Monthly Archives: May 2016

That’s All Folks!

Over the semester, I have thoroughly enjoyed furthering my knowledge of country music by our in class work, writing blog posts and essays. However, by doing this final post it certainly pieced various experiences that make up what is country music.

See a Live Country Music Show:

The Cody Sparks Band performing at Wild West Cedar Park Night club.

The Cody Sparks Band performing at Wild West Cedar Park Night club.

As part of my Country Experience reflection, I decided to see my cousin’s band, The Cody Sparks Band perform at the Wild West Cedar Park Night club. They were not only performing, but also promoting their new record. In that night alone I noticed one main thing:

Life in the country music business is tough. But starting out in Austin is the way to go. For example, while my cousin’s band is at the very, very beginning stages of their music careers, they found all their connections through going to shows, festivals, and being around and present.

My Grandmother also came to see my cousins performs. This is an example of their merchandise they try to sell at shows!

My Grandmother also came to see my cousins performs. This is an example of their merchandise they try to sell at shows!

Plus, I learned the process of writing an album, recording it, and getting the album on iTunes is a lot harder than one would think. They just finished theirs, “Sinners and the Saved”, and now they are booked every weekend playing at small venues like the Rattle Inn and Hole in the Wall, and while they are trying perform, they are also trying to sell merchandise and albums. However, seeing them dedicate their lives to it, and really care about this music they are performing is admirable, and everyone has to start out somewhere like at the Wild West Cedar Park Night club!

Movie: Walk the Line

 Real life Johnny and June vs the actors.

Real life Johnny and June vs the actors.

I first saw “Walk the Line” as a kid, and when I saw it on the list I definitely wanted to re-watch it. Here are three things I learned and reflected based on watching “Walk the Line“:

-It’s hard to encompass the life of Johnny Cash in one film, but the movie clearly focused on the beginning of his career and life with June Carter. And boy, it was full of drama.

Reese Witherspoon and June Carter are the definition of America’s sweethearts. And Witherspoon surely convinced the Academy after they awarded her Best Actress in 2006.

-My favorite scene was when the couple sings “Jackson.” I liked this because in class we watched the actual Johnny and June sing the song, and it was neat to compare and contrast how the Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon sang it in the movie.

Texas Music Monthly: Article

Kacey Musgraves posing for Texas Music Magazine.

Kacey Musgraves posing for Texas Music Magazine.

I came across this article in Texas Music Magazine about Kacey Musgraves. I was intrigued because first, I did not realize she was from Texas and two, I think she is very true to her music. Here are two things I learned:

-She’s a genuine country music songwriter. Her hit song, “Merry Go ‘Round” is based on her own personal experience of living in a small town. Plus, through that song alone, you can tell she has humor and a personality.

-Musgraves mentioned how she likes songs that make her think, such as ones by Willie Nelson and John Prine. I think Willie and Musgraves would be friends. Although Musgraves isn’t Outlaw Country, she’s certainly sing about wider ideas than the normal conservative country artist, which is outside the norm.  An example of this is her song, “Follow Your Arrow.”

Wrap It All Up

To say the least, my perception of country music has definitely evolved. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being know nothing to 10 being an expert like Prof. Dusty, I realized quickly I was about a 4. Now, I would say I am about 7. I understand the complexity of what makes up country music and have much more of appreciation of the genre as a whole. We took to the time to learn the history, which is something I enjoyed. So wrap up how these three experiences play into that evolution is:

-Experiencing my cousin’s band perform made me reflect how all artists we have talked about had to start somewhere, and they all have their unique story. Plus the effort it takes one to dedicate their lives to the industry is a lot, so they better love it!

-Seeing Walk the Line with fresh eyes certainly made me more aware of the life of the Cash’s, but also helped me reflect on how movies shape our perception of country music. And although there can be debate as to how well the movie represented Cash’s life, I think they did the best job they could, and I enjoyed the both actors actually singing music!

-Reading the article by Kacey Musgraves, made realize although every artist’s music is a representation of who they are, learning more about their personal story and who influenced their music is really intriguing. Because then you understand who really are and how their music mirrors that.

Thanks Prof Dusty for making going to class fun: we got to listen and talk about country music!

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My Country Music Experience

As I watched May 2nd’s episode of The Voice online the next day, country singer Mary Sarah from Team Blake, who has been one of the top performers all season long, made a bold move to sing Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man.” Well the move paid off big time. It sounded as if I was listening to the video we watched/listened to of Tammy singing this song in class.

Mary Sarah on "The Voice"

Mary Sarah on “The Voice”

The way she sang the chorus of the song, she sounded exactly like Tammy and really amazed me that someone this young has a voice that can sound so classic like Tammy Wynette.

My parents came into town on the weekend of April 16 and on the last morning they were here, we went to the Nutty Brown Café for brunch. This place is so eclectic. The quaintness of the place was so awesome. It just had a complete Texas, rustic style to it that I really love about place that also host concerts and events like Nutty Brown does.

Nutty Brown Cafe

Nutty Brown Cafe

Oh yeah, the brunch was also amazing. The food was so scrumptious and be prepared to have a light dinner later on in the night, because this food will fill you up. The setup of the restaurant just screams Texas country style to you when you walk in.

