Let’s be honest: We love our fellow-Texan musicians and, for the most part, we have great reason to feel that way. There’s just something to being a proud member of this state’s population that lends a native artist an honesty and insight into their work than what might come from an “outsider” when it comes to spinning yarns that relate to the folks who live here.
Of course, there have been many an act make their way to Texas from other areas, only to become hometown heroes, none the less (See: Reckless Kelly or The Mother Truckers in Austin). On top of that, there are the artists who simply do not make Texas their home, yet seem to just get it. They visit for the occasional tour and seem to have crowds awaiting them when they come as if they were regulars or neighbors. Been to a Chris Knight show in Dallas anytime recently? You know what I mean, then. The talented, but a little scary Kentucky-dweller hits Texas regularly and still pulls in crowds that would make most jealous. His music speaks to Texans in a way which comes across as if he’s speaking in a code that is spoken only south of the Red River.
Another artist that fits that description is California’s Ted Russell Kamp. A prolific singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist, Kamp stays busy when it comes time to release an album, but especially when it’s time to hit the Lone Star State. Kamp’s stellar new album, Get Back to the Land, is absolutely making the miles add up for him these days. Just this past week, Kamp played what must’ve been 10 different gigs from Austin to Parker County and from Ft. Worth to Hill Country.
What’s even more interesting is that Kamp’s distinctive Cali-country sounds are likely what makes his presence in Texas so welcome. As Texans, we appreciate an artist who likes sharing his regional love with an audience, even if it’s not our region, necessarily. In fact, as is the case with other records from Kamp’s catalog, especially the excellent Poor Man’s Paradise from a couple of years back, Kamp manages to push the influences of his life on the road (this guy has literally seen the world from a tour bus) into his songs, as he incorporates southern, soulful horns and roadhouse boogie-woogie vibes into the mix. And hey, if there’s another thing we Texans love, it’s Southern soul, right?
So, remember, local is great, but an out-of-towner who appreciates what we have locally is pretty sweet also.
Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly.