Hang around long enough in music, and you’ll begin to learn about not just artists, but the musicians themselves. The people that may not be right out in the spotlight to the same level as a singer, but still every bit as important. With many upcoming artists, it’s in their best interest to have a professional band backing them for their studio recordings. In much of the Texas musical world, acoustic shows are the norm for these smaller acts and in time, they hope to be backed by a top notch band. So what about in the meantime? Record the best album you can afford with the best people. I’m a big supporter of guys like Doc West and Hunter Hutchinson, and kept noticing that Nate Coon, the drummer for Aaron Watson, has been playing on so many Texas albums. It continued to peak my interest and I had to learn more about him. Let’s dive right in.
When you meet me, you’ll probably figure out I’m more interested in talking about music, or how you made your record, and who played on it, and how many songs you wrote. You’re going to get that from me more than, ‘have you ever been to this one place in Vegas or have you ever had this type of Bourbon?’ My priority is all about the music.
So you might be asking yourself: “John, Why do you want to talk to a drummer? Don’t you usually just talk about the band or the artist?”
Well, for me, this whole project gives me an opportunity to learn more about the industry and about the people themselves. I love music, but I enjoy talking to people to get different perspectives and learn more about them off the stage. When I attended Aaron Watson’s show here in Boston in September, I recognized Nate and went over to say high, feeling like a total creep. I figured, hey why not… these guys probably wouldn’t expect it anyways. Yes, I can assure you he didn’t expect it LOL! He came across as a great guy though.
When we talked on the phone last week I brought that up and we had a good laugh at how he was so surprised that someone from New England would recognize him. As he said, Aaron is one thing, but it’s crazy to think I recognized him…the drummer.
Never say I don’t pay attention people ;)
With Nate being so involved in Texas music, he clearly knows what he is talking about when it comes to many of the artists in the scene. Much like myself, he enjoys not only the large names in Texas, but the up and comers - despite not having massive record sales. It’s a mindset I have preached here since the beginning: it doesn’t matter about how widely known the artist is - what matters is how good their music is. And to top that off, it shouldn’t matter that independent artists are not all recording in Nashville. If they want to record an album to the best of their ability and funds allow, then they should. It’s something they should be proud of making, not bashful because it isn’t a “Nashville Big Wig”record label.
This has to be one of the best comments I have heard on the subject of Texas splitting off from Nashville. Those that continue to ignore Texas country, it’s simply out of ignorance or sheer stubbornness. It’s the idea that “Oh I can’t like that” yet think FGL, Chris Lane, and other Pop filled artists are the epitome of “country music.” Give me a freaking break! Texas country has continued to rise in popularity because enough people around the world, have said it’s better. Yes you read that right. Contrary to what small minded people may think, Texas Country is popular AROUND THE WORLD. It’s consistently better country music and is a mix of traditional country, Americana roots rock, honky tonk, and rock n’ roll. There’s a little bit for everyone and Nate and I agreed how many incredible it is to be a fan of Texas music right now.
Something very interesting that Nate does as a drummer, is record himself in the studio on the artists’ record he plays on. Typically a drummer is off by themselves in the studio so he thought it would be cool to record his playing. Not only does it provide a unique perspective you often never see, he’s promoting these independent artists at the same time. He typically leads off with a little about the song before his playing begins. He’s worked with Doc West, Tracy Byrd, Laci Kaye Booth, Jake Worthington, Josh Ward, and Hunter Hutchinson to just name a few. He just might be one of the most in-demand drummers you’ll find.
I’ll link to these videos down below and Nate’s YouTube Channel to Subscribe
With Texas Country’s rise of popularity, much of that can be credited to how connected social media has made us and the access the internet has created. I can listen to two excellent Texas stations, 95.9 The Ranch (Fort Worth, TX) and 105.3 The Red Dirt Rebel (Lubbock, TX) from the comfort of my desk or vehicle. A few years ago, that wasn’t exactly doable. And further more, Spotify has continued to give both new and established artists increasing audiences - just with the swipe of a finger. Yes, there are serious issues with royalties and songwriter payouts - something that MUST be addressed and should be talked about. But, it’s not just the payout that is the problem. It’s the lack of album sales that once made up a large part of an artists paycheck. To survive, it demands that artists and creative minds become more resourceful in connecting with fans to ensure shows are attended and merchandise is purchased. It’s something Nate and much of the Aaron Watson camp is optimistic about. They are fueled by their brand of independent country music and it’s been working very well for artists like AW.
