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Red Dirt Music-An Alternative To Mainstream Country Music

Updated on January 30, 2011

Texas/Red Dirt Music

Are you a fan of country music? Are you looking for something a bit different than what is being played on mainstream radio?  Or, maybe you are just looking to add to what you already enjoy.  Regardless, take some time and check out Red Dirt music.  

I have been a fan of country music since the early 80's. As we all know, music styles are always changing with time. The last five years I have turned away from mainstream country music and have been listening to one of the fastest growing sub-genres of country music. Some call it Red Dirt Music, others call it Texas music and the rest call it Texas/Red Dirt music. Texas/Red Dirt music spans many styles of music. It ranges from traditional country bands such as Jason Boland and the Stragglers to a southern rock sound from Cross Canadian Ragweed. There are also bands that incorporate blues, bluegrass and southern soul into their sounds. Red Dirt music got its start in Oklahoma with bands such as Cross Canadian Ragweed, Stoney LaRue, The Great Divide and Bob Childers. Texas has always been a hotbed for singers and songwriters and Texas music is just as it sounds. It is Texas country and has had bands such as Randy Rogers Band, Roger Creager, Reckless Kelly, Bruce Robison, Charlie Robison and Robert Earl Keen bringing it popularity along with legends such as Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver. These bands have a very loyal and rapidly growing fan base well beyond the borders of Texas and Oklahoma. Corporate FM radio has been very resistant to play and acknowledge this style of music so the bands are gaining their fans through iTunes, Pandora, satellite radio, internet sites such as Myspace and word of mouth. These bands tour throughout most of the United States and also see their fans travel long distances to catch a show or festival.

Many country music fans have heard George Strait perform the hit single "Wrapped". That song was written and originally performed by Texas artist Bruce Robison. More recently you have heard Montgomery Gentry performing "Long Line of Losers". That is another song that came out of the Texas country genre. Kevin Fowler wrote that song and it was released back in 2007 on his album called Bring It On. The Kenny Chesney fans probably have heard the song "Somebody Take Me Home" that is on The Road and The Radio CD of his. That song was written by Randy Rogers and originally performed by the Randy Rogers Band and can be found on their Rollercoaster album from 2004.

Popular Texas/Red Dirt Bands

There are so many bands that can be featured but for this hub I will stick to the ones that are the more well known bands of the scene.

The Randy Rogers Band is one of the hardest working bands in country music right now. They aren't afraid to bring their live, high energy show to new markets and are gaining fans with each show that they perform. They have toured both the east and west coasts as well as upper midwest tours with stops in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Illinois. March '10 brought them an Academy of Country Music nomination for Top Vocal Group of the Year. The Randy Rogers Band currently has six albums out with the seventh to be released very soon. The live show that RRB puts on can be described more as an experience rather than a concert. If you weren't a fan before the show you will be by the end! Randy Rogers is an excellent songwriter as well as singer. The band delivers their songs with passion with all band members contributing. If you like your country music to be country with some great fiddle sounds then you need to give the Randy Rogers Band a listen.

If you are a fan of country music with steel guitar and fiddle then Jason Boland and the Stragglers is a band that you will like. Jason got his start in the red dirt scene of Oklahoma but now calls Austin, TX home. Jason Boland, like most of the artists of the scene, writes most of the songs that they perform. He writes about his life experiences and you can hear that in their songs, either recorded or live. The song called "Bottle By My Bed" is a perfect example of that. Mid-year of 2008 Jason went through an almost career ending throat surgery. His fall '08 tour was cancelled so he could recover from a necessary throat surgery. Recovery went well and everything was back to normal by spring '09. Their latest album is a live CD called High in the Rockies and was recorded in Colorado and Wyoming in January '10 with a release in April '10. It debuted high on the iTunes chart and truly is "country music" from start to finish. One of the singles to come off of High in the Rockies is a song that was written by Danny Flowers and made popular by Don Williams called Tulsa Time. JB&S do a great job on this song and the single did well for them on the Texas music charts. High in the Rockies is Jason Boland and the Stragglers seventh album released since their first CD from 1999 called Pearl Snaps. Jason Boland and the Stragglers are another band that tour the country and are very appreciate of their fans. They take the time to sign autographs, pose for pictures and mingle with the fans after a show. JB&S is a great band with talented songwriting so hopefully you like them as well.

Next up is Stoney LaRue. You can't talk about Oklahoma and Red Dirt music and not bring up Stoney! Stoney Larue and the Arsenals bring everything they have to the stage every night they perform. Just watching them play you can tell they love what they do. Stoney LaRue is country but yet blends a few other genres such as some rock and blues into their live shows. They can rock it when they have to but yet keep the fiddle and mandolin as key parts of the show. Going to a Stoney show is way more than a concert. The crowd feels the energy from the band and everyone is having a great time. There isn't any sitting down at one of their shows!

One of the most well known bands of the red dirt genre is the one and only Cross Canadian Ragweed. There is no question that Cross Canadian Ragweed is a rock band. They have been labeled as country and alternative country over the years but overall they are rock/southern rock. Their song Seventeen is one of their more "country" sounding songs that they perform. Seventeen did get some airplay on CMT back in 2002 when their self titled album came out. Ragweed has been rocking fans across the U.S. for many years but are taking a break starting October '10. They have been covering the miles as their popularity has been gaining so this break is well deserved.

In this small list of Texas and Red Dirt bands you can see how this style of music can appeal to many different music fans. These bands write and perform their own material, tour the country and have growing fan bases by bringing their music to the people and doing it with very little radio support.

Part 2 of Red Dirt Music Series

Kiss Me in the Dark video by Randy Rogers Band

Acoustic Stoney LaRue

Fiddle and steel guitar still exist! A fan shot video at a Jason Boland and the Stragglers show

Texas/Red Dirt Music at Amazon


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      Melissa 19 months ago

      We owned a radio station in Kansas for over 10 years, 8 of those years we played NOTHING but Texas/Red Dirt Music. We were blessed with meeting so many artists that came through on their way to Manhattan or Lawrence. William Clark Green, Bart Crow, TJ Broscoff, Steve Helms, The Rankin Twins, Rich O'Toole, Rob Ballou and so many more. We also saw concerts in Wichita or the surrounding areas that included Cross Canadian Ragweed, Wade Bowen, Casey Donohew, Mickey and the Motorcars, Backporch Mary and so many more.

      Our radio station won the Texas Regional Radio Music Award for Out of Market radio in 2013.

      We love the music so much that in 2014 we decided to move to Texas to be closer to the scene and to meet even more artists. We've gone to several concerts since being here, like William Clark Green (twice), Kyle Park, Reckless Kelly, Cody Canada and the Departed, Cody Bryan, Zane Williams, Bart Crow, Mike Ryan, Austin Allsup, Randy Brown, Whiskey Myers and several more.

      I am very surprised that not more Texans know who a lot of these artists are. Texans are so "proud" of everything Texas, but the music isn't supported as much as I really thought it would be. This was a huge disappointment to us. We made these guys sound like they were as big as Willy Nelson back in Kansas, we get here and its the opposite. Its impossible to find a country station that will play their own Texas Red Dirt music more than 2 hours on a Saturday night! My husband says its because its easier to "sell" the mainstream music to the bigger advertisers. I say look at HEB grocery stores, they support Texas products and the name brand products. So why can't country radio stations play an equal mix (or a 60/40, TRR being the 60)? We've found internet radio stations that do a great job, but unfortunately we don't have internet EVERYWHERE we go.

      Artists struggle everywhere to make it in the scene, their costs are huge, especially in the beginning of their career, they NEED our support and our love. We need more radio stations to step up and do their part!

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      2 years ago

      I'm sick and tired of all this rap country like big smo and Florida Georgia line. but if you listen to Texas country and Red Dirt it's about God beer guns and so on

    • riixntx profile image

      riixntx 5 years ago

      I had never liked country music until I went to an Old 97's concert and heard Hayes Carll. I started checking out the Texas Music style a little. Then last year I moved to Texas and fell in love with it (the music as well as Texas itself). I was introduced to the Pear Ratz in Corpus Christi at a local music venue called Brewster Street Icehouse and became a huge fan (If you haven't heard of them I highly encourage y'all to check them out). I also am enjoying Kevin Fowler, Thieving Birds, Max Stalling and several others. Texas Music is now my favorite genre. However I cant stand to listen to the standard country stations. Since I have moved back to Oregon, I regularly listen to Corpus' Badlands FM streaming online.

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      BenjaminB 6 years ago

      For sure one of the best genres MnTed, I'm a huge fan of Reckless Kelly, you did however leave out one major influence though he has found a bit more commercial appeal and that's Pat Green.No mention of what I believe is the best Jason Boland song either, that being "Mary". If you've not heard it check it out,very powerful stuff. Me and my buddies used to cover it on the bar scenes.Only vid of it on youtube is very shotty.

    • MnTed profile image

      MnTed 6 years ago

      Thanks for the comment. Had a great concert this past Friday night with Jason Boland and the Stragglers and Whitey Morgan and the 78's.

    • camdjohnston12 profile image

      camdjohnston12 6 years ago

      Great hub.

    • MnTed profile image

      MnTed 6 years ago

      DuLuke, I'm glad you liked my article and thanks for commenting. Next fridays show show is going to be awesome to say the least. Whitey Morgan and the 78's and then Jason Boland and the Stragglers is killer. To stay up to date on Texas music events here in Minnesota keep an eye on

    • profile image

      DuLuke 6 years ago

      Just found this great article. I can't do a couple things right now. I can't believe that Kenny Chesney was listed among Hank Williams, George Jones, Conway Twitty, Vince Gill and Merle Haggard and I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE JASON BOLAND AND THE STRAGGLERS NEXT FRIDAY!!!!!

    • MnTed profile image

      MnTed 6 years ago

      Thank you for your comment. I agree with your statement that things change but cannot agree that Kenny Chesney can be considered as an "evergreen" and put on the same level as George Jones, Conway Twitty and the rest of your list. While mass produced music is being played to the masses real music exists in multiple genres in smaller venues to a fan base that is way more loyal to the artist and are there for the music rather than at a show because everyone else is there. Texas/Red Dirt music is about the live music. Not the lights, not the auto-tune to make a hack like Taylor Swift sound tolerable and not a bunch of back up singers. It is about the song, the writer and quality musicians. These guys are getting their due show by show as they gain their fan base. A quote from the song Viet Nashville by singer/songwriter sums up my opinion of the Nashville scene with this quote: "Well I started pushing my songs and knocking on doors Most everyday I felt more like a whore A man said, "son, son you gotta write For an 8th grade level divorced housewife in Nashville," VietNashville. Check out when you get time.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 6 years ago from Cape Cod

      This hub brings back memories of the late 1950s and 60s when people were making the same complaints against Nashville music that have been made in this hub and in the comments. A new Coast Country (AKA Bakersfield) sound captured the imagination of fans. The movement was led by the likes of the great Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. The sound came out of the honky tonks around Bakersfield, and borrowed from such diverse sources as Rock n Roll and Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.

      Musical styles are like the leaves on a New England tree. They come and go by the season. There is always new growth and always room for new growth. Alongside the Maples, Oaks and Birches are the evergreens. The evergreens have names like Hank Senior, George Jones, Conway Twitty, Vince Gill, the Hag, and yes Kenny Chesney! Your dirt boys will get their due and they will help change C & W. Their influence will get the sound closer to where it's supposed to be. Thanks for the Hub. I loved it and the vids too.

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      Chris 7 years ago

      I have been a fan of the music since I heard Randy Rogers when I was a student at TCU in Fort Worth. Ever since I have fallen in love with the genre, the music, and the culture. Every year I look forward to attending festival like Ranch Bash, and Larry Joe Taylor. Can't wait to hear more good music, and have a blast with other fans!!!

    • MnTed profile image

      MnTed 7 years ago

      Thanks for the comment and you are correct about Nashville. There are still a few decent ones coming out of there but for the most part it is all about mass appeal and watered down pop. I'm glad I found Texas and Red Dirt music through XM radio. It is good to know real, original and quality music does exist but it is too bad corporate radio continues to ignore it.

    • KF Raizor profile image

      KF Raizor 7 years ago

      It's becoming painfully obvious that Nashville is no longer the home of country music, but rather the home of cookie-cutter pop music. Texas has taken over. Thanks for the article.

    • MnTed profile image

      MnTed 7 years ago

      Thanks for the comments! There are so many great bands to mention to say the least. Jeff, many of the ones that you mention have made it here to Minnesota on their way to or from Nebraska in their routing. All put on excellent live shows and are great to work with. Great call on Cody Johnson Band. I was turned on to them this past August. Another band worth checking out is Turnpike Troubadours out of Oklahoma.

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      Guest 7 years ago

      Hey Guys, Check out the Cody Johnson Band. They're sittin at # 2 on the Texas Regional Radio Report and # 5 on the Texas Music Chart this week. They put on a good show, very energetic and entertaining group.

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      Jeff 7 years ago

      I have been a nightclub dj for over 20 years playing mainstream Top 40 Radio hits. I have to admit that Garth got me into country music but Aaron Watson, Jason Boland and Randy Rogers were a few of the artist that really got me tied in.

      Now I enjoy working with many of these artist each year when they come into Nebraska. While still working as a club dj I now focus on the country side of things and have got to work with CCR, Jason Boland, Stoney Larue, Micky & The Motor Cars, Aaron Watson, Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers Band, Roger Creager, Casey Donahew Band, Josh Abbot Band, Johnny Cooper, Reckless Kelly and Shooter Jennings to ramble some names off the top of my head.

      One of the artist I have yet to work with is Kevin Fowler but I know it's just a matter of time.

      The Red Dirt music scene has a lot of heart and you really see the younger generation of country fans taking hold to this format of music and claiming it as their own. I am in Lincoln, NE so we are a college town. When these acts come to town the college kids come out to see them and really have a great time.

      Thanks for this great article and helping get the word out there about the Red Dirt music scene.

    • MnTed profile image

      MnTed 7 years ago

      Audiodog, thanks for the comments on my hub and mentioning Corb Lund. I'm a Corb Lund fan as well. Even though he is from western Canada he is well received in the TX/ Red Dirt scene and has done shows with these bands. He even played Musicfest in Steamboat a couple of years ago. I have two of his albums on my iPod. I assure you Randy Rogers Band, Cross Canadian Ragweed and Stoney are different than the pop country being fed to the masses on mainstream FM radio. Check out Rollercoaster by Randy Rogers Band from a few years back. Incredible CD. If you get a chance to see any of them live you will become a fan right then and there! I just checked out your blog and agree with what you say. I see you mention Hank III. Also check out Whitey Morgan (from Michigan) Dale Watson, Wayne "The Train"Hancock and Back Porch Mary to name a few more. So much good music out there if a person looks past the radio.

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      AudioDog 7 years ago

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      Audiodog 7 years ago

      Jason Boland feels unique among these bands. Most of them feel a LOT like mainstream country music to me. If you want to check out a great alternative country band, look into Corb Lund (AKA Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans). They're a Canadian group from out west.

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      MidwestGirl 7 years ago

      I have been a fan of country music since the mid 90's. I got hooked on the Texas Red Dirt music when I went to Music Fest a few years ago. And, I couldn't say it any better than you guys have about the country music today. There are a couple artists that I still do like, but the Texas Red Dirt musicians are so talented with their writing and the music they produce. Puts the bubble gum pop country music to shame. And it's unfortunate that that is what corporate radio promotes. It is really sad that corporate radio won't recognize the Texas Red Dirt Music. I can't get enough of Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Randy Rogers Band, Stoney LaRue, Roger Creager, Mickey and the Motor Cars, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Uncle Lucius, just to name a few! Awesome artists, that's for sure!

    • MnTed profile image

      MnTed 7 years ago

      Wayne, thanks for commenting. Always good to hear from another fan of this style music. I agree with what you say. I turned off pop country a few years back and can say I don't miss it. There are a few that I'll still listen to but for the most part it is TX/Red Dirt/Americana. I got the chance to see Max Stalling at Musicfest in Steamboat, CO a few years back. It was just him and his wife on fiddle. Great show. His wife is part of the band Blacktop Gypsy. I've seen Chris Knight a few times as well. Great writer and singer. So many others as well like Chris Wall, Ryan Bingham, Bleu Edmondson, Brian Burns and on and and on! It is too bad that corporate radio won't recognize this style of music. We have Jason Boland and the Stragglers here in Minnesota next week so looking forward to that show.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 7 years ago from Texas

      I have been a fan of this genre for some time with various names like Houston Marchman, Max Stalling, Chris Knight, and a few others. I turned away from mainstream country music when it went what I call "bubblegum" and focused its appeal on high school age kids. I have to pause here and say this has to be one of the top ten stupidest moves in the world of marketing considering that the "Baby Boomer" generation is still very much alive and well and consuming music. The difference is, we know what quality is in music and that ain't Kenny Chesney and some of that crowd. The Red Dirt folks (heard it called "Americana" as well)are heavily into the songwriting side of the business and this has been true since the days of Waylon, Willie, Jerry Jeff, and Shaver. They only want so much fame and some jingle in their pockets. They have more respect for control over their music and their direction than the pimps in Nashville are willing to give. Thanks for a good article and some useful info! WB