It’s an exciting time to be a fan of Texas country. Mainstays like Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen are at the top of their game; old favorites like Pat Green are having a comeback, and rising Texas country artists are pushing the boundaries of the genre.
Just as it is in mainstream country, the majority of modern Texas country artists don’t sound much like their predecessors. Instead, the newer artists are blending their favorite parts of Americana, rock and country into an energetic and often unapologetic style of music.
Here are 10 of the most exciting Texas country artists you need to know.
10. The Statesboro Revue
The Statesboro Revue is more rock n’ roll than country, and they’re more country than any rock n’ roll you’ve ever heard. With their third record since 2007, the New Braunfels six-piece is proving to be one of the most exciting sounds on Texas radio.
What they sound like: The year 1920 somewhere in Mississippi if Chuck Berry had already come along — but without being dated.
Required listening: “Huck Finn” is a song steeped in old-timey charm. It was the first song to really garner the band praise.
9. Bri Bagwell
One of few women in the Texas music scene (it’s not just a Nashville problem), Bri Bagwell is among the most promising singers to follow in Miranda Lambert‘s footsteps. Bagwell opts for a smoother, lower vocal register than most of her contemporaries. She lets her attitude carry the tunes. Like Lambert, Bagwell also got a leg up from a reality show; She was a contestant on the 2011 season of CMT: Next Superstar.
What she sounds like: A toned-down Carrie Underwood, with music that keeps one foot firmly in Texas and one foot striving for the mainstream.
Required listening: Off her 2013 EP, “Crazy” is a great showcase of where she shines. Bagwell doesn’t get too heady with her vocals, but instead lets her midrange tell the story, with just a touch of country twang.
8. Folk Family Revival
Comprised of three brothers and a few friends, Folk Family Revival is one of the youngest groups on the list. Raised in Magnolia, Texas, the group honed their chops on the road. As their beards grew, so did their talent.
What they sound like: Some dudes who are way older than they are. A steady mix of train beat, banjo and heartfelt lyrics.
Required listening: Probably one of the most underrated debut releases in Texas music, 2011’s Unfolding will hold up years from now. The title track off the record is one to jam on repeat.
7. Cody Jinks
Cody Jinks has one of the longest beards for any musician not in ZZ-Top. He also has a surprisingly smooth baritone for a man who looks like he eats gravel for breakfast. The Fort Worth native is a good, old-fashioned 10-year success story who is on the cusp of something special.
What he sounds like: The manly guy most of the male acts on major labels are trying to sound like.
Required listening: “Loud and Heavy” isn’t what it sounds like, but it is very good. And you get to hear Jinks right off the bat.
6. Uncle Lucius
Maybe this is just the “bearded man” section of the list, but Uncle Lucius carry the “bearded troubadour” badge with pride. At their heaviest, they’re a rock n’ roll group. At their softest, one of the most heart-wrenching Americana acts around. They usually live somewhere in between in the Red Dirt world. No matter where their musical inclinations take them, it usually ends up good. The band counts the day they were dropped from their label as one of their happiest. Also, none of them are named Lucius.
What they sound like: Blue-eyed, Americana rock n’ soul.
Required listening: “Keep The Wolves Away” is easily one of the best songs to come out of Texas in the past 10 years.
5. Jamie Lin Wilson
Jamie Lin Wilson adds a personal vulnerability to her music that makes you love her even more. She taps into her experiences as a mother and wife to add a certain level of depth and honesty that others seem timid to approach. Plus, she has a killer duet with Wade Bowen.
What she sounds like: A breath of fresh air. And just a tiny bit like the most recent Lee Ann Womack record.
Required listening: “Just Like Heartache”, the first song off her debut record, Holidays & Wedding Rings.
4. American Aquarium
American Aquarium actually started in Raleigh, North Carolina. But Texas has embraced the band wholeheartedly. They’ve worked with folks like Jason Isbell and recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. They also tour relentlessly (especially in Texas) and work really, really hard — they’ve released eight records since 2006.
What they sound like: Ryan Adams meets Bruce Springsteen, and they decide to make a Red Dirt record that could totally win a bunch of Americana awards.
Required listening: “Man I’m Supposed To Be”, a gut-wrenching love song. Texas is going to do everything it can to claim these guys.
3. William Clark Green
William Clark Green is one of the most exciting new artists in the Texas country world. Since the success of his second album, Rose Queen, Green has earned praise as a Red Dirt artist not afraid to test creative boundaries.
What he sounds like: Eli Young Band circa Jet Black and Jealous mixed with an unmistakable vocal timbre that is part grunge, part swamp.
Required listening: Green went all in on his new album, Ringling Road. The track of the same name has a heck of a cool video (filmed in LA and co-produced by Josh Abbott and Evan Kauffman).
2. Zane Williams
Zane Williams has been on the radar for a long time. He’s written hits that were recorded by Jason Michael Carrol, Cody Johnson Band and Pat Green. But he’s also one heck of an artist himself. He’s toured consistently for his whole career and is starting to make waves with his most recent record, Texas Like That, which peaked at No. 8 on the Heatseeker Chart.
What he sounds like: A singer who deserves as much respect for being an artist as he’s garnered for being a writer. Closer to the traditional Red Dirt sound, but still modern.
Required listening: His first Texas No. 1, “Little Too Late”. In a different time, this song has all the right parts to be a hit in much more than Texas.
1. Sam Riggs and the Night People
Sam Riggs got his start in Florida, but his impression on the Texas scene is already apparent. Mentored by Ray Wylie Hubbard, his debut record Outrun The Sun landed three top-10 Texas singles. His song “Collide” found a place on ABC’s hit show Nashville. Don’t be surprised if Sam Riggs and the Night People eclipse the Texas scene.
What they sound like: ’90s rock meets Red Dirt.
Required listening: Album opener “Long Shot” perfectly sums up the sound of Sam Riggs and the Night People.