Throughout her career, which has now spanned almost two decades, Texas singer-songwriter Terri Hendrix has operated on her own terms.
She runs her own label, Wilory Records, on which she’s released a total of 15 albums, beginning with her debut in 1996. She has since earned constant praise from critics and audiences, won a Grammy and cultivated a devoted fanbase that constantly knows how and where to find her. She’s achieved all this, Hendrix says, by simply following her own artistic muse, while remaining confident that her business sense can figure out the logistics.
“I want to make art that won’t whisper – it’ll yell,” says Hendrix, speaking from her home – which doubles as the business office of Wilory Records – in San Marcos, Texas.
“It’s a good town to be based out of,” she says about the small city located between Austin and San Antonio. “You’re not in a big city, but you’re not exactly out of one either.”
Hendrix then explains, with a laugh, that local nicknames term the place San Marvelous and its residents San Martians.
“I can’t move now,” she adds. “This is where my fans know I am – after 20 years of sending out newsletters that open with, ‘Greetings from San Marcos.’”
On,Jan. 25, Hendrix returns to Baton Rouge for another performance at the Red Dragon Listening Room. Joining her onstage will be Lloyd Maines, a Grammy-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist she has worked with since the late 1990s. As in their previous appearances at the Dragon, Hendrix and Maines have requested that local songwriter Martin Flanagan open the show, which starts at 8 p.m.
“Martin’s the type of guy, if you made a movie set in Louisiana, he could just play himself,” Hendrix says about Flanagan, the semi-retired graphic designer whose first album, released in 2012, included several tracks with Maines playing pedal steel and dobro.
Hendrix and Maines’ previous appearances at the Dragon have established them as one of the listening room’s most popular returning acts. Last week, in an email to the Red Dragon’s mailing list, Chris Maxwell wrote, “If you have never made a Dragon show and want to test drive our little venue, this is the show you want to come to.”
“Chris and Liz [Maxwell] are just really big music fans, doing it for the love of the music,” says Hendrix. “And that feeling extends into the audience. It’s not the quantity, but the quality of those in the audience that matters. You get like-minded people together and magic can happen.”
And as one big reason for her continued success as an independent artist, Hendrix cites the simple fact that she’s an avid music fan herself. This, she says, has helped her stay in touch with changes in the industry, especially how important it is to adjust to new forms of media.
“If I wasn’t such a big music fan, I would have gone out of business,” says Hendrix, reflecting on how she scandalized some of her peers by refusing to make cassettes in the early days of the CD revolution. “As a fan, I was buying CDs, so I knew that’s where the market was heading. The same with iTunes and downloading. As a fan, you can see all this unfolding right before your eyes.”
After dealing with health issues over the last few years – Hendrix was diagnosed with epilepsy in 1989 – she’s now working on three new albums, one of which she hopes to release by this summer. One project is an acoustic blues record, which, she says, “will have lots of harmonica on it – just real gut-bucket blues.”
She also has a collection of children’s music in the works. The third project, a new album of singer-songwriter material, she plans to record with little production, “maybe just vocals and guitar,” she says.
Along with running her own music career, Hendrix devotes much of her time to another ongoing project – her campaign to build a non-profit community arts center in Central Texas. Named after her personal motto, Own Your Own Universe, the center will be based on her belief in the power of art and music to heal people. At this point, Hendrix says, her music and the Own Your Own Universe center feel like one interconnected project.
“For a while now, I haven’t been able to tell a difference between the music and the community center,” says Hendrix. “Eventually my touring will be more limited. I might not be able to come to you in Ohio, but I’ll be here, playing music, teaching guitar, talking with people. I’ll roll my past into my future, and I’ll know how to run a community center based on my music career.”
Hendrix says she envisions the center offering a diverse slate of programming, such as live music, guitar lessons, writing workshops, support groups and other means of reaching out to underprivileged youth in Hays County and surrounding areas.
“Whatever it takes,” she says. “Everything will have a foundation of kindness, community and music. I envision it being a place with a lot of soul.”
– J. W. Long
Terri Hendrix & Lloyd Maines
w/ Martin Flanagan
Red Dragon Listening Room
Jan. 25 • 8 p.m. • Seat donation of $20
For reservations, contact
Chris Maxwell at CMaxwell@Premier.net