Rising star Joshua Ray Walker talks about his favorite North Texas artists

Joshua Ray Walker, wearing a cowboy hat, a flashy jacket and standing against a wallpapered wall.

Joshua Ray Walker. Photo credit: Chad Windham

The ascent of Dallas country artist Joshua Ray Walker has been nothing short of meteoric — something the man himself will readily acknowledge.

“I’d say the biggest surprise came with the first record [2019’s Wish You Were Here], because I was truly a nobody, like no one outside of Dallas really knew who I was,” Walker said during a recent interview. “So when that first record got the attention it did nationally, that was a big surprise. It was pretty surreal, going from playing little dive bars in Dallas to theaters opening up for people all over the country, within a matter of just a few months.”

Walker didn’t waste a moment, quickly following up his acclaimed debut, with two more records, including his recently released See You Next Time, which concludes the trilogy he began two years ago.

Growing up in Dallas, Walker was a fan first, immersing himself in the Americana, roots and country sounds with which he’s become synonymous for fans around North Texas and outside the state’s borders.

As he gears up to head out and spend the rest of 2021 on the road, supporting Charley Crockett, we got Walker on the phone to talk to us about some of his favorite local acts.

“It was really hard to whittle it down, and instead of coming up with single acts, I kind of came up with categories,” Walker said. “I’m really proud of our scene and I feel like, as a city, we’re just putting out a ton of really great music.”

The bands Walker grew up on in Dallas: Old 97’s and Eleven Hundred Springs

“Those mean a lot to me because I grew up listening to them, and I’ve been super fortunate that they’ve become friends over the last few years, and I actually get to work with them now. … Those bands mean so much to the landscape of country music and North Texas, and you know, they have this legacy that is going to live forever.”

The State Fair Records roster: 40 Acre Mule, Squeezebox Bandits, Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner and Vandoliers

“All of my favorite bands in Dallas legitimately are on the same label as I’m on. I love the State Fair Records roster. 40 Acre Mule is amazing; Squeezebox Bandits are so cool. I feel like both those bands really have a like a distinctly Dallas and Texas flavor to them. … John Pedigo, I feel like is in one of the most underrated bands in Dallas, Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner. … The Vandoliers — they’re incredible and they’re very Texan in their own right.”

The musicians “pounding the pavement”: Kirk Holloway, Jackson Scribner, Mike Randall and Justin Tipton

“There’s quite a few people how are just really pounding the pavement right now. Those guys are playing five, six nights a week. Just doing what you’re supposed to be doing, going and paying your dues, and playing the little bars and honky tonks in Dallas and Deep Ellum. I think we have one of the best stables of songwriters and musicians in the country. It’s just a matter of time until people realize it’s all coming out of one place.”

Preston Jones is a freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. 

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