The State that gave the world Janis Joplin, Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison and ZZ Top already has enough music tradition to fill an encyclopaedia, but it doesn’t stop there – not by any stretch. Let alone all the artists, Texas is the birthplace and sanctuary of whole genres of music, including (amongst others) Honky Tonk, Tejano, and arguably the most famous genre of all, Rock and Roll. And as with much else with Texas, tastes are split on regional grounds, with all the big towns and cities having their unique twist and musical tastes. Not wanting to take you headfirst into the countless genres and artists, check out this quick guide to our favorite styles.
Texas country and honky tonk
A sub-genre of American Country music, the outlaw Cowboy tunes mix with the smooth tones of Folk, with the guitar providing the main ingredient to Texas Country. Piano, fiddles and harmonicas also give the music its upbeat tonality, not to mention the vocals, with the words leading the song through the vagaries of outlaw life. Live performances are a real treat, and really easy to find in Texas. Pull on your Texan wares (Cowboy hats and boots at the very least), and join in an atmosphere at one of specialist Honky Tonk bars for an experience that is wholly and uniquely Texan.
Rock and roll
In the 1950s, one of the most exciting singers the world has ever seen emerged from Lubbock in Texas’s North West – Buddy Holly. One of the pioneers of Rock and Roll, his life was tragically cut short when the plane he was traveling in with Richie Valens and J.P. Richardson crashed near Mason City, Iowa. A musical tragedy, the day is referred to in popular culture as ‘the day the music died’ but this monumental loss certainly wasn’t the end of Texan Rock and Roll. Soon to come were musical luminaries like Roy Orbison (from Vernon) and Janis Joplin (from Port Arthur) to make sure the music kept rocking and rolling out of Texas. Still to this day, Texas pumps out an endless procession of Rock, Grunge and Punk Rock bands to keep up Texas’s rich rocking tradition. Head to Austin, the live music capital of the world, and drop in at a bar on Red River Street or East 6th for some live Indie Rock. In fact, Austin is so rich with live music, you’ll be able to find a band to suit your tastes, from Hip Hop and Rap to Jazz and Rock, so when in Austin make sure to step to a little musical bar hop tour.
When the Polka and Waltz combined with Mexican-influenced rhythms, Tejano was born. We love the street performances to be found in San Antonio, where you’ll find a man and his accordion filling the streets with truly Texan sounds. Incorporating influences from Rock and Country music too, have meant that Tejano has always evolved to reflect the contemporary sounds of Texas, despite its traditional roots.