Miranda Lambert On Cutting Her Teeth At The Local Texas Honky Tonk As A Teenager: “It Was The Best Schooling I Could Have Asked For”

Miranda Lambert country music
Robert Ashcroft for Foureleven Agency

These days, Miranda Lambert plays to thousands of people in arenas across the country.

She’s actually in the middle of her Las Vegas Residency, Velvet Rodeo, a hallmark achievement in her already-storied country career.

It’s hard to believe the Texas native has been at it for almost two decades now, since she released her debut studio album Kerosene back in 2005.

Raised in the small east Texas town of Lindale, Miranda’s first longstanding gig came at the Reo Palm Isle dance hall in her hometown when she became the lead singer of the house band at age 17.

She was still in high school at the time, and in a recent interview with Garden & Gun, she says she played four hourlong sets three nights a week and learned how to really work a crowd:

“It was hard at first, because there were a lot of songs to learn and late nights. Four hourlong sets a night, three nights a week, and I was still in high school.

I really learned how to win over a crowd there and about what to play and when, especially when it comes to the dance floor.”

She added that it was “the best schooling in honk tonk etiquette” she could’ve asked for… and I can’t imagine being a very young woman performing in a place like that was always easy:

“I was the lead singer of the house band for about six months, so I had to figure all that out right there on the stage.

I was only seventeen, but it was the best schooling in honky tonk etiquette I could have asked for.”

I imagine that’s part of where she learned to never take any shit from the crowd, or anyone else for that matter… and maybe even popped a beach ball or two when the need came up.

Miranda also explained that, after she graduated, she skipped college and began playing her music all over the lone star state, putting thousands of miles on her mom’s Ford Expedition in the process:

“I just went for it. I didn’t want to go to college. I wanted to chase music with everything I had, and I was willing to work as hard as I needed to get my name out there.

I look back and think about all those miles my mom and I did in her Ford Expedition, running all over the country, playing anywhere and everywhere that would let me on the stage or on the air.

But I guess it was worth it, ’cause it worked out!”

That’s quite an understatement, if I may say so myself…

Miranda is up for four nominations at the 2023 Grammy Awards this year, one for Best Country Song with her single “If I Was a Cowboy,” Best Country Solo Performance with “In His Arms,” Best Country Album for her 2022 record Palomino, as well as Best Country Duo/Group Performance with Luke Combs on “Outrunnin’ Your Memory,” from his 2022 Growin’ Up record.

“If I Was a Cowboy”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock