Red Dirt Bands | List of Best

Texas Country music artists list

The Best Texas Country/Red Dirt Songs of the Past 15 YearsAs we look upon the massive Texas country machine that's been chugging along over the past several years, it's easy to see 1997 as a pivotal one. In college towns and major metropolises alike, the masses were demanding more music from people that shared their pride, enthusiasm and thirst for something different. Pat Green's fraternity favorite, George's Bar, was released, signaling his arrival, as was Jack Ingram's Livin' or Dyin' and Robert Earl Keen's sorely under-appreciated, sound-shifting Picnic.

1998 witnessed releases that made everyone take notice of what was going on south of Dollywood: Charlie Robison's Life of the Party, Cross Canadian Ragweed's Carney, Reckless Kelly's Milican and the debut release from arguably the first geographical interloper the fledgling scene would fully embrace, Kentuckian Chris Knight.

Since the end of the '90s, many studs from the Red River region have shot to stardom and major-label deals. Jack Ingram and Pat Green both experienced a healthy dose of mainstream success and chart ascension, while the Randy Rogers Band scored a major-label deal while getting to make the music they've wanted, even if the hits haven't been plentiful. Sunny Sweeney found success and Texas-claimed former rodeo cowboy Ryan Bingham won an Oscar. Denton's Eli Young Band has become an A-list group of stars in the world of modern country, thanks to their smash single, "Crazy Girl."

Unlike the late '90s, it is now just fine to get along with the folks on Music Row, even if many around these parts feel as though the cross-pollination of Nashville cheese and Texas grit creates something banal and formulaic.

We decided to gather some local and not-so-local folks to find out what they think are the best 15 songs of the past 15 years when it comes to this most indefinable genre. Some great songs from both rookie and veteran artists barely missed the cut. The list could have been 30 songs and some signature tunes would've still been left off. What we have below are the 15 songs that just about all of the panelists agreed upon, emphasis on "just about all of the panelists."

Matt Hillyer: Lead singer of multi-Dallas Observer Music Award-winning band Eleven Hundred Springs.

Juli Thanki: Editor-in-chief of Engine 145.com and the 2011 International Bluegrass Association's Print Media Personality of the Year.

Pat Green: A key yet polarizing figure in the surge of Texas country. His hits include "Wave on Wave, " "Carry On" and "Baby Doll."

Brad Beheler: Writes and helps run Galleywinter.com, perhaps the best place to go for anything relating to Texas/Red Dirt music.

Ronnie Fauss: Dallas-based folk singer/songwriter who just recorded his debut album for New West Records, due soon.

Cody Canada : Former lead singer for seminal Red Dirt act Cross Canadian Ragweed and now the primary vocalist for the Departed.

Helen Eaton: Former DOMA-winning Americana/country/folk talent buyer at the Granada Theater, who is now helping run the show at Billy Bob's Texas, where she lined up special acts for this year's Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic.

Drew Kennedy: New Braunfels-based troubadour who's written and performed with many of the state's greats. He just returned from a triumphant set at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass festival.

Merrol Ray: North Texas-based country rocker who won the Shiner Rising Star award when he fronted his old band, Miles From Nowhere.

Katie Key: Editor-in-chief of Best in Texas magazine, which publishes the weekly Texas Music Chart, the barometer for which regional artists are hot.

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