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It doesn't take more than a second or two after meeting country-rock musician Ray Johnston to figure out he's one determined dude. Though his motto is "smile hard," he seems to live by a more famous mantra: "Failure is not an option." Determination drove the lanky Montgomery, Ala., native to make good on his childhood pledge that he would one day play pro basketball; he wound up joining the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent in 2004. It's what helped him turn his passion for music into his post-basketball profession, leading the Ray Johnston Band, which just completed a new album, AGAINST THE GRAIN. And most of all, it's what kept him going as he battled leukemia. Five times.

True to her Texas honky-tonk roots, Sunny Sweeney has never been a singer of what you'd call "soft" country songs the kind you might turn to for easy comfort and or quiet Sunday afternoons with the family. Hell, you can tell just by the titles of her first two albums Heartbreaker's Hall of Fame and Concrete that she reaches straight for the hard stuff. So when this woman sees fit to name her third album Provoked, you better believe she's not about to start playing coy now. No, this is where the real hurtin' starts, and Sweeney's showing no mercy least of all to herself.

The music community has tried for decades to define country music. Are steel guitars and fiddles required? Or is the essence based in the true-to-life message? Shy Blakeman is an old soul who portrays his own country music heritage on Long Distance Man, his acclaimed third studio album. Blakeman successfully melds together all the rural musical styles from below the Mason-Dixon line in order to create an album that is "so eclectic it's really hard to try and define it by one genre. And that's the way it should be," Blake notes. "But it all still feels within the realm of what country music is and used to be." This unique style developed naturally from a childhood in Wyoming and East Texas, added to years spent in Nashville, New York and LA collaborating with an eclectic group of classic country-rock musicians.

I started picking on the guitar early in high school. but at that time. it was just hobby to me. I was really moved by the "Texas Country" scene . after attending a Fall Fandango concert at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. in The Woodlands. TX. with my older brother and his friends. After that. I was hooked and eventually found myself singing along and playing to artists I saw that day. I found myself writing songs and playing everyday. so I formed a band with some local classmates. and with just a few originals and a hand full of covers. I soon landed us our first gig! We started out as a house band. opening for some big name bands every Sunday. at venue called Reno's. in Webster.Tx .

With roots in rock. blues and country. it's hard to put a label on Sam Sliva and the Good. the Austin based band that released its debut album. SEE YOU AROUND. in the summer of '08. Drawing comparisons to the likes of the Killers. Steve Earle. and Texas legend Robert Earl Keen. Sliva and his trio lack nothing in the way of style. And recently they've had no shortage of compliments either. Texas Music Magazine likened the group to "channel[ing] the best of The Band and the Counting Crows". While flattering associations with multi-platinum musicians might be new to them. it's nothing that Sam Sliva and the Good stumbled upon overnight. The group has been honing its sound for years. playing gigs almost nightly. across Texas and beyond.

Sonny Burgess is a true Traditional Country Music Artist. The natural ease he exudes on stage is a hint that this ain't his first rodeo. He is a CMA Artist Winner and Texas Country Music Hall of Famer. His discography of four releases has scored 11 top 10's in the Texas Country Music Charts Burgess has hosted the Nashville Fan Fair/CMA Music Festival and the International Music Awards. He has played the Grand Old Opry on several occasions and walked the Red Carpet at the American Country Music Awards. In addition he has played three times for former President George W. Bush during his campaign trail (twice in Iowa and once in Ohio). He's built his career in Texas and Tennessee bringing inevitable good lessons hard earned. Standing here today Sonny demonstrates that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Texas-born singer/songwriter and guitarist Shawn Fussell isn't afraid of hard work. He proved it in his previous career as a tilesmith, a joint-cracking, back-aching occupation where meticulous craftsmanship is the only acceptable standard. And he has proved it in his musical career, honing his skills and his art over a series of years and self-released albums until he was ready to release a full-fledged debut, Shawn Fussell (2009) that is up to his exacting standards. Working with producer/engineer and musician Eric McKinney (Mark McKinney, the Weary Boys, Colin Gilmore) as well as bassist Tim Casterline and drummer Keith Hernandez, Shawn produced a handful of robust new songs which he paired with re-imagined songs from his previous independent releases to produce a cohesive new sound that fits organically into the Texas Music/Red Dirt country-rock sound of Texas and the Southwest while still keeping its roots in the innovative, genre-crossing tradition of Shawn's musical idols. Heartfelt, lived-in originals like "Why'd You Lie" and "Serenity Song" juxtapose naturally with open-ended rockers such "Days and Daze" and his single, "Ride", which reached the top 30 on the Texas Music Charts. And, as something of a counterpoint to Shawn's first-person approach to songwriting, "Tulia, TX" is a searing account of real-life racial injustice in West Texas. As such, it takes Shawn's songwriting to a new level.

