So I’ve been back from Dallas/Fort Worth for about a week now, and I’ve decided that seeing Texas country artists perform live for the first time starts an addiction that is probably similar to that of cocaine. I’ve been trying to satisfy my craving all week by blasting Casey Donahew Band, Mike Ryan, Whiskey Myers and Sam Riggs through my speakers, but it’s just not the same as seeing them live. Guess that just means there are more trips to Texas in my future! Anyway, for those of you who have never been or those who have and are looking for more things to check out next time you go back I’ve compiled a short list of some of the best things I experienced during my four day trip to the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
I know we have bars and venues in Minnesota that bring in quite a few country acts, but they really don’t compare to the Texas honky tonks which have a steady slew of country acts dropping by and selling out shows almost every night of the week! Plus they don’t charge a crazy amount for tickets, so you can actually go to multiple shows a week. While I was in Texas I was able to visit Denim & Diamonds in Wichita Falls, TX to see Casey Donahew Band and also Coach’s & Cowboy’s to see the Honky Tonk Kid himself, Aaron Watson, in Tyler, TX. Both Casey and Aaron were amazing and I highly highly recommend that you see them both if you have the chance. Aaron Watson made history back in 2015 when his album The Underdog became the first ever independent album by a male artist to chart #1 on the Billboard Country charts, and I still can’t get Casey Donahew’s song “Stockyards” out of my head! The other thing about honky tonks is that they have huge dance floors in the middle of them, which leads me to my next point…..
Dance Floors With Dudes On Them
We met up with my friend’s cousin who’s from Texas when we went to Denim & Diamonds and he thought it was hilarious how excited I got about seeing the dance floor and all the guys that were dancing on it! It was the coolest thing to see couples two stepping and spinning on the dance floor all night. The guys even joined in on the line dances! I’m not saying guys don’t dance in Minnesota because some do, but this was different. You know those scenes in “Hope Floats” and “Country Strong” where couples fill the dance floor all night, that’s real life in Texas.
95.9 The Ranch
If you’re ever in the Dallas/Fort Worth area just do yourself a favor and turn your radio dial to 95.9, your ears will thank you! They call themselves “The Sound Of Texas” and they aren’t lying! They’ve got a playlist of Texas Country artists new and old on rotation 24/7 and it was a refreshing break from what I’m used to.
Whataburger’s Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits
So, I was technically supposed to be on a cleanse and not have sugar while I was in Texas, BUT I made an exception for our late night trip to Whataburger and it was so worth it! I was told I had to order the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit and I wasn’t going to argue because well, biscuits are one my favorite things and who would turn down honey butter? Now, I was expecting it to be good, but when I took my first bite it exceeded all expectations! Seriously I want to eat a tub of that honey butter with a spoon.
The Pink Pistol
If you’re a Miranda Lambert fan like me just do yourself a favor and make a stop in Lindale, TX at The Pink Pistol, even if it’s 2-ish hours away. The workers are so helpful and nice, plus you can sample Miranda’s Red 55 Wines! I mean you can drink while you shop, who doesn’t want that? You can pick up everything from shot glasses, to Miranda Lambert tour t-shirts, to bedazzled and distressed Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Dolly Parton tanks, and Junk Gypsy tees! I was like a kid in a candy store!
A friend of mine recommended The Rustic to me before I even got to Texas so we stopped in one day for lunch and I immediately fell in love with it. There’s inside dining options, but the highlight is the huge garage doors that open up to an outside dining area featuring a stage for when they have shows there. Cam was actually going to be there the Wednesday after we left. Besides having amazing food and an appetizing drink selection, I would love to catch a show at The Rustic next time I’m in Dallas.
Billy Bob’s The World’s Largest Honky Tonk
The first stop we made, well besides the hotel, was Billy Bob’s and it did not disappoint! We weren’t able to catch a show there, but that didn’t matter because just hanging out and grabbing lunch there was exciting! We spent a good 20 minutes checking out their walls of celebrity hand prints trying to decide which ones we wanted to smooch – I went with Willie Nelson. Then there was another 25 minutes spent in the gift shop trying to decide what shirt/hat/shotglass we wanted. Next time I’m in Texas, catching a show at Billy Bob’s is a priority. It’s so big and rich with history having so many amazing country acts come through it that I’m sure it’s just a crazy, loud, fun time.
It’s also right in the Stockyards so you can go walking up and down the streets checking out the shops and restaurants and getting historical tours. It’s a very cool area!
Mardi Gras Texas Style
We ended our trip at Mardi Gras Texas Style at the state fair grounds in Dallas, and I couldn’t have dreamed of a better ending to the trip! They have 28 bands on 5 stages! We were able to see Sam Riggs, Mike Ryan, William Clark Green, JB and the Moonshine Band, Whiskey Myers, and Josh Abbott Band all in one day! I think I had a ridiculous smile on my face the whole time and I left with more artist merchandise than I could fit in my carry on (I’m definitely a Mike Ryan fan girl now, I have the hat and t-shirt to prove it). All of these artists are amazing and you can feel the passion they have for their music and that their fans have for them when they’re on stage. Check them all out if you ever have the chance. Sam Riggs just released a new album, Breathless, last week and Whiskey Myers has a show coming up in Minneapolis in June, they will melt your face off with their guitar and vocal skills.
So there you have it, the best things I experienced on my short vacation to Dallas/Fort Worth! Hope this inspires you to check out some of the amazing Texas country artists listed and book yourself a little trip!
–Written by Jackie Ebnet for MinnesotaCountry.com