By Jan White
CROCKETT – On April 15, the Crockett Civic Center will open its doors to one of the most iconic country and western bands of the 90s – Little Texas.
There’s no question that the 90s ushered in a new kind of Country and Western sound, trading OG traditional country music for a combination of country and pop sung by bright young artists like Travis Tritt, Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Martina McBride, and Shania Twain. Vocal groups like Alabama, The Oak Ridge Boys, and the Statler Brothers were replaced with the song stylings of Restless Heart, Diamond Rio, Lonestar, and of course, Little Texas.
In its heyday, Little Texas garnered twelve Top 20 singles and received multiple music award nominations, including the American Country Music Award as the Top Vocal Group of 1993. Their song, God Blessed Texas, made #1 on the Billboard charts, and their single, What Might Have Been, was a No. 2 country hit and made No. 74 as a crossover on Billboard’s Hot 100.
Three Texans and one Oklahoman were the founding group members - Porter Howell and Duane Propes were born in Longview, Tim Rushlow came from Arlington, and Dwayne O’Brien was born in Ada, Oklahoma. The band got its start back in the late 80s when they began playing golden oldies in a hotel lounge. At the time, they were known as The Varsitys. In 1988, Warner Bros Records offered them a development deal, but part of that deal was that the group was required to tour the country, playing small clubs and fairs. According to Rushlow, the band scraped together enough money to buy an old van and a homemade trailer. They’d hit up a city, playing five sets a night, six to seven nights a week. “We’d write a song,” said Rushlow, “and put it in our show and see how people liked it. It gave us a chance to experiment and see just what our little niche was.”
The band also changed its name to reflect a more ‘county-sounding’ group. Although they considered the name Possum Flats, they settled on Little Texas, taken from the street named after a community south of Nashville, famous for its moonshine activity. After three years of touring together, the band felt like they’d found that ‘niche’ and, in 1992, released their first album, First Time for Everything, and quickly became one of the top vocal bands of the decade.
The group’s tight vocals were compared to The Eagles, evidenced by their cover of “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” which Little Texas contributed to the tribute album Common Thread, The Songs of the Eagles. The track won the band the American Country Music’s Vocal Group of the Year and County Music Association’s Album of the Year.
In 1994, Seals left the band for a solo career. In 1997, Little Texas took a brief ‘intermission’ and went on hiatus for several years before reuniting with a couple of new members. In 2004, they began their ‘Hello Again’ tour, and in 2007, they released The Very Best of Little Texas: Live and Loud, an album containing their greatest hits. Their studio release of Missing Years, also recorded in 2007, was met with favorable reviews. In 2015, the band released an independent studio album called Young for a Long Time.
Little Texas currently consists of the original band members – lead guitar and vocals, Porter Howell, rhythm guitar and vocals, Dwayne O’Brien, bass and vocals, Duane Propes, and drummer, Del Gray. In 2022, the band celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of their debut album.
“It’s amazing that the run we had was thirty years ago, and here we are, still out there touring and having a blast, if not the most fun we’ve ever had,” said Howell, “90s country music is still going strong and we are thrilled to have a place in it.”
For tickets, contact www.pwfaa.org. Doors and Beer Garden open at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 15, show starts at 7:30 p.m.