Radney Foster will be honored next month at the “Artists’ Tribute to a Legend” event at the 30th Annual MusicFest in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The premiere event, presented by Dickson Productions, brings together a vibrant community of artists and fans to celebrate legendary songwriters, established artists and promising up and comers in the Texas Country and Americana scenes.
The “MusicFest Artists’ Tribute to a Legend” is one of MusicFest’s most anticipated shows where artists pay homage to the honoree for his accomplishments, the standard he has set in his genre and the influence he has had on the current music scene. Past honorees include Robert Earl Keen, Dean Dillon, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Billy Joe Shaver, Lee Ann Womack, Guy Clark, Johnny Gimble and Family, Leon Russell, Kevin Welch, Rodney Crowell, Townes Van Zandt and Lost Gonzo Band.
The position that Radney Foster enjoys in the music landscape is nothing short of remarkable. Mainstream country music and independent Americana tend to occupy separate orbits. Yet for the past three decades Foster has thrived in both as a songwriter, recording artist, live performer and producer. His songs—solo, with Foster and Lloyd and recorded by other artists—have topped the country, Texas and AAA charts alike. At the same time, he’s earned the respect of his peers and a devoted audience as intent on listening as they are eager to dance.
Foster developed his best-of-both-worlds sensibilities growing up in the small town of Del Rio, Texas. He absorbed a varied diet of music from the local pop radio station by day and a boundary-less definition of country from renegade border station XERF by night.
In the early 1980s, Foster brought his home state’s love of good storytelling to Nashville. There the next phase of his musical education commenced when he secured his first publishing deal with MTM in 1985 and started the daily discipline of co-writing.
Foster’s boss at the time happened to notice a particularly exciting country-and-rock synergy emerging with one of Foster’s frequent songwriting partners, Bill Lloyd. Foster and Lloyd started getting cuts but more importantly, they recorded three groundbreaking albums of Bakersfield-meets-British Invasion for RCA, producing their own records and becoming the first duo to score a country No. 1 with their debut single, “Crazy Over You.” Foster and Lloyd’s music appealed as much to college rock listeners looking for an edgy roots sound as it did country fans craving tradition.
After Foster and Lloyd ran its course, Foster followed his heart into recording a pair of stone-cold country solo albums for Arista—Del Rio, Texas, 1959 (named for where and when he entered the world) and Labor of Love—producing smart, memorable hits like “Just Call Me Lonesome” and “Nobody Wins.”
Changes in his personal life led him to record See What You Want To See, still considered a classic of alternative country. The project, which he co-produced with Darrell Brown, was released by Arista Austin, and yielded the hits “I’m In,” “Raining on Sunday,” and “Folding Money.” Though the CD was a critical success, Arista Austin folded soon after that. Foster re-grouped, and set out on his on with independent releases: a live set, Are You Ready For the Big Show?, the pop-inflected Another Way To Go, the roots rock-leaning This World We Live In and Revival also co-produced by Brown. He teamed up with Bill Lloyd again for 2011’s It’s Already Tomorrow and in 2012 released an acoustic version of his classic album entitled Del Rio, Texas 1959 Revisited. In 2014, Foster released the critically-acclaimed Everything I Should Have Said.