Trust me, San Antonio, when I say the local band The Texases are genuine fun and darn sure worth hearing. We heard them last Wednesday evening at Paper Tiger and danced the night away.
Why trust me? Because I am a genuine fun aficionado. I know a little something about genuine fun.
I once owned and drove a 1969 Dodge Charger R/T 440 Magnum, a 1969 convertible Jaguar XKE, and a 1967 Mustang in original condition. I once soloed in my own Cessna 172. I once won a karaoke contest. The list is long.
I also know a bit about genuine live music. I grew up listening to my dad and his eight siblings play and sing real live music in my living room. Dad was a world champion fiddler with a room full of trophies to prove it. I learned the two-step and waltz in the kitchen with my mom, while Dad played. There is no substitute for live music when it’s done well, and playing covers can be spot on.
The Texases are a cover band. They play classic country.
Cover bands can be great, and the songs can be timeless. As Willie Nelson said: “If a song was ever good, it’s still good.”
What makes a cover band worth hearing, and hearing again? In my opinion, they must have and do some, if not all, of the following:
They must be musicians in their own right. These guys are. Bad musicians are unbearable. Bands that torture tunes and hang harmonies are hard to hear. We may hear them once by mistake, or coercion, but no repeats. These Texases guys can play. For a new band, they are coming together nicely.
They must play songs people want to hear or learn. There is an important distinction here. There is a place for experimental music. If you have heard the local startup called Blacknail, then you know all about experimental. Importantly, there is also a place for a classic popular song to be totally owned by an artist who redoes it. Listen to Disturbed do the classic “The Sound of Silence” and you will be blown away by the new style. It is haunting. By and large, however, people want a cover band to do familiar cover songs. Slip in an original every concert, and you’ll be forgiven. Do a version like Disturbed did and we are thunderstruck. And don’t forget, when it comes to classic country most want to dance, too. Give us what we want.
They must do justice to the original tunes, while making them their own. Not easily done. Most bands either do one or the other, not both. The Texases can make Dwight Yoakum smile, while keeping their unique edge. Unique, with musical ability is like listening to Morgan James with “Post Modern Jukebox” do Steven Tyler’s “Dream On,” it can make you love it all over again.
They must be unique in some way. There must be a million cover bands, all playing the same songs. Most are boring and blah. Mind-numbing musical pabulum. Nothing to get us out of the house. But with this band, each band member comes at this from a different angle, even another genre of music. Travis Buffkin already has his well-known band D.T. Buffkin, and it is not country. Buffkin’s rockabilly/honky-tonk tendencies work well here, though. His voice is unique. I remember hearing David Bowie sing with Bing Crosby. It was out-of-genre, but great.
They must be having fun. Fun without long delays, or stupid audience interaction, endless talk, or being so stoned they can’t perform. We’ve all seen that. But not these guys. They truly enjoy performing. They are just real. They have fun, and convey audience fun. If it is not about genuine fun, then stay at home on your couch.
It may help that they play at the Paper Tiger. This venue always hosts good talent and always draws an eclectic crowd. And PT does it without judgment. I mean it. Go to most venues nowadays and everyone looks, dresses, acts, smells, talks, and dances the same. This can be especially true at country palaces. Be different at your own peril. Not at the PT. Come as you are. Be who you are.
So trust me, and go hear them.
They are like Texas, only with “es” added in every way.