Austin TV show shines spotlight on songwriters

To most people, names like Willie Dixon, Otis Blackwell and Dewayne Blackwell mean little to nothing.

However, most people would recognize some of the songs they wrote, which include "Whole Lotta Love," "Don't be Cruel," and "Friends in Low Places." Considering that some people who have written popular songs are not household names, what chance of exposure is there for the tens of thousands of songwriters who haven't written a song everyone knows?

"The Texas Songwriters Show," which premieres Jan. 6 at 11:30 a.m. on KNVA Austin Channel 12, is doing its part to bring attention to local, talented songwriters, Executive Producer Pitt Garrett said.

Each episode of "The Texas Songwriters Show" features performances from one established and one up-and-coming Texas songwriter. The 30-minute episodes are filmed at the Broken Spoke, a honky-tonk establishment on South Lamar Boulevard, and include off-stage interviews with the songwriters.

"This is another way to get good music out there," Garrett said.

During the episodes, selected songwriters perform with a house band consisting of drummer Wes Starr, upright bassist Billy Horton, pianist Nick Connolly and guitarist Redd Volkaert. Volkaert, who has won the Best Electric Guitarist in Austin award multiple times from the Austin Chronicle, said "The Texas Songwriters Show" is a valuable asset for local songwriters who might have a harder time getting noticed in traditional music venues.

"Where else are they going to get this exposure?" he said. "It's a wonderful opportunity."

"The Texas Songwriters Show" has a "Broken Spoke Memories" segment hosted by the venue's owner, James White. White has owned and operated the Broken Spoke with his wife since 1964 and said he supports any project that promotes talented local songwriters.

"I like it when people get involved like this and remember the singer-songwriters that help keep the country music going right here in Austin, Texas," he said. "We've got to keep the roots of country music alive."

The inaugural episode airing Jan. 6 has Volkaert and Steven Collins as the featured songwriters. Future episodes will spotlight artists such as Alvin Crow, Rosie Flores, George Ensle and Dale Watson.

For more information, click here.