LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) – This year’s Saturday night concert at the Great Texas Balloon Race in Longview is seen as a homecoming for two Longview natives in the country music group Little Texas. Porter Howell, guitarist and lead vocalist, graduated from Pine Tree High School in 1983, while Duane Propes, bassist and vocalist, graduated from Longview High School in 1985.
KLTV 7’s Blake Holland spoke with Howell and Propes via Zoom on Wednesday morning.
“Growing up in Longview, my mom was a piano teacher for one,” Propes said of her early days in music. “There was also a very heavy music program in all the elementary schools and up to middle school. The group program at Longview is still one of the most fantastic programs in the world.
Propes said that when he was 12, he was asked to join his first band, TNT..
“We started playing clubs around Longview,” Propes said. “We played the Gilmer Yamboree, Hallsville Western Days, stuff like that. And then we continued to play in bars with other bands. And then I met Porter, and we started a band and went to college. So, in a nutshell, that’s kind of how we got from point A to point B.”
“I could say the same except for doing it Pine Tree High School,” Howell said. “And musical education and the first bands and choirs. And my choir director, LouAnn Neely, was a huge influence on a lot of kids.
It’s their deep roots in East Texas soil that will make their performance at this year’s GTBR so special.
“We’ve always looked forward to the balloon race every summer,” Propes said. “We would be above our roofs watching the balloons fly by, yelling at the pilots and waving. It was the best part of summer for me. So finally being able to play the show is huge. It’s one of the things I looked forward to most of my life.
Their homecoming performance even popped up during a recent chat with East Texas native Neal McCoy at a concert in New York City.
“The first thing I said to Neal was that we’re playing the ball race,” Howell said. “And I thought he’d done it five times, you know, and he said, ‘No, I’ve always been too reserved and here in the Midwest or the North – I’ve never played there. . I would love to do it with him (Neal) at some point. It would be more of a homecoming.
And while fans have their favorites when it comes to songs written or performed by Longview natives, we wanted to know what their favorite songs were. Howell said he had two: a business favorite and a personal favorite.
“I’d be silly not to say that. ‘god bless texas‘ is my (commercial) favorite,” Howell said. “I appreciate everything that has been done for me, my family and the group. And how it was adopted in Texas and around the world for that matter. My personal favorite new song that I wrote and released as a simple songwriter is a song called ‘This city.”
“My favorite thing to play is ‘Hit a little,'” said Propes. “I mean, for starters, the bassline is just huge. It’s hard to play, and so it really gives me something to sink my teeth into. But I can tell people now because the statute of limitations is over. In the solo section of the song, I slipped in the bass line from “Flying High Again” by Ozzy Osbourne. I laugh every time I think about it. They played this song right at the top of the charts and there’s Ozzy Osbourne in there.
Although both men have now lived in the Nashville area for some time, they agree that East Texas will always be their home. They are scheduled to headline GTBR Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. at the Longview Convention Complex.
WEBXTRA: Watch Blake Holland’s full interview with Duane and Porter here.
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