Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Legends and New Artists Decend on New Braunfels!

Hey Folks! WOW...just WOW, there are so many artists coming through New Braunfels lately, its pretty mind blowing.  A number of artists have been taking the historic stage at Gruene Hall in recent weeks, such as Tanya Tucker and Melissa Etheridge. In the next week or so, another round of legends and new stars will be making an appearance here in our fair city. Let's start with a relatively new artist Ruthie Foster this Thursday May 9th at The Brauntex Theater. In the tightknit musical community of Austin, Texas, it’s tough to get away with posturing. You either bring it, or you don’t.
If you do, word gets around. And one day, you find yourself duetting with Bonnie Raitt, or standing onstage with the Allman Brothers at New York’s Beacon Theater and trading verses with Susan Tedeschi. You might even wind up getting nominated for a Best Blues Album Grammy — three times in a row. And those nominations would be in addition to your seven Blues Music Awards, three Austin Music Awards, the Grand Prix du Disque award from the Académie Charles-Cros in France, a Living Blues Critics’ Award for Female Blues Artist of the Year, and the title of an “inspiring American Artist” as a United States Artists 2018 Fellow.

There’s only one Austinite with that résumé: Ruthie Foster. And with the release of her latest album, Joy Comes Back, the Recording Academy might want to put its engraver on notice. Because every note on it confirms this truth: It’s Ruthie’s time. The small rural town of Gause, TX had no chance of keeping the vocal powerhouse known as Ruthie Foster to itself. Described by Rolling Stone as “pure magic to watch and hear,” her vocal talent was elevated in worship services at her community church. Drawing influence from legendary acts like Mavis Staples and Aretha Franklin, Foster developed a unique sound unable to be contained within a single genre. That uniqueness echoes a common theme in Ruthie’s life and career - marching to the beat of her own drum.

Joining the Navy was one way for Ruthie to stake out her own path. It was during her time singing for the Navy band Pride that her love for performing became apparent. After leaving the service, Ruthie signed a development deal with Atlantic Records and moved to New York City to pursue a career as a professional musician.

A deal with a major label would seem to be a dream come true for a budding artist. But the label wanted Ruthie to hand over her authenticity in exchange for being molded into a pop star. In another bold move, she walked away from the deal and returned to her roots, moving back to the Lone Star State.

Returning to Texas, Ruthie solidified her place as an up-and-coming singer/songwriter and began a musical partnership with Blue Corn Music. Her studio albums for the label began with Runaway Soul in 2002, followed by The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster in 2007, The Truth According to Ruthie Foster in 2009, Let It Burn in 2012 and Promise of a Brand New Day in 2014. Her live shows, which she has referred to as a “hallelujah time,” have been documented on the album Stages in 2004 and the CD/DVD release Live at Antone’s in 2011.

Now comes Ruthie’s latest - Joy Comes Back - again on Blue Corn Music. When she recorded this album, Foster wasn’t merely singing about love and loss; she was splitting a household and custody of her 5-year-old daughter. Music was her therapy.

In the warm confines of Austin producer and former neighbor Daniel Barrett’s studio, she found a comfort level she’d never before experienced while recording. It gave her the strength to pour the heartache of her family’s fracture and the cautious hope of a new love into 10 incredible tracks, nine of which are by a diverse array of writers ranging from Mississippi John Hurt, Sean Staples and Grace Pettis (daughter of renowned folk singer Pierce Pettis), to Chris Stapleton and Black Sabbath. Yes, Black Sabbath: Foster reimagines “War Pigs” as a jam session with Son House. She also covers the Four Tops’ “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever,” written by Ivy Jo Hunter and Stevie Wonder.
And she makes each one hers, aided by some special guests. Derek Trucks drops slide guitar into the title tune; bassist Willie Weeks (Bowie, Clapton, George Harrison) plays on the Foster-penned “Open Sky”; and drumming legend Joe Vitale (Crosby, Stills & Nash; Eagles) appears on several tracks. Local hero Warren Hood (“Champ Hood’s boy,” as Foster calls him) lays fiddle and mandolin on Hurt’s bluegrass-tinted “Richland Woman Blues.” Barrett plays guitars, drums and percussion; other contributors include the core members of Ruthie’s touring band, Samantha Banks and Larry Fulcher.
At one point, Barrett described the album to Hood as “some blues, some folk, some soul, some rock, some gospel.” Hood replied, “Sounds like Ruthie Foster music.” She does indeed have it all in one package! Tickets still available, doors open at 6:30 , show at 7:30.

