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Texas Hill Country Music: Artists, Styles, Venues, Dance Halls & More

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Texas Hill Country music – its sound is as unique to the area as is the landscape. Spend a morning in the recording studio of Merel Bregante. He’s a young at heart animal and nature loving cool cat who’s been playing music for 66 years. He’s a drummer, producer, and sound engineer. He’s worked with some of the finest musicians in the business like Pure Prairie League and Dan Fogelberg. He’s been a member of The Sunshine Company, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and played with Jim Messina and Kenny Loggins (Loggins and Messina).

Texas Hill Country Music: Artists, Styles, Venues, Dance Halls & Much More

Merel Bregante at home in his studio with Doug Hudson of the Sarah Pierce Band (Photo courtesy of Merel Bregante)

He has five platinum and 13 gold records, plus two Grammy nominations. And at 70 years young, he continues to run his own recording studio Cribworks Digital Audio out of Liberty Hill. He’s also band member to and married to the talented Sarah Pierce, a Hill Country musician you can expect to see singing soulful country tunes in any of the many venues scattered throughout the Texas Hill Country. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s pretty much the real deal.

Texas Hill Country Music: Artists, Styles, Venues, Dance Halls & Much More

Photo: pixabay.com

What makes the Texas Hill Country sound unique? Bregante explained with a story. One night while eating dinner in a Texas German restaurant with native German friends, he commented on the background music.  “Why are they playing Mexican music in a German restaurant?” To his surprise, he learned that the music was actually a German folk song set to Hispanic style music.

Norteño – Euro-Can Musical Soup

Texas Hill Country Music: Artists, Styles, Venues, Dance Halls & Much More
Flaco Jimenez (Photo: wikimedia.org)

This sums up how the Texas Hill Country sound first came about. Emperor Maximillian originally from Austria, partnered with Napoleon to invade Mexico. Once French armies pulled out of Mexico, the Mexican government reestablished power and and executed Maximillian. However, during his brief reign in Mexico, Maximillian introduced the European style of music to his adopted country including military bands. At the same time German, Czech and Polish settlers were moving into the Hill Country.