This has been a strange year to release a new record in, but that hasn’t stopped folks from releasing some great albums. Here is a list of my Top 20 Albums of 2020 So Far. I know I could have included more artists here, but I am working on a Top 50 list that will be published at the end of the year. I have included links to previous coverage of albums when we have it. Check these records out and support these bands while they cannot tour for their new records by buying merch or tipping during a livestream.
1. Kyle Nix – Lightning On The Mountain And Other Short Stories
If it’s one thing I truly have been keeping my eyes on the Red Dirt world, and it’s west coast reach. Along with the Jamgrass community this is becoming a huge, massive community and quite the lucrative market even though it gets very little media attention. Let’s take a look at the lineup and other information I usually include into my festival series.
Amazingly for early on into 2019 there are tons of early festivals happening to satisfy to pickiest of festivals music lovers, for Red Dirt Music. With a lineup like THIS who wouldn’t want to go:
Dirty River Boys
Eleven Hundred Springs
Jamie Lin Wilson
Micky And The Motorcars
Mike And The Moonpies
Midnight River Choir
Randy Rogers Band
Trevor G. Potter
William Clark Green
First week in January – Six days, 200+ hours of live music, a world-class ski resort – does it really get any better than the MusicFest? The MusicFest draws thousands of ski-lovin’, music-lovin’ folks to the snow swept peaks of Colorado each January.
The largest group ski trip of its kind in the nation, the MusicFest brings the finest Texas and Americana music to the world-class ski resort of Steamboat, Colorado for a week full of sport and song. The festival boasts a stunning roster that includes both legends and rising talents alike.
Dickson Productions has over 30 years of experience as the premier travel package provider. With Dickson Productions working on your behalf, you can hit the slopes and also get tons of music favorites at wholesale prices. All lodging accommodations for the MusicFest are located ski-in/ski-out or within minutes of the mountain base, and participants personally choose all the options.
Want to walk out the front door onto the slopes? A hot tub on the back porch? A slope side luxury suite or a penthouse? A MusicFest stage in your lodge or steps away? No problem – it’s all part of building your exclusive MusicFest package, the vacation of a lifetime. And there’s every level to choose from to satisfy your taste in lodging, music, price and the ultimate Rocky Mountain vacation.
After a day on the slopes, what really happens at the MusicFest?
The MusicFest has long been heralded for its jam-packed schedule of events and concerts. Over 200 hours of live performances take place during the MusicFest, an amazing opportunity to see as many great Texas and Americana artists as you can handle (and those are the “planned” performances).
Shows are held in a multitude of diverse venues including a stage resembling an old barn/hunting lodge, a huge dancehall/tent, an intimate pub, an old saloon, two luxurious ballrooms, and an upscale country club setting complete with plush seating, and a fire place (a “must” experience)!
No matter your style of music or setting to experience it, there’s a venue for everyone’s likes. Whether you’ve come to kick up your heels and party all night, or prefer to soak up the music in a lower key and comfortable seated setting (or anything in-between), MusicFest has you covered. Drift from one venue to the next, or just sit back and enjoy that ONE special venue that fits your style with like minded friends – that’s the beauty of MusicFest – a truly unique and exceptional sporting and musical experience with one thing in common; a grounded and REAL experience with a community that embraces its lifestyle and state of mind.
MusicFest Package Price Includes:
6 days/5 nights at Steamboat’s premier lodging – You choose location and amenities including ski-in/ski-out, fully equipped kitchens, fireplaces, hot tubs, short stroll to MusicFest activities and more.
Four full day lift passes and one night skiing pass – World-class skiing and boarding on Steamboat’s five interconnected mountains.
Exclusive MusicFest credentials for over 200 hours of live performances in intimate venues, luxury ballroom, saloons, the Big MusicFest Tent, Outdoor Stage, Historic Theatre, participants’ “ON AIR” media lounge, and much more!
The highly acclaimed MusicFest Artists’ “Tribute to a Legend” – Grand Ballroom show, past honorees include Robert Earl Keen, Jr., Gary P. Nunn, Doug Sahm & The Texas Tornados, Joe Ely, Dean Dillon, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Billy Joe Shaver, Lee Ann Womack, Guy Clark, Johnny Gimble and Family, Leon Russell, Kevin Welch, Rodney Crowell, Townes Van Zandt, Lost Gonzo Band and Radney Foster.
Official MusicFest information guide – MusicFest collectibles, credentials, pocket schedule, the Discount Savings Book including a “non-skier” guide, and additional discounts!
Complimentary MusicFest Magazine – While supplies last! Click here for free subscription.
Eleven MusicFest venues – Experience world-class music in eleven different venues. Dickson Productions is always taking this unique festival to the next level – comparable to no other.
Free Shuttle – Elaborate resort wide FREE shuttle system to lodges, grocery stores, dining, bars, concerts, the slopes and more!
Wide Variety of Venues
No matter your style of music and setting to experience it, there’s a venue for everyone’s likes. Whether you’ve come to kick up your heels and party all night, or prefer to soak up the music in a lower key and comfortable seated setting (or anything in-between), MusicFest has you covered. Drift from one venue to the next, or just sit back and enjoy that ONE special venue that fits your style with like-minded friends- That’s the beauty of MusicFest – A truly unique and exceptional sporting and musical experience with one thing in common; a grounded and REAL experience with a community that embraces its life style and state of mind.
The newest addition to the MusicFest family of stages, the Strings Pavilion is a state-of-the-art concert hall built for classical music, but The MusicFest ramps it up. Located at the “base of the base” of the mountain, this world-class stage is just steps away from…Read More
Turn the Page: Bear River Becomes The Timber & Torch The MusicFest hosts shows in many venues over the years, but the “Bear River” is where the magic began. A cozy bar nestled at the foot of Mt. Werner, the Bear River is a haven…Read More
One of the most iconic venues at the MusicFest, The Big MusicFest Tent is hard to miss. Known for being “the largest dance hall in the Rockies” this massive, climate-controlled tent hosts some of the most high-energy full band shows seen anywhere. With a state-of-the-art…Read More
Named for the original “Dung Beetle Saloon” at an old convenience store in Hallettsville, Texas, this MusicFest venue keeps the good times rollin’. Featuring over twelve hours a day of intimate, acoustic music, this popular venue is the definition of what MusicFest is all about…Read More
Not only a famous shopping experience, but a great meeting place where you may catch a special (unannounced) performance, autograph signing, or brand new, and never seen before merchandise! Conveniently located near the mountain base in the Grand Resort Hotel and next door to the…Read More
The Chief Theater may be a relatively new addition to the MusicFest, but this historic theater has been hosting live music in Steamboat for nearly 100 years. A vintage building with old fashioned, comfortable theater seating, this downtown venue is the perfect place for an…Read More
Get up-close and personal with your favorite artists in our all new Media Lounge open to the public. See artist interviews by a variety of media outlets including national and international radio hosts, television hosts, and social media personalities. With behind-the-scenes experiences like this, it…Read More
Mountain-Sized Bonus Concert Series One of the few venues open to the public at MusicFest, the one-of-a-kind Outdoor Mountain-Sized Bonus Concert Series has become a favorite tradition for festival-goers and locals alike. Located at the base of the slopes, with the majestic Rockies as a…Read More
The Steamboat Base Club is the official “MusicFest Country Club.” With a gorgeous, up-scale setting this venue is the perfect combination of class and comfort. Featuring acoustic performances nightly, old-fashioned cocktails, appetizers and great company, this intimate club is the perfect place to cozy up…Read More
Located at the heart of the mountain-base in the luxurious Steamboat Grand Ballroom, this venue has hosted many of MusicFest’s most popular shows. Home to the esteemed MusicFest Artists’ Tribute to a Legend each year, this venue has seen some of the rarest performances on…Read More
This lofty listening room is one of the festival’s signature venues. Only at MusicFest can you take a picturesque gondola ride up 3,000 feet for a high-altitude music experience like no other. These rare mountaintop concerts are a truly uplifting experience, both musically.
This music festival is so huge and there is so much to do I will have to put up more general links on here than I usually do to reduce the length of the article. So you can click HERE for a pretty conclusive listing of all the area hotels.
Larry Joe Taylor Festival or LJT is one of the state of Texas’ most revered and beloved festivals within the Red Dirt community and the state of Texas. It’s been a staple feature of my festival series for some time now, with more focus on this scene as my website grows into what I’m doing for the community all over America.
I cover 175 festivals yearly and on the right hand side there is my guide you can hit the names and it will take you to their links for the festivals, I update them when the festival happens or just I put up the advance article for them. This is one of my first years writing an info article about this festival for them. This article will have my usual information about them (as you know I cover 175 yearly festivals), including maps, videos and ticket links.
This festival is one of the larger ones I cover with many options available please click HERE for ticket information.
Anyone trying to upgrade or acquire more sites to a previous reservation must call our office at (254) 968-8505 or (254) 968-6204 to make reservations.Online purchases – Once the order has been placed our office staff will assign you a campsite based on the criteria you provided in the purchased. The campsite assigned will be the best site available at the time of your purchase. You will receive an email within 24 hours with the assigned site.*All Camping Reservations Are Final And Non-Refundable*
All Camping decals purchases after April 2nd will be held at Will Call at the camping gate under the original purchasers name.
*Only one vehicle allowed per campsite*
Type of Campsite
Electric and Water
(3 night minimum)
sites are 28′ x 35′
50 AMP $65.00
30 AMP $58.00
50 AMP $70.00
30 AMP $63.00
Electric and Water
30 AMP (3 night minimum)
sites are 25′ x 35′
(3 night minimum)
Non-electric & Non-water
Preferred Section A, B, C, F
sites are 30′ x 32′
sites are 25′ x 35′
(2 night minimum)
Non-electric & Non-water
Reserved Section A, F, G, H
sites are 30′ x 32′
General open camping reservations begin February 5, 2018 @ 10:00 am Central Time
If you DID NOT HAVE a campsite last year, you may reserve site(s) during this period.
Sites not re-reserved will be available at 10:00 am on February 5th, 2018.
Also advance purchase of unmarked, primitive campsites will be available on January 15th, 2018. These sites are not marked and will be available on a first come first serve basis upon arrival.
By reserving these sites you will be guaranteed a camping spot at the festival. RESERVE YOUR CAMPSITE FOR 6 DAYS! 6-Day Ticket holders WITH 6-Day Camping will have the ability to upgrade their
camping to 7-Days at the gate to come in early on Sunday, April 22nd (gates open at 12:00 noon)
NOTE: To reserve a 4, 5 or 6-Day campsite you must purchase a 4, 5 or 6-day ticket.
*Only one vehicle allowed per campsite* *All Camping Reservations Are Final And Non-Refundable*
Every campsite must be kept clean – any campsite found to be left unclean will result in a $30 charge applied to the purchaser’s credit card. It is the original purchasers responsibility to make sure campsites have been picked up and cleaned upon leaving the festival grounds. No household furniture or large items may be left behind. Please have all trash bagged and ready for pick up upon leaving the festival grounds.
There will be a FREE SHUTTLE SERVICE to and from the festival Wednesday through Sunday (donations accepted). Call Donnie Hill at (254) 300-7558 to schedule a ride.
Hours: Wednesday & Thursday 12:00 pm – 1:00 am
Friday: Will start picking up at 12:00 pm and run around the clock thru 6:00 am Sunday morning.
You can call the day you need the ride but it helps if you call 24 hours in advance. You can bring your coolers on the van but NO open containers allowed.
~NEW~ All drop-offs and pick-ups will now be in the parking lot.
(a much closer walk to and from the stage)
Provided by Jesus Crew Ministry, BSM and Anytime Fitness
5100 Airport Freeway
Ft. Worth, TX 76117
Phone: (817) 834-7141
Other Campsite Information
Dogs allowed on leash in campground, however NO DOGS ALLOWED in concert areas
Water & Electric Sites
These sites each have water and a 30 amp electrical plug (please make sure you have the appropriate adapter for a 30 amp receptacle) All sites must be reserved for a minimum of 3 days.
These sites are a little larger than our normal sites and are located in “Shiner” Section on the map and are easy access to both the Bud Light Stage and the Allsups Stage.These sites will be sold in groups of 7,6,5,3,2 and a few singles will also be available. These sites have been carved out of a wooded area located next to section D & E. These siteshave plenty of shade and are in a low traffic part of the ranch campground. All sites must be reserved for a minimum of 3 days.
Preferred Camping Section A, B, C & F
These sites are located at the front of section F on the camping map. Section A rows A thru H, Section B, Section C & Section F sites 11-19 will be within 200 yards of the West Stage and adjacent to the parking area and The Tuesday night Campground Stage. All sites must be reserved for a minimum of 3 days.
These sites are marked sites in Section A rows I thru CC & all Tree Line sites, F sites 1-10, G, & H. By reserving these sites you will be guaranteed a marked off campsite in the section you choose. Sites are 32′ X 30′ in dimension. All sites must be reserved for a minimum of 2 days.
By reserving a Keystone non-reserved campsite you will be guaranteed a campsite, however these sites are not marked off and the location of your campsite will be on a first come, first serve basis when you arrive. These sites will be located in the Keystone non-reserved camping area only. Please limit these sites to a 30′ X 30′ dimension. All sites must be reserved for a minimum of 2 days.
Only one motorized vehicle is allowed per campsite. All other vehicles must park in the designated parking area. Vehicles without a camping decal will not be allowed to enter the campground at any time. Please make sure all camping supplies are in the vehicle that has a camping decal. Motor homes will be allowed to have one additional vehicle, however, the additional vehicle must be attached or directly behind the motor home upon arrival.
Camping decals will be mailed for each campsite purchased in advance. These decals should be place on the vehicle that will be parked at the campsite. The first set of camping decals will be mailed out at the end of March.
We have built a permanent 22 stall shower house to provide the needs of festival-goers. There will be eleven men’s and eleven women’s showers each having a handicap accessible stall available on the camping grounds.
5-Day Shower Pass
4-Day Shower Pass
3-Day Shower Pass
Single Shower Pass
Shower House Hours:
Open: 7:00 am – 1:00 pm
Closed for cleaning: 1:00 – 2:00 pm
Open: 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
There are ample porta-jons around the stage area as well as in the camping areas, however, if you would like to reserve a private porta-jon for your campsite please call (254) 968-2191.
Your camping decals will be sent to you in the mail along with your campsite numbers at the end of March.
Place this decal on the upper left windshield of your primary vehicle used for camping before you enter the festival grounds in April.
*Only one vehicle allowed per campsite* *All Camping Reservations Are Final And Non-Refundable*
Parking Decal Price & Gate Hours
Parking decals will grant your vehicle admission into the PARKING LOT, these decals WILL NOT give you any kind of of vehicle admission into the CAMPGROUND. These decals should be placed on the vehicle that will be parked in the parking lot. Parking decals are not transferable from one vehicle to another.
After you purchase your parking, You will receive an email within 24 hours with your parking barcode attached as a *pdf file for each decal. You must print and use these files to exchange for a decal to gain parking admission into the festival.
Days Valid For
Monday – April 23rd
Tuesday – April 24th
Wednesday – April 25th
Thursday – April 26th
Friday – April 27th
Saturday – April 28th
It’s almost time for LJT’s 30th Annual Texas Music Festival! The gates open at noon on Sunday April 22. T-Birds Garage Pub opens at 2pm . Justin Frazell’s Texas Red Dirt Roads will broadcast live beginning at 3pm. Larry Joe, Deryl Dodd, Mike Ryan and some surprise guests will be performing. Folks who can only attend this show can park their cars at the front gate and ride a shuttle to and from T-Birds.
Plenty of tickets/camping will be available at the gate. Tickets are also available locally at Signs and Designs and Barefoot Athletics. For those of you who prefer to stay in local motels we’ve called the following motels and found out they still have rooms available for some or all days of the fest….
La Quinta Inn & Suites (254) 918-2444 Holiday Inn Express (254) 965-8899 Rodeway Inn (254) 965-7162 Super 8 (254) 965-0888 America’s Best Value Inn (254) 968-211Royal Inn (254) 965-3807 Knights Inn (254) 968-5003 Caravan Interstate Inn (254) 965-5043
As always, there will be free rides sponsored by the Jesus Crew Ministry, BSM and Anytime Fitness. Hours of operation are Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 1am. On Friday they will run around the clock beginning at noon thru 6am Sunday morning. Please call in advance to schedule a ride (254) 300-7558.
In addition Stephenville has a new taxi service, Taxiville. There number is (254) 434-8998.
We are very excited about #30 and hope to see you there! More details about discounted advance tickets, buying tickets/camping online here.
Folks here is some more quick information here.
Last Call to Purchase Discounted Advance e-tickets! Buy online thru Monday April 23 or call the office at 254-968-8505
Tickets available online all thru the festival at gate prices
I have had the immense pleasure of getting to see many bands at 3rd and Lindsley. Today was indeed a challenge as I got here late and didn’t get a chair. So needless to say this wont be easy to write while standing, but I will pull this off…eating however was NOT easy.
3rd And Lindsley has a pretty darn good prime rib sandwich, and dinner too. It’s not the best overall, however it is one of my top ten venues to eat at before a show. The staff is always very exceptional and kind, and that makes the show all that better. Despite the fact I arrived at 7 which was my fault, the waiter made every possible effort to accommodate me and my dilemma..don’t worry I got this job DONE!
After you read this article here, you will hopefully identify with my overall dream of melding different genres to different areas. For years Nashville venues have complained that Texas Country or Red Dirt doesn’t generate enough sales in this area. Pretty good crowd here tonight as they prepare for the opening act and tonight’s show, which I am very excited for given the terrific review Mr Joshua Gave his new new album out now called Solid Ground.
Tonight’s opening act was one I have never covered before named Caroline Spence, she is a slow moving country artist, slow moving as in tempo and that’s not a bad thing at all. She did indeed have some mid tempo songs however the slower ones were what she nailed mostly, and her songs are cleverly written and enjoyable.
She melds in nicely with ladies like Margo Price and Jaime Wyatt however she’s more on the Folks and Americana side of things sound wise. After all this is a Red Dirt show, and I cannot really compare her to the more Nashville Americana acts. But darn it her Melody is very much like some of those songs as well, that’s not necessarily a negative quality. To be honest I really don’t label people, I just try to say GOOD or BAD music to my opinion..so WHAT is she? She’s GREAT MUSIC!
She has two albums out with her latest being a 2017 release called Spades And Roses, I touched on but never fully featured mainly because I didn’t have Joshua Wallace working for me then. I just didn’t have time for all those album reviews like he does. The festival moniker I carry on here bears most of my time at a whopping 175 I report on..and growing!
Miss Caroline has songs like “You Don’t Look So Good (Cocaine)”, actually I was upset being in the back how rude much of the audience was by talking loudly during her set making it very hard to hear her lyrics. Because I for one was enjoying her set, with songs like ‘Slow Dancer”.
She has a few songs on her two album that also sound more Red Dirt than others, it just has that guitar tone delivery that I associate with Red Dirt as well, so I was really treated to many different styles of music here wit her.
Mr. Wade Bowen dropped a BOMB upon Nashville last night in every way.This was the first time he has played a Nashville show in support of a newly released record. I mean it was SO NEW the merch table didn’t have vinyl yet, and that was really the only complaint I had was the slim pickings at the goodie table. I’m trying VERY HARD to spread the word of Red Dirt music in my Nashville area, and people seeing ME in T Shirts has an impact. It’s an honor to me that people listen to my suggestions on music, and it’s IMPORTANT to me that Red Dirt GROWS in Nashville.
He opened his epic show last night with the first track off Solid Ground called “Couldn’t Make You Love Me”, and right away the Wade Bowen power that I know from his live set created an ambiance that ONLY Mr. Wade could pour out. Of ALL the Red Dirt acts he IS my favorite by far, and we here at Gary Hayes Country enjoyed Solid Ground.
He delved into some older tunes last night dipping into 2008 “if We Ever Make It Home” album by playing a fan favorite “You Had Me At My Best”. One of the MANY songs that he does the crowd can sing along to, and excites participation. From the same album came the next song “Trouble”, and I was personally pleased with the balance of tunes last night. He did JUST RIGHT choosing a correct set list for a long time fan such as I.
After “Songs About Trucks” he played another new song called “Acuna” and one of my personal favorites, off his self titled album called ‘West Texas Rain” . From back in 2008 his song called “If We Ever Make It Home” was part of the set, and as he told stories about his past and his struggles as an aspiring songwriter and artist, we were brought closer to him with songs like “So Long 6th Street”.
“When I Woke Up Today” was up on the set list along with a new song called “Anchor” ,but after that he played one off the “Hold My Beer” album called “Till It Does”. Once again we were given another relation to his past as he declared the song “Who I Am” the third song he ever wrote.
he played two covers last night one being “Jealous Again” by the Crowes, and later on he went into “Glory Days”. “Sun Shines On A Dreamer” is always a fan favorite along with my favorite song he does, which I get teased for liking called “Mood Ring”. That’s more of a song directed toward the ladies, but I don’t care It’s catchy and fun to sing along to.
“Resurrection” was next followed by “Saturday Night” off the album “The Given” as he closed in on the encore which was ‘death Dying And Deviled Eggs” that he admitted he molded after Guy Clark format of songwriting, and his final song was “Fell in Love On Whiskey”.
For my money, Wade Bowen is one of the best names in Texas Country out there. He continues his streak of amazing records with his 7th solo studio album titled Solid Ground. This album finds Wade Bowen and his band in a solid groove that doesn’t let up at all throughout. From the first single “Acuna” to the extra long studio jam “7:30”, this album delivers.
Wade Bowen is no stranger to having longer tracks, but those have typically been relegated to his live albums. “7:30” is a studio jam that clocks in at seven minutes and thirteen seconds. It’s a break-up song that describes what happens after the break-up call comes in early in the morning. Just when you think the song is going to end at around 4 minutes in, a nice long guitar solo kicks in for the rest of the run time. It’s possibly my new favorite Wade Bowen track both for the imagery and the extended jam at the end.
Another favorite is the track “Anchor”. It’s a slower song that echos the album’s title in the lyrics and compares a relationship with a ship out at sea in a rough storm. I also love the song “Fell in Love on Whiskey” which picks up the tempo after the ballad “Anchor” and brings one of the more rocking tunes on the album.
Wade Bowen continues to put out great albums that are pure Texas country music. Solid Ground is one of his best efforts yet and I can only see good things in the future for him. Wade’s new album solid ground is out everywhere Friday, February 9th, 2018. I highly recommend picking it up in your format of choice.
Favorite Tracks : Couldn’t Make You Love Me, So Long 6th Street, Death, Dyin’ and Deviled Eggs, 7:30, Anchor, Fell in Love on Whiskey, Calling All Demons
I have so many different series going on within my website that sometimes It’s hard to keep them all well groomed and current, but I do. This endeavor turned out to be a major undertaking in both a positive and negative way for me but I took the negative a turned it into a learning experience to which I could still capitalize on as a man. Attempting to pin some of these hard working steel guitarists down has been a challenge, people THINK the music business is one big party, or a wild drunk fest full of drugs and women…and it’s not. ANYTHING can be turned into that I suppose but most people don’t STOP and understand the time and effort placed into pulling off a profitable show.
I have been wanting to do this project for some time now and I either didn’t have the time or the resources to pull it off in the fashion it deserves to be done in, I don’t do ANYTHING half assed or in hokey fashions. I comb my information but sometimes I make horrible face palm to the forehead mistakes and I retreat with my tail between my legs…but I come back out swinging and more aggressive than I was when I made that mistake. I know THE PEOPLE that once graced the stages of Country Music behind the steel guitar, Pete Drake, Hal Rugg, Ralph Mooney,Little Roy Wiggins and the Legends of the instrument. BUT when it came to tuning and how it works I once knew nothing about it, and I thought well HOW can I write about Country Music in Nashville and NOT KNOW?
Country Music has THREE staple pillars of it’s foundation or it’s backbone if you will. Those are in this order the songwriter, the producer, and the steel guitar in my opinion it takes those three to make a classic Country Music album. My point being Willie Nelson “Red Headed Stranger” and “Wanted The Outlaws” as two prime examples that had all three. Shooter will tell you rapidly “Wanted The Outlaws” was the first platinum selling Country Music album EVER and defied the scorn it was initially given by Nashville in the 1970’s.
Local music as a whole contains such a plethora of well rounded steel guitarists and pickers waiting for you to discover them if you are willing to wade through the broken beer bottles and travel the worn out back alleys of America you will find them. You have to look in the places most normal people wouldn’t, and you have to listen. You have to brave the heat and cold and discomfort of the fields and farms that spew forth these festivals, mostly you have to study and watch for them.
I cover over 9,000 songwriters,bands and artists on here from six different genres and many of them involve steel guitarists in some fashion or another. I know TONS of them but YOU might not so I thought WHY NOT start interviewing THEM and bringing THEM to the forefront so we can better appreciate the artists they play for? I don’t ask many questions about their “boss” unless it’s a mutual band, BUT many of them are readily willing to divulge information about the man (or woman) up in the front that employs them. In fact I am enjoying these last few years where the WOMEN have been releasing the stronger albums like Sunny Sweeney and Margo Price.
This installment of my series brings me to the telephone with the current steel guitarist for Cody Jinks And The Tone Deaf Hippies and his name is Mr. Austin Tripp he called from south Carolina last night and graciously donated some time with Gary Hayes Country and I thank him SO MUCH for this opportunity to bring you folks this article!
How did you get started playing the steel guitar?
Well, it’s really a long story short but I used to play the fiddle and I began playing it at eleven or twelve. They used to have country music shows out at a little antique shop close to where I lived, and they had a fiddle player there that I befriended around the end of 2004. We went out there to the store, they had a steel player and a fiddle player and banjo there was a bunch of people. I was interested in watching the fiddle player and it was mostly Bluegrass but every once in awhile that steel player would start up and I was like man that sound. The sound of it is what attracted me to it and I got to watching him play a little lick, and I didn’t know nothing about it. I didn’t know what the instrument was called I didn’t know anything.
I finally got the courage to approach him and ask him what it was and he said it’s a pedal steel guitar, I said well I got to learn how to play one. He said well, I’m not a really good teacher but I can show you a few things. The problem was I didn’t have one and I didn’t know where to even find one and it was hard for him to show me on his and have to sit down and play it. So in the summer of 2004 and 2005 I worked all summer for a friend of mine and bailed hay to save up money to buy my first steel.
I couldn’t make it do what I wanted, I couldn’t make it do the crying and all that stuff but he lead me along, and I got to where I wanted and after a month and a half of getting one, I got started playing with him. He also plays the guitar and he would play it and let me play steel behind him, and the rest is history. I love the sound of it and I love the challenge that it put up, I’m one of those types that loves a challenge. I kind of got bored with the fiddle to be honest, and I was looking for a challenge and I found it in the pedal steel guitar.
How long did you play before you played for Cody Jinks, and how did you start with Mr. Cody?
I started playing professionally since 2009 and I was still in high school. I got offered to go on the road with a band called Broken road, we played with many acts. We played all over Georgia, parts of Florida, Alabama and Louisiana. We opened for Jake Owen, Colt ford and few others, and I would get to know their steel players and know the bands. Fortunately right after I graduated high school I got the call to go out on the road with Easton Corbin, I didn’t know much about the road, I was green. I didn’t know anything about life on the road I was just getting exposed to it. Thankfully one thing lead to another and after doing shows with Easton I did shows Jake Owen and up to about 2010 I started doing shows with Blake Shelton and that lead me to my big gig and that was with Luke Bryan. And I was with Luke for a year and a half.
I took some time off from playing to care for my grandmother who passed away in 2013 from breast cancer. I took some time off to care for her and started working a manufacturing job for about three years. When my grandmother passed on I got the itch and I was ready to get back out on the road, and play music full time. One night I messaged Brett Robinson who plays for Whitey Morgan, and asked him questions about his guitar. He had got a brand new one and I was just asking him about it, we got to become friends both on Facebook and talking on the phone.
One day I got the courage and I asked him man, who plays for Cody Jinks? And he said well right now nobody, they are going through some lineup changes and nobody was playing for him. Brett was playing for him but it was wearing him down because he was setting up playing with the 78’s doing sound check and playing shows with both bands. I said ask him if he needs a steel player and about six months later in August of 2016 on my birthday I was on my way to work. Brett called me and sang Happy Birthday to me and he said I got you a present and I said what’s that? He said in two weeks you are going to start with Cody Jinks if you want, I said HELL YES so two weeks later I loaded up my steel and headed for Texas and that’s how I started playing with him, and I been with him ever since.
Without giving away secrets what makes up your sound, and what do you different from other people?
My biggest thing is I don’t follow the mainstream steel players, and I’m not taking anything away form them by no means and I learned a lot from them guys like Paul Franklin and Mike Johnson, those guys. But my biggest thing is what Cowboy Eddie Long told me years ago, he said when you play the steel play the way YOU want to play it and play what you hear and that will set you aside from everybody else. I can hear a song and put my own twist on it because I didn’t want to be like everyone else, and I have a unique sound and a style of playing.
The best way to describe it is when Cowboy Eddie did the first two Jamey Johnson records they just set up in the studio and put a microphone up and just played, they didn’t go back and redo anything. That’s what mad me really pull away from mainstream steel guitarists. My tone is really in my guitar, I’m endorsed by BMI and I have been for a year now. We designed this guitar around MY OWN specifications and I feel VERY comfortable behind my guitar. It’s a mix of Eddie Long’s tuning and my own personal tuning and we put custom pickups in it, and it’s MY weapon. It goes back to every steel player since the 1950’s they say it’s in the hands.
What’s your plans for the future, I see you are hitting the road again soon?
We have a lot of stuff going on, this year I believe is going to be the year for Cody Jinks And The Tone Deaf Hippies. There’s a lot of stuff that is happening right now, you know Cody’s been in it for ten plus years and It’s only March, well we did two tours this year. This last tour we did Conan O Brian and Music City Roots show in Nashville and that wasn’t mainstream TV that’s local in Nashville but Cody said that’s the first time he’s ever done anything like before and of course Conan that was new for all of us.
This year we have shows opening up for Jamey Johnson and we have a few festivals, but we are going into the studio I think sometime in the fall and release a new album. We have already been to the studio a good bit recording a few songs here and there, we did that cover of the Pink Floyd song Wish You Was here, and that actually surprised us all because we had no idea it was even going to be released. We kind of done it as a last minute deal and I think it made it up to number four on the Texas charts and on the national ones I think it made it up to number twenty eight. I couldn’t believe it blew up because there’s not many people who could take a classic rock song and turn it in to a country song and make a hit out of it.
Well you know Whitey Morgan did that with a Springsteen song. I started incorporating more Red Dirt into my website and even though that crowd isn’t embracing Nashville they do really well out here and I’m enjoying it.
Well the Texas music comes back to me and you know people listen to what the radio gives them to listen to and sadly enough they don’t play anything from any of the Texas guys and it’s sad because that to me is music that’s the way I feel. When I get on my motorcycle and take a ride some of the Texas songs like Jason Isbell and Wade Bowen are what get me into my feelings and that’s the kind of stuff that I listen to. It should be played on mainstream radio but they wont because it doesn’t sell to teenagers today I guess unfortunately.
Now I’m getting three to five thousand hits a day and I can’t get over that five thousand mark but people like what I feature.
It’s getting out there and honestly I have been a fan of Cody’s before I even worked with him, just because he has pushed the music out there and he’s trying to get above that Red Dirt scene and sort of branch out and get above and beyond and rise up but he’s staying true to where he came from. That’s what I love about working for him, we do everything our way but our way is the people’s way and that’s what I love about him. They come from all over to the shows and a lot of times we see the same crowd which is awesome, the last show we did in Denver Colorado and there were people there from Tennessee and Arkansas and I had a friend fly in from Georgia to see us. They want that rawness, they don’t want the orchestrated concert that you pay seventy five to a hundred dollars to see and you’re sitting in the nosebleed section. They want to see the rawness of the real deal I guess you could say.
Your Flockers are a very strong following let me tell you,I have had a lot of dealings with them. Let me tell you I’m involved in many scenes being the type of media that I am. I’m in with Bluegrass people and the Muddy Roots people and Americana folks, and they are a pretty dedicated bunch.
They are very dedicated and you know I started right at the end of August and I was number fifteen hundred or sixteen hundred. At that time Cody did not have anything to do with the Flocker group, they started themselves and asked him if they could start a fan group. Cody said go ahead you can run it and do whatever you want to, so it did. Now they are up to twelve or thirteen thousand members and they’re dedicated. They come to every show there’s a least a row of them at every show and it’s awesome I love them, they’re a fun group of people.
At every show there’s always one or two that keep us entertained and they take pictures for us and things like that. They help us like on April the sixth there’s a show in Nashville to honor Merle Haggard, they had posted that they were looking for talent. Man, the Flockers got on there and started blowing it up by posting get Cody Jinks, get Cody Jinks and they had to shut the page down. They were trying so hard to get us on the show.
As a steel guitarist who influenced you the most?
I would probably have to say Cowboy Eddie Long, I don’t know him too good and I have only met him a couple of times but he showed me many things on the steel guitar and I have known him for about a year now. I would have to say the style and the way I play it would have to be Cowboy Eddie. But alongside him would have to be Ralph Mooney, I been listening to Waylon for as long as I can remember. I loved the song Rainy Day Woman and I remember hearing Ralph start it off with that steel, when I first started playing the steel I was venturing more towards Ralph Mooney his tone and his style. He said in an interview one time his style was simple but effective and you know he was with Waylon until the day that he died.
Yes, and he was the first steel guitarist to ever be put in the front line, Ralph Mooney was. Now I notice you sit to Mr. Cody’s left is that the reason you do that?
You know really Cody loves the steel and I watched videos of his past steel players and I wanted also to sit right beside him, and I asked him where do you want me to sit? He said man I need you on the front line so people can hear your leads. That’s another reason I love him he doesn’t care about just him, I don’t care about exposure for me but I love it when people come up and ask hey what is that you’re playing. Cause I’m right up front and everyone sees me and they cannot miss me.
They ask questions and that’s what I love, we were playing a show at the Wescott Theater in Syracuse New York and there was young man that I have pictures of on my Facebook of he was right up front all night. I was watching him study me all night he was probably about ten or eleven and he was just amazed by what I was doing. After the show I was walking out to the bus, and his dad stopped me and just like I asked that guy, he said man what is that you’re playing? I said It’s a pedal steel guitar he said my son was amazed by it and I brought him on the stage and he sat behind it,I let him play it and he said it was so cool.
He was inspired and I’m pretty sure his parents were out a lot of money in those next few days but that’s what I like. I like to be on the front line to inspire as many people I possibly can. I don’t want to say it’s dying but on mainstream country radio, it’s gone. The Texas guys are pulling it out but man I don’t want to see it die.
That’s why I wanted to start this series because there are so many of you in I want to say underground music per say, and there a lot of bands that have steel guitarists but nobody knows about them.
Yeah, probably in the past ten years it’s just dropped out so much and I know everybody rags on Luke Bryan and those guys but you know I worked with him and Luke has a steel player right now but it’s just not headlining like it was back in the day. The one that is promoting it the most right now is Easton Corbin with Jamie Lennon.
I agree with you and I think Jon Pardi is doing it really well too.
Jon’s good his steel player is a good friend of mine Andy Ellison.
Yes,I’m going to get him on this series soon.
And there are several young steel players that I’m friends with on Facebook I haven’t had the opportunity to meet them yet but there is a young kid I think he’s thirteen named Jacob King he’s playing a lot of the Midwest steel guitar shows. They’re great steel players not like when I first started I didn’t even have Youtube to learn by so they got a little advantage on me, I love to see young people playing the steel. I’m still young but I love the younger people sitting down and getting involved with it. And it’s addictive once it starts I want to see them on the Grand Ole Opry.
I’d like to see you on it too, my main goal when I started this website is I want people like Whitey Morgan and Cody Jinks and my daughter who is twenty, I want her to able to say they are Legends when she’s forty. That’s what I want.
Somebody asked me the other day there was some thing that was comparing Cody and Whitey to Waylon and Willie and all that. It comes down to Waylon and Willie and Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard they didn’t get to where they were by following someone else, and that’s what we are doing. We’re doing our own thing and it takes time. Time and exposure is the key and eventually I think everybody is going to get turned on to our music. For Whitey Morgan he’s been at it for a while now and this will be a big year. For all of those guys this year will be the year a lot of people wake up and say hey these guys got something going on.
Another thing with Whitey and Cody and people like Ward Davis, our fans are their fans and vice versa and a lot of time they will go to both shows in one night or two. There’s a circle fans if Whitey’s close they’ll go to his show and if we’re close they’ll go to our show and that’s a great thing. It’s not just we only like this guy or we only like that guy let’s not go to it.
Well every scene is like that, I was going to go see The Reverend Horton Heat and the G damn Gallows but I covered them many times and I decided on Wade Bowen. I am trying to incorporate more of the Texas music into this and even if I have to take off work I’ll do it to get to see people like Sunny Sweeney. She needs to be an Opry member, hell she plays more than some of the members.
Yes, I cannot wait for that day. Brett and I were fortunate enough about three weeks ago to get to see her there. The night before she had her Trophy release at the Basement East. There were several people there Larry Gaitlin and Crystal Gayle and several others were there. When she started it was just Aw Goodness. It made me feel like back in the sixties it was Country Music and that’s what it comes down to. She’s Country Music.
I think with the new management being a woman she might speak to her musically from a different standpoint than a man and I think she has a really good chance. She will speak to her from a whole different level.
I believe so she’s doing a lot of things right. This CD I listened to it before it came out and there’s several songs on there that will go places. When she released that song from a table away it went up the charts and that’s the first song I ever heard her do, and I believe it’s going to be her year as well.
Folks I must tell you I have been on quite a binge on the Red Dirt Country ever since I began incorporating it into my website some time ago, if you’ll remember last week I covered Wade Bowen And Miss Kaitlin Butts when they stopped in Nashville.
I cover about 175 festivals yearly in this fashion mostly Americana, Roots Music, Bluegrass and now Red Dirt Texas Country is included into my agenda, so you can be assured I will feature quality REAL MUSIC from many genres all over the United States! As always you can buy tickets to all of the festivals I feature from direct links to their own website HERE I make NO MONEY off featuring ANY festival, this is ALL done on my expense.
This festival began in 2008 and by 2013 it grew to a two day festival as the Texas and Oklahoma music scene began to flourish and present day Red Dirt scene is booming to a HUGE margin. Many websites are featuring more of it as mine started about three years ago to mix it in with what I feature on a regular basis, and with good response from my readers.
Hotels,I found an abundance of them HERE is a page of over 40 of them for you to choose from in Austin. There will be a parking fee of 10.00 per day and it clearly states if you park in an adjacent lot you will be towed away. Obviously this is NOT a camping type festival so you’ll need a hotel if you don’t live in this area.
Well folks I was faced with a pretty serious quandary this weekend, I had originally intended to cover some bands I have covered many times before. However I was faced with an incredibly tempting whole new market and a whole new opportunity I have been wanting to capitalize on as of late..Texas Country.
They call it Red Dirt Country and it also emanates from the Oklahoma area as well, and my friend Miss Bridgette Lowder planted a large seed into my head last year as we got to know each other and compared knowledge. We exchanged our likes and hates of music and different scenes and styles, until we began to KNOW each other’s local scene. I took what she exposed me to and I seriously capitalized on the void I had here.
I am a music fan FIRST and a business man SECOND BUT nonetheless I AM both and I “see things” and I “see opportunities” when I encounter them. I found a whole new broad genre to expand on and learn, and learn it I DID folks and I began contacting Texas festivals and podcasts until I learned the ins and outs of the Texas Music scene.
So I ventured out this weekend into a very popular and gorgeous local venue 3Rd And Lindsley for a Red Dirt show.First, some things notable about this venue, the parking is GREAT if you get there early like I do. The crew is VERY friendly and I have always thought security does a REALLY nice job handling things, I don’t believe I have ever witnessed a major altercation there.
