University Park native and Texas fiddler Laura Houle was blown away when she discovered that her band Flatland Cavalry’s newest album, “Humble Folks,” was No. 2 on the iTunes country music charts on April 1, the same day it was released.
“I honestly didn’t even know what was happening,” she said.
The Highland Park High School class of 2009 alumna met the lead singer of the band, Cleto Cordero, and guitarist Reid Dillon, four years ago at a house party in Lubbock, where she was studying for her master’s degree in music at Texas Tech.
She happened to bring her fiddle to the party and ended up playing with the guys. A few months later they asked her to play with them again, then invited her to join their group.
While Houle’s father played the guitar and piano, she found herself drawn to the violin. She started taking lessons in second grade at Hyer Elementary, and played in the orchestra in middle and high school.
“I just kept playing and I always loved folk music so I kind of did that on the side, but I was trained classically,” she said.
The country/Americana band now consists of five members, after the addition of Jonathan Saenz on the bass and Jason Albers on the drums. When they first got together they weren’t playing any original music, Houle said.
“We were one of the best cover bands on Broadway [in Lubbock], but we wanted to play original songs. That was our goal, so we took a little break and we really perfected those,” she said.
Houle loves the camaraderie of the group, and enjoys traveling for shows every weekend.
“It’s like having a group of best friends or a second family. You fight, you love, and you get to make music every weekend and that’s a job,” she said, “That’s still surreal to me too, that we actually get to do this every weekend. I love being on the road. My dad would always call me the little free spirit. I could never really stay in one place at one time.”
Houle, Albers, and Dillon are all still in school and make that a priority, but also make time to play shows on the weekends. Houle expects to complete her doctorate in music at Tech in December.
Flatland Cavalry plans to continue pursuing music as a career after they graduate. Houle said she’d love to see the band sell out shows, play festivals, and follow in the footsteps of the Turnpike Troubadors, a band that Flatland Cavalry has been compared to.
“School’s very important to us. We want to do it for our parents,” Houle said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen in a day, but hopefully I’d love to see success with us and the band because everyone’s put in their heart and souls. Every single person.”
“Humble Folks” remains at No. 17 on Billboard’s folk albums chart and No. 38 on the country albums chart. Flatland Cavalry’s music can be found on iTunes and Spotify.