Thursday May 16th The legendary Marshall Tucker Band will grace the stage at Gruene Hall. 
In the early fall of 1973 The Marshall Tucker Band was still a young and hungry group out to prove themselves every time they hit the stage. Their debut album had already spawned numerous hits.
The band’s recent release of their Live! From Englishtown album is a time capsule from that period. “We were a bunch of young guys who didn’t know any boundaries” says founding member and longtime lead singer Doug Gray. As it turned out, the collective talents of The Marshall Tucker Band took them very far indeed.

Today the band records on its own RAMBLIN’ RECORDS Label (distributed by Sony / RED) and continues to release new and previously unreleased material. For their most recent release, the band dug into the vault and emerged with the original live recordings from its biggest show to date. The new Live! From Englishtown album was originally performed in 1977 and reportedly drew more than 150,000 fans. Still led today by founding member and lead singer Doug Gray, they represent a time and place in music that will never be duplicated. Gray is quick to credit the band's current dynamic members with carrying on the timeless essence of The Marshall Tucker Band sound. Current members include the highly respected drummer B.B. Borden, a former member of both Mother's Finest and The Outlaws, multi instrumentalist Marcus Henderson of Macon, Georgia, plays flute, saxophone and keyboards in addition to lead and background vocals, Tony Black on bass, and Rick Willis on lead guitar and vocals, both of Spartanburg SC, are disciples of the Caldwell Brothers. Acclaimed lead guitarist and vocalist Chris Hicks recently rejoined the band after a two-year absence. Together they present a powerful stage presence as they continue to tour the country and continue to be powerful force in the world of music.

The Marshall Tucker Band got its start in Spartanburg, S.C. when Gray teamed up with Tommy Caldwell and Toy Caldwell, Paul T. Riddle, George McCorkle and Jerry Eubanks, borrowing the name "Marshall Tucker" from a piano tuner whose name was found on a key ring in their old rehearsal space. In 1972, they signed with Capricorn Records, the same label that guided The Allman Brothers Band, Wet Willie, and others to national fame. The MTB opened shows for The Allman Brothers in 1973, and the following year, they began to headline their own shows across America due to the platinum-plus sales of their debut album. They toured constantly playing sheds, stadiums, theaters, fairs, and festivals.

In years to come, The Marshall Tucker Band would wow critics and influence major country acts like Alabama, The Kentucky Headhunters, Confederate Railroad, and Travis Tritt with its definitive blend of rock, rhythm & blues, jazz, country, and gospel. Now, thanks to the expanding scope of today's music, a new generation of fans is learning what the rest of their fans have known for so long- that good music knows no boundaries. Along the way, the band has recorded twenty two studio albums, three DVDs, three live albums and many compilations. In 1980 Tommy Caldwell died as a result of injuries from an auto accident. In 1984 Toy Caldwell, George McCorkle, and Paul Riddle decided to retire. Doug Gray and Jerry Eubanks with the blessings of the other three continued to record and perform as The Marshall Tucker Band. 1n 1993 Toy Caldwell, who wrote the majority of their songs, passed away, as did George McCorkle in 2007. Jerry Eubanks retired in 1996 and Doug Gray continues to lead the current band of fine musicians winning new young fans as well as satisfying the loyal fans of several generations.

Years of rigorous tour schedules earned the band the respect of critics and countless dedicated fans. With hit singles like "Heard It In a Love Song," "Fire On The Mountain," "Can't You See," and "Take The Highway," The Marshall Tucker Band earned seven gold and three platinum albums while they were on the Capricorn Records label. During the 90's, the MTB scored four hit singles on Billboard's country chart and one on Billboard's gospel chart. Their music has also been featured on the soundtracks of movies such as Smokey and the Bandit, Blow, The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper, Shipwrecked, Crank 2, Don’t Mess with Zohan, Stop Loss, Swing Vote, Taking Chance and many others as well as many TV Shows.

“The buying public never really cared whether we were country or rock and roll" says Gray. "They called us a Southern rock band, but we have always played everything from country, jazz, blues, Rock & Roll and all things in-between.

As we've become older," Gray grins, eyes twinkling, "our Southern heritage seems to come out even more. But no matter how old we get, we can still rock your socks off." Gray also notes that people have gotten "married and buried" to classic MTB songs like "Desert Skies" and "Can't You See". After 40 years, The Marshall Tucker Band continues to be played on classic rock and country radio, and they have never stopped touring. More than 40 years after forming, The Marshall Tucker Band continues to tour, performing more than 130 live dates each year, and we are so lucky to have Gruene Hall as one of those stops! Tickets still available, but it will sell out, so go get 'em!

Lastly, I'd like to mention my 'new' discovery, Robert Ellis. He is currently touring on his latest release Texas Piano Man! It’s funny that Robert Ellis’ new album Texas Piano Man was released on Valentine’s Day. While there are a good number of love songs on the record, it’s alarmingly disillusioned, not the idealized stuff of greeting cards and romantic comedies. There’s a cheeky examination of bickering in “Aren’t We Supposed To Be In Love,” acts of longing and desperation on “When You’re Away” and a seemingly funny tune about a “Passive Aggressive” partner that’s actually kind of sad. “That’s one way to communicate,” Ellis sings. “I wish you would just give it to me straight”—not exactly the doe-eyed love song you’re after on Feb. 14. The relationships on this dazzling album are far from perfect, but they’re honest, and the multi-talented Ellis, coming off a string of breakup records, sounds more comfortable in his skin than ever before. 

Album opener “F*%#$@ Crazy” is an ode to serious, reckless love disguised as a carefree romp. “You make me want to tear the world in two,” he sings. “I lost touch with reality, there’s nothing I can do.” It’s the kind of humorous yet heartfelt songwriting Ellis is known for. Even when he’s desperately in love, he can’t resist some profanic dark humor.
And then again, the Valentine’s Day release date is perfect. On the nostalgic “Nobody Smokes Anymore,” a prickly pining for the good ol’ days, Ellis unleashes an audible smooch. “No one has fun anymore,” he sings, like a hyped up Harry Nilsson. “Everybody’s so stressed out.” Here, his Elton John-inspired piano pop is on full display while he expresses our human need to reminisce. 
“Let Me In” somehow manages to sound like it belongs both on the Wicked soundtrack and a jam band’s live album. There’s a repetitive twinkle to it that’s reminiscent of the optimistic rising action in a Broadway show. It’s anticipatory of something. “I’m out here waiting, ticking like a clock,” Ellis sings. 
On “He Made Me Do It,” a track bemoaning the devil on your shoulder, Ellis’ Dr. Jekyll blames his Mr. Hyde for a series of missteps (“I said some stupid things and ruined everybody’s fun / And he made me do it”). At the end of the song, Ellis wonders if he’s the only one with a pesky inner monster. “Doesn’t anybody else have a little voice inside their head? / I know I cannot be alone.” 
Towards the end of the album, Ellis is more Jimmy Buffett than Elton John on the toned-down twist on “Margaritaville,” “Topo Chico.” On this song, it’s not 5 o’clock somewhere, but 11 a.m. everywhere—Ellis says he’s “just fine” with a glass of sparkling water (a “bubbly libation” with a “focus on hydration”) and lime. There’s no need for anything stronger. With seriously clever wordplay, Ellis brings a fun new angle to the tropical tropes made famous by Buffett. 

Texas Piano Man is exactly what it sounds like: a cross between country-blues and piano-pop. Ellis surely knows his way around the keys, and his fifth studio album is funny, frank and alive. It’s a storyful, self-realized album that also happens to be a hell-of-a good time to listen to. This madman on piano will make his debut performance at Gruene Hall on Friday May 17th.

No matter when you visit, make live music at one of our many venues, part of your experience, 'In New Braunfels'

Until next time....


Robert Ellis

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

So Much Music for a Small Texas Town!

Hey Folks...

It occurred to me lately that New Braunfels has matured into an incredible musical destination, especially for its relativity small size! We have a wide variety of venues including historic, large and small outdoor and intimate indoor settings and various festivals throughout the year. There is music every night of the week somewhere in New Braunfels. Not many cities our size can boast about such things! So while I'm in the mood to boast, here are my picks for the rest of April.

Stoney LaRue will take the stage at historic Gruene Hall this Friday April 19th. “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. I like to think, and I like people to think and that often generates a connection that can be nurtured,” says Stoney LaRue. As he prepares the release of Us Time, LaRue reflects on this important connection he has fostered with his fans over his 15-plus years of touring. 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.

US TIME is a collection of songs from the native Texan who now resides in Oklahoma reflecting on his own dreams that openly shares with his longtime fans. “This project is a tribute to my fans. We have developed a strong relationship and I appreciate all of them,” says LaRue. “ Together, we have built a compilation of fan favorites from the live shows that reflect the complexion of our time together in music, it is simply our US Time, “ he continues. This sentiment rings even louderafter LaRue took a hiatus from touring this summer to re-center his life that seemed to be lost.

LaRue says, “Being able to record such timeless songs as “Empty Glass,” “Into the Mystic” and “Wichita Lineman” aside some of original tunes, all selected by my fans make me feel validated as an artist and hopefully it gives the fans exactly what they are looking for.”

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. Today’s instant social media connection is what helped generate this collection of songs. “I just kept a list of songs that fans would either request via Twitter and Facebook or yell to me on stage,” says LaRue. “Us Time is a very collaborative effort with them. Also, having RS Fields as the producer on this project was a good call. This is our first time working together and he totally nailed the production and we totally were in sync on how it should sound. I am very happy with the end result, it feels live and it feels real, and that is what music is all about,” he continued.

Independently charged, LaRue has sold over 300,000 records over his career and plays 200-plus shows a year. His songs have seen the top of the charts, most recently his hit “Golden Shackles” from his eOne Music debut, Aviator, in 2016. Doors are at 7pm. Tickets still available.

Boz Scaggs has released a new album. It's appropriate that Boz Scaggs' new album is Out of the Blues, since the blues is what first sparked his five-decade musical career.

Born William Royce Scaggs in Canton, Ohio on June 8, 1944, he grew up in Oklahoma and Texas, where he spent his teenage years immersed in the blues, R&B and early rock 'n' roll. While attending school in Dallas, he played in local combos. After several years as a journeyman musician around Madison, WI and Austin, TX, Scaggs spent time traveling in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, eventually settling in Stockholm where he recorded the album Boz.

Returning to the U.S. in 1967, Scaggs joined the Steve Miller Band in San Francisco, performing on that group's albums Children of the Future and Sailor, before launching his solo career with 1968's seminal Boz Scaggs LP, recorded in Muscle Shoals, AL for Atlantic Records. Scaggs continued to mine a personalized mix of rock, blues and R&B influences, along with a signature style of ballads on such influential '70s albums as Moments, Boz Scaggs & Band, My Time, Slow Dancer and 1976’s Silk Degrees. The latter release became a massive commercial breakthrough, reaching Number Two and remaining on the album charts for 115 weeks. It spawned three Top 40 hit singles: "It's Over," "Lido Shuffle" and the Grammy-winning "Lowdown." Subsequently, "We're All Alone” from that same album, would become a #1 single for Rita Coolidge. Silk Degrees was followed by the albums Down Two Then Left and Middle Man, and such hit singles as "Breakdown Dead Ahead," "Jo Jo" and "Look What You've Done to Me."

Despite his '70s successes, Scaggs spent much of the 1980s out of the music-biz spotlight, traveling, opening a family business, fathering young children and founding the San Francisco nightclub, Slim's, He returned to the studio after an 8-year hiatus and released, Other Roads, Some Change, Dig, the Grammy-nominated Come on Home, the unplugged Fade Into Light, the in-concert retrospective Greatest Hits Live as well as a stint touring with Donald Fagen’s New York Rock & Soul Review; all while continuing to maintain a loyal audience in the U.S. and overseas, particularly in Japan. A pair of albums of jazz standards, But Beautiful and Speak Low, the latter topping the Billboard Jazz chart, demonstrated Scaggs' stylistic mastery, as did the Southern-flavored Memphis and the rhythm & bluesy A Fool to Care.

"Music has been a constant companion and I'm feeling more free with it than ever," Scaggs comments. "I feel like I've found my voice through all these years, and I've gotten closer to where I want to be with my approach."  And what a treat for New Braunfels, he is making a stop at Gruene Hall on Wednesday April 24th. This show will sell out soon, so get your tickets NOW.

And heading into May, The Brauntex Theater is bringing The Quebe Sisters to New Braunfels.
With over fifteen years of touring to date, The Quebe Sisters have delivered their authentic triple fiddle and three-part harmony sound to the concert halls andfestivals of North America, Europe, and Russia.

Grace, Sophia, and Hulda Quebe front an innovative Progressive Western Swing band of archtop guitar, upright bass, fiddles and sibling harmony. The Dallas-based five-piece presents a unique Americana blend of Western Swing, Jazz-influenced Swing, Country, Texas-Style Fiddling, and Western music.

