On a lonesome plateau in the Chihuahuan Desert is the small desert city of Marfa Texas. It is a city known for it’s arts and is the gateway to the Big Bend. Marfa is most noted for the mysterious phenomenon called the “Marfa Lights.”
Recently, four of Texas’ most noted singer songwriters gathered in Marfa to collaborate and write. They ended up creating a chart topping album. They formed a new group.
This Texas supergroup is called – The Panhandlers.
William Clark Green , Cleto Cordero, Josh Abbott and John Baumann make up this team of Texas Troubadours.
They recently recorded and released a self titled album The Panhandlers.
The Album was recorded outside of Austin and was produced by Bruce Robison. Released on March 6th 2020 by the Next Waltz label.
“Just Before the World went to hell,”Bruce Robison says on the labels website about the release.
I have been a long time fan of Bruce and his music. After hearing what he made with the Panhandlers, I even have more respect for his musical talent.
The song that led me to this group was called “West Texas in My Eye.” It is the only song out of the ten songs on the album that wasn’t written by it’s members. It was written by Charlie Stout.
My first impression of the album including the name of the group was a reminder of the Terry Allen song “Amarillo Highway.”
Amarillo born Josh Baumann cites Terry Allen as one of the artists that led him into songwriting.
The entire Panhandlers album paints a vivid picture of life on the Texas plains.
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This is the land that I call home. I can relate to every lyric in every song.
Cleto Cordero, the front man, and primary songwriter of the Lubbock based group, Flatland Calvary is actually from my hometown of Midland Texas.
Josh Baumann also has a song titled Midland.
Baumann’s Midland is A song about the oilfield town that I grew up in.
I have seen boomtime and bust in my own life, and I would not trade it for anything. I have tried to leave this God forsaken land more than once, the oil wells have always called me back home.
In “This Flatland Life“, the second song on the Panhandlers album, the lyrics are about the oilfield I grew up in.
We got folks that say they won’t come back
But they can’t stay away from the ol’ pumpjack
In a place that looks like times forgotten
But all I see is the highest cotton
I got no issue, cause I’m in between
This flatland life and a south plains dream
This Flatland Life/ The Panhandlers/ Song Writers Cleto Cordero, John Baumann, Josh Abbott
“It’s story telling music”Cleto Cordero
This original record is true to it’s Texas roots. All four of the members hail from this great state.
Josh Abbott who originally founded Josh Abbott band in 2006 while attending Texas Tech University in Lubbock was born in Gatesville North Carolina. However, grew up in the windswept plains of Texas in the small farming community of Idalou.
William Clark Green is from East Texas he was born in Flint. He also attended college in Lubbock at Texas Tech giving him a first hand view of life on the Texas plains.
William’s brother Pat Green is one of my all time favorite Texas Country artists.
“We wanted to release a collection of lonesome West Texas Songs- with that vibe of wind, dust, and tumbleweeds.”William Clark Green
The whole album is a masterful work of art, to a Texas loving guy like me.
My own tribute to West Texas goes like this:
If you are ever headed east on I – two- oh
Out in the cotton fields and where the cactus flowers grow
Pretty soon you are sure to pass
That sweet and sour smell of sulphuric gas
That stinks you might say
I just say it’s the smell of money, the oilfield, the way I earn my pay