Some musings on Texas music…

I ran up on this thought-provoking commentary from Houston deejay Leslie T. Travis on her blog re: the Texas Roadhouse and the music she plays on it.
Interesting how even the Texas music fans have the same complaints that mainstream music fans do about certain artists getting too much or too little airplay. But as she said, they’re the superstars of our movement and not playing them wouldn’t be a very smart thing to do. Besides, I think the argument about certain big stars drawing in the audience and keeping them around for more holds a hell of a lot more water here than it does in other contexts. Just as an example, I’ve heard it argued before that people like Shania Twain and Faith Hill were good for country music because they drew people to country radio that otherwise wouldn’t be listening. (For me, that’s what evoked the term “country music for people who don’t like country music.”) I never could understand that argument, because if these people are tuning in for Faith Hill and Shania Twain, do we honestly believe they’re going to go out and buy George Strait, Alan Jackson or Billy Currington? I suppose there are a few who will, but still I don’t understand why this argument is given so much validity by certain fans.
But with the Texas country it’s different. If you listen to what Leslie T. plays on her show you’ll find out, for example, that there’s not that much difference — musically speaking — between the bigger artists like Pat Green and Kevin Fowler and the lesser-known artists like Todd Fritsch and Max Stalling. Of course you’ll have the rockers like Cross Canadian Ragweed, but from what I’ve heard they seem to be the exception to the rule. (That is most definitely not to say that I do not like CCR or consider them unworthy of being called a Texas country-rock band. I farkin’ lurrrrve me some Ragweed, as you should know if you’re a longtime visitor — although I know some might not.) So if Pat, Kevin and Cory Morrow are what it takes to draw people in to hear Aaron Watson, Todd Fritsch or Brandon Rhyder, then I am all for that. Truth be told the biggest problem I have vis-a-vis Texas artists on the radio is that they’re not played enough. The Texas Roadhouse is great, but still it would be wonderful if more of the music Leslie T. played on Sunday nights was put in regular rotation during the week. I understand somewhat the reasons that it isn’t, but still it irks me a bit and I blame that more on the state of radio these days than anything else.
And then there’s another excellent point:

Still to many listeners, some of the OLD songs are new. For those that listen every week it seems like we just play a bunch of old tunes. To those that are hearing it for the first time (or even the 5th) it’s all new to them.

She’s exactly right, of course…and just as in mainstream country, the older music is every bit of worthy of being played as is the newer stuff. All the older stuff from Pat Green, Cory Morrow and Roger Creager, she’s exactly right when she says all of it is going to be new to some people. I’m sure when I first heard songs like “Take Me Out To A Dancehall,” “Nashville Blues” or “The Everclear Song,” by that time they were old hat to a lot of people — but it was that early stuff, that’s so familiar to so many people now, that got me to stay and check out more of the Texas artists. And I am reasonably certain that I am not the only one. Leslie’s hamstrung in a big way, I’ll admit it — she does work for a country station in a major market that is owned by a big corporation, so of course she’s not going to get to play as wide of a variety of the Texas stuff that she wants to, nor is she going to get to play as much of it. Basically she only has five hours a week to work with — if she had a few of the other 163, or if the Texas music was mixed more into the other 163, things would be a lot different. As it is, though, I think she does a great job with what she has to work with and I for one appreciate that. It could be a lot worse. We could have one of those cookie-cutter countdowns full of the music we hear the rest of the week.

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