As I was reading the latest edition of Texas Music Magazine, Texas football legendary coach Darrell K. Royal helped play a role in establishing Austin as the music city that it is. Coach Royal was just as well known for being a coach as he was for his “pickin’ parties” that would involve passing around the guitar with the likes of Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and others.

Spring 2016 Edition of Texas Music Magazine

Spring 2016 Edition of Texas Music Magazine

Also in this edition, they caught up with who did their first food and music feature since 2006. She provided reviews from 14 different venues including the likes of Kenney Store, Jerry Nelson’s Hill Country, The Live Oak Music Hall and Lounge, along with others.

My perspective of country music has changed in that not all country involves just the twang that most associate with country music but it also has roots from other genres and has also influenced other genres of music as well and country music is not just limited to country music.

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I Always Have and Always Will Love Country Music

For as long as I can remember, country music has been my genre of choice. My redneck dad grew up in Tennessee and I don’t think he even knew other types of music existed outside of country. My mom grew up North of Dallas and constantly reminisces on her weekends tearing up the dance halls at country concerts. I grew up with country music embedded within me, but it wasn’t until this semester that I really discovered how much I appreciate country music. Throughout the semester I gained knowledge about aspects of country music that I wasn’t aware of previously, like it’s history and the legends that paved the way for today’s biggest country stars. Not only did I learn about country music during lecture, I also experienced country music in my life outside of the classroom. I saw a live country music show in Snook, went two stepping at Stubb’s, and watched the 2016 ACM awards show.

Saw a live country music show (or ten)

13010595_10206427021458794_8546621853255308014_nSnook, TX is a pretty plain place and Chilifest is actually the only thing the town is known for. Chilifest is a two-day music festival that brings in way too many Aggies wearing way-too-short denim cutoffs and cowboy boots that get covered in mud. The weekend is a complete mess, but ten or more of the most well known Texas Country artists perform on Friday and Saturday. I’ve actually been to Chilifest three other times, but this past year was the most memorable for me. The lineup this year consisted of some of my all time favorites, like Roger Creager, Shane Smith and the Saints, Pat Green, Turnpike Troubadours, William Clark Green, Whiskey Myers, Josh Abbott Band, and Gary Allan. I’ve heard many of these guys perform live in the past, but I really appreciated their performances at Chilifest this year. While we didn’t rally discuss many of the artists in class this semester, I was able to recognize where the Texas Country artists might have gotten their musical inspiration.

Went two stepping at a dance hall

FullSizeRender 2Another one of my favorite things I did this semester was dancing the night away to Cody Johnson live at Stubb’s BBQ. From a previous post of mine its clear to see that I am obsessed with Cody Johnson and after learning about legends like Chris LeDoux, I have gone beyond just loving his music, but I now have a deep appreciation for it. Like LeDoux, Cody is a cowboy that has worked really hard in both rodeos and on his musical career. Before this class, I never made a connection with where Cody could have gotten his inspiration from, but now it is evident that LeDoux had much to do with Cody’s style. Cody sings about his life, and as I two stepped to all of his catchy tunes I fell more in love with his music than ever before.
Watched an awards show on TV

I’m a huge fan of country music awards shows, party because I drool over all of the glamorous outfits worn by country royalty, but mainly because I’m interested to see who gets nominated/wins the awards. I recently watched the 51st ACM awards and had many mixed emotions all throughout the show. I was blown away by several performances, like Tim McGraw’s inspirational debut of “Humble and Kind” and Carrie Underwood’s jaw-dropping performance of “Church Bells.” I really enjoyed the performances, but some of the nominations and awards were a bit surprising to me! I mean, Jason Aldean won Entertainer of the Year over Garth Brooks, and Florida Georgia Line Vocal Duo of the Year when Brothers Osborne was also in the running… Something just didn’t really add up there. On the other hand, Chris Stapleton blew everyone out of the water and received awards in four different categories! This years ACM’s were big for Stapleton, and I really loved seeing such a deserving singer/songwriter receive recognition as he should.

onstage during the 51st Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 3, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Memorable Moments in Country Rhetoric

I remember last year my roommate telling me about the Rhetoric of Country Music class. I got so excited because it was the perfect rhetoric class for me to take. I have loved country music since childhood and knew that learning more about the genre would be meaningful. In the end, this class has really taught me so much more about country music than I had expected. Here are some activities I have participated in involving country music during the time I’ve taken this class!

Working at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

IMG_5656Over spring break I worked as a video studio intern for the Houston Rodeo. As an intern, I was assigned to film the various livestock shows, the birthing center, and other fun events that go on every day at the Rodeo. The Rodeo has so much to offer for example, nightly concerts by the biggest names in country music, a huge carnival where constant country music is being played and of course all that fried food! Being an intern I got to experience some of these things through a camera lens and record it for others to see. My favorite place to be assigned was the birthing center. Although I never actually witnessed a birth of a calf or piglet, I got to play with the baby animals and videotape them live onto a big screen for people passing by to see. My experience working at the Rodeo was one like no other. I can’t wait to head back next year and do it all again!

