Author Archives: Tom Oren

The Houston Rodeo

Every city has its “signature event”. That signature event is a special occasion, whether one day long or a month long, that makes that city special and different then any other city. New York City has New Year’s Eve at Times Square, New Orleans’s Mardi Gras and Dallas’s Texas State Fair, Houston’s is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Houston-RodeoThe Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo began as the Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition in April 1932, adding rodeo in 1938. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the world’s largest live entertainment and livestock exhibition. Now held annually in March, the show draws nearly 2 million people, with more than 1.2 million attending the rodeo and concerts in Reliant Stadium. Rodeo Houston has earned the status of the highest-paying regular-season rodeo with its innovative Super Series format. Since 1932, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has committed more than $230 million to the youth of Texas.

What a lot of people don’t know is that the Houston Rodeo is far more then a provider of live entertainment and amusement for the residents of Houston. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is also a charity that benefits youth, supports education, and facilitates better agricultural practices through exhibitions and presentation. 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.

Growing up, I loved going to the rodeo for the carnival rides and of course, the great live music that comes every year. During the month of March, everyone knows that the place to go to is the rodeo. After school, during the weekends, my friends and I would be there without a fail. I love everything about the rodeo. The crazy rides that would make me and my friends nauseous and dizzy for hours, the greasy fried food that would give us stomach aches for weeks, and the live music that was engraved in our hearts and mind for years, all make the rodeo experience something special.

I started going to the rodeo when I was in the 9th grade, which was in 2009. Every year, the rodeo lineup is different, maybe some retuning artists, but never exactly the same. My very first country experience was during the Houston rodeo. Everyone wearing cowboy boots, drinking beer, and dancing around was my first impression of the “country culture”, and I loved it!

DSC_0215Here are the some of the lineups of the Houston Rodeo in the past few years:

2009 Entertainment Lineup
March 3 Rascal Flatts
March 4 Alan Jackson
March 5 Clay Walker
March 6 Gladys Knight and Solange
March 7 Trace Adkins
March 8 Jonas Brothers
March 9 Lady Antebellum
March 10 Toby Keith
March 11 Reba McEntire
March 12 Brad Paisley
March 13 Clint Black
March 14 Josh Turner
March 15 Ramon Ayala and Alacranes Musical
March 16 Darius Rucker
March 17 Keith Urban
March 18 Gary Allan
March 19 Pat Green
March 20 Taylor Swift
March 21 Brooks & Dunn

2010 Entertainment Lineup
March 3 Dierks Bentley
March 4 Kenny Chesney
March 5 Mary J. Blige
March 6 Jason Aldean
March 7 Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato
March 8 Tim McGraw
March 9 Darius Rucker
March 10 Rascal Flatts
March 11 Brad Paisley
March 12 Toby Keith
March 13 Blake Shelton
March 14 Grupo Pesado and El Trono de México
March 15 Lady Antebellum
March 16 Keith Urban
March 17 Gary Allen
March 18 The Black Eyed Peas
March 19 Eli Young Band
March 20 Brooks and Dunn
March 21 Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez

2011 Entertainment Lineup
March 1 Clay Walker
March 2 Trace Adkins
March 3 Sugarland
March 4 Janet Jackson
March 5 Billy Currington
March 6 Selena Gomez
March 7 Tim McGraw
March 8 Keith Urban
March 9 Martina McBride
March 10 Rascal Flatts
March 11 Lady Antebellum
March 12 Gary Allan
March 13 La Arrolladora Banda El Limón and La Leyenda
March 14 Kid Rock
March 15 KISS
March 16 Miranda Lambert
March 17 Zac Brown Band
March 18 Alan Jackson
March 19 Brad Paisley
March 20 Jason Aldean

2012 Entertainment Lineup
February 28 Alabama
February 29 Kid Rock
March 1 Lady Antebellum
March 2 John Legend
March 3 Luke Bryan
March 4 Big Time Rush
March 5 Eli Young Band
March 6 Enrique Iglesias
March 7 Blake Shelton
March 8 ZZ Top
March 9 Reba McEntire
March 10 Chris Young
March 11 La Original Banda El Limón and Duelo
March 12 Zac Brown Band
March 13 Miranda Lambert
March 14 The Band Perry
March 15 Jason Aldean
March 16 Train
March 17 Brad Paisley
March 18 Alan Jackson

One of the main reasons why I love the rodeo is because of the great combination of pop and country artists that make the lineup so fun and appealing to all types of crowds. It is interesting to see the different artists that come every year, because while the rodeo works hard to maintain the concerts mainly country, with time more and more pop artists come and perform at the rodeo. While there are artists like Maroon 5 and Usher perform for those who are less into country, and then there are artists like Blake Shelton and Brad Paisley return every year for all the country lovers out there.

DSC_0280The Houston Rodeo is a great time for families and friends to hear great music, eat good food, and enjoy each other’s company. I strongly recommend going, it really is a unique and fun experience for everyone!