There are ways to make it. That’s what keeps me going. I want to be creating music, I want to be creating art, and I want to contributing to this THING - the spirit of Independence that these people from Texas have. I want to be a part of it.
Ways of making it include what Aaron does: staying after every show and meet and talking with everyone that wants to. I saw that first hand back in September in Boston. That dude is one dedicated man, and he is so grateful to the people that spend their hard earned money on his music and shows. The humbleness and expressions of gratitude are what leave people wanting more.
And if you’re out there wondering if Aaron Watson is just as cool of a guy as you think he is, Nate (fondly referred to as “CoonDog” by AW himself) spoke of just how genuine a guy the Honky Tonk Kid really is.
Me and Aaron are kind of the same when it comes to listening to records and talking about music. We’re kind of like kindred souls. We’ll be deep in a discussion about Bob Dylan, and then we’ll start talking about David Bowie. Maybe that doesn’t mean anything to his fans, but to his drummer, knowing that he’s a massive David Bowie fan - wow, we have a lot in common. And maybe we can’t talk about baseball, but we can talk about Bowie.” Nate says with a laugh. “Maybe that’s why he’s able to hold onto band members. He isn’t pretending to be a good guy, he is one
I’m a believer that some things can’t be faked and AW’s continuous success is largely due in part to his attitude and personal touches towards fans. Nate spoke very highly of him and his experience has been consistent with everything I have seen, heard, or watched. Talk about finding a “way to make it work” and keep people coming to your shows.
That desire to see shows is something that has been on the rise around here in the North East. Quietly, the Texas acts have been coming up to these states and have had sell out crowds. It’s pretty impressive for all of the independents to be packing some of the venues without help from national radio. Is it because people are fed up with radio only playing the same pop filled acts in the outdated format they’ve used for decades? Nate and myself, think so.
Some people like dressing up like cowboys, going to a western show and doing their line dancing. Honestly what I’m hoping is that a lot of that appeal is people saying they are sick of these artists being stuffed down their throat. I think people are tired of being told what we should like and they decide to turn the radio dial - or better yet, the Spotify dial, and if they hear a song that resonates with them, and the artist comes to town, then they go to go see them live…. There are times I think, ‘We are so far from home, how do you know all the words to Barbed Wire Halo?’
Nate just described John Aldo… the guy who started Pitstop for Country for the very reasons stated. I got sick and tired of feeling like I had no options and found the wonderful world of independent music. And here we are. I’ve watched people sing along to every word of Whiskey Myers and Aaron Watson in Boston. I’ve seen people singing along to Stoney LaRue, Randy Rogers, William Clark Green, and Casey Donahew in New York City. It’s a crazy movement that is going on and those of us who pay attention, are reaping the benefits right now.
More than anything, the artists and musicians that are making this music, are doing it for their love of being creative. Yes, some are in it for the money and fame, but there are many that will do everything in their power to play music for a living. It’s in their blood. It’s what gets them out of bed in the morning. Nate is one of those people.
The reason why I love making records is that live shows fade away… Especially if you end up a bit too intoxicated,” Nate says with a laugh. “But man, records are to me are legacy. If you listen to a record that I played on 10 years ago, it sounds just as good now than it did all those years ago. It’s permanent and I can sit down with my kids and share with them what I did back in 2007. Well, OK I’m not going to play on a record and go out an buy a house based on record sales, but I’m still creating legacy and art that is really interesting to go back and listen to.
It’s a legacy that hopefully continues to live on, because Nate is helping the current AND next generation of artists in and out of the studio. It certainly caught my attention and prompted our chat and I hope you take some time to look through his YouTube videos and website.
He’s an absolute hoot to talk to and if I get a Podcast going, I would love to have him back on.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
Check out my spotify for good tunes!