Kevin McCoy began his radio career in 1992 at KYNG/KNBT New Braunfels as a mid day Country Show Host. He got his first taste of Country Radio when Jerry Jeff Walker came to the station for an unannounced on-air interview. Being the only warm body around, Kevin obliged and fell in love with Texas Country Radio. Kevin has also worked in Dallas Radio as a host at KYNG Young Country. He was featured on ABC Radio Network’s Real Country where his Classic Country Show was heard on 160 markets across the US.In April of 2008, as the Program Director and an On-Air host of KFWR 95.9 The Ranch Fort Worth, Kevin McCoy decided that no more Nashville Music would be played on the station. Launching the first major market 24/7 Texas Country Station. Through the years, Kevin McCoy has become instrumental in launching Texas Music careers for many of the Top names in in the industry. He won the Large Market Station of the Year and Radio Personality Four Times from the Texas Regional Radio Awards and continues to live and breathe real Country Music. Listen afternoons on 97.5 KFTX Real Country.
January 25th, 2022
© 2022 Saving Country Music
In 2011, a full film production crew was on hand to chronicle an intimate concert special celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the debut album from Randy Travis, Storm of Life. What started out to be a specific project set around that anniversary has slowly morphed into something more in the aftermath of Randy’s health setbacks in 2013 that took his Hall of Fame voice from us.
“Though this documentary began as a 25th Anniversary special, it quickly pivoted into a chronicled celebration of life’s setups and setbacks, after my massive stroke in 2013,” says Randy Travis in a statement. “The planned few months of composing, turned into 10 years—Mary and I thank the perseverance and patience of the wonderful team that waited and believed in it until completion…the ones that care and protect the legacy of my music.”
The completed film project is now called More Life, and it will premier on The Circle Network on Thursday, February 10th at 8:30 P.M. Eastern.
One of the features that makes the film remarkable is that it captures Randy Travis in the final moments of his career right before the stroke. Hours of performances and interviews were collected, including the last footage of Randy Travis performing signature hits such as “Deeper Than The Holler,” Diggin’ Up Bones,” “Three Wooden Crosses,” and some of Randy’s last moments before he was impaired by the stroke.
Along with Randy and his wife Mary appearing in the film, Warner Music Nashville executive Martha Sharp who gave Randy his first record deal also makes an appearance. So does Randy’s longtime producer Kyle Lehning. Josh Turner also appears and performs in the film.
But of course, the biggest focus of the film is the perseverance of Randy through his health issues, from doctors advising Mary in the hospital that they should just “let him go,” to battling back to continue to represent country music as an elder statesman.
“With the colorful life I’ve lived and four rollercoaster decades in the music and movie industry, there are infinite stories to tell in a finite timeframe,” Randy’s statement about the film continues. “As I watch and listen to the cadence of kind words, special memories, and well-wishes from friends and colleagues, captured in the documentary, I am reminded of the blessed life God has given me. I appreciate those who gave ‘More Love’ along the way, and the fans that continue to shed ‘More Light’ along my path. There aren’t words that express the gratitude I have for the ones that came along when the day was dim, the future unknown…that gave me ‘More Life.’ Not feeling is final…and, I’m feeling great! Enjoy!”
The film premier will be part of a greater “Day of Randy Travis” on February 10th, which will also include the second season premier of Elizabeth Cook’s fishing show, “Upstream with Elizabeth Cook,” where Liz joins Randy Travis and wife Mary for a day of fishing at their home in Texas.
January 12th, 2022
The Great Chili Debate: Beans or No Beans?
Which side are you on? The way you like your chili probably depends on where you’re from.By Lisa Cericola
To bean, or not to bean. When you’re making a pot of chili, that is the question. And depending on whether or not you’re from Texas, there is a very definitive answer.
If you’re from Texas: NO.
If you’re from elsewhere: Maybe.
While the origin of chili in the United States is debated among food historians, many think it was popularized in San Antonio in the 1900s by the Chili Queens, a group of women who sold a spicy meat stew around the city’s Military Plaza. According to the International Chili Society, which runs several world-famous chili competitions: “The Queens, who were for the most part Mexican, made their chili at home and then loaded it onto colorful little chili wagons, on which they transported it to the plaza, along with pots, crockery, and all the other gear necessary to feed the nineteenth-century night people. They build mesquite fires on the square to keep the chili warm, lighted the wagons with colored lanterns, and squatted on the ground beside the cart, dishing out chili to customers who sat on wooden stools to eat the delightful and fiery stew.”
In her cookbook United Tastes of Texas, author Jessica Dupuy writes that chili does have strong ties to Texas, even though the dish was created long before: “While many Texans might choke on a spoonful of their own bowl of red at the notion, the origins of chili really come from south of the border, in South America. The term ‘chili’ is short for ‘chili con carne,’ which translates from Spanish as chilies with meat. It’s s simple phrase that most people misinterpret placing more importance on the meat, rather than the chilies. But without chilies, and their integral role in the vast majority of Mexican food, our modern day chili would be little more than a boring bowl of sautéed meat.”
As chili parlors spread like wildfire across the country in the mid-1900s, the dish took on many different forms, including some with beans. Today, chili is considered a regional dish—served over spaghetti in Ohio, spooned onto Coney-style hot dogs in Michigian, and made with green chiles and pork in New Mexico, to name a few.
The ICS defines traditional red and green chili as “any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of beans and pasta which are strictly forbidden. No garnish is allowed.” If that sounds a bit uptight, there is the ICS’s Homestyle Chili competition which defines chili as: “the cook’s favorite combination of ingredients resulting in a dish seasoned with chili peppers and spices.” Bean lovers, go crazy.
Whether you fall in the beans or no beans camp, chili is one of the most satisfying ways to feed a hungry crowd. Especially when served with a hunk of cornbread on the side. Or is it Saltine crackers? That’s a debate for another day…
January 5th, 2022
Any time “new to us” music is unearthed from Randy Travis, it’s cause for attention and celebration. Afflicted with Aphasia after his stroke in 2013, it’s unlikely new music will be forthcoming from the Hall of Fame singer and songwriter anytime soon. But having amassed such a legendary career, there are always extra tracks and unearthed recordings to be had if you dig deep enough. In 2021, Randy Travis released expanded editions of his debut album Storms of Life, and his holiday album An Old Time Christmas with previously-unheard bonus tracks.
Now, a previously-unpublished live album has appeared without any fanfare or explanation that is definitely worth checking out. Populating at the end of November/early December exclusively on YouTube (see below), the 13-track album recorded live at the legendary Gilley’s night club in Pasadena, TX in 1986 captures Randy Travis in peak form right as he was breaking out nationally in country music.
Along with some of Randy’s most signature songs from early in his career such as “On The Other Hand,” “Storms of Life,” and “1982,” the album also includes Randy Travis covering songs many have never heard from him before, including “Louisiana Saturday Night,” George Strait’s “The Chair” written by Hank Cochran and Dean Dillon, and “American Trilogy” made popular by Mickey Newbury.
Taken from a Westwood One radio broadcast with announcer and all, what makes this recording unique is it includes all kinds of stage banter, stories, and jokes from Randy, and it comes from a legendary spot in Gilley’s during a really important time in Randy’s career. It really captures Randy’s personality, not just his music.
There is no question these recordings are a great addition to the Randy Travis catalog. The question is where exactly they came from, and why now? The 13-song album was actually released in two separate album forms, even though both albums include the same exact music. The first is called My Wandering Ways: Live Pasedena ’86 Syndicated Broadcast, and was released on November 30th, 2021 by “Carnival.” The second is called Randy Travis First Impressions: The 1986 Pasadena, Texas Broadcast and was released December 3rd by “Fast Draw.” These are not bootleg recordings uploaded by a random user, but official recordings auto-generated for YouTube by publishers.
Saving Country Music reached out to Randy’s representative to attempt to find out more about the recordings and their release, and didn’t hear back. But poking around, there doesn’t seem to be any record of these albums being released previously in the internet era, or if they were, they were only in a very limited capacity. Again, they’re only available on YouTube, though you can find Spotify listings for both My Wandering Ways and First Impressions, but all the tracks are grayed out and unavailable.
There was also another live recording of Randy Travis released from Gilley’s in 1989 by Westwood One, but this appears to be more for radio broadcast than something for public consumption, which this 1986 was likely too originally, but has now been turned into a proper album.
Either way, it’s a great recording of Randy Travis live and with professional, radio broadcast quality, and one you wouldn’t find unless you went actively looking for it on YouTube. If/when more information is unearthed about these recordings, it will be updated here. And if you happen to know more, pipe up below in the comments.https://www.youtube.com/embed/of12jLqQ9rs
December 8th, 2021
Be sure to check out the West Texas Super Group The Panhandlers and check out one of their tunes on the latest episode of Yellowstone.
December 8th, 2021
© 2021 Saving Country Music
Amid the continuing effort to revitalize the legacy of Country Music Hall of Famer Conway Twitty and reconstitute his music in modern form for fans to enjoy, ten albums from the heart of Conway’s career have finally been released for both streaming and download for the very first time by the Universal Music Group.
Many Conway fans have been frustrated over the holes in availability of much of his catalog in the digital space. Though some specific songs from the albums have been available for streaming or download via other releases, the albums themselves have not. The ten albums include:
The High Priest of Country Music (1975)
Now and Then (1976)
Play, Guitar Play (1977)
I’ve Already Loved You in My Mind (1977)
Georgia Keeps Pulling on My Ring (1978)
Cross Winds (1979)
Heart & Soul (1980)
Mr. T (1981)
Beyond streaming or download, almost all of these titles were also never available on CD, only vinyl and cassette. 1987’s Borderline was the only title ever originally released on CD. That means aside from used copies, the albums have been completely out of circulation, sometimes for 40 years.
The reissued albums include 100 total songs, 16 of which were some of Conway’s 55 total #1 hits, and 3 are Certified Gold singles by the RIAA. The album The High Priest of Country Music is a fan favorite, and includes the duet “Don’t Cry Joni” with Conway’s daughter Joni Lee. The Cross Winds album was a big turning point in Conway’s career when he began moving on from working with producer Owen Bradley, and started co-producing his own records.
The latest release of albums is part of an agreement UMG has with the Conway Twitty estate to reissue 10 albums per year until his entire discography is restored and modernized. Why UMG is only releasing 10 per year instead of reissuing the entire discography isn’t entirely clear, though it likely has something to do with time and financial resources.
2021 is the 4th year of the UMG agreement, with last year seeing many of Conway’s duet albums with Loretta Lynn being re-released. With the latest batch of albums, it leaves 16 of Conway’s 65 total studio albums still to be issued.
In August, three famous Conway Twitty songs were finally Certified Gold in “That’s My Job,” “I’d Love to Lay You Down,” and “Tight Fittin’ Jeans.” Just like the singer’s discography, accounting on his sales had fallen behind, but the effort is underway to bring it all back up to speed, with further certifications likely coming in the future.
There are still more Conway Twitty titles to be restored and modernized to the streaming and download era, but this latest batch takes Twitty’s tunes a step closer to being fully available for old and new fans.© 2021 Saving Country Music
December 1st, 2021
Rolling Stone Exclusive: Turnpike Troubadours Talk Unexpected Hiatus, Newfound Sobriety, and Surprise Reunion
With front man Evan Felker sober and refocused, the Red Dirt group end a two-year-plus break and plot a new future. “I miss playing music,” Felker says, “but I don’t miss being drunk and telling the same stories over and over again”
Absent from the stage and on a self-declared “indefinite hiatus” since May 2019, Turnpike Troubadours — a band known as much for its volatility as for its literary songs and stomping melodies — have hit the most-anticipated reset button in Americana music. The group will headline the venerable Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside of Denver on May 14.
The concert is part of a full-fledged return. Expect more shows — including possible appearances ahead of the Red Rocks date (tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 3.) — and album news as the Oklahoma six-piece knocks off the dust. During an exclusive, full-band Zoom interview with Rolling Stone, the members were quick to emphasize that they have missed simply being the Turnpike Troubadours.
“There’s a thing that happens when you’ve worked with someone for a long time that’s just magic,” Evan Felker, the band’s front man and songwriter, says. “The chemistry that we have, and being able to play off of each other without speaking or anything like that, it’s an amazing little phenomenon. And it happens for three or four minutes at a time, and I’m very appreciative of things like that now.”https://cfedf43f03712b79c7dfff5bc61517e8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Arriving at that appreciation, not just for Felker but the entire band, took three years of patience, uncertainty, and self-reflection. For nearly a year, the band played into a headwind of tabloid headlines and social media chaos focused on Felker’s personal life and a series of abrupt, high-profile concert cancellations that left fans and venues alike seeking answers. In the time since that 2019 pause, each member found opportunities to move on to something new, but not one gave up on Turnpike.
“We’re ready to get back to playing shows,” Ryan Engleman, lead guitarist, says.
Adds fiddle player Kyle Nix: “We’re getting the band back together!”
The Turnpike Troubadours are Felker, Nix, Engleman, R.C. Edwards on bass, Gabe Pearson on drums, and Hank Early on steel guitar and accordion. Founded in 2005 and touting four official albums, Turnpike rocketed from Oklahoma’s Red Dirt scene to the pinnacle of Americana music while taking delight in remaining independent.
I came into Turnpike’s orbit when all that unraveled. The last documented instance of the full band sitting for an interview, pre-hiatus, came in fall 2018, when they discussed their music with me for the book Red Dirt: Roots Music Born in Oklahoma, Raised in Texas, at Home Anywhere. A few weeks before the book’s release in August 2020, Felker called. Since that interview, and the band’s hiatus, Felker needed me to know he had changed. He had become sober. He had married his wife, Staci, for the second time. He had gone off the grid, spending his days working on a ranch in Southeast Texas. I rewrote Turnpike’s portion of the book, and Rolling Stone excerpted Felker’s phone interview.
Since then, Evan and Staci welcomed a daughter, Evangelina Hartford Felker, in January 2021, and he contributed to a virtual fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation organized by his friend and Old 97’s front man Rhett Miller in October.
“Having Evan on the CF benefit sure was a sweet thing,” Miller tells Rolling Stone. “He had done this with me a few years back, in the Before Times, live and in person, and I had a feeling that asking him to sit down and sing a couple of songs while Staci filmed him would be an easy first step back into the public eye. He did great.”
After that, it seemed fitting to bookend my Turnpike chronicles with the new group interview. As it played out, each member said they stayed content, musically and personally, during the hiatus.
Nix was the most visible. He recorded and released Lightning on the Mountain & Other Short Stories, a full-length solo album featuring, as he puts it, “An assortment of story songs, and a hoedown to top it off,” in June 2020. Nix wrote 15 of the album’s 17 tracks, and most members of Turnpike contributed. He formed and toured with his own band, the 38’s, which features Pearson on drums. For our Zoom chat, he pulled into a rest stop en route to a headlining show.
“I really just dove head-first into creating as much as I could,” Nix says. “It was a therapeutic outlet. That was all I wanted to do, and all I needed to do since we weren’t out on the road. But then you throw Covid in, and it was pretty tough… I fell into some rough times, started drinking a little too much. I finally had to pull my ass out of the mud and get my head straight and sober up.
“Creating has been therapy for me, trying to get better as a fiddle player, musician and songwriter,” he continues. “And getting back on the road with my band has really helped. I didn’t realize how much I actually missed it.”
In addition to playing drums for Nix, Pearson spent the hiatus and pandemic working toward a degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
“I went back to college in fall of 2019, and I’m getting close to finishing my bachelor’s degree,” Pearson says. “Then Kyle called me, and we’ve toured since the start of this summer with his band, so it’s been ‘go to school and play music’ all day, every day for me.”
Edwards, like Nix, spent the hiatus fronting another band. RC and the Ambers has always been a side project for Edwards, but he toured heavily with the group since 2019, headlining in and around his hometown of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and finding prime spots at festivals such as the 2020 and 2021 installments of Mile 0 Fest in Key West, Florida.
“It’s been really fun spending a little more time, making a record for that project, and putting it all together a little more than it was before,” Edwards says. “It’s more organized now, and I’m happy with it, but at the same time I’m looking forward to getting back and doing [Turnpike] again.”https://cfedf43f03712b79c7dfff5bc61517e8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
The record mentioned was Big Country, released in September. Early produced it in his home studio in Tahlequah, part of his immersion in the region’s music scene, with a major life event to cap it off: He got married.
“I moved to Tahlequah about a year before we went on hiatus,” Early says “So, I’ve enjoyed kind of dipping my toes in the Tulsa music scene. I’ve gotten to play with a lot of really cool people up there. And I’ve spent a lot of time in my home studio. I built it out a bit, and have produced a few records for people, start to finish, right here. R.C.’s was the first, but I’ve done four or five projects since then. I’d never done any of that before, so it was all a new experience.”
The dust had barely settled on Turnpike’s 2019 break when Reckless Kelly needed a guitar player to replace David Abeyta, who left the band after 19 years as part of Willy and Cody Braun’s Idaho-to-Austin roots-rock outfit. Engleman accepted and toured with Reckless for the final third of 2019, starting with an appearance at Reckless’s Braun Brothers Reunion festival in Challis, Idaho. He planned to stay on the road in 2020, when the band intended to tour behind their double album American Jackpot/American Girls, but the pandemic shelved that. When Reckless finally returned to touring in summer 2021, Engleman passed on his invitation (which led to Austin pedal-steel mainstay Geoff Queen joining the band).
“I was pretty fortunate to get picked up by Reckless,” Engleman says. “Those guys were great, and the amount of learning from a musical standpoint was pretty awesome. It was a lot, learning to cut back-and-forth between what I would do and what David did. It was really great, rolling along, and then Covid hit, and Reckless shut down.”
Willy Braun is the front man and primary songwriter for Reckless Kelly — who, along with Shovels & Rope, will join Turnpike on the May 14 bill at Red Rocks. He said Engleman’s personality made touring easy for Reckless after Abeyta’s departure.
“Nobody was going to play like David, so Ryan was really perfect,” Braun tells Rolling Stone. “He’s a versatile player who can rock out and play bluegrass, and offstage he is a really great hang. And that’s almost a bigger piece of the puzzle than being a great player, when you’re on the road a hundred days with someone.”https://cfedf43f03712b79c7dfff5bc61517e8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Engleman ended up spending the bulk of 2020 as a pandemic parent to his son, JR, currently just shy of 8 years old, and scratching a fishing itch.
“I hadn’t really been home since my kid was born,” Engleman says. “His school shut down, and we were trying to home-school like everybody, and it was a lot of strife for a while. But we kind of learned to live in that environment. Reckless called in February, and said, ‘OK, we’re ready to go if you are,’ and I was so conflicted about it, but eventually told them I wanted a bit more time for myself while I had it.”
Taking time for themselves was important to all of the members, but none more so than Felker.
After shifting so far out of the spotlight as to be nearly impossible to find, reconciling his marriage, getting sober, and becoming a parent, the cop-out would be to note that none of the band underwent more changes than Felker. But, typical of the contemplative front man, there’s more to it than that.
A wordsmith as a songwriter — the ease with which Felker shifts between the cut-with-a-blade introspection of, say, Jason Isbell, and the whimsical pontification of, say, Todd Snider, lends a range to Turnpike’s catalog that is unique even in Americana — Felker is also direct in conversation. When discussing his recent past and Turnpike’s future, he does so with sincerity and charisma, noting that “well-rounded” is a better way to describe him now than any before-and-after portrait would be.
“I have not been traveling. I stayed in one spot for about the past three years,” Felker says. “I head back up to Oklahoma to visit my family, and then I go back. I really did the opposite of the rest of these guys. I focused so much on my art and my creativity for so long that I let everything else slide.
“But I found sobriety and recovery, and that was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I’m coming up on two years, completely sober and out of recovery. And a few days after that will be my daughter’s first birthday, so it’s all a big one,” he says. “I’ve learned so much about how my life was not well-rounded. I mean I knew that. I knew that it was just one thing. It started out just being music, and then eventually it was just drinking, and that was it for me.”https://cfedf43f03712b79c7dfff5bc61517e8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
According to Felker, the only way he could envision a life leading a barnstorming Americana band again was if he could first create a life as far away from it as he could get.
“There were a lot of things, when I was stuck in a room in a rehab facility, that I thought I really am going to put some time into. I wanted to be a decent carpenter, or just pie-in-the-sky things like training cattle horses and stuff. Now, I’m really able to do all that! I’ve learned more than ever, this cowboying stuff has changed my life drastically.
“I’m really, really happy with the things I get to spend my time on now,” he continues. “I love music still, but it was time to spend a year or two and catch back up, because the person I presented myself to be — and who I thought I was — was lacking in some areas. Now, I feel like myself, and I’m proud of what I’m capable of doing. It’s a nice feeling, it truly is.”
Miller, who notably filled his solo and Old 97’s catalogs with hard-drinking tunes before sobering up himself, can not only relate, but also offers some insight into what Felker may expect when he is behind a microphone again.
“Speaking from personal experience, it’s a weird thing re-entering the world of music as a sober person,” Miller says. “Most of us who wind up having problems with booze or whatever get to that point because we are using substances as a crutch to help us deal with the pressures of the job. Those pressures don’t go away once we sober up, but we discover that there are healthy ways to deal with them. And guess what? Those healthy ways wind up being a lot more effective than just drowning our insecurities in booze. I love Evan like a brother and he knows that I will always have his back. I’m also a Turnpike fan and am so glad that they’re going to be back together again.”
Felker, for his part, also recognizes the life he currently lives is conducive to raising his daughter — Evie for short — alongside Staci.
“Being a parent, so far, for me — especially since I’m in one spot all the time; in the past year, I’ve probably been away from my daughter maybe 10 or 12 nights, of her entire life — is easy to do, if you’re around,” Felker says. “It would be trickier if I was gone a lot more. That said, Staci still has to take up all the slack. But most of what I do is around the house. I spend my time within a mile of home every day, so I always feel like I’m close.”https://cfedf43f03712b79c7dfff5bc61517e8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
“For 10 years, I was in a bar every night. If you expose yourself to that long enough, you’re going to wind up needing some help. I know I did.”
When Turnpike returns to the road, fans should expect a more measured approach to tours than the “any gig, any time” outlook the band adhered to for a decade. They’ll certainly aim to find as much time at home as they find under spotlights.
“We have to keep things well-rounded,” Felker says. “Life has to have some sort of balance, otherwise it’ll spin off into outer space. We were in the bars — for 10 years, I was in a bar every night. If you expose yourself to that long enough, you’re going to wind up needing some help. I know I did. I don’t miss it. I don’t miss that. I miss playing music, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t miss being drunk and telling the same stories over and over again, not at all.”
To facilitate such a balance, the band has turned to New York-based TMWRK management, which gained industry notoriety managing DJ and EDM artists such as Diplo and Cashmere Cat. But the simple act of assembling a team first meant bringing the group’s six members back into the fold.
That happened in mid-November, when an afternoon of raucous laughter cut right through the hiatus and marked a fresh start for six people who, it turns out, really enjoy hanging out with one another.
“We all got together last week, and I don’t know that I’ve ever had that good of a time in that little space of time,” Engleman says. “Just giggling and cracking jokes, and seeing people you love for the first time in two, three years. Everybody’s happy and having a good time.”
If fans anticipated a drawn-out, detailed end to this chapter, the camaraderie won out.
“It all really did just fall into place again,” Nix says. “We didn’t miss a beat. It’s funny how that works.”
Since hitting pause, Turnpike have hung over the worlds of Red Dirt and Texas music like a haze. Festivals they would normally headline went on without the band. And while it’s true the pandemic likely delayed this comeback, the fact remains that the genre will have gone nearly three years without the band when it hits the stage again.
According to Departed front man Cody Canada, one of few Red Dirt artists to have experienced heights similar to those of Turnpike Troubadours (when he fronted Cross Canadian Ragweed) and turmoil similar to Turnpike’s (when Ragweed publicly split in 2010), Red Dirt without the band has not felt the same.https://cfedf43f03712b79c7dfff5bc61517e8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
“Turnpike is very important to Red Dirt for one reason: They’re a great band with intelligent writing,” Canada tells Rolling Stone. “There’s no filler. No fodder. It’s poetry in motion. It’s music that makes you fall in love and dance. There’s no gimmick.”
For their part, the Turnpike Troubadours expect all of the above — the magic, the poetry and the connection — to fall into place the first time they face a crowd again.
“The energy of the crowd … I’m so excited to experience that again,” Early says. “This rabid energy, to go out on the stage and have all that directed at you, it’s amazing.”
“I won’t ever take another moment on stage for granted with those guys,” Nix says. “On stage in general, it’s such a blessing to be able to do something you love so much. To do it with guys that have been through everything together, I’ll leave it all out there, for sure.”
Felker recognizes that part of Turnpike being ready for their fans again also means embracing fans who never stopped being ready for Turnpike. He said he’s looking forward to the spotlight, when it comes, and sharing it with his five bandmates.
“We’re the same guys. We’re not even that much older. In fact, in some ways we might be younger,” Felker says. “We’ve also always had pretty neat chemistry with the crowd for the vast majority of our shows. And I do miss that, because that’s not something you can really replicate in life. There’s nothing else that gives you that.”
Get ready for a COJO Christmas!
Cody Johnson To Release First Holiday Album November 19.
Cody Johnson brings his family’s holiday traditions to life with the release of “A Cody Johnson Christmas” on Friday, Nov. 19. The singer’s first holiday album includes new arrangements of “Away in a Manger” and “Silent Night.” Producer Trent Willmon also wrote two original songs.
“Every song on this record holds a special memory for my family,” Johnson said in a release. “I hope my fans can make their own memories listening this holiday season.”
A track listing for “A Cody Johnson Christmas” follows:
- “Christmas All Year Long” (Trent Willmon)
- “Pretty Paper” (Willie Nelson)
- “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (Kim Gannon, Walter Kent, Buck Ram)
- “If We Make It Through December” (Merle Haggard)
- “Away in a Manger” (arrangement by Johnson and Willmon)
- “Hat Made of Mistletoe” (Trent Willmon)
- “White Christmas” (Irving Berlin)
- “Silent Night” feat. Clara, Brandi, and Cori Johnson (arrangement by Johnson and Willmon)
- “Feliz Navidad” feat. Kevin Fowler and Roger Creager (José Feliciano)
- “Santa Claus Is Back in Town” (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
November 8, 2021
© 2021 Saving Country Music
It’s one of those opportunities you wish to experience from your favorite artists, but very rarely get to. Some long time Cody Jinks fans can remember when the Ft. Worth, TX native was traveling around in a van, and performing in places like the intimate White Water Tavern in Little Rock, Arkansas, which looks like a run down shack at an elbow in the road, and has a capacity somewhere shy of 100. But that’s been years ago. Now Jinks is selling out amphitheaters and small arenas, and headlining festivals.
But on Sunday evening (11-7), some lucky bastards in Little Rock got a last minute, intimate acoustic performance that Jinks announced just hours before the doors opened. Admission? Name your price. And it all went to the Ronald McDonald House of Little Rock. It also helped to support a local venue that like so many of them over the last 18 months, has been hanging on by a shoestring.
“Last night was one of those nights that you hear about and say, damn, that kinda stuff never happens here! But it sure did,” says Samantha D. Platte of Little Rock. “Cody Jinks walked right up in the White Water Tavern with probably 60 people and played for a couple hours, took requests, told stories about Ward Davis (and other things), told us how much he didn’t care for Sam Hunt, and just sat back and drank some beers and laughed, and played great music! I loved every single minute of it!”
The White Water Tavern is known nationally for being a jumping off point for scores of up-and-coming artists, as well as for hosting legends in a more intimate environment. Multiple live recordings have been made there over the years as well, and the venue caters to country, Americana, and indie rock bands alike.
It appeared at one point that the venue would be one of the numerous casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic after it shut down, but Last Chance Records owner Travis Hill and his wife Natalee Miller stepped up to resuscitate the space, and it’s back to hosting music full time. Some Cody Jinks fans groused that vaccine or a negative test was required for the show, completely overlooking the show was name your price for charity, and an opportunity to see Cody Jinks in the most intimate setting possible.
The White Water Tavern has been around since the 70’s and has hosted many legendary shows. But Cody Jinks flanked by his guitar players playing an unexpected acoustic performance will certainly make a White Water story for the ages. The last time Jinks played Little Rock, it was at the Robinson Center, capacity 2,200, with some tickets on the secondary market going for over $200.
Cody’s latest country album Mercy, along with the debut album from his heavy metal side project Caned By Nod come out this Friday, November 12th
Here’s a great story about a great Hank inspired tune from Saving Country Music.
There’s just about nothing that will give you deeper chills in country music than the delivery of the final verse in the song “The Ride” written by Gary Gentry, J. B. Detterline Jr., and performed by David Allan Coe. Even after you’ve listened to the song scores of times, if it’s been a little while and you pipe it up again, here come the goosbumps, and the hair standing up on the back of your neck as the aspiring country performer hears the driver proclaim, “The whole world called me Hank.”
It’s almost like seeing a ghost, because you can almost feel the presence of Hank Williams in the song. And that may not be by accident, or coincidence.
In 1982, songwriter Gary Gentry had been involved in a film called Hank Williams Tribute — The Man and His Music that was recorded at the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville where Hank Williams held court many times before being unceremoniously removed from the Opry for excessive drinking. Some even think that the ghost of Hank Williams still haunts the Ryman itself.
Numerous sightings of Hank’s ghost have been reported at the Ryman over the years, including an employee who believed they saw him materialize in a “white mist.” When the 135-year-old building was being renovated in the 90’s before its reopening, a construction worker also swore he saw Hank. Another individual claimed they saw Hank’s ghost in the alley between The Ryman and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.
One of the most high profile stories of Hank’s presence at the Ryman happened one evening when “Whispering” Bill Anderson was backstage playing his guitar, getting ready to go on stage for the Saturday night Opry. According to Bill, shortly after he started strumming a song on his guitar that was a favorite of Hank’s, everything in the building went out, including the lights, the sound equipment, and even the emergency exit lights supposedly on a backup system. No explanation was ever found for the incident, and Anderson described the experience as “eerie.” “Whispering” Bill believes it was related to him performing that song.
But none of these stories are what inspired “The Ride.” According to songwriter Gary Gentry, he saw the ghost of Hank Williams for himself.
While working on that Hank Williams tribute film in 1982, “The Ride” co-writer J. B. Detterline told Gary Gentry they should write a tribute song to Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell. Apparently J.B. Detterline was a big Lefty Frizzell fan, while Gary Gentry was more of a Hank Williams fan. So that evening the two got together and wrote a tribute song to the two country legends called “Wherever Hank and Lefty Are, That’s Where I Want to Go.”
