Monthly Archives: December 2015

Country Music Forever

It’s really interesting how country music has had such a big impact on my life growing up, especially since I’ve lived in the south my entire life. It wasn’t until I moved to Texas when I was 11 years old that I actually fell in love with the genre. Country music has a deep history in Texas and popularized some of the best country artists to this day (and my favorite, George Strait). From the places I’ve been to the shows I currently watch, the country music lifestyle is continuing to influence my life in pretty subtle ways. I love this class because it has really made me appreciate my loyalty to this genre.



I went to Threadgill’s a few weeks ago with my friend not knowing much about it other than the fact that it was another Austin hot spot. You walk into the restaurant and there are pictures all over the walls of some of greatest artists throughout the history of country music. Country music lover Kenneth Threadgill opened the restaurant in 1933. Fun Fact: he was the first person to own a beer license in the county. Janis Joplin even made a few appearances in the restaurant. If you want to experience live country music while eating good ole’ southern cooking, Threadgill’s is the best place to go.

Nashville (TV Show)


I started watching this television show as soon as it aired on ABC in 2012. The show stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere and focuses on their character’s clashing careers. Country superstar Rayna James (Britton) struggles to uphold her career with the contemporary direction country music is heading. Her stardom starts fading when Juliette Barnes (Panettiere) becomes the hot new star, appealing to the younger audience. There’s a lot of speculation if the show is based off real life situations that have happened in country music. Maybe Rayna represents Faith Hill’s diminishing career as rising country star Carrie Underwood, played out as Juliette Barnes, comes into the scene. Because Hill and Underwood had rumors swirling several years ago about tension between the two, maybe the creators based their lead characters off their public debacle. Regardless, I am a huge fan of this show and all the drama that is played out on the screen. It really shows the struggle of making it big in the industry, and it even features the renowned Blue Bird Café where several big-time artists were discovered.

2015 CMA Awards

chris and luke

I have been tuning into the CMA Awards for as long as I have been a country music fan. All of my favorite artists coming together to show-off their best work is my favorite awards show of the year. The show has been hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood since 2008, and as their careers are better than ever, I don’t see them slowing down. The Entertainer of the Year award of course went to Luke Bryan, the hottest singer in country music today. Female Vocalist of the Year went to Miranda Lambert while Vocal Duo of the Year went to Florida Georgia Line. It seems that country music is starting to accept a pop sound and these successful singers are focused on creating crossover hits. Probably the biggest shock of the night happened when Chris Stapleton won Male Vocalist of the Year. His debut album was released in May, and he walked away with three awards that night. This is an artist I think all country fans can get excited about. He’s bringing back the traditional country sound with his hits like “Tennessee Whiskey” (which he performed with Justin Timberlake on the show) and “Traveller.” With all the mainstream country music, I’m glad to see that people will still appreciate the classic sound that popularized the genre through the 80s and 90s. Chris Stapleton won some incredible awards that night for someone who has only been on the radio for a few months. Who knows, maybe Chris Stapleton will be the next George Strait.

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Filed under Austin Food, Awards, Blog Post 5, Country Pop, Movies and TV

My Texas Life is a Country Song

I have never thought about how much my life involves things that can relate with country music. When I look through my photos, and think about my time in this course throughout the semester, I realize that I immerse myself within country music culture throughout Austin without even realizing it. Between my family ranch and riding my horses, to weekend trips down to concerts at Nutty Brown Café and Gruene Hall, I could easily write a country song about my life. Here’s a few things I’ve done the past few months that strongly show how country music is reflected through my life:

  1. Zac Brown at Austin360 Amphitheater

zac brownZac Brown Band and friends played recently at Austin360 Amphitheater and I was able to attend with a good friend of mine who goes to A&M (boo). This was in early November and I later posted a throwback photo on Instagram from the concert. I’ve seen Zac Brown play multiple times, and each time they have fun props and settings up on stage to add to the country feel. Even though this band is extremely popular these days, and believe me, there was certainly a huge crowd at the concert, the band does a great job giving off the vibes of a small-town Texas country band. I think that may be why I adore them so much in concert.


2. My ranch & horses

my horses

While “visiting your ranch and working with the horses” wasn’t on the list of activities to do around Austin, I couldn’t help but feel that this is the most country thing available to do nearby, and I do it often. There are countless country songs about life out on the farm, or ranch, and working with the horses or cattle and what not. Out in Wimberley, my father owns a ranch with a little cabin and some livestock. We go out there on weekends as a family to ride our horses, hunt, shoot guns, do work on the land with the tractor, and basically anything else you can find in a Jason Aldean song. My horses mean a lot to me. I look forward to the 45 minute drive down to the property and my heart warms when I put my work boots on and grab my saddle from the tack room. I spend hours riding around the land on Corzo, my sixteen year old palomino, retired cattle horse. He’s a sweetheart. Try and tell me that this activity doesn’t belong on the “Country Experiences” list.


