Category Archives: Country Rock

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

Scotty McCreery Tries to Keep It Country!

“First and foremost, allow me to introduce myself, my name is Scotty McCreery…and we are here for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to sing you some country music”, is how Scotty McCreery tends to start some of his shows. Even from the first few minutes of his performance, you’re guaranteed to get some good ‘ol country music.

Scotty McCreery, 22, a country singer who is best known for winning a “tiny little show” (as he likes to call it) called American Idol. At 16, he auditioned  for the show with Josh Turner’s “Your Man” and  “Put some drive in your country” by Travis Tripp, and because of his deep voice and lower register people were blown away. McCreery, went on to the show and eventually became season 10’s American Idol.

Although Scotty is a country singer, he is more of a “new country/ kind of bro country” kind of guy. His first album Clear as Day has more of a “traditional country” music with the banjos and the guitars as well as a pop sound, but the second album See You Tonight, has pop/rock elements. Each album does have a few distinct songs that prove he’s a country singer. His first single, “I Love You This Big”, is country enough to be country, but also not too country that the average Top 40 listener wouldn’t be able to enjoy. One of his favorite songs is “Carolina Moon” from his second album. He said that his focus on the third album is to have the same sound as this song, a more “traditional country sound”.

12767882_965068543546359_1847658702_oAt his shows he likes to explain that the producers would try to get him to sing songs that were out of the country music genre on Idol, but he would refuse because that is not who he was. He then asks the audience if it’s okay if they keep it country for the rest of the night. Of course, a lot of the fans are country music fans so that makes them happy, and the rest of the fans are Scotty fans and let’s be real for a second, they’ll cheer for anything he says!

It makes sense that he’d want to keep it more traditional. I mean, he’s been influenced by many country artists. He says that because of his sister he listed to artists like Backstreet boys, he was singing thing’s like “Conway’s Hello Darlin’…and Elvis Presley too, lord have mercy!”. Before starting his medley he likes to say that “nowadays things have changed a little bit, and it’s not a good thing or a bad thing because everything changes over time, but for me it does not change the fact that I, Scotty McCreery, have a love for country music. So with that said, I’d like to sing you…and take you back.. and sing you some good old fashion country music”. With his little spiel out of the way, he goes on and sings songs like “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard, “Blue Suede Shoes” by Elvis Presley, “Mountain Music” by Alabama or “Check Yes or No” by George Strait. With every tour, he changes the songs in his medley. There’s two things that remain true within this medley, he always plays an Elvis song because like he likes to say “Elvis was my duuuuuuude”, and that he likes to reiterate that “I am country!”.

In case you’re interested in hearing him impersonate Elvis Presley:

And here’s him covering two more classic country songs at the Grand Ole Opry just for the heck of it!

“Hello Darlin’”

“The Dance”


Filed under Blog Post 3, Bro Country, Country Pop, Country Rock, Live Music

The Texas Groover

Doug Sahm

“You just can’t live in Texas if you don’t have a lot of soul.”-Doug Sahm

The first time I ever heard the music of Doug Sahm it was on a box set of one hit wonders of 60’s garage rock. It featured a hit from his band, The Sir Douglas Quintet. I would only find out years later that the genre busting career of Sir Doug could not be described in the allotted 2:25 seconds given to him on that box set.

Doug Sahm meeting Hank Williams at age 11

Doug Sahm (1941-1999) was a multi-instrumentalist/recording artist from San Antonio. He was drawn to music at a young age and quickly became a steel guitar prodigy.

On December 19, 1952, at eleven years old, he played on stage with Hank Williams Sr. at the Skyline Club in Austin in what would be Hank’s last show before his death two weeks later.

Next, the Grand Ole Opry offered Doug Sahm a spot, but his mother refused to let him go, wanting him to finish school instead. Doug continued to play clubs in Texas and in 1965, started his first successful band, The Sir Douglas Quintet. This mostly rock band came up with their name in an attempt to capitalize on the British Invasion despite their thick Texan accents and the fact that two of them were Hispanic. Their top hit, “She’s About a Mover” reached the U.S. Top 20.