The two writers then parted ways at about 10:00 p.m. in the evening. But Gary Gentry wasn’t satisfied. He felt like the song the two co-wrote just didn’t do enough to show proper tribute to Hank Williams. Gentry was living at the Country Place Apartments at the time, and drinking a lot and “doing other stuff” according to the songwriter. He lit some candles, and performed a sort of redneck seance, trying to conjure the spirit of Hank Williams.
“I wanted to write a masterpiece about Hank,” Gary recalled in 2015. “And I was mad, and I was drunk. So I said, ‘Hank! Why were you so big? Just because you died young? Show yourself! Help me write this song.”
Apparently after the evocation, none other than Hank Williams appeared without a shirt on, sitting on Gary Gentry’s couch. “And I said, ‘Hank, we’re gonna take a ride. I wanna write about you. I think you’re the greatest songwriter and entertainer that ever lived.’ Thus, ‘The Ride,’ at 4 o’clock in the morning.”
Gary Gentry then called J.B. Detterline, who was asleep (and whose wife was pregnant), and they completed the song. David Allan Coe eventually recorded it, and it was released as a single on February 28th, 1983.
When being interviewed by Billboard in 1983 about “The Ride,” Gary Gentry told the magazine, “There’s a mysterious magic connected with this song that spells cold chills, leading me to believe that it was meant to be and that David Allan Coe was meant to record it.” Though Gentry doesn’t mention seeing Hank’s ghost in the Billboard article, he does mention that when writing the song, he opened up the Hank Williams biography to check the date of his death, and opened the book to the exact page where it was written.
But that’s not all. Shortly after David Allan Coe released “The Ride,” Gary Gentry performed the song at the Grand Ole Opry House for a television show. Right when he got to “Hank” in the big payoff line, the lights and electricity at not just the Opry House, but the entire Opryland complex went completely out, similar the the experience Bill Anderson had at the Ryman Auditorium. Numerous news outlets reported on the incident at the time.
Did Gary Gentry really co-write “The Ride” with the ghost of Hank Williams? Did Hank really make the lights go out at The Ryman and the Opry House when his name and memory were being evoked? Conventional wisdom would tell us “no.” But if you’ve ever felt those chills when listening to “The Ride,” you know there’s something going on, and it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s of this world.
The story of “The Ride” takes place on U.S. Route 31, which roughly parallels Interstate 65. It hit #4 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, making it Coe’s biggest hit up to that point (eclipsed by “Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile” in 1984).
The Texas Monthly Top 50 Texas BBQ Joints is out! I hope to try them all.
Just a decade ago, Texans took our state’s basic barbecue meal for granted. It was the sacred trinity of brisket, pork spareribs, and sausage, served with potato salad, coleslaw, and beans on the side. The biggest decision diners had to make was whether they wanted ice cream with their peach cobbler. The lineup seemed as fixed as the brick barbecue pits in which the meats were smoked.
And it wasn’t just the menu that was unchanging. Places and personalities seemed perennial as well. Two of the many truths we held to be self-evident were these: Lockhart was the unchallenged capital of Texas barbecue, and Snow’s BBQ, in Lexington, and Franklin Barbecue, in Austin, were the best joints in the state. That pair of enormously admired institutions captured the number one and two spots on Texas Monthly’s 2013 and 2017 lists of the fifty best barbecue joints (Snow’s also ranked first in 2008, before Franklin opened). They epitomized old-school Texas barbecue at its finest. Aspiring and veteran pitmasters alike visited them as if they were shrines.
But in the past half decade or so, we’ve begun to notice that the winds of change are growing quite gusty. In cities and towns across the state, new joints have been opening, and young, ambitious pitmasters have been getting into the game. Because they’ve been inspired by Texas’s long and storied barbecue tradition, the Texas trinity still dominates, and brisket has only gotten more popular (and expensive). That said, the upstarts have lots of new ideas.
What distinguishes the Texas barbecue scene today? In a word: surprises. In another word: variety. We’re talking bacon burnt ends, beef cheeks, birria, blueberry-and-Gouda sausage, brisket-topped elote, and guava-glazed pork ribs. And those are just the meat offerings. Side dishes and desserts range as far afield as Big Red tres leches cake, blistered brussels sprouts, carrot soufflé, citrus-beet salad, and brisket fried rice. And we haven’t even gotten to the wine lists.
As you would expect at a time of transformation, compiling our Top 50 list was a challenge. Even we were shocked by some of the changes we felt compelled to make. The former lodestars in our firmament, Snow’s and Franklin, no longer occupy our first or second spots (though both made the top ten and are absolutely worth visiting). For the first time, sadly, no Lockhart joints made the list (though the venerated Kreuz Market does appear in our Honorable Mentions). But the flip side of those descents is that Texas barbecue boasts an exciting freshman class: 29 of the 50 entries are new to the list, including the rookie establishment that vaulted to our number one spot.
In short, if you were hoping for an argument that innovation is getting out of hand and it’s time to retrench and return to the simpler days of barbecue, you won’t find it here. But have no fear: if you’re an old-school stalwart who blanches at the thought of smoked cauliflower, plenty of places on our list will make you very happy.
Is Texas barbecue losing its soul, as some might fear? No. The staples aren’t going anywhere, and the rising generation of pitmasters prepares them as well as—and often better than—anyone ever has. The up-and-comers aren’t erasing anything; they’re adding to what we have and paying tribute to our culinary heritage by reinvigorating it.
Welcome to the brave new era of Texas barbecue. The best is yet to come.
Reba McEntire Doesn’t Sound Too Upset About Losing Her CMA Awards Hosting Job
“I do love doing awards shows,” she eagerly tells Taste of Country Nights. “They’re a lot of fun and exciting. It’s adrenaline-flowing.”
In breaking the news of a new host for 2021, Billboard added up a historic 20 country awards shows that were hosted or co-hosted by McEntire. Blake Shelton, Vince Gill, Hank Williams Jr. and Randy Travis were just a few of her co-hosts along the way. The hardest part, she shares, is finding clothes to host, because you have to wear outfits that are fresh and truly unique. Off-the-rack items just won’t do for country music’s biggest nights.
As for who should host next? McEntire wouldn’t offer an opinion, but she did readily offer advice to anyone interested in hosting, noting that it takes one special quality.
Read More: Reba McEntire Doesn’t Sound Upset About Losing CMA Hosting Gig | https://tasteofcountry.com/reba-mcentire-cma-awards-host-interview/?utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral
Willie has more new music on the way. A true Texas treasure!
Willie Nelson – Family Bible
“Family Bible” is five decades old and hearkens back to the “Red Headed Strangers” roots as a Nashville songsmith. It’s the lead single from his forthcoming second album of 2021, The Willie Nelson Family. As alluded to via the title, the release will include Nelson’s sister Bobbi, his sons Lukas and Micah, and his daughters Amy and Paula. Also featured is Paul English, Nelson’s longtime drummer and friend, who died early last year at 87.
Rich O’Toole’s “17 Wild Horses” Music Video Officially Selected For Two Texas Film Festivals:
Nashville, TN – Buffalo Roam Records’ recording artist Rich O’Toole’s cinematic music video, “17 Wild Horses,” was officially selected for inclusion in two Texas film festivals – “Deep in the Heart Film Festival,” held in late July 2021 in Waco, and the “Austin Spotlight Film Festival,” on September 18, 2021, in Austin.
Beautifully filmed on the Texas plains at CK Reid’s ranch, the provider of bucking broncos and bulls for Billy Bob’s Texas (the world’s largest honky-tonk) live rodeos, the video was directed and edited by Kasey James and Ted Borel with Playlist Films. Upon release, the video premiered on Taste of Country.
