Our Artist Picks of 2019
Artists To Follow
- Bri BagwellSinger/Songwriter
Bri started her music career at 14 years of age, singing in her twin brothers’ band, juggling the late night gigs with early morning volleyball practice while in high school.
Eschewing volleyball scholarship offers, Bri opted for a chance to live in Austin, TX and attend the University of Texas. She finally got her chance to play live there after teaching herself guitar and playing with a friend.
Bri kept writing and eventually recorded an album and formed “The Banned”, which is a play on words from her song “Banned from Santa Fe”.
Bri is the artist who will say a prayer with you, then have a shot of whiskey with you with equal authenticity. A fixture on the Texas Country scene, Bri has seen her audience grow and diversify as she has progressed through the musical landscape.
- Ben DanaherSinger/Songwriter
“You can hurt and still feel lucky,” Ben Danaher sings on the title track of his deeply personal debut album, ‘Still Feel Lucky.’ Coming from any other songwriter, it might sound like a simple platitude, but in Danaher’s hands, it’s something far more profound, a moment of true enlightenment in the face of unimaginable tragedy. Years of pain are wrapped up in his delivery, but still he commits to the hope and the beauty inherent in the darkness. It’s a monumental task, but one the Huffman, Texas native handles with a tenacious grace on an album that, despite being born in the fires of struggle and loss, manages to forge its own path toward peace, growth, and even joy.
Drawing on the influence of legendary troubadours like Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, and Townes Van Zandt, Danaher first made a name for himself as a songwriter in Texas before relocating to Nashville. Along the way, he shared bills with Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jack Ingram, Angaleena Presley, Rhett Miller, Travis Meadows, and Amanda Shires, in addition to co-writing songs for Ryan Beaver, Bonnie Bishop, Rob Baird, and Justin Halpin among others. For his own songs, Danaher collaborated with some of Nashville fastest-rising stars, including Maren Morris, on material that blended classic country tradition with modern rock and roll sensibilities.
Recorded live and raw with his touring band, ‘Still Feel Lucky’ showcases Danaher’s hard-won wisdom and cinematic storytelling, capturing slices of life with a candid honesty that cut straight to the heart of things. Danaher lost his brother to murder and his father to cancer in short succession, and while many of the songs draw from that well of pain and loss, the music is anything but self-pitying. These are songs of revelation and redemption, reflecting a maturity and an acceptance that can only come with time and perspective. Writing the album was a therapeutic process for Danaher, an opportunity to make sense of the inexplicable, but it was also a chance to respond to the universe with love and gratitude despite all he’s been through.
“You can go through hell and get completely hardened up, but there’s always going to be this human part of you that can still feel lucky and grateful for all the good that’s in your life,” he concludes. “No matter how difficult things get, in the end, there’s always hope.”
- Cory MorrowFull Band
Cory Morrow didn’t become a Texas legend by being quiet. He sings about strippers and Jesus with equal fervor. While this dichotomy may leave those on either side of the moral equator perplexed – the answer is actually very simple. Cory Morrow is beautifully and uncomfortably transparent. From the beer soaked, cocaine laden days of his early career, to today’s more sober and spiritual leg of the journey, one thing about Morrow has never changed – as goes Cory’s life, goes Cory’s songs – and that’s never been more evident than on his newest studio release “Whiskey & Pride”.
- Aaron WatsonSinger/Songwriter
Aaron Watson isn’t interested in what someone else thinks he should do. But instead of getting lonely as he sidesteps expectations, he’s gaining followers––hundreds of thousands of them. Delivered with a warm smile and fueled by a wild spirit, Watson’s rebellion echoes the land that helped make him.
Watson remains strikingly similar to the people that still dot his native West Texas. They’re a rugged people, proud of home but humble and hardworking, the first to help a neighbor but also fiercely independent. And Watson is unquestionably one of them. “I’ve always considered myself an anti-rock star,” Watson says, his drawl cracking slightly as he grins. “People don’t like me because I’m a rock star. People like me because I’m just like them.”
Throughout his 17-year career that spans a dozen albums and more than 2,500 shows throughout the U.S. and Europe, 39-year-old Watson has stubbornly and sincerely identified with the everyman––even as he’s proven to be the exception to the rule.
The latest evidence of Watson’s homespun singularity is Vaquero, an ambitious 16-song set of character-driven storytelling, level-headed cultural commentary, and love songs for grown- ups that promise to further solidify his status as one of today’s finest torch-bearers of real country music.
- Rick TrevinoSinger/Songwriter
Trevino began his career that year with the release of his debut single, "Just Enough Rope", the first mainstream country music single to feature separate English and Spanish-language versions. The song was included on his debut album Dos Mundos; a self-titled album followed a year later. Trevino has charted a total of fourteen singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and recorded seven studio albums. His highest-charting single, "Running Out of Reasons to Run", reached No. 1 on that chart in 1996.
- Parker McCollumSinger/Songwriter
Parker McCollum comes from a no-nonsense, hard-working family. His was the sort of upbringing where “if you’re going to do something and you’re not going to do it one-hundred percent; you shouldn’t do it all.” It’s why this 25-year-old treats each song he writes with a painstaking level of dedication, reverence, and — as he readily admits — even a bit of obsession.
Parker says when a particular melody, lyric or emotion tugs at him he might stay in his room for days working on it. He can’t help himself.
That’s because, for the Austin-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, the result is worth the painstaking process. Parker — who broke out with the revealing and critically adored 2013 debut The Limestone Kid and returned with the acclaimed, Probably Wrong — says, “its like the songwriting muse takes over. I don’t choose when it hits me, but when it does, I pay attention — and it’s always worth the focus it asks of me.“
Probably Wrong (Nov. 10, 2017), pulls back the curtain to reveal Parker’s depth of artistry. The 10-track LP, written after the dissolution of a long-term relationship, is equal parts self-flagellating and transcendent. It is also the most honest he has ever been in song. There’s an inherent pain that bleeds through in the raw transparency of stunning songs including “I Can’t Breathe” and “Hell of a Year.” For Parker, putting his most intimate thoughts and feelings to song is more of a welcome relief than an act of bloodletting. “I don’t talk about my feelings very often,” he notes. “I keep a lot of things in most of the time, and I don’t want anybody else to have to deal with my stuff. So, I write songs instead.”
- Neel Cole & Southern St.Texas GrungeNeel Cole & Southern St is a "Texas Grunge" band out of Austin, Tx. Meshing the worlds of Rock, Grunge, Blues and Country, they created a unique Texas Sound as one club owner put it. Comprised of: Neel Cole on Vocals/Guitar, Kenneth Simmons on Bass, and Pedro Duquense on Drums, they strive to bend the walls between genres while trying to make a difference in the world with their words.Began as a simple solo venture David Neely (AKA Neel Cole), paired together with Kenneth in early 2018 in hopes of putting together a group to perform some of his musical works. After the addition of Pedro on drums, the project became more like a liquid than a solid, so they adapted the group name "Neel Cole & Southern St". Over the past year they have rounded out their sound, and polished up their approach to writing music adapting the idea that every song is not only a group effort, but a liquid creation as well.In winter 2018 the group released their first EP entitled “Down In The Mud”. With wide open guitars, vivid vocal melodies, solid bass lines, and rhythmic percussion, they are surely able to take your soul away from all you worry about in this world...even if for just a moment.
- Bryan FontenotGrammy Nominated
Standing in the circle of the Grand Ole Opry or among friends, Bryan Fontenot, energizes an audience like no other. Country, Rock, Blues, or Western Swing, he brings his best every time he steps to the microphone. This ex bull-rider, loves entertaining the crowd!
To meet Bryan, off stage, you might not sense the gift of music, which lies in the heart and soul of this polite and unassuming cowboy, or the obstacles he has overcome in life. He underwent 13 hours of reconstructive surgery, after a bull took a dislike to him, lost his Mom during Hurricane Rita, a brother to tragic death, and just recently his Dad. No doubt the journey has tempered his music with blues and soulful authenticity that comes only with experience. Bryan's heart-felt vocals personify the body and soul of music and lyric. He's believable. Each song is like having a one-on- one conversation with a friend. I've known and performed with Bryan for 17 years now. Through the good and the bad times he's never lost his love for his craft. I've seen him perform for huge paychecks, and for tips. I never could tell the difference. He's focused on the music, all of the time. His blood type is B flat.
- Wayne ToupsMusician Zydecajun
You can add another nickname to the music man they call “Le Boss.” High-energy showman Wayne Toups has long been dubbed “The Cajun Springsteen,” but now you can add the title “Grammy winner” to his name. On Feb. 10, 2013, Wayne was honored with his first Grammy Award. His CD The Band Courtbouillon with Steve Riley and Wilson Savoy was announced as Best Regional Roots Music Album at the prestigious ceremony.
“My feet still haven’t touched the ground,” says Toups. “It’s something I’ll never forget. We walked the red carpet and everything. It was all really pretty amazing. “It was my first nomination and my first win,” adds the Louisiana music maker with a grin. “I’m batting 1,000.”
The Grammy Award caps a wave of recent career highs for Wayne Toups. In 2009, he earned an Album-of-the-Year award from Offbeat magazine. In 2010, he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. In 2011, he entered both the Gulf Coast Hall of Fame and the Cajun French Music Hall of Fame.
Toups has been booked at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for an unprecedented 27 consecutive years, including 2013. This year will also mark his continued activism in the Coastal Vision Foundation, the organization dedicated to restoring America’s eroding ocean coastlines. “We are losing 2,400 acres a year in Louisiana, alone,” says Toups. “And it’s not just the Gulf Coast. Look what our eroded coastline resulted in when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and New York. We’ll be doing several fund-raisers for the organization this year.”
- Randy RogersRandy Rogers Band
From Randy's Website:
Few relationships in life are more complicated than those among band members. Music history is filled with stories of the rise and fall of creative personalities, but the Randy Rogers Band is a unique brotherhood fueled by a shared passion for making great music and a strong commitment to each other. That bond forms the foundation for the new music on their latest album Hellbent, a high-octane collection of songs buoyed by the same fearless spirit and sense of camaraderie that has made them one of country’s most compelling bands.
In a business where bands come and go and membership is often a revolving door, the Randy Rogers Band has been together for more than 17 years. “Just like any other relationship, you have to pick your battles and have respect for each other,” Rogers says. “None of us know how to do anything else. This is our livelihood. It’s how we take care of our families. Years ago when we were really struggling and wondering how we were going to make it, there were some deep and emotional conversations that we all had with each other about if this is really what we all wanted and the decision was made a long time ago. The answer was yes then and the answer is still yes now. It’s something we all believe in. This is our life’s work.”
The culmination of their musical journey thus far can be heard on Hellbent.
“Creatively we all bring something different to the table and you can hear it in the records,” Rogers says. “You can hear people’s personalities in the records.”
It’s that blend of unique personalities that have fueled the Randy Rogers Band’s success for nearly two decades.
“Our bass player, Johnny Chops, has this way of writing. It’s a little old school, a little Waylon-esque if you will. His lyrics aren’t necessarily anything like mine. They are a little bit more vague and more interpretive,” Rogers says, bragging on his bandmate. “What Brady Black adds to our makeup is his sensibility on stage, his appearance, his energy, his unique way that he plays the fiddle. He’s a crowd pleaser.”
- Stoney LarueSinger/Songwriter
From Stoney's Website:
I like to connect with people at any age, whatever it might be sonically or to the depth of what they are willing to think as LaRue reflects on this important connection he has fostered with his fans over his 15-plus years of touring and recording music. Together, LaRue and his fans have culled together a “favorite live song set” that is dedicated to his loyal and growing fan base.
LaRue is known for his real life, thinking man’s music as well as his high energy live concerts with fans singing along to songs such as “Feet Don’t Touch The Ground”, “Look At Me Fly”, and “Oklahoma Breakdown”.
Being able to connect with fans the way we can today is mind blowing to LaRue. When this journey started over 15 years ago, communication was restricted mainly to the stage, written letters and before show meet and greets. Now with social media along with the audience feedback at his shows he feels closer to them than ever and looks forward to the future as he travels around the world writing songs as well as performing.
Independently charged, LaRue has sold over one million records over his career and plays 200-plus shows a year, and he has released a new single “You Oughta Know” in November 2018.
Stoney LaRue has a new album slated to be released in 2019. More info at: www.StoneyLaRue.com
- Pat GreenPat Green Band
From Pat's Website:
Pat Green has finally come full circle -- and all the way back Home.
After rising through Texas' college-town and dancehall scene years ago, Green earned himself major-label support in Nashville and became the poster child of Texas music for a whole generation of fans. His list of achievements includes over 2 million albums sold, three Grammy nominations and a sold out Houston Astrodome.
But after releasing six albums in eight years, sending singles like "Wave on Wave" and "Let Me" up the charts, touring with powerhouses like Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban and dealing with accusations of "selling out," the meat grinder of mainstream stardom proved to be too much. He was spent.
"I felt so much pressure during the years I was with the big record labels to put out a record almost every year," he explains. "There was a constant loop of having to be creative with new music, and that's just not my style. I like it to happen when it happens."
Now, after breaking the cycle for a three-year recharge, Green is back in his comfort zone and playing by his own rules again. His is new independent album Home is his first set of originals in several years, and directly speaks to the hardcore fans that have been with him since the beginning.
Featuring a mature country sound that is both modern and exposes his roots for all to see, his new tunes are full of ringing acoustic guitars, slippery steel and dobro, wailing fiddles and heartfelt, personal lyrics, making Home the return to form many fans have been waiting for.
"I'm very comfortable with this record, it came out exactly as I wanted it," Green says.
Produced by the all-star team of Jon Randall Stewart, Justin Pollard and Gary Paczosa, the album captures some of the unbridled energy of his first three self- released projects.
- Cody CanadaRockstar
From Billy Bob's Texas' Website:
ABOUT CODY CANADA & THE DEPARTED: Cody Canada & The Departed is a three-piece Americana roots-rock band based in New Braunfels, Texas. The band is comprised of frontman Cody Canada, bassist Jeremy Plato, and drummer Eric Hansen. Canada and Plato–bandmates since the inception and through the dissolution of former rock band Cross Canadian Ragweed–join forces with drummer Hansen to round out The Departed. The result is poignant, thoughtfully crafted songs delivered with bold guitars, boomy bass lines and plenty of muscle. The new iteration of The Departed offers concert-goers a well-rounded sonic experience: the Red Dirt ghosts from Canada’s upbringing; the re-emergence of favored Cross Canadian Ragweed tunes; plus a revival of classic country gold from Plato-led vocals. The Departed is maintaining their foothold as a frontrunner in the Texas music scene while progressively gaining traction across the U.S. Their most recent release, “HippieLovePunk (2015,” received positive critical acclaim as a “Top 5 Best-Selling Album of 2015” (Lone Star Music), and produced the singles “In Betweener” and “All Nighter,” the latter reaching No. 1 on the Texas Regional Radio Report. The Departed has released two additional albums since their formation: This Is Indian Land (2011) and Adventus (2012). Canada released two additional double-disc live acoustic records, “Some Old, Some New, Maybe A Cover Or Two,” (2013) and, “Chip and Ray, Together Again for the First Time,” (2015), both recorded at Third Coast Music in Port Aransas Texas. ‘Chip and Ray’ was recorded with longtime friend and producer, Mike McClure (The Great Divide).
- Uncle LuciusKeeping Wolves Away
South Austin, Texas' Uncle Lucius is a dream, conjured in the minds of five sonic mercenaries, a clarion call to arms for true believers. It is the voice that shakes you from complacency, grabs you with both hands and implores: Get in the van!!!
Like the city that brought them together, UL is a gumbo, with hints of Americana and folk juxtaposed with a slow-cooked roux that is steeped in classic rock 'n' roll and the blues. The resulting flavor is familiar and unique, roots at its most refined, albeit with a gutbucket foundation.
A certain spirit inhabits the tunes and tunesmiths alike, a seeking and a questioning that leads one far from the prescribed path. It was that spirit that brought Kevin Galloway, then a banker and music minister, from his East Texas upbringing to the streets of South Austin, in search of a life more imbued with meaning than financial well-being. Around his voice and songwriting the other pieces fell into place. Mike Carpenter left his job on a Houston assembly line to vie for greatness in one of America's foremost guitar scenes. San Antonio's Josh Greco fortified the emerging group with his considerable classical and jazz training. The road brought them to Lexington, KY, where restless Jonny "Keys" Grossman was ready to eschew his comfortable life for a van's eye view of the country. Last to join was Nigel Frye, the pride of Tulsa, Oklahoma's outcast jazz scene, and low-end accomplice for some of Austin's finest musicians.