Joe Nick Patoski's Profile Photo

Former senior editor Joe Nick Patoski has been writing about Texas and Texans for five decades. He is the author and coauthor of biographies of Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Selena, and the Dallas Cowboys, and he wrote the texts for various coffee-table books on the Texas mountains, the Texas coast, and Big Bend National Park.

One of his more recent titles is Austin to ATX: The Hippies, Pickers, Slackers, and Geeks Who Transformed the Capital of Texas, published in 2019. His 2020 book, The Ballad of Robert Ealey and His Five Careless Lovers, is an oral history of the seminal blues band Patoski grew up with in Fort Worth in the early 1970s. He has also written Generations on the Land, published by Texas A&M University Press, and Texas High School Football: More Than the Game, a catalog of an exhibit he curated for the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in 2011, and has contributed essays to the books Homegrown, Conjunto, and My Soul Looks Back in Wonder.

A staff writer for Texas Monthly for eighteen years and a onetime reporter for the Austin American-Statesman, Patoski currently serves as a writer-at-large for Texas Highways and hosts The Texas Music Hour of Power on Marfa Public Radio and Wimberley Valley Radio.

He directed the documentary film Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove about the musician Doug Sahm in 2015.

He lives in the Texas Hill Country near Wimberley.

325 Articles

willie nelson albums ranked
Music |
April 29, 2020

All 146 Willie Nelson Albums, Ranked

The recording career of country music’s greatest artist, surveyed, sized up, and sorted on the occasion of his 87th birthday.

Being Texan |
October 21, 2015

G-G-Ghost Stories

All Hallows Eve, which descends from the grand Celtic festival of the dead, was stirring up a cauldron of super­natural activity long before kids started donning costumes to harvest candy from the neighbors. But, alas, for some time, Halloween and the belief in spirits of the departed have

Travel & Outdoors |
January 21, 2013

The “Drive” Drive

ROUTE: West of Ozona to Sanderson DISTANCE: 85 miles NUMBER OF COUNTIES: 3 WHAT TO READ: James H. Evans’s Crazy From the HeatA drive whose sole purpose is to experience the simple pleasure of being behind the wheel has a few requirements. The route must lead west, because that’s the

Travel & Outdoors |
January 21, 2013

The Music Drive

ROUTE: Turkey to Lubbock 
(the long way) DISTANCE: 366 miles NUMBER OF COUNTIES: 13 WHAT TO LISTEN TO: Buddy Holly’s That’ll Be the Day and 
Waylon Jennings’s Ol’ WaylonWest Texas is the Texas of wide-open spaces, but it is also the Texas of music giants, starting in the Rolling Plains

Film & TV |
January 20, 2013

Bill, Due

After more than two decades in the movie business—including star turns in Apollo 13, Twister, and now his own Traveller—Fort Worth’s Bill Paxton is finally getting what’s coming to him.

Music |
January 20, 2013

Money in the Making

Houston’s new movers and shakers don’t hang with the Wyatts or Sakowitzes. They’re Eightball, Scarface, Lil’ Keke, and the other power players of the city’s rap music scene.

The Culture |
January 20, 2013

Boone Pickens Wants To Sell You His Water

And you’re going to need it, eventually, since Texas’ most precious natural resource is being depleted at an alarming rate. His plan is to pump vast amounts from his land in the Panhandle and pipe it to parched cities like El Paso and San Antonio—for a hefty price, of course.

BBQ |
January 20, 2013

Underground Round

On the first Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in August for the past 61 years, thousands have converged on a park on the outskirts of Dalhart for the XIT Rodeo and Reunion, celebrating the history of the XIT Ranch, once the biggest ranch in Texas. (This year’s dates: August 7—9.) In

The Culture |
January 20, 2013

Alive and Kicking

Nothing advertises your Texas bona fides more these days than a pair of handmade cowboy boots. Here's everything you need to know about them - how to tell a vamp from a pull, which toe style is right with a suit - and where to buy the best.

The Culture |
January 20, 2013

Boot Anatomy

TopThe top, also known as the shaft, is the artist’s canvas: Here is where the most detail work is done (although, ironically, if you’re a man, the top stays hidden under your pants legs unless you’re riding or at a cowboy ball). Standard tops are twelve inches high, though custom

The Culture |
January 20, 2013

25 Top Custom Bootmakers

ABILENEJames Leddy Boots 1602 N. Treadaway Boulevard 915-677-7811The nephew of boot king M. L. Leddy is now royalty himself, and he runs a real family business: He does the cutting, his wife and daughter do the stitching, his son-in-law does bottoms, and his former daughter-in-law creates the prettiest inlays anywhere.

Sports |
January 20, 2013

Speed

This month, more than 150,000 fans will pack an enormous new venue near Fort Worth to watch the state’s first major stock car race. Clearly, NASCAR is on the right track in Texas.

Food & Drink |
January 20, 2013

Pit Stops

Where are the best places to eat barbecue in Texas? Six years ago we published a highly subjective—and hotly debated— list of our fifty favorite joints, and now we’ve gone back for seconds. Ten intrepid souls drove more than 21,000 miles in search of 2003’s worthiest ‘cue. Here’s what they

Music |
January 20, 2013

The Widow’s Pique

In Lubbock they call her the "Spanish Yoko Ono," and María Elena Holly, Buddy Holly’s widow, has always had a troubled relationship with his conservative hometown. Some folks rave on that it’s her greed that has killed the city’s Buddy Holly Music Festival. But it’s more complicated than that.

Travel & Outdoors |
January 20, 2013

Radio

Play-by-play coverage of high school baseball in Alpine, polka and Pan-American music in El Campo: More than a dozen reasons not to touch that dial.

Sports |
September 30, 2012

Turnover!

Two decades ago, a barbarian from Arkansas named Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys and rebooted the franchise from the ground up. Inside the wild first days of the most hostile takeover the NFL has ever known.

Sports |
July 31, 2011

The Rookie

Two and a half years ago, the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum asked me to organize an exhibit about high school football. Did I mention I'm not a curator?

Reporter |
April 30, 2003

Git Along . . .

How Lubbock—--epicenter of the prairie dog universe—--learned to stop worrying and love the little beasts.

Food & Drink |
April 30, 2003

Top Fifty

Unless otherwise noted, all places take credit cards.ABILENE: Harold’s Pit Bar-B-Q We didn’t catch pitmaster Harold Christian singing gospel songs to his customers, but we’re told that isn’t an unusual occurrence. This cozy little room, packed with nine picnic tables, seven booths, and a congregation of athletic trophies, is where

Food & Drink |
April 30, 2003

The Best of the Best

Cooper’s Pit Bar-B-Q MasonThe name “Cooper’s” has long been synonymous with Llano, but now the Mason operation of the same name has overtaken its distant cousin. Cooper’s Pit Bar-B-Q was opened in Mason in 1953 by the late George Cooper, whose son Tommy (also deceased) cloned it a decade later

Environment |
November 1, 2002

Water Hazard

The mayor of San Antonio says a 2,600-acre golf resort on top of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone won't ruin the city's sole source of drinking water. Who wants to tee off on that one?

Feature |
September 30, 2002

Water Foul

When the City of Marshall wanted to pump millions of gallons of water out of Caddo Lake and sell them to the highest bidder, the state said, "Sure." Residents of Karnack, Uncertain, and other tiny northeast Texas towns said, "Hell, no." Guess who prevailed (for now)?

Environment |
August 31, 2002

Prairie Dogma

Birders and their allies want to preserve the vanishing grassland of the farm and ranch country west of Houston, but time is running out.

Feature |
April 30, 2002

Driving Music

Sailor, the Steve Miller Band (Capitol) Return to the Wide Open Spaces, Live at the Caravan of Dreams featuring, among others, David “Fathead” Newman, Ellis Marsalis, and Cornell Dupree (Amazing) Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Lucinda Williams (Mercury) La Musica de

Feature |
April 30, 2002

Alternate Routes

South Padre Island to Rio Grande Valley International Airport, Harlingen, on Texas Highway 100 and FM 510 and 106 (33 miles) This narrow two-lane shortcut from the beach to the airport is one way to avoid the congestion and speed traps on U.S. 77. It slices through parts of the

Feature |
April 30, 2002

Pretty Drives

Presidio to Lajitas on FM 170 (50 miles) At first El Camino del Rio dips and winds along the Rio Grande through a maze of low, dry arroyos framed by bare lunar landscapes. Before long, the West Texas sky looms so large that it practically swallows the road. The 15

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