Five Great Texas Country Artists Who Aren't From Texas
Aubrie Sellers isn't from Texas, but she plays here every chance she can.
Photo by Allister Ann
For the most part, Texas country as a genre contains artists playing some sort of roots-driven music, leaning either more to the country end of the scale or the rock end. Also, the band probably needs to have some sort of connection to Texas. In recent years, more and more artists from outside of the Red River region have managed to make a formidable name for themselves on the club calendars and radio stations that keep the industry wheels churning here.
So, no matter how dazzling an Americana band might be or how "Texas" it may sound, an artist from outside of Texas isn't a Texas country artist. Sorry, it's science. For example: Chris Knight is a Kentuckian, Lucero are Tennessee boys and Shovels and Rope are proud South Carolinians. Each of those acts make many stops in Texas each year hosting the same fans who hit Randy Rogers and Jason Boland shows regularly. Here are five more great Texas country acts...almost.
By the time 2012 rolled around, Raleigh, North Carolina’s American Aquarium was a band ready to quit completely. Years of touring, drinking and recording had taken its toll and left the band without the life it had envisioned for itself after starting in 2006. But the band’s Jason Isbell-produced record Burn. Flicker. Die. ignited the band’s popularity and in turn the band itself. Before then, the B.J. Barham-led group had endeared itself to some Texas country fans, but afterwards on the strength of anthemic songs such as “Lonely Aint Easy” and “Casualties” the group blew up nationally, but in Texas seemingly more than anywhere else. Released in 2015, Wolves, shows the band growing and getting better. Barham’s solo debut will soon be out and it’s certain to be worth every bit the attention his main gig gets here in Texas. American Aquarium returns to Houston June 30 at McGonigel's Mucky Duck.
THE BLACK LILLIES
Knoxville, Tennessee’s Black Lillies isn’t new but it has really picked up some steam here in Texas over the past year or so. And we’re lucky the Cruz Contreras-led group is coming back to town, frankly. Back in January of this year, the band’s touring van and trailer full of gear was stolen after a couple of local gigs. (The band plays Dosey Doe's Big Barn tonight.) With four albums under its belt, including the phenomenal 2015 LP Hard to Please, the six-piece has solidified a signature sound that blends folk, country, rock and soul. The band will be playing the legendary Greune Hall soon, and wouldn’t be out of place on a bill next to like-minded Texas acts such as Uncle Lucius or Shinyribs.
Yes, she’s LeeAnn Womack’s daughter but no, she isn’t a Texan since she has lived her life in Nashville. Now that’s out of the way, Sellers has been one of the best stories in Americana music so far this year. Her fantastic debut album New City Blues was released shortly after she performed at the annual Steamboat Music Fest, where the biggest names in Texas and Oklahoma hit the slopes every year. Along with opening shows for Chris Stapleton across the country, and landing gigs for this year’s Bonnaroo and ACL Fest Sellers has made herself at home in many of Texas best smaller clubs too. She calls her brand of roots-rock “Garage Country” and thanks to the booming drums and bluesy guitars we totally agree; just two days ago, we named her one of FPSF 2016's Best Acts, in fact.
THE CADILLAC THREE
Formerly named The Cadillac Black, the Jaren Johnston-led Nashville-based Southern rock trio is a loud and proud Southern band. Formed in Nashville a few years ago, the group produces tunes that can veer into slick modern country terrain from time-to-time but for fans of Whiskey Myers, there’s much to love. Watch the video for the “The South” the band’s ACM-nominated song, and try not to experience a bit of musical conflict. The upbeat ode to the Southern states is a blazing tune and hellishly fun, but near the end, the singalong chorus features the vocal help of Eli Young Band’s Mike Eli and the two dorks from Florida Georgia Line. Fresh off an appearance at the annual Lone Star Jam in Austin, the boys will soon release its second full-length album, Bury Me In My Boots, which, according to Johnston, is a heavier album than in the past and, in fact, is “full of badass shit.”
Also formed in Nashville, the Wild Feathers lean toward the folky end of the Texas country spectrum, especially compared to the sweaty rock of fellow Nashville-dwellers the Cadillac Three. Formed in 2010, this foursome is composed of guys who have been singers in other bands before, and such a skill level is clear in the band’s expertly employed harmonies. With only two albums out at this time, the band’s signature song, the sweeping, ocean-big “The Ceiling,” from 2013’s self-titled record, is an addictive track that should retain its status no matter how large the band’s catalog grows. New album Lonely is a Lifetime is every bit as engaging and urgent as the debut.
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