After serving 4 years in the US Marine Corps and one tour of duty in Iraq. Scott Brown and Best friend Brandon Robelia returned home to Texas...guitars in hand. Scott and Brandon met in the Marine Corps in 1999. Scott had never picked up a guitar. and Brandon only knew a few chords. Eager to learn. Scott would make his way down to Brandon's barracks room and steal his guitar until he finally bought his own. Mostly playing for fellow Marines and friends. the two spent most of their time picking and waiting for the day they could go back to Texas for good and pursue the music that they loved.

After a year that brought two Top-10 radio hits and nearly 200 shows. the Scott Wiggins Band has set itself in prime position to take the "next-step" in 2010. The quartet that saw its beginnings in Corpus Christi and now calls the New Braunfels/Austin area home has seen its fair share of big and small over the years...from opening slots for Eli Young Band and Pat Green to corner dives in small towns...but one thing has always stayed true. the passion to bring the best possible music to the people. The lineup of vocalist-guitarist Scott Wiggins. drummer John Diaz. bassist Ryan Fedako. and lead guitarist-harmony vocalist Keith Davis has meshed to create a sound that is one in its own...electric. dynamic. and energetic.

Think "Emmylou Harris. Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt" When the best elements of these legendary singers are combined. you get the powerful musical styling of talented singer-songwriter Sheila Marshall. "As a small child I remember trying to sing louder than everybody else." Sheila recalls. "I just loved singing. I think more than the average kid." Sheila's musical versatility comes from an influence that spans music genres. from Led Zeppelin and Lucinda Williams to Tammy Wynette and Willie Nelson. Her sound mixes elements of country. pop. gospel and rock & roll.

What does the University of Texas, Cat's Baseball, Lone Star Park and the Texas Rangers have in common? The Steve Helms Band and the hit single "Nowhere But Texas". This new found Texas anthem can be heard playing loud and proud at all UT sporting events, at ball games for both the Texas Rangers and the Fort Worth Cats ball clubs and at the Lone Star Park horse races.

STONEY LARUE At 3 years old. Stoney LaRue could be found belting out "Swinging" by John Anderson on his Mr. Microphone radio. The son of a struggling bass player and a nurse. LaRue understood the allure of music at an early age. and recorded his first works at age twelve. He earned accolades through school for his unmatched vocal abilities and promising instrumental talents. Many subscribe Stoney LaRue to the category of artists that are simply natural born performers. just don't try to limit him by category. Born in Taft.Texas. LaRue actually spent the majority of his adolescence north of the Red River. where he was raised in Southeastern Oklahoma . He never really pictured himself doing anything else but making good music. so LaRue eventually made his way to the state's Red Dirt hotbed of Stillwater. where he began to develop his individualized style from a widespread range of influences.

Sean McConnell has been performing on stage ever since he can remember. He was born into a family of full-time musicians. which inspired Sean to travel down the musical road. Growing up in the coffee houses of the Boston folk scene. Sean watched his parents playing songs written by Joni Mitchell. Bruce Springsteen. David Wilcox. Shawn Colvin. Harry Chapin. CSNY. James Taylor and others of the like. Unknown to himself or his parents. Sean was soaking it all in and locking it away somewhere inside.

If we're honest, the true weight of any band or artist is chiefly determined by how they translate to us in a live performance setting. Can they breach that intangible border between the stage and the gathered onlookers? Can they slip in like a steady rising state of inebriation, stealing our attention, controlling our emotions and ultimately drawing us into their world? Does their energy continue to vibrate within us well after the last chords have been played and our daily life comes to reclaim us? These are probably some of the questions one writer from Rolling Stone Magazine had running through his head before he proclaimed The Statesboro Revue as one of the highlights of the 2009 South by Southwest Conference and Festival. The Statesboro Revue goes back to 2008, but the evolving vision of front man and primary songwriter Stewart Mann goes back much further.

