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- Frontpage News Last updated: June 7 11:45:08 PM   

Texas-style party
  Homegrown music taken out to pasture

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June 8, 2003
Victoria Advocate

CUERO - Heads nodded, feet tapped, hands followed the beat as the music drifted through the pasture and fans gathered in a shady area to listen to some true-blue Texas-grown music.

Jerry Martin, vocals and guitar for Rivertrain, gets into the groove of Texas music on Saturday when his band played at the 2003 Party in the Pasture, hosted by Smokey Wilson of Cuero. The party was a two-day event on Wilson's ranch, drawing in crowds and bands from around the state.
Four San Antonio guys calling themselves Rivertrain took the stage at the sixth annual Party in the Pasture to perform the songs that won them the 2003 Album of the Year from MyTexas

The Party in the Pasture at the Smokey Wilson ranch in Cuero drew crowds from near and far as more than 30 Texas bands gave them something to tap their feet to.

Rivertrain's Jerry Martin, Sam Sanchez, Drew Campbell and Nathan Ragsdale play a mixture of country and rock 'n' roll.

The band got its start in late 2000 when Martin and Sanchez met and started writing songs together.

"We started playing together and we decided to get a band together," said Martin, 32, who plays guitar and is a singer for the group.

The band went beyond playing in their garage and in their city, Martin said, when they began getting gigs around the state. In July, the band's debut album "Abandoned" was released and in January it won the Album of the Year award. This year, the number of gigs have increased tremendously.

"We were so excited that it finally got out there," Martin said. "We had been playing locally and a little bit traveling for about a year and finally we have a CD and a product to sell."

The members agreed they were surprised when they received the award.

"There was big time competition," said Sanchez, 24, who plays guitar and sings with the group.

Martin added: "It was a shock. There were big groups in there. We were ecstatic. It was like 'cool, somebody actually likes what we're doing.'"

The band is working on its second album, which is slated for release in August.

The band's music ranges from wild to serious, from storytelling songs to songs that poke fun at life.

Martin said what he enjoys about playing Texas music is the freedom allowed in the genre.

"We can write about anything. There's no boundaries. We can write a rock 'n' roll song, we can write a country song, we can write a serious song, we can write a funny song, and we're not categorized," he said.

Sanchez said a lot of the songs come from real life.

"I had a friend tell me when I first started writing songs to write what you know," he said. "So, that's what I do. I write about things that have happened to me or to people I know or things I wish would happen to me."

The band's goal, Sanchez said, is just to put out good music.

"We didn't set out to win any awards or anything. We just set out to put out the best product we could," he said. "It's cool to see people digging it, and it's cool to win awards, but all that motivation was just to put out the best product we could."

The guys all agreed they like having fun with their music.

"You can't be tired at our show," said 21-year-old drummer Campbell.

On Saturday afternoon, the band's energy flowed to the crowd as they jumped around on the stage and the crowd moved to the music.Saturday night wrapped up the two-day event, featuring more than 30 bands, a barbecue and chili cookoff, a family-fun event.

Among those enjoying the music were James and Melinda Hammock of Needville. This year was the Hammock's first time at the party.

"I want to come back. This is a blast," Melinda said.

James added. "All the entertainers have been great. They'll come up and talk to you. It's because they're all Texas musicians."

Johnny Flores, who performed at the party Friday night, and his wife, Diana, also of Needville, stuck around for Saturday's performances."It's obviously getting bigger. The way Texas music is taking off now, I imagine it's just going to get bigger," he said. "Texas music is the kind that is a combination of all sorts of music genres from country, blues, and rock 'n' roll. To Texas music, you can dance anything from two-step to, if you have long hair, head-banging."

Elise Kirchoff of Yorktown said she thought the music was great.

"This is like the beginning when Willie Nelson started his gatherings. I think this is going to grow," she said. "It's true, homegrown Texas music and the people are really good. I'd listen to these guys more than the big ones."

Bea McKinney of Yorktown agreed.

"What talent. They're not people you normally hear, but they're all rising stars," she said.

Crowd estimaties for the two-day event were 2,500 people over both days.

  • Joy Mygrants is a reporter for the Advocate. Contact her at 361-580-6516 or by e-mail at
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