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Lyle Lovett, Billy Gibbons Named Official Texas State Musicians

With apologies to Townes Van Zandt, there's good news from Austin today. Good news for Houston.

The Texas Commission on the Arts has chosen arguably the Houston area's two most recognizable musicians, Lyle Lovett and ZZ Top singer/guitarist (Rev.) Billy F. Gibbons, as the official Texas State Musicians for 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Lovett and Gibbons, both featured in the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau's "My Houston" ad campaign, are the first two official state musicians from the Houston area, and the first from outside Central Texas.

Previous honorees were Sara Hickman (2010); Willie Nelson (2009); Shelley King (2008); Dale Watson (2007); Billy Joe Shaver (2006), Johnny Gimble (2005); Ray Benson (2004); and classical pianist James Dick (2003).

The Texas Commission on the Arts announced the awards Monday. The State Legislature makes the appointments, which carry no official duties or additional compensation, in two-year bunches.

Among the others honored this year were Conroe's David M. Parsons (Poet Laureate, 2011) and, interestingly, San Antonio's Bill FitzGibbons (State Three-Dimensional Artist, 2012).

""To say we're proud to be named Texas State Musician for 2012 would be a complete understatement," said Gibbons, who like Rocks Off is fond of using the royal "we," in a statement released Tuesday by ZZ Top's longtime publicist Bob Merlis.

"To be so honored along with our good friend Lyle Lovett makes this recognition that much sweeter, and a tip of the hat to 2012 Texas State Three-Dimensional Artist Bill FitzGibbons. We promise to forward all mail sent our way that might be intended for him."

Lovett offered no similar comment through his publicists (whoever they are), but he has been on record as supporting Texan/non-Texan relations since his 1996 hit, "(That's Right) You're Not From Texas." But only up to a point.

"You can have my girl," he sang that same year. "But don't touch my hat."


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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray