Consider them a West Texas supergroup: the new band the Panhandlers assembles the talents of four Red Dirt scene artists to shine a light on a musically unique region of the Lone Star State. Josh Abbott, John Baumann, William Clark Green, and Cleto Cordero play country music, yes, but with a Tejano influence and an early-rock beat (Buddy Holly hailed from the West Texas town of Lubbock).
“Nobody chooses where they’re from,” they sing in their first song “No Handle,” released Monday. It’s a nod to eking out an existence in West Texas, where the desolation and heat can “drive you to drink or it could drive you to think that flat-earthers know something after all,” goes a lyric sung by Green.
The Panhandlers’ self-titled debut album will be released March 6th. Produced by Bruce Robison, it’s a collection of songs about life in their corner of the world and aims to introduce the foursome to a broader audience outside of the Texas-Oklahoma circuit. Abbott, who leads the Josh Abbott Band, and the solo artist Green are arguably the most well-known outside of Texas; Cordero fronts the rising band Flatland Cavalry (who opened for Luke Combs last month in San Antonio), and Baumann released his last album Proving Grounds in 2017.
The Panhandlers accompany “No Handle” with an in-the-studio music video that captures them recording around a single microphone. The album was cut the old-fashioned way: straight to analog tape. The group will make their live debut at the Music Fest in Steamboat, Colorado, on January 8th.