3. Gruene Hall

nutty brown  gruenehall

 Gruene is one of my favorite little towns in Texas, in line with Wimberley for sure. With Gruene being close enough to head over to after visiting the ranch for the weekend, my friends and I often stop by on Saturday nights and dance at Gruene Hall, or eat at the Gristmill next door. I’ve yet to go to a concert at Gruene Hall but I love just stopping by for a quick drink or chicken fried steak. If you’ve never visited Gruene before, I’d highly recommend jumping on I-35 for the quick 45 minute drive down to this awesome little old-fashioned town.

Looking at how often I do these things above, whether it’s ranch outings, Gruene Hall dancing, or the never ending availability of concerts to attend in Austin and nearby towns, it’s easy to see that Texas is a prime place to be when it comes to the country music lifestyle. Participating in these activities on a normal basis while living in Texas, I’m able to relate to so many of the country songs we’ve studied this semester in class. I have truly enjoyed studying the rhetoric of country music this semester, and being able to apply it to my daily life in numerous ways.

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My Country Development

I have grown up in a house that absolutely does not believe in country music. My dad always said, “I would like country music, but I don’t drive a pick up truck or sleep with my sister.” A little extreme if you ask me, but his perspective has kept my knowledge of country music and history in the dark. I have learned more about prominent country artists and the evolution of country music in the past 15 weeks than I have in the past 15 years.

The rhetoric of country music class made me more eager to discover what exactly I had been missing out on. One thing that really sparked my interest was learning about the outlaws. These artists were the transcendentalists within country music, and I admired their talent, dedication, and passion towards making brilliant music despite what others thought. So I was beyond thrilled when I found out Willie Nelson was playing in Fort Worth over Thanksgiving break.

Willie Nelson Concert

IMG_3927This man is a legend, and I got to see him live! The turnout at Billy Bobs was unbelievable. It was amazing to see generations of people there. There were kids my age, their parents, their parents’ parents, and quite possibly their parents’ parents’ parents. Everybody was singing along, dancing, and screaming “Willie Nelson!!!” as he sung some of his famous hits like, “On the Road Again”, “Always on My Mind”, and “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”.

Although our seats were pretty much right next to the entrance, I was analyzing him from the big screen. He is a magnificent performer and took a maximum of two breaths between every song. He sang non-stop for 90 minutes while flawlessly playing the guitar and throwing multiple bandanas to those lucky fans in the front row. His voice was a balance of smooth and nasally with a smoky age to it, while his music offered flavors of bluegrass, Nashville, and folk.

Willie Nelson StatueIMG_3934

His concert led me all the way to his statue in Austin. I was hungry for more information on Willie Nelson and his impact. The singer’s acclaimed musical talent is what prompted the creation of the statue in the first place. The bronze statue was “inadvertently” unveiled on 4/20, which further denoted the stoner reputation Nelson has. His thriving musical career as an outlaw in the country music industry has permanently, pun intended, made him a legendary icon.

Dixie Chicks’ Documentary

After discussing the outlaws of country music in class, I thought about the Dixie Chicks and wondered if they belong under this category after their scandal. I decided to revisit the band’s political mishap and watch their documentary, “Shut Up and Sing”. The main singer, Natalie Maines, decided to disclose a small comment during one of their shows, “…we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas”. This left their career severely wounded and caused families, fans, and American citizens to trash their various Dixie Chicks CDs. Although The Dixie Chicks voiced their honest opinion, they disrespected a large quantity of people in the US and were reprimanded by and removed from multiple radio stations. This same mindset of ‘doing what you want and not caring what others think’ can be found in many prevalent country artists in the ‘70s that are viewed as outlaws. However, such artists, like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, were fighting against Nashville, while the Dixie Chicks were fighting against a bigger and more political problem. Still, such rebelliousness, even though not in the same boat as Jennings and Nelson, can somewhat be considered outlaw.IMG_3936

Since the beginning of the 2015 fall semester, I have done a complete 180 and learned so much about the most popular and historic music genre in Texas. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to take this class and the chance to understand country music in a new light. Watching documentaries about famous country artists, attending a concert of a legendary country icon, and seeing 2000 pound statue of a country singer in the center of downtown, Austin, all help process the impact country music has had on Texas and the people who live in it. I am truly excited to continue my learning and apply what I know to future events.


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Expanding My Country Music Experiences

Living in Texas I have grown up a fan of country music. My parents always listened to it, my friends liked it, and there were so many great concerts that were available. I had my favorite artists and could hold a conversation about the genre, but I never knew the history or roots of where it came from. Since I needed a rhetoric class and liked country music, I thought this course would be a good fit for me. Coming into the class I did not know what to expect, but throughout the semester I have learned to love country music even more since I now know the story behind it. Here is a list of some activities I did this fall to further my learning experience even more!

