I’ve received a few emails this week of people asking me something along the lines of the following: Dude, we get it. You like Texas. It can’t be that great.
While I’ve been civil in my responses to these emails, the disconnect between what Texans and those who have visited Texas know about the state versus those who haven’t has suddenly interested me. Is it possible that Texans have been under-hyping our great state this entire time? I mean, obviously.
I was sitting at my desk typing away furiously this morning with some Cody Johnson music on quietly in the background as a part of my “I Miss Texas” playlist that I definitely created on my iPhone.
One of my coworkers overheard some of the music and came up to me and asked “Who is Cody Johnson? Never heard of him before but this music is great.”
After I resisted the urge to yell in wild disbelief because today is #Friday, I immediately flashed back to the summer of 2010. I was down on Lake Travis for a concert and had just fired a text off to Roger Creager (more on that, later) who had a show later that night. As I was waiting outside his bus for him to come unlock it, up comes this country boy wearing Wranglers, a pearl snap, black ostrich boots and a Stetson. AKA my spirit animal. He saw me standing there and asked if there was anything I needed help with and we got to shooting the shit for a minute or two and I asked him if he knew anything about this Cody Johnson fella who was opening up for Roger that night.
He looked at me, somewhat disappointed, and said “hey man, I’m Cody Johnson.”
I felt like total crap. This, at the time, no-name artist hadn’t made his way down to Austin yet. I immediately offered to buy any merchandise he had to include his only CD that he had released to this point. He refused my offer and gave me his CD, a shirt and a kooz for free. He then thanked me for reminding him to stay humble and he sincerely meant it.
It was around this time that Roger had come off the bus and invited us both up for a few beers. Cody asked me how I knew Roger which led to another story.
I went to a military academy for undergrad so my “college experience” was essentially non-existent. After only playing shows down in the South and maybe as far North as Colorado for most of his life, Roger Creager had finally decided to venture up the East Coast to play a few dive bar venues. Only problem for me? The one time he was going to be playing near me was a Sunday night and my school had a strict curfew that went into effect an hour before Roger’s show was supposed to kick-off. I was seriously disappointed as I was going to miss a chance for my favorite Texas artist to finally come out my way. I made a half-assed attempt and shot an email to an address I found on Roger’s website asking if they were ever coming back out this way and gave him some details on why I couldn’t make it. The response surprised me.
“Hey Kiawah, we don’t have anything else on the schedule as of yet. My number is _____. Give me a call if there is anything I can do to help. RC”
Roger Creager had just given some fan he didn’t even know his cell phone number. I immediately called and Roger, his former Green Beret dad and I hashed out a plan. We were going to send up an exception-to-policy with Roger shooting me a few emails personally addressed to my CoC for me to skip out on curfew that night. A few days later I received a call from a very senior officer who asked me to swing by his office. “I’m about to get my dick fucking crushed. This was a stupid idea,” I thought to myself.
As I walked into the office ready for the worst, said officer greeted me. “Hey Kiawah. No clue how this request even got to me, but everyone who has to approve it has said yes. Now that I think about it, though, it makes sense….literally every one of them is a Texan. Also, not sure if you know this, but me and my wife are also from Houston. We absolutely love Roger and you can go see him but only if you get my wife a signed T-Shirt from him.” He then handed me $20 cash for the shirt. I agreed and walked out of his office with a shit-eating grin on my face.
I immediately let Roger know that I had somehow gotten the green light and he invited me out to dinner and drinks before the show, which let me tell you, was a great fucking time.
After this success, I started asking some of my favorite artists if they were ever planning on coming out my way, as well. A few of them did. I have somewhat similar stories about Kyle Park (who gave me a free pair of boots), Granger Smith and Eli Young back in his Small Town Kid days.
I don’t tell these stories as a humble brag. I tell these stories because that’s what Texas means to me. From Cody Johnson, Roger Creager and an officer who seriously outranked me all being bonded together by Texas and Texas country music. There is nothing Texans won’t do to help each other. Why is that? Probably lots of reasons. We were the only state that had to become a country, first. We have an intense pride that I’ve touched upon previously.
Texas Country music is the one thing that definitely will bring us all together. Texans legitimately care about each other. I’ve had tons of requests for care packages of Whataburger, HEB Green Sauce, Shiner and everything else in between. We give a shit about each other down in Texas. Roger even messaged me while I was in Afghanistan telling me to stay safe and I get a shout-out every time I go down to Gruene Hall for his annual concert week during his birthday.
Again, I don’t tell these stories to brag, I tell these stories to answer the question of “What makes Texas so great?” The funny thing, though? Almost every Texan has these kinds of stories..