“We differentiate our music as ‘Progressive Western Swing’ from simply ‘Western Swing’ because we aren’t trying to sound just like Bob Wills,” Grace Quebe explains. “Instead, we continue his vision, playing the style he pioneered in an authentic way by incorporating new genres and songs, interpreting them using our own unique voice through Country instrumentation.”

The band’s stripped-down acoustic instrumentation breathes new life into seasoned sounds once found in Texas dance halls and honky-tonks. Grace continues, “To us, preserving the tradition of Western Swing isn’t about keeping something alive like a relic. Western Swing has always been about innovation.”

Innovation has led the sisters to channel the musical connection between danceability and emotiveness, combining old sounds with new feelings and old feelings with new sounds. It’s not nostalgia that drives the band as purveyors of Western Swing, but the aspiration to take the music back to its roots and sustain the spirit of Swing.

Combine the musical stylings of The Mills Brothers, Ray Price, Count Basie, Willie Nelson, and you have none other than The Quebe Sisters. They are so authentic with the way they approach this style of still on sale at

Whatever plans you make in New Braunfels, take the time to visit one of our many great venues and support live music!  get out there and get ya some, 'in... New Braunfels'.

Until next time...CHEERS!


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Spring brings NEW music to New Braunfels

Hey Folks!! Spring, my favorite time of year, all things seem renewed, so I thought I'd try and find some NEW artists and long  time artists with NEW music out. I'll start with Cameran Nelson playing at The River Road Icehouse this Friday night! Fuse Texas Country grit with down-home rock n’ roll and you get Cameran Nelson, a true Texas Troubadour whose roots run deep across 1,815 miles of the Lone Star State from Haskell, Texas where he was born to living South of Kingsville, East of Rockwall, West of Lubbock and now settled in the hill country town of Blanco.

Nelson’s knack for the neon lights and passion for the stage all started at the age of thirteen when he began playing bass in his dad’s country band. At fifteen, he spent a few years selling merchandise for the late, great Gary Stewart, where he learned how the “King of Honky Tonk” entertained crowds. The calling for music took him to the West Texas plains to pursue an education in music. With a music scholarship in hand, Nelson attended the South Plains College in Levelland, Texas where he studied vocals and guitar. 

After graduating, Nelson released his first full length album in 2013 entitled “Happy to Beer” and was nominated for three Texas Music Awards: Male Vocalist, Rising Star, and Record of the Year. Following the charted success with singles, “Thrown”, “Happy to Beer”, and “Reckless in Texas,” Nelson landed his first [multi-week] #1 on the Texas Regional Radio Report and the Texas Music Chart with “35 Runs Both Ways.” His last project, “Good Thing Going”, has earned him three more #1 hits with “SHOTGUN”, “You Can Still Wear White.”, and “Little That We’re Livin’ On”. 

The esteemed singer-songwriter’s charting success comes from his ability to pull inspiration from a deep well of life experiences. From his overwhelming love for his wife and three children to the tragic loss of his best friend and guitar player in a car accident at the age of 17, Nelson is able to tap into the emotional depths of his fans with songs that strike universal chords.

While songwriting is a craft and passion, getting on stage is what Nelson does best. Nelson has captivated fans across the nation with his high-energy show, performing with Country music mainstays Lee Brice, Dustin Lynch, Granger Smith, Jack Ingram, Billy Currington, Aaron Watson and many more. 

“Getting on stage and playing is just that! – Play! The work is over and we get to cut loose and have some fun,” says Nelson about his live performances. “We like to throw in our influences here and there, which can get diverse and fun at times.”

Nelson’s latest single “Life Is” is a testament to growing up in Texas and living life in a small town and not forgetting where you come from. Doors are at 6pm and show at 8pm. Staying at River Road Icehouse for Saturday brings us Mickey and the Motorcars plus two new acts that have been tearing up the Texas Country scene. 
Thirteen years can put a hell of a lot of wear and tear on even the hardiest of rock ’n’ roll bands. But don’t be fooled by all those hundreds of thousands of miles on Micky & the Motorcars’ odometer: pop the hood of Hearts From Above, the long-running Austin band’s seventh album, and you’ll find a brand-new engine, fine-tuned and good to run for at least as many more miles still ahead. And behind the wheel? Two brothers and founding members Micky Braun (lead vocals and guitar) and Gary Braun (guitar, mandolin, harmonica, and vocals) invigorated and supercharged by a transfusion of new blood from fresh recruits Josh Owen (lead guitar/pedal steel), Joe Fladger (bass), and Bobby Paugh (drums). Micky and Gary, who by their own admission, haven’t been this fired up about playing together since they first rode south from the Whitecloud Mountains of Idaho to stake their claim to the Texas and wider Americana music scenes.

