Artist Statement

Gary Goldberg

The idea for this exhibition began about seven years ago. I went to an event in Archer City, Texas, called “The Late Week Lazy Boy Supper Club,” a venue where Texas singer-songwriters present their music. I became a regular, drawn into the music, the lyrics, and the personalities of these “homegrown” musicians. About four years ago, it dawned on me that these musicians, whose work is not well known nationally, have stories to tell that are worth documenting. Their styles reminded me of music I had heard as a teenager growing up in Los Angeles in the 1960s, when my brother Larry would play Bob Dylan, the Byrds, Leonard Cohen and Judy Collins. These musicians were also songwriters and their messages made a lasting impression on me. I decided to create a body of work that would leave its own impression on the music culture.

In this exhibition, I tried to document the singer-songwriter movement of “Americana Music” here in Texas. I began photographing those who had performed in Archer City, traveling all over the state to track them down. I also contacted individuals in the music business for advice on whom to include and settled on a list of 100 artists whose stories I wanted to record in pictures. There are many other fantastic musicians whom I was unable to photograph and some I’m sure I overlooked, but in the end I narrowed my photographs down to the fifty images that you see here today.

I chose to make informal outdoor portraits of these artists. I wanted the viewer to be able to see the faces of these individuals clearly and to come to know something about these people by examining my photographs. I found compelling backgrounds with rich textures and complex structures that add depth and context to the direct frontal portraits. I used a Nikon D100 digital camera to capture these images, which were then printed on an archival pigmented inkjet printer. One thing I learned in this process is that musicians are a lot like vampires, “They only come out at night.” Thus, it proved challenging to photograph them in the daylight.

I would like to thank Midwestern State University for granting me a developmental leave to complete this exhibition. I traveled all over Texas and shot more than 10,000 images working on this project. I am grateful to the musicians for their time and patience in contributing to this endeavor. I would like to thank the six institutions that are sponsoring this traveling exhibition: Ellen Noel Museum in Odessa, The Grace Museum in Abilene, The Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, the Irving Art Center, in Irving, Austin College in Sherman, and the Midwestern State University Art Gallery in Wichita Falls. I also would like to thank my wife Sandy and daughter Willa for their support and understanding of this project. I hope that the images of these musicians speak to you as their music speaks to me. I like music, I like Texas music, and I hope this exhibition moves you to explore Texas’ unique brand of “Americana“ music.

Texas Singer-Songwriters

An Ameicana Portrait

Photographs by Gary Goldberg

Introduction by Craig D. Hillis

Interview by Robert Hirsch

Biographies by Shelby Morrison

Schedule for Touring Exhibition

Midwestern State University

University Art Gallery

3410 Taft Boulevard, Wichita Falls, Texas

March 20 – April 21, 2006

Ellen Noel Art Museum

4909 East University, Odessa, Texas

August 31 – October 30, 2006

The Grace Museum

102 Cypress Street, Abilene, Texas

November 4, 2006 – February 17, 2007

Buddy Holly Center

1801 Avenue G, Lubbock, Texas

August 14 – September 29, 2007

Irving Art Center

3333 North MacArthur Boulevard, Suite 300, Irving, Texas

October 6 – November 4, 2007

Austin College

900 North Grand Avenue, Sherman, Texas

February – March 2008


I appreciate the support Midwestern State University has given to me for this project. In particular, I would like to thank Dr. Jesse Rogers, President; Dr. Friederike Wiedemann, Provost; Dr. Ronald Fischli, Dean of Fine Arts; Dr. Nancy Steele-Hamme, Art Department Chair; Catherine Prose, Gallery Director; Keith Lamb, Associate Vice President, and my colleagues, Randy Pruitt, Sue Henson, David Gillispie, and Stephanie Grey Baswell. I would especially like to acknowledge the writing contributions of Craig D. Hillis, Shelby Morrison and Robert Hirsch without whose help this catalog would be incomplete. From the “Late Week Lazy Boy Club,” I would like to thank Dave Diamond, Alan Sanderson, Tesha Thomas, Liz Foster, Abby Abernathy and John Muzyka. For the support of this catalog and exhibition, I would like to thank Charles Gallagher, Casey J. Monahan, David Card, Dennis & Anne Dohrer, Dr. Paul S. Bonner, Lanham Lyne, Charlie Rouzer, John Hirschi, Dr. Brian Hull, Steve Bedunah, Wells Fargo Bank and Texas Roadhouse. From the sponsoring exhibition venues, I would like to thank Dawn Jose, Judith Godfrey, Karen Hembree, Timothy Tracz, Joe Hicks and Marci J. Inman.

For information about this exhibition or individual photographs please contact Gary Goldberg at

(940) 397-4382 or


by Craig D. Hillis

Songs are important. Although they mean different things to different people and play different roles in different societies, they are an essential component of civilization. Songs are important because they generate practical results. They are cultural tools and like all tools, they do things. Songs operate on a personal level: They can recharge our emotional batteries or provide a convenient conduit for emotional release. They serve as reference points in our lifeline of memories or as signifiers in our relationships with our friends, loved ones, associates, or adversaries. They can calm us down or fire us up. Songs also operate on a larger social scale: Long before there were standardized writing methodologies, songs were the repositories for our histories and cultural mores as well as the vehicle that passed them on from one generation to the next. As the barriers of time and distance recede in our modern world, the power and pragmatic value of the song continually expands. Songs can mobilize a mass social movement, pacify a troubled population, or define a national identity. Despite their vast cultural utility, songs don’t discriminate or play favorites. They operate equally at all levels of society, from urban alleys and country roads to the superhighways of commerce and the gilded halls of power. Stated simply, songs matter. This, of course, is why God created songwriters, and for well over a hundred years, She has generously endowed the Lone Star State with an exceptionally talented collection of these unique artists.

For the last four years, Professor Gary Goldberg has been on a photographic pilgrimage to capture the images and the essences of contemporary Texas songwriters for the exhibit, Texas Singer-Songwriters, An Americana Portrait. The exhibit features a number of familiar faces, a number of “familiar faces-to-be,” and brings to life the keen eye and compositional skills of the image-maker. Goldberg is not only an exceptional photographer; he is a dedicated teacher of the art form. The exhibit is enriched by Shelby Morrison, a writer and current curatorial assistant at the Rock ’n Roll Hall of Fame who brings insightful biographical interpretations of Goldberg’s subjects. Before moving on to the photographs and narratives, I’d like to highlight several songwriters whose work exemplifies the power and significance of the song in our personal lives and in the larger scope of American culture.

It’s difficult to put complicated feelings into words. It might be even more difficult to put simple feelings into words. How does one describe “happy” or “sad”? It’s also difficult to make our ideas clear and communicate them to others. Indeed, some of the most ethereal and intricate ideas – the notion of gravity or the essence of time and space, for example – are communicated through mathematics rather than words. Analyzing and communicating grand concepts that are packed with meaning present the writer with a special challenge. How does one describe in concise terms the significance of “freedom” or “bondage”? Songwriters bring in an additional dimension by blending this literary process with melody and meter to create the popular song. The essence of good songwriting, in this author’s opinion, is assimilating and understanding a feeling or an idea, presenting it in concise, accessible language that evokes a definitive response in the reader, situating it in an appealing harmonic package that excites the listener’s internal musical memory, and wrapping it up with an attractive bow that’s easy to untie. What follows are some brief examples of artists who excel in this creative process, artists whose repertoires stand as testimonials to the pragmatic value of the American song.

Guy Clark’s “Desperados Waiting for a Train” captures the essence of a young man and his mentor, a hero figure who showed him the ropes and led him lovingly into adulthood and its unforgiving realities. This venerable figure was “a drifter and a driller of oil wells; an old-school man of the world,” who “taught me how to drive his car when he’s too drunk to,” yet would always, “wink and give me money for the girls.” Their relationship was “like some old western movie.” And after each verse came the haunting and romantic metaphor . . . They were “desperados waiting for a train.”

Clark goes on to describe the young man’s wonderment as the old man fades into the gray mediocrity of his peers:

One day I looked up and he’s pushin’ eighty.

He’s got brown tobacco stains all down his chin.

To me he’s one of the heroes of this country,

So why’s he all dressed up like them old men?

He’s drinkin’ beer, playin’ Moon and Forty-Two.

The final verse paints the end of their relationship with the inevitable approach of the train; it’s the same train that all of us, sooner or later, are destined to ride.

The day before he died, I went to see him.

I was grown and he was almost gone.

We closed our eyes and dreamed us up a kitchen,

And sang another verse to that old song . . .

Come on Jack, that son-of-a-bitch is comin’.

Like desperados waitin’ for a train . . .

Guy reminds us of our ultimate fragility by framing it in terms of a loving friendship based on trust and respect. He teaches us to honor our companions, embrace each moment, and cherish the time we have left waiting for that special train that’s coming our way.

Songs are often instruments of social criticism. Michael Martin Murphey’s “Geronimo’s Cadillac,” for example, focuses on our country’s sad history of the treatment of Native Americans and a nostalgic desire to travel back in time and honor the great warrior. Murphey addresses the demise of Geronimo and, by extension, countless other Indian tribes in a series of crisp, economical lines, a few of which appear below:

People, people, don’t you know, the Indians ain’t got no place to go.

Jesus told me and I believe it’s true, “The Red Man is in the sunset too.”

They took Geronimo by storm and ripped off the feathers from his uniform.

Took his land and they won’t give it back, and they sent Geronimo a Cadillac.

Murphey then makes his plea in the chorus, “Oh boys, take me back. I want to ride in Geronimo’s Cadillac.” Had Murphey – an intrepid, highly focused social activist with a limitless supply of Eveready Energizers – been able to travel back and take his ride with Geronimo, things might be very different on the 21st-century American Indian reservation.

