Dallas is a vibrant place for numerous musical styles. Fans of rock, rap, classical, electronic and metal all easily find concerts and clubs inside the Big D city limits to delight their ears with relative ease.
Still, it's easy to argue that country music provides the city's official soundtrack. Sure, plenty of folks unfamiliar with Dallas may think that's all that gets played around these parts, and that's obviously untrue, but we're certainly proud to say that much of the country music that does get played here is excellent. Country music has a long, proud history in Dallas, with greats like Bob Wills, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jack Ingram and the Dixie Chicks paving the way for future greats from one decade to the next.
It stands to reason there are more than our fair share of great country acts filling local honky-tonks these days. Here are our favorite country acts from Dallas right now.
Eleven Hundred Springs
For over 20 years now, the Matt Hillyer-led honky-tonk crew has offered up one fantastic country record after another. With the sort of vintage Bakersfield-style sound that made Merle Haggard and Buck Owens famous, Eleven Hundred Springs has built a loyal fan base far beyond North Texas. True to his status as a music lifer, Hillyer has also recorded a fine solo album in recent years, and can often be seen performing those songs in a live setting all by himself.
As much or more than any other country band in Texas these days, the Vandoliers proudly showcase the way in which the stylistic boundaries of country music can be tested while still being honored. Band leader Joshua Fleming employs his raspy wail to cut through his expert band's combination of roots, Tejano and punk. Each of the group's albums, including its recently released Forever, are stellar examples of records that can sound like many things yet still feeling very cohesive.
Joshua Ray Walker
With a high, lonesome singing voice, Walker, who also plays guitar in another prominent Dallas country band, the Ottoman Turks, has been winning new fans across the country since the release of his debut album Wish You Were Here early in 2019. With eloquent, richly detailed songs that pay tribute to his late Grandfather, as well as stories of down and out fictional characters, the new album has won plenty of critical praises and has helped land him coveted spots on national tours with established stars such as American Aquarium and Colter Wall.
The Texas Gentlemen
Inspired by the legendary studio musician groups like the Wrecking Crew and the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, The Texas Gentlemen aren't a typical country band as much as an uber-talented country, rock and soul collective that, along with performing and recording under their own name, help make many other country artists sound better than they had ever dreamed of. Using band-leader Beau Bedford's Modern Electric Recording Studios as its home base, The Texas Gentlemen count big name singers including Leon Bridges, Paul Cauthen and Jonathan Tyler as honorary members who will often hop on stage with them to the delight of unsuspecting audiences.
Kelly Dearmore is a veteran Dallas-based music writer whose work appears in the Dallas Observer and other publications.