 Taking the stage before them Ottoman Turks, Sharp, clawing chords backed by artillery percussion. Wry lyrics sung loud, often with close harmony. Energy erupts from the stage, flowing like a palpable wave through the audience. Before long, you’re stomping along, an arm thrown over a friend’s shoulder, heads tilted back in chorus. An Ottoman Turks show is akin to a religious experience. If you didn’t believe in modern rock and roll before, you will by the show’s end. But unlike many bands, Ottoman Turks is no single thing, easily defined. You could try and simplify it - a four-piece band, born in Dallas. Friends from high school who love to play music. You could look at the cowboy hats and call it country. You could hear the guitars and call it rock. But to simplify the band is to ignore its true nature - and its best aspect.

OT was born in a bedroom in 2009, beginning as a high school solo project of lead singer and rhythm guitarist Nathan Mongol Wells. With ambitions and scope quickly growing beyond the bedroom and into the garage, bassist and vocalist Billy Law and drummer Paul Hinojo were brought into what then became a fully formed band. Finally, lead guitarist and vocalist Joshua Ray Walker made the band in 2012, completing the lineup, and Ottoman Turks has been dialing it in and turning it up ever since.

Of the four members, three also lead successful solo projects. When they’re not onstage with Ottoman Turks, you can almost certainly find Billy Law, Joshua Ray Walker, and Nathan Mongol Wells onstage somewhere. Walker’s debut solo record has been garnering instant praise across North America and beyond, and he’s played shows with bands such as American Aquarium and Colter Wall. As solo artists, Law and Wells both lead excellent bands, each with their own unique sound that vary significantly from the music they play with OT. Every member, including drummer Hinojo, brings their own influences and experiences to the band when they unite, helping craft that signature OT sound.

It follows that defining that sound has not been easy. After years of abandoned definitions, bassist Billy Law coined the term ‘Outlaw Country Garage Rock,’ which finally seemed to make the most sense. The band has always drawn influence from music legends and pioneers. The line of tradition still thrives deep in their sound, blues and country and punk rock, but with new elements thrown in - a rhythm here, a riff there, united to make new. Dissonant basslines giving a blues song fresh anxiety. Bossa nova beats transforming a folk tune. Rapid-fire verses, almost like hip hop, electrify a country boast. All of these disparate influences come together in a distinctly Texan way, making inherent sense when driven like a train through Ottoman Turks’ overdrive pedals and silver faced speakers. Never content to just play a song straight, the band’s sound lunges, leaps, claws and crawls its way from open to close. They’re here to have a good time - and make sure you are, too. Even the slowest songs are meant to cross that invisible barrier between stage and pit and connect with the audience, like an arm over the shoulder of a barroom buddy, beers clinking in solidarity. The ten years they’ve spent onstage have hardened and honed their sound and presence to where they know exactly how to win over the crowd.

After ten years of shows, writing, performing, perfecting their songs, pouring themselves out for the crowd, and paying their dues on the pockmarked floors of Texas honky tonks and bars, the band is in peak position to finally raise the stakes. After witnessing their triumphant midsummer show at the historic Granada Theater in Dallas, State Fair Records brought the boys in with producer John Pedigo to create the debut Turks record. Due out June 21, the record is every bit as loud, raw, rowdy and rocking as the band’s live show. It is definitive Ottoman Turks, which means you better get ready to party.

And one more great act playing before Micky and the boys is The 40 Acre Mule. "It used to be called boogie-woogie. It used to be called rhythm & blues. Now, they call it rock & roll " 
Chuck Berry’s words are at the very heart of Roots Rock & Roll 5-piece, The 40 Acre Mule! The self-described “Rhythm & Blues Outfit” are a powerhouse of vintage revival with a reputation for seamlessly blurring the lines between country, soul and rock audiences with songwriting that borders between blues drenched heartbreak and an old school riot in the streets!
Influenced by the pillars of Rhythm & Blues like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley and Ray Charles and inspired by recent artists such as J.D. McPherson, Nathaniel Rateliff and Gary Clark Jr., The 40 Acre Mule – J. Isaiah Evans: Guitar & Vocals, Robert Anderson: Drums, Tim Cooper: Bass, Chris Evetts: Baritone Sax & Percussion, and John Pedigo: Guitar & Vocals - quickly built their own unique sound by blending vintage Rock & Roll, Rhythm & Blues, Soul and just a touch of Country. It was a sound that soon caught on with The James Hunter Six, The Reverend Horton Heat, Eleven Hundred Springs, Ken Bethea of Old 97s, Alejandro Escovedo, Rosie Flores and more. 
Since forming in Dallas, Texas in 2015, The 40 Acre Mule has built a loyal following the old-fashioned way, they earned it! Playing countless bars and packed clubs, they watched crowds grow mainly by word of mouth. As the crowds caught on, so did the likes of legendary promoter Scott Beggs and Jim Heat (The Reverend Horton Heat) who gave The 40 Acre Mule their first break with an opening slot at a SOLD-OUT show at Dallas’ legendary Bomb Factory. From there, opportunities to open for more superstars of roots music came along helping THE 40 ACRE MULE spread their brand of Rhythm & Blues music. 

