Monthly Archives: May 2016

My Last Rodeo

This semester I was able to attend many events related to country music. It was especially nostalgic for me since I will be moving away from Texas after I graduate this semester. Here are some of the highlights:

Two Stepping at the Houston Rodeo

13112440_10204511690791042_1052464573_oThis year I was extra excited to go to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. A lot has changed since the first time I went in 2005, specifically I was finally 21 and could go to the mysterious after party. The only band I could convince my country-hating roommate to see was The Band Perry. It was her first rodeo so we went around and saw everything, from the mutton bustin’ to the fried oreos. We had a great time watching the rodeo and The Band Perry show. Finally we headed over to the after party, which had a live band and a huge dance floor. I learned the basics of Two Step in my hometown and I learned a walking Two Step in college, but the people at the party were not dancing either of those versions. The people were dancing Two Step in a way that was much closer to Foxtrot, the dance from which Two Step originated. Foxtrot is usually danced to Jazz music (especially Sinatra), and after making that connection, I could hear some of the Jazz influences in many of the slower country songs. I thought it was really interesting how the dance and music evolved together.

Little Longhorn Saloon

Before leaving Austin, I figured I should go to “Chicken Shit Bingo” at Little Longhorn Saloon. It was a beautiful day and the saloon was very crowded. Peewee Moore, an Outlaw country singer, was playing. He definitely dressed the part and had a huge beard and lots of tattoos. Most of the people at the saloon either looked like tourists or like they could be Outlaws themselves. On one of the most Texan days of my life, I sat in Little Longhorn Saloon drinking a Shiner while listening to Peewee’s cover of a Willie Nelson song and waiting for a chicken to shit on a bingo board.

Turnpike Troubadours at the Austin Rodeo

20160318_211801_LLSI was also lucky enough to go to the Austin Rodeo this year and see a show by Turnpike Troubadours. I’d only heard a few of their songs before, but there were a lot of young people who knew a lot of their music. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the show. Many of their songs have a rock feel because of the drums and electric guitar. They also played some new songs which sounded more folksy than their popular songs. Like many young bands, they also performed some covers including Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”. I will definitely be on the lookout to see what they release next.

Walk the Line Movie

walk-the-line.18841My boyfriend and I watched Walk the Line after he confessed that he did not know who Johnny Cash was (in his defense, he didn’t grow up in America). Walk the Line is a biographical movie about Johnny, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. I’d seen the movie when I was younger, but was excited to watch it again after learning so much about country music and Johnny this semester. One thing that I didn’t realize was that Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley were in the movie and playing similar music as Johnny. Learning about Johnny’s history also helped me understand his daughter Rosanne’s album, Black Cadillac, which is about Johnny and his life.

I’ve always loved country music, but this semester I learned how to recognize the influences of previous artists and other genres on country music. Without this class I would’ve never been able to make so many observations about the music at these events. I am able to hear the influences of artists that we talked about in class on new country artists. I heard the influence Emmylou Harris on Turnpike Troubadours and Kris Kristofferson on PeeWee Moore. This knowledge gives me a deeper appreciation for the music and its place in history.

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Filed under Blog Post 5, Concert, Country Pop, Country Rock, Outlaw, Rodeo

A Semester of the South

Prior to this class, I tolerated country music. If it was on I would not be upset, just indifferent really. I did always enjoy any country song if the singer would say “Can’t” with such a twang that it sounded like “Caint.” Although I still cherish the twangy, slight mispronunciation, of words, country music has become so much more to me. It not only has become the only music to fill my car, but the music that drives my thoughts throughout the day.

Walk the Line

WalkTheLine“That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.”-Steve Martin in “Grand Cayon.” As somebody who has seen 58 of the top 100 movies rated by IMDB, it is no secret that I love cinema. I think that I fell in love with movies because of the stories they tell, and looking back at this class I fell in love with country music for the same reason. Songs like Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses” could easily be adapted into full length films. From the first essay on, finding out the story behind every country song made listening to it even more enjoyable. For no song is this truer than Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line.” In the movie with the same title, Joaquin Phoenix portrays Johnny Cash to perfection. Each and every internal demon that Cash faced throughout his hard life was played up to perfection. Phoenix’s dark eyes gave viewers a window into Johnny Cash’s soul, and it was wonderful. In this scene June Carter Cash (Reese Witherspoon) lectures Johnny and the band about walking a line. Although I doubt it sprung up as quick as the movie suggests, this lets you see into how one of the more recognizable songs in country music was created. Whether it was explained by a Hollywood film, or Dusty in class I will always love learning what inspired a great country song.

Dancing Across Texas

(Distracting Right?)As some of you read about in my last blog post, I recently went two stepping. This was an experience that was uncomfortable at first, but quickly grew on me. I would have never been able to do this without being exposed to country music by this class. If it wasn’t for the familiar voices of George Strait, Cody Johnson, and Randy Travis I would have been a nervous wreck out on the dance floor. After having my own two stepping experience, songs like George Straits “I Just Wanna Dance With You”, Lee Brice’s “I Don’t Dance” and of course Brooks and Dunn’s “Boot Scoot Boogey” have instantly become more relatable. With a helpful push from this class I was able to take a step out of my comfort zone and have a great night.

Franklin’s BBQ

franklin-barbecueAs a swimmer I am up early all too often. Sundays are the one day that are free of practice, and free of alarm clocks. For some odd reason, I chose to get up at the crack of dawn to go wait in line for Franklin’s. “Alright folks, only three and a half hours to go! Thanks for coming out and waiting!” exclaimed the head cook of at Franklin’s Barbecue. We were about tenth in line and I was about ready to give up and go back to bed, it was still only 7:15. Just as I was having these thoughts Johnny Cash’s “Get Rhythm” began playing. I figured that if a little boy could shine shoes with a smile, I could at least wait in line for the best BBQ in America. As Johnny Cash songs kept playing, I got some full country nostalgia. Talking with two friends about everything we experienced in our first year as Longhorns. Our time in line flew by as barbecue filled our noses, and memories filled our minds. It was almost like we brainstorming for a country song of our own. With a nostalgic conversation, Johnny Cash playing, and the best smell in Texas I was ready to grab a guitar and start strumming up the next hit country song. This thought would have never crossed my mind had I not been exposed to country music through this class.

I can’t say enough great things about this class and the experiences that it generated for me. I hope that Dusty finds a way to keep it going as he moves on the next phase of his life as country roads take him home to West Virginia. I feel extremely fortunate to have ended up in this class, and I feel bad for every University of Texas student that didn’t get a chance to take it. Whether I hear it in a movie, on a dance floor, or in line at the best BBQ joint in Texas, I can confidently say that I love country music, and attribute most of that to this class.

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What a (Country) Semester!

Country music has had a strangely impactful influence on my life. From serving as the feature music on my car rides to school to dominating the atmosphere at the beloved Houston rodeo, it has always pretty much been around. That said, I never really knew much about the history of country music until taking this class. One of the best parts of taking Rhetoric of Country Music is the requirement that I experience interesting country themed activities. Here are the activities I did during the time I was enrolled in this class!

Line Dancing at Rock-a-thon

IMG_3326Just this passed week, my fraternity hosted Rock-a-thon, a philanthropy event in which one person rocks in a chair for 24 straight hours. While this may not be so exciting for the person sitting in the rocking chair, we made sure to include some activities for the audience to enjoy while the rocker rocked. We brought guest speakers, offered cheap food, and even provided an extra rocking chair for anyone who wished to keep our poor rocker company. However, the best part of the event came between hours 22 and 24 when The Enigmatic Strangers, a band featuring several AEPi brothers, performed in front of the crowd. They played line dancing music and everyone danced and had a good time. We raised over $3,400 for the American Cancer Society and had a fun time in the process. Though it was not the focus, country music served an role as part of the festivities. I cannot say for certain that we would have raised as much money as we did without having the final 2 hour stretch of line dancing to the music played by The Enigmatic Strangers.

Houston Rodeo

IMG_5691Who can forget the Houston Rodeo! I have already written about my incredible experience last year at Blake Shelton’s concert. I (of course) went back to the rodeo this year a couple times, but had a somewhat different experience. This year, I went to see Florida Georgia Line and Kenny Chesney. Though I expected Florida Georgia Line to…not meet expectations, I was somewhat disappointed with Kenny Chesney’s performance. He struggled to captivate the crowd, and his songs did not sound great. Though the sound was not entirely his fault because of the acoustics in the building, I did not think he performed like the superstar he is. That said, I have been complaining too much because those nights were really two of the best nights I have had this year! My best friends and I attended the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and thoroughly enjoyed watching rodeo stars we will not remember . We imagined ourselves having grown up in a rural town, competing in front of thousands of people to hold onto a bucking bronco the longest amount of time. All in all, we loved our trips to the rodeo and cannot wait until next year’s rodeo season.

Watching Walk the Line (2005)

images-1I watched Walk the Line (2005) without high expectations. I was pleasantly surprised with how well Joaquin Phoenix played Johnny Cash, and how much I learned about Cash’s life. The scene when June agreed to marry him seemed forced, but nonetheless brought forth some emotions (my friend might have shed a tear). I thought it was really cool how important music was to rescuing his life, and his performance at the Folsom Prison really hit the nail on the head.

These three experiences greatly impacted my spring semester of 2016. Because of this class, I not only gained knowledge about a music genre I love, but I also made memories I will remember forever. Dusty, thank you for a great semester and good luck next year! It is an honor to have been in your last class at the University of Texas.

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I Guess Country Ain’t That Bad After All

Wow! I can’t believe the year is finally coming to an end. I can still remember walking into class feeling nervous because I had no knowledge about country music or what it meant. Thankfully, the class turned out to be a great experience and I’ve learned more about country music this semester than I ever thought I would in my lifetime.

