept in just as anyone who is oblivious to the release of the rodeo lineup would do . As much as I wanted to anxiously wait for the lineup to be released, I didn’t want to be disappointed because of the fact that I won’t have the time in my schedule to visit Houston in the month of March.

rodeoAs much as I hate to admit it, I have slowly come to accept the fact that as I grow older the less time I will have for things of leisure such as attending the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. I highly encourage anyone who has never attended the Houston Rodeo to do so at some point in their life. If you are a fan of country music, mutton bustin’, bull riding, and fried foods then the Houston Rodeo is definitely the place for you. Unfortunately tickets have already gone on sale for this year’s shows and most shows are probably sold out, but there is always next year for you to be able to attend. I know there are many other cities who host their own annual rodeo, but I feel that the Houston Rodeo is one of the greatest events (I may be a bit biased) that occurs each year.


Filed under Live Music, Reflection, Texas

Deep in the Heart of Texas

The countdown has long been underway for the 2015 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and it is HERE. Preparations at NRG Stadium can be seen daily. Of course there are many anxious Houstonians, but there will be people from all over the world, including cowboys, livestock exhibitors, commercial exhibitors, suppliers, dignitaries (former US presidents, current ambassadors along with Secret Service agents), and more than 2,500,000 spectators over the three-week-time period of the Show. Rodeo Houston begins with The World’s Champion Barbecue Competition that features more than 1,000 cook-off teams. Following the cook off, there will be performances by some of the biggest names in country music, daily pig races, carnival attractions and rides, agricultural exhibits, horseshow competitions, wine tasting events and much, much more. Let us not forget that it is a RODEO, the highest paying indoor rodeo in the world. While many seek entertainment and fun at the livestock show and rodeo, they often overlook its value to the greater Houston area.

photo 1

My younger brother in the 2012 Houston Livestock Show

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo started giving scholarships in the late 1950s and has continued with the tradition for more than five decades. Just in 2015 alone, the Houston Rodeo has designated more than $24,000,000 to be given away in scholarships and grants for students desiring to continue their education. As a participant in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s public speaking competitions, firsthand experience says that the HLS&R does an incredible job in guiding students to be successful in their future endeavors, especially providing assistance to those in need. Since its beginning in 1932, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has committed nearly $375 million to scholarships, research, endowments, calf scramble participants, junior show exhibitors, School Art participants, and other educational youth programs.


Me before my first Kenny Rogers concert at the Houston Rodeo in 1999.

Aside from the various charitable and educational activities, the Houston Rodeo promotes Western heritage throughout Houston and the nation. Generations of Houstonians, including my family, have a history with the Show. More than 30,000 volunteers, serving on more than 200 committees, make the show a success. My grandparents have long been involved with buying auction animals, supporting livestock show participants. My father volunteers his time on the Ranching and Wildlife committee, a group that hosts a 4-day conference and seminar for ranchers and also runs a scholarship fundraising auction, offering hunting and fishing trips, saddles, artwork, boots, etc. My youngest brother raises livestock, and will participating the stock show this year for his 4th time. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo seems to transcend time in a way, having events such as the trail ride, cook off, and concerts which generations of families have been able to enjoy together.

Finally, the importance of the Houston Rodeo to the country music industry cannot be overlooked. I can still remember seeing country greats such as George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Rogers, and Alan Jackson perform at Rodeo Houston. There is hall showing former entertainers, including Elvis Presley, Roy Rogers and many more. This year some of the biggest names in country music such as Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, and Luke Bryan will be performing. The Houston Rodeo has been the most important rodeo in the country for promoting country music and keeping the western spirit alive, a long-standing tradition that will continue for years to come.

External Links:

Rodeo Houston: Who We Are

Article from the Houston Chronicle about the Houston Rodeo’s charitable work

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Filed under Charity, Live Music, News, Texas

Saturday Night Live: Where’s the Country?

SNL1674_BLAKE_SHELTON_FULL_EPISODEA couple weekends ago, Saturday Night Live gave a country musician the chance to host the show for the first time since Taylor Swift headlined in 2009. While the episode didn’t get the greatest ratings, it allowed Blake Shelton to get country music back onto an important musical stage. In an era where country music is put on the back burner to feature artists whose musical tours are more of a production than a performance, Blake Shelton may have opened the door for country to be featured on television again.

After realizing I hadn’t heard country music on SNL in recent memory, I stumbled upon a CMT timeline of country hosts and performers since the show’s inception in 1975. In the earlier years of Saturday Night Live, country artists were featured in higher frequency. In the year 1982, both Johnny Cash and Charlie Daniels Band performed on SNL within weeks of each other. Willie Nelson has been featured as both a musical guest and a host/participant. All three of these artists drew attention to country music through televised media, whether they were in a skit mocking country music or performing their songs to a sold-out crowd. However, only two artists performed on SNL in the entire decade of the 90s. So my question is, what happened?


The 90s might be a musical decade highlighted by the rise of stars like Britney Spears and *NSYNC, but many great country groups enjoyed sound careers during this time. Even since the rise of the boyband, Justin Timberlake has been featured on SNL multiple times. Trisha Yearwood’s “She’s In Love With The Boy” is a song I remember hearing as a kid, before I even got into country music. Alabama received multi-platinum success on several albums from the 80s through the 00s, but they were never a host or performance feature on the sketch-comedy show.

While country music is less popular than Top-40 style pop, the artists are frequently commended for their fan interaction and genuine persona in an industry in which these traits are few and far between. Wouldn’t a people-pleaser be a great choice for the host of SNL? Someone who could work well with others in a skit and is also able to give a great live performance at the end? I’d be curious to see what the producers of SNL have to say about their continued decisions of a lack of country music presence.


Filed under Live Music, Movies and TV, Reviews