“Texas Music” and the ensuing music scene that springs from its tentacles and ensares everything from Red Dirt to folk to Americana has suffered from few credibility crises over the years. However, it has been inundated over the years by an ongoing originality crisis. With each original act, artist, songwriter, idea there are scores of copycats. It becomes tiresome. It also causes fans to seek something fresh. Today’s modern streaming listening options provide ample opportunities for folks to sample those fresh sounds. Sometimes they find them from within our genre’s borders…other times it is found far beyond.
I’ve experienced this firsthand. As someone reared on 90’s country, alt-rock and metal I loved the amalgam that became the late 90’s/early 00’s Texas Music boom. Elements of everything I loved came together in various forms all with an independent spirit and attitude. Some bands twanged it up and had fiddles, others turned the amps to 11 and ripped the knobs off. Some did both. Twenty years down the road, that sound is encased in a time capsule that can’t be recaptured. Some of those bands have been lost to history and others are still going. For many of the ones still pushing down the road it’s a staid, repetitive, soulless wandering. Original fans have moved on and new fans aren’t digging into what they’re selling. And there’s a reason for that.
It’s because acts like Koe Wetzel and Parker McCollum ignited the latest iteration of “the scene”. In their footsteps have come acts like Kolby Cooper, Zach Bryan, Austin Meade, Cody Hibbard and Kat Hasty.
Hasty’s rise is the most akin to the OG’s of the 90’s, in that she is completely doing it her own way. She isn’t following any molds or paths. She is knocking down her own doors and figuring it out. She even managed to grow her audience during the pandemic while not playing shows. The power of her relatable social media presence including a powerful and far-reaching reach on TikTok. Some of the established acts may be on TikTok because their agent or manager told them to be…but Hasty is on there because she wants to be. And most importantly because young fans put her music there.
While many of us have been enjoying the wonderful ritual that has become Sequestered Songwriters on Monday nights the past 10 months, young music fans aren’t camping out on Facebook and watching live streams. They’re on other apps and they’re into other music. And they certainly aren’t as into their parents music as their parents are. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just different. It happens to each generation. I’ve always dug older music alongside contemporary stuff. But, that’s not as common as you would think I’ve come to learn. We live in a world where Dave Grohl is classic rock. He’s not the skinny drummer from Nirvana anymore or even the guy who makes funny videos for Foo Fighters. In the eyes of today’s culture driving generation…they never knew that person existed.
I find myself drifting into other genres and bands with as equaled passion as I once had about Pat Green and Ragweed. I love bands like Lake Street Dive, Andrew Bird and Father John Misty. Each are unique, unpredictable and not easily categorized. Why do I dig bands like this? Probably because they don’t really sound like anything else. I can’t hear shades of gray variations of what they’re doing from others. And I certainly can’t see them at the local honky-tonk with my mask on. It’s the same reason the current generation is helping Kolby Cooper sell out Billy Bob’s and pushing Austin Meade over 3 million streams on one song. It’s fresh to them. It’s theirs.
As I type this in January 2021, it is apparent to me that if you put an act like Cody Hibbard on one end of a college campus and Kevin Fowler on the other side. It’s clear which one will have the bigger crowd.
These aren’t absolutes, but the tides of the scene are shifting due to age, time, style and preference. The tides have always been doing this shift, it’s just that some of those around you don’t surf anymore. Some folks like it all. Some like only the new. And some keep it old school. The good news for all of us is that none of it is going anywhere. Dig what you dig. MINOR CHORDS:
-I should be in Key West enjoying year 4 of Mile 0 Fest right now. But, we are holding out for April to go off without a hitch.
-I was rooting for the Bills in the playoffs, but give me KC over Tampa.
-Luka isn’t fat anymore.
-The snow we had this month was awesome, but give me sunshine and spring ASAP.
-When’s the last time you saw an uproarious, bawdy comedy film? Exactly.
-Larry King passing away reminds me I always enjoyed his writing more than his tv stuff.
-Baseball season is nigh upon us.
-There are too many podcasts, but The Co-Write boys continue to do it right. Only recording when they have something to say…and then saying interesting things. This isn’t NPR lite.
–This month’s recommended album: Not exactly an album, but more the promise of the music coming from Morgan Wade. Produced by Jason Isbell guitarist Sadler Vaden, Wade has a smooth, direct sonic quality that juxtaposes with her raw lyrics. This is an artist to watch for in 2021. She’s been gaining attention online for a few years now, but is poised for a big breakout in Americana circles and the mainstream.
-”Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain