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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Student-led ensemble works to preserve country and western music

Bobcat+Country+plays+their+first+on+campus+gig%2C+Tuesday%2C+Nov.+29%2C+2022%2C%26%23160%3Bat+George%26%238217%3Bs.%26%23160%3B

Bobcat Country plays their first on campus gig, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, at George’s. 

Bobcat Country, a student ensemble consisting of music students and non-music students, celebrates Texas heritage through performances of classical and contemporary country. With Jordan Stern, music school lecturer, at the mast of the ship helping organize shows and conduct practices, the group aims to play some good ol’ country and push to set an example for Texas music in schools.
Bobcat Country’s mission statement is to perpetuate and preserve country music, to help students develop skills to become gigging country western musicians and to provide entertainment to Texas State and surrounding communities. This is outlined by Stern.
Stern, also known as “Professor Honky-Tonk” by his students and colleagues is a jack of all trades in western instrumentation as well as a seasoned professional musician, helping lead students into their own professional music careers.
“We’re starting real grassroots with the idea of ‘let’s get together, let’s play some music,'” Stern said. “I try not to tell them exactly what to play.”
Stern said country music is arguably the biggest genre for live performances in Texas. As the “ringleader” of Bobcat Country, he believes that the program has the potential to become a course of study at Texas State. Especially given the star-studded alumni in the university’s registry like George Strait.
“Eventually I’d like to see this grow into a course of study,” Stern said. “And the idea is that just from a standpoint of commercial viability.”
Bobcat Country practices are split into two groups: Western swing and contemporary country. With a band for each genre, the range of classics for the Western swing falls under songs like “Amarillo by Morning” by George Strait, and the contemporary group croons on modern ballads like “Your Man” by Josh Turner.
Each group is made up differently of the same members, like Shane Cruz, a music education sophomore and the president of Bobcat Country, who is a resident pedal steel player for both groups.
Cruz is at first a percussionist. Balancing pedal steel for both groups, Cruz has his feet in both ponds. Bobcat Country began last semester, and Cruz said he enjoys his time as president while things are still getting settled.
“Me and Dr. Stern here started this, maybe it was probably early last semester,” Cruz said. “I’m the president of the organization, but there’s some other [things] we’re still trying to figure out. Things are going well, and everybody’s still excited to come.”
The group has always been open to inclusion for every musician, and for a push to have a bigger representation of country traditions at Texas State. Kristen Aviles, sophomore music education major and social media coordinator for Bobcat Country, is a proud supporter of seeing more of this curriculum appear in Texas schools.
Being involved in music as early as middle school, Aviles prides herself on her involvement in music being almost second nature. Growing up in Houston, Aviles has been involved in country or rodeo culture her whole life, and attending Texas State as a music education major was just the next step.
Like Stern, Aviles would like to see the group turn into something bigger.
“It’s things like this that’ll trickle down into high schools, especially. This was definitely like Stern’s passion project,” Aviles said. “He wants it to be a class and I think it just became an outlet for all of these kids that just wanted to do country music and now that we’re performing and things like that, especially in the music school, everyone’s like, ‘well, can I join Bobcat Country?'”
For Stern, turning something like Bobcat Country, a freelance ensemble group, into a professional class would help prepare its students for a real-life application of their skills beyond a four-year university.
“That should be our job as a music school,” Stern said. “To get as many people involved as possible regardless of major. Find a way for people to come here and feel like they’re involved. Connected to their community, they’re connected with each other. They’re performing for people.”
To keep up with Bobcat Country, visit its website, or Instagram @txstbobcatcountry.

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