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'Texas Music Scene' features homegrown musicians

Gary Dinges
gdinges@statesman.com
Producer Tom Hoitsma, left, and host Ray Benson are the two guys behind 'Texas Music Scene,' which features performances by bands with Texas ties.

Texas bands are "flipping out" over the exposure they're getting on a music-focused TV show produced right here in the Austin area.

On the air since 2010, "Texas Music Scene" is back for another season with fresh episodes featuring "a new set, new graphics ... new everything," producer Tom Hoitsma said. Tapings happen at the Texas Music Theater in San Marcos.

The program is No. 1 or No. 2 in its time slot in several cities, according to Nielsen ratings, including Austin, where it airs at 5 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. Sundays on CBS affiliate KEYE-TV.

Other cities where it's getting "monster numbers," according to Hoitsma, include Abilene, Beaumont, Dallas and San Antonio.

In total, "Texas Music Scene" averages 360,000 viewers each weekend, and video clips from the show get about 125,000 monthly views on YouTube.

Each hourlong episode features performances by four bands with Texas ties, such as Carolyn Wonderland, Jack Ingram, Pat Green and Kevin Fowler.

"It has a pretty wide reach," Fowler said. "People are always seeing it — even my crazy family. It comes up all the time at my shows, too."

Already, stations outside Texas are showing interest. "Texas Music Scene" is on the air in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Hoitsma said Nebraska could be next.

"We see really great things ahead," he said. "My goal is a global syndication deal."

"We have a music scene no one else has anywhere in the world," said musician Ray Benson, the show's host. "We need to showcase this for all the world."

The show, Benson said, is "network quality" and has the potential to be a Texas-centric version of "Austin City Limits," a similar program that's been in the PBS lineup for nearly 40 years.

"This, to me, feels like 1976, when they started 'ACL,' " he said. "These bands are world-class players. I'd put them up against anybody."

"It's amazing it took so long for Texas acts to get a show like this," Fowler said. "It fills a huge void."

Music videos don't get much play these days, said Cody Canada, another musician who has been featured on "Texas Music Scene." That leaves up-and-comers with few options to build buzz.

"So many acts could only dream of getting this exposure," Canada said. "It looks good. It sounds good. It's well done. It's very classy."

"It's a great vehicle for us," Fowler said. "It's great added exposure. It's a pretty big deal."

Even Benson, a nine-time Grammy winner and a regular on the Texas scene for decades, said he's seeing benefits from being affiliated with "Texas Music Scene."

"Because of the show, people know me as Ray Benson more than ever," he said. "For me, it's been great, too."

Fowler, meanwhile, said he'd drop everything for another appearance on the show.

"I feel blessed every day to be a part of the Texas music scene," he said. "There's not a better place in the world to be a country artist.

"It's a hell of a deal."

Contact Gary Dinges at 912-5987; Twitter: @gdinges

'Texas Music Scene'