Musicians Off the Record: What is Texas Music?

Texas music is Buddy Holly and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bob Wills and Willie Nelson, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Norah Jones, Freddie Fender and Selena, even Leopold Stokowski and the Miró String Quartet. Texas music is rock 'n roll and blues, polka and conjunto, norteño, swing and honky-tonk, bluegrass, torch songs and grand opera. It's unknown fiddlers and pianists and guitarists and the many cultures that have made up the Texan people. It's singers into politics and singers who won't touch politics. It's a lot of difference and a distinct similarity among those who live to make music. This Web site is a collection of interviews with people in Austin today who work at making a living through music.

There is something quintessentially Texan about these folks—musicians and business people alike—who make up a community where musicians who live to perform can do so. There is also a harkening back to a way of life that is increasingly rare in our corporatized world.

Texas musicians believe in freedom—in being able to do what makes you happy. They have an independent nature. They are self-determined. They believe in the immortality of creativity. They believe in the importance of their work.

This Web site is a result of interaction between UT students and people in the Austin music scene. UT students conducted all the interviews and asked the musicians how they got their start, why they kept playing music, why they lived in Austin, if they were involved in politics or social causes, and how changes in society affected their life in music. We also interviewed the scenemakers—the club owners, writers, producers and others involved in creating the community. In addition, we created a timeline of Texas music.