Southern-fried metal comes to Vail Friday night |

Southern-fried metal comes to Vail Friday night

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
The members of Texas Hippie Coalition from left to right: Randy Cooper on guitar, John Exall on bass, drummer Scott Lytle, Michael Hayes on guitar and frontman Big Dad Ritch (background). The Southern metal band comes to Vail Friday night.

Big Dad Ritch, frontman for the heavy metal band Texas Hippie Coalition, is all about representing the South. Hailing from Denison, Texas, Ritch and his band of black-clad misfits have coined their own brand of music called “Red Dirt Metal,” a style that combines elements of country, hard rock and metal with a Southern twist.

Ritch himself was heavily influenced by Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings growing up, and later by hair metal bands like Motley Crue and W.A.S.P.

“I wanted to represent the South, Southern rock and roll, but I also wanted to be as heavy as Pantera, (and) as Southern as Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top when I put this band together,” Ritch said.

The current band members have been together for about two and a half years, Ritch said, and released an album titled “Pride Of Texas.” Texas Hippie Coalition will play tonight at the Sandbar in West Vail with opening local act Death Rattle. Ritch talked to us in between shows in Oklahoma about the band’s name and image and what people should expect from their show.

Big Dad Ritch: I was raised by two hippies first of all, and everybody’s got their image, you know, flower child and all this stuff. Well, they were really just traveled people. They reached out and helped everybody, you know what I mean, so I always liked being a hippie growing up. It was cool to me and it still is cool to me. I’m from Texas and everything that is about Texas I represent. Texas is big, I’m big. The coalition is just like how we’re just like a family. We rode together all the time, we stick together, we don’t just play in a band together we hang out together, we watch football together, we play cards together, we’re really friends.

BDR: You know what’s weird, when they see a picture they think we’re a country band but when they hear our name they think we’re like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young or something from that era and we’re not. It happens here and there but I think the image we set for ourselves, it’s how we look everyday. We’re not putting on clothes to take the stage, this is how we look. Once people hear it, see it all together, they get it.

BDR: We had certain magazines labeling us as a rock and roll band, we had certain magazines labeling us as a metal band and we didn’t want to distance ourselves from being rock and roll and we didn’t want to distance ourselves from being metal. So everybody kept asking ‘what are you? Are you rock and roll or metal?’ And (I said) we’re red dirt metal, which is something in between.

BDR: Man, we actually all five write in the same room at the same time … And usually we’ll pull off two (songs) a day. If we’re in songwriting mode we can usually get two songs at a time because so many ideas are flowing.

BDR: That’s exactly true. That’s what red dirt is about. It’s about life, it’s about not having the money to pay your bills, it’s about being behind on your child support, it’s about having 30 bucks and knowing you should buy something to eat but instead you buy a bottle and a bag, you know what I mean? That’s real life, dude and that’s what we’re about and I think that’s why our audience clicks with us so well.

BDR: I’ve been singing since I was 19, or been trying to sing since I was 19. I felt like once I got to about 33 or 34 years old my voice started peaking pretty well. The more I played, the more command I got over it. Even now we just wrote a couple of new songs and when I got through singing them it was like a new frontier for me as well as the whole band I think … I never knew I could, I just tried it and it worked out.

BDR: We’re like a bomb blowing up live. You know like if you watch hockey on TV there’s not too much to it but if you go see a hockey game live it’s like being at a rock show? So we’re a whole lot like a hockey game live.

High Life Writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or

What: The Texas Hippie Coalition with opening act Death Rattle.

When: Today, 9 p.m.

Where: Sandbar Sports Grill in West Vail.

Cost: $8.

More information: Call 970-476-4314 or visit

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