A Texas Music Documentary, Episode 1

What is it about music? What is it that makes us need it deep down in our subconscious? You know, music is everywhere. It always has been, if you listen closely enough. I think maybe that's why we need it, because it's always been, and it's a universal language that crosses boundaries and creates common threads of emotion.


So, what makes some of us throw caution to the wind and chase it no matter where it leads? 


I'm Melissa Greener. Road warrior, songwriter.


Maybe it's the way it makes us feel. Maybe it's the way something we write or sing makes others feel. Sharing feelings like that somehow bonds us together.


Music's all about having fun, and that's what I love about Texas songwriters, is that it's not a monolithic culture. It's all sorts of different things.


So, what makes a song good? The words? The melody? The chord structure? Man, if there was an answer to that, I'd keep it to myself, and I'd be Elvis. 


Texas music, it's always been a significant American art form, from country, to blues, rock and roll, you name it. Some of the most amazing music has come out of the State of Texas over the years.


If you're into music, the way musicians are...


Well, think of it this way. If you're from Georgia, or whatever, you might not have a lot of opportunities to see artists that are really successful, but they're not mainstream. When I go to Michigan, there's people that know about Texas music. Down here, we can see James McMurtry. We know that that exists. We can see Ray Wiley Hubbard, we know that that exists and we see how they live, and we see that you can etch out a place in the music business for yourself, doing exactly what you wanna do, your own way only. And so once you see that, that enables you to... We might call it attitude or whatever, but I've always just seen it as, "I'm gonna do it this way, this is my line that I'm not gonna cross." And if they say, "We're not willing to go there with you," knowing what I know about what you can do from Texas, I can honestly and with a clear conscious and good heart say, "I'm not going there, and I don't have to." Because I know what you can do, on your own.


Troubadours have been doing that with little more than a guitar for centuries. We've always valued them and needed them because of the way they make us feel.


I think about Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, cranking out all that swing music back in the day, and then Buddy Holly comes along. I remember a story of Buddy going to Nashville after he had created this sound of music that was basically meant to really complement a guitar, bass and drums. And he went to Nashville. They wanted him to put all these steel guitars and fiddles and everything on the music. And he said, "You know, that's just not what I do." And I'll never forget the line in The Buddy Holly Story, after he'd fought that fight, kept his artistic integrity, he turned around and looked at his band and said, "Come on, boys. Let's get back to Lubbock."


Success in the music business. I guess that's measured in all kinds of ways, playing a certain gig like Gruene Hall or Billy Bob's might be considered a huge success to some artists. Others? Well, they may have to see hit records, tons of fans and their house on Cribs, before they feel like they've really made it. In the music business, being able to quit your day job, that's success.


I am Little Brave. Also known as Stephanie Briggs. Do you want me to say that I'm Little Brave? 


The journey's just started and the stories are never-ending. Just ahead on this Texas music documentary.


Just ahead in upcoming episodes: There's only four or five big major funded record labels left out there and there never was more than 10 or 12. So, let's keep the math real simple, let's say there's still 10 of them. And let's say that those 10 companies, each one of them carries five hairy legged male singers at any point in time, okay? That's 50 people in the whole world that are getting that opportunity. And then you begin to realize, there's way more than 50 people out there that have the ability. They just didn't get that opportunity.

This is part a documentary series that I worked on as a photographer, videographer and social media strategist. On the show we went behind the scenes & follow Texas-based singer-songwriters living the Troubadour life.


In part one of this episode, "Premiere" we introduce the troubadours: the singer/songwriters that the series follows as it explores the challenges and the rewards of trying to make it as a performer. The various troubadours discuss the passions that have led them to perform and where they expect the journey to take them. Industry experts are also interviewed and share their thoughts on how to make it in the music industry.

While I was part of the production team for the entire run of the show, I was just one of a half dozen or so videographers who contributed. A note to my fellow internet content creators: one particularly interesting element of this documentary is the gear I used as one of the videographers on the show. For all the content I currently shoot, I use a variety of enthusiast level cameras from GoPros to Canon Point & Shoots to Fujifilm mirrorless cameras. You can see all the current gear I use here.


The primary cameras I used on this shoot were Canon 7D DSLRs. Look at this episode and leave a comment about what you think about the overall production quality of this piece with the 7D and GoPros mixed into shots from the other videographers using professional cinema cameras.