Doug Sahm went solo in 1972 and released his first album Doug Sahm & Band in 1973, featuring many members of the Sir Douglas Quintet along with Bob Dylan, Dr. John, and the accordion playing Flaco Jimenez, “the father of Conjunto music”. In the 70’s and 80’s, Sahm went on several tours of the U.S. and Europe, gaining a significant following in Scandinavia.

He started the Tex-Mex super group, The Texas Tornados in 1989 with Augie Meyers, Freddy Fender, and Flaco Jimenez. Their music mostly featured the country music of Texas and Northern Mexico. They won a Grammy for their first album Texas Tornados which hit #25 on the U.S. Country album charts.

Throughout his career, Doug Sahm also played on other people’s work, most notably appearing on Grateful Dead, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt albums.

On November 18, 1999, Doug Sahm died of a heart attack in New Mexico. Although this was a heavy loss, his band mates eventually reformed the Texas Tornados adding Doug’s son, Shawn as a member.

sahm-big-red-lonestar1The thing that draws me to Doug Sahm is his ability to create music that is in my point of view authentic while still being able to cross over genres consistently. He started out playing country as a kid and later adopted rhythm & blues, rock, and Tex-Mex eventually blending them all in his work. He said himself, “I’m a part of Willie Nelson’s world and at the same time I’m a part of the Grateful Dead’s.”

I personally discovered each of these phases separately. I heard the tejano rock of “She’s About a Mover” in middle school when I still mostly listened to rock music. I remember starting to listen to his more country oriented solo work when my friends and I were moving into our apartments in college. After a long day of moving in the August heat, we all collapsed on a couch and listened to Doug Sahm & Band. The next summer, at the end of a road trip to North Carolina one of my friends blasted a Texas Tornados album from the car outside of a run down carwash in Durham. We were exhausted from days of driving but as the last notes of “Una Mas Cerveza” wafted through the air we were reminded that it was time to head back home to Texas.


Filed under Country Rock, Texas

Brad Paisley’s Free Concert was Priceless

IMG_4766 (2)“FREE” is quite possibly the most important word in a college student’s vocabulary, so when Brad Paisley announced he was packing up his plethora of guitars and heading cross country on a FREE college tour, I’m pretty sure the cheers of coed country fans could be heard for miles. Naturally, I was logged on to my computer at 12:01 AM on August 26 to claim my spot among the 8,400 local Austin fans who would be crammed into the parking lot of UT’s baseball field on September 10 to watch one of country music’s biggest stars. When they opened the gates, my three friends and I booked it across the lot and somehow, unbelievably, managed to secure a spot at the front of the stage not three feet away from the mic. I knew then that it would be an amazing night!

brad concert pat

Pat Green rocking Texas Country before Brad takes the stage

Since we are in Texas it would have been sacrilegious if Brad hadn’t paid homage to our very own genre of Texas country, so it was appropriate that his opening act was none other than his old friend and Texas Country all-star Pat Green. Pat has been active on the Texas Country scene since 1995, and he hasn’t slowed down since. His song “Home” reached 5th on the country music charts when it was released this year. Pat is loved across the country, but he is especially revered at home in Texas. I mean, how could he not be with songs like “I Like Texas” and “Girls from Texas”? He certainly knows how to work the home-court advantage!

As Pat Green closed his set with “Wave on Wave”, Paisley warmed up backstage along with the Texas cheerleaders, UT’s mascot Hook’em, and his (by my count) eight guitars! At 8:40 he took the stage and his fans went wild as he opened with his hits “Crushin’ it” and “Mud on the Tires”. Donning a Texas Football t-shirt, he worked the crowd and made everyone cheer as he threw up his horns.

brad concert hookem

Brad throwing up his horns about 3 feet away from me!

