The 2010’s seemed to last longer than the decade before.. It may be that we were busy creating more memories, or it seemed as if time had slowed down a little bit as we captured the moments in the palm of our hands. Trying to encapsulate all those memories into a memorable tops list is a bit daunting, but here I go with my top 5 concerts of the 2010’s.
Lone Star Jam, 2013, Austin, Texas
On a bill that featured a lot of the next wave of talent, the headliners made sure you knew they weren’t done yet. This was the first time that LSJ went to the two day format that most are familiar with now. A young William Clark Green was the first days opening act. Fresh off NBC’s The Voice, Curtis Grimes was also one the bill. Whiskey Myers, Granger Smith, and Cody Johnson, all who are experiencing major success currently, were all day time performers. Josh Abbott Band and Randy Rogers headlined the two day festival and continue to do so til this day. But it was the opening acts on this weekend that planted the seeds for future success and their rise to stardom.
Labor Day By The Bay, 2012, Corpus Christi
Who would have thought that the opening bands would go on to be one of the greatest groups in Texas and Red Dirt and the other would sell out Reliant Stadium in Houston before the end of the decade? Looking back; this lineup was one that was poised for huge success in the years to come. Cody Johnson and The Turnpike Troubadours early days come with stories you remember your grandparents telling you about the legendary musicians of their time… “I remember when I saw them open up a show and the ticket cost less than $20.” Now we have our own tales to tell.
KJ97 Star Party, 2016, San Antonio, Texas
The first time I heard about this show was in 2015 when I randomly won tickets on Facebook. I made it a point to get there in 2016 and the show didn’t disappoint. Upstarts Brett Young and Frankie Ballard hasn’t reached their apex yet. Love & Theft had scored with their hit Whiskey On My Breath. But the hometown kids, The Last Bandoleros, stole the show and made a fan out of me. Comprised of Derek James, Jerry Fuentes, Diego and Emilio Navaira IV, the San Antonio outfit made a huge fan of me. I Don’t Wanna Know stole the ears of most of the fans in the building as they earned a rousing ovation after their set. The ultimate sign of respect was shown by all the other artists that night: the Bandoleros were the only band that had every other band watching their set.
Emilio & Raulito Navaira, 2016, Corpus Christi, Texas
What wound up ultimately being the last show that Emilio performed in Corpus Christi, it was the first time in a long time I had seen my childhood favorite tejano artist. His band, Grupo Rio, was comprised of his sons, who are now in The Last Bandoleros, and his longtime accordion player Pete Ibarra. I got taken back to being 7 years old, standing in line at a Sears for a meet and greet and picture with the accomplished lead singer. The King of Tejano brought out all the old songs that took everyone in attendance back to 1994 and the heyday of the genre.
Turnpike Troubadours, Flatland Cavalry, Kaitlin Butts, New Years Eve 2016.
There’s something about a “hometown” show that just feels different. That was the case when I made the 13 hour drive from Corpus Christi to Tulsa, Oklahoma to take in a weekend of The Turnpike Troubadours. From the moment I made it north of the Red River, everything felt a little special. I sat out night 1 of the weekend which was American Aquarium and Turnpike. Night 2 is where I got lost in the music. Kicking off with Kaitlin Butts, she tore through her set as the crowd was feverish with anticipation. Once she got the crowd riled up, Flatland Cavalry came out next. Fresh off the success of their first album, Humble Folks, the Lubbock band played hits from it and their debut EP, Come May. Every single song had backup harmonies from everyone in attendance. The air was electric, then out walked Evan Felker and company. Greeting the crowd and going right into Ringing In The Year was the perfect way to get ready for the countdown at midnight.
When the boys from Oklahoma first announced this show, I got the bright idea to take my first trip to The Sooner State for this weekend. I tried to recruit so many different friends to try and go with me, but life happens and I wound up going alone and it was for the best. I was able to immerse myself into a crowd without knowing a single soul. Also, I was able to let go during the entire set without judgement because there’s a 99% chance I will never see those people around me again. It’s hard to describe how or what I felt, but I knew, as i sang every word with the strangers around me, that it was special. It turned out to be the second to last Turnpike show I ever saw before the hiatus and it was worth every single cent getting there. It really was worth the Long Drive Home.