  1. The Movie Cars


After scanning the list of movies, I decided to watch something familiar. Earlier in the semester, I wrote a song analysis on “Life is a Highway”, which was featured in this movie. On a Saturday night, I decided to grab one of my teammates, Tripp, to watch the movie with me. Tripp was reluctant at first, but I eventually persuaded him into watching it with me and he turned out to be pleasantly surprised. I can vividly remember us cheering for Lightning McQueen and singing along to the soundtrack (trying to sing at least). Although I’ve seen Cars numerous times, it never gets old. I enjoy everything from the plot to the songs, especially “Life is a Highway”. However, watching Cars this time around had a greater meaning as I had a new appreciation for country music and the movie.

  1. Reading the Texas Music Magazine

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 1.19.09 PM

A couple of days ago, I had no clue the Texas Music Magazine existed so I decided to give it a try. To my surprise, it had a bunch of interesting articles to pick and choose from. After scrolling through different “E-Zines”, I came across an article on the CMA Awards. Among a star-studded field, George Strait was honored as Entertainer of the Year, and Miranda Lambert took home another Female Vocalist of the Year trophy. In both of their interviews, Strait and Lambert seemed to be very down to earth. Although both artists have won numerous CMA Awards, Strait and Lambert always praise other nominees for their hard work and success. This not only proves that Strait and Lambert are amazing singers, but also humble and great people to be around. At the end of the night, Strait teamed up with Alan Jackson to pay tribute to the late George Jones by duetting on Jones’ classic, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” What a night it must have been!

  1. Threadgill’s


After reading all the posts about Threadgill’s, I decided to give it a shot. I’m not really familiar with southern-style cooking but I figured I’d like it since I love food in general. A bunch of friends and I decided to try this place out after practice one day and we were amazed by how delicious it tasted. I ordered the chicken fried chicken breast with extra gravy and a side of mashed potatoes and green beans. Usually, we’re pretty hungry after practice so I told the waitress we’d definitely have some dessert at the end… the carrot cake looked amazing so I thought I’d try it out. However, the portions were a little bigger than I expected and I held my head down in shame as our waitress applauded our valiant attempt to bite off more than we could chew. Overall, I definitely recommend this place to anyone looking for a place with great food and music!

This class has been one to remember. I came in with no expectations whatsoever but came out with a better understanding about country music and its attributes. Despite not knowing anything about country music, the class provided me with a deeper perspective of what country music is all about. It’s not always about how good a song performs on a chart, it’s about the story behind every song. Thanks for making this semester more manageable!

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Filed under Blog Post 5, George Strait, Uncategorized

Defined Country


JustinNow, I had never seen the CMA’s or paid much attention, but this year, my love of country music started, so I decided to give it a shot. The commercial breaks seemed to take forever, but whenthe time came for my favorite performance, it was worth it. I’m a big Timberlake fan. I grew up with his music. Whether it was NSYNC or he as a solo artist, JT was always on my iTunes. That’s what made watching the 49th CMA’s so much more interesting. Seeing Chris Stapleton win best new artist and Traveller win Album of the Year was not the best moment, in my eyes, for Stapleton. The best moment was when he paired with the Justin for something amazing – a performance for the ages. The performance of Justin’s hit “Drink You Away,” and Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey,” made it a night to remember. Seeing this really made me appreciate the power of country music, bringing two worlds together and pulling it off. It still gives me chills.

Live Music

What’s the first thing you do when you’re getting ready for a concert? Turn on that artist’s music and learn the lyrics. Luckily this artist has only released four songs – Tyler Dial, but he covers a hell of a lot of them. He performed at Round Up for Pike, and I was lucky enough to see it. The man is skilled, and listening to him sing the songs that I have on my phone was pretty cool to see, as a friend. He made the stage his own, and commanded everyone to get off their feet with his energy. Even when he wasn’t singing, his excitement and guitar skills got everyone pumped up. He made it seem like more than just a performance by a kid. Click below to see the video!



IMG_1944Here’s my first guitar. I got it as a gift this year, and haven’t stopped playing. I don’t know how much it cost, but to me it’s priceless. It has opened so many doors for me, learning how to play this instrument. I notice things in performances now that I didn’t see before. I appreciate Prince’s music that much more now than I did, and the same goes for Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, and all others who have noticeable guitar shredding skills.

These three events or instances have helped me grow with music, but specifically country music. With the CMA’s – I don’t normally watch country awards, but sitting and watching it through and through, I learned a lot about what new artists or old artists should be relevant in my definition of country. This class helped me define my version of country. Seeing Tyler perform – He performed for an hour and a half…that’s a lot of country music. Most of the songs I had heard, but seeing him get such a great reaction from the crowd from the ones I hadn’t heard made me want to gain more knowledge. This class provided me with that knowledge. The guitar – learning this thing was a reward, but learning from it, I can’t describe. I’ve made so many new connections and friends from playing for the crowds that stroll into my room, or by meeting up with friends who sing and play as well. Also, I’ve realized that country music is real. The beats and sounds made from rap or hip-hop can’t be played on a guitar, but the chords and sounds for country are from guitar. This class helped me learn that sound.

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