Buck Owens: The Country Cad Who Couldn't Quite Escape Hee Haw

Buck Owens (left) and the classic lineup of the Buckaroos: Don Rich, Willie Cantu, Tom Brumley and Doyle Holly

Buck 'Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens
By Buck Owens with Randy Poe
Backbeat Books, 360 pp., $29.99

Music legend says that bluesman Robert Johnson made his deal with the Devil at the Crossroads. If that's the case, then country legend Buck Owens must have booked his date with Ol' Scratch in the cornfield.

As Owens (1929-2006) mentions numerous times in this autobiography -- drawn largely verbatim from nearly 100 hours of recently-discovered taped reminisces -- his 17 seasons as co-host of the cornpone country comedy/music show Hee Haw fattened his wallet and made him a household name.

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Other States Sure Have Hilarious Taste In Music

See that map above? It knows things.

It knows if most of your entire state is sporting permed ponytails and jamming out to horrible '90s rock, like in North Dakota. But it also knows when your state is a bunch of bearded hipsters with collective "outsider" tastes, like Pennsylvania.

It even knows that Texas, as a collective, has awesome taste in music. George Strait, anyone?

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Fred Eaglesmith: "Anyone Can Make a Record -- the Sad Part Is They Do"

Being 56 might seem a bit old to be out bouncing around in a bus with a handful of people half your age and staying up all night, but Canadian songster Fred Eaglesmith flips that on its back.

"You know, at 35 when you're doing this, you look around at your friends and they're lawyers or they're plumbers and their life is a lot different than yours and you maybe question the path you've taken," he observes. "But then when you get to my age, your plumber friend has back pain all the time and he realizes he spent his whole life repairing toilets or unstopping drains and maybe you realize he envies you your life.

"We did 230 dates last year, and I still love doing this rock and roll touring thing."

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The Rocks Off 200: Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Photos courtesy of Kevin Anthony
Who? It's not even Mardi Gras yet, but pretty soon Rocks Off may have to start a branch of the 200 exclusively devoted to musicians from Galveston. Last week we brought you Robert Kuhn, and today it's our pleasure to introduce you to Kevin Anthony, whose roots on the Island run deep. Step it up, inner-loopers.

Anthony was BOI -- hope you know what that means -- and says he's been playing music since age eight. His parents and grandparents exposed him to the likes of Bob Wills, Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline and Merle Haggard, among others, and the family would also soak up the Cajun and country bands at rodeos and trail rides around the Gulf Coast. They would "dance dance dance," he says.

After graduating high school, he moved to Houston to attend the Art Institute of Houston and began working as a freelance artist. While he was here Anthony played in several bands, but says the city all but killed off the music scene with a noise ordinance limiting the volume to 85 decibels or below. (Sounds familiar.) In 1993 he moved to New York, where he worked for MTV Networks and founded his own studio creating music for Web and TV ad agencies. He also taught himself to play fiddle after joining a bluegrass jam session in the West Village.

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10 Things Country Music Should Write About Besides Trucks

David Guo via Flickr
We get the point, thanks.
Though it's probably no worse than current pop, rock or hip-hop, you know country music is in sorry shape when someone from Entertainment Weekly goes after it. A few days before Christmas, EW critic Grady W. Smith posted a video to YouTube that boils down dozens of 2013 country hits to a handful of topics: pickup trucks, dirt roads, girls in painted-on jeans climbing in pickup trucks (driving down dirt roads), and just the single word "girl." Then he washes it all down with the "good stuff," aka booze. It's brilliant.

But it's also heartbreaking to see a genre built on the witty and woebegone words of Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and so many others reduced to this Blake Shelton couplet from "Boys Round Here": "Talkin' 'bout girls, talkin' 'bout trucks/ Runnin' them red dirt roads out, kicking up dust." Among other things, simpleton lines like that pave straight over the quiet integrity of Kacey Musgraves' Same Trailer Different Park, as clever and lovely a country album as has been released in either this decade or the last one.

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Dwight Yoakam at Arena Theatre, 12/20/2013

Photo by Jay Lee
Dwight Yoakam the last time we were approved to shoot him at the Arena -- July 2011
Dwight Yoakam
Arena Theatre
December 20, 2013

An odd thing occurred at the Dwight Yoakam show at Arena Theatre Friday night: the cast of Federico Fellini's epic remake of Urban Cowboy showed up to party. Rhinestones, Jack and Coke, and all.

While Yoakam and his band of musical throat-cutters ran through a 30-song set list with all the abandon of pirates sacking a town full of vestal virgins, a crowd mainly consisting of people who looked like they did their dancing at Gilley's three decades ago got drunk and fairly rowdy, although as best we could determine from where we were sitting no one threw panties on the stage -- or disrobed (thank God!).

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It Could Be a While Before We See Garth Brooks Here

Photo by Mark Lopatka via Flickr
Garth Brooks performing in 2003
Without question, one of the music's biggest sweepstakes in the weeks and months to come will be speculation on Garth Brooks' impending tour, his first since more or less retiring in 2001. But with his children about to leave the nest and his four-year residency at Las Vegas' Wynn Resort almost up, the Oklahoma-born superstar is getting restless. "It sure feels good to get to throw your hat back in the ring," he said while announcing his plans on Good Morning America last week.

But where would that hat land? A city of Houston's size is virtually assured of getting a stop at some point, but when that might be is anyone's guess. Though he hardly needs to drum up interest, Brooks has been making the publicity rounds of radio stations and other media since his GMA visit, and told CBS daytime show The Talk he's planning for the tour to last as long as three years.

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R.I.P. Ray Price: Iconic Country Crooner Passes Away at 87

Photo by Jason Wolter
Ray Price at Stafford Centre, January 2013
Ray Price, one of the singular voices of country music for 60 years, has passed away, according to country-music elder Bill Mack, who posted "Ray Price left for heaven about 4:43 p.m. Central time" on Facebook about 25 minutes ago. Price was 87, and had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year ago.

"He went in perfect peace," Mack said, adding that Price's will be received at Restland Funeral Home in Dallas.

On October 8, Price was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with sepsis in his blood, according to announcements by his wife Janie Price. But he responded to the treatment of noted Houston medical figure Dr. Red Duke and was able to return home in November. After a Thanksgiving at home with his family, Price's condition worsened and he was admitted to the East Texas Medical Center in Tyler on December 2.

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Insane Clown Posse Is the New Beavis and Butt-Head

It turns out the murderous, crazed clowns from Insane Clown Posse have a side gig that we weren't aware of. Apparently, in addition to catching them holding court and downing Faygo at the yearly Gathering of the Juggalos, you can also catch them heckling the more "controversial" mainstream videos on cable's Fuse network.

Yep, you read that right. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, the dudes who brought you songs like "House of Horrors" and "Piggie Pie," have their own show critiquing videos by the likes of Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. It's a bit confusing, but just go with it.

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Five Unknown Songwriters Who Deserve to Be Heard

Photo by Eddie Vargas/Courtesy of Casper Allen
Casper Allen, "True American Cowboy"
Taylor Swift recently won her sixth straight Nashville Songwriters Award, as well as Artist of the Year at last Sunday's American Music Awards. I'm no hater, but let that sink in for a minute.

Six. In a row. Taylor Swift.

I'm no one to disparage her talents. She writes good, catchy songs that stick with people like the sauce on a Memphis rack of ribs. For lots of folks, what she serves up is finger-lickin' good, and that's okay if you're the kind of music fan content with condiments. I prefer some meat on the bone, something that's going to settle in my belly and keep me nourished for awhile.

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