Houston Music

Grady Lee

With his wide-brim hat, vest and kerchief, Grady Lee may look like a cowboy on the cover of Texas Sunset, but inside him beats the heart of a true bluegrass musician. For this collection of original tunes, Lee has assembled some of Houston's finest pickers, including Spencer Cubage on lead guitar, Chris Hirsch on banjo and Rick Vaneman on fiddle.

Lee's songs plow familiar cowboy terrain. "Catclaw Rose and Herbert" celebrates the hospitality and faithfulness of an older cowboy couple "who rode through life together." "The Road to Paris" is a tale of justice meted out to three killers who bushwhacked a cowboy in Paris, Arkansas, in 1864. "Durango to Monterrey" follows a woman named Rosa who rides from San Antonio to be with her outlaw lover in Mexico. "Grandpa's Tattoo" lovingly recalls the tales told by the singer's grandfather during summer evenings on an Oklahoma farm. "Saturday Morning Dreams of Dale" is a tribute to a mythological Dale Evans who can shoot straighter and ride harder than any male cowboy -- except Roy Rogers, of course. You wonder how many other boys fantasized over Dale in her buckskin skirt.

If you're looking for a darker vision of cowboy life, you'd best ride on, partner. You're not going to find the unpredictable or the outcast here. Maybe that's because Lee is the resident singer at the George Ranch in Richmond. The families who come out to Texian Market Days don't want their images of the Old West too corrupt.

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Aaron Howard