Richard "Big Daddy Ritch" Anderson's first mission was to fill a musical void.

"There didn't seem to be anything out there that made me want to go and buy a CD," the Texas Hippie Coalition founder said in a telephone interview from his home in Denison, Texas. "I just wasn't hearing anything musically hitting me the way I was in life.

"I'm turning my kids on to music that I was listening to 20 years ago, even some music my dad turned me on to," the 44-year-old said. "I just didn't feel it was right in this day and age to go backwards to find music."

That's why, seven years ago, he recruited some like-minded musicians from near the Oklahoma-Texas state line.

"In our hometown area, there were four of us in different bands," he said. "I just kind of went out and picked some of the best guys in each band. These were the guys who were serious about a future in music."

Anderson and his band wanted to take the outlaw country attitude of Johnny Cash, Waylon and Willie, mix it with with the Southern sensibility of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchett, and put it out through heavy metal, similar to Pantera.

He wasn't alone in wanting that sound.

"I feel like there's an appetite for it. We started playing this

music and realized there's not just an appetite for it, there's a hunger for it," he said. "And now, seven years later, not only was there an appetite and a hunger for it, but people are starved for this kind of music - real, down-to-earth music about real things that has a feel a little heavier than what's out there."

Texas Hippie Coalition got its first notices at the 2008 edition of Rocklahoma, a music festival in Pryor, Okla. A storm had damaged two stages' worth of band instruments and sound equipment, or backline, and Anderson encouraged his manager to set up a tent on the grounds where the band then volunteered its equipment to any and all players.

"We backlined every single band for the next few days. We ended up loaning our equipment to 30-something bands. There was already a big bang, or noise, about us because of helping everybody," he said.

"It was kind of like a religious experience," he added. "I like to call that the Texas Hippie Coalition shot heard ‘round the world."

 

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