Social commentary in song also has its lighter side. One night at a song-swapping session in Red River, New Mexico, the pickers ran out of beer. Ray Wylie Hubbard drew the short straw and went out for supplies. It was late, and the only place he could find open to buy beer was a funky little bar run by a well-worn older gal and her “super-sized” son in his mid-thirties. These were tense times. It was the early 1970s, when the hippies and rednecks were at each other’s throats; Muskogee had declared war on San Francisco, and the red, white, and blue of Old Glory challenged the Tie-Dyed T-shirt for cultural superiority. Ray realized that he’d have to march into the den of the lion to score some suds, which he was duty-bound to do, so he put on his ultra-dark John Lennon shades hoping that he might not be noticed. It didn’t work, of course, and after about a half hour of abuse, he emerged with all body parts intact, his sense of humor, a case of cold Pabst, and the classy little gem that he wrote to honor this singular Mother & Son tag-team:

He was born in Oklahoma,

His wife’s name was Betty Jo Thelma Liz.

He’s not responsible for what he’s doin’

’Cause his mother made him what he is.

Well, it’s up against the wall Redneck Mother,

Mother that has raised a son so well.

He’s thirty-four and drinkin’ in a honky tonk,

Kickin’ Hippies’ asses and raisin’ hell.

Long before Jeff Foxworthy began trumpeting his insightful critiques of Redneck consciousness, Ray Wylie Hubbard was in the cultural trenches, propounding the virtues of the “peace, love, and brown rice message” and defending the rights of mothers to have stupid sons.

Songwriters have been exploring ethnic borderlands for decades. Our country’s popular music is a product of these unique gray areas where seemingly disparate influences come together to create musical hybrids. The Rio Grande borderland is one of the most prolific cultural workshops in America. Tish Hinojosa is one of its most visible contemporary cultural representatives. Born in San Antonio to a large family of Mexican immigrants, she is bilingual, bicultural and has developed a unique talent to explore, analyze, and communicate the significance of life on both sides of the Rio Grande. Her grasp of the mingling of cultures lies at the heart of her twenty-five year songwriting career. Her work illustrates that embracing two cultures can be far more rewarding than maintaining a myopic view of only one. Tish’s song, “By the Rio Grande,” touches on the ever-changing nature of cultural borderlands.

Our forefathers crossed the muddy line

Pilgrims passing leaving tracks in time

One more takes a stand

By the water, by the land

Shifting like the sand by the Rio Grande

In the 20th century, songs like Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” (1940) and Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” (1964) served as anthems for large social movements and defined the common theme of their respective generations. In the 21st century, James McMurtry carries on this tradition with a stunning interpretation of contemporary American culture in “We Can’t Make It Here.” In this seven-minute song, McMurtry uses blue-collar sensibility and common language to present a progressive “State of the Union” message as America slides into the new millennium.

In the opening verses he touches on the plight of war veterans overlooked by our government, the attrition of our manufacturing base, the outsourcing of American jobs, and the subsequent death of our once-vibrant downtown districts:

Empty storefronts around the square

There’s a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere

You don’t come down here unless you’re looking to score

We can’t make it here anymore.

McMurtry attributes the demise of America’s “Main Street” economy to the rise of the ubiquitous box store, the new workplace for minimum-wage Americans, and the showroom for foreign products:

Now I’m stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store

Just like the ones we made before

’Cept this one came from Singapore

I guess we can’t make it here anymore.

Ultimately, McMurtry focuses on our nation’s leaders and argues that they are hopelessly out of touch with the common American ethos and are subsequently the architects of our desolate social landscape:

I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams

All lily white and squeaky clean

They’ve never known want, they’ll never know need

Their shit don’t stink and their kids don’t bleed

Their kids won’t bleed in their damn little war

And we can’t make it here anymore.

This song is every bit as powerful as its predecessors. Released recently in 2005, its ultimate social utility is yet to be determined. Predictably, it enjoys airplay primarily on “secondary” networks and Americana stations. How it fares in the years to come will be a valuable social indicator and an active example of the pragmatic value of songs in 21st-century America.

These five songwriters – Clark, Murphey, Hubbard, Hinojosa, and McMurtry – present their special take on the issues that reverberate in their creative consciousness. They have embraced a feeling or an idea, fashioned it into a pragmatic instrument, and passed it on for people everywhere to use in creating their own results. They are five of the fifty songwriters Goldberg has captured in this exceptional exhibit, Texas Singer-Songwriters, An Americana Portrait.

Enjoy the images, enjoy the narratives, and feel free to take along and use as many feelings and ideas as you like.

Craig D. Hillis

Austin, Texas

March 2006

Gary Goldberg & The Texas Singer-Songwriters Project: An Interview by Robert Hirsch

© Robert Hirsch 2006

Robert Hirsch: Where did you grow up?

Gary Goldberg: I grew up mainly in the Los Angeles area.

RH: How did that affect you?

GG: Los Angeles is a movie town. Several movie stars lived in my neighborhood.

RH: What were some of your early impressions about the movies and the people?

GG: Growing up in Los Angeles I had a feeling the world wasn’t true, which pleased me. Movie-making was the major industry in Los Angeles. It seemed like almost every day you would see a movie being made. Across the street from my house lived Chuck Connors’ five boys. Connors was the star of the TV series The Rifleman.

RH: How does LA affect you now when you visit?

GG: Recently we were in California and hooked up with an old friend, James Chressanthis, who is the director of photography for the television show Ghost Whispers. We went onto the set for a day and observed how the show is made. My daughter Willa got to be an extra in the episode they were making. She appears in a group scene of kids coming out of a school. I remember helping Jim make a movie when we were undergraduate students at Arizona State University. Today he was doing the same thing, shooting a dream sequence, but instead of using a 16-mm camera he was working with a state-of-the-art Panavision camera with a crew of 120 to back him up.

RH: How did you get started in photography?

GG: When I was twelve years old, my father who had some photography experience, helped me set up a bathroom darkroom. Later, we built a permanent darkroom with running water and vent. My father’s act of saying: “Yes” and encouraging my interest shaped my entire life. This act taught me to say, “yes” whenever possible and help when I can.

RH: Where did you get your BFA?

GG: I received my BFA in photography at Arizona State University in 1975, studying with Jack Stuler, Eric Kronengold and Bill Jay. ASU had a visiting artist program that allowed me to meet and attend lectures by Adolf Gotleb, Buckminster Fuller, Ed Ruscha, Van Deren Coke, Beaumont Newhall, Fredrick Sommer and Bruce Davidson.

RH: How did this influence your development as a photographer?

GG: It was a great education to listen to the lectures and stories of these extraordinary, creative individuals. I remember being in Beaumont Newhall’s house and listening to him tell stories about meeting Alfred Stieglitz. I thought: “Here I am hearing about Stieglitz from a man who actually knew and worked with Stieglitz.” This made me realize that art history was real, alive and tangible.

RH: Who else affected you?

GG: At ASU I got an award in a juried student art exhibition from Ed Ruscha, whose work I admired. This gave me positive feedback at a critical time in my development as an artist. Sometimes a positive nod at a critical moment can have a huge effect on your life and I have tried to remember this as a teacher.

RH: Tell me about the Family of Women project.

GG: I submitted work for a book about women and one photograph was published in the Family of Women (1979). This publication was a turning point for my career. I see it as a seminal photograph for myself and it relates very directly to this current body of work on Texas Singer-Songwriters. The published work was of a woman named Tana who lived in a small house behind the one I rented. She was very beautiful with steel gray eyes. I photographed her in my backyard with a piece of old, textured linoleum, which I found in the ghost town of Jerome, Arizona. A photograph of a young girl made by Fredrick Sommer titled Livia (1948) influenced the direct and frontal composition of this image. This straightforward frontal approach with a highly textured background became a dominant feature that appeared throughout my later works.

RH: Where did you get your MFA?

GG: I received my MFA from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in 1979.

RH: How did the move from the West to the Midwest affect you?

GG: Lincoln, Nebraska was the polar opposite from my experience growing up in LA and living in Arizona. In Lincoln I was exposed to traditional Midwest values – white clapboard houses and kids growing up in the same houses in which their parents had been born. It affected my work and I made numerous pictures of white clapboard houses.

RH: Who and what influenced you during this period?

GG: Jim Alinder was the photography professor when I first came to Nebraska. He was involved with The Society for Photographic Education as the editor of the SPE journal Exposure. His position fostered visits by many visiting artists such as Frank Golhke and Steven Shore. Oddly enough I ended up accepting a job and moving to Golhke’s hometown of Wichita Falls, Texas in 1983. I was deeply attracted to the straightforward approach of Golhke’s Grain Elevators and re-photographic projects. Alinder also had a wide range of contemporary photographs for us to view. He left the university to head up The Friends of Photography in Carmel, California. I continued to visit him in California and got to meet Ansel Adams several times. I went to a few New Year’s Day parties at Adams’ house. He would greet you at the door and say: “Hi, my name is Ansel Adams, come on in.” He showed us his darkroom, and prints and even played the piano. It was very impressive as a young photographer to go to one of the “masters” of photography’s home and have him discuss his work. Dave Read was another professor at The University of Nebraska who had a positive influence on my work.

RH: What was your internship like at University of Nebraska’s Sheldon Museum?

GG: My internship at the Sheldon Museum was a wonderful experience. I helped catalogue the museum’s photography collection and organize a symposium celebrating this event in 1978. We had one-person exhibitions by Arthur Rothstein, Barbara Morgan, Henry Holems Smith, Lewis Baltz, Betty Hahn and Robert Heineken. Each gave an artist talk at the celebration. Heineken had the most influence on me. After helping him with his show, he always had a kind word for me every time we met. He treated me like a colleague, as opposed to a kid, and even gave me some of his work.

RH: How did documentary filmmaker Emile De Antonio affect your picture making?