Penned by Rich O’Toole, “17 Wild Horses” is currently climbing the Texas Regional CDX Singles Chart, and the video is sitting at #10 on The Country Network’s Top 10 Video Countdown. “17 Wild Horses” is featured on O’Toole’s new album, “New York,” released last year.
Jon Wolf has a great new album now! Here’s a nice review from Saving Country Music.
Country music is like that old pair of blue jeans you have in the back of the closet. Even if current trends try to tell you they’re not hip in the here and now, just wait awhile. Time will come back around to them. As some mainstream artists and new up-and-comers try to hitch their wagon to the retrospective popularity of 80’s and 90’s country sounds, guys and gals that were born and raised on the stuff are looking around and saying, “Where y’all been?” And when they strike up and play, they prove they’re old pros at country music that actually sounds country, instead of trying to hitch a ride on a passing train.
It’s been 18 years since this Oklahoma native was transferred from an oil trading desk in Chicago down to Houston, and found himself sharing a room with Hayes Carll, and later at a concert for the legendary country band Alabama, and afterwards picking guitars on a bus with a bunch of musicians and thinking, “Hell, I can probably do this for a living too.”
It’s pretty rare that seven albums and 17 years into a career that an artist finds their stride, but that’s the determination many are coming to with Jon Wolfe’s Dos Corazones, and for fair reasons. Inspired, passionate, well-written, and consistently enjoyable throughout, it feels like one of those career-defining records. Usually when you see an album with 17 tracks, you grimace. It often means someone forgot to trim the fat. But Jon Wolfe’s first album in four years is nearly all muscle, and heart.
Sure, some of the songs are not the headiest of material. And sometimes the beer and whiskey references get you worried it’s veering a little too far into country music cliche. A song like “Tequila Sundown” has probably been done more times than it deserves. But nobody would quibble with your pronouncement that this album is country. In fact you could consider this album whose title translates to “Two Hearts” is like a love letter to the genre, and in more ways than one.
Dos Corazones was mostly written in the Chihuahuan desert on a retreat Wolfe took with his producer Dave Brainard and songwriter Tony Ramey. Sometimes these songwriting soirees sound all poetic and erudite, but still result in the same ol’ raisin bran. But in this case when the results are songs like the Western-infused “Two Hearts in Terlingua,” or later the certified heartbreaker “Anybody Playin’ Sad Songs,” there’s no reason the second guess the recipe.
This isn’t a concept record per se, but there is a bit of a reflective undertone to every song of this Western-flavored country epic—an orange-pink hue to the skyline as the sun sets behind the broken peaks that you can’t help but envision as each song on the album plays. One of the ways they were able to successfully stretch the project to 17 tracks was by picking the pocket of songwriter Josh Thompson, who seems to be contributing to many of the good records in country music these days. Thompson co-wrote “That’s What I’m Doin’,” which is one of the serious shit kickers on the record, as well as “Waitin’ on a Dog to Bark,” which could have turned out trite, but really hits home.
Dos Corazones doesn’t just show respect to country music by honoring the roots with the sounds, approach, and instrumentation. In songs like “Here’s To All My Heroes,” “When The Good Ol’ Boys Age Out,” and “Anybody Playin’ Sad Songs” it speaks to the reverence Jon Wolfe and his songwriters have for the music. “Why Can’t You (Conrad’s Song)” gives the album that touching moment it needed, and the way the release incorporates a visual component by assigning each song its own artwork gives the album a cinematic feel.
Sensible, but still sentimental and deep enough in moments, Dos Corazones is easy to enjoy and hard to deny, and producer Dave Brainard didn’t get lured into trying to make Jon Wolfe into anything but what he is, which is a guy from Oklahoma who just wants to write and play country music the right way. If the radio in Texas plays it, and people show up to hear it, even better.
Dos Corazones is one of those records you hope your favorite artists turn in, as opposed to the album you often get, especially later in their career when the hunger has subsided, and they’ve hit cruise control. Bringing a strong vision to the conception and writing of this album, and then making it come alive in the studio renders Dos Corazones a modern country and Western gem.
Loretta Lynn’s ranch in Humphreys County, Tennessee has experienced extensive damage in historic flooding currently ravaging much of the Middle Tennessee region after more than 17 inches of rain was recorded in some places, causing creeks and tributaries to run over their banks.
One of the most successful and influential duos in country music history can now claim the distinction of being Country Music Hall of Famers. Naomi and Wynonna—the mother and daughter combination known collectively as The Judds—have just been named the newest inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame in the Modern Era category.
Congratulations to Texas-based performer and songwriter Wade Bowen! Wade has signed a worldwide publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music Nashville.The BMI songwriter that is managed by Red Light Management and represented by WME. “So excited to be a part of the Warner Chappell Nashville family and for what’s to come!” said Wade Bowen.
Cody Johnson plans to put out a double album this fall, he will share two new tracks per month leading up to the project’s release day. Here are the new ones. “God Bless the Boy (Cori’s Song)” and “Stronger” his two new tracks for the month of July.
On This Day: Whataburger granted trademark in Corpus Christi in 1950
On June 23, 1950, the Texas Secretary of State granted Harmon Dobson the “Whataburger” trademark.
Dobson wasted no time, and on August 8, 1950, with no previous restaurant experience, he opened the first Whataburger in Corpus Christi. The first Whataburger on Ayers Street sold $50 worth of burgers, chips, and drinks on the first day.
Back then, a Whataburger hamburger only cost 25 cents.
Dobson had a vision to make a burger so big, you would have to hold it with two hands. Do you know where we’re going with this?
It’s how Whataburger got its name: Those who saw it wouldn’t be able to say anything but “What a burger!”
Dobson died in a plane crash in 1967, but with the Dobson family’s support and the extended Whataburger family, Harmon’s wife, Grace, took over the business.
Whataburger opened its 300th restaurant in late 1980, more than 30 years after its original location opened. Two years after that, three Corpus Christi locations began operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Today, what started out as a single burger stand in Corpus Christi has grown to a 800-restaurant chain that spans every state from Arizona to Florida. All thanks to Harmon Dobson and his ability to dream big, perfectly fitting the Texas motto “Everything is bigger in Texas”.
A replica of the original burger stand is located on 4126 South Staples Street in Corpus Christi, in the parking lot of an operating Whataburger.
The photos and information provided in this article are courtesy of Whataburger, their website, and the Texas Historical Commission.
One of my all-time favorite bands are calling it quits.
An era is ending for country music in Dallas, TX, as the city’s most beloved local honky tonk band has decided to call it quits after over two decades of scooting boots across floors, opening shows for the big names rolling through town, and playing residencies that have gone on to become legendary.
About the same time in the late 90’s when some of the biggest names in Texas country from Austin and elsewhere were really starting to sizzle, and the Red Dirt acts from Oklahoma were rearing out of Stillwater and starting to make some national noise, a little band called Eleven Hundred Springs was formed in Dallas, TX by two former bandmates of a rockabilly band: singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter Matt Hillyer, and bass player Steven Berg.
At the time, Dallas was not exactly seen as a haven for country music. It was the home of cover bands and The Dallas Cowboys—a halfway stop between Austin and Stillwater that was a bit too metropolitan for honky tonkers or country rockers. But undaunted, Eleven Hundred Springs released a debut record, and launched a now legendary residency at the Dallas club called Adair’s where they recorded their second record live, and started garnering a local following from their throwback style and authentic country songs that carried a little spunk from the songwriting of Matt Hillyer.
On Wednesday evening, June 9th, Matt Hillyer announced that the band would be playing a few final shows, and then would officially be moving on. “After many hours of phone conversations, long emails, zooms, etc. with my homeboy Steve Berg, it is with bittersweet feelings that we’ve decided to bring the band to an end,” Hillyer said in a statement.