I ordered the prime rib sandwich and it’s ALWAYS really tasty and comes out in ample time, the only negative thing I have to say are the fries are not portioned well enough. It could stand to be a little more so I usually order onion rings which are REALLY good. The tables are spaced out enough and the stools are comfortable, it’s a TRULY good place to go see a show, and the prices are reasonable I would highly suggest this for ANY shows.
Miss Kaitlin Butts opened the show tonight with sharp humor and rich smooth vocals, and despite her young age she brings an older sound to the table that any TRUE Country fan will quickly appreciate. Her 2014 debut album that was produced by Mike McClure a BIG NAME out there in Texas and Oklahoma is called “Same Hell Different Devil” and has ten songs she wrote by herself and one cover. Most of the songs that made up her set list last night were indeed originals I recognized from my studies of her repertoire as I prepared to write this article on her.
In fact her first song I missed as I was meeting new friends but I quickly scooted over to my table to catch “Same Hell Different Devil” which is basically falling for us men and our bullshit lines (sorry guys she’s onto us). It’s basically a palm slap in the forehead song that most women can pretty much relate to being sweet talked into falling for a clown that is playing with her emotions. It’s actually a pretty well written song and I’m appalled that she’s not more well known within this scene, let’s change that by going on to her website and buying her album.
“He Was Right” was next which displays a VERY impressive vocal range of changing high notes toward the end of it that grabs your attention and leads it to wherever she wants you to go. This woman commands the stage and possesses an impressive stage presence, with a sharp sense of humor as she quips about everything from her last name, to cheap skanks that should have their men stolen from them by a “Gal Like Me” which was also included in her set later on.
After she covered an Elizabeth Cook song she played one called ‘Gun In My Hand” which I enjoyed but another song that stuck out to me as a person was one called “Wild Rose”. It’s just basically one of those reckless youth songs we all lived at that age. Like I previously mentioned her young age doesn’t readily identify with the hard life lessons of her lyrics, there is much more age in her lyrics however it doesn’t make them unbelievable.
After playing “Damned If I Do” she played her own version of “In The Pines” which was VERY enjoyable with just her and a fiddle. If I’m not mistaken I heard Eddie Up was playing steel for her a while and I was wondering if he would be there last night. She has quite an impressive resume like she contributed to Flatland Cavalry and many other bands, and as she closed her set with a descriptive song about her mess of auburn hair she left us ready for Mr. Wade Bowen BUT wanting more of what she packs in her holsters!
Mr. Wade Bowen is one of the Texas Music Scene’s veteran performers having been established in 1998 and last night he opened with a song of his 2008 album “if We Ever Make It Home” called “You Had Me At My Best”. His songs are mostly upbeat and furious and his band plays like a top notch well oiled machine with a vigorous trio of guitarists that evenly trade lead licks, and not spoil the FUN but one of them played their encore behind his back!
His song called “Songs About Trucks” was next which is one of his later songs from 2013, and that one talks about lost loves but of a vehicle. We all have had our past loved vehicles down by the lake that we loved to listen to our cassettes in, maybe had your first beer in the back of, or passed the time with your favorite girl in?
“Make It Home” was next followed by a powerful ballad called “West Texas Rain”. Now, that song is one of my favorite songs he sings out of his whole catalogue. He interacts with the audience beyond grateful and includes them in many of his songs by making them sing along with different songs. You can easily detect that he is AT HOME up there on stage performing and brings a fresh sound to the table.
He played a few cover last night like “Looking Out My Back Door” by Credence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty was one of my idols too, and his band made this song equally powerful on this show. This style of Country music is rapidly growing in popularity right now and I would very much like to contribute to bring it to my local area full scale in massive amounts, because it has many good qualities.
This young man PACKED the house last night to the point where standing in one spot was difficult toward the middle of the venue, I haven’t seen it that packed since my coverage of the Cody Jinks show. He played a new song called ‘I Couldn’t Make You Love Me” which I understand he is readily recording now for soon release. He played “One Step Closer” and another called “Woke Up Today” which I dedicate to my friends with cancer and other ailments that are always grateful for waking up today.
Mr. Wade has many songs of inspiration and sometimes unlike more Traditional Country this genre has as many uplifting songs as it does darker ones. But when he played an acoustic song he dubbed one of his favorite songs it was called “Walls Were Blue” which is a gloomy dark song but it is indeed a classic song. “Till It Does was followed by “Trouble” and after he played “Walls Were Blue” he played the Kristofferson classic “Help Me Make It Through The Night” with just him, as his band got a break.
“Who I Am” was next after the upbeat song called “Standards” which was a great song about rejecting a phony song about not having hits and having standards to record better songs. It was on his latest album with Randy Rogers and I’m glad he isn’t selling out and choosing better songs, many artists in the mainstream cannot say that.
“The Sun Shines On a Dreamer” is another uplifting song about pursuing your dreams and not being afraid to take risks and scraping your knees once in awhile. Another powerful slow song he does called “Mood Ring” is absolutely loud and hard but the lyrics are mellow and can be related by men and women alike. This is a complete masterpiece, it is VERY well written and delivered in a true heartfelt vocal style by a sincere artist.
“Beat Me Down” and his set closed with “Saturday Night” which once again required crowd participation and amped us up for his energetic encore of two cover songs one being the Chuck Berry classic “Johnny B Goode” is respect for the fallen icon of Rock And Roll Chuck Berry, and the Eagles/ Conway Twitty ‘Heartache Tonight”.
All in All I must say I was extremely happy with my decision to choose this show over any other, and I’m quite convinced we NEED to bring this type of Country into our local venues and festivals. ANYTIME I get the chance to see some of these artists I have been researching I’ll be SURE to bring them to my website over and over again.