Category Archives: Blog Post 1

Bringing Country Music to my Gap Year program

1900584_10203519477098312_238639626_oFreshman year, I chose a different path. I had an opportunity to participate in a Gap Year  in Israel. To date, Year Course has been the most extraordinary experience of my life. During the first few days we were divided into two sections. The resulting community has become very special and close to my heart. My section of Year Course was filled with about 60 young men and women from America and Europe. The vast majority of students in Section One were from the United States. Most of them were from Northern states. There were just a few people from the South and only four of us were from Texas.  Unfortunately, this resulted in an overwhelmingly large unawareness of country music.  Nevertheless, us four Texans love this music genre, and made up for our terribly deprived cohorts. From the beginning we took it upon ourselves to introduce our fellow Year Coursers to quality country music.

At first everyone thought it was cliché that the Texans loved listening to country music. We were even ridiculed. But, the other Year Coursers quickly learned that country music is truly exceptional. The three other Texans in my section have become some of my best friends. They are the guys who lived one door down from me. I still have fond memories of them blasting a few of our favorites, Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton and Zac Brown Band. After a month of getting use to us, the other people in our building learned to enjoy the country music genre. By the end of the year, listening to country music and identifying with Texas became so admired that putting up the Hook’em sign became one of the most popular poses to make in pictures!
10411268_10203908759670133_2850066468215826711_n (1)One of the people who made fun of us Texans the most for our stereotypical taste in music was our counselor Josh. He is from Liverpool and thinks he knows a bit about music.  His attitude changed the day we introduced him to “Chicken Fried” by  the Zac Brown Band. Josh was hooked. This song became one of our Year Course anthems. We would turn it up so loudly that the entire apartment complex could hear it. Even the Brits would gather in the hallways to belt out the words!  This song truly united us as a group. Even today, every time us four Texans are together when “Chicken Fried” comes on, we will send Josh snap chat videos of us singing along.  He always replies with a smile. (Skip 0:53 into the video for beginning of the song)

PROJECTS-Rodeo-Houston-2Another example of sharing my love of country music with my new friends in Israel was when I would talk about the Houston Rodeo. “Not only is it the biggest rodeo in the world,” I would tell them, “But it’s the most fun month of the year!” Some people legitimately laughed out loud when they heard this crazy Texan talking about a Rodeo. They couldn’t believe such things existed outside of movies and television shows. But once I showed them pictures and explained the whole concept of the rodeo and the country music concerts, people became interested. A few of my friends even told me that they want to come visit me in Houston during the month of March just to attend this incredible event. Overall, I know that my Year Course community  grew closer due to the country music my friends and I shared with them. Although the country music genre is broad, at least one song brought us together and left us with memories that will last a lifetime.471374_1280x720


Filed under Blog Post 1, Music Videos, Rodeo, Texas

Houston: Large City, Tight Community

When growing up, I never would have considered Houston a community. It has a population of over two million and contains several school districts. In fact, I just met someone my age who said she grew up in Houston and went to the same community center and recreational center that I went to almost every week. However, whenever I leave the city, more so when I leave the state, I bond more closely with people from Houston. We bond over our shared favorite local restaurants and sports teams, and an irrational, yet fairly strong, dislike for Dallas. Houston’s culture may contribute to this. Houston has all the perks of the big city, but with the charm of a Texan town. Yes, we have professional sports and big businesses and too much pollution, but many of our “city things” are infused with a Texas flavor. Saltgrass Steakhouse and Rudy’s Barbecue are perfect examples of Texas chains. They look like classic barbecue or steakhouses; there are just more than two of them. When I came to college, I met so many new people that I almost subconsciously gravitated towards people from Houston. Though I think this happened coincidentally, some of my closest friends at UT right now are from my hometown. Once we established ourselves as the “Houston group”, we bonded with other Texas cliques with our love for country music. Our love for country music does not separate us from other people; it brings us closer to the different groups of people on campus.

Maybe the thing that differentiates us from the other groups is which kind of country music we enjoy. We regularly listen to Zac Brown, George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Dierks Bentley. We think of it as a nice blend of old and new, but not too new. I am not a fan of Florida Georgia Line or Sam Hunt. Hunt is talented, but his music just does not sound like the country music I fell in love with. He also talks too much in his songs. When we go somewhere and they claim to play country music but “Breakup In a Small Town” by Sam Hunt comes on, this makes me long for the days of Strait and Jackson. From what I have seen, the Dallas group listens to more old Kenny Rogers and Conway Twitty and the Austin group listens to the current music. This is a sweeping generalization and based only on a small sample size, but these are just my experiences.

I did not mean to sound snobby or imply that Sam Hunt plays bad music. I just wanted to clarify the difference in country music taste between my Houston based group and some of the other groups at UT. We listen to contemporary country music as long as it still has similarities with the music of the 90’s. Sure, Zac Brown Band and Dierks Bentley have different styles than do Alan Jackson and George Strait, but their styles are closer to the classics than are Luke Bryan and Sam Hunt. Florida Georgia Line just does not sound good to me.

I think coming to the University of Texas forced me to identify more as a Houstonian than ever before. When I lived in Houston, I found smaller groups to shrink the crowd, but now Houston is the smaller group. We love country music in Houston, and my Houston friends at UT love country music just the same.