GG: Emile De Antonio came to the University of Nebraska to show his films and his Painters Painting: The New York Art Scene 1940-1970 (1972) stuck in my head. The opening scene of this movie is a very abstract, non-representational image. As it progresses the camera pulls back and you realize that you are looking at a wall in New York City. It is a documentary film image that echoes a Robert Motherwell painting. Viewing this sequence produced a personal epiphany: photographs could be documentary in nature yet retain strong formal elements and even possess abstract qualities. I have tried to incorporate this way of working into my own imagemaking.

RH: What did you do after graduate school?

GG: After graduate school I went to work for Mid-America Arts Alliance in Kansas City (1979-1980), putting together art exhibitions and traveling them around the United States. During this time the Santa Fe Museum was undergoing a major renovation and we packed up their best artwork and brought it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It was a wonderful experience working around the Georgia O’Keeffe and Robert Henri paintings and delivering these works to the MET. Next, I accepted a position as the preparator for the museum at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. During this period (1980-1983) I taught a photography class in the OU Fine Arts Department and came to realize I was getting more enjoyment and satisfaction from this experience and so I decided to look for a teaching position in photography.

RH: How did you come to Texas?

GG: In 1983 I was hired as professor of art at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. I have been here for twenty-three years, working my way up the ranks and I have been a full professor for twelve years. MSU has 6,500 students in a town of 100,000 people. We have a very strong art department that has been very supportive of my career. Wichita Falls is my home that I share with my wife Sandy Wassenmiller (who is also a photographer) and daughter Willa.

RH: What attracts you to documentary photography?

GG: People have such interesting lives and I am attracted to them. I am happy making strong photographs that give more visibility to their lives and work. For instance, country music fans are familiar with the song “Wide Open Spaces,” which was recorded by The Dixie Chicks and has sold more copies than any song in the history of country music. Yet, very few country music people know about Susan Gibson who wrote the song. One of my project goals is to call attention to such artists.

RH: What about Archer City, Texas and its role in your Texas songwriters project?

GG: Archer City is a tiny town 19 miles from where I live. It has achieved a certain level of notoriety as the part-time home of writer Larry McMurtry and his All Booked Up, one of the largest antiquarian bookstores in the U.S. For the past eight years I have been going to Archer City once a month to the “Late Week Lazy Boy Supper Club” to hear music by Texas singer-songwriters. The money raised from these events has helped to rebuild the Royal Theater, AKA “The Last Picture Show” because it is where Peter Bogdanovich made that quintessential film (1971) about life and the loss of innocence in a small west Texas town set in the early 1950s. Hearing the music, month after month, it dawned on me what an intriguing group of artists were coming to this venue, so I decided to document the Texas music scene of Americana music.

RH: What is “Americana” music and who are some of its key musicians?

GG: Americana music has strong roots in the American music traditions of Blues, Bluegrass, Country, Jazz, Gospel and Rock & Roll. Bob Dylan, the Byrds, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash and John Prine are some of the best-known musicians who are considered part of this Americana genre.

RH: When did you begin the project and how did you go about it technically?

GG: I started this project in 2002 and it is my first start-to-finish digital project. All the photographs for this exhibition were made with a Nikon D100 digital camera. All prints were done on an Epson inkjet printer.

RH: What was it like photographing Kinky Friedman?

GG: One of the unforeseen pleasures has been meeting people such as Kinky Friedman. Kinky is a very engaging man, known for his music and writing. In the 1970s he had a band, Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, which featured songs such as “They don’t make Jews like Jesus anymore.” Kinky talks in sound bites and is running for governor of Texas.

RH: What about Junior Brown?

GG: Junior Brown plays the guitar like no one else on earth. It is amazing to watch him play his guit-steel, which has two necks. One is for steel guitar and one is electric. He has a very low, mellow, old-timey voice and writes fantastic songs with a sardonic edge such as “My Wife Thinks You’re Dead.”

RH: What’s been the most personally rewarding aspect of this project?

GG: These photographs provide a series of snapshots of a time and place in the history of Texas Americana Music. I want others to know about these songwriters and I hope these portraits lend visibility to artists whose work we know but whose faces have been a mystery. It is my desire for the project to excite people about the music and the work of these artists. It is through the act of listening to their music that one experiences what the work is ultimately all about.

Photograph by Sandy Wassenmiller

Photograph by Sandy Wassenmiller

Photograph by Sandy Wassenmiller

Photograph by Sandy Wassenmiller

Terry Allen, singer-songwriter, visual artist and multimedia performer, hails from the flatlands of West Texas along with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock, all whom he has collaborated with. The album, Lubbock (On Everything), released in 1979, showcases Allen’s creative genius. Although his musical work is not considered the country mainstream, he is perhaps one of the most progressive Americana songwriters, digging deep into everyday concerns, creating verbally sonic portraits of everyday people. With a brave, often humorous and liberal perspective, Allen’s tunes are rooted in regional country and folk traditions, with a hint of thumping rock and roll. Eclectic and complex, Allen has performed with and written songs for a diverse variety of fellow artists, including Bobby Bare, Robert Earl Keen and contributing songs to the soundtrack of David Byrne’s film, True Stories. Music is only one of Allen’s pursuits – he is also a recognized visual artist having been awarded three NEA grants and a Guggenheim fellowship. His other talents include working in the mediums of painting, sculpture, film, video, theater and poetry.

Tommy Allsup, legendary musician and producer, began his career in 1949 as a guitarist with the Oklahoma Swingbillies. With his style deeply rooted in Western Swing, in 1953 he joined the Johnnie Lee Wills Band, and went on to form his own band, The Southernaires. His path took an unexpected turn in 1958 when he met Buddy Holly at the Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, New Mexico. He toured with Buddy on the fateful Winter Dance Party. During this tour, Buddy was killed in a plane crash along with the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, whom Allsup gave up his seat for on February 3, 1959. After Holly’s death, Allsup became the A & R Director for Liberty Records and began producing Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. He worked with Wills up until his last album, For the Last Time Around, in 1973. While at Liberty, Allsup produced a myriad of artists spanning the rock and country circuit, including Willie Nelson, Bobby Vee and Tex Williams, just a few names on a long list. Allsup earned a Grammy award in 2000 for Best Country Instrumental Performance for Bob’s Breakdowns. Allsup has played guitar, bass or produced artists in close to nine thousand recording sessions.

Tommy Alverson has long been a force in the Texas music scene. With a clear-cut Honky Tonk sound and sensibility, Alverson’s songs are well respected, having been recorded by many other artists. Alverson received his first guitar at the age of 8 and has been entertaining crowds since junior high, seasoning him for sharing the stage with legends such as Willie Nelson and Conway Twitty. His discography is vast, including: Texasongs, a compilation of his first two releases From The Heart Of Hill County and Always In My Heart, Live at Ozona and Me On The Jukebox, co-produced by Alverson and Lloyd Maines. His latest album, Heroes and Friends, features guest artists Leon Rausch, Rusty Weir and others. In addition to his musical talents, Alverson produces the Texas Music Family Gathering, a music festival now in its ninth year. The event, hosted annually at the Smooth Water Ranch in Hico, Texas, brings together veteran and new talent. The lineup consistently appeals to a diverse audience and was voted Best Outdoor Event for 1999 by “Met” magazine. Alverson has been featured in commercials for companies like Dairy Queen and Miller Lite and was voted the Terry Award’s Entertainer of The Year in 2000.

Vince Bell has written songs that have been recorded by talents such as Little Feat and Nanci Griffith, had a ballet called, “Bermuda Triangle,” fashioned around his work and has authored his autobiography, “One Man’s Music.” However, his journey to all of this success has been painful and difficult. In the seventies, Bell was an active part of the music business, sharing the stage with artists such as Townes Van Zandt while developing his style made up of a little country, a bit of folk, some rock, the blues and jazz. In 1982, a drunken driver struck Bell, in his 1964 Ford Fairlane, as he was leaving the studio where he had been recording with Stevie Ray Vaughan. Severe injuries devastated Bell, who was inadvertently reported dead in the local newspaper. Emerging from a coma a month after the accident, Bell embarked on a journey to reclaim his life and eventually his career. With the aid of a star-studded list of friends, including John Cale and Mickey Raphael, Bell released Phoenix in 1994, underlining his comeback efforts. In 1999, Texas Plates was issued, followed with his latest album in 2001, Live In Texas.

Junior Brown’s first taste of music was learning to play the piano from his father and exposure to country music on TV and the radio. In his teens, he became a professional musician in the late Sixties, developing his guitar playing skills throughout the Seventies, eventually becoming an instructor at the Hank Thompson School of Country Music. While there, he learned the steel guitar from legend Leon McAuliffe, prompting him to create an instrument – a fusion of a six-string guitar with its steel counterpart. In 1985, the “guit-steel” was born. Ten years later the instrument was perfected and Brown’s cherry axe, “Big Red,” became his trademark. Brown’s rowdy country sound, combined with rock and roll, found a home as the house band at Austin’s Continental Club. In 1993 he released his debut album, 12 Shades of Brown. Showcasing his stunning instrumental work, Guit With It followed a year later, a critical success. The next few years found Brown with several recordings under his belt, honing in on his Western swingy-honky tonky-rockabilly blend. Brown’s fifth album, Mixed Bag was issued in 2001, in 2004, Down Home Chrome and in 2005, a twelve-song collection, Greatest Hits and Live at the Continental Club: The Austin Experience.

Hayes Carll as an original songwriter writes about more than whiskey and outlaws, penetrating the listener with good-timing rock and guitar-pulling country. Carll’s hunger for life and all it has to offer plus the discovery of songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Lyle Lovett led him to pick up and learn the guitar as a teenager. A lifelong case of wanderlust has led Carll to several destinations including Conway, Arkansas; Croatia, Iowa and Crystal Beach in 2002, where Carll discovered the muse for his first album, Flowers and Liquor on Compadre Records. After the release of this album, Carll landed better gigs and began opening for larger Lone Star legends, requested not only by the strength of his songs but his spirit; connecting and working with the Sisters Morales, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Willis Alan Ramsey. Continually evolving as a writer, Little Rock was released in 2005, recorded in Nashville and produced by R.S. Field. Two of the songs on this album were co-written by Ray Wylie Hubbard, a bluesy track called, “Chickens,” and Guy Clark, an outlaw’s lament, “Rivertown.”

