When I first moved off to college, I was already a fairly hardcore music fan. But, like most people those first years of true independence shaped my pallete beyond what I’d been exposed to from my parents and older sister. In high school, my friends and I were metal heads for the most part. Although we did love us some Master P and Garth too. I like to think of it as being well-rounded. That’s a facet of my listening that has endured over the years.
I began dabbling in what we know as Texas Music while still in high school. Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker and very early Pat Green. Yet, it was not until I stepped foot in my dorm in San Marcos that my purview would exponentially expand. I met a girl at check-in who was wearing a Cory Morrow shirt. She was one of the RA’s and I overheard her telling someone that her boyfriend was in a band. My buddy checking in nearby and I exchanged raised eyebrows of admiration and curiosity. What band? Who is Cory Morrow?
Those two questions would lead me down a rabbit hole, I still haven’t climbed out of over two decades later. Some days later I saw that same girl, Megan, in the courtyard standing next to a slightly built stoner with bleached blonde hair, a backwards beige Quiksilver hat and prominent puka shell necklaces strumming a Dave Matthews Band song on a cheap Takamine. Of course it was a Dave Matthews Band song. This was the late 90’s. We struck up some musical conversation and once we discovered the common musical ground of Pat Green, Megan and Paul enlightened me. Paul, the stoner with the guitar and Megan’s boyfriend, was a bartender at the Triple Crown down off the square. He knew some guys that played Texas Music. He dropped names like Dub Miller, Jack Ingram, Charlie Robison. I was mentally jotting down all these names. He said I think this guy named Roger Creeger is coming to play Nephew’s next week, you should come. It would be some time before we all learned it was Cray-gur and not Cree-gur, but the concert sounded cool.
I set about learning as much as I could about this new world. Browsing the racks at Hastings and Sundance Record Store (RIP). I began to notice a trend. First, all of my minimum wage earned money was going to music. Secondly, the same guy was producing all these records (Lloyd Maines). And closer inspection of the liner notes revealed that most of the same dudes were playing on each other’s stuff. I knew then I had to become part of that world. Megan and Paul were the gatekeepers to a circus I wanted to run away with and let me in.
It’s clear to see how my journey turned out. But, I’m not sure whatever happened to Megan and Paul. I’m pretty sure they broke up before I even finished my first semester. I never saw them after that spring. They probably moved on to nu-metal or something. They were the types that were in whatever scene was trendy. But, what they did was open my eyes. They were the key that unlocked my Texas Music door. We all have one of those. They told me about writers. They corrected me when I didn’t know who wrote the song. They taught me not to wear the shirt of the band I was going to see to their show. And many other lessons.
I wonder if these types of experiences still happen. Driven inside and online for the past 6 weeks, the mind can tend to wander and wonder. Conversations are digital. The entire internet is the courtyard of that beaten down dorm in San Marcos. And the Megan’s and Paul’s get drowned out and ignored. I’ve always striven to be an online medium of what they gave me. Tell folks what new music is cool. Remind you to not wear that. Find out who wrote the song. Tip the bartender. Buy some merch. Share the songs you are really digging. As we enter this new phase of music and live music, I will strive to be more like Megan and Paul than ever before.
-River Jam is on! Ticket info and graphics dropping soon. July 24 – Cheatham Street – Austin Meade/The Cole Trains July 25 – Billy’s Ice – Adam Hood/Mike Stanley July 26 – Lone Star Floathouse – pretty much every songwriter with a guitar within an hour of Comal County.
-I miss sports so much I watch my dogs chase squirrels now and add my own commentary.
-It’s been interesting and cool to see certain artists really respond to this online challenge and thrive…and others kind of go into their shell. No right or wrong.
-Funny that with all this possible binge and book time over the past few weeks I’ve found myself returning to things I’ve already watched and read.
-We only have a couple more weeks of amazing weather before Texas becomes a scorching hellscape. Get out and enjoy it.
-I really miss baseball. It has almost made this feel like it wasn’t spring at all.
-I also really, really miss actual live music and a good dive bar. Hopeful to visit both soon.
-This month’s recommended album: Van Darien – Levee. Van Darien is from Weatherford, TX but has been traversing the musical landscape of Nashville for the past couple years. She spins yarns of mystical qualities and roots them in American realities. Her voice is ethereal and her music is arresting. Shades of Brandy Zdan. Definitely worth diving into.
-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain