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Toro! Toro! Toro!

Home to pop queens and dance hall kings, Texas is still bullish about the music market

Sadly, we are left with only the legacies of too many Texans who passed away last year. New Year's Day 2001 dawned with the news of Eddy Shaver's senseless death from a heroin overdose, and father Billy Joe's health problems have been worrisome. Stalwart percussionist "Mambo" John Treanor succumbed to throat cancer after a valiant battle that saw him out playing in the clubs just days before he passed. Cancer also claimed beloved Texas Music Hall of Fame fiddler, guitarist and singer Champ Hood. And fugitive from injustice Dan Del Santo passed away in Mexican exile (which certainly beats dying in the stir for marijuana crimes).

Tragic as well was the closing of Fort Worth's Caravan of Dreams, a premier showcase venue rivaling New York's Bottom Line, L.A.'s Roxy and Chicago's Park West. Houston institutions C. Davis Bar-B-Q, Billy Blues, Emo's and The Ale House also collided with the wrecking ball of "progress."

By now I hope you are wondering if not asking this: What about the music? Creatively, 2001 was anything but a definitive and inspiring year. There were, however, a few exceptions. Former Houstonian Lucinda Williams delivered subdued yet intense emotionality on Essence. Bruce Robison found an immensely satisfying creative sweet spot on distinctive Country Sunshine. And Rodney Crowell's The Houston Kid found this Bayou City boy painting his personal legacy with the native genius of a Van Gogh on his finest album in far too many years -- if not ever.

But we come out of this turbulent year with many hopeful signs for Texas music. Maybe the state's new music economy will help fuel the art in 2002. Nothing would make me happier than to say at this time next year, "Hey, you know what? This new Pat Green album ain't half bad. In fact, it's pretty good."

Hey, a guy can dream.

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