Country Music

Texas voting restrictions challenged in court

The trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton continues, but not for long. We’ll have details on the latest testimony from the Senate floor.

State senators could start deliberations in Paxton’s impeachment trial as soon as Thursday.

Texas voting laws go on trial in San Antonio. We’ll have details about a case challenging state bans on 24-hour polls and drive-thru voting.

All that, and how to keep your trees fungus-free, the best bean and cheese taco in Texas, and the latest headlines from across the state. It’s coming up today on the Texas Standard.

In attempts to ban library books, Texas leads the nation

Texas prisons are under a statewide lockdown as officials search for contraband to stem a rise in prison homicides.

More than 700 new state laws took effect in Texas on Sept. 1 out of the almost 3,000 that were filed – meaning the vast majority didn’t become law. Texas Public Radio’s David Martin Davies tells us more.

Texas had the most book challenges of any state last year, according to the American Library Association.

Outlaw country, born in the 1970s, has long been dominated by men. But female artists have been making noteworthy contributions, especially recently.

Plus the week in Texas politics with the Texas Tribune.

Astronaut Christina Koch on NASA’s upcoming Artemis 2 mission

Tensions are growing in Austin over the use of DPS officers to augment local police.

Facing resistance to a plan similar to school vouchers, an alteration getting attention at the state Capitol is focused on students with disabilities. Talia Richman of the Dallas Morning News Education Lab has more.

NASA’s plans to return to the moon: We’ll talk with Christina Koch, one of the astronauts assigned to the upcoming Artemis 2 mission.

And on this 4/20, a closer look at the complicated relationship between country music and Willie Nelson’s favorite way to kick back.

Why is the two-step danced differently in Austin than in other parts of Texas?

Two-stepping originated from foxtrot and has been danced to country music in dancehalls around Austin for ages. Influenced by other music genres played in the region, people here have put their own spin on it.

KUT listeners Allyson Lipkin and Cristopher Juarez wanted to know why people in Austin and San Antonio dance the two-step differently than folks in the rest of Texas and the U.S. So, they reached out to KUT’s ATXplained project.

The state’s appointing conservators to oversee Austin’s school district

The Texas Education Agency wants to appoint a management team to help Austin ISD address “systemic issues” in serving students with disabilities, less than a month after the state announced a takeover of Houston ISD.

Some real fish tales out of San Angelo: We’ll tell you about the lake where anglers are catching tons of monster fish.

We’ll hear about the Country Music Television Awards’ Texas debut, the first time the ceremony has been held outside Nashville.

And what to look for from the state Legislature this week.

Texas Standard: October 24, 2022

Amid growing concerns over the busing of migrants from the border to other cities, El Paso pulls the plug on its program. We’ll have the latest. Other stories we’re working on: Early voting in Texas starts today and all this week the Texas Newsroom hones in on disinformation, and what Texans can do about it. We’ll have more. Also as new threats arise in Russia’s war against Ukraine, the U.S. Air Force revamps pilot training for rapid response to unexpected situations. And how Black musical artists and fans are embracing country music as the industry reckons with change. Those stories, a project to understand what Latino voters in Texas want and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Sunny Sweeney: “Easy as Hello”

Even during these dog days of summer, singer-guitarist Sunny Sweeney‘s preferred A/C is Americana/Country. Sweeney first crept up over the honky-tonk horizon in 2006 with Heartbreakers Hall of Fame and earned her first three Top 40 Country singles on 2011’s Concrete, cementing herself as a must-hear for millions of new fans. Following a “Top Female Artist” nomination at the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards, Sunny went on scorch and glow on 2014’s Provoked and 2017’s Trophy, but in the five years since then, she’s been suspiciously absent…up until now.

The Nashvillian recently returned to her Texas stomping grounds to record her upcoming fifth full-length, Married Alone. That Lone Star synergy really started flowing once Sweeney recruited KUTX favorite Paul Cauthen and Texas Gentleman frontman Beau Bedford, but it was the addition of Dallas’ Jeff Saenz that tied the knot for Married Alone‘s dream production team. However, as mentioned in a previous Song of the Day, the process came to a sudden halt when Saenz tragically lost both of his arms. Nevertheless, eight months later, Saenz was back in the studio and Married Alone wrapped up its final rehearsal dinner. So with that, consider this your cordial invitation to join Sunny Sweeney, et. al in celebrating the release of Married Alone on September 23rd. And don’t fret; you have plenty of time to mingle and jingle spurs with some of the record’s lead singles (like the retro-’70s Cauthen co-concoction “Easy as Hello”) before you two-step down that aural aisle later this fall.

Matt Koziol: “Loving You Loving Me”

When a player becomes a hot commodity within their musical community, there’s an unsaid understanding that they could probably demolish a solo set all on their own. A perfect example is singer-guitarist Matt Koziol, who’s collaborated with country legends like John Paul White, Abby Anderson, and Jimmie Allen and enjoyed a creative partnership with Bre Kennedy as Koziol Kennedy. But as with many others, it was moving to the country music Mecca of Nashville that sealed the deal in terms of pursuing a solo career. It’s been a little over two years since Matt Koziol and Jars of Clay member/producer Matthew Odmark began taming the ten tracks on Koziol’s debut LP Wildhorse. And considering how crisp and thought-out it sounds, we’re glad they took their time with Wildhorse rather than grab it by the mane and ride it on barefoot hooves. The record dropped this morning, finally harnessing Matt Koziol’s towering talent and making it available for the masses. With summer temperatures on the rise, Wildhorse is a damn good album for a mid-May weekend. So when it’s time to clock out, saddle up with a slapback delayed country rocker that gets rowdy without kickin’ shit, “Loving You Loving Me”!

Grace Pettis: “I Ain’t Your Mama”

Whether you’ve seen her perform at the front of her eponymous band or as one third of the folk-pop trio Nobody’s Girl, local Americana enthusiasts should be well acquainted with Grace Pettis. Raised both in the ‘burbs of Atlanta and rural Alabama, Pettis has brought a unique, cross-class Southern experience along to her current home base here in Austin. Pettis’ compositions have been picked as prime recording material by fellow Studio 1A veterans Ruthie Foster and Sara Hickman, further lending to Pettis’ songwriting reputation (which also includes Buddy Holly Educational Foundation grants and an NPR Mountain Stage New Song Contest win).

This morning Grace Pettis released her country-leaning LP Working Woman today, tracked in Nashville and culminating in a regional tour that kicks off in Houston this evening. Pettis performs for a livestream 7:30pm next Monday the 10th from Waterloo Records, just after Mother’s Day, so celebrate the working women in your life with the new record, but remember, in Grace’s own words, “I Ain’t Your Mama”!

Erin Ivey: “Where Have You Been All My Life” [PREMIERE]

Longtime listeners of KUTX aren’t likely to gloss over certain Austin songwriters based on remarkable talent, perhaps most notably six-time Studio 1A veteran Erin Ivey. Whether she’s teamed up with Tosca String Quartet, The Finest Kind, David Ramirez, or just going solo acoustic, Ivey’s made countless jaws drop and eyes water with her luminous vocal presence and impressive range dating back to her 2007 debut.

But with seven years having passed since her last studio album, Whisper of the Moon, Ivey’s fans have been in dire need of an update. And they’re in luck! Next Friday Erin Ivey shares her ten-track full-length Solace in the Wild, leaning on her classic indie folk sound with sprinkles of Americana and psychedelia and other powerful nuances throughout. And though another premiere of sorts may understandably be taking up most of the spotlight today, take your mind off the news and enter Solace in the Wild with its lead single, “Where Have You Been All My Life”!

Texas Standard: September 13, 2019

Democratic Presidential contenders duke it out in Houston. Who fared well and who didn’t? We’ll take a closer look. Other stories we’re tracking: whether recent mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa could mark a turning point for Texas. Also 20 years after a Texas church shooting, a remarkable story of healing. Plus Ken Burns rosins up the bow for a major public TV documentary, this time on country music. And the week in Texas politics and more today on the Texas Standard:

This Song: Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend

Ezra Koenig, lead singer and songwriter for the band Vampire Weekend, explains why he recently became obsessed with  “I Don’t Think Much About Her No More” by country singer and songwriter Mickey Newbury.  He loved it so much that he even included a cover of the song as a bonus track for the Japanese release of the band’s latest record Father of the Bride.  Listen as he describes why he finds that song so compelling and explores what it was like to apply country music’s direct approach to songwriting to some of the the songs on Father of the Bride.

Listen to this episode of This Song

📸 Monika Mogi

Get your own copy of the Japanese release of Father of the Bride

Get your copy of the US release of Father of the Bride

Listen to Father of the Bride on Apple Music or  Spotify

Check out Vampire Weekend’s Tour Dates

Learn more about Mickey Newbury

Listen to more Mickey Newbury

Listen to Songs from this episode of This Song

Texas Standard: August 1, 2018

The latest Texas Lyceum Poll is focused on the mid-terms. Republican incumbents have big leads except for one. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has found a true challenger in Representative Beto O’Rourke, but will the two debate and will it matter? We’ll explore. Also, the Port of Corpus Christi has some big plans for some big ships to move a LOT of oil across the way from Port Aransas. We’ll take a look at what the people of Port A think about the proposal. And if you’ve got a kid in your life quick question: have they spent much time outside this summer? A guide to help parents navigate in a world full of tech. Plus will we finally unravel the mystery of the Marfa Lights? You’ll have to listen on today’s Texas Standard:

This Song: Run the Jewels // Belcurve

This week we talk to two very different groups about partnerships and the inspirations that guide their voices.  First we hear from El-P and Killer Mike from the hip hop collaboration known as Run the Jewels. The two rappers start out talking about early influences (Prince’s “Beautiful Ones” and Ice-T’s “6 In The Morning”)  and end up expressing their love and respect for Southern Rock, The Clash, Outlaw Country and early hip hop and rap. Next, Sarah Castro and Matt Parmenter of the Austin-based Belcurve explain how their collaborations steer clear of the ordinary and how Kathleen EdwardsPJ Harvey and Tom Waits helped them create their shared musical vocabulary.

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Listen to Songs from Episode 60 of This Song


Check out Run the Jewels’ Tour Dates

Listen to “Talk to Me” from the Run the Jewel’s upcoming record “Run the Jewels 3.”

Listen to “2100” from Run the Jewels

Check out Belcurve’s Tour Dates