Members of the Texas Chapter of the Recording Academy gathered to celebrate their 25th anniversary last night at Austin’s ACL Live. It was a celebratory evening that put on display the diversity of music that creates Texas’ musical soundscape. Tejano, country, hip-hop, rock n’ roll, and gospel were all represented by incredible performances by the Texas Chapter members, who are all equally passionate about the work they do together, regardless of generic differences in sound and style. Indeed, the evening featured a couple of spotlights on the MusiCares charity that offers health, financial, and rehabilitation resources for musicians, but also contributes monies for disaster relief (like it did for Hurricane Harvey when it hit Houston and southeast Texas in 2017). The Chapter’s display of solidarity was also evident as several artists sent their prayers and well-wishes to Executive Director Theresa Jenkin’s, who is currently battling cancer. While these moments tugged on the audience’s heartstrings, the camaraderie among those in attendance offered a sense of strength and reassurance.
Following a red carpet entrance from the featured artists of the evening, things got kicked off with a cocktail reception and dinner that featured one of the best performances of the night from San Antonio’s mariachi wizards Campanas de America. Following the dinner, doors were open to the public for the big show. Los Texmaniacs (featuring Little Joe Hernandez) hit the stage first, delivering a near flawless performance. Performances by Asleep At The Wheel and Marcia Ball had the seated crowded nodding their heads, waving their arms, and eating and drinking with enthusiasm. Brian Courtney Wilson and Chapter President Yolanda Adams performed two songs individually before joining together for an incredible duet on Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend.” If you thought a gospel set would slow things down mid-show, you would be wrong. Wilson and Adams’ voices perfectly complimented each other and soared over the crowd.
Oklahoma and Mexico are part of the Texas Chapter, so Oklahoma trio Hanson were not out of place in the evenings festivities. Unsurprisingly, they played their biggest hit, 1997’s “MMMBop” to the appreciative crowd. The country band, Midland, followed with an excellent three song set that somehow rocked harder than Hanson’s set. But, what got the crowd out of their seats was the tribute to Houston hip-hop provided by Paul Wall, Bun B, and Slim Thug. Paul Wall and Bun B did two solo songs, but the trio came together for two songs to close out the evening. Considering these were simply rappers performing along to backing tracks, they each had the stage presence and energy that finally got people to stand up and dance. It was the perfect close to a delightful evening.
– J. Kevin Lynch (words); Corey Smith (photos)