Here are 10 Texas country artists that define the sound of what’s happening in the Lone Star State.
There are some good things happening musically down Texas way. They’ve been happening for nearly two decades now, but little by little the Texas Country sound is spreading across the land. Here is a quick look at some of the names all country fans need to know.
It’s been nearly 13 years since Bowen released his debut effort Try Not To Listen, but 2014 was perhaps his busiest and best year yet. His single “When I Woke Up Today” made the Texas Music Chart Top 100 for 2014, giving Bowen a lot of airplay ahead of his self-titled album release, Wade Bowen which released in October. Bowen routinely performs better than 200 nights a year and is taking his Texas sound up to New York City this coming summer.
The party got started in 1998 for Creager with the release of “The Everclear Song,” but the epic drinking anthem isn’t half as rowdy as his live shows. His performances on stage helped build a solid following in Texas long before his brand of country began to garner radio play. A Texas A&M alumni, and Corpus Christi native, his vocals are distinctly his own and easily identifiable by any true Texas Country fan. His 2014 hit “River Song” had Creager yet again floating to the top of the Texas Music scene.
A relative newcomer compared to most on this list, Zane Williams first gained attention in 2006 after being named a Merlefest finalist in three songwriting categories (winning two of them). His song “Hurry Home” also won the $20,000 top prize as the Maxell Song of the Year in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. After moving back to Texas, Williams released the album Ride With Me in 2011, but true to its name it was his 2013 album, Overnight Success that propelled Zane to the top of the Texas Music Charts with 2 singles, “Little Too Late” and “Hands of a Workin’ Man.” His latest single “Texas Like That” is already a hit and has all the makings of a classic in the genre.
Driven by his 2013 release Beggin’For More, Kyle Park had a big year in 2014 with popular singles “Long Distance Relationship” and “Turn that Crown Upside Down” both cracking the Texas Music Chart’s Top 100 songs of the year. Playing nearly 200 dates a year, Park is a busy man as he not only writes and performs, but also produces his own music. This product of Austin embodies the independent spirit of the Texas scene and is a star on the rise.
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Fowler took the roundabout way to come back home to Texas, but his position amongst the stalwarts of the Texas scene cannot be denied. This Amarillo native left the Lone Star State to become a hard-rocking guitarist in Los Angeles, but in 1998 he left the rock world to concentrate on the emerging Texas Country scene. Since that time he’s been a constant force on the Texas Music Chart, as well as writing songs covered by Nashville artists such as “Beer Bait & Ammo,” “The Lord Loves the Drinkin’ Man,” and “Long Line of Losers.” Coming full circle back to his Amarillo roots, Fowler’s single “Panhandle Poorboy” came in at #4 on Texas Music Charts Top songs of 2014.
Casey Donahew Band
With some of the rowdiest, and most loyal fans in all of Texas, Casey Donahew and his band have staked their claim in Lone Star lore as the premier party band. Songs like “White Trash Story” and “High” play up the carefree and reckless side, while 2014 hits “Small Town Love” and “Lovin’ Out of Control” relay the band’s view on affairs of the heart.
This former bull rider was chosen as the Texas Regional Music Male Newcomer of the year in 2011. Since then his popularity has continued to rise with hit songs like “Me & My Kind” that highlight the authenticity of this hard rocking cowboy. The winner of TRM’s Entertainer of the Year for 2014, Johnson has tour dates scheduled from South Dakota to Georgia for 2015 so expect this Texan to hold on for the full ride. And you can bet he’ll do it his “Texan Kind of Way.”
With a sound that harkens back to the honky-tonk heroes of old, this Amarillo son has built up a huge fan base throughout the Lone Star State, but his popularity has also spread as far as Europe which is now part of his regular tour schedule. With two singles “That Look” and “July in Cheyenne” in the Texas Music Charts Top 100 for 2014, Watson is riding high. His twelfth album, Underdog is scheduled for a February 2015 release and according to a recent review in Rolling Stone it promises to be “a highly personal record, with songs inspired by Watson’s faith, his time on the road and the death of his infant daughter.”
Named after Australian bank robber, Ned Kelly, Reckless Kelly was formed in Bend, Oregon, by a pair of brothers from Idaho, but make no mistake — this band, now based out of Austin, is Texan to the bone. “The Girl I Knew” and “Every Step of the Way” were both hits in 2014 adding to a long string of songs to grace the Texas Music Chart. Not one to shy away from making a social statement, the band has weighed in on subjects ranging from the Iraq War “American Blood” to Hurricane Katrina “God Forsaken Town.” Reckless Kelly has taken their fans down a “Wicked Twisted Road” of emotions, but they never fail to entertain with sharp lyrics and their rootsy brand of music.
Robison turned fifty in 2014 but unlike some of the other elder statesmen of Texas Country, this wildman shows no signs of slowing down. Still out there on the road belting out his classics like “My Hometown,” Loving County,” and “New Year’s Day,” Robison always draws an enthusiastic crowd. As a judge on season one of Nashville Star and the former husband of Emily Erwin of Dixie Chick fame, Charlie Robison is not entirely a stranger to mainstream audiences, but those of us in Texas know he is “The Right Man For the Job” when it comes to making us feel joy, pain, longing or any other emotion he chooses to infuse into his songs. From his early stuff on 1998’s Life Of The Party up to 2013’s cover–filled High Life Charlie Robison has entertained Texas with his raw voice and barroom bravado.