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28 May 09 This is a Real Texas Festival

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It seems like more and more areas of the state are embracing Texas music for its unique sound and influence. Mesquite is one of those areas.

We had the opportunity to visit and listen to several different music acts this past weekend at the third annual Real.Texas.Festival. The City of Mesquite looks at this as one of its signature events. This year’s festival had everything you would expect: carnival rides, rodeo, food, barbecue cook-offs, and lots of good Texas music.

Many of the local festivals we attend have performers who are very good, but are not well known outside of the individual communities. The shows are diamonds in the rough, and always well worth the time to attend. This festival, however, was different. On a smaller scale, it rivaled some of the top festivals in the state for star quality.

The first big act we heard was James Otto. Standing almost six and a half feet tall, he has what John Rich calls “the biggest voice in country music.” He was actually one of the few acts during the weekend without a strong tie to Texas music. But he wowed the audience, anyway, with songs showing his Lynyrd Skynyrd Southern country rock influences. He included his rendition of “In Color,” which he co-wrote with Jamey Johnson and was named Song of the Year by the Academy of Country Music.

The music festival culminated Saturday night with a performance by Los Lonely Boys. The three brothers are proud of what they call their Texican spirit. Their mentors have included Willie Nelson, Carlos Santan and Los Lobos. Their first big hit, “Heaven,” is always a treat for crowds such as those gathered in Mesquite.

In subsequent stories, we will tell some of the background information that TMJ picked up in conversations with such performers as Kevin Fowler, Bart Crow and Paula Nelson, daughter of the Texas legend, Willie Nelson. All of these great acts, along with others, entertained thousands of people in attendance on Friday night and Saturday.

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