Top 10 Honorary Texas Musicians
Right here, right now, and in print all damn week, you can read the Houston Press' interview with perhaps the hottest new band on the South 40, San Antonio's Hacienda (above). Whether or not they go on to become a South Texas Kings of Leon - Hacienda is also three brothers and a cousin, no shit - Rocks Off will bet you that Hacienda's first-ever Houston show at Under the Volcano Thursday night is going to be packed. Smart folks might want to try their 5:30 p.m. in-store at Cactus Music.
During the course of the interview, Hacienda reveals something about the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach that Rocks Off was a little surprised (and very gratified) to learn. It seems Auerbach - who met the band in Austin and took them both under his wing and on the road behind last year's solo album Keep It Hid, before producing Hacienda's latest LP Big Red and Barbacoa - is a closet Doug Sahm savant, who even schooled the Hacienda boys a little on arguably their hometown's No. 1 musical legend.
That got Rocks Off to thinking about other honorary musical Texans: Bands and people who weren't born here and may have never lived here (at least not for very long), but who got here as soon as they could in sound and spirit. Naturally, we made a list.
10. Dwight Yoakam:
The Kentucky native is rightfully known as contemporary country's foremost practitioner of the Bakersfield sound, but lest we forget, Buck Owens was a native Texan. Yoakam's soft spot for the Lone Star State dates back at least to his cover of Ray Price's "Heartaches by the Number" on debut LP Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. - an album that, as Lonesome Onry and Mean wrote last year, Houston's late, great KIKK was instrumental in breaking nationally. Yoakam's version of "New San Antonio Rose" on Asleep at the Wheel's 2000 Bob Wills tribute Ride With Bob is a winner too.
9. Raul Malo:
As the Miami-born former Mavericks front man told us shortly before his House of Blues show last month, his new album Sinners & Saints is basically one long love letter to South Texas Tex-Mex. Malo was smart enough to draft Texas Tornadoes Augie Meyers and Shawn Sahm, as well as one of San Antonio's brightest young musicians in accordionist Michael Guerra, to help out.
8. Warren Storm:
When most musicians borrow from Doug Sahm, it's usually the Sir Douglas Quintet Tex-Mex groover they're thinking of. Sahm himself, though, loved swamp pop as much as conjunto - have a listen to "So Glad for Your Sake, So Sorry for Mine." And when it comes to swamp pop, no one sings it better than Warren Storm - calling him Louisiana's very own Van Morrison wouldn't be a stretch at all. Storm also has the added benefit of still being alive; in fact, you can probably book him for your next event if you can track him down.
7. The Clash:
Back in Rocks Off's Austin Chronicle days, anytime someone brought up Joe Ely, someone else immediately had to say, "You know, Joe Ely opened for the Clash once." Bonding over their mutual love of Buddy Holly, the London punks and Ely's ragtag West Texas rockers became fast friends, leading to a lot of unfortunate "Lubbock calling" puns and some much cooler stuff: Many U.S. and UK shows together, Ely's backing Espanol vocals on "Should I Stay or Should I Go," filming the "Rock the Casbah" video in Austin and one of the most iconic Clash photos ever, taken when the group was onstage at Austin's Armadillo World Headquarters. Here's a firsthand account of the Clash in Texas, from another musician who opened that Armadillo show.
6. Bobby "Blue" Bland: Cutting Two Steps From the Blues in Houston = Texan for life.
5. Ray Charles:
What state wouldn't want to claim Brother Ray? Texas has a better case for Charles than most, though - besides meeting his second wife in Houston, the late R&B icon once said, "If you want to put a great band together, go to Houston, Texas." That quote is retweeted, as it were, by ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons in the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau's current "Visit Houston Texas" ad campaign.
4. B.B. King:
The King of the Blues took Charles at his word, using the Bayou City's ballrooms and juke joints as his own personal AAA farm team. Rocks Off wasn't sure how many Houstonians have served time with King over the years, so we emailed our pal Dr. Roger Wood, who sent us the following list off the top of his head: Trumpeter James Bolden, TSU "Ocean of Soul" alumnus and current bandleader; Leon Warren (guitar); John Browning (trumpet); Calvin Owens (trumpet/bandleader); Eugene Carrier (keyboards); Milton Hopkins (guitar); Connie McBooker (piano); Sonny Freeman (drums); and Bill Harvey (saxophone/bandleader).
The Toronto rapper seems to think he was actually born in Houston. At Verizon in May, as recounted by Rocks Off's own Shea Serrano, he wore a Rap-A-Lot chain, spit "Mo City Don Freestyle" with Big Bad Z-Ro, shouted out DJ Screw on "November 18" and, naturally, welcomed Bun B to the stage. This past Saturday at Reliant Arena, he gave Rap-A-Lot founder J. Prince, who introduced Drake to Lil Wayne, a freakin' Lamborghini.
This is almost cheating, because Mudhoney guitarist Steve Turner was actually born in Houston. Still, the Superfuzz Bigmuff grunge pioneers are Seattle to the core... except that they were influenced by the Thirteenth Floor Elevators... and covered the Dicks' "Dicks Hate Police"... and cut one of the most interesting country-rock crossovers of the '90s with Flatlander Jimmie Dale Gilmore on this self-titled Sub Pop EP. Turner's 2003 solo LP Searching for Melody, meanwhile, proved he was no Townes Van Zandt neophyte.
1. Willie Nelson:
Shut up. Willie does whatever he wants. No musician has done as much for Texas, or made more non-Texas musicians wish they were from Texas, as Booger Red. Therefore, he gets to be No. 1. Got a problem with that?
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.