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Texas country music
Stylistic origins Country music
Cultural origins Late 1960s Texas
Typical instruments acoustic guitar, electric guitar, steel guitar, bass, percussion, banjo, mandolin, dobro, fiddle, piano, harmonica
Mainstream popularity Texas
Derivative forms Neotraditional country, Outlaw country, Red Dirt (music)

Texas country music (more popularly known just as "Texas country" or "Texas music") is a rapidly growing sub-genre of Country Music. Texas country is known for fusing traditionalist root sounds (similar to Neotraditional Country) with the outspoken, care-free views of Outlaw Country. Texas country blends these sub-genres by featuring straight-forward, truthful lyrics, a "take it or leave it" approach, a "common working man" theme, comical, witty undertones, intense live performances, and loyal fan-bases. These often combine with stripped down music, increasing the intimate connection between a singer and audience.



The acoustic guitar is essential in Texas country music. While the acoustic guitar is the most often used, electric guitars are not uncommon, and the use of steel guitars or Pedal steel guitars is also prevalent. Bass and percussion usually round out the essentials for a bar-touring band, but a piano, baritone guitar, banjo, fiddle or harmonica on studio recordings (or in larger shows) are the norm for the genre. As a general rule, to be considered Texas country -- ever since the days of Bob Wills and noted by the band Alabama in their hit single: "If you Want to Play in Texas, you've gotta have a fiddle in the band."


The line of delineation for vocals is also unclear. Artists considered Texas country, such as Willie Nelson, George Strait, Aaron Watson, Honeybrowne, Kevin Fowler, Jamie Richards, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Eli Young Band, Roger Creager, Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green, Cory Morrow, Randy Rogers, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Dale Watson, Jack Ingram, Tanya Tucker, Kelly Willis, Reckless Kelly, Jackson Taylor,and Casey Donahew each have diverse and distinctive voices. Texas country "anthem song" candidates are often selected from these artists' material[1].

Live Performances

Enthusiasm is the best descriptor for both band and crowd at a live Texas country performance. "It is not an uncommon sight to see clubs all over Texas packed to the rafters; girls and boys in cowboy hats and Wranglers two-stepping next to the mosh pit, where college boys in khakis and college girls in Juicy Couture are pressed up against the stage" [2].


Texas country is first and foremost from Texas. Its origins are from Willie, Waylon, and the rest of the Outlaw Country boys. However, as it is often anti-Nashville , neither the location of birth nor the location of upbringing seems to calculate in the definition of a Texas country artist, just as long as the origin is not in the corporate Nashville scene. Though many are "born and raised" Texans, it has not been uncommon for many outside the state lines to test Texas waters. Artists such as Chris Knight are often considered Texas country musicians, despite his Kentucky ties. Adam Hood, an Alabama native, also has had success in the Texas country market. The distinctive characteristic in location is that all artists hold concerts in Texan venues.


Lyrical content is the backbone of Texas country. Willie Nelson a legendary Country Music Outlaw inspired his friend Waylon Jennings, an Outlaw Country music legend himself, who is sometimes cited as an inspiration to present day Texas country musicians, once said, “Your melody goes where the words take you” [3].



Songs about traditional dance halls, open roads, family farms and hometown bars, along with other illustrations of Texas landscape, are all found in present-day Texas country artists' catalogs. The ties of landscape and music seem to serve as remembrance and gratitude, as evident in most songs. Appreciation for surroundings is not the only limitation for this theme. The "average man" and his struggle with nature do appear as well. "The songs definitely incorporate a spirit of the times and constitute a spontaneous and fairly comprehensive record of life" [4].


Texas country's roots lie in the Outlaw country movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Texan artists such as Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and David Allan Coe retreated from the Nashville Country Music scene to Austin, Luckenbach, and Dallas. Other artists who were inspired by this movement included performers like Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, Steve Young, Kris Kristofferson, Joe Ely, Terry Allen, Steve Earle, and Townes Van Zandt. All these stars have rated higher than 43 on the Texas Music Scene charts.