So, there you have it, all in one weekend and all at one location, new music from new bands and established artists. Plenty of other great music taking place all weekend at multiple venues in beautiful New Braunfels, so get out there and get ya some!!!

Until Next Time...

Cheers! and here's a little sneak peek at The 40 Acre Mule...

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Month of LOVE...and Music to Love!!

Hey Folks,
Love is in the air, and so is some great music to love, right here, 'In New Braunfels'.  Another newcomer to Gruene Hall is on his way, this Friday night. Colter Wall is coming in as the hot new singer songwriter. Colter Wall is a young Saskatchewan born songwriter and performing musician. Steeped in Old Timey material and traditional Americana, Wall's sound is comprised of resonate and raw baritone vocals, Folk and Bluegrass style guitar and banjo picking, steady kick-drum stomping, and visually provoking, story telling lyrics. Wall Draws influence from legends of the past such as Hank Williams, Robert Johnson, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, and The Band, as well as more modern Americana pioneers including Shovels and Rope, Jack White, Ray Lamontagne, and Shakey Graves. Despite only recently beginning his musical career, Colter Wall has been seen in the company of Saskatchewan's infamous gritty bluegrass trailblazers,The Dead South. Wall has had the opportunity to open for The Dead South on several occasions with more show's upcoming. In addition to racking up memorable live shows across the province, Wall is planning on releasing an EP in the summer of 2015 and has been busy recording at Regina's own Studio One. From dive bars to fundraiser galas, Colter Wall has a history of leaving audiences in shock at the maturity of his voice as well as his songwriting. I have heard great things about this young man. He will hit the stage about 9pm. 
While we are on the subject of Gruene Hall lets just stay there for the rest of this edition, Saturday Night brings the one and only 'SHINY RIBS' to the historic honky tonk! SHINYRIBS is the continuation of Kevin Russell’s musical journey that began in Beaumont, TX when, at 14, he found his father’s guitar under his bed, along with a sewing machine, a billy club and a box of comic books. Luckily he chose the guitar. Following his family’s oil boom and bust migratory path he landed in Shreveport, LA where he formed his first band. Picket Line Coyotes were a Husker Du meets Elvis Costello hybrid that lived and died between the “Arklatexabamassippi” borders much like their unfortunate animal namesake. That’s what took him to Austin where The Gourds were born from those Coyote ashes. That storied band of pumpkins came to an end after 18 years of good times and hard travelin’. From that point on Russell, has been riding high on the Shinyribs river of country-soul, swamp-funk and tickle. A Shinyribs show is an exaltation of spirit. It’s a hip shaking, belly laughing, soul-singing, song-slinging, down-home house party. All styles of American music are likely to be touched on, squeezed on, kissed on by this world-class band featuring Winfield Cheek on Keyboards, Keith Langford on Drums, Jeff Brown on Bass, the Tijuana Trainwreck Horns, and The Shiny Soul Sisters - Kelley Mickwee & Alice Spencer. Whether on his 6 string Uke or his Electric guitar or singing a cappella, Russell will entertain you like no one else. The freedom with which he moves, coupled with his incredible voice is an experience in and of itself. His original songs laced with magical-realism along with novel interpretations of popular songs old and new (George Jones, TLC, Leadbelly, T-Pain) are the true art that runs throughout. He’s Burl Ives meets Al Green; Hank, Jr. meets Teddy Pendergrass. Wendell Berry meets Chuck Berry. This show is ALWAYS a must see in my opinion!! Get there early, get up close and HANG ON!! Doors are at 8pm.