Attending Kenny Chesney and Florida Georgia Line Concerts

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 2.51.12 PMA perk of working for the Rodeo meant free concert tickets and entrance to the carnival. Most days I was too tired from work to attend the concerts but I had to make a special exception for Kenny Chesney. Sadly, the free tickets I received weren’t for a specific assigned seat. So my friends and I had to hop around from seat to seat when people would come claim theirs. Finally, right before the concert started we found ourselves a good spot to watch. Kenny was so great! I was excited to see that I knew all of the song he performed. And, it turned out better not having seats because we got to dance around the whole night! A few evenings later it was one of my best friend’s birthdays and he really wanted to go to the rodeo. Unfortunately for us, that was the night Florida Georgia Line was performing. My other friend ended up getting us really good seats for free so we all decided to go. As you can see on our faces, we were not impressed. Everything from their vocals to their outfits were just plain terrible. I was astonished to see people in the crowd actually enjoying the disturbingly bad concert.

Country themed date event

IMG_3749A few months ago I was asked by one of my best friends Ari to go to a country themed date for his fraternity AEPi. The event was to dress up in ”country” attire and to come prepared to listen to country music and dance the night away. Lucky for me, Ari knows how to line dance so he showed me what to do. It was really fun seeing how people dressed up for the event; some went all out with a cowboy hat, boots and even a belt buckle. Also, the guys in the fraternity wanted the scenery to match the theme so they went ahead and put a very large haystack in the middle of the room, which ended up being a perfect place to take pictures!

In the end, this class has become such a great learning experience. It has made me listen to country radio with a new perspective and appreciate the artists who have made country music what it is today. I really do want to thank Dusty for being such an awesome professor and mentor and I am honored that I was in his last Rhetoric of Country Music class at the University of Texas!

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Filed under Blog Post 5, Concert, Florida Georgia Line, Houston Rodeo, Kenny Chesney, Rodeo

Country: Much More Than it Seems

Coming from Mexico, I was never really exposed to country music and simply dismissed it as a music genre I wasn’t too interested in. The primary aspect I failed to grasp was what made country so special to some people. It wasn’t until I began listening to much more variety of country music and engaging with the genre’s background and themes that truly sparked my interest.


  1. Take a picture with “Willie Nelson.”

When I first came to the University of Texas, everywhere I went seemed to have something to do with Willie Nelson. Whether it was t-shirts in the airport when I first arrived or walking past the Willie Nelson exhibit in the North End Zone every day, his influence seemed to be everywhere. When I first found out about him, he seemed like just another artistic type who gave off the impression of being famous because of his expressiveness and ambiance more than anything else. I couldn’t really imagine someone like Willie to be significant in defining any sort of movement, not just country music.

However, my entire perception changed when I started learning more about his personal background. He wasn’t just a dirty old hippie who never did anything meaningful in his life, but rather a man who had worked as an auto mechanic, saddle maker, and oil field manager; you can’t get much more “Texas” than those occupations. Yet he wasn’t just a man for followed a specific stereotypical trope, openly supporting the legalization of marijuana and publicly opening up about his issues with alcohol abuse, it allows a certain reliability for the country star, not being detached unlike many celebrities. It’s clear to see through Willie’s personal narrative how he uniquely represented the cultural foundations of Texas as well as the growing counter-cultural Indie subculture within Austin, making him truly revered as more than just a musical icon. No doubt Nelson has earned the honor to have second street named after him.


2. Read the Texas Music Magazine

When I was looking at the Texas Music Magazine, one article in particular caught my attention. Used to seeing album covers or posed shots of young artists, the mug shot of a 75-year-old cowboy certainly caught my attention. “As country as it gets,” Billy Joe Shaver’s life could be characterized as nothing less than badass, still touring in an old van just like how he did in 1970. His love for country, in my opinion, goes beyond many artists in all genres of music. Even the death of his mother and bandmate couldn’t stop this tough-as-nails Texas native from performing the next day. I have newfound respect for artists such as these whose dedication to the craft and the life that comes with it many would think to be borderline absurd, a passion that seems to be relatively unique to country music.


3. Watch a movie about country music

Having listened to a little Johnny Cash before, I decided to watch Walk The Line (2005), the biographical adaptation of the life of Cash. One of the most interesting aspects I found about this movie was how music was instrumental in nearly every aspect of his life. One of the clearest examples came when he was stationed in Germany for the US Air Force, leading him to find solace in writing music to help him cope with the chaos around him, developing some of his trademark blues songs such as “Folsom Prison Blues.” Another instance came when he proposed to his wife, June, saying that he would be unable to sing “Jackson” anymore unless she said yes, showing that even in one of the most personally intimate moments of one’s life, music still played a vital role for Cash. For country artists, it seems as if a circular effect is created, with their lives continuing to be influenced by their music while at the same time providing inspiration for future sounds.

In all of these instances, it is clear to see how country music is much more to the artists than just an occupation. To the singers, it affects their lives and livelihood, drawing not on the praise of others for fuel, but rather their own passion and pride for the craft. I believe it is this specific aspect that makes country music so much more special in comparison to other genres of music.


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