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April 2019: Horses Ain’t the Only Thing in the Back

If Billy McFarland taught us anything it’s that the paradigm of hosting a music festival in 2019 isn’t what it was in 2009, 1999, 1969 and so on. He taught us more than that, but as someone who helps throw a very minor music festival, that takeaway from the Fyre Fest fiasco was astounding. He convinced thousands of people to give him millions of dollars for something that didn’t even exist…or did it? It existed in the Instagram-tinged minds of the young demos across this country. As real as you believe Kylie Jenner’s talent to be. It was pure hype over substance. That’s nothing new to the music industry. But these guys took it next level. Thousands of people signed up for a first year festival taking place in an exotic locale without any infrastructure.

Once upon a time, in the late 80’s, a guy named Larry Joe Taylor had a similar thing happen. Except his location was very real and very much not exotic. Just a couple dudes and a dozen people around a campfire was the inaugural LJT fest. A decade later, a couple guys ran a website that had a rabid following of folks that would reach thousands of page views per day and decided we need to get all these people together. Thus, Django Walker was contacted and the first Greenfest took off at George’s. The hype machines for both of those events were internal. It was the place to be on the strength of relationships and music; not posts, filters and boosts.

As the years have gone by, the importance of gritty music in the larger scheme of many people’s lives has lessened to a sad degree. As Lefsetz pointed out some time ago, technology is the new rock n’ roll. There is no monoculture anymore. It’s all underground and building something from a core. The biggest singles, movies and shows in the world don’t ever reach the same mass appeal they once did. It’s about finding your tribe and expanding that one unique, authentic interaction at a time. Festivals will soon run out of headliners and Dave Grohl hasn’t been able to clone himself yet.

In the Texas scene, the biggest names are constantly pushing boundaries and crossing state lines to take Texas to the masses. This leaves touring voids filled by hungry bands coming up the ranks. Be a part of being able to say “I saw them when ___________.” Blank being anything from there were only 5 of us at the bar that night to I saw them at River Jam with some of the coolest music fans and friends I’ve ever encountered.

It’s not like previous decades when we had a small culture and were all interested in the same things. Today, even your friends have not seen the same TV shows you have. There is no monster record everyone is jamming unless it is meme level “Old Town Road” stuff. LiL NasX is a meme maker, not a music creator. And he’s cracked the code for attention moving forward. Kids were on top of this track months ago. It reached cultural mass by spreading on social media and in short burst platforms. The way Pat Green did 20 years ago and the way Koe Wetzel did two years ago. Having a “viral” hit to any degree causes the needle to move rapidly. But, the tank remains full by moving that needle a nanteenth of an inch at a time.

Take the time. Dig in. Share it. There are artists and songs and albums out there begging for your attention. Give it to them. And if you love it, let your friends know. Be just as passionate about the music you love as you are the last show you streamed on Netflix. I’m as excited about Game of Thrones as anyone…but by God I’m just as excited for the new Randy Rogers Band record to drop. And, that’s where the future lies. Building a loyal fanbase, delivering the goods and having them spread your goodwill. Putting a horse in the back will get you shine, but putting horses in the back makes a career.


-Baseball time is here. And the only thing I’ve been confused by so far has been the Joey Gallo/Nomar Mazara celebration.

-It’s Masters week. Rooting for Tiger, then the field. Anyone but Patrick Reed.

-River Jam deets are live.

-Have been unable to stop jamming the new records from QCNH, Hayes Carll, Ryan Bingham, Joey McGee and Austin Meade.

-Things like legend and GOAT get thrown around a lot these days. But Dirk Nowitzki truly fits the bill on all of it. Glad I got to see his career firsthand all these years.

-Father Time has a new teammate on the undefeated team: pollen.

-The Dr. Pepper shake at Whataburger is as awesome as it sounds.

-Sorry Tech. You still have The Blue Light.

-This month’s recommended album: Robert Ellis – Piano Man. Not to be confused with the Billy Joel landmark, Ellis’ latest traverses his familiar ground of lush soundcapes, layered production, off-kilter lyriscim and downright catchy tunes. He always makes me think. And while thinking I’m normally tapping my toe. Plus, I’m a sucker for any record that includes a tribute to my drink of choice Topo Chico.

-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain

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