Adam Carroll started as an aspiring songwriter while attending junior college, but it wasn’t until he moved to Tyler, Texas, where he found a circle of singer-songwriters who helped him find his own voice. As a fan of classic rock, he toyed with playing electric guitar, but switching to acoustic changed his life. Another life-altering experience occurred when Carroll heard Terry Allen’s album, Lubbock (On Everything), forever shaping his perspective on the type of songs he would write. Carroll soon began playing gigs, establishing a strong fan base and laying the foundation down for his first album, South of Town, produced by Lloyd Maines and released in 1998. His second effort, also produced by Maines, was Lookin’ Out the Screen Door in 2000, which garnered rave reviews and Live at Cheatham Street followed in 2002. His latest release is 2005’s Far Away Blues, showcasing Carroll’s down-to-earth storytelling and ability to represent the hardships of humanity along with the goodness, creating deeply moving and humorous songs. Far Away Blues, also produced by Maines, includes a song co-written by Ray Wylie Hubbard, “Last Day of Grace,” along with backing vocals from Terri Hendrix. Carroll has been recognized at the Austin Music Awards for Best Singer/Songwriter and Best Folk Artist.

Guy Clark was raised in West Texas where Clark found the character for one of his most revered songs, “Desperados Waiting For a Train,” in a local oil-well driller. The first songs that Clark learned were in Spanish. Later, Clark moved to Houston and began working the folk circuit, where he met Townes Van Zandt and blues singers Mance Lipscomb and Lightnin’ Hopkins. It was here that Clark perfected his sound, blending the blues, folk and country. In the late 1960s, Clark moved to Los Angeles and worked in the Dopera Brothers’ dobro factory. Picking up influences from California, the song “L.A. Freeway,” became a classic. In 1971, he moved to Nashville and eventually picked up a recording contract with RCA, issuing his first album, Old No. 1, in 1975. Clark’s next album was released in 1976, Texas Cookin’, followed by three more albums between 1978 and 1983. Much admired by fellow musicians, a number of his songs have been taken to the top of the charts by other artists such as, “Heartbroke,” by Ricky Scaggs, George Strait and others. Clark continued to work as a writer but did not record again until 1988’s Old Friends, followed by three more releases, including his latest All American Country in 2005.

Slaid Cleaves got his start in the music industry busking in Ireland in 1985. He packed half of his suitcase full of cassettes, everything from Buddy Holly to Hank Williams, from Tom Waits to the Clash. He learned the songs from his cassette tapes, also learning from the Irish street performers, who included folksingers, and started performing there, on the street. He eventually came back to America and started writing songs, leading to him winning the Kerrville Folk Festival’s New Folk competition in 1992. In 1996, his debut release, No Angel Knows came out on Rounder Records and was met with critical acclaim. His release in 2000, Broke Down, attracted a national following, with For The Brave and Free in 2002. His latest release came in 2004, called Wishbones. His style has been described as dark, clever and weighty with a gospel tinge. With this is his clear talent in creating emotionally vivid characters and narratives, a musically versatile storyteller.

Becca Dalrymple had her first public musical performance at the age of 19, accompanied by her grandfather on guitar, in front of family and friends. With a charming shyness, Dalrymple sang country standards, igniting the showbiz flame within her. The next few years, she made a name for herself by hitting the opry and professional rodeo circuit, soon carving a niche within the Texas music singer-songwriter scene. Dalrymple stylistically honed her craft via classics such as Kitty Wells and Hank Thompson. This opry practice and experience eventually earned her the Female Vocalist of the Year award for five consecutive years at the Cross Timbers Country Opry. Other honors include a finalist position for the Female Vocalist and New Look Vocalist at the Wylie Country Opry and a finalist position for Female Vocalist of the Year at the Johnny High Country Music Revue. Dalrymple’s debut album, I Can Do Anything, was released in 1999 and landed her professional appearances with Gary P. Nunn, Tommy Alverson, Charlie Robison and others. Her follow-up project, issued in 2003, One Road, encompasses the depth of Dalrymple’s expression, and shows the promise of a rising career.

Deryl Dodd is a rocking honky-tonker who began performing while in college and rapidly became one of the biggest attractions within the Waco club circuit. In 1991, he moved to Nashville and joined Martina McBride’s band, opening up for Garth Brooks in 1992. In addition to giving vocal back-up support on Martina’s second album, Dodd played in Tracy Lawrence’s band and sang harmonies on Radney Foster recordings, before branching out on his solo career. Dodd issued his debut album, One Ride in Vegas, in 1996 and followed up with a self-titled effort two years later. His next release, Pearl Snaps in 2002, solidified his rockin’ country twang with two singles hitting #1 on the Texas music chart. With this accomplishment, Dodd moved back to Texas and in 2003, released Live at Billy Bob’s, in true Texas fashion. Dodd’s latest release, 2004’s Stronger Proof, features ten originals and a cover of Kenny Rogers’ “Life or Something Like It.” This album represents Dodd’s Americana sound, full of country shuffle with a vintage rock twist.

Joe Ely is a maverick who created his own country rock style outside of the borders of the mainstream. He got his start in the early Seventies with Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, in a group called the Flatlanders. Their sole album wasn’t a success and the group broke up. Ely then formed an eclectic band that drew from Cajun, rock, western and rockabilly, and they were signed to MCA in 1977. His self-titled debut album introduced songs by Ely, Hancock and Gilmore in a road-worn and rocking manner. The next year, Honky Tonk Masquerade became one of Ely’s overall best and most ambitious works. His Live Shots album was recorded during his European tour with the Clash. This album and tour brought Ely to the attention of rock fans and garnered ecstatic reviews. In the albums that followed, Ely created a musical legacy that has influenced and inspired many up-and-coming artists. In 2000, a Best of collection was issued, containing Ely’s duet with Bruce Springsteen, “All Just To Get To You.” As one of the industry’s most respected writers and performers, Ely has been a member of Los Super Seven, has released two albums including Settle For Love in 2004, and has currently reunited with the Flatlanders.

Radney Foster has had his songs covered by a wide array of artists, from Tanya Tucker to Hootie and the Blowfish. He has enjoyed commercial success and is a pioneer in the Americana sphere. In 1985, Foster was working as a staff songwriter when he partnered with Bill Lloyd, a fellow songwriter. The two joined forces, creating the duo Foster and Lloyd. They recorded three albums for RCA, becoming one of the first acts to be played simultaneously on both college and country radio. In 1991, Foster embarked on a solo career and his debut, Del Rio, Texas, 1959 appeared in 1992. Four singles off of the album hit the Top 40, and “Just Call Me Lonesome,” hit the Top Ten while, “Nobody’s Fool” reached number two on the country charts. In Foster’s subsequent releases, he incorporates different genres of music, such as 1999’s See What You Want to See, influenced by pop. 2002’s Another Way to Go, explored classic R & B mixed with country. In 2001, the live acoustic album, Are You Ready For The Big Show, produced the number one song of 2001 on the Texas Music Chart, a duet with Pat Green, “Texas in 1880.” His latest project, This World We Live In, was released this year.

Ruthie Foster draws from the same foundation that American music is built upon – gospel and the blues. Her songs are a cross-section of Americana – introducing folk influences. Blended together with her vocal abilities, she is nothing short of uplifting, joyous and spiritual. Foster grew up surrounded by rich sounds, emanating from greats such as Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mahalia Jackson, directly influencing her songwriting and performance styles – imbibing them with the honest emotion she heard in the records. Foster, in her own right, has been compared to Aretha and Ella. After a move to New York and a contract with Atlantic Records, Foster moved back to Texas and eventually submerged herself into the music arena. Her first album of original songs, Full Circle, was put out on her own label, M.O.D. Records, in 1997. Her second release, Crossover, featured a single of the same name that appeared in a documentary about the Civil Rights Movement, “Where Do We Go From Here?” In 2002, Runaway Soul was released on the Blue Corn Label and featured originals and classic covers. Stages is Foster’s latest, a dynamic, live album aptly named because it features songs from all stages of her career.

Kinky Friedman is known for his outrageous and thought-provoking songwriting. He formed his first band in college, King Arthur & the Carrots, that parodied surf music and recorded one single in 1966. By 1971, his second band, Kinky Friedman & the Texas Jewboys, kept with the satirical song format. Friedman got his big break in 1973 when Commander Cody lobbied Vanguard Music on his behalf, leading to his debut release, Sold American. In the mid-Seventies, Friedman toured with Bob Dylan & the Rolling Thunder Revue and in 1976, made his third album, Lasso From El Paso, which featured Dylan and Eric Clapton. The Texas Jewboys disbanded in 1979 and after one more release, Under the Double Ego in 1983, Kinky turned his focus to writing. He has written for Rolling Stone and Texas Monthly magazines and has authored several mystery novels. In 1999, a tribute to Kinky’s music, Pearls in the Snow: The Songs of Kinky Friedman found Willie Nelson, Tom Waits and Lyle Lovett, covering his songs. In 2005, Mayhem Aforethought appeared and currently, Kinky is running as an independent for Governor of Texas.

Steven Fromholz is a natural storyteller, writing country-folk rock tunes boisterous and tender enough so that everyone from Willie Nelson to John Denver have recorded them. Willie’s recording of Fromholz’s, “I’d Have To Be Crazy,” even earned him two platinum records. Fromholz began his recording career in 1969 in New York in the duet FRUMMOX. In 1971, Fromholz put out two albums on Capitol, one on Willie’s label, Lone Star Records, The Old Fart In The Mirror on Jerry Jeff Walker’s Tried & True label and six on his own label, Felicity Records. He shifted gears in 1977, trying out his acting talents. He has done theater and appeared in five motion pictures, including the psycho-drama thriller, “Positive I.D.” In 1980, Fromholz accepted the job as entertainer on a series of river trips down the Rio Grande, eventually becoming a white-water river guide. On his own label, A Guest In Your Heart, came out in 2001, with fellow musicians Lyle Lovett, Johnny Gimble and others, adding a special touch. The same year was the live album, Live At Anderson Fair. Fromholz describes his own music as, “free-form, science fiction, gospel-gum, bluegrass opera, cowjazz music,” a perfect formula culminated in his latest album, Cowjazz Music, in 2003.

Susan Gibson’s first stint with stardom came in the form of a high school talent show, where she sang Suzanne Vega’s, “Gypsy,” to an overwhelming response – Gibson was hooked. She learned and took to heart the assorted catalogs of Vega, the Indigo Girls, Tracy Chapman and Shawn Colvin and began writing her own songs. Shortly after, Gibson moved to Montana to take up forest ranging and discovered open-mic nights and song swaps, inspiring and fueling her passion to write and perform. She then moved to Amarillo, Texas where she joined a pop-rock band called The Groobees. Performing with them, they released four albums over five years, parting ways in 2001. One of Gibson’s greatest achievements to date, was penning the song, “Wide Open Spaces,” made famous by the Dixie Chicks who propelled it into one of the all-time best-selling country songs. The album Wide Open Spaces has sold more than 16 million copies. In 2002, Chin Up was Gibson’s first solo release, followed by her latest 2005’s, Outer Space. Gibson’s style and sound stretch traditional musical boundaries, marrying rootsy-rock with pop and country. Her songwriting is sincere and touches the myriads of steady fans who travel over many miles to see her perform.

Jon Dee Graham started playing the piano in church and grew up listening to border music on pirated Mexican radio stations. One night he caught a station out of San Antonio that played early punk rock and Graham was hooked. In 1977, he dropped out of law school to join the group, The Skunks who opened for the Clash and the Ramones. In 1980, he left The Skunks to back blues singer, Lou Ann Barton. In 1984, he joined the True Believers, with Alejandro Escovedo, a punky roots band that helped pave the way to contemporary alt-country. After the band broke up in 1987, Graham moved to Los Angeles and collaborated with X front man, John Doe on his debut album, Meet John Doe. He left the West Coast in 1995 and briefly took a hiatus from the music industry. Kelly Willis lured him back to performing and in 1997 he released his long-awaited debut, Escape from Monster Island followed by Summerland in 1999. In 2000, Graham was named the songwriter of the year at The Austin Music Awards at SXSW. His latest works include Great Battle in 2004 and First Bear on the Moon, along with Big Sweet Life: The Songs of Jon Dee Graham, in 2005.

Pat Green began writing songs at the age of 18 while studying at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Green was eager and determined to make something happen with this newfound talent and borrowed money from his parents to record an album. His first independent release in 1998 was Dancehall Dreamer, leading to popularity within the bar scene. In 1999, Green caught his big break at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic, spawning his next album, Live at Billy Bob’s Texas. The albums, Three Days, Carry On and Songs We Wish We’d Written came along in 2001, the latter selling more than 200,000 copies without Green being signed to a major label. Green is a truth-seeker, enlisting memories to create songs that truly connect with people. In 2003, Wave on Wave produced a Top 5 Billboard single and 2004 brought the release of Lucky Ones. Green’s passion for both the music and the business in the music business have led to three Grammy nominations, a successful self-built career and adoring fans who love his songs grounded in heartfelt experiences of love, life, redemption and just plain old good times.

Butch Hancock is a folk-rock pioneer, one of the founders of the progressive country movement of the 1970s. Growing up on farm, Hancock wrote his first songs while driving his father’s tractor. In high school, he began playing music with friends Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely. In 1970, the three formed the Flatlanders and a couple of years later went to Nashville to record. Their sound was so far removed from the mainstream norm and their lone album, Jimmie Dale & the Flatlanders, was released in limited quantities and by 1973, the group had disbanded. In the late Seventies, Joe Ely’s acclaimed solo career reached deep inside of Hancock’s catalog, bringing his songs to a wider audience. With this, such artists as the Texas Tornados and Emmylou Harris performed his songs and Hancock started his own record label, Rainlight. In 1978, he issued his first album, West Texas Waltzes and Dust-Blown Tractor Tunes, a collection of songs showcasing his witty wordplay and dry humor. Over the next ten years, Hancock released several albums, and in 1989 came Own & Own, a compilation of earlier recordings, on the Sugar Hill label. The Nineties found Hancock involved in many music and theatrical projects and in 2000, the Flatlanders regrouped and toured, culminating in a reunion album, Now Again in 2002, followed by Wheels of Fortune in 2004.

Terri Hendrix is not only a one-of-a-kind songwriter and performer, but also a gifted businesswoman. Her label, Wilory Records was originally called Tycoon Cowgirl Records, but was changed after working on philanthropist Marion Williamson’s, Wilory Farm. Hendrix received voice and guitar lessons in exchange for working on the farm, and now her label is supported by a dedicated grassroots fan base, her own distribution system and e-commerce sales. Hendrix’s first album was Two Dollar Shoes, followed by Wilory Farm in 1998, making her a local favorite. Hendrix has a folksy approach that mixes in the blues, pop, country and jazz. This stylistic recipe was reflected in her next releases, Places in Between in 2000 and The Ring in 2002, the same year Hendrix brought home a Grammy for “Lil’ Jack Slade,” a song she co-wrote for the Dixie Chicks, Home album. Impressed with her sound, writing, range and work ethic, musician and producer Lloyd Maines is Hendrix’s musical cohort. Co-producers, co-performers and business partners, Hendrix and Maines recorded The Art of Removing Wallpaper in 2004.

Joe Pat Hennen is a songwriter and storyteller in the purest musical form. Growing up listening to the radio, he moved through rock and roll onto the folk music of the Sixties - his goal to continue the folk rock of Bob Dylan and The Byrds. Much in the same vein that his transistor moved new stories and sounds into his room at night, Hennen’s songs matter-of-factly observe the idiosyncrasies of everyday life. Decades later, Hennen’s songs exemplify his early radio’s rocking folksy pioneers, creating a signature sound within American roots music. His first release came in 1995, with There Is A River, produced by Lloyd Maines on Campfire Records. His superb songwriting skills continued in 1999 with Brand New Day, a ten-song release produced by Larry Joe Taylor on Boatfolk Records. The appeal of Hennen’s work is that it goes beyond the Texas sound, breaking boundaries, carrying his music across the state line. This fact is apparent in the various festivals on various continents he has accomplished. Hennen’s talent relaying journeys of the heart and song mark him as a contemporary storyteller of the finest tradition.

Sara Hickman’s musical career began as a teenager, performing everywhere from football parties and bank openings to psychiatric units. Her debut album, Equal Scary People, in 1988 came out on indie label, Four Dots. Hickman was signed to Elektra Records in 1989, yielding Shortstop, in 1990. The early Nineties found Hickman touring with the likes of Nanci Griffith and Dan Fogelberg. In 1994, after Elektra refused to issue her next recording, Necessary Angels, Hickman’s fans raised the money to buy the tapes, which Hickman did and the album was released by the indie label, Discovery. By 1997, Hickman released three discs on Shanachie Records – Misfits and Two Kinds of Laughter in 1998, and Spiritual Appliances in 2000. She started her own label, Sleeveless, putting out numerous limited edition discs and cassettes, including her children’s albums, Newborn in 1999 and Toddler in 2001. In addition to creative industry tasks, such as hosting her own VH-1 special and producing the video “Joy,” which won first place in the USA Film Festival, Hickman dedicates performances to various charities. Hickman is involved in NARAS, the advisory Board of Arts for People and has been awarded an honorary degree from the National Association of Music Therapists.

Tish Hinojosa grew up soaking in the sounds of her Mexican immigrant parents along with country music and the culturally conscious rock and roll of the Sixties. As a teenager, Tish began playing the guitar and singing folk and pop in clubs, as well as commercial jingles for a local Spanish radio station. In 1979, she moved to Taos, New Mexico and got a job singing back-up with Michael Martin Murphy. She then moved to Nashville, cutting her chops as a singer-songwriter. However, her Americana borderless style, which mixes Mexican folk, country, and pop, did not match the stylings of mainstream record labels or radio. Moving back to Taos, she self-released a cassette, Taos to Tennessee, then moved to Texas where she signed a deal with A&M Records, releasing her full-debut album, Homeland in 1989. Her next effort, Culture Swing, was released by roots label Rounder four years later, which the National Association of Independent Record Distributors named Folk Album of the Year. The critical and public attention led to a deal with Warner Brothers, which released Destiny’s Gate in 1994. Hinojosa has a strong, copious discography, crossing a various scope from border sounds to children’s music. Hinojosa’s latest release is 2005’s, A Heart Wide Open.

Ray Wylie Hubbard is a leading figure in the progressive country movement of the 1970s.The first group that he formed was a folk outfit with musician Michael Martin Murphy, later forming a trio named Three Faces West, which played in clubs around New Mexico. Along the way, Hubbard had befriended Jerry Jeff Walker, who recorded Hubbard’s most famous composition, “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” in 1973 on Walker’s Viva Terlingua album. The same year, Hubbard organized a new band, the Cowboy Twinkies who are considered by many to be the first cowpunk group. Their groundbreaking sound was met with resistance in both the rock and country worlds. In 1978, Hubbard signed to Willie Nelson’s Lone Star label to record Off the Wall, which featured his own version of “Redneck Mother.” By 1984, Hubbard was backed by the Bugs Henderson Trio and recorded a live effort, Something About the Night. Hubbard did not record for another eight years. Instead, he toured constantly. In 1993, he issued Lost Train of Thought on his own Misery Loves Co. label. His recent releases include: Eternal & Lowdown in 2001, Growl in 2003, Delirium Tremolos in 2005 and Snake Farm, to be released this year.

Jack Ingram is a modern rockin’ honky-tonker who writes songs about life, which reflect his own desire to understand the complexity of human nature. A self-taught guitar player, he started playing gigs with his band, the Beat Up Ford Band, based on his love of country – Merle Haggard – and rock – The Rolling Stones. His first album, Livin’ or Dyin’, released in 1997, was produced by Steve Earle and by 1999 he had put out his fifth roots rock recording, Hey You. The follow-up to this was Electric in 2002, which features guest vocalists such as Patty Griffin and Lee Ann Womack. Young Man, a compilation of recordings of some of his early songs, along with Live at Gruene Hall: Happy Happy, in 2004. In 2005 came Acoustic Motel and in 2006, Live Wherever You Are, both live albums, the latter his first for Big Machine Records, a label operated by Toby Keith and record executive, Scott Borchetta. Ingram has forged the path of independent artists in Texas by creating his own solid fan base, selling more than 50,000 CDs independently and taking control of building his career.

Jimmy LaFave began making music behind a Sears & Roebuck drum kit in junior high, before his mother traded her green stamps for his first guitar. His family moved to Oklahoma where LaFave began to define his sound, which was firmly rooted in the “red dirt music,” and authentic sound of Woody Guthrie. He did some independent recording and toured the Southwest with his first band, Night Tribe. LaFave moved to Austin in 1986, continuing to develop his talent and taking on other projects such as launching a songwriter’s night at the performance venue, Chicago House. In 1988, he recorded a self-produced tape, Highway Angels…Full Moon Rain, which won the Austin Chronicle’s Readers Poll for Tape of the Year. This led to collaboration with Bob Johnston, the producer of Bob Dylan and in 1992, LaFave released Austin Skyline, a take on Dylan’s Nashville Skyline, which drew international attention to his songwriting. His second album Highway Trance came out in 1994, followed by several other releases. In 1999, LaFave issued Trail, a double CD, including 12 Dylan songs. In 2001, Texoma celebrated the Americana tradition and LaFave joined the Woody Guthrie Tribute Tour titled, “The Ribbon of Highway – Endless Skyway”. His latest release is 2005’s, Blue Nightfall.

Lloyd Maines is a music giant, creating the mold for modern country and roots rock with both his production and steel guitar skills. Beginning his career working at a local recording studio in Lubbock, Texas, Maines carved out a place for himself, adding his pedal steel to alternative country rockers such as Joe Ely, David Byrne, Wilco and Uncle Tupelo. As popular as he has continued to be as a musician, Maines is a much sought-after producer. Maines had his first stint as a producer with Terry Allen’s 1978 folksy masterpiece, Lubbock (On Everything), a seminal album expressing the people and environment in which Maines was raised in West Texas. He has produced for a variety of artists, from Wayne Hancock to the Dixie Chicks, the latter of which features his daughter, Natalie, on the album Home. In between his studio time as musician and producer Maines was working on a family project – playing, performing and recording with his brothers Kenny, Donnie and Steve as The Maines Brothers. The group was immensely popular around the South Plains of Texas and released eight albums including Panhandle Dancer and Hub City Moan, produced by Maines between 1978 and 1991.

Houston Marchman is a country rocker who doesn’t fit the mainstream country mold. In true Americana fashion, his songs are based on the honest sound of country music laced with a punch of rock. As a child, Marchman soaked up the sights, sounds and stories of ranch hands, truck drivers and small town folks – receiving his first guitar at the age of 5. By 13, he had written his first song and he has been writing ever since. One of Marchman’s first professional gigs was as a bronco rider and singer in a Wild West show. After his ridin’ and ropin’, Marchman tried Nashville, living, writing and performing. In 1995, his first release, Viet Nashville, reflected his experiences in Music City. Leavin’ Dallas was next in 1999 and Tryin’ for Home in 2000, which remained in the Americana Chart Top 10 for several months. In 2001, Marchman’s Live album was recorded and captured the essence of his sound and spirit; full of country, folk, polka, conjunto and the blues. Marchman’s fifth album, Desperate Man in 2003, charted on the XM Satellite, Americana, Texas Music and Roots Music Charts. Marchman’s hybrid sound is perpetuated across the state with a band called Contraband. His latest CD, Blue Cadillac, was independently released in 2004.

Delbert McClinton combines blues with country, soul and rock, forming a true Americana style with a formidable harmonica riff. In the late 1950s, McClinton played his harp on the club scene, playing behind such blues legends as Howlin’ Wolf. His playing is featured in Bruce Channel’s 1962 hit, “Hey! Baby,” with whom Delbert toured England and ended up giving a young John Lennon lessons. In 1965, McClinton formed a group, the Rondells, making the rounds on the roadhouse circuit and by 1976 had released his first album, Victim of Life’s Circumstance/Genuine Cowhide. In 1978, Emmylou Harris took his, “Two More Bottles of Wine,” to the top of the country charts. In the early Eighties, McClinton took a hiatus from recording, focusing on live performance, issuing Live From Austin as a culmination of this experience in 1989. At this point, he was a sought-after songwriter, landing material with Wynonna and Vince Gill; however, his big break came when he performed a duet with Bonnie Raitt on 1991’s, Luck of the Draw, awarding McClinton his first Grammy for Best Rock Vocal, Duo or Group. This accomplishment led to other star-filled collaborations, including 1997’s “One of the Fortunate Few” with artists such as B.B. King and Mavis Staples. His next Grammy came with 2001’s “Nothing Personal,” for Best Contemporary Blues Album, also playing in heavy rotation on Americana radio. His latest release is “Cost of Living in 2005” on New West Records.

Mike McClure is one of the founding fathers of “Red Dirt” music, a blend of country and Southern rock rooted in Oklahoma’s red dirt. He started as the lead singer and primary songwriter of The Great Divide and afterward became one of the most sought-after producers of Red Dirt bands. He has produced several albums for Cross Canadian Ragweed, including Soul Gravy, which debuted at number five on the Billboard Country Chart. He has also produced for Jason Boland and the Stragglers and worked with Lee Ann Womack. After leaving The Great Divide, McClure chose to focus his music toward a more rock and roll sound. McClure recorded a series of three EPs and then produced and released his debut solo album, Twelve Pieces in 2002. The album includes two collaborative songs with Susan Gibson, “Wicked Game of Hearts” and “Harder to Ignore.” His next effort had a harder edge to it and was released in 2004, entitled Everything Upside Down. His latest release, 2005’s Camelot Falling adds Van Morrison’s, “Into the Mystic,” along with McClure’s original compositions. McClure’s songs embody the wildness of the world, along with lessons on how to survive it all.

James McMurtry was given his first guitar by his father at the age of seven, and his mother taught him how to play it. He began performing his own songs while a college student in Arizona. His first national recognition came in 1987, when he won an award in the New Folk songwriting category at the Kerrville Folk Festival. His big break came when his father, also a writer, had a script that was being directed by John Mellencamp, who was also to star in the film. McMurtry’s father passed along a demo tape of his son to Mellencamp, who was impressed and co-produced McMurtry’s 1989 debut album, Too Long in the Wasteland. McMurtry went on to work with Mellencamp, along with John Prine, Joe Ely and Dwight Yoakum as the super-group called Buzzin’ Cousins, on the soundtrack of the film, Falling From Grace. McMurtry continued to record, issuing albums in 1992 and 1995, with Walk Between the Raindrops in 1998. In 2002, he released Saint Mary of the Woods for the Sugar Hill label. In 2003, he signed with Compadre Records and put out Live in Aught-Three in 2004 and Childish Things in 2005. With the Heartless Bastards, his rhythm section for nearly a decade, McMurtry continues to tour and write.

Heather Morgan’s philosophy on being an artist is based on a passion for writing and performing her own music. With determination and wisdom beyond her years, Morgan grew up feeding off of her mother’s mix of 50’s and 60’s music. Her first venture into songwriting came at the age of six with a Supremes-inspired tune, “Walk Away.” Combined with early rock and soul, Morgan’s sound incorporates Texas twang, moving her into the Americana realm. Morgan continued her career by hitting the Texas singer-songwriter scene through open-mic nights, leading to the release of a five-song EP in 2001, which garnered her support from her peers. Morgan’s debut album, Six Strings and Slow Backroads, boasts Morgan’s songwriting or co-writing credits on ten of the eleven tracks – the only exception being a commanding rendition of the Band’s, “The Weight.” By adopting the idea of using music as a tool for communication between herself and the audience, Morgan writes songs ingrained with experiences that offer up emotion and situation, ranging from buoyant country to grittier, rootsy offerings. Overall, Morgan’s power relies in her belief in the purpose and necessity of an artist to write and perform original material.

Michael Martin Murphey learned to play music on a plastic ukulele, quickly moving to the guitar. His love of cowboy songs fashioned his style along with mixing in folk with a touch of rock. By 1964, Murphey was a popular figure in the clubs around Los Angeles, becoming one of the instigators of the Alternative Country scene. With friends such as Don Henley, Buck Owens and Michael Nesmith, the latter a band member of Murphey’s in the Trinity River Boys, his songs were soon picked up by musicians such as Flatt & Scruggs and Kenny Rogers. Murphey jumpstarted the roots scene in Texas and released his first album, Geronimo’s Cadillac in 1972. In 1975, Murphey had his commercial breakthrough with Blue Sky – Night Thunder, producing the hit, “Wildfire,” along with “Carolina in the Pines,” which made the Top 30. More success came in 1976 with Swans Against the Sun, spawning the Top Ten single, “Cherokee Fiddle,” made famous by Johnny Lee for the movie, Urban Cowboy. Through the 1980s, Murphey recorded several albums, culminating in a number one hit, “A Long Line of Love,” and was named New Male Vocalist of the year in 1983 by the Country Music Association. In 2002, Cowboy Classics: Playing Favorites II was released, followed by Live at Billy Bob’s in 2004.

Willie Nelson has written some of the most timeless songs in the history of country music, including “Night Life,” “Crazy,” “Hello Walls” and “Funny How Time Slips Away.” Spending most of the 1960s creating these gems, the 1970s found him ditching the traditional country sound and co-creating the outlaw country movement with Waylon Jennings. In 1975, he released the masterpiece, The Red Headed Stranger, with the single, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” solidifying Nelson as a bonafide star. The 1980s gave Nelson a string of number one hits with the Highwaymen, a super-group combining the talents of Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. By the 1990s, Nelson was an icon of country music, influencing the new country and alternative country movements with his legacy of unparalleled compositions. In 2002, he released Great Divide and Run That By Me One More Time, with Ray Price in 2003, followed by two more albums in 2004. Overall, Nelson is not afraid to borrow from different genres, such as pop, western swing, rock and roll, jazz and most recently, reggae. His long-awaited country/reggae fusion, Countryman, was issued in 2005.

Gary P. Nunn began his career in the 1960s with the Fabulous Sparkles, a rock band that was all the rage in West Texas, where he grew up. By 1968, he was immersed in the Texas progressive country movement, playing bass for fellow outlaws, Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson and Michael Martin Murphey. By the 1970s, Nunn was in Walker’s Lost Gonzo Band, developing his songwriting skills. Once the Lost Gonzo band broke up, Nunn became a solo act, writing and publishing his own music. In fact, he runs all aspects of his business, including booking his own gigs. Nunn put out four albums independently and finally hooked up with Campfire Records in 1993 and released, Totally Guacamole. Campfire also secured a national distribution deal for Nunn’s catalog. Many artists have recorded his songs, including Roseanne Case, Willie Nelson and David Allen Coe. Nunn’s songs reflect the people and culture of the state of Texas and in 1985, Mark White the Governor of Texas named Nunn the state’s Official Ambassador to the World. The television program, Austin City Limits has used Nunn’s song, “London Homesick Blues,” as its theme song for more than twenty years. He continues to tour with his band, the Sons of the Bunkhouse.

Ray Price learned to play the guitar and sing as a youth and by 1946 he was performing in honky tonks, as well as on a local radio station where he was dubbed the Cherokee Cowboy. In 1949, he joined the Big D Jamboree, and in 1951 he befriended Hank Williams. Williams brought him to the Grand Old Opry and influenced Price’s singing style. Following Hank’s death in 1953, Price inherited the Drifting Cowboys, but in 1955 he formed his own group, the Cherokee Cowboys with such gifted musicians as Roger Miller and Johnny Paycheck. Price’s willingness to experiment led to the 4/4 bass-driven, “Crazy Arms” in 1956 which was revolutionary in that it was one of the first country songs to be recorded with drums. Over the next ten years, he racked up 23 Top Ten singles and recorded an amazing number of country classics, including “City Lights,” which spent 13 weeks at the top of the charts. In the mid-Sixties he shifted his sound again, turning to a crooning style. With this, he had a number one hit, “For the Good Times.” The Eighties and Nineties found Price back on the charts with the album San Antonio Rose with Willie Nelson and 1992’s, Sometimes a Rose.

Willis Alan Ramsey released one self-titled album for Leon Russell’s Shelter label in 1972. It only took one album for Ramsey to be proclaimed one of the first progressive country artists. However, after the album, Willis Alan Ramsey disappeared from the music industry, blaming an overall distaste for the business. With a folk-pop-country combo and introspective style, Ramsey’s songs have been covered by countless artists. The Captain & Tennille took his “Muskrat Candlelight,” into the top five, changing the title to “Muskrat Love.” He has also commanded respect in the country realm with Waylon Jennings doing, “Satin Sheets,” Jimmie Dale Gilmore recording, “Goodbye to Old Missoula,” and Jimmy Buffett with, “The Ballad of Spider John.” Ramsey’s return to the music business is largely due to Lyle Lovett, who co-wrote, “North Dakota,” with him for Lovett’s 1992 album, Joshua Judges Ruth, and then teaming up with him again for 1996’s, The Road to Ensenada. In 2001, Ramsey appeared on Austin City Limits and is now planning on releasing another album.

Dan Roberts, the Academy of Western Artists Male Vocalist of the Year for 2000, brings cowboy western music style into the 21st century. With authentic and entertaining songs, Roberts crafts together pieces of cowboy lifestyle with a modern twist. Roberts moved to Nashville to pursue a songwriting career after seeing a television show about the Music City songwriting community. In traditional cowboy fashion, he met up with and traded original songs with Garth Brooks over a campfire, eventually giving Roberts co-writing credits on Brooks’ hits, “The Fever,” “The Old Stuff” and “Beaches of Cheyenne,” with Bryan Kennedy. Roberts toured with Brooks, opening 260 shows in 60 cities, giving him the experience he needed to hone in on his dream to record western music. Amidst performances and cowboy gatherings, Roberts’ debut album, There’s a Little Cowboy In All of Us, produced by Texas Swing legend Tommy Allsup, garnered him fans and respect within American cowboy culture. Roberts’ second release,, is steeped in western nostalgia and seasoned in the humorous adventures of a technologically challenged cowboy. Roberts’ talent lies in his ability to preserve the ways of the cowboy, while forging ahead with his own style.

Tom Russell is an Americana singer-songwriter who was raised on the cowboy music of the American West. Russell mined these cowboy compositions, balancing them with Tex-Mex and folk to create songs that are recorded by an impressive list of luminaries: Johnny Cash, K.D. Lang and Doug Sahm, to name a few. With a celebrated songwriting career, Russell isn’t afraid to branch out, creating projects such as 1999’s, Man from God Knows Where, a concept album inspired by songster pioneers and Russell’s own ancestors. This record featured Iris Dement, Dolores Keane and others, with a cameo by Walt Whitman – a true musical portrayal of the history of America. In 2001, Borderland, inspired by the Juarez border region of Texas, was issued, followed by Modern Art in 2003. Russell is credited, along with Dave Alvin, with establishing the Americana radio format with their co-produced tribute to Merle Haggard entitled, Tulare Dust. Russell’s latest endeavor is the release of Hotwalker in 2005, inspired by American “beat” culture, including the voices of Jack Kerouac and Lenny Bruce. He provided a musical soundtrack to “Raw Voices,” a collection of letters published between Charles Bukowski and Russell in 2005. Also in 2005, Hightone Records put out Russell’s acclaimed DVD, Hearts on the Line.

Will Sexton grew up in the hippie lifestyle of the 1970s in Austin, Texas where falling asleep to live music inside of a club was not unusual. By his teens, Sexton was playing in a band, Will & the Cannonballs. Surrounded by the company of blues guitarists, folksy singers and country storytellers prevalent in the Austin area in the late 70s and early 80s, Sexton developed into a driven and outspoken songwriter. He eventually signed to MCA and recorded his debut album, Will & the Kill produced by Joe Ely in 1988, with his brother, Charlie, playing backup guitar. In addition to writing and recording his own music, Sexton’s gift for all-star collaborations had brought him well-deserved respect. One of these projects, the Rock Bottom Choir, was released For All the Saints, with fellow musicians such as Joey Shuffield of Fastball. Sexton’s songwriting credits link him with world-renowned artists such as Ely, Stephen Stills, Waylon Jennings and Sheryl Crow, in addition to many others. Sexton released, Scenes From Nowhere in 2001, exemplifying his sheer talent and heartfelt spirit.

Billy Joe Shaver ushered in the “Outlaw” music movement in the 1970s, with Waylon Jennings’ recording of Honky Tonk Heroes, almost entirely composed of Shaver’s songs. Shaver did a stint in the Navy, then a series of jobs, before ending up in Nashville. In 1968, he visited Bobby Bare’s office, where Bare listened to him play and gave him a writing job. Soon, Shaver’s songs were recorded by everyone from Kris Kristofferson to Elvis, and the Allman Brothers. His debut album, Old Five and Dimers Like Me, was produced and released by Kristofferson. In 1976, When I Get My Wings followed on Capricorn. In the 1980s, three more albums were released: I’m Just a Lump of Coal…But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday, which Shaver wrote after he gave up drugs and alcohol, Billy Joe Shaver and Salt of the Earth, the latter produced by Shaver’s son, Eddy. The Nineties were prolific for Shaver, putting out several albums. In 2001, Earth Rolls On appeared with a more rock flavor. His next three albums, released on Compadre, include Billy and the Kid, which has Shaver singing songs written by Eddy, and Real Deal in 2005. His songs continually bring a new outlook to country roots music, reflecting his experiences, sharing his pain and joy.

Max Stalling’s country roots style is deeply engrained in his songwriting – simple, intelligent and relatable. Each song is a story with characters exemplifying feelings common to every man. The youngest of six children, Stalling was raised in a border town, exposed to the mystery and danger that lingers between Texas and Mexico. Stalling first heard the country of Willie, Waylon and Johnny Cash on the record player at his older brother’s parties. His stylistic turning point came years later, when he discovered songwriters such as Lyle Lovett and Townes Van Zandt on a Dallas radio station. In the mid-Nineties, Stalling entered the Dallas music scene and met Mark David Manders, who became his musical mentor and collaborator. Stalling’s debut album, Comfort in the Curves, was released in 1997 and reached #22 on the Americana charts, while his second effort, Wide Afternoon climbed to #3, behind Willie Nelson and Steve Earle. In 2002, One of The Ways, produced by Bruce Robison was also well received. In addition to his recording success, Stalling and Manders have a small record label together, representing Houston Marchman and others. Currently, Stalling is satisfied with calling the shots in his career – from booking decisions down to merchandise. His first live album was released in 2005, Sellout: Live at Dan’s Silver Leaf.

Larry Joe Taylor’s first band was called the Nomad 5, formed in high school, establishing Taylor’s rock roots. Influenced by the music of the Doors and the Lovin’ Spoonful, his interest in country music developed while in college. In 1988, Taylor was a finalist in the Kerrville New Folk competition, leading to other artists cutting his material. Ultimately, his sound blends elements of country, reggae, and the blues with a twist of doo-wop. Garnering influence from the Texas coast, his songs often swing with a calypso beat. In 1994, Taylor released his first album, Coastal and Western, reflecting his earthy and magnetic tunes about life and what it takes to get through it, followed by Heart of the Matter in 2000, Port A to Port B in 2002 and Summer Days in 2003. Taylor is not just a songwriter and performer but also a festival producer, hosting the Texas Music Festival for almost 20 years. In 1998, he initiated the Island Time Festival in Port Aransas, Texas. Record producer is another title Taylor is comfortable with, creating his own record company, Boatfolk Records and publishing company, Texribbean Publishing. He has produced for several artists and is tireless in the promotion of up-and-coming singer-songwriters.

Stephanie Urbina Jones is an artist and businesswoman who recorded her first album in her living room, Live from the River. The initial 500 pressings did so well that she and her husband mortgaged their house to finance her self-titled sophomore effort in 2001. The twelve original compositions on this release paid homage to her Mexican heritage and used a Mariachi band for several of the songs. Her single, “God Loves It When We Dance,” zipped into the number four spot on the Texas Music Chart and “Shakin’ Things Up,” from the second album hit number one for five weeks, making Jones the first independent female vocalist to do so. In addition to her singing and songwriting talents, she also has a knack for business, creating her own company, Texicana Entertainment. Jones has also received many accolades for her contemporary interpretation of the Latin culture. She has starred in bilingual television and radio commercials and music videos and has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Texas Heritage Music Foundation.

Jerry Jeff Walker recorded his first album with the folk-rock group, Circus Maximus while living in New York City in 1967. After the band broke up, Walker released his first solo album, Mr. Bo Jangles in 1968, becoming well known for his pop classic with the same name. Walker moved to Austin in 1971, further establishing his “gypsy-roots” sound, recording Viva Terlingua in 1973 with the Lost Gonzo Band. The album went gold and reflected perfectly his lifestyle as a “cosmic cowboy.” In 1982, Cowboy Jazz was released, then two other albums showing the constant shift and organic development of Walker’s sound. In 1985, his Gypsy Songman was independently released and bucked the conventional country system by selling more than 40,000 copies. In the early 1990s, Walker hosted a weekly television show, The Texas Connection, on TNN. In Jerry Jeff Jazz, Walker sings jazz pop and swing standards, a different direction from his earlier work. Other releases followed with his latest project, a two-disc set of his best songs, Best of the Rest, in 2005.

Chris Wall is poetic with a cowboy sensibility that, with his words, mark the rich ground of Americana music. Wall met Guy Clark in 1987, who recommended the young songwriter to Jerry Jeff Walker after the two had swapped songs. Walker caught his show and was impressed, inviting Wall to Austin in 1988 to record with him. This one-time football coach, ranch hand and bartender, released his first album in 1990, Honky Tonk Heart, followed by No Sweat in 1992, on the Rykodisc label. A big professional boost came in 1994 when Confederate Railroad hit the top five with the song, “Trashy Women,” which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Song. BMI recognized Wall in 1997, honoring the fact that “Trashy Women” had been played more than one million times on the radio since its issue. After this success, Wall turned down offers to write for Nashville publishing companies and instead, wrote and released his own music by creating his own record label, Cold Spring Records. On Cold Spring, Any Saturday Night in Texas came out in 1997 and Tainted Angel in 1999. Other Cold Spring releases include albums by Reckless Kelly, The Derailers and the Asylum Street Spankers.

Monte Warden built a musical trio, Whoa Trigger! At the age of fifteen he won the Best New Band at a local awards show, and he’s never looked back. The Wagoneers were formed five years later and won the same award, releasing two albums on A & M Records, Stout & High and Good Fortune. In 1993, Warden put out his first solo album, Here I Am and A Stranger to Me Now followed in 1999, with his backing band the Lonesharks. Warden’s sound is a culmination of early country and rockabilly, with the innocence of Buddy Holly and the edgy spirit of classic honky-tonk. Warden has become one of the most revered and respected songwriters within the Texas music scene. His songs are upbeat and have been covered by the likes of Kelly Willis and Patty Loveless. Warden has also found success in Nashville with a song he co-wrote with Bruce Robison. “Desperately,” was recorded by George Strait on his Honkytonkville album.

Rusty Weir is a singer-songwriter best known for his song, “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance,” which has been recorded by a dozen artists and made immortal by Bonnie Raitt on the soundtrack for Urban Cowboy. Weir began performing at thirteen, teaching himself guitar from an instruction book. He quickly found a love of the blues, soaking in the sounds of B.B. King and Bobby Blue Bland. Weir joined a series of rock and roll bands, playing drums in the Centennials, and other rock outfits, Lavender Hill, Express and Wig. He gained national attention, however, during the progressive country, outlaw era. He has shared the stage with the Charlie Daniels Band, the Allman Brothers, and Ray Charles and has even had George Strait opening shows for him. Among his many albums, including I Stood Up, Under My Hat and Are We There Yet?, which features four songs co-written by Weir’s sons, Bond and Coby, Weir wrote or co-wrote most of the material. He has appeared on Austin City Limits and the Nashville Network Series, The Texas Connection and has done well-known advertisements for McDonald’s, the City of Austin and Lone Star Beer.

Kelly Willis has a modern honky-tonky scorcher of a voice reminiscent of the country of Patsy Cline with the burn of Wanda Jackson. Still, there is an edgy sweetness in her lyrical quality, suiting her just fine for the roots rock genre. Her determined singing career began in high school when she belted out Elvis’ “Teddy Bear,” in a pay recording booth and with demo tape in hand, secured a spot in her boyfriend’s rockabilly band. In the late 80s, this rockabilly outfit, Kelly and the Fireballs, was rising fast and decided to move to Austin, Texas where it didn’t take Willis long to get noticed. While performing at the Continental Club, Nanci Griffith heard Willis and marched to call MCA, lobbying to get Willis a record deal. A few months later, deal in hand, her debut album, Well Traveled Love, was released. Despite critical acclaim, the album faired poorly and in 1991, Bang Bang met the same fate. For her third effort, Willis joined forces with producer Don Was and, in 1993, released a self-titled LP. By the late 90s, Willis signed a deal with Rykodisc and What I Deserve, was a breakthrough hit. In a collaborative effort, Easy came out in 2002 with Vince Gill amongst the contributing artists.

The Midwestern State University Art Gallery is proud to host the latest body of work by Gary Goldberg, Midwestern State University professor of art, Texas Singer-Songwriters: An Americana Portrait. This exhibition enhances the educational mission of the Gallery and embodies the broad spirit of our liberal arts university. Goldberg’s portraits capture the traditions of singing and songwriting of Texas legends and their contemporaries. His work not only gives onlookers an intimate insight into the contemporary Americana music scene in Texas but also serves as a valuable historical archive.

From the fifty portraits presented, it becomes clear that no single style, culture, genre, age or gender can define Texas and Americana music. It can only be described as a melding of Bebop, Western Swing, Polka, Conjunto, Gospel, R&B, Jazz, Blues, Honky-tonk, Tejano, Hip-hop, Ragtime and everything in between. Goldberg’s photography documents a select grouping of portraits out of hundreds of Texas singers and songwriters who otherwise might remain faceless to the listener.

It is the hope of the Gallery that this exhibition will serve as an educational tool for the advancement and documentation of the arts in Texas.

Catherine Prose

Assistant Professor of Art/Gallery Director

The Midwestern State University Art Gallery compliments the educational mission of the university and advances students’ critical and creative thinking through a comprehensive program of contemporary art exhibitions by artists of regional and national reputation. Gallery programs are designed to motivate public interest and cultivate an educational atmosphere that leads to a visually articulate and creative community.


Gary Goldberg is professor of art at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. His work has been published in “Texas Monthly,” “Harpers Queen,” “The Family of Women,” “Exploring Color Photography,” and many other publications. He was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant and his work is in many collections, including the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. and The Photography Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.

Craig D. Hillis attended the University of Texas from 1967 until 1971 when he left to pursue a career in the music business. During the 1970s, he toured as a professional guitar player and songwriter. He was the lead guitar player and co-arranger on Jerry Jeff Walker’s album, ¡Viva Terlingua!. This very successful release sold more than one million copies and earned Hillis a gold record. Hillis is the author of Texas Trilogy, published by University of Texas Press. Hillis owned two popular nightclubs in Austin, Steamboat and Saxon Pub. He has sold these clubs and is currently working on his Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Texas, Austin.

Robert Hirsch is the author of Seizing the Light: A History of Photography; Exploring Color Photography: From the Darkroom to the Digital Studio, both published by McGraw-Hill and Photographic Possibilities: The Expressive Use of Ideas, Materials, and Processes, published by Focal Press. He is the former associate editor for Photovision and Digital Camera magazines and a contributing writer for Afterimage, Exposure, Fotophile, The History of Photography, Ilford Photo Newsletter, The Photo Review as well as various regional publications. Currently, Hirsch heads up Light Research, a consulting service that provides professional services to the fields of photographic art and education.

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Shelby Morrison is from Lubbock, Texas where she received a bachelor’s of fine arts in photography from Texas Tech University. After graduation, she went on to work at the Buddy Holly Center. She is currently living in Cleveland, Ohio, working as the curatorial and collections assistant at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.