The 15 Best Songs From the Past 15 Years of Texas Country/Red Dirt/Whatever It's Called

Categories: Best Of

REKimage.jpg
All Hail The Keen - photo by Peter Figen
As we look upon the massive machine Texas country has made chug along over the past several years, it's easy to see 1997 as a pivotal time. In college towns and major metropolises alike, the masses were demanding more music from people that shared their pride, enthusiasm and thirst for something different. Pat Green's fraternity favorite, George's Bar was released, signaling his arrival, as was Jack Ingram's Livin' or Dyin' and Robert Earl Keen's sorely under-appreciated, sound-shifting Picnic .

1998 witnessed releases that made everyone take notice of what was going on south of Dollywood: Charlie Robison's Life of the Party, Cross Canadian Ragweed's Carney, Reckless Kelly's Milican and the debut release from arguably the first geographical interloper the fledgling scene would fully embrace, Kentuckian Chris Knight.

Since the end of the '90s, many studs from the Red River region have shot to stardom and major label deals. Jack Ingram and Pat Green both experienced a healthy dose of mainstream success and chart ascension, while the Randy Rogers Band scored a major label deal while getting to make the music they've wanted, even if the hits haven't been plentiful. Sunny Sweeney found success and Texas-claimed former rodeo cowboy Ryan Bingham won an Oscar. Denton's Eli Young Band has become an A-list group of stars in the world of modern country, thanks to their smash single "Crazy Girl."

Unlike the late-'90s, it is now just fine to get along with the folks on Music Row, even if many around these parts feel as though the cross-pollination of Nashville cheese and Texas grit creates something banal and formulaic.

We at the DC9 decided to gather some local and not-so-local folks to find out what they think are the best 15 songs of the past 15 years when it comes to this most indefinable genre. Some great songs from both rookie and veteran artists barely missed the cut. The list could have been 30 songs and some signature tunes would've still been left off. What we have below are the 15 songs that just about all of the panelists agreed upon, emphasis on "just about all of the panelists."

Here's the panel that provided the votes resulting in the top 15 list:

Matt Hillyer: Lead singer of multi-DOMA winning band 1100 Springs.
Juli Thanki: Editor-in-Chief of Engine 145.Com and the 2011 International Bluegrass Association's Print Media Personality of the Year.
Pat Green: A key yet polarizing figure in the surge of Texas country. His hits include "Wave on Wave," "Carry On" and "Baby Doll."
Brad Beheler: Writes and helps run Galleywinter.com, perhaps the best place to go for anything relating to Texas / Red Dirt music (check out The Drop).
Ronnie Fauss: Dallas-based folk singer/songwriter who has just recorded his debut album for New West Records, due soon.
Cody Canada : Former lead singer for seminal Red Dirt act Cross Canadian Ragweed and now the primary vocalist for the Departed.
Helen Eaton: Former DOMA-winning Americana/country/folk talent buyer at the Granada Theater, who is now helping run the show at Billy Bob's Texas, where she helped line-up special acts for this year's Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic.
Drew Kennedy: New Braunfels-based troubadour who's written and performed with many of the state's greats. He's just returned from a triumphant set at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass festival.
Merrol Ray: North Texas-based country rocker who won the Shiner Rising Star award when he fronted his old band, Miles From Nowhere.
Katie Key: Editor-in-Chief of Best in Texas magazine, which publishes the weekly Texas Music Chart, the baraomter for what regional artists are hot at a given moment.
George Dunham: Star of the massively popular, Marconi award-winning morning show on 1310 The Ticket, and lead singer for country act The Bird Dogs.
Amber Farris: Lead singer of Dallas' Somebody's Darling, another recent winner of the Shiner Rising Star award (and the vocalist that this writer dubbed the "country-rock queen of Dallas.").
Rita Ballou: The sauciest blogger in Texas and on-air personality for Waco's 92.9 Shooter FM.
Oh, and myself, because this is my blog post.

15. "Angry All the Time" - Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis

14. "Choctaw Bingo" - James McMurtry

13. "Vancouver" - Reckless Kelly

12. "Somewhere Down in Texas" - Jason Boland & The Stragglers

11. "The Weary Kind" - Ryan Bingham



Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
35 comments
hoopjunkie1999
hoopjunkie1999

only true Classic texas station is www.kbec.com, drop Kenr@kbec.com an artist and song and it will be on the air in 24 hours .........

Brian Manning
Brian Manning

Notable acts that are missing from the list: Micky and the Motorcars, Todd Snider, Chris Knight, Lost Immigrants and Band of Heathens.

Yman55
Yman55

No doubt an over sight...Walt Wilkins, with or without the Mystqiueros!!!

Marc
Marc

Any list that fails to include Garland native Gary Nicholson is incomplete, and reflects a general lack of knowledge of Texas music and those who compose it. Many of the popular songs one hears other artists perform are Nicholson compositions - from rock to blues, to jazz to country to bluegrass - you name it. Over 500 of his songs have been recorded by a who's who of artists including B.B. King, The Nevell Brothers, Lee Roy Parnell, Delbert McClinton, Guy Clark, Billy Joe Shaver, Bobby Bare, Tracey Nelson, Pam Tillis, Mickey Gilley, Don Williams and hundreds of other artists. If you are not aware of Gary and his music, then you are missing an essential part of Texas musicology and a true treasure of the Lone Star State.

TX Music Jim
TX Music Jim

While sadly there has been a lot of stuff over the last few years coming out of the Texas/Red Dirt Scene that is sub par for sure. There is quality stuff out there Goodbye Normal Street from the Turnpike Troubadors is one example of many of quality songwriting and muscianship. Good news is Houston Marchman has a new project in the works, Chris Wall has a new project in the pipline for the first time in many years and Brian Burns also has a new album in the works. So from newer bands to the old pro's for all the crap out there, Colt Ford quite possibly being the worst example of sadly many others; There is quality coming from both sides of the red river.. 

TX Music Jim
TX Music Jim

Kergo, I will concede your point that yep Gruene Hall would still be standing and we would still have a Texas/Red Dirt Music Scene if there had never been a Pat Green.  However, I wonder would it have grown as big as it did as fast as it did? Who knows. I echo others sentiments regarding a Great Divide/ Mike McClure song being left off. Mikes writing is stellar.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith

Never? Well never is kinda either a strong or dumbass word. You choose .

Brad Smith
Brad Smith

The gate as you so well put it was opened along time ago. Its that he just happened to be around when you finally pulled your head out of the sand.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith

BS. his worst suck just a little bit less than his best.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith

You gotta throw Amos Staggs in. Alverson sure does alot of Amos' songs

Brad Smith
Brad Smith

Really ??? The best songs in 15 years. GTFO...For knowing alot your panelists don't have a clue. Farce and Failure Big Time.

Jbgilmer
Jbgilmer

Shut up, crank the knob on whatever YOU like, and just have fun people...THAT is what TX/Red Dirt is all about. The individual artists and songs reflected here are but a drop in the bucket. This movement or whatever you wanna call it has provided the very best original music since Cobain offed himself.....Quicherbitchin and moaning before these artists decide it's not worth the effort...

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

That's like saying that modern pop/rock wouldn't happen without The Beatles....it still would have happened. Not to compare the great Beatles to a freakin' spare like PG.  It was the vehicle (KHYI) that got the ball rolling in this area; until then, it was the beautiful old country, and a bunch of new crap. Then other station started playing regional/local stuff-and voile!  

nick
nick

Kevin Fowler should have been part of the top 15. If it wasn't for Kevin and Pat Green and a few others there may have never been Texas Country.

Kergo 1 spaceship
Kergo 1 spaceship

Look dude, they love that shite......and they are convinced that PG is GREAT country.  In other news, Creed is GREAT rock. AND Daughtry is good. 

Kergo 1 spaceship
Kergo 1 spaceship

The Flatlanders "Now and Again", released in 2002.  ps-Pat Green belongs on a general songwriters list, but he is as country as James Taylor; seems to me that you folks have been duped!?

White Lightnin'
White Lightnin'

Putting "Carry On" in a list with "Choctaw Bingo" is sacrilege. But then, 75% of the whole Red Dirt thing is sacrilege.

TX Music Jim
TX Music Jim

Yeah the 15 year thing was very limiting without Jery Jeff, Willie, Waylon, Guy Clark, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Gary P. Nunn and of course Townes Vand Zandt we would not have had Steve Earle or Rodney Crowell which led to Robert Earl Keen which brought us into the Pat Greens and Jack Ingrams of the world which for better or worse gave us a scene that is still very much alive and viable as a genere of music.I would love to have had some Creager on the list and some Max Stalling etc. I say we need a new list of the top 50 Texas/Red Dirt Songs from the 70's through today. 

Ronald Crosby
Ronald Crosby

Cool list.  Many of you complaining about certain songs being left out keep missing the part about it being last 15 years only.  Flatlanders, Guy Clark etc? Greatness, but not last 15 years. Hating on Pat Green is so 2002.  Get over it.  Biggest surprises to me were Deryl Dodd (really???), wrong Bingham song ("Southside of Heaven" or "Bread and Water"), and the lack of a Fowler/Creager/Watson song to round out the honkytonk side.  Maybe they should do a The Next 15 only with artists who weren't on this list.

Kergo 1 spaceship
Kergo 1 spaceship

and what of the LEGENDARY Flatlanders?   HMMM? "South Wind of Summer" is pure high lonesome greatness! ps-probably too country for ya'll. 

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Methinks the same crowd that thinks Pat Green's music is good, ALSO thinks that Kenny Chesney's music good.....just sayin'. Best frat rocker, yup!

elegant wino
elegant wino

Band of Heathens, my goodness these guys are clearly among the best from Texas in the last 10 years. 

White Lightnin'
White Lightnin'

Katie "Miss Exclamation Point!!!" Key wouldn't know real music if she heard it. Having anyone associated with Best in Texas as part of your panel is like inviting an idiot to a Mensa convention. Way to misspell barometer too. Nice touch. ("the weekly Texas Music Chart, the baraomter")

DJ
DJ

I'm sure Deryl is crushed Chad. But as he says, "I don't give a damn about that now 'cause some people like the way I sound".

Okienole3
Okienole3

Any list that doesn't include a song penned by the great Mac McClure is lacking.

Jen
Jen

Well said. Breazy1118, I wish everyone were like you!

Kelly Dearmore
Kelly Dearmore

Didnt say he did. His version is the popular one, however, and I'm guessing you know that.

Kelly Dearmore
Kelly Dearmore

Oh, and this list is specific to a mini-sub-genre. So, you're argument about good music crossing lines, while true, isn't terribly relevant. You wouldn't put Hank Sr. in a list of greatest hardocre bands next to husker Du. Again, it IS apples and oranges in terms of this list and its framework.

Kelly Dearmore
Kelly Dearmore

Darryl. You brought up Neil Young. Check the comments.

TX Music Jim
TX Music Jim

Amos Staggs is a heckuv a writer and lots of folks have recorded his fine work. He's not known as a preformer like Alverson is though. Yes he performs but Alverson will give you one of the finest pure Texas honky tonk shows you will ever see.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

yeeee haaaawww!.....now Imma jump my motor "sicle" across the Red River, peel out, and rock out in downtown Colbert (hard by HW69/75-east of the bridge). 

Brad Smith
Brad Smith

Yeah I agree Kergo and that Toby Keith feller, can take his red cup song, and shove it up his ass with everyone else, who love it, piled in. I get naucous knowing a smiling dumbass Texan is singing his butt off to it, and way too loud I might add. 

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...