These artists were followed in turn by the work of singer/songwriters such as Pat Green, Robert Earl Keen, Cory Morrow, etc.


Robert Earl Keen's No. 2 Live Dinner, released in 1996, had it all; comedy accompanied with "a sharp wit, a laid-back cowboy style, and an eye for detail... combined in [his] songs that are as easy on the ears as they are packed with insight" [5]. Keen's home calling came after a short stint in Nashville, where he quickly became uncomfortable. His 1996 live album release truly showcased the “wide range” of the talented Texas musician and popularized the single The Road Goes On Forever, a song many music fans regard as the paradigm for Texas 'Country anthems'. Joe Ely and other Texas musicians have recorded cover versions of “The Road Goes On Forever”.


Cory Morrow, a Houston native, had been on the Texas scene since the mid-90s. It was not until 2002, with the release of his fourth album "Outside the Lines," that Morrow received his well-deserved fame. The album's success on the Country Music charts[citation needed] proved that Texas country was making its way into the ears of many.

The success had just begun. Pat Green, also`an artist from the Texas country scene, had a gold album with Wave on Wave. The title track hit number three on the U.S. Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart and won a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song.

Kevin Fowler, a former hair-metal/glam rocker was Dangerous Toys guitarist from the late 1980s until 1993, followed by his own founding of Thunderfoot, a Southern Rock band based out of Austin. Originally from Amarillo, he self-released his country debut album "One For The Road" in 1997. This followed with his smash independent followup album, "Beer, Bait, and Ammo". He has since found national success without losing the core Texas audience, as was the case with Pat Green.

Texas country was proving even more that it could approve to fans of mainstream country music. Jack Ingram, who had already established a name for himself in Texas country, won a CMT Music Award in 2007 and the 2008 Academy of Country Music award for New Male Vocalist of the Year. He was also scoring top twenty-five singles on the Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart with songs like Love You and Lips of an Angel. Another one of his singles, Wherever You Are, even hit number one.


The following artists are often classified as members of the Texas country movement:


  1. ^ TX National Anthem voting (sponsored by Lone-Star Beer company)
  2. ^ Lone Star Music. Kevin Fowler Biography. November 9, 2006 LoneStar Music.
  3. ^ Jennings, Waylon and Lenny Kaye. Waylon: An Autobiography. New York: Warner Books, 1976.
  4. ^ Clayton, Lawrence. "Elements of Realism in the Songs of the Cowboy." American Renaissance and American West. Ed. Durer, Christopher S. et al. WY: University of Wyoming, 1982.
  5. ^ Wolff, Kurt. Country Music: The Rough Guide. London: Rough Guides Ltd, 2000.

Further reading

  • Abernethy, Francis E. "Texas Folk and Modern Country Music." Texas Country: The Changing Rural Scene. Ed. Lich, Glene. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 1986.
  • Barr, Gregory. "Randy Rogers Band: Just A Matter of Time." Best In Texas Music Magazine. <> November 2006.
  • Carr, Joe and Allan Munde. Prairie Nights to Neon Lights. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 1995.
  • Dawidoff, Nicholas. In the Country of Country: People and Places in American Music. New York: Random House, 1997.
  • Fox, Aaron A. Real Country: Music and Language in Working-Class Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.
  • Harrington, AnnMarie. Roger Creager-Long Way To Mexico. <> November 9, 2006.
  • Jennings, Waylon and Lenny Kaye. Waylon: An Autobiography. New York: Warner Books, 1976.
  • Malone, Bill C. "Growing Up With Texas Country Music." What’s Going On? (In Modern Texas Folklore). Ed. Abernethy, Francis E. Austin, TX: The Encino Press, 1976.
  • Middleton, Richard. Studying Popular Music. Philadelphia: Open University Press, 2002.
  • Specht, Joe W. "Put a Nickel in the Jukebox." The Roots of Texas Music. Ed. Clayton Lawrence. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2003.


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