Texas Reds   by Jordyn Smith

This year’s Texas Reds Steak & Grape Festival features an unparalleled lineup of musical talent. From Grammy Award-winning talent to true Texas Legends, five stages across the event will host the musical likes of Cody Canada & the Departed, Bri Bagwell, Grupo Fantasma, Jonathan Tyler, Uncle Lucius, Midnight Express, and at least a dozen more. Three of the most important names you will need to learn in the off chance that you don’t already know them are David Ramirez, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Bob Schneider. The iconic Bob Schneider is the premier headliner for the event, taking the KBTX Stage at 8:30pm on Saturday night. Texas-legend Ray Wylie Hubbard will burn down the Palace Theater stage with the help of David Ramirez on Sunday, beginning at 1:15pm.

Bob Schneider, an Austin-based musician and artist has been on his own since the early 2000’s after leaving his position as the lead-singer of Ugly Americans. He has more than 15 records under his name alone, most of which were released under his own label—Shockorama.

The son of an opera singer, he moved with his parents to Germany at the age of two from his hometown in Michigan. Eventually, Schneider would find himself in El Paso. He attempted to study art at the University of Texas at El Paso, but subsequently dropped out while spending much of his time performing in his first band, a funk-rock outfit called Joe Rockhead.

Rockhead would release a few records before the members would go separate ways, leading Schneider to find a place singing lead vocals for Ugly Americans—the group that would tour and open for the Dave Matthews Band.

Schneider would eventually settle in Austin where he has been busy selling out every venue around the capital city and beyond. The crooner has successfully blended a montage of blues, folk, pop, and country into his own blend of Americana that has boded well for his career.

After signing with Kirtland Records in 2009, Schneider has released four studio records, including his newest release, an EP series titled “King Kong.” The “King Kong” series is a three-volume set of 5-track EP’s. With the Volume 1 released in February and Volume 2 dropping June, we can only assume that Schneider is preparing the next release of this latest installment.

“When I’m recording a record, when I’m mixing a record, I’m still writing songs. I’m always writing songs,” Schneider says.

The “King Kong” series resonates with nostalgia as the nuances lean back toward his early releases.

“Good songs, all genres, fun and harrowing, sharp and insightful. Songs to dance to, to laugh with, to mourn through.”

The records envelop a stylistic approach that helped develop Schneider as a singer-songwriter, a style that he will bring to Downtown Bryan for the Texas Reds Festival on September 26.

Ray Wylie Hubbard will go on at 1:15 pm at The Palace Theater. Hubbard, a native of Oklahoma has been a staple in country music since the early 1970’s. In the beginning, Hubbard was a leader in the progressive country movement. In 1973, he penned his most-famous hit “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” which was made famous by Texas Country-great, Jerry Jeff Walker. Following the insane success of the song, Hubbard signed a record deal with Warner Bros. and released “Ray Wylie Hubbard and the Cowboy Twinkies” in 1976. Unfortunately, due to the work of producer Michael Brovsky, the album was “Nashville-ized” post-recording and without Hubbard’s consent. The result infuriated Hubbard, who detested the finished product. Despite attempts to block the record, the label released the album anyway. After the release, Hubbard wisely distanced himself from the label and went on to make a name for himself under his own brand.

After the blunder in Nashville, Hubbard returned to his roots, releasing various albums over the next ten years that were a mix of country, folk, and blues. Sales did not do as well as projected but Hubbard continued, constantly touring and giving his faithful fans the music they wanted to hear. His resiliency resonated heavily with his Texas Country fans.

In the early 2000’s, Hubbard began to see an increase in album sales. As he continued to tour constantly, he retained his audience and began to expand to a younger fanbase. As Nashville country began to lean towards pop and rock, Hubbard remained true to his roots. Since 2005, Hubbard has released four stellar albums that have propelled him to legend status in the Texas Country and Americana genres.

In April of 2015, Hubbard released his latest album “The Ruffian’s Misfortune.” At 68, Hubbard has shown that he has no intention of slacking. This album is a great combination of the styles of music that led him to become the legend he is. The 10-track album has a mix of heavy blues guitar and soulful ballads. Hubbard has once again set the standard for Texas Country and Americana artists.

Following Hubbard at the Palace Theater is David Ramirez. Ramirez began his trek as a lone singer/songwriter. For the longest time, all he needed was his voice and an acoustic guitar. This was a double-edged sword for him. On one side, he was able to convey raw emotions that allowed him to connect with his fans, all while showcasing his ability to sing and play guitar. On the other hand, being alone took a toll on the singer and the loneliness of the road began to affect him. Ramirez knew he needed a change, a change that would come in the form of a band. Since the addition of a band, Ramirez has seen his set taken to new heights.

Many refer to Ramirez as one of the most underrated, under-the-radar songwriters in America—give him a listen and you might just agree. Ramirez has the unique ability to convey strong emotions to his audience while remaining authentic in his writing. His writing is not gimmick-y, but simply pure and deeply human lyrics that evoke sincere emotion from his listeners. He has stayed away from the noise of other songwriters and has been able to engage and grow a fiercely loyal fan base—fans that congregate around his intimate style of writing.

During his lone-wolf days, Ramirez had the opportunities to open for Noah Gundersen, Gregory Alan Isakov, and many others. With his band in tow, he has been able to embark on his own tour and released his latest record, “Fables.”

“Fables” dropped on August 28. The 10-track album features a mix of emotions, from heart-tugging ballads like “Harder to Lie,” “Rock and a Hard Place,” and “How Do You Get ‘Em Back” to a bluesy track like “New Way of Living,” Ramirez puts on a display of his wide range in style. Other tracks on the album like “On Your Side” and “Wild Bones” still show that he isn’t veering from his classic singer/songwriter roots.