Monday, November 18, 2019

The Best FREE Shows, Money Can't Buy!

Hello Folks!

New Braunfels has a number of great venues that host shows all week long with NO COVER! These musical treats offer some real big name musicians, providing top quality music free for your listening enjoyment! So let's dive in to a few of my picks for FREE shows 'in New Braunfels'.

First up is one of my favorite singer songwriters, who has also played with a number of other great musicians during his stellar career. Jeff Plankenhorn or 'Plank' as he is known among his peers, has been a staple of stellar musicianship for decades in this area. He will be performing at Gruene Hall on Saturday November 23rd from 1-5pm.

Jeff Plankenhorn’s life in music has taken him from a childhood in Ohio as a boy soprano, to battling addiction, to two decades as a first-call session guitarist in Austin. Now a successful solo artist, the slide guitar virtuoso is collaborating with his musical heroes and rocking festival 
stages all over the country. 

Commenting on “Tooth & Nail” (song): “(Ray Wylie) Hubbard’s deadpan and Plankenhorn’s crackling guitar go together like thunder and lightning, a combination consistent with the song’s ominous energy.” —ROLLING STONE COUNTRY  

Commenting on “Love Is Love” (video): “The ray of love this video, and the song, will inevitably shine down on you.” —AMERICANA HIGHWAYS  

"Over the course of the last two decades, Jeff Plankenhorn has worked tirelessly to earn his rep as one of the most reliably can-do, right-dude-for-the-job musicians in Austin, Texas. As an exceptionally talented acoustic, electric, slide, and lap-steel guitarist with a keen understanding of the importance of playing to and for a song rather than all over it, he’s been called on countless times to back a veritable who’s who of Texas and Americana music’s finest singers and songwriters, including Ray Wylie Hubbard, Joe Ely, Eliza Gilkyson, Ruthie Foster, and the late Jimmy LaFave.” —Lone Star Music

Jeff Plankenhorn plays a soulful, distinctly Austin brand of roots rock that, over the past several years, has gained him a devoted national following and a seat among the very best contemporary Americana songwriters. His confident, catchy-as-hell fourth studio album, Sleeping Dogs was released to rave reviews (Rolling Stone Country, the Boot, Twangville, among others) and spent a good chunk of 2018 on the Roots Rock and Americana radio charts (#5 and #44). The four-piece band that bears his name has become a favorite on the festival circuit, scoring spots at Old Settlers Music Festival, Kerrville Folk Festival, Telluride Americana Music Festival, and Austin’s annual New Years Eve blowout at Auditorium Shores. 

Well before he started rocking festival stages as a solo artist, Plankenhorn was already in the musical DNA of his adopted home of Austin, Texas. His bluesy, slide-driven guitar style was born out of jam sessions, residencies and house shows played for local audiences eager for the electricity and edge-of-your-seat musicianship that makes Austin the live music capital of the world. “In Austin,” he says, “few players rehearse. You show up and you play, for better or for worse.” 

That freewheeling philosophy, and the disciplined songwriting craft that underpins it, is the result of Plankenhorn’s almost ten-year run as a member of the Resentments, a supergroup of sorts that hosts one of the longest running residencies in Austin. Every Sunday for the last 20 years, a rotating cast of Austin’s best songwriters has brought their newest tunes to debut at the Saxon Pub, an Americana stronghold on the famous Lamar Street. The group walks a tightrope between improvisation and songcraft that is thrilling. This musical bootcamp sharpened 
Plankenhorn’s writing process and gives his songs a lived-in ease. 

Over the course of five solo albums, Plankenhorn has drawn on a wide range of styles, combining influences from electric blues, progressive bluegrass, sacred steel, and power-pop to create a musical identity all his own. A big part of it is his voice. Plankenhorn grew up in Ohio 
singing choral music as a boy soprano. The vocal clarity and power he developed in those early years is evident in the soulful baritone he employs now. 

The biggest contributor to Plankenhorn’s sound is his virtuosic touch on anything with strings - ranging from electric and acoustic, guitar to dobro and lap steel. His most distinctive sonic paintbrush is the custom electric dobro he invented, appropriately called the Plank. If you’ve 
listened to roots music from Austin in the last couple decades, you may have heard it - a sharp, crunchy slide sound derived from the instrument's combination of a lap steel neck and electric guitar body. That distinctive burn is all over Plankenhorn’s 2016 album, SoulSlide, in addition to recordings from Austin greats like Ray Wylie Hubbard and Joe Ely. (In between solo gigs, he’s a first-call session guitarist.) Word of mouth at his shows has even resulted in a few one-off orders for the Plank, including from members of Wade Bowen’s band and Blue October. 

Plankenhorn’s early musical upbringing was as eclectic as his career might suggest. In his 20s he was as likely to be found arranging horns in a 12 piece funk group as playing guitar in a progressive bluegrass band. But his biggest musical influence by far, he says, is Stevie Wonder, 
whose positivity is all over Plankenhorn’s songs. Stevie’s mastery of instrumental harmony can also be heard in the jazzy, descending chord progression of “Further to Fall.” 

Plankenhorn is a magnet for diverse ideas and collaborators, and his genius is in bringing them together. Sleeping Dogs merges styles effortlessly, juxtaposing sweet-hearted anthems like “Love is Love” (a response to the Pulse nightclub shooting) against ominous, weathered tunes like “Tooth & Nail”, which he co-wrote with Ray Wilie Hubbard. Several of the album’s standouts are the result of collabs with Americana royalty, including “Holy Lighting”, which features a duet with Patty Griffin. Tying it all together is a big-heartedness that speaks to a worldly approach to Americana music. 

Plankenhorn came to Austin by way of Nashville. The way he tells it, he met outlaw-country great Ray Wilie Hubbard on a Nashville sidewalk, sat in with him that very night on dobro, and, before he knew it, had a long-term gig crashing on Hubbard’s couch in Texas hill country. From 
there, he launched a new chapter as a solo artist, and Hubbard is a mentor to this day. The last few years have been a time of outstanding creativity and commercial breakthrough for Plankenhorn - success for which he credits his sobriety. “I’d toured the country and played the 
world, but it wasn’t until I got clean and went to rehab that things really started to come together.” Since getting clean seven years ago, Plankenhorn has channeled his addictive energy into songwriting. He lives half the year now living with his wife on Vancouver Island, Canada, where he spends idyllic days writing and playing with their dogs. The other half he spends in Austin, where he remains in demand as a session player, cowriter, and producer. The success of his last two albums have brought international interest in his music, and full tours of Europe and Canada! I am sure only more great things are in store for this fine musical troubadour !

This is just one example of live music that costs you nothing, but your attendance to support! I, of course, recommend a little money go to the tip jar for the musicians in this scenario.

Other great New Braunfels venues that offer free music most every night of the week are Billy's Ice, Pour Haus, Phoenix Saloon, Krause's Cafe, Pale Horse and Tavern in the Gruene! Check local listings and websites for days and times! So, get out there, enjoy some live music at local venues and take in all New Braunfels has to offer!

Until next time...


Jeff Plankenhorn

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Gruene Music & Wine Fest Weekend is Upon Us!

Hey Folks!

Gruene Music & Wine Fest 2019 is here!  Here's what you need to know about the music all weekend...

During the wine and beer event in the tents across the street from Gruene Hall, there will be music Saturday and Sunday! The bands appearing will be, Brian Pounds, Hot Texas Swing Band, Dirty River Dixie Band, Walt Wilkins, Warren Hood and Zac Wilkerson. All of these acts are stellar, but I'd like to focus on one guy in this list that truly embodies music in every way, Warren Hood. 

People ask Warren Hood a lot of questions at the end of a show – what was the name of that song you played – it sounded like Stephane Grappelli maybe, right after the Doug Sahm cover? How did you learn to play fiddle like that? Are you playing anywhere else this week? How old are you? Warren always obliges to answer all of the questions, that’s just his character (the answers are usually something like, “Black Cat”, hard work and listening to the right records, yes, definitely, and older than you think). He cares deeply about the experiences of the people who come to his shows and buy his records and works hard to create memorable live performances and albums.

Warren started playing classical violin at age 11 in the school orchestra, later studying privately with Bill Dick. He won classical music competitions, including the Pearl Amster Youth Concerto Competition and the Austin Youth Award, which gave him the opportunity to perform as a soloist on “Lalo Symphonie Espagnole” with the Austin Symphony, conducted by Peter Bay. Warren later balanced studying at Austin High with touring with Charlie Robison and the South Austin Jug Band. After high school, Warren earned a rare scholarship to Berklee College of Music where he majored in Violin Performance, played with Steven Tyler and formed an acoustic string band, Blue Light Special. At Berklee, Warren earned the coveted String Achievement Award, an award chosen by faculty to honor talent and as a vote of confidence on future success.

Leaving Berklee, Warren returned to Austin and was in demand as a sideman, playing with Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, Alejandro Escovedo, Joe Ely, and joining The Waybacks, a band he would play with for the next ten years. Through all of this, Warren played with the South Austin Jug Band when he could, especially as a part of their Sunday night residency at Momo’s on W 6th St in Austin. When the residency ended for SAJB, Warren gathered a group of friends and took over Sunday nights under his own name, starting his first solo venture and releasing his first studio record, “Warren Hood”, an eclectic mix of both songs and legendary Austin players including Marcia Ball, Cindy Cashdollar, and Ephraim Owens.5

The Momo’s Sunday residency lasted seven years and was a testing ground for Warren where he found his sound, learned how to lead a band, and gave the artists he shared the stage with space to shine - something he had plenty of experience with from the other point of view, having been a sideman for 10+ years. The way Warren ran Sunday nights had a lot in common with the residencies he grew up around in Austin – his father, Champ’s, ‘Singin for your Supper’ at Threadgill’s (Marcia Ball, Butch Hancock, Ruthie Foster, Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, Jimmie Dale Gilmore) and Toni Price’s ’Hippie Hour’ at The Continental Club.

The band Warren plays with now (Marshall Hood and Willie Pipkin on guitar, Nate Rowe on bass, and Jordan Cook on drums) is the current version of the band he started back in 2004 at Momo’s. This band plays every week at ABGB, drawing a mix of “old Austin” and newcomers, musicians and music lovers, and dancers who stay on the floor from the first to last song. The Warren Hood Band plays a mix of their own songs, classic country, and blues, with a nod towards their Texas roots with a few Uncle Walt’s Band songs mixed in. Warren recorded “Warren Hood Band” in 2013, an album produced by Charlie Sexton and released by Red Parlor Records. A multi-instrumentalist (violin, guitar, mandolin) and accomplished singer-songwriter, Warren is described in the press a lot of different ways: “virtuoso” ”seven time Austin Music Award winner - Best Strings” ”Texas fiddler” ”Chet Baker crooner” “bluegrass picker” – but for him it all kind of blends together into everything he does (and what he does doesn’t always have fiddle). Warren says slyly that “playing different styles of music is like speaking different languages - the difference between violin and fiddle is how you roll your Rs. The more languages you speak the more people you can talk to.”

Warren's greatest influence is certainly his father, Champ Hood. Champ was a member of Uncle Walt’s Band, an acoustic folk trio from Spartanburg, South Carolina that also included Walter Hyatt and David Ball. They moved to Austin in 1975, prime time for the zeitgeist of the Austin heyday, playing at Waterloo and the Armadillo and building a cadre of lifelong fans. Their intricate harmonies and creative songwriting inspired their contemporaries, many of whom are today’s best loved and most respected songwriters and artists, and continue to touch those who discover their records today. Warren spends as much time with his band as he does playing and recording alongside other artists: David Ball, The Bodeans, Hayes Carll, Joe Ely, Alejandro Escovedo, Robert Earl Keen, Ben Kweller, Little Feat, Lyle Lovett, Joan Osborne, Toni Price, Bob Schneider, South Austin Jug Band, Redd Volkaert, Jerry Jeff Walker The Waybacks, Bob Weir, Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis and more.

Warren plays at 2:40pm on Sunday, at the stage next to the Grapevine.

On Sunday things really get kicked into high gear, 2 stages in Gruene Hall and multiple acts all day!!
The list for Sunday in the hall is a who's who of great Texas Music...
Jason Eady
Zack Walther
Courtney Patton
Jamie Lin Wilson
Max Stalling
Kody West
Seth James
Bart Crow
Dalton Domino
Mike and the Moonpies....

Again, every one of these acts are absolutely fantastic, but I'd like to put a spot light on the act closing it out that day...Mike and the Moonpies. They have a fabulous album out...and I think it deserves a special mention for this weekend.

Recorded at Abbey Road Studios with help from the London Symphony Orchestra,Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold is Mike and the Moonpies' most adventurous record to date — an album that diversifies the band's honky-tonk roots by adding lush strings, cinematic arrangements, and collaborative songwriting to the mix. Inspired in part by the classic "countrypolitan" music of the 1960s and early '70s, these songs find frontman Mike Harmeierchanneling the smooth delivery of crooners like Glen Campbell and Frank Sinatra, backed by a band of road warriors who all played a major role in the songs' construction. The result is a modern record steeped in everything that made the old stuff so compelling: sharp storytelling; honest, dynamic performances; and a willingness to step far outside the box. 

Once celebrated as Austin's premiere dancehall band — with popular residencies at local institutions like The Hole In the Wall, Broken Spoke and the White Horse to match — the Moonpies have spent years expanding their reach far beyond the Lone Star State. Geographically, they'll always be a Texas band. Musically, they've grown into much more than that, having traded the two-steppin' twang of their earlier years for a diverse sound that's both fresh and familiar. That sound has earned the group an international following, and it was during a European tour that the bulk of Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold was created — in the same world-renowned, London-area recording studio where the Beatles recorded Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Bandand Pink Floyd tracked Dark Side of the Moon, no less.

"Every time we've taken a step forward, it's a result of us refusing to become stagnant," says Harmeier, who's joined by his longtime band — pedal steel player Zach Moulton, guitarist Catlin Rutherford, bassistOmar Oyoque, keyboardist John Carbone, drummer Kyle Ponder, and producer/collaborator Adam Odor — on Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold's eight tracks. "We left our dancehall residencies years ago because we wanted to expand our touring beyond Texas. We updated our approach withMockingbird, then went back to a more traditional sound — in a 1970s, Johnny Paycheck-inspired way — with [2018’s break-out album] Steak Night at the Prairie Rose. 10 years into our career, we're still finding our voice… and we're realizing that maybe it's not onevoice, but a collection of voices."

A collection of voices, indeed. The album's lead single, "You Look Good in Neon," is a nostalgic toe-tapper that evokes Ronnie Milsap's golden years, while "Fast as Lightning" is a raucous road song that's every bit as electrifying as its title. On the nostalgic "Cheap Silver," Harmeiertakes stock of his band's progress as an eight-piece string section swoons in the background, while on "Danger" — a hard-charging epic that's fit for a Hollywood western, with a cameo by Shooter Jennings to boot — he sings directly to his son. Also making guest appearances on the album are modern-day outlaw Nikki Lane, who contributes harmony vocals to "Miss Fortune," and fellow Texas native Season Ammons, who shows up during the album's elegant cover of Gary P. Nunn's "London Homesick Blues."

Although largely recorded in London, Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold still owes its inception to Texas, where the bandmates spent a week co-writing and arranging songs at renowned yellow DOG Studios in Wimberley, TX. "Everyone had a hand in the creation process, from start to finish," says Harmeier, who shares co-writing credits with multiple Moonpies throughout the album. "I usually come to the table with all the songs already written, but this album is entirely different. We worked on everything together. It was the most collaborative thing we've ever done. It was truly the work of a band."

It's been more than a decade since Mike and the Moonpies launched their career, initially paying their dues as a versatile cover band with a catalog of 300 songs. Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold nods to those woodshedding days — not only in the album's title track, where Harmeierraises a drink and sings, "Here's to another night of paying our dues," but also in the album's handful of cover songs. The boys resurrect the twangy spirit of their dancehall days with "If You Want A Fool Around," written by Billy Troy and BennieBoling, and also put their own stamp on Aaron Sinclair's "Young in Love." Those covers serve as a tip-of-the-hat to the band's roots, while also demonstrating that the Moonpies' own songs pack just as much punch as the songs of their heroes. Harmeier and company haven't forgotten about their bar-band beginnings, but these days, they're more interested in creating their own gold. 

Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold rewrites the definition of Mike and the Moonpies' music, turning vintage influences into a contemporary that's dark, reflective, and refined. 

So come out, sample some wine and beer, have a bite to eat, and catch some of the best Texas music assembled in one place on a single weekend...The Gruene Music and Wine Fest 2019...

See ya there!

Until next time...


Thursday, September 5, 2019

September Brings Some Famous Names to New Braunfels

Hey Folks!

September brings us some fantastic picks for music 'In New Braunfels'...
This Saturday September 7th, one of the finest songwriters of our time comes to Gruene Hall.
Veteran Texas songwriter Rodney Crowell knows better than to tell his songs what to do and listens to them instead.
His latest album, “Texas,” proved more of a place where those songs came home to rest rather than an album force-fed by a concept.
Crowell, who performs Saturday at Gruene Hall, explained that “Texas” cuts like “Deep in the Heart of Uncertain Texas” and “Brown & Root, Brown & Root” date back to the 1970s. “I had some songs left over from the ’70s . . . that I never saw they belonged in a collection of any songs I’d made,” he said.
Then he started thinking that he and Steve Earle had talked for some 25 years about recording “Brown & Root” together and, with “Texas,” the time seemed right.
Others like “Treetop Slim & Billy Lowgrass,” “Texas Drought Part 1” and “The Border” were more recent, with origins in the 1990s and 2000s. Some had personal connections. “Caw Caw Blues” was the last song he wrote with Texas songsmith Guy Clark before Clark’s death in 2016. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, a longtime friend and also raised a fellow Houstonian, also was a long-running promised duet; Crowell wrote “56 Fury” and the duet light went on.
With songs lining up for “Texas,” others showed up and brought their performing partners to mind: “Flatland Hillbillies” and Randy Rogers and Lee Ann Womack. The “the-gang’s-all-here-drunk-on-the-lake kind of song” “Deep in the Heart of Uncertain Texas” and Ronnie Dunn. “What You Gonna Do Now” and its need for an “elegant narrator,” which Lyle Lovett fit to a T.
Not only did those artists show up for duets with Crowell, but so did others such as Ringo Starr and Vince Gill.
No concept album here, but a collection of strong-willed songs whose time was right and which served the advice of co-producer Ray Kennedy, who told the fellow Texan, “Let’s make sure this is a Rodney Crowell album.”
“The album ‘Texas’ more or less made itself,” said Crowell.
Crowell’s philosophy of letting the song speak to him has served him well, leading to a four-decade long career, two Grammy Awards, five No. 1 hits and standing as one of Nashville’s top songwriters. He’s had an A-list of country stars record his songs, musicians such as Emmylou Harris, Crystal Gayle, Bob Seger, Waylon Jennings, Oak Ridge Boys, Alan Jackson, Keith Urban, Lee Ann Womack and Tim McGraw.

Earlier this year, Crowell and Waco’s Billy Joe Shaver were honored with the Academy of Country Music’s Poet’s Award.
Crowell’s songwriting prowess has made him a go-to guy for many young musicians wanting to learn the craft and he’s quick to say there’s talent out there, including Hayes Carll and Robert Ellis.
“Any other idea other than the one the song is presenting is putting the cart before the horse,” he said. “Most of the time, the song comes to me as a feeling, the sound of a chord I strike or a tempo I’m in. I let the songs tell me, for the most part.”
Joining his backing band on Saturday are Austin guitarists David Grissom and Steuart Smith. “It’s a pretty rocking bunch. We can move people around,” he said.

Crowell’s fall schedule is heavy with Texas dates, which makes sense given that his new album carries the same name. “I need to stand up and proclaim it,” he said. “I’m putting my mouth where your money is.” This show will be an early one. Local songwriter Zack Walther will take the stage 8pm till 830, then Rodney on at 9pm. Get your tickets now!

Friday September 13th Crystal Gayle will perform in downtown New Braunfels at the legendary Brauntex Theater. Born January 9, 1951, in Paintsville, Kentucky, Crystal Gayle moved with her family to Wabash, Indiana, when she was still quite young. Her music career was given a big boost by her older sister, country superstar Loretta Lynn. Loretta thought that Crystal's real name of Brenda Gail Webb was not quite "classy" enough, and after noticing a sign for the Krystal restaurant chain, she changed the "K" to a "C" and her sister became Crystal Gayle. She recorded her first hit song, "I've Cried the Blue (Right Out of My Eyes)", in 1970, which peaked at #23. In 1974 she signed with United Artists Records and producer Allen Reynolds. Over the next two years she released three albums and had several hit songs, including "This Is My Year for Mexico", "I'll Do It All Over Again", "Wrong Road Again" and "I'll Get Over You", her first #1. The next year, 1977, would prove to be a landmark year for her, with the release of her album "We Must Believe in Magic" and the worldwide smash hit, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue", which--along with her almost floor-length hair--made her a household name.

She had many more hits throughout the rest of the 1970s, including "Talking in Your Sleep", "Ready for the Times to Get Better" and "Half the Way". She continued into the 1980s with such hits as "If You Ever Change Your Mind", "Too Many Lovers", "The Woman in Me", "Til I Gain Control Again" and "The Sound of Goodbye". In 1982 she recorded a duet with Eddie Rabbitt, the acclaimed "You and I", which has become one of the most popular wedding songs ever. In 1985 she teamed up with Gary Morris to record the love theme for the prime-time soap opera Dallas (1978), called "Makin' Up For Lost Time", which turned into yet another #1 hit. Her other 1980s hits included "A Long and Lasting Love", "Nobody Wants to Be Alone", "Straight to the Heart", "Cry" and "Nobody's Angel". In 1987 she guest-starred on the daytime soap opera Another World (1964) for a week. She teamed up again with Gary Morris and turned out the hit "Another World", which was also used as the new theme song for the soap opera. Her career took somewhat of a downturn in the late 1980s and she released her last major single, "Never Ending Song of Love", which peaked at #72, in 1990. Since then she has released several more acclaimed albums and many hit compilations.

This is going to be a really special show, her smooth vocals will fill the theater at 7:30 pm, doors at 6:30.

Now I have to tell you about my favorite show coming to town on September 20th. Los Lobos will be back at Gruene Hall to rock the ol dancehall to its core! I am convinced these guys can play about anything and make it sound cool. If Los Lobos has learned one thing in nearly four decades together, it’s that playing by the rules is not for them. They tried it for a while, said no thanks, and they’ve been better for it ever since. The 20th anniversary re-release of Los Lobos’ landmark Kiko album by Shout! Factory on August 21—bursting with bonus tracks and a live DVD in addition to the original album—serves as a potent reminder of why going rogue was the best thing this legendary American quintet ever did.By early 1992, prior to making Kiko, Los Lobos—David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, Louie Pérez and saxophonist/keyboardist Steve Berlin—was wrapping their second decade together, coming off a five-year period of newfound massive commercial success but lost creatively. Their 1987 remake of Ritchie Valens’ classic “La Bamba” for the soundtrack of the same name earned the band a number 1 smash on the Billboard charts, and the following year’s La Pistola y El Corazón, which found the band revisiting its Mexican folk roots, was also highly regarded. Then things went south.

“To a certain extent I guess we didn’t really trust ourselves,” says Berlin, who joined the four founding members in 1984, some 11 years after Los Lobos’ formation. “We weren’t totally confident as a band in our own ability to say fuck this, we’re going to do it this way and we don’t care what anybody says. We’d had ‘La Bamba’ and La Pistola, and it was all great but there was a lot of expectation surrounding the next record.”That next record turned out to be 1990’s The Neighborhood. The band didn’t have much fun recording it, compromising in the studio and embarking on a grueling large-scale tour with buses and a lighting rig, rather than simply hopping in their van and driving from gig to gig. The tour lost money and 
Los Lobos was left without a clue as to what they wanted to do next.

Reconvening for the next record, busted but not broken, the band decided to ignore everyone else’s advice and try a new way of recording: their way. Feeling they had nothing to lose, they forged ahead into new territory. Prior to Kiko, Los Lobos had been “segregating our influences, treating them parochially,” as Berlin puts it: a rockabilly tune here, a Tex-Mex there, some folk, a bit of country, an R&B tune, plenty of classic rock. This time, they decided to take all of those myriad influences out of their separate boxes, toss them into the air and let them fall where they might. “Whatever our unconscious minds’ response was to the stimuli, that was what we wanted. We let our imagination take over and didn’t try to control it.”

Rather than taking advantage of Los Angeles’ major studios, the band cut the demo tracks at a small place called Paul & Mike’s Studio in downtown L.A., run by their friend, engineer Paul duGré. On their way in, Berlin recalls, they would walk by homeless families living in boxes. “Here we were whining about being poor musicians and then we encounter real life. These people had real problems. It kind of enforced our sense of ourselves at that moment.”

Throwing caution to the wind, Los Lobos began cutting such new original Hidalgo-Pérez compositions as “Two Janes,” “Peace,” “Arizona Skies,” “Short Side of Nothing” and “Rio de Tenampa,” self-producing and following their instincts sound-wise. “We cut seven tracks in a week or two and it was cleansing,” says Berlin. “It was very dreamlike as it was going down. Everything was working. Even the mistakes sounded good. The tracks sounded really good and we weren’t holding back. We didn’t filter ourselves to do anything other than play. We knew it was a departure from what we’d done before, but we weren’t sure if it was commercially viable.”

There was only one way to find out: Los Lobos met with Lenny Waronker and Mo Ostin, the top executives at Warner Bros. Records, who distributed the band’s label Slash at the time. To the band’s relief, the record men loved what they heard and told them to continue, suggesting only that the band bring in super-producer Mitchell Froom and engineer Tchad Blake to help them mold their vision. It became an instant dream team. Froom told Los Lobos that several of the demos were good enough to release as is, and helped them fine-tune the rest, including such brilliant classic Lobos tunes as “That Train Don’t Stop Here,” “Angels With Dirty Faces,” “Whiskey Trail” and “Kiko and the Lavender Moon,” from which the album drew its title.
“Mitchell is a unique dude, probably one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever worked with,” says Berlin. “He’s a genius orchestrator and genius arranger. He and Tchad, who is also brilliant, were in a similar state of mind, wanting to do it their own way.”

When Kiko was released in the late spring of ’92, it was embraced by fans and hailed by critics as Los Lobos’ defining moment, the album that put Los Lobos back on the innovation track. The album, wrote All Music Guide, “demonstrated the breadth of their sonic ambitions.” Comments the band’s Cesar Rosas, “With that album we didn’t want to be tied down to all the conventional ways of recording, so we started experimenting and making up sounds.” That is where they remain today. Next year Los Lobos will celebrate 40 years together, a monumental achievement in a world where bands come and go in the blink of an eye.

A rare example of longevity in a volatile music world that stresses style over substance, Los Lobos’ lineup has remained uninterrupted since 1984, when Berlin joined original members Pérez, Hidalgo, Rosas and Lozano, each of whom had been there since the beginning in 1973.

“This is what happens when five guys create a magical sound, then stick together for 30 years to see how far it can take them,” wrote Rolling Stone, and indeed, Los Lobos is a band that continually reboots itself and expands its scope with each passing year, while never losing sight of where they came from. Through sheer camaraderie and respect for one another’s musicality, they’ve continued to explore who Los Lobos is and what they have to offer, without succumbing to the burnout that plagues so many other bands that stick it out for any considerable length of time. Their influence is vast, yet they remain humble, centered and dedicated to their craft. Each new recording they make moves Los Lobos into another new dimension while simultaneously sounding like no one else in the world but Los Lobos. As All About Jazz raved, “The genius of Los Lobos resides in their innate ability to find the redemptive power of music, no matter the style they choose to play.”

It was during their earliest years that the group’s particular hybrid of traditional regional Mexican folk music, rock and roll, blues, R&B, country and other genres began finding a sweet spot in the music of Los Lobos. “In 1973, when we first formed,” says Pérez, “we were four guys from East L.A. who were friends from high school who played in local rock bands. Then once we got out of high school you still had four guys 

who were just hanging out together. So the natural progression of things is to just start playing music again. You’d think that we’d form a rock band but then out of nowhere somebody got this idea of ‘Let’s learn a Mexican song to play for somebody’s mom for their birthday’ or something. Mexican music was largely just wallpaper for us—it was always in the background, and we never paid much attention to it. We were modern kids who listened to rock and roll. Then when we finally dig up some old records to learn a couple of songs, that was a real revelation to us that this music is actually very complicated and challenging. So at that point we were off and running.” Their first several years, says Pérez, were a “chapter,” as Lobos began discovering who they were as a creative unit. The band’s 1978 Spanish-language debut found only a small audience, but by 1980—when 

Los Lobos was rejected by a hostile hometown crowd while opening for John Lydon’s post-Sex Pistols band Public Image Ltd.—although large-scale acceptance still evaded them, Los Lobos had begun to build an audience within L.A.’s punk and roots-rock world. An opening slot for hometown rock heroes the Blasters at the Sunset Strip’s legendary Whisky A-Go-Go in 1982 was a breakthrough, and that band’s saxophonist Steve Berlin took a special interest in Lobos, joining the group full-time for 1984’s critically acclaimed Slash Records debut, How Will the Wolf Survive?

As the ’80s kicked in for real, Los Lobos’ fortunes quickly turned in a positive direction, and they became one of the most highly regarded bands to emerge from the fertile L.A. scene. “It was one of those places and times, like ’67 in San Francisco or Paris in the ’20s,” says Berlin. “A lot of really superlative creative energy was focused in that place at that time. It was a very collegial atmosphere because everybody was experimenting with everything: with their identities, with their music. It was a very exciting time to be in a place where everybody around you was doing really interesting stuff. To this day I think that ethos informs 
a lot of what we do.”

One of the most momentous events in Los Lobos’ history arrived in 1987, when the band was tapped to cover “La Bamba,” the Mexican folk standard that had been transformed into a rock and roll classic in 1958 when it was recorded by the ill-fated 17-year-old Ritchie Valens. Valens, the first Chicano rock star, was catapulted to legendary status the following year when he died in a plane crash along with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper and it was a natural choice that Los Lobos be asked to remake his signature hit
for the forthcoming biopic of the same name. Little did anyone suspect that the remake would spring to number one on the charts.

“We had met Ritchie’s family and they had asked for us,” says Pérez. “Of course, our emphasis at that time was on making our next album, By the Light of the Moon. Then ‘La Bamba’ came out and when the other record came out a few months later it was, By the Light of the Moon, what’s that? It was completely pre-empted by this massive hit. We had no idea what was going to happen.”What happened was that Los Lobos was now reaching a vastly larger audience. “We were opening up for bands like U2 and the Clash and traveling around the world,” says Lozano. “You’d walk into an airplane and some little kid would be singing ‘La Bamba.’ It was a great time.”

Rather than capitalize on the elevated commercial profile that “La Bamba” had given them, Los Lobos instead chose to record as a followup La Pistola y El Corazón, paying tribute to their acoustic Mexican acoustic music roots. Kiko came next, followed by such equally stunning albums such as 1996’s Colossal Head, 2002’s Good Morning Aztlán and 2006’s The Town and the City, Los Lobos has continued to deliver dependably solid and diverse recordings, a live show that never fails to disappoint, and just enough side 

trips—a Disney tribute album and a couple of live ones, solo and duet recordings (among them Hidalgo and Pérez’s ’90s diversion Latin Playboys), Berlin’s many production and sideman gigs—to keep their creative juices flowing. 2010’s Tin Can Trust, Los Lobos’ most recent release and first for Shout! Factory, pushed the venerable quintet ahead a few more notches while retaining everything the band’s loyal fans have come to expect.“There’s this thing that still happens, this musical thing,” says Pérez. “But if you took everything away, even the music, you’d still end up with four guys who were friends and hung out and grew up in the same neighborhood. And you can’t take that friendship away from us.”“We’re brothers and we all equally recognize that,” says Rosas. “That’s what keeps us going, knowing that we need to help each other and we need to get through this and we work well together. And we keep it real.”

Their debut album was called Just Another Band from East L.A., but they’ve since repeatedly disproven 
that title—Los Lobos isn’t “just another” anything. “We’re incredibly lucky,” says Steve Berlin. So are 
we—lucky to have Los Lobos. Indeed we are! This show will sell out, get your tickets NOW.

And no matter where you go in New Braunfels, you are sure to find some great live music at one of the many venues in town!! So get out there and get ya some!

Until next's a little video to get ya ready for Rodney Crowell.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

My 'HOT' Picks for August...

Hey Folks,

The hot summer marches on, and with that, the great music 'In New Braunfels' continues...Starting this Friday August 16th, something new and different, The Jamestown Revival will make a stop at Gruene Hall.

Jamestown Revival is a group formed by Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance. After growing tired of a life mining tiger's eye in the foothills of the Texas hill country, they hit the road to conceive a style that could be described as back-porch- folk rock. Reflecting the majestic landscape where it was recorded, Jamestown Revival’s new album San Isabel feels calming, spacious, and most of all, natural. Led by Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance, the band embraced a minimalist approach for these 11 tracks, recorded in a remote cabin in central Colorado. Each workday began with coffee on the front porch and a mountainous view of the San Isabel National Forest. 

“We were out there probably 17 days. Everything just slows down,” Chance says. “We’d go into town to get food in the evenings, just to break it up, but most days when we were recording we would have the doors and the windows open, and the breeze going through it. It’s a small cabin so it’s cozy.”

“It’s got so much character. You walk into this place and it gives you a really cool feeling,” Clay adds. “The spirit of that mountain range is all over this record.”

Following four years of relentless touring, Jamestown Revival essentially disappeared in 2018, spending almost every day together writing new material in their home base of Austin, Texas. Clay and Chance – who met as teenagers in the small town of Magnolia, Texas – set out to pursue their own musical vision, re-focusing on their roots.

“When we sat down to write this record, we asked ourselves, ‘What kind of record do we want to write?’” Clay recalls. “The first thing that came up in that conversation was, ‘Well, why did we even start Jamestown Revival in the first place?’ It was because we enjoyed singing harmonies so much. So we decided to write a record built around that. That’s what we started doing this for. It’s really as simple as that. To us, harmonies are the third man. It’s what makes a song feel complete.”

Most of the time, Clay takes lead vocal with Chance on high harmony, a striking blend that appears effortless. Yet, San Isabel occasionally flips that concept as Clay’s expressive baritone drifts beneath Chance’s pristine tenor lead. “It’s not about who’s singing the loudest or who’s the getting the voice with the most recognition. It’s about blending these voices together so it makes the most impact,” Chance says. “I grew up playing basketball and baseball, and in my mind, harmony is a team sport and it’s a sum of all the parts.”

For the first time ever, Jamestown Revival enlisted a co-producer, Jamie Mefford (Nathaniel Rateliff, Gregory Alan Isakov). Finding inspiration in ‘60s and early 70’s folk and pop, the original songs on San Isabel show a reverence for early John Denver and Bob Dylan, as well as Simon & Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Nestled near the end of the album is a stunning reinterpretation of the 1965 classic, “California Dreamin’.”

The low-key vibe of San Isabel harkens back to the duo’s first recording, Utah, a homemade project from 2014. After signing with a major label, the band expanded and re-released Utah, followed by 2016’s rock-oriented The Education of a Wandering Man. Building a fan base through grass roots support and AAA radio, Jamestown Revival has performed at iconic venues from the Ryman Auditorium to Red Rocks Amphitheater as well as countless festivals such as Coachella, Austin City Limits, Stagecoach, Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic and more.
Chance says, “This record is different than our previous two and it definitely has more of an ethereal thing. The heads and tails of the songs are longer, so it really is creating a trance. We love records that you can drive to, and hopefully this is one that you can take a road trip to. Jamie really helped bring that out. We would record and get the essentials, whether it be an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar. Then we would add what we started calling ‘celestial seasonings,’ where we would do these tracks with an ethereal vibe, which became an undercurrent throughout the record.”
Indeed, listen closely to San Isabel and the sounds of songbirds, a booming tin roof, and even a package of flour tortillas (used as a snare drum) can be heard in the mix. A skilled woodworker, Clay also built a baritone lap steel guitar from a leftover piece of alder wood in order to capture a deep slide guitar groove. However, he didn’t get the instrument’s grounding quite right, meaning that Zach had to put one hand on the guitar jack and the other hand on his bandmate to eliminate the buzzing.

That obvious camaraderie is a big part of Jamestown Revival’s appeal. Clay and Chance have maintained a close friendship since they met at age 15, attending high school together in Magnolia, Texas. “People say they can see it and they can feel it,” Clay says. “I mean, we’ve been friends forever, it feels like. It’s a brotherhood. We don’t always like each other but we love each other, you know? We truly enjoy being able to do what we do, to make music and travel together.”

The band’s name evokes the beginnings of a new era by combining a reference to one of America’s first settlements (Jamestown, Virginia) with one of their favorite bands (Creedence Clearwater Revival). Now that San Isabel is complete, another revival is imminent.

“Especially when music is your job, if you’re not out playing shows and you don’t have these tangible things to show what you’re doing, it feels kind of intimidating,” Chance says. “But it is so essential to step away from that and reflect and to spend time working on it. Honing our craft is something I think we’ll always have to do, but in our humble little world, we have to chip away at it however we can. Stepping away like that is important to slow it down a little bit.”

Clay adds, “We wrote this record with sort of an overarching theme, which is cutting out the noise for a minute and maybe stepping away from social media, from the internet, and from the complicated, busy nature of most of our lives – and focusing on existing for a minute. If this record inspires people to do a little bit of that, then we would be really happy with that result.”
This show will sell out...get there early!

Next up,  This Saturday August 17th, at one of my favorite venues in New Braunfels, River Road Icehouse brings an always entertaining songwriter to the stage.

For every album Texas music singer-songwriter William Clark Green shows another place down in Texas that's near and dear to his heart. In the past, he's taken us to Lubbock, Tyler and Eastland--places he's lived. Now, with his new album Hebert Island, he ventures out into old family stomping grounds.
Green's family moved to Texas from Louisiana in 1869. It was Green's grandmother's great-grandfather, an Hebert (pronounced A-Bear), who originally bought the LaBelle Ranch located outside of Beaumont, Texas. Surrounded by rice fields and in the middle of the marsh, Green's Hebert Island--and namesake for his fifth studio album--is indeed a real place.

"I was looking for a place to put a camp house," Green tells Wide Open Country. "I found this old oil pad put in by an oil company. Just a flat elevated surface out in the marsh. When it rains, it turns into an island. Everything around it floods so I just started calling it Hebert Island.

Green was looking for a place to put a rudimentary camp house out on the old family property. With a shipping container, a generator, an AC unit, a small outdoor shower, water catch and a cistern, it's as primitive as can be but serves as a mighty fine home base for Green when he's out duck hunting.
With that in mind, Green knew his latest album called for those distinct swampy sounds found on the Texas-Louisiana borderline. He enlisted Benjy Davis, a Baton Rouge native living in Nashville, as the project's producer knowing Davis would tap into those rootsy sounds.
Written with Davis and David Borné--another Louisianan living in Nashville--the distinct title track sets a specific tone for the album.
"When I had the song idea for 'Hebert Island,' I knew I wanted to write it with Benjy," adds Green. "He'd recently done this record that really played up those cajun, swampy and Louisiana sounds. I wanted there to be that influence so it just made sense. The guys in the band, they know what they're doing when they get in the studio. But sometimes, you need those little things that really set the mood. Benjy had those and knew how to apply them.”

Recorded primarily in Nashville at The Sound Emporium, Hebert Island finds Green delivering as tight a collection of songs as he's ever written. In many respects, the 14-track album plays out like two specific sets. The A-Side front end is Green and company offering guitar-driven singalongs built around anthemic ear candy hooks. On the B-Side back half, Green settles things down a notch and finds the Texas storyteller delivering intimate ballads marked by their vulnerability and space-filled arrangements.
Barnburners like the spiteful lead single "Hit You Where It Hurts," the charging rush of "What About Now" and harmony and hook-laden "Goner" are prime Green cuts. Often built around the dueling guitar riffs of Steven Marcus and Josh Serrato, there's a familiar edge and tone. It's a surefire recipe that calls for blazing guitar, Green's gritty rasp and clever wordplay. "Goner," written with Ross Cooper and Dean Fields, is as strong a radio-worthy single as Green's ever delivered.
Other songs such as "Poor," written with Lubbock buddies Brandon Adams and Dalton Domino, and "She Loves Horses," written with Trent Willmon and Jay Clementi, find Green venturing into a somewhat newer territory. For what feels like the first time, Green offers up straightforward and plainspoken love ballads without his often cynical viewpoint.
It wouldn't be a Green album without his brutal honesty and heart-on-his-sleeve late-night confessionals. On the standout "Farewell," Green's lines cut deep to the bone. Throughout, he throws out a bevy of one-liners meant to hurt his former flame. Where "Hit You Where It Hurts" had a tongue-in-cheek wink, "Farewell" is the flipside of the coin and all business.

Still, it's on "Drunk Again," another song penned with Adams, where Green is both as candidly forward and drunkenly vulnerable as he's ever been. Written on the big stage at Larry Joe Taylor's Melody Mountain Ranch at one of Green's Lubbock songwriter retreats, "Drunk Again" is a mounting wave of relentless sincerity and drunken introspective. It's sobering self-analysis with a monstrous chorus.

Still, it's on "Drunk Again," another song penned with Adams, where Green is both as candidly forward and drunkenly vulnerable as he's ever been. Written on the big stage at Larry Joe Taylor's Melody Mountain Ranch at one of Green's Lubbock songwriter retreats, "Drunk Again" is a mounting wave of relentless sincerity and drunken introspective. It's sobering self-analysis with a monstrous chorus.

"My Mother," the closing country ballad written with Channing Wilson, is another bare-bones number in which Green lays it all out on the table.
"I thought it was a cool song, but I wasn't necessarily 'wowed' by it when we finished it up," says Green. "I don't know why, but one day I played it at a soundcheck in Lawrence, Kansas. Our merch guy, Tyler Miska, started crying when I played it. I'd never brought tears to someone's eyes with a song before. I ended up playing it that night and there were more people crying. It was really powerful to see a song I'd written affect someone like that. It felt good."
Green admits that he felt a little burnt out after 2015's breakout album Ringling Road. Often worrying about radio, second-guessing his songwriting and wondering what people were going to like, Green wiped the slate clean before starting Hebert Island.
"I just wanted to write songs that I really liked. So the songs that I really liked, they ended up on the record. I didn't care that it ended up being 14 songs long," says Green. "This was kind of a do or die record for us--Hell, every record is that way. Every record, you try and make it something special. I hope others think it's special. But all I know is that it's special to me. That's what really counts."
Green's Hebert Island is officially out! With the excitement of this release, you can bet this guy will put on a heck of a show! This too will sell out, get your tickets NOW!

Finally the Rock Band Los Lonely Boys, playing Gruene Hall on Friday August 23rd.
Los Lonely Boys, the close-knit Texas band including bassist/vocalist Jojo with his brothers Henry (vocals, guitar) and Ringo (drums, vocals). “As musicians and artists, we’re here to connect with people, and to share our view of things.” 

“We’re always trying to broaden our horizons and advance musically, and that’s something that we were very conscious of in making the record, Revelation,” Jojo states. “We’re always looking for new ways to communicate and reach people, so we experimented with a lot of different sounds and production approaches on every recording we've done.”

Toward that end, the brothers also collaborated with an eclectic cast of co-writers in assembling the dozen new original songs that comprise Revelation, including alt-country icon Radney Foster, in-demand pop tunesmiths Matthew Gerrard and David Quiñones, Black-Eyed Peas collaborators George Pajon Jr. and Keith Harris, and Raul Pacheco of Ozomatli.

Revelation also marks Los Lonely Boys’ first recording work since Henry Garza sustained serious injuries in a fall from the stage during a February 2013 performance in Los Angeles, necessitating a lengthy and ongoing recovery period.

“We nearly lost Henry, man, and that was a big change for us,” Jojo acknowledges. “The whole experience was a wake-up call for us. It made us rethink every aspect of our lives and our careers, and it reminded us of what’s really important to us.”

The abiding sense of family unity and creative rapport that allowed the band to weather such a potentially devastating event has been built into Los Lonely Boys from the beginning. Indeed, Henry, Jojo and Ringo have been making music together for their entire lives. Their father, Ringo Garza Sr., was a member of another sibling band, the Falcones, which played throughout southern Texas in the ’70s and ’80s. When that group disbanded, Ringo Sr. went solo, and recruited his three young sons to back him. The family relocated to Nashville in the ’90s, and soon Henry, Jojo and Ringo Jr. began writing and performing their own material as a trio.

After moving back to Texas, the brothers recorded their eponymous debut album in 2003 at Willie Nelson’s Pedernales studio in Austin, with Willie himself guesting on the sessions. Although originally released on small Or Music label, Epic Records picked up Los Lonely Boys for major-label distribution in early 2004. The album quickly won the band a large national audience. Its lead single “Heaven” became a Top 20 pop hit, reached the #1 spot on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart, and eventually won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. 

After a prominent guest appearance on the 2005 Santana album All That I Am, Los Lonely Boys solidified their success with 2006’s Sacred, which brought two more Grammy nominations, and 2008’s Forgiven, as well as the holiday-themed Christmas Spirit. Meanwhile, the band continued to build its reputation as a singularly powerful live act.

In early 2009, Los Lonely Boys made their LonelyTone/Playing in Traffic debut with the all-covers EP 1969, followed by the unplugged Keep On Giving: Acoustic Live! Those releases set the stage for the band’s acclaimed 2011 album Rockpango, and for the creative leap forward that Revelation represents. 

“We want to make music that brings people together, not music that divides people,” Jojo states. “We’re all about having a good time, but we also make an effort to write about things that really matter. A lot of people write songs about superficial things, like how you look and what kind of car you drive and how much money you have, but we’re not interested in that. We want to create music that’s about the love and the energy and the spirit that we all carry as people.” 

“We’re very thankful that God blessed our family with a drummer, a guitar player and a bass player, and that the three of us get to make music together,” Jojo concludes. “There’s been a few bumps in the road here and there, but that happens in any family and in any band. The main thing is that we stick together, and that we’re trying to pass on that feeling of brotherhood, of familia, in the music that we make.”

Great soulful tunes make this band one of my favorites that visit Gruene Hall. Get your tickets soon!!

Hot music in the hottest month of the year...seems fitting. Visit one of our many venues 'In New Braunfels'...where there is music in the air on any given night.

Until next time....


Thursday, August 8, 2019

A Quick One...All About Friday!!!!

Hey Folks,

I just have to get a quick one in for this weekend,  there are some great local and regional bands hitting town on Friday and I wanted to give you a heads up about the where and when for each of them.

First Up,  Friday night at The phoenix Saloon! Knotty Grove is perhaps the best 70's styled cover band I have ever heard. They cover the whole gamut of rock& roll from that era, Deep Purple, 3 Dog Night, Aerosmith and much more. Highly recommended!! get out there early, it gets packed!

Also on Friday night at Billy's Ice is the one and only 3 Man Front. These guys are another amazing cover band that will play just about anything you can come up with, and all from only 3 guys! Always entertaining, Josh and the boys WILL deliver!

Moving away from cover bands, another local band bursting at the seams with talent will play The River Road Icehouse on Friday as well. The story of Midnight River Choir is proof that sometimes great bands just happen. One night, four strangers ended up on a late night float trip down the Guadalupe River. As they made their way down the river singing songs, the beautiful harmonies floated into the heads of sleeping campers. The next morning, the boys overheard a man telling a friend that he was “awakened by a midnight river choir.” That was all it took. Eric Middleton (lead singer and guitarist), Justin Nelson (lead guitarist), Jeromy Yager (former bassist), and Mitchell Pyeatt (drummer), realized the magic of their combined talents and began writing and performing together under that River-God given name. 
The formation of Midnight River Choir was nothing short of a force of nature that now translates seamlessly during their live shows. This band needs no labels or comparisons. Their music speaks volumes about who and what they are. Their lives have been woven together by a strong thread of energy both on and off stage. That energy is raw and natural and soaked up from the earth through their bare feet. They believe that what you get is what you give and they give everything they have to their crowds. When that kind of energy lands back at the feet of the boys it is something of supreme intensity. And no one ever forgets it. These guys will be making your soul groove starting at 9pm.

So if it were me, (and it very well might be), I would put together a little tour on Friday night and hit ALL THREE!! 

Theres only one way to end this quick little note...HAPPY FRIDAY everyone!!

Until next week...


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

An OLD favorite returns to Gruene Hall...and Then Some!

Hello Folks,

These are my picks for great music 'In New Braunfels'...let's get to it!

First up is one of my all time favorites to work with...Radney Foster hitting the stage at Gruene All this Friday night July 12th. As a young musician straight out of Texas, Radney Foster spent the lengthy drives in between tour stops reading the likes of John Steinbeck, Larry McMurtry, and Harper Lee. Over 30 years of artist cuts later, there is no question that he himself is an established storyteller. Whether it’s navigating the ever-changing music industry or battling a sudden, terrifying illness – Foster definitely has a story to tell.
In late Fall 2015, the legendary songwriter got the diagnosis every musician fears-- a severe case of pneumonia and laryngitis. However, for someone who’s been producing songs for almost 40 years, the desire to write doesn’t fade along with the voice. During a grueling six week period of vocal constraint, Foster’s creative side emerged in the form of a short story inspired by the song, titled “Sycamore Creek,” and the idea for Foster’s newest endeavor was born.
For You To See The Stars is a project comprised of two parts – a book and a CD. The book is a collection of short stories published by Working Title Farm. Though the stories are fiction, they are informed by Foster’s upbringing on the Mexican border in Del Rio, TX. The story that most closely resembles memoir, “Bridge Club,” is a humorous and poignant retelling of the song “Greatest Show on Earth,” a recollection of playing music with family and friends on the back porch on a Saturday night.
While it’s evident that Texas has always been an inspiration for his music, in For You To See The Stars, Foster explores various landscapes, both physical and emotional, from the story of a retired spy in New Orleans, to the tale of a Dallas lawyer wandering the Rocky Mountains in search of redemption, to a post apocalyptic parable of a world in endless war.
The beauty of this CD/book combo lives within Foster’s extensive imagery, which not only further expands the meaning behind Foster’s songs, but gives the reader a look at the thought process behind his songwriting. “For me, the goal of writing is always to touch that one person so much that they wonder how I got a peek into their living room--how I understood exactly what they felt. More than just rhyming or having a pretty melody, I try to express a part of the human condition that can make someone want to laugh, cry, make love, or all of the above.”
Although the literature can be enjoyed independently, each story is uniquely coupled with a song. The 10-track album, also titled For You To See The Stars, features nine new songs and a special re-recording of “Raining on Sunday,” the song Foster co-wrote with Darrell Brown, which became one of Keith Urban’s top Billboard singles. The album was recorded at the historic Nashville studio Sound Emporium and was produced by award-winning Will Kimbrough, who also plays multiple instruments and sings on the record.
For You To See The Stars is Radney Foster’s eleventh album. Foster has written eight number one hit singles, including his own “Nobody Wins,” and “Crazy Over You” with duo Foster & Lloyd. His discography contains countless cuts by artists ranging anywhere from country (Keith Urban, The Dixie Chicks, Luke Bryan, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) to contemporary (Marc Broussard, Hootie & The Blowfish, Kenny Loggins, Los Lonely Boys). Although highly recognized and accomplished in the music world, Foster is a true renaissance man. In addition to For You To See The Stars being his first book, Foster recently starred in the world premiere of "Troubadour,” at Atlanta’s Tony Award winning Alliance Theatre.  He also appears in the upcoming feature film, Beauty Mark.
For You To See The Stars is Foster at his classic storytelling best, both as a seasoned singer/songwriter and a soulful writer of prose. Although both components stand alone as separate pieces of art-- they are meant to be enjoyed together for a reason. When coupled, the book and CD give fans a deeper insight into the subconscious of Foster’s storytelling. Journalist Peter Cooper puts it best, “Radney Foster writes with uncommon depth of emotion, humor, empathy, and clarity. I’m going to ask him how he does it, and if he tells me I’ll let you in on his secret. Until then, it’s best that we read, wonder, and revel.” This man never ceases to amaze me, every song seems better than the last and every story has me hooked a little deeper. Always an amazing show, get your tickets now!

Next up, and OLD favorite returns to Gruene Hall. the OLD 978's will make a long awaited appearance on Friday July 19th. 

Although they became one of the most enduring bands in the alternative country-rock catalog, Old 97's drew inspiration from a broad range of genres, including the twangy stomp of cowpunk and the melodies of power pop. Formed in 1993 by frontman Rhett Miller and bassist Murry Hammond, the group spent the bulk of the decade posed on the brink of mainstream success, issuing albums that often drew warm reviews but never yielded a substantial hit. Old 97's tightened their sound as the decade drew to a close, retaining their bar-band vigor while introducing a stronger pop/rock sound on albums like Too Far to Care and Satellite Rides. Miller also mounted a solo career in the early 2000s, but the band remained together nonetheless, continuing to release material with their original lineup intact into the following decade.

Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond first partnered up in 1989, when Miller enlisted the latter's help in producing his debut solo album, Mythologies. Although six years younger than Hammond, Miller proved to be a dedicated musician as he canvassed the Dallas club circuit, playing a blend of folk and British-styled pop to local audiences. He also displayed a knack for storytelling, having previously earned a creative writing scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College. One year after Mythologies' release, Miller and Hammond teamed up once again, this time as part of the short-lived Sleepy Heroes.

Although the Sleepy Heroes disbanded after issuing one album, the band's mix of pop and Texas-styled twang helped lay the foundation for Old 97's. Continuing to build upon that sound, Miller and Hammond linked up with lead guitarist Ken Bethea and recorded a demo tape at the Cedar Creek studio in Austin. Drummer Philip Peeples climbed on board shortly thereafter, and Hammond's childhood obsession with trains inspired the band's new name, which paid homage to the country ballad "Wreck of the Old 97." With their lineup intact, Old 97's released the debut album Hitchhike to Rhome in 1994. It garnered positive reviews and began to build the group's alt-country fan base, which they consolidated on the album's follow-up, Wreck Your Life. Issued in 1995 by the newly formed Bloodshot Records -- a label that would also launch the alt-country careers of Neko Case and Ryan Adams -- Wreck Your Life presented Old 97's as a sharp, eclectic country-rock outfit with a pinup-worthy frontman. Such positive attention led to a major-label deal with Elektra Records, who hoped to translate the band's underground buzz into mainstream success.

Old 97's made their Elektra debut in 1997 with Too Far to Care, a muscular album that balanced the band's Texas traditionalism and pop leanings. Many publications placed the band among the leaders of the alt-country movement, and Old 97's toured extensively in support, joining the Lollapalooza tour that summer and playing alongside Whiskeytown for a series of shows sponsored by No Depression magazine. Arriving two years later, 1999's Fight Songs offered another polished, pop-friendly set of songs, allowing the band to sell out 1,500-seat venues during its return to the road.

By this time, Miller had moved to Los Angeles and shed the thick, '50s-style glasses that had become a major part of his image. He and Hammond also began performing in an informal side project dubbed the Ranchero Brothers, although a proposed album never materialized. Instead, the musicians returned their focus to Old 97's, releasing another pop-influenced record with 2001's Satellite Rides. Miller took a temporary leave after its release to work on a solo power pop record, The Instigator, which was released in late 2002. A period of relative inactivity followed, as the bandmembers found themselves in different cities, with several of them starting families.

The hiatus ended in 2004 with the release of Drag It Up, whose subsequent tour featured prominently on the double-disc live album Alive & Wired. Afterward, Miller returned to his solo career with 2006's The Believer, which found the frontman experimenting with strings and orchestral arrangements. Old 97's returned to the studio once again in 2008, though, this time holing up in their native Dallas to help channel the energy of their earlier records. The move worked, and the resulting album, Blame It on Gravity, delivered some of the band's strongest songs in years. While touring the country in support, Murry Hammond launched his own solo career, packaging a wealth of old-timey gospel ballads and locomotive imagery onto the album I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I'm on My Way. Miller also found time to release a solo album, 2009's self-titled Rhett Miller, which appeared one year before the ninth Old 97's record, The Grand Theatre, Vol. 1. Originally intended as a double album, The Grand Theatre was followed in mid-2011 by a companion record, The Grand Theatre, Vol. 2.

In 2012, Old 97's released an archival project via Omnivore Records, an expanded and remastered reissue of Too Far to Care that included a bonus disc of demos recorded before the project went into the studio. (The demos also received a stand-alone release on vinyl as They Made a Monster: The Too Far to Care Demos.) That same year, Omnivore released a limited-edition EP for Record Store Day that featured two songs the group recorded in 1996 in collaboration with Waylon Jennings; the EP was reissued in 2013 simply as Old 97's & Waylon Jennings. In 2014, the band released its first album for ATO Records, a fiery effort titled Most Messed Up, and continued their series of back catalog projects with Omnivore by issuing a remixed, remastered, and expanded edition of their debut LP, Hitchhike to Rhome. In the last weeks of 2016, Old 97's announced the upcoming release of a new album, Graveyard Whistling, which was issued by ATO in February 2017. The album included guest vocals by Brandi Carlisle on the song "Good with God," and songwriting contributions from Nicole Atkins and Butch Walker. November 2018 saw the release of a Rhett Miller solo set, The Messenger, as well as the first-ever Christmas album from Old 97's, Love the Holidays; both were issued by ATO Records.

This show WILL sell out, get your tickets NOW!

Lastly,  Another rocking' fave of mine Stoney Larue will take the stage at Gruene Hall on Saturday July 20th. “I like to connect with people at any age, whatever it might be sonically or to the depth of what they are willing to think as LaRue reflects on this important connection he has fostered with his fans over his 15-plus years of touring and recording music. Together, LaRue and his fans have culled together a “favorite live song set” that is dedicated to his loyal and growing fan base.
LaRue is known for his real life, thinking man’s music as well as his high energy live concerts with fans singing along to songs such as “Feet Don’t Touch The Ground”, “Look At Me Fly”, and “Oklahoma Breakdown”.
Being able to connect with fans the way we can today is mind blowing to LaRue. When this journey started over 15 years ago, communication was restricted mainly to the stage, written letters and before show meet and greets. Now with social media along with the audience feedback at his shows he feels closer to them than ever and looks forward to the future as he travels around the world writing songs as well as performing.
Independently charged, LaRue has sold over one million records over his career and plays 200-plus shows a year, and he has released a new single “You Oughta Know” in November 2018.
Stoney LaRue has a new album slated to be released in 2019. 

Summer marches on, and so does the great music across multiple venues...'In New Braunfels'.
Go hear some live music, you'll be glad you did!!
I shall leave you with this video from Stoney...

Until Next Time...CHEERS!