AUSTIN, Texas—The Center for Studies in Texas History at The University of Texas at Austin, in conjunction with its non-profit counterpart the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), has documented the stories of some of Texas’ most influential musicians in the “Handbook of Texas Music.”
“Texas has been immensely important in the development of American music,” said Dr. Roy Barkley, senior editor of the book. “The handbook brings together the stories that give rise to this claim.”
The entries in the “Handbook of Texas Music” were contributed by a wide range of volunteers—musicians, teachers, musicologists, those in various jobs in the music industry and music buffs—some of whom have devoted a lifetime of study to their subject. The association acknowledged the cooperation of the Texas Music Office, Office of the Governor and the Center for Texas Music History at Southwest Texas State University. In their collaboration they have been able to create an encyclopedia and biographical dictionary covering all aspects of Texas music with articles and more than 125 images.
“The stories of Texas musicians are important barometers of the political, social and cultural world around them,” added Dr. George B. Ward, senior co-editor. “There are stories of musicians such as Blind Lemon Jefferson. When he recorded ‘Matchbox Blues’ in the 1920s, it would have been hard to imagine that decades later the rock-and-roll pioneer Carl ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ Perkins would record a version of the song, and that in the 1960s the Beatles would do the same, inspired by the music of a blind, black entertainer from rural Texas.
“Just like the people, there are places that have had a major impact on music as well,” Ward said. “Places like Luckenbach, Texas, the tiny Hill Country town that was immortalized by Waylon Jennings, Gruene Hall, an old German dance hall that has assumed a new life as a favorite live-music venue, and Deep Ellum, the black entertainment district of Dallas that gave birth to many great Texas musicians.”
“The book includes music legends that will inspire generations to come such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Janis Joplin and Selena,” Barkley added. “There are the stories of blues guitarist Freddy King, who was a major influence on Eric Clapton, and Dooley ‘Play it Again, Sam’ Wilson who became part of cinematic history when he sat at the piano and sang ‘As Time Goes By’ in the famous scene from ‘Casablanca.’”
The Center for Studies in Texas History in the College of Liberal Arts and TSHA have been publishing Texas history for more than a century.