Valentines Day will bring good 'ol Dale Watson to Gruene Hall. This throwback to REAL country music will play nonstop dance tunes all night for you and your love. Dale Watson, keeper of the true country music flame, latest album Call Me Insane, was recorded in Austin with veteran producer Lloyd Maines (Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker, etc.). The Austin-based honky-tonker carries on in the tradition of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson with his “Ameripolitan” brand of American roots music.

Album highlights include “Jonesin’ For Jones,” a love song to the music of the legendary George Jones, “A Day At A Time,” about “getting by by barely getting by;” “Call Me Insane,” the album’s moody title track; “Bug Ya For Love,” a fun warning to all the single ladies, and “Mamas Don’t Let Your Cowboys Grow Up To Be Babies.” (Yes, it is an answer song to the Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson hit.) “Crocodile Tears” is a tear-in-your-beer country song that sounds like an instant classic and “Burden Of The Cross” reveals Watson’s serious side.
Call Me Insane was recorded in Austin by Watson and his ace touring band, “His Lone Stars”: Don Pawlak (pedal steel), Mike Bernal (drums & percussion), and Chris Crepps (upright bass & background vocals). Dale plays electric guitar throughout and Lloyd Maines added acoustic guitar. They were joined in the studio by Danny Levin on piano and the Honky Tonk Horns: Jon Blondell (trombone), Joey Colarusso (saxophone), and Ricky White (trumpet). 
“Having known Lloyd over 20 years and worked with him as a musician, I knew he was a great guy and picker," Watson says. "But having Lloyd produce your record is like letting your mom in your kitchen. You know you’re gonna like what comes out and it's amazing how such basic ingredients can be made even better. He is an artists' artist.
The admiration is mutual. "I've been a Dale Watson fan since I played steel guitar on some of his early records," Maines says of the sessions. "My early musical influences are the same as Dale's. We both grew up playing real country music. Dale is one of a very short list of today's artists who still keeps it real country. I'm honored that he asked me to produce his new record. I think he knew that I would maintain the integrity of his passion for the music."
Dubbed "the silver pompadoured, baritone beltin', Lone Star beer drinkin', honky-tonk hellraiser" by The Austin Chronicle, Watson sat in with Jimmy Kimmel’s house band as a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC) from SXSW 2015. He also emceed the first ever SXSW “Ameripolitan” showcase featuring the best of Honky-tonk, Outlaw Country, Rockabilly and Texas Swing music.
Since the release of El Rancho Azul in 2013, Watson’s profile has risen considerably via appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS), Austin City Limits and The Sun Sessions(PBS) and as a guest on NPR’s Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me. A veteran touring artist and consummate entertainer, he is on the road more than 300 days a year. He also put his money where his heart is and took over ownership of two struggling Texas honky-tonks, the Little Longhorn Saloon in Austin (home of Chicken $#!+ Bingo) and The Big T Roadhouse in St. Hedwigs (outside San Antonio).  If not on the road, he and His Lone Stars perform at one of them each Sunday.
Dale has flown the flag for classic honky-tonk for over two decades. He’s christened his brand of American roots “Ameripolitan” to differentiate it from current crop of Nashville-based pop country. The Alabama-born, Texas-raised Watson may be the hardest working entertainer today and is rapidly approaching legendary status.  He is a country music maverick, a true outlaw who stands alongside Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and George Strait as one of the finest country singers and songwriters from the Lone Star State. And if you need another endorsements, Willie Nelson has said that Dale, is one of his absolute favorites…so there! His new Album 'Call me Lucky' is due out February 15th.
Get out there and do some two steppin’.

And finally, what I believe to be one of the top female vocalists on the planet will play this historic hall three nights in a row February 15-17. Leann Rimes will perform three uniquely different shows.
LeAnn Rimes has sold more than 44 million albums, won two Grammy® Awards, three Academy of Country Music Awards and 12 Billboard Music Awards. Rimes is the youngest recipient of a Grammy® Award, and was also the first country recording artist to win in the “Best New Artist” category. 

Rimes has placed 42 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, 13 of which are top-10 hits, and has scored numerous hit singles in her career, including “Can’t Fight the Moonlight” which went #1 in 11 countries, and “How Do I Live,” which is the second longest charting song ever on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Having released more than ten studio albums, three compilation albums and two greatest hits albums in her illustrious career, Rimes sets her sights on releasing her most personal album yet, Spitfire, in spring 2013. Her first single from the new album, “What Have I Done,” will be released December 10, 2012. 

Rimes is as an accomplished actress and author, including writing two children’s books Jag and Jