San Angelo Rodeo Music Man 'Hambone' Named Best in the Business


LAS VEGAS, Nevada – San Angelo Rodeo Manager Josh Hilton was named the Music Director of the Year recently by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.  

Hilton, known affectionately as "Hambone" in the bustling world of rodeo, didn't just stumble into the realm of rhythmic hooves and cheering crowds. His journey was etched with the pulse of passion and dedication that spanned two decades, culminating in a prestigious recognition as the Music Director of the Year by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association this month in Las Vegas.

It all began years ago, a time when rodeos still echoed with the melodies of traditional brass bands. Hilton's entry into this world coincided with a shift—a transition from the brass ensembles to the vibrant pulse of sound systems and rock and roll music. It was a shift in the rhythm of the rodeo, and Hilton found himself at the cusp of this change.

The transition wasn't solitary; Hilton found inspiration in the work of pioneers like Mack Altizer, the trailblazer behind Bad Company Rodeo in Del Rio. Altizer was instrumental in modernizing the rodeo show, steering it toward a future where music intertwined seamlessly with the spirited action in the arena.

For Hilton, this transformation was more than just a career move—it was a passion that harmonized with every beat of his heart. The years rolled by, and his dedication bore fruit. He became synonymous with the rhythmic pulse of the arena, earning the prestigious title of the PRCA Music Director of the Year not once, but twice.

His legacy continued to grow as he took the reins as the Music Director for the San Angelo Rodeo, a role he had embraced for over a decade. In 2020, Hilton's dedication to the craft led him to a full-time position with the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Association. His days were filled with orchestrating the perfect blend of music that heightened the exhilaration within the rodeo grounds.

But it wasn't just one rodeo that Hilton graced with his expertise. In 2022 alone, he was contracted to curate the sound for an astounding 144 performances across nearly 27 rodeos. With each event, he fine-tuned his craft, the applause and cheers of the crowd serving as the rhythm to his success.

Then came the pinnacle of his career—a role coveted by many but held by only a select few. The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) appointed Josh Hilton as their Music Director, a position that had seen just one other maestro in the past 22 years. It was an honor that spoke volumes of Hilton's unparalleled talent and dedication to the rodeo music landscape.

As Hilton stood behind the sound booth, orchestrating the symphony of cheers, hooves, and music at the NFR, he knew he had reached the summit of his career. His journey from a novice in a changing rodeo soundscape to the celebrated conductor of the rodeo's rhythmic pulse had been nothing short of remarkable—a testament to the power of passion and unwavering commitment.

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