2018-2019 Music Poll: Texas Music Hall of Fame Nominees

Mike Buck

Adding stone-cold style to any gathering, drummer Mike Buck remains an integral backbeat to Austin music after five decades of performing. The Ft. Worth-raised son of record collectors, he relocated here in 1977 and made a name for himself in the Fabulous Thunderbirds and LeRoi Brothers. He’s played with Doug Sahm, Omar & the Howlers, and Roky Erickson, while backing Lightnin’ Hopkins, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and Bo Diddley. Buck earned a 1986 Grammy nomination with Big Guitars From Texas. Today, he co-owns Antone’s Record Store and maintains his status as a first call drummer in regular acts Les Débauchés and Eve & the Exiles. – Kevin Curtin


Incubated locally at Wheatsville Co-op, this noise trio started when soon-to-be-former Ed Hall drummer Kevin Whitley switched to guitar and began jamming with Joint Chiefs bassist Owen McMahon and Sugar Shack drummer Brent Prager in 1991. Signed by Butthole Surfers drummer King Coffey to his Trance Syndicate label before ever playing a gig, Cherubs released debut full-length Icing in 1992, but Heroin Man two years later embodied the distorted timbre of the label’s early output. Personnel issues ended the band before that album’s release, but its stature grew with time. Old wounds healed, Cherubs returned in 2015 with the triumphant 2 Ynfynyty. – Greg Beets

Manuel “Cowboy” Donley

A godfather of Tejano music, Manuel “Cowboy” Donley, 91, fused orchestral arrangements with romantic boleros while combining polkas with Fifties rock & roll. Born in Mexico, the self-taught Donley played his first local gigs here, where he was raised, in the early Forties and became a regional phenom with his bands Los Heartbreakers and Las Estrellas. He sang and played the short-scale requinto and guitar along to electric bass, drums, and horn sections, staying prolific throughout the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies on dozens of singles and LPs. Still occasionally performing, Donley earned a prestigious National Heritage Fellowship honor in 2014. – Kevin Curtin

Ruthie Foster

For over two decades, few voices have blessed Austin with more soul, power, and spirit than Ruthie Foster. A native Texan from Gause and a Navy veteran, she was born into a gospel music, and it infuses her brand of folk blues with a deep and rousing rapture. Foster’s compassionate songwriting and fiery interpretations ring with a balance of affirmation and determination. Three Grammy nominations, eight Blues Music Awards, and three Austin Music Awards (among numerous other honors) barely begin to recognize the strength and beauty that Foster brings to song, captured best in the title of her 2007 breakout, The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster. – Doug Freeman

Uncle Walt’s Band

Uncle Walt’s Band proved less a triumvirate than a unique moment in Austin music history that continues to ripple with influence. Like the Armadillo World Headquarters, Walter Hyatt, David Ball, and Champ Hood exist almost as a you-had-to-be-there myth of the city’s late-Seventies scene. Their harmonies, wit-whipped lyrics, and energetic and eclectic live string-band sound established them as a linchpin to a generation of songwriters that included devotees Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. This year’s Anthology finally collected the Spartanburg, South Carolina, transplants’ out-of-print recordings. – Doug Freeman