Filed under Live Music, Texas

This is What Country Looks Like

Now I find it difficult to think of country music without thinking of cowboy boots. This type of footwear has become a fashion staple among country stars for decades now, and both male and female stars have been known to rock them on stage and on the red carpet. Originally designed in the 19th century for cowboys riding horses and working with cattle, these bad boys were meant for a true man’s day of work, not just tuning in to a Miranda Lambert record. So now I ask, since when did wearing cowboy boots automatically mean you must love country music? Do fashion items and music truly go hand-in-hand?


Cowboy boots are an iconic representation of the American spirit. The legacy of this instantly recognizable footwear takes us back to the days that the original cowboys rode across the open fields, running wild and free.

When people used to talk about cowboy boots, cowboy boots were associated with either labor in the field, or riding horses. Cowboy boots used to refer to a specific style of riding boots, with a Cuban heel, high shaft, and without lacing. The boots are normally rounded to pointed toe, and made out of cow leather, but now that they have become a fashion statement, they are made from skins such as alligator, snake, elephant, buffalo and so forth. There are two known and basic styles of cowboy boots, the Western, (known as the classic) and the Roper. The classic style is distinguished by a tall boot shaft, going to at least mid-calf, with an angled “cowboy” heel, usually over one inch high. Although western boots can be customized with a wide variety of toe shapes, the classic design is a narrowed, usually pointed, toe. A newer design, the “roper” style, has a short boot shaft that stops above the ankle but before the middle of the calf, with a very low and squared-off “roper” heel, shaped to the sole of the boot, usually less than one inch high.

Taylor rocking her boots!

Taylor rocking her boots!

Now when people talk about cowboy boots, it is almost always associated with country music. I never understood why. How did this connection happen? Some say that it started with Western dancing. In the 1900’s, men, women and children wore country boots during the day for either working in the field or for riding, and they would come at night ready to dance the Western/Country dances. The Country/Western dances were to country music, therefore the singers who sang for people to dance to, also had their boots on. Country/ Western dancing was meant to be informal, and cowboy boots allow the steps to come out more smoothly and easier to dance, without having to actually lift feet off the ground. Starting from there, country singers sang and performed wearing country boots, not just for dancing, but in general. Apparently, some of the first country records were recorded with artists wearing cowboy boots!

I mean, I get it. Cowboy boots are pretty versatile since that they can be paired with many outfits, from jeans and a T-shirt to fancier evening wears. For example, Taylor glams up a casual white dress with a pair of heart-shaped detailed cowboy boots. I guess now, it doesn’t matter whether you prefer the classic rounded tow, or the newer pointed- toe boot, there is a pair of cowboy boots out there for everyone. I think that the cowboy boot is a smart wardrobe investment, being a timeless piece that wont go out of style!


Filed under Reflection, Texas

“When You Think Tim McGraw…”

Music has always been there to help me express how I feel, especially when I didn’t know how to explain my feelings to myself. I grew up surrounded by classic rock, alternative and Israeli music, so coming to Texas, where the popular genre is country, was a big culture shock for me. Everything was different about it; the sound, the style, the lyrics, and the artists that sang this kind of music (cowboy boots do not exist in Israel). I immediately loved it. I loved how country music is associated with dancing, with being carefree, and with sharing a story.

A good country song is one that makes you feel better on a bad day.

A good country song is one inspires you to do something you want to do.

A good country song is one that helps you be someone else.

A good country song is a song that reminds you that someone else out there is going through what you’re going through, and is feeling what you’re feeling.

The first good country song that I heard when I moved to Texas was by Taylor Swift, “Tim McGraw”.

220px-Taylor_Swift_-_Tim_McGrawThe lyrics of “Tim McGraw” talk about a summer romance that had to end, because Swift’s boyfriend was leaving for college, and by doing so; leaving her behind.

Taylor Swift wanted the song to capture the sweetness and sadness of loving and losing someone. The song is called “Tim McGraw,” but is not directed towards the artist Tim McGraw, rather his music. “When you think Tim McGraw / I hope you think my favorite song.” Swift used Tim McGraw’s music as a reminder for the times they spent together, hoping that when Tim McGraw’s songs would play, the boy would remember her.

“When you think Tim McGraw

I hope you think my favorite song

Someday you’ll turn your radio on

I hope it takes you back to that place

When you think happiness

I hope you think that little black dress

Think of my head on your chest

And my old faded blue jeans

When you think Tim McGraw

I hope you think of me.”

“Tim McGraw” was the song to make me fall in love with country music, because it helped me deal with all of the confusing emotions I had when I moved to America. I was feeling sweetness and sadness all at the same time. I was holding on to the memories that I had back home, but excited for the new ones to come.. While this song was written about a boy and a girl, for me this song symbolizes letting go of the past, and looking towards a future. This song is a constant reminder of my family and friends back in Israel, but also a reminder of all the opportunities I now have ahead of me.


Filed under New Country, Reflection, Song Analysis