On the Road

Top 10 Bands for Oogles, Gutterpunks and "Travel Kids"

My mother-in-law was a Depression-era kid, and she shared stories of the rail-riders who would pass through her small Louisiana hometown looking for work. They carried all they owned from place to place, stopping here and there to do odd jobs for dinner and a place to sleep. Those travelers became known as hobos, whose lifestyle was romanticized in songs of the period like "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"

History repeats itself, Meemaw often said, and she may have had a point. Our recent economic woes and general unrest have people once again exploring the country by railways and highways. The 2013 model of the American hobo goes by different names -- traveling kid, gutterpunk, oogle -- and isn't necessarily looking for work. Some are looking to escape the conformity or comfort of the suburbs; others are on one long city-to-city party.

Like their tramp forefathers, these new vagabonds turn to music to celebrate their way of life. Rocks Off asked a couple of experts to help put together a list of musical acts these modern-day hobos enjoy.

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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.