The year of 2016 is over and for music and entertainment fans, it’s been a tough one as we’ve lost a lot of great entertainers. Let’s not try to think about it too much but instead put on our Texas music blinders for just a moment and look at all the great new music we were blessed with in 2016. We saw a lot of new talent and careers birthed this year, so many I had trouble keeping up with them all (especially you Lubbock people). It’s a good problem to have, so in no particular order here are my favorites from the year.
Red Shahan – Men and Coyotes
My introduction to Red Shahan was one of the coolest surprises of my year and if you missed the story you should check it out. Men and Coyotes impressed a lot of people, including Randy Rogers, who signed Shahan to his new management company, Big Blind Entertainment. Red’s voice coupled with the gritty mix of outlaw and blues make the record a must listen. The title track, “303” and “Black Veins Pt. 1” are my personal favorites.
Flatland Cavalry – Humble Folks
Of all the Texas acts out there, I can’t think of another group who had a bigger breakout year than Flatland Cavalry. They entered 2016 as a little Lubbock secret and then shot out of a cannon and into the forefront of up and comers that everyone had to see. Humble Folks will give you a lot of mileage with fan favorites “One I Want”, “February Snow”, and “Coyote (The Ballad of Roy Johnson)”. I covered their show earlier in the year at Billy Bobs in Fort Worth.
Randy Rogers Band – Nothing Shines Like Neon
These guys keep churning out quality tunes to keep them at the top of the Texas music scene. There is never a shortage of RRB coverage on this site and I’ve covered Nothing Shines Like Neon in depth and went to two of their shows this year. “Neon Blues”, “Meet Me Tonight”, and their Texas tribute “San Antone” are stand outs that regularly make it into their set list. I’m looking forward to 2017 as these guys are heading back to the studio and we could see a new Randy Rogers Band record towards the end of the year.
Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
This one is outside of the Texas bubble but with Sturgill’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth being nominated for the ultimate Grammy, Album of the Year, it rightfully belongs in the Best of 2016. Some folks think the album is the chic pick to win or that this is the music industry’s way of throwing a bone to the grass roots revolt against cookie cutter pop and country. I don’t know, if A Sailor’s Guide ends up winning, it’s well deserved. If anything, we get the “Who the F**k is Sturgill Simpson?” t-shirt out of it, so there’s that.
William Clark Green – Live At Gruene Hall
The best of William Clark Green recorded live at the most iconic dancehall in Texas. It’s that simple, that good and as a bonus you get some Jack Ingram thrown in at the end.
Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen – Watch This
Volume 2 of “Hold My Beer and Watch This” captures the magic of the live show that this dynamic duo has been trotting out for years. You get the favorites in all their acoustic greatness plus an education on the importance of Whataburger ketchup. Read my thoughts on the album here.
Ryan Beaver – Rx
Confession: I haven’t spent as much time with this album as it deserves but every time I listen to Rx I can’t help but appreciate the beauty of the writing and the polish of the production. Ryan Beaver has a heavy hitter’s voice that’s packed with emotion; but it’s natural, not contrived like he’s trying too hard. It’s just there and his single “Dark” is great example.
Artists and other ramblings I have to mention…
- Jack Ingram’s “Midnight Motel” gives as a good look at what’s been stewing inside him for the last seven years. The spotlight clearly points to his songwriting chops on this one and I’ve summarized my thoughts here.
- Although “Geronimo” was released in 2015, I was introduced to Shane Smith and the Saints this year. Got to see them live…the writing, the harmonies, Shane’s pidgeon-toed foot anchoring him while bouncing to the beat… it’s all good.
- Charlie Stout, through his record “Dust and Wind” and his photography, showed us just how inspirational West Texas can be.
- Shinyribs, brilliant and funky, I’m looking forward to their new album in 2017.
- Kaitlin Butts, Kaitlin Butts, Kaitlin Butts – she can sing… AND drink while climbing windmills.
- Rich O’Toole’s summer single, “American Kid” found it’s way onto my 4th of July playlist alongside his idols John Mellancamp and Bruce Springsteen. A fun song to check out.
Thanks for coming here throughout the year and interacting with me online. It’s nice to know when people read this stuff and always drop me a line if you have feedback or just want to talk music. I’m still thinking about next steps for the blog in 2017 but I have a few posts brewing and hope to interview several of our favorite artists.