From groundbreaking sounds in hip-hop to the impact of COVID on our listening and concertgoing habits, the return of Western swing and a new spotlight on the Texan who saved the Fab Four, 2021 was quite a year for Texas Music. Read and listen to all of the stories featured in today’s show in the links below.
Texas music year in review
No matter what your politics are, if you call Texas home, that means music likely plays an outsize role in any assessment of the year that was. Just think of the many Texans moved by the recent passing of Vicente Fernández and Nanci Griffith, the explosion of Houston trio Khruangbin, the release of Tex-centric albums like the “Marfa Tapes” with Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall and Jack Ingram returning to their roots, the continued rise of San Benito’s Charley Crockett, Mickey Guyton’s multiple Grammy nominations for her album “Remember Her Name,” and the deaths of ex-Monkey Michael Nesmith and Dusty Hill – one-third of the immortal ZZ Top.
If Texas is a cultural crossroads – and it is – it has never sounded more like it than in 2021, as musicians and fans alike peeked out from under quarantine, first testing the waters, then making a full embrace of live music once more. For more on Texas Music in 2021, Texas Standard spoke to Aaron “Fresh” Knight, host at public radio music station KUTX, and co-host of “The Breaks,” a podcast and hip-hop show that airs Saturday nights in the Texas Capital City. Listen to the full interview with Knight in the audio player above.
“I don’t sit around and hope, and pine and wish for things because I think I would be frustrated and bitter if I did. But the gifts keep coming; things happen,” says the musician.
“He knew lots of musicians, like, from, Brian May of Queen relied on him, members of Van Halen, Quiet Riot, George Strait,” says a Wittliff Collections curator about beloved San Antonio guitar repairman Mike Acosta.
Ray Benson, the Grammy-winning group’s frontman, says the Lone Star State has always embraced him even though his roots are not in Texas.
The keyboardist featured in the Disney+ docuseries was born in Houston. He went on to make music history in other ways.