Kickin' it with Little Texas

Country rockers to perform at Berkeley County Youth Fair

Country rockers to perform at Berkeley County Youth Fair

July 30, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

During its early years, Little Texas was known as the hardest-working band in country music, sometimes clocking in 300 gigs a year.

Today, the work ethic is still there, but members of Little Texas are a little older and a little more judicious. Since returning to the spotlight in 2004 after a six-year hiatus, the band has made it a point to balance their passions.

"We really structure our touring so we only do weekends," said Little Texas bassist and vocalist Duane Propes, reached by phone in Nashville, Tenn. "We actually cap at 90 shows a year now, so we can be home for our kids and so we don't have to try to stretch t like that."

This year the band is celebrating 20 years in the business. Their anniversary tour includes next Wednesday's stop at the Berkeley County Youth Fair.


Although Little Texas might be cutting back on gigs, Propes said that doesn't mean they're toning down the fun.

"We get mad when people sit down during our shows," he said. "We don't like it. If you want to come and bring a lawn chair, you might as well put it on top of the hill."

Propes and lead singer Porter Howell started playing together back in high school at the age of 15. They continued with music while students at Belmont University in Nashville.

"We spent one summer working on Opryland together and we met a couple of the other guys in the band," Propes said.

As they continued to perform and hone their skills, Warner Bros. came calling, thanks to a college friend.

"Next thing we know, we have a record deal," Propes said. "It was a total fluke."

And on July 4, 1991, the guys heard themselves for the first time on KURL radio in Wichita Falls, Texas.

"We were leaving a show that afternoon and they had gotten a hold of an advance copy on cassette," he said. "They actually played it from the cassette as we were leaving town."

That single, "Some Guys Have All the Love," became the band's first Top-10 hit.

"The celebration was so wild we almost left the highway," he said with a laugh.

The band quickly followed the success of that first single with "First Time For Everything." Their sophomore album "Big Time," gave them three No. 1 singles, "What Might Have Been," "God Bless Texas" and "My Love." The last song earned them a Grammy nomination.

Later, they participated in "Common Thread: The Songs of The Eagles," which landed them a Country Music Association Album of the Year award. Little Texas had covered The Eagles' "Peaceful Easy Feeling."

In 1994, Little Texas was on top of the world. The band received two more Grammy nominations for their "Kick A Little" album. And they played two gigs -- one in Minneapolis, the other in Detroit -- and completely sold out both shows. The Eagles had played both venues a few weeks earlier and didn't accomplish the same feat.

"That was pretty defining," he said.

Today, Propes said if you want to know the type of band Little Texas is, just play "God Bless Texas." Because even two decades later, it still gets the same type of response it did when it was released.

But his personal favorite? Listen to "Kick a Little." He said he borrowed an Ozzy Osbourne bass lick that he plays in the first eight bars of his solo.

"I think it's absolutely hysterical that it made top country radio," he said.

In 2007, the band released "Missing Years" and "The Very Best of Little Texas: Live & Loud." Their next project includes releasing their singles on the Internet sans a record company. Because for the band it's about the fans and performing.

That's the same attitude the band will bring to its gig at Martinsburg this weekend.

"We're going to play songs that you didn't even know we did, but you know them," he said. "It's a night chock-full of hits. It's a rockin' show. The crowd is at least 70 percent of our show. We include everyone in it the entire time. We've been called the Van Halen of country music and I like that. That pretty much sums it up."

If you go ...

What: Little Texas

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5

Where: Berkeley County Youth Fair grounds, 2419 Golf Course Road, Martinsburg, W.Va.

Cost: Admission to fair costs $5; free for ages 12 and younger

CONTACT: Call 304-263-5869 or go to

Berkeley County Youth Fair Schedule highlights

Saturday, Aug. 1

6:30 p.m. -- Opening ceremonies with welcome by Jim Stuckey at indoor arena. Michael T. Myers is master of ceremony. Crowning of Miss Youth Fair 2009 by Brandy Orsini, Miss Youth Fair 2008

Sunday, Aug. 2

Gates open at 5 p.m.

5:30 to 7 p.m. -- Local talent, indoor arena

7 p.m. -- Truck and tractor pull, track area

Monday, Aug. 3

Gates open at noon; close at 11 p.m.

1:30 p.m. -- Small pet show, indoor arena

6 p.m. -- Carnival opens

7 p.m. -- Truck and tractor pull, track area

7 p.m. -- 4-H style show, indoor arena

Tuesday, Aug. 4

Gates open at noon; close at 11 p.m.

1:30 p.m. -- Dog show, indoor arena

5 p.m. -- Ice cream-eating contest, indoor arena

6 p.m. -- Carnival opens

7 p.m. -- Truck and tractor pull, track are

7 p.m. -- Livestock Jeopardy, indoor arena

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