Reprinted from TMC Jun 15, 2015
Tiffini Brock of Blue Lark Entertainment talks to Randy Watson, Operations Manager and Music Director of the No Bull Radio Network which covers Kenedy/Karnes City, Beeville and Pearsall.
Randy Watson with Jack Nelson
TMC: In your opinion, how has Texas/Red Dirt music changed throughout the years?
Randy: I’ve watched many of today’s artists grow up. I remember 4-5 hour road trips just to hear folks – some were in their teens, now, in their 30’s – play at hole in the wall bars and dance halls. In the beginning of the Texas Music Chart, there were only about 40 reporters; now there are 90+.
There are lots of potential listeners in Texas who haven’t been exposed to any Texas/Red Dirt music. In San Antonio, for instance, you can hear “All George Strait, All the Time,” Pop Country or Classic Country. No Texas/Red Dirt is played on San Antonio stations, except an occasional Kevin Fowler. We are among a handful of stations in South Texas that play any of the alternative music. We play about 75% Classic Country and 20% Texas/Red Dirt.
TMC: What made you gravitate towards the music on the Texas Music Chart?
Randy: I guess it’s my deep rooted love for true country music, and that’s not what we get through the mainstream much now. I’ll listen to the drums and melody before trying to hear the words. If the overall sound doesn’t hit me I may not know what the song is about. I have to hear songs many times before I figure out what the song is about. (I still don’t know what a Birmingham is, so I don’t know why I would want to paint one.) [Note: A reference to a 2004 song recorded by Tracy Lawrence and Ken Mellons on Nashville labels.]
When it comes to recordings, I am old school: I think you should walk up to the mic, belt out the song until it’s the way you want it, and you’re done. I don’t like the overly processed, enhanced, unnatural, computer adjusted, perfect pitch recordings of today.
TMC: Who are your primary musical influences?
Randy: My mom exposed me to a varied musical spectrum, from classical to sacred to Big Band to Hillbilly, Bluegrass and Country & Western. Why do we leave out the “& Western” now? She taught music, and today at 83, she still tickles the ivories at church. Listening to music in the background while doing a tedious task can make it seem easier. I can tell you that my favorite instruments are probably drums, then fiddle, sit-down steel, accordion and mandolin.
TMC: Are there any “under the radar” artists that we should check out?
Randy: In Texas, we have no shortage in the musical talent pool. We could put on our own Texas Music competition and floor those nationwide TV shows. There are so many good local artists who are happy playing dive bars on Friday and Saturday nights. They don’t really want any more from their music career. They just love playing their music.
I have my eyes and ears on a few artists or bands on different edges of the spectrum. I like the more traditional, straight up country. For the young guys just getting started, I’d say keep a watch out for The Jack Nelson Band and Matt & The Herdsmen.
TMC: What is your most memorable moment with a Texas/Red Dirt artist?
Randy: It’s memorable when I answer the phone and someone, other than a promoter, calls to thank me for playing their song. Wow, you took the time to call me?! We aren’t big spinners, 3 to 15 spins is usually the most you’ll get from us.
Veterans, lovers of freedom and dog lovers get their CD on the top of the stack. Jeremy and Jennica from Moonlight Social, I could sit and talk with them for hours, they are both hoots. Matt and Travis from Fools of the Trade are fun to be around. Jarrod Johnson is my go to guy music encyclopedia.