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Oil, Cowboys and Country Music

by Graham Lees


It was 1839 when lawyer John Neely Bryan from Tennessee decided the area that is now Dallas would be the perfect place for a trading post and eventually a town. Returning to Tennessee to finalise his business, Bryan returned in 1841 to claim 640 acres and sketched out a town. As the city grew the railroad came to the area in the 1870's, with the Federal Reserve Bank opening in 1914. The first airport opened in 1927 known as Dallas Love Field Airport and in 1973 Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport opening the global gateway.

To many of us Dallas is seen as the oil capital of the world….mainly due to the TV series of the same name and the dastardly dealings of J.R. Ewing making compulsivebull rider viewing for many in the UK during the 1970's. In 1930 C.M. "Dad" Joiner struck oil 100 miles east of Dallas, which was the largest petroleum deposit on earth at that time. Dallas became a centre of oil-related activity and the financial and technical centre for much of the state's drilling industry.

The heritage of cowboys and frontier people helped to build the city of Dallas and Fort Worth some 35 miles away was seen as the major shipping town for cattle and soon being nicknamed Cowtown. The heritage continues with real cowboys who can be seen in Dallas between April and October at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo at the Resistol Arena, with professional cowboys and cowgirls coming from all bronc riderover the USA to compete for prize money.

While visiting Dallas and Fort Worth in October 2002 I took the opportunity to take in the Dallas Stampede (rodeo). The event took place over the weekend of October 24-27 at American Airways Centre, Dallas. Organised in conjunction with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, all precedes raised benefit the Children's Medical Centre of Dallas, one of the Top10 U.S. paediatric hospitals. With the event taking in Bareback Riding, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Saddle Bronc Riding, Calf Roping, Barrel Racing and calf ropingBull Riding the Texas Stampede hosts the finals of the summer Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Finale, offering the largest regular-season rodeo purse of $750,000.

An all-family event, the Texas Stampede draws massive crowds with top country music stars performing after the rodeo. Names such as Brooks & Dunn, Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Radney Foster, Lyle Lovett and Toby Keith all giving separate performances over the four-day event. On the Thursday that I attended the Texas Stampede, Brooks & Ronnie Dunn & Kix BrooksDunn gave a sensational performance with their 8-piece band. With Ronnie Dunn taking the lead for "Only In America" and three Marines taking up position front of stage, this show of proud patriotism brought a sensational response from the crowd accompanied by an explosion of red, white and blue streamers. As the fans crowded round the front of stage, Brooks & Dunn raced through a repertoire of all their best material. "She's Not The Cheating Kind", "You're Gonna Miss Me", "Maria", "Neon Moon" were all there and it wouldn't be a show without their very famous "Boot Scooting Boogie" whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Fantastic lighting effects and confetti machines added to the revelry and the night was made even more special for one young girl from the audience who was invited up on stage to dance with Kix Brooks….a night she'll remember for bull rider and rodeo clownsyears to come. A great performance from this dynamic duo who have sold over 23 million albums, scored 20 #1 hits and received a host of major industry awards.

Across the street from the AA Centre was the Texas Stampede Marketplace offering a host of exhibitors selling the finest in western wear, jewellery, fine art and collectables. Billy Bob's is the biggest honky tonk in Texas and Billy Bob's Texas On The Road with local country acts and dancing provided all the fun of the this famous Fort Worth honky tonk right on the doorstep of The Texas Stampede
Thanks to Cheryl Lewis and Kimberly Packard