When the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo announced earlier this month that King George Strait will close next year's rodeo with a special concert on Sunday, March 17, the happiest person in all of Texas may have been Randy Rogers. The Dallas-area native, a mainstay on the Texas country scene for a decade, will be the first artist to step on the Reliant stage that evening. It has to be one of the biggest venues to date in Rogers's touring schedule, which has reached the 220-days-a-year range and brings him to the Big Texas Dancehall in Spring this evening.
This all dovetails nicely with my ongoing project to pay more attention to Texas country music. Not only does its popularity continue to increase around these parts, it's not just a Texas phenomenon anymore. Rogers and his ilk (like buddy Wade Bowen) routinely hit the No. 1 spot on iTunes' country chart when their albums are released, and the RRB played directly before headliners the Eagles at the Stagecoach festival (country's Coachella) in 2008.
I have been skeptical about Texas country for many years, but have recently started coming around. Most artists are well-versed in the works of both Jerry Jeff Walker and Tom Petty, which makes them okay in my book. Also, it is still much more preferable to the kind of music Nashville continues to push as country. Have you heard Rascal Flatts' "Banjo"? Whoa.
Rogers is not reinventing the wheel, but his songs are believable and relatable, with a discernible sting. His band's combo of fiddle and B-3 organ can pack a pretty potent punch, too. On his most recent album, 2010's Burning the Day, he wants to get all kinds of gone between him and a lover he can still see when he closes his eyes (with another guy too... ouch).
I listened to Burning a few times this morning to get to know Rogers a little better.
He lives his life on the go. "I don't take the time to unpack anymore" ("Interstate")
He can't stand the rain. "Damn the rain, for making me remember all the pain" ("Damn the Rain")
He has a wicked streak. "In fact, it kind of made me smile to see those tears/ It's the least that you could do for me, my dear" ("Too Late for Goodbye")
But he knows when he's licked. "The bright lights and the big-city life drove you right out of town/ I watched you leave with a smile on my face, I knew I could never tie you down" ("Missing You Is More Than I Can Can Do")
Still, a guy can dream. "I think it would be awesome/ If you'd get on that plane to Austin" ("Missing You Is More Than I Can Can Do")
Spare him the details. "It ain't gonna do my heart any good to know that you were out with him again last night/ Girl, I don't need a visual of his two arms wrapped around you tight" ("Just Don't Tell Me the Truth")
He's lost. "Where the hell am I?/ Where the hell are you tonight?" ("I've Been Looking for You for So Long")
He wants to do the right thing. "You drive me crazy/ You don't know what he's got/ I'm fightin' so hard not to cross the line" ("Steal You Away")
He's familiar with the saying, "if you go looking for trouble, you'll usually find it." "I met lonely tonight/ She was sittin' at a table by a neon light" ("I Met Lonely Tonight")
He has a bit of O. Henry in him too. "I met lonely last night/ I was staring in the mirror until I closed my eyes" ("I Met Lonely Tonight")
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He wants to make his mama proud, but is having a hard time because he may be in prison at the moment. "I've got one foot on the gas, one foot in the grave/ I'm in the kind of trouble from which I can't be saved/ I spend my nights in darkness, I spend my days in chains" ("Last Last Chance")
9 p.m. tonight at the Big Texas Dancehall & Saloon, 19959 Holzwarth, Spring.