1.Saw Abe Mac perform live.

Gage Hotel in Marathon, TX

Gage Hotel in Marathon, TX

This live country music performance was different than any previous ones I have attended. This West Texas native hasn’t “made it big” yet and the environment I was in made it even better. In a hotel in a little town called Marathon, I got to listen to this musician play the music he loves while I ate my dinner and proceeded to dance afterwards. Not only was his performance great, the whole experience was great. I was surrounded by people who all loved country music and enjoyed the life of a small town. It made me appreciate all the singers who aren’t famous and still playing traditional, non-pop country music.

2.Watched the Country Music Association Award show.

IMG_0274I have watched the CMA Awards before, but not like this. This time I didn’t fall asleep and was actually interested to see who won the awards. Normally I just watch the performances and zoned out the rest, but being in this class makes me appreciate the music a lot more. My favorite performance (like everyone else’s) was Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake. It was one that will definitely go down in history and it is confirmed that JT will be releasing a country album that I am looking forward to. I think that everyone who won deserved it and I am glad that Stapleton took home three trophies.

3.Read the November 2014 issue from Texas Music Magazine.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 3.43.29 PMThis issue was from this month a year ago and it was interesting to see how things have changed, or haven’t changed, in this time. In the section discussing the 2014 CMA Awards, Miranda Lambert won Female Vocalist of the Year, just like she did in 2015. But what caught my eye the most was an interview with Steve Young. While he wasn’t like most rebellious Texas outlaws, he became a father figure for those like Waylon Jennings and Steve Earl. In fact his song “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean” was “turned into the theme song for the Outlaw Movement” by Waylon Jennings, even though Young isn’t quite sure that Jennings knew what the song was about. In the last question he is asked why he lives in Nashville since he doesn’t seem like a Nashville guy. In his answer he compares Austin to Nashville in an interesting way. He says, “people tell me all the time I seem more like an Austin guy…there’s no way I’d want to live there, even though Nashville is becoming more like Austin every day with growth and traffic and gentrification.” People always try to compare the two cities and it is funny to see that they aren’t that different in some ways.

This class has taught me a lot about the history, people, roots, and structure of country music. I thought that I knew a decent amount about it, but going through a whole semester taught me that I actually didn’t know a whole lot. I had been to countless concerts but seeing Abe Mac, a non-famous country singer, in such a small town made me appreciate the roots of the genre. Watching the CMA awards to actually know who won revealed to me that I have taken a greatest interest into the sound and songs of country. And lastly, reading Texas Music Magazine, which I didn’t know existed, is evidence that the genre is alive and people do care about the history and current events. Throughout the semester I have learned a great deal about artists and songs that I would never have known without this class. I hope to continue to read blogs and articles about what is going on in the country music world so I can stay involved.


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Expanding My Country Horizons

I have always considered myself a fan of country music. Growing up I listened to George Strait, Toby Keith, and Randy Travis and I never really ventured far out of that time period. Everything before them was old and boring and all the new stuff was a bunch of inauthentic pop, that was until I took this class. I now have an appreciation and understanding of the music and the history of the music that came before. I also have opened myself up to new music

1: Oh Brother, Where Art Thou

As a film student I felt compelled to watch a movie that had country music playing a role. I decided to watch “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” because I am a fan of the Coen Brothers and this film was revolutionary in the the field of color grading (the field I’m hoping to go into). I ended up liking the soundtrack way more than I had anticipated. It was an amazing mix of acoustic blues and bluegrass which fits the period of the 1930s perfectly. I now find myself listening to songs from the 30s and 40s now, which is something I never would have done.

2: Record Shopping

I stopped by Breakaway Records, which is next to Epoch, one of my favorite coffee shops, to go thumb through some country records! I do have a record player and own mostly blues, soundtracks, and one Johnny Cash album so I was hoping to maybe add some more country to the collection! I was happy that I could now recognize many of the names that I previously wouldn’t have been able to. I ended up buying two records: Kenny Rogers and Ernest Tubb. Expanding my collection to songs from the 40s through the 80s is something that I am now really happy about.

3: Watching the CMAs

I had sworn off the CMAs in 2011 after Taylor Swift was named Entertainer of the Year because in my mind she had gone completely pop. I decided that since I was in this class I should watch the CMAs (strictly for academic purposes of course) and while there was still a lot of music that I didn’t like I was so surprised by Chris Stapleton. After watching his performances I went and listened to his album and was blown away. Chris Stapleton has renewed my faith in new country for making such a good album as well as being recognized for it. So not only have I expanded my music back in time but I am glad to say that there is some new country that I like as well.

Taking this class and making an effort to experience country music in more ways has expanded my view on Country Music. I am now familiar with the history of the genre and the influences and tensions that have been present for decades, giving me context for the music and connections to other genres. Experiencing country music in new ways over this semester has expanded my view of country music and I have grown to appreciate it on a much deeper level

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