Texas Music

149570_steveearletownescoverart               flatlanders

It’s springtime in Texas, and the bluebonnets have blossomed brilliantly along the miles of highways in the state.  And as the dust settled after the big South by Southwest (SXSW) festival we find a handful of worthy releases from artists in the Lone Star State.

It’s no secret that Steve Earle is a huge fan of fellow Texas singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt.  In fact, Earle once said “Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.”  So now Earle backs up his words with a whole album of Van Zandt songs, Townes, coming out May 12.  The two met way back in 1972 when Van Zandt heckled Earle during one of his very first shows.  I can see where that would lead to a beautiful friendship.

MP3: “Pancho and Lefty” by Steve Earle

Already out is Midnight at the Movies, the excellent new album from Justin Townes Earle (guess whose son).   This is the second solo album from a kid who knows who he wants to be, and to me he sounds like he wants to be an excellent songwriter and a man who can sing rings around a honky tonk song.

MP3: “Mama’s Eyes” by Justin Townes Earle

The Flatlanders are, of course, the trio of Texas super-songwriters Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock and Joe Ely.  These boys from Lubbock have achieved legendary status on their own, and reaching similiar notoriety as a collective (even though they formed the band way back in 1972).  Hills and Valleys is their third album, and it’s proof positive that some good things are worth waiting for.

MP3: “Homeland Refugee” by the Flatlanders

The Krayolas krawled out of a San Antonio cd-longleafpine-covergarage 30 years ago and they’re still going strong.  And they have a new album, Long Leaf Pine (no smack gum) featuring the song that electrified SXSW a few weeks ago, “Corrido/Twelve Heads In A Bag.”

MP3: “Corrido/Twelve Heads In A Bag” by The Krayolas (with the West Side Horns)

Another huge hit at SXSW was Black Joe Lewis, backed by horn-slingers the Honeybears.  They played everywhere, it seems, and when word inevitably leaked out about this soulful, rockin’ and supremely entertaining unit, they weren’t playing in enough places.  Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is rocks the funk and makes your soul about as funky as it can get.

MP3: “Sugarfoot” by Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears

Blues fans in Texas know the name Omar Kent Dykes, and they know that wherever Omar shows up, former Fabulous Thunderbird Jimmie Vaughan can’t be far behind.  Big Town Playboy assembles many of the same players (Vaughan, Lou Ann Barton) as the 2007 classic On The Jimmy Reed Highway and adds to the mix harp players James Cotton and Lazy Lester.  It’s the blues, baby!

MP3: “Big Town Playboy” by Omar Kent Dykes

ugkUsually you don’t see reviews of hip-hop on blogs like this unless it’s a joke or just the writer trying to look cool.  But we’re gonna talk a little about UGK because they’re homies from Port Arthur, Texas, and the late Pimp C is my dad’s neighbor over at Greenlawn.  Don’t think my old man would have liked UGK too much, and I must admit I’m kind of lost with much of this but frequently I hear a hilarious lyric or an exciting musical lick on UGK 4 Life, the new album with some material recorded before Pimp C’s death in 2007. 

MP3: “Da Game Been Good To Me” by UGK

And let’s not forget the poet laureate of Texas, Willie Nelson.  Check out his newest, the incredible Willie and the Wheel (with Asleep at the Wheel) and if you have a mind to, Naked Willie.  Naked is a new collection of 17 songs originally recorded between 1966-1970 for RCA, but they have now been stripped of the strings and background singers that marred much of country music from that era.  Pure and simple, like a cold Shiner beer.

MP3: “The Party’s Over” by Willie Nelson

4 Responses to “Texas Music”

  1. I can’t say enough good things about Justin Townes Earle. I’ve seen him twice now, most recently at SXSW, and gave very good reviews to both of his albums. This guy has unlimited charisma. Mark my words, he is going to be a star.

  2. I do love that Texas music! Thanks, I’m looking forward to the Steve Earle album. W.

  3. In response to the Krayolas write up, it should be known that Michael Guerra (Of the Texas Tornados and the Tex Mex Experience) is also a guest musician on the Accordian as well as Bajo Sexto guru Max Baca. The record was produced by Joe “Bluecat” Trevino.

  4. 30daysout Says:

    Those are serious South Texas heavyweights, and they sound great on the Krayolas’ “Corrido 12 Heads In A Bag.” Thanks, David!

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