"Sam Riggs wears a legacy of honest country, makes good rock, writes lyrics that matter and straps on a stage presence second to none." -- Ray Wylie Hubbard Receiving a hand up in this business of music from the likes of Ray Wylie Hubbard is no small accomplishment, and that mentorship and sometimes harsh instruction was not lost on Sam Riggs, who has had the fortunate opportunity to meander through Wylie's cerebral countryside over the last few years. At the time of their meeting, Riggs was already a commercially-viable songwriter with an impressive root system, having sprung from his family's musical genes; but he was still feeding off the unripe fruits of his youth. Through the songwriting school of Hubbard, he learned the time-honored virtue of patience and the aptitude for turning the rough and tumble falls to the ground into a steady, recovered gait.

Saints Eleven's music is full of self-controlled, natural energy. Not only does it show on stage, but on their debut album, "I'll be Fine" as well. Every song on the album is different. Each song has a certain country/rock swag to it, but unique in its own way. Producer John David Kent says, "This is an album to be proud of."

The past decade has seen Steven James crisscrossing Texas and the South with his past two successful rock bands. Now, he's ready to strike out on his own. The young singer who often draws comparisons to Kings of Leon or Black Keys has teamed with acclaimed producer/engineer Lars Goransson, in Austin, who has produced international hit records from groups including The Cardigans; and some of Austin's music royalty including What Made Milwaukee Famous, Alpha Rev and members of Fastball.

Recalling a Bygone Era of Texas Honky-Tonk Music, Scott Dean Does It "All Over Again" Scott Dean is doing it all over again! After ten years as a contemporary rock and roller (selling more than 50,000 albums and performing over 1,000 shows across the world), Dean is emerging onto the Texas Country scene with a honky-tonk vibe that gets back to the basics of dancin' and drinkin' the night away in true dancehall fashion. As a country newcomer, with a respect and admiration for the artists who started it all, it's only fitting that Dean's traditional sound reminds of Buck Owen's Bakersfield, Johnny Cash's fiery spirit, Dwight Yoakam's vocal style and an era of country music's past that many long for.

Sim Balkey has a distinctive voice which, quite simply, doesn't sound like anyone else in country music today. There's an edgy intensity in his voice that brings out the best in every song whether it's a vulnerable ballad or up tempo party anthem. Balkey infuses lyrics with a warmth and authority that draws the listener into every song and makes it memorable.

Tom Cheatham is a Dallas, TX native who has picked, strummed and fought his way through the Texas music scene one dive bar at a time. After living in Austin, TX for 5 years, music became an important part of Cheatham's life. He moved back to Dallas and began writing songs and pursuing his craft at local venues. Following his dream hasn't always come easy. But late nights, long road trips and an incurable love of music have rallied to create an artist charged for the next phase of his career.

From hard and alt. rock bands hail the composite of the Tribe. We have been part of numerous projects and through a little studio time, we have finally found our destination. We can all truly say that we love each other and are having the time of our lives seeing this project take off.

Tori is 20 years old and from Azle, Texas just outside of Fort Worth. Azle has proudly deemed her their "Singing Sensation!" The Country Singer is shooting for the stars as she erupts on the Music Scene. Tori amazes crowds with her classic southern charm, graceful beauty, then wows them with her energy filled stage presence, heart felt performance, & powerful voice. She has been affectionately called, an "Old Soul," no doubt reflecting her influence by Classic Country and the Great Legends of music. She seeks to show this love in every performance, with her own unique, soulful, and strong sound. Tori also writes her own songs, amazing even the most seasoned songwriters & producers with her skills, able to write both lyrically & melodically.

The Damn Quails started as a weekly jam session at The Deli in Norman, Oklahoma. Looking back, the fact that the band began so organically, could be considered somewhat of a miracle. At the epicenter of these weekly jams was Bryon White and Gabe Marshall. Both had been playing music in the Oklahoma area for some time, and when these two forces collided the harmony between them was undeniable. Some would say that it is hazardous to put two guys on stage that can write, sing, and play guitar. As everyone knows, egos can get in the way. This wasn't the case with Bryon and Gabe. Their singing, songwriting, and guitar playing utilizing both electric and acoustic guitars, meld together in such a way that it's hard to tell where one starts and the other stops.

After forming in the fall of 2006, the Tejas Brothers quickly became the subject of big conversation around the stockyards of Fort Worth. Within a few short years, they had earned the respect as one of the best live acts in Texas.


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