As a long time fan of Texas music in various forms and stages, this sub genre of country music has made me even more passionate about music than ever. I've always loved the various styles of alternative country, which in the 80's and prior, used to get played on mainstream country radio. Now a person has to listen to local, regional indie stations to hear this beautiful music. With the discovery of new artists in the genre, my passion for this type of music has been renewed. And as mainstream radio continues to play the mundane, boring, truck/redneck/teenager themes, it's not hard to change the station or fire up my iPod.
As an introduction for those of you who may not know a lot about this alternative genre(s), Texas/Red Dirt/Americana often gets lumped together as alternative country, because Nashville doesn't know what to do with artists who don't fit their "mold." Texas music isn't necessarily about Texas, but it's a sound. It's country, it's rock, it's blues, it's a state of mind. Red Dirt gets its name from the rich red soil that covers Oklahoma. The sound is country, blues, rock, but what this sub genre is all about is songwriting. The writers who hail from this area are some of the best but relatively unknown to the rest of the country. Americana takes on a more folk, bluegrass, rootsy sound. There is even a satellite radio station dedicated to the "Outlaw" sound on Sirius/XM for every artist who doesn't fit in at mainstream.
With that said, alternative country is very much alive and well, despite most artists not receiving much nationwide, mainstream radio airplay. Texas and Oklahoma stations are the best places to find this amazing music and discover new artists. These acts often tour nationwide and have large followings. What they lack is the push from giant record labels promoting their latest songs and garnering national attention. In a way, this helps the artist be the best artist he/she can be. Many times Nashville pushes an image. You will not find this in alt-country. Most artists have strong opinions and choose to speak their minds. They dress as they choose, they sing about guns, drugs, and you certainly won't hear a song about butterflies and fireflies. I find this unfiltered music refreshing, thought-provoking, and rocking. It's raw, it's real, and there is such a variety it never sounds generic. A few of my favorite regional radio stations include 92.1 KNBT, New Braunfels, TX (www.knbt.fm), 95.9 The Ranch, Ft. Worth, TX (www.959theranch.com), and KOKE-FM, Austin, TX (www.kokefm.com).
There are so many artists that deserve recognition and I think every person in America is missing out if they've never heard their fine music. I will detail a few of my favorites, because I think they deserve to be heard. Reckless Kelly (recklesskelly.com), Cody Canada And The Departed (thedepartedmusic.com), and Micky & The Motorcars (mickyandthemotorcars.com) are my favorites in the Texas/Red Dirt genre. Hard to believe that two of these groups (MMC & RK) hail from Idaho and yet for me, embody the Texas sound. The Departed have a unique Red Dirt/Oklahoma/Texas sound, thanks to Cody Canada's laid-back drawl and Seth James' straight-ahead bluesy vocals. Because these acts deserve a more in-depth look, I will blog about them in the future.
There are still many good acts to be heard on mainstream radio. However, if you are bored with the same 20 artists played every hour, give the Americana/Texas/Red Dirt genre a listen. Your ears will thank you and the so will these outstanding musicians.