Filed under Blog Post 1, Class work, Texas

Family Tradition

1525648_10201579462302350_1795968485_nCountry songs often speak of white sand beaches, but rarely ever white snowy mountains. In a less than likely way it was a snow covered mountain that brought me to become a fan of country music. This was always the longest two-hour drive of my young life, and the only thing that could make it manageable was music put onto CDs by my parents. My musical taste was completely based on exposer. A 2003 Toyota Sequoia with a rocket box full of skis on top and my family inside is where music lived for the Holter family. The musical taste of my family was clearly defined about once a month when a new CD was loaded in the player in the car to make the journey to the mountain seem a little shorter. To me each ski playlist was like looking into my parent’s billboard of great music. This small amount of ski music consisted mostly of bands similar to The Beatles, The Coasters, NSYNC, and Queen, but there was typically a country song or two sprinkled in. My Dad reluctantly insisted that “Mom just ended up liking these songs when we were living in Atlanta and Austin.” It was clear that these twangy songs held a special plate in his heart as well. When one of these southern songs would play the car would begin to accelerate as his foot begin to tap on the accelerator.  This left me in a strange place torn between what each parent liked. I didn’t know if I should enjoy Hank Williams’ “Family Tradition” and Garth Brook’s “Friends in Low Places,” like my Mom, or if I should just wait for yellow submarine to play like my Dad did. Choosing my father’s side, I decided that I had no real need for country music in my life. I continued to be indifferent to country music until one long car ride changed my opinion forever. I wasn’t even in the car.

My Dad was on his way back from a short work trip in Omaha, Nebraska, and drove all night with the hopes of being home for football Sunday. As I was trudging towards the bathroom more asleep than awake, he looked at me with wide and said “come watch this.” Brushing away the sleep from my eyes I sat down in his office as he pulled open YouTube and typed in “Luke Bryan- We Rode in Trucks.” Without saying anything he clicked on the music video that would change my opinion about country music forever.  As the smooth guitar chords began to be strummed, and Luke Bryan’s country voice started telling me a story about his upbringing, I was hooked and so was my Dad. Now my parent’s CDs were littered with country music that I came to love. Each time we drove up skiing I felt ready to go out and ride a horse or something, but instead I just rode my skis. Thanks to Nebraska’s radio selection I learned to walk the line, how the thunder rolls all because it was part of a new family tradition.

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Country Music Is A Family Matter

One community that I would clearly identify myself with would be my immediate family. That would include my parents my two sisters my brother their spouses and their kids. These are the people that I’ve spent my whole life with day in and day out and they’re people that I’m really close with. That’s because they really understand who I am. Country music figures into this community because these are the people that showed me what country music was all about. One of the earliest country music concerts I can remember going to was with my parents at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo when Brooks & Dunn were playing their last tour and they were playing in Houston. Brooks & Dunn was one of my dad’s favorite groups to listen to back in the day.


Brooks and Dunn at Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Going to the rodeo continued for a while as we would always try to find a country music artist to go see, we would go see people like George Strait, Eli Young Band, and the Zac Brown Band. This love for Texas country music followed me into college as I found myself trying to go see artist like Roger Creager and Josh Abbott Band when I was going to school at the University of Texas at San Antonio. As my siblings got older and went off to college they started to find Texas country music which they would bring back and show to me and that’s where I started to grow my love for Texas country music. Whenever we all get together we still find ourselves listening to country music and sometimes even Texas country. As we’ve all gotten older we still try to go to concerts together since we find ourselves listening to similar artists and groups and wanting to see them live. Country music has been in my life for almost all 21 years I’ve been around and it’s kind of like the phrase, “you can take me out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of me,” country music will always be something that is a part of me.



Filed under Blog Post 1

A Family Tradition

HometownPeanut butter is to jelly, as country music is to drinking. That’s true in my family at least. I come from a rather large family that were all born and bred in a small town outside of Waco, Texas. As far back as I can remember, country music had always been apart of my life. I don’t think I really had a choice! My grandparents, affectionately known as “mamaw” and “papaw”, were diehard fans of artists such as; George Jones, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and Loretta Lynn. I would always be introduced to a new artist from back in the day, when I went to visit them.

What came first…the chicken or the egg?

When I reached my teenage years, 16-17, I began to notice a pattern in my family. No matter what time of the day it was, when country was played…drinking would commence! I really don’t know which would happen first, if my family would be listening to country music one night and just get the urge to drink, or if they were already drinking and country was just the appropriate choice for background music.

One thing I do remember for certain is, you would always know if my mamaw and papaw were drunk if you pulled up to their house and “Hello Darlin’” by Conway Twitty was blaring out the front door. I would always find them slow dancing in kitchen while, drunkenly singing to one another. (Everyone’s grandparents acted like right?) The great thing is, that while my parents were married my sisters would catch them dancing in the kitchen at our house to “This Woman and this Man” by Clay Walker. (My momma’s favorite song)! It’s great to see how not just how country music is intergenerational but also how the traditions are passed down as well.

 Country by the grace of God!

Coming to college I have the amazing opportunity to make friends with students from all over the world, and a lot of the ones I do life with had a completely different upbringing than I did, so their appreciation for country music isn’t there, so I don’t listen to it as much I did growing up. But there is nothing like the feeling I get when I turn on the radio and hear “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” by Brooks and Dunn or “How bout them Cowgirls” by George Strait.

It’s almost like comfort food; whenever life is hectic listening to the music takes me back to the simpler days of my childhood. Because it was so heavily ingrained in my upbringing there are a plethora of songs that are connected with certain memories and feelings of being with family. Country music is therapy to me. Country music is home!

Family Playlist:

There were always staple songs that were played when my family got together and though I don’t necessarily have a “favorite” these are the top five songs on my “most played” playlist on my phone and I would like to share them with you…

1). “Family Tradition” by Hank Williams Jr.

2). “Deeper Than the Holler” by Randy Travis

3). “Fishin’ in the Dark” by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

4). “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks

5). “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ole Days)” by The Judds


Filed under Blog Post 1, Garth Brooks, Honky Tonk, Lists, Music Videos