Nothing could put a damper on his performance, not even the 100% chance of rain that fell as he fittingly performed “Perfect Storm” and “Water”. It seemed as though the night could not get any better…but then Brad played a familiar tune on his guitar as he was joined on stage by Hook’em, and together they led the crowd of students in the most epic performance of “The Eyes of Texas” that I have ever witnessed.

From the quirky videos playing behind him on the big screen to his PAISLEY guitars (gotta love a man who embraces real-life puns), Brad put on an unforgettable show! I’m pretty sure the crowd could be heard all the way across campus as every soul at that concert screamed the lyrics to his closing number “River Bank”. I know I certainly had too much fun shouting the line “take a…LIME AND SUCK IT”.

While having a free tour geared toward college students might seem like an odd choice for a veteran artist like Brad Paisley, it was actually a pretty smart career move. With songs like “Alcohol”, “Crushin’ It”, and “Online”, Brad’s quirky sense of humor and social commentary are the perfect tools to reel in a population of young, college-aged fans. The cherry on top is his love for college football which inspired him to launch his tour at the start of the fall semester. His new single “Country Nation” is his theme song for the tour; it names dozens of college mascots, but focuses on how even though we might wear different colors on game day we are still united through country music. With its quasi-patriotic sound, it really is the perfect anthem to bring students together, and it certainly didn’t hurt that it expanded Brad’s fan base in the process.

“We’re Mountaineers, we’re Volunteers/We’re the Tide that rolls, we’re Seminoles/We’re a heard of Longhorn steer…On two thousand country stations/Yeah we’re one big country nation that’s right”

In spite of the criticism Brad faces as he veers more toward the bro-country style, I’m not ashamed to say that I fan-girled the entire night, and my heart skipped a beat when he performed a guitar solo an arm’s length away from me. This was definitely one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended and it was a perfect start to the new school year. So thank you, Brad, for the FREE concert and for just being you. You were certainly Crushin’ It on that stage all night long!

IMG_4870 (2)

Yes, Brad Paisley was inches away from my camera lens


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 2, Bro Country, Concert, Country Rock, Texas

Differences in Venues and Concert Experiences


Dierks Bentley Concert, Houston Rodeo

I recently went to a Dierks Bentley concert at the Houston livestock show and Rodeo in NRG Stadium. IMG_1476I also recently went to an Eric Church concert at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin. While I loved both concerts there was a major difference between the two; the venues they were performed at. The one I enjoyed the most was the Eric Church Concert for one I was a lot closer to the stage than I was at the Rodeo. I also enjoy the Artists performance and the choice in songs. The one thing i disliked most about Dierks Bentley’s Concert was the Distance between the fans and the stage which created this impersonal feeling for me.


Eric Church Concert, Frank Erwin Center

I have gone to several concerts at the Rodeo I never felt a void between me and the artist while they were performing in concert until I attended the Eric Church concert at the Frank Erwin Center then I began to realize the drastic difference in my experiences between the two concert  in which size does matter. Which it truly did because I wasn’t able to feel the connection with the artist like i did at Eric Church. Something I found interesting was even Dierks Bentley even felt that being so far away was weird. So much so that he walked off the stage and climbed over the Rodeo Fence to get into the crowd to sing and socialize with his fans.

After both experience, I found different views for the Artist and the venues themselves. IMG_1352With Eric Church and the Frank Erwin Center, I was really impressed with how close in contact I was with Eric and I felt connected with the audience in sharing a great memory for the books. When it came to Dierks Bentley, I did not feel the same I felt distracted and didn’t enjoy it as much because I felt to distant from Dierks and the crowd, they never seemed to get into the concert by like singing along with the songs. Even though Dierks tried to achieve that connection with his fans, I believe that the venue didn’t allow  him to do that successfully because the distance was to big to let him reach out and grasp the hands of his fans, like Eric’s concert allowed him to do. In conclusion I think that having small, more intimate setting which allows for a more connected crowd that  interacts with the artist, makes for a better experience for not only the fans but also the artist themselves.


Filed under Austin, Country Rock, Live Music