The lineup of Eleven Hundred Springs changed quite a few times over the years, and also worked as a proving ground. Chris Claridy who now picks guitar with Cody Jinks once played in the band, as did drummer Arjuna Contreras of The Reverend Horton Heat. But what Matt Hillyer and bassist Steven Berg initially built turned into an institution of Dallas country music.
Over the years, Eleven Hundred Springs would stretch their footprint beyond Dallas and Texas as well, but they found their calling as Dallas’s country music house band, becoming synonymous with the city, and the only right answer when someone asked who one of the coolest country bands in the DFW area were. Focusing on cementing a legacy in Dallas instead of a national perspective has made them legendary in their own way, and brought them fans from around the world.
Matt Hillyer says the pandemic had put a strain on the band, who released their last album Here ‘Tis in January of 2020, planning to tour behind it before the lock downs hit. This also gave founding member and bass player Steve Berg some time to reflect on life.
“Where Steve found himself was needing to live a life where his focus was more on his family. I 100% understand this,” says Hillyer. “We discussed at length the prospect of continuing with a different bass player. While I was never into that idea, I was less into it the more I thought about it. For one thing, I have too much respect for what we’ve done together than to treat it like less than what it is. Secondly, there are a lot of things I want to explore independent from the band.”
Matt Hillyer has always been a personality in Texas music and beyond, and will continue in that role as a solo artist.
“Our plan is to finish our documentary and to play a handful of farewell shows between now and the fall. We really hope to see everyone there. As for my personal direction in the future, I have been writing quite a bit during the last year. I plan to be recording these songs for future release. I’ll still be making music out there and you can still come hear me sing your favorite Eleven Hundred songs as well as new material. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say how grateful I am to have shared the stage with all the musicians who’ve been in the band over the years, particularly our latest line up Steve Berg, Jordan Hendrix, Chad Rueffer, Ray Austin, and Christian Dorn. I love you guys.”
Kevin McCoy June 3rd, 2021
Look for yourself on TV if you went to Rodeo CC!
RODEO CORPUS CHRISTI WCRA TRIPLE CROWN OF RODEO
TO AIR ON CBS TELEVISION NETWORK ON SATURDAY, JUNE 6
–Broadcast Set to Air at Noon CT–
AUSTIN, TEXAS – The WCRA (World Champions Rodeo Alliance) announced today
the 27-athlete roster who will compete at the Rodeo Corpus Christi on the CBS
Television Network on Saturday, June 6 at 12 PM, CT. Rodeo Corpus Christi is the first
2021 WCRA Major Rodeo and the first stop of the 2021 WCRA $1 Million Triple Crown
Kevin McCoy May 20th, 2021
Congrats to Phil Mickelson! Still has it at 50.
How Phil Mickelson stunned golf by becoming the oldest major champion
Kevin McCoy May 20th, 2021
Kevin McCoy April 29th, 2021
Happy 88th birthday Willie Nelson!
“He’s a carved-in-granite, samurai poet warrior Gypsy guitar-pickin’ wild man with a heart as big as Texas and the greatest sense of humor in the West.” —– Texan Kris Kristofferson, speaking about his friend and fellow Texan Willie Nelson.
Kevin McCoy April 22nd, 2021
April 22nd, 1975 when Charlie Rich whipped out his lighter, and burned the card announcing John Denver as the 1975 CMA Entertainer of the Year, it was considered to be one of the greatest moments of protest in country music history, if not the greatest.
Kevin McCoy April 7th, 2021
Look for KFTX at Rodeo Corpus Christi!
Rodeo Corpus Christi presented by Miller Lite has announced that they have partnered with the World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA).
The Rodeo Corpus Christi, the first 2021 WCRA Triple Crown event of the year, will pay out $545,000 and run May 6-9, 2021.
This innovative approach to Rodeo allows the Buccaneer Commission to grow prize money for rodeo athletes, showcase the city of Corpus Christi, and ultimately return more dollars toward scholarships for students in South Texas.
Kevin McCoy March 29th, 2021
Music is back at Whataburger Field. Midland, Haily Whitters and Flatland Calvary live! Congrats to all the KFTX winners that watched poolside!
Kevin McCoy March 22nd, 2021
Check out the We Are Texas Benefit. Great Performances from Texas legends including George Strait!
Kevin McCoy NOVEMBER 13th, 2020
A friendly reminder to stay in-season with your hat choices.
1. Know When to Remove Your Hat
The first rule is knowing when to remove your cowboy hat. During the National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, the passing of the flag, in church, during prayer, and during a funeral procession — all require the hat to go. Also, remove your hat when introduced to a woman. You can hold the hat in one hand while you shake her hand in greeting with the other. Last but not least, remove your hat when entering a building or private home, when you begin a new conversation, dining in a restaurant, or when speaking with an elder of the church. Basically, just plan on not wearing hats indoors as a good rule of thumb.
Make sure you’re wearing the right hat for the time of year. Originally the felt hats were meant to keep the head warm on cold nights in the winter while the straw hats would keep you cool in the summer. Make practical choices because it doesn’t make sense to sweat in winter wear when its 100 degrees outside. It will also make you look more authentic.
Hold your hat the right way by holding it by the crown so that no one can see the lining.
4. Remember Proper Travel Care
Take care of your hat when you travel. Obviously, it will get squished throwing it in a suitcase so make use of travel hat boxes so that the shape is protected.
5. Never Mess With Another Cowboy’s Hat
The most important rule of cowboy hat etiquette is to never mess with another cowboy’s hat. Not only is it considered bad luck, but this is an extremely personal item that is often expensive. Would you ask to try on another man’s hat? I didn’t think so.
This story originally ran on April 24, 2020.
Thanks to our partners at Whataburger for bringing by the Spicy Chicken Sandwich and the Hatch Green Chili Bacon Burger. Amazing!
Listen to Kevin McCoy for the Whataburger Real Country Mystery Artist.
Kevin will begin playing audio clips of the Mystery Artist starting at 3:00.
At 4:30 Kevin will be asking for the 9th caller at 360-KFTX to identify the Artist.
The winner will walk
away with a $25 gift card and $25 in Merchandise from Whataburger! Good Luck!
Jerry Jeff Walker’s ‘Viva Terlingua’: Inside the Fringe Country Album
Released in 1973, the live recording helped define country music’s counterculture via songs like “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother”
Jerry Jeff Walker has never been one to do what he was supposed to do. A military dropout who scored a Top 10 hit in writing “Mr. Bojangles,” he left New York City for Austin, Texas, long before it was known as the “Live Music Capitol of the World.” And in the summer of 1973, Walker cut an LP, ¡Viva Terlingua!, that helped lay the foundation for the outlaw country sub-genre of country music.
“We had an independent record and we used it to the nth degree. It wasn’t this independent deal where you find a producer, go up to Nashville and record in a studio. We actually applied it to being here, made in Texas for Texas,” says Walker, now 76. “It’s still the quintessential Texas album as far as explaining how it all was before Austin City Limits.”
¡Viva Terlingua! would be a literal soundtrack to Austin’s golden age, with one of its best-known cuts, “London Homesick Blues,” serving as Austin City Limits‘ theme song for nearly 30 years. But the nine-track album, released over 45 years ago, had a greater influence as the high-water mark for the Texas strain of cosmic cowboy music, as well as the template for the modern-day ecosystem of Red Dirt and Texas Country.
“It set a fine example for singer-songwriters and everything that followed. It was more Texas than, say, Willie [Nelson], who was a Nashville product. He had the whole Nashville record company sheen behind him,” says Gary P. Nunn, the author of “London Homesick Blues” and then a member of Walker’s Lost Gonzo Band, which played with him on the album. “It made a statement and created an image of what Texas [music] was and could be.”
The Lost Gonzo Band
Walker first lived in Austin for a brief time in the mid-Sixties, but after Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s version of “Mr. Bojangles” went to Number Nine on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971 he set his sights on the West Coast. Along the way, he made a detour through Texas — and never left. Drawn in by a burgeoning singer-songwriter scene that included Steve Fromholz, Rusty Weir, and Townes Van Zandt, he soon recruited Michael Martin Murphey’s backing band to play with him.
“The people in Texas, if they heard a new song, they were so excited and eager to play on it. They just wanted to try things,” says Walker, whose voice has worn into a hoarse and painful-sounding rasp. His seat-of-the-pants approach never fit well with his first label, Atlantic Records. “The studios in New York, they don’t want to sit through that. They’re on a time schedule. You got to have all that shit worked out in advance.”
In the Lost Gonzo Band — a name cribbed from his friend Hunter S. Thompson and a perfect encapsulation of the group’s countercultural ethos — Walker found his vehicle for an eclectic mix of country, folk, rock, Tex-Mex and Tejano, all of which were native to Texas but rarely used together in Music City or the Big Apple. “Somebody told me ‘gonzo’ meant taking an unknown thing to an unknown place for a known purpose. I always thought, ‘Yeah, we don’t know where the fuck we’re going, but when we get out there and do it, we’ll know it,’” he says.
Newly signed to MCA, Walker cut part of his self-titled album in Austin in 1972 with the Lost Gonzo Band, but still wasn’t happy with the results. While in New York to finish the record, he came across a mobile recording studio run by Dale Ashby. “I beat on the door and said, ‘What are you guys doing?’ They said, ‘Well, we built this mobile truck so we could go someplace instead of being in a studio,’” Walker recalls. “I said, ‘How would you like go to Texas?’ And they said, ‘Give us a road map and when we finish this one, we’ll head there.’”Walker’s location of choice was Luckenbach, a small hamlet in the Texas Hill Country. Little more than an old post office and a general store with a dance hall, Luckenbach was founded by Hondo Crouch, a former all-American swimmer and all-around eccentric whose wife owned an antique shop in nearby Fredricksburg. “Hondo was like the pied piper cowboy. He had a childlike way of looking at things,” says Nunn, who remembers Crouch leading people on scavenger hunts for arrowheads in the woods. “He could break into some traditional Mexican song and sing it in Spanish at the top of his lungs. He was just this magical character. Everything he did was enchanting, humorous and playful.”
If label executives were wary of the idea, a fact that Walker parodied on opening track “Gettin’ By,” his band simply braced themselves for the latest whim of their leader, who was notorious for showing up drunk to his shows — and for getting into, and often losing, fights. One oft-repeated episode at the Castle Creek in Austin saw Walker show up in a bathing suit, vest, cowboy hat and boots after “drinking Brandy Alexanders all day long,” according to Nunn.
The Luckenbach session
“Two, three songs in, some girl hollered out, ‘Get off the stage, you drunk son of a bitch!’ And he said, ‘F you. You ain’t got any beer, you ain’t got any cocaine, you ain’t got any pussy. You ain’t got anything I want,’” says Nunn, with a peal of laughter. After Walker fell over into the drum kit, the rest of the band got up and left him onstage by himself. “He ended up staying up for two or three days after that.”
There was no such drama with the Luckenbach sessions, which stretched out over four to five days in August 1973. With a limited power supply, there was no air conditioning in the dance hall, but Nunn admits he barely remembers the sweltering conditions of a high Texas summer. “Back then, gosh, those dance halls were all hot. It was just part of the deal, you took that for granted. After working in the hay fields [growing up], playing in a bar was fun by comparison, even though you were sweating up a storm,” he says.
At week’s end, Walker decided to host a concert at the dance hall with the aim of adding some live recordings into the mix. “I put the word out in Austin, called the radio stations and said, ‘Put it on the radio: If you come down, you’ll get in for a buck,’” he says. With albums rarely recorded in Austin at the time, much less live ones, the turnout greatly exceeded expectations: “I wasn’t sure how many people would show up. 50 people would’ve been plenty. 900 people showed up.”
The two songs that made it onto the album from the Saturday night concert helped seal the legend of ¡Viva Terlingua!: “London Homesick Blues” and Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother.” The former was a composite recording, as the band played it twice after Walker broke a string, with the first version’s encore tacked onto the end of the second. Nunn handled the singing himself. “You help your band members get a break if you can, because they help you make it. You’d go to Waylon [Jennings’] shows and his bass player would sing two songs before he came out — all that stuff,” says Walker.
“Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother”
“Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother” wasn’t even finished when the band decided to record it, so bassist Bob Livingston called Hubbard to write an extra verse. “I just wrote the second verse there over phone. I said, ‘He sure likes to drink,’ and I think I was drinking Falstaff Beer, so I said that. [And] that was it. I pretty much hadn’t even thought about it,” says Hubbard. Livingston himself ad-libbed the spelling of “Mother” during the song’s bridge.
With Ashby’s equipment rented out for an extra day after the concert, Walker played the band another new song, “Wheel,” which was inspired by the scene of the tractor accident that killed his grandfather when Walker was 15 years old. “I looked up and Herb [Steiner], the pedal steel player, was crying and said, ‘That’s the most beautiful thing I ever heard in my life.’ I went, ‘Christ, I guess I better record this thing,’” Walker says. “So we listen to the playback and the guys said, ‘Great! We didn’t think we were going play today, so we all took mescaline.’ That’s why they were all so emotional. I don’t know if I really touched ’em or not.”
¡Viva Terlingua!, released that November, did strike a chord with fans, especially ones in Texas. The album quickly sold 50,000 copies in the Lone Star State, but only another 20,000 in the rest of the country, which ensured its legacy as a homegrown cult classic. (The wooden door featured on the album’s cover is now on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.) Though Willie Nelson had already relocated to Austin and hosted his first Fourth of July Picnic, drawing national coverage by writers like Chet Flippo at Rolling Stone, ¡Viva Terlingua! epitomized the cosmic cowboy era before it came to be known as outlaw country.
“‘Outlaw country’ made it sound like you had to go to jail to be an artist, but it’s just that some people like Waylon and Willie were outside the business [norm],” says Walker. “People said, ‘We’re different, but we’re not hillbilly country.’ We didn’t blacken our teeth and wear baggy pants, we just liked cowboys and played like that. That was still the mold that had to be broken.”
While Nunn carved out a solo career in part due to the exposure gained from “London Homesick Blues,” other Texas artists like Hubbard found their own niche in the lane that ¡Viva Terlingua!‘s success opened up for them. “It was kind of a blessing and a curse because I hadn’t done anything else,” says Hubbard, of the inclusion of his song on the album. “It was weird to be known for this novelty song because I’d been a folk singer and found myself playing in honky-tonks. But now it fits in the arsenal real well.”
Texas Country’s Persistence
In the four and a half decades since the release of ¡Viva Terlingua!, Texas Country has become its own self-contained industry, with singer-songwriters like Robert Earl Keen, Jack Ingram and Pat Green all following unmistakably in Walker’s footsteps. But, as Hubbard insists, the music just plain holds up. “In my opinion, that’s the definitive progressive country album ever made. [Walker] was doing the cowboy hat, boots and cocaine before anybody. He was a pioneer,” he says with a laugh. “I keep telling him, ‘I never thought I’d live long enough to see you live this long.’”
Walker’s health has become a serious concern in the past 18 months, as he was diagnosed with throat cancer in May 2017 — and though it was initially thought the cancer had been removed, it was recently found to have returned. He was scheduled to go in for a further surgery on December 6th, and his damaged vocal chords have left him unable to sing. But even with the pain of speaking, he goes on for nearly an hour reminiscing.
“That feeling can come from any situation you get into where you transcend the process,” Walker says, summing up what made ¡Viva Terlingua! such a special experience. “We done it our way, with our own band. [And] I think, because we did that and that worked, it gave people a lot of strength to go and produce stuff they’d thought about doing — like, ‘He’s taking chances, he did OK, we can probably all do that, too.’”