Arts & Humanities

An Aggie In Austin: Former Student Brings Fresh Approach To Governor’s Office

Texas A&M graduate Brendon Anthony is stepping out of the spotlight as a touring musician to direct the Texas Music Office for Gov. Greg Abbott.
By Lesley Henton, Texas A&M Marketing & Communications March 31, 2015

Brendon Anthony
Brendon Anthony is the new director of the Texas Music Office under the Office of Governor Greg Abbott. Anthony, a former successful musician here fiddling with a violin given to him, will try to modernize the office and grow relationships across the state.

(Courtesy of Ralph Berrera)

After 15 years playing the fiddle with Texas music giants like Pat Green and Roger Creager, Texas A&M University graduate Brendon Anthony is stepping out of the spotlight as a touring musician to direct the Texas Music Office for Gov. Greg Abbott.

Anthony is no stranger to Austin, the “Live Music Capital of the World.” He’s been there since he graduated from Texas A&M in 1999. Now he’ll put both his political science degree and his experience as a musician to work in his new job as he marshals support, both political and otherwise, for Texas music of all genres.

“Music is the cornerstone of Texas culture; it’s as unique to Texas as Tex-Mex,” Anthony says. “You can’t hear music anywhere without hearing Texas influence.”

And whether it’s country, rock-n-roll, Tejano, Polka, jazz, blues or hip-hop, he says this recognition of music as an integral part of state culture is what led Gov. Abbott to bring new blood into the TMO. “There hadn’t been a new executive in 25 years,” Anthony explains. “Now we have a different focus and we’ve infused some fresh energy into the office.”

Anthony says now, in his early days leading the TMO, it’s about vision-building. “I’m meeting with industry leaders and lawmakers who want to educate me on what they do,” he says. “I’m sitting down with creative types across the board; they let me know how they’re contributing to the creative economy of the state.”

Also on his to-do list is redesigning the TMO’s digital presence. “We’re a marketing tool for the state on some level,” he explains. “Texas music is something to brag about and to as many people as possible. Our digital presence, our social media, has to do that effectively. So we have to rethink and retool the TMO’s brand.”

The TMO serves as a clearinghouse for Texas music industry information and tries to encourage businesses and individuals to keep music business in Texas.

“A lot of people in the Texas music business think if they want to take it the next level, they have to go to L.A. or Nashville or New York,” Anthony notes. “I’d like to help try and change that — get publishing, booking and resources here for these artists so maybe we can keep them here longer.”

Among many services, the TMO connects artists and music businesses to other industry pros, helps parents who can’t afford instruments or music lessons for kids, and connects students to music degree programs. “Music education is a serious passion for me – I hope to engage in a discussion that might seek to increase funding for educators,” says Anthony.

Serving those in the music business is a high priority to Anthony – as a musician himself, he knows it’s a tough business. “There are people in all these different genres fighting over the same venues to play,” he explains. “With the advent of independent recording, it takes less money now to record a great record. You can do it at home with the right equipment and so there are more records out there than ever before. So the landscape, while it affords listeners a million options of great music, if all those artists want to cruise the interstate at the same time, there’s a traffic problem.”

He says that’s why he’s asking himself how the TMO can best serve musicians, talent buyers, agents, managers and other industry players. “How can I keep them happy in the state of Texas so that they feel supported in their endeavors,” he says. “How can we increase the number of people wanting to do business in the state? We need to support these musicians as they try to create a business around their brand.”

During his own days on the road, Anthony says he learned a lot about building a brand around music, lessons he started learning while still attending Texas A&M as a political science major. “I started out playing with Roger Creager, Cory Morrow and Pat Green while I was at A&M,” he recalls. “We worked really hard and played a lot of dates – and it was great, I was working with my best friends as a 19-year-old. Sometimes we got paid in hamburgers!”

Of course these burger gigs gave way to bigger things. “Eventually Pat got nominated for three Grammys and we played some amazing tours with guys like Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews. I was with Pat for almost 15 years, so I watched it go from bare bones to really popular.”

Growing up in College Station, Anthony says he set his clock around Bonfire and the Thanksgiving Texas A&M-UT football game. “I went to every single Bonfire starting before I was one year-old, all the way up until it fell,” he recalls, adding his acceptance as a student to Texas A&M was “amazingly exciting, a lifelong dream.”

He says the Core Values he learned at Texas A&M remain with him to this day, and help guide his professional and personal lives. “If you’re involved in the university and you spend time with others who are involved, you can’t help but live in accordance with those values,” he notes. “That’s a quality unique to A&M: people are very accountable to each other — they do what they say they are going to do. You conduct yourself in such a way as other Aggies would be proud of you.”

Anthony says he returns to College Station as often as he can, especially in the fall. “I love coming back for football games and showing the university off to people.”

But, he notes, there is one thing missing: the annual Thanksgiving game against UT. “You can get in endless debates with Longhorns, so there’s not that annual event to bleed off the tension,” he contends. “I’ve been in Austin since 1999 and it’s been great — I’ve never been treated by them with anything but respect, but it’s not good we don’t have that game anymore. So if we can get this thing put back together in the next few years, a lot of people would be happy about that!”

Media contact: Lesley Henton, Division of Marketing & Communications at Texas A&M University.

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