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TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION red dirt metal band lives up to its name

So...I ventured forth into the night to catch a show where a favorite band of mine, PARAGON (refer to ROCKzology's review of them here), was opening for Texas Hippie Coalition, the 5-piece heavy-metal-texas-centric-southern-rock band from that state of the Union that has given us everything from such notable historical contributions as The Battle of The Alamo, the assassination of a President (JFK) & the assination of a President (GWB) (I attended his first inaugural but passed on the invitation to the second), pools of black gold, Tex-Mex chili, and Lone Star Beer to what I consider to be their greatest cultural contribution to America which is the live music scene located in the town of Austin, boasting more music venues per capita than any other U.S. city (approx. 150).

Currently based out of Denison, Texas (according to their Facebook...but their Wikipedia profile says its Chickasha, Texas...?), Texas Hippie Coalition, also known by their initials as THC (intended as a subtle reference to their admiration for the psychoactive substance found in cannabis, no doubt, which was made known vocally throughout their show via song and speech by the singer fronting the band Big Dad Ritch) is basically a throwback to the heavy-metal days of old with a country-fied spin, offering up a Jimmy-Page-lead-guitar-look-alike in the personage of Randy Cooper, a bass-guitar-on-hip-wielding John Exall, a dark-haired-adrenaline-driven-drummer by the name of Ryan "The Kid" Bennett (recently replacing the group's former drummer Carl), a rockin-rhythm-guitarist-but-sometimes-lead that goes by the single name of Crawfish, completed by the band's frontman, lead vocalist "Big Dad Ritch" who could probably double as the bouncer/security guy for this outfit, gauging by his behemoth size and monolithic-styled black-leather-Stetson-cowboy-hat.

Prior to the show the instrument soundchecks were handled by two roadie-technicians rather than the musicians themselves. The show started with an intro announcement yelled by a third roadie posing the question to the crowd gathered in front of the stage, "Are you ready to get your ass kicked?". They played a fest of eleven tunes even though their set-list that I was given listed fifteen. They opened with "Cocked and Loaded" from their newly released CD entitled "Rollin" which established their heavy metal sound with the guitars using feedback and sustain techniques and the drummer Ryan Bennett doing a showy cross-over display of sticks to skins; second was "Texas Tags" accompanied by the statement from Big Dad Ritch that "...we're from Texas, don't f**k with us..." coming from their first/self-produced CD "Pride Of Texas" a song that has a chorus line that states "...mess around with me, and your blood will be spilled..."; third was the title track from their second CD by the same name "Rollin" (again Ritch lets the audience know that they wanted to title it "Roll A Big Fat F**k'n Joint" but that the F word would have to be removed so they decided to just call it "Rollin'" clever...the bass player John Exall got very animated during this one running all over the stage and then would prop the guitar up on his hip or hold it with the neck straight up while playing...something different for the show; fourth tune was "Property Line" where Ritch pronounced about the song's theme "you can't just grow anything over should own a little piece of property where you can do what you want to do...don't you cross that line" was on this tune that the country sound was first evident mixed with the metal...great guitar solo by Cooper on this one, just not long enough; fifth was a tune dedicated to the late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell (promoting the charity Ride For Dime) "Clenched Fist" Ritch telling the crowd to forget the moment of silence but to yell and raise a clenched fist instead; sixth was "Groupie Girl" "...for the Ladies in the house..." as Ritch said, seventh "Intervention" a song where Ritch conveys the message that he "...doesn't like people telling him what to do..."; eighth tune was "Flawed" where Ritch says "...its about me...I'm that SOB from Texas..."; ninth "Back From Hell" inspiration for the tune came from a time he "...rode a bull and got hurt real bad...scars are cool..."; tenth, one of their better tunes, was a southern-burnt-sounding rock anthem (another from their first CD "Pride Of Texas") called "River Bottom" where Ritch states "...the coalition is growing like a weed...", lyrics offering up the words "...guess thats the way I'll be smokin' THC...thats where I'll be while drinkn' whiskey..."; and ending the show with their biggest hit to date (most radio airplay) "Pissed Off And Mad About It" which I believed to be the best tune of the show.

So there seems to be basically three themes (aside from Texas) running rampant in most of THC's tunes...anger, weed and whiskey...wrapped up in an old musical saddlebag of red dirt heavy metal...couple that with gyrating guitarists, a pounding rhythm section and an over-sized growling-vocal Stetson-covered Texan fronting the band, the "Texas Hippie Coalition" appears to be striking a chord with some of the metal rocking least in controversy (leaving shows before fans could meet them or get autographs, some calling them Pantera Wanna-BEs with Dean guitars, some saying they are too old, etc.), if not their music...but there is nothing new here in presentation or musical invention. The musicians are all very technically proficient but I believe their talent is being wasted...where is their originality of sound? This is a missed opportunity to make something new in metal. They definitely lived up to their name with a display of over-inflated Texas-ego, the hippie-ish long-haired tokers image and their musical campaign to form a coalition of people in the same mode of thought (coalition-a pact or treaty among individuals or groups, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in their own self-interest, joining forces together for a common cause)...staying true to their moniker and in typical hippie form (having lived through that era), the band managed to skip out on me for the interview I was hoping to have with them after the show (assured by both their Tour Manager Zack Higgins as well as Big Dad Ritch telling me "about 20 or 30 minutes")...or more likely they had toked up so much...they forgot...leaving me to wait an hour only to find them gone from the venue having taken off in a haze of blue smoke...they essentially left me "Pissed Off And Mad About It". 'Nuff Sed.

New video of their hit "Pissed Off And Mad About It":

Texas Hippie Coalition video of the tune "Leaving":

Big Dad Ritch - lead vocals
Randy Cooper - lead guitar specialist
John Exall - bass guitar
Crawfish - rhythm/lead guitar
Ryan "The Kid" Bennett - drums

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