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MusicFest to benefit Wounded Warriors

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

When the New York Times says something flattering about anyone or anything in the Lone Star State, it's time to sit up and take notice. Here's what a Big Apple Music Critic wrote about the McKay Brothers: "Their authenticity is as welcome as a drive down a lonely road in a dusty pickup."

Hollin McKay, along with fellow Texan musicians, Brandon Rhyder and Chris King and the Liberators, will headline the Texas Hill Country MusicFest, slated for Friday, Sept. 13, at the 11th Street Cowboy Bar, 307 11 Street. The brainchild of Denise Griffin and her daughter and son-in-law, Melinda and Roger Byrd, proceeds from the concert will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

Doors open at 7 pm and admission is $10.

"This event began as a birthday party idea three years ago for Roger and it has turned into something far greater than we could have imagined," Melinda Byrd said. "We are so excited to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project again this year and we hope to continually grow this event each year and bring more Texas music and people to the community."

With a mission to honor and empower, the Wounded Warrior Project was founded in 2002 after veterans and their friends, moved by stories of the first wounded service members returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq, began an effort to help others in need. The initial concept to provide comfort items to wounded service members has since been transformed into a complete rehabilitative program that assists warriors to recover and transition back to civilian life.

Because "the greatest casualty is to be forgotten," the Wounded Warrior Project raises awareness and enlists the public's aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women; helps severely injured service members aid and assist each other; and provides unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of severely injured service members.

To that end, James McGroarty, owner of the Cowboy Bar, promises a musical-filled evening offering the best of proven talent on the Texas music scene.

"I am honored to support our young men and women in the Armed Forces who were wounded while fighting for our country," he said. "I can't think of a better way to show that the Hill Country cares than with this concert featuring a trio of outstanding Texas musicians."

While growing up in the Bandera County hills, music became an inescapable part of McKay's life. As the fifth generation Texan recalled, "We used to sit on the banks of the Nueces River with our uncle playing songs ranging from the Beatles to George Jones. Our uncle's feelings about music shaped a lot of what my brothers and I write about."

At age 16, Hollin joined his older brother, Noel, playing in honky-tonks and dance halls around Bandera, as well as in San Antonio biker bars and rustic dives. Since then, the McKay Brothers have shared the stage with Texas musical icons Willie Nelson, Guy Clark, Charlie Robison and Robert Earl Keen. Tomorrow night, he's share the outdoor stage at the 11th Street Cowboy Bar with musical muchachos, Rhyder and Kennedy.

A fixture on the Texas Country-Red Dirt scene, Rhyder has said about his music, "I could escape in music. I love words. I love being my own guy.

It's not something that I sought to achieve, but I just see words and chords and songs differently than many."

With the release of seven albums, Rhyder boasts an impressive quartet of number one singles on the Texas Music Charts. On August 20, he released another full-length album, That's Just Me, on Reserve Records via Thirty Tigers.

Produced and recorded at The Zone in Dripping Springs, this highly-anticipated release includes cuts co-written by fellow Texan powerhouses and friends, Josh Abbott and Wade Bowen. Heavily inspired by Charlie Daniels and Riders in the Sky, Rhyder's debut single from the album, "Haggard," offers a clear picture into his youth. As he explained, "The overall feeling about life resonates on this collection. I hope people will see that I, along with my family - both on and off the road - are focused, driven and thrilled to share our passion."

King is an East Texas native, who was transplanted and raised in a tiny South Texas town. He has been described intriguingly as "an honest songwriter who places the subjects of his songs in the middle of heartbreak, moonlight, alcohol, Cadillacs, hope, dance halls and thunderstorms - all with as much gallop or yawn as he can muster."

A new voice in Texas music, King's first full-length album, entitled 1983, was released last January.

To catch King, along with McKay and Rhyder, report to the 11th Street Cowboy Bar at 7 pm, Friday, Sept. 13, for an evening of great Texas music in support of a great cause. Along with the 11th Street Cowboy Bar, Buddy's Water Well Septic Service and Harleys & Horses Marketplace, other sponsors for the Texas Hill Country MusicFest to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project include Brick's River Café, John Teich Construction, Aquatech Frilling, Inc., Strike, Odessa Pumps and Texas AgFinance.

For more information on this benefit concert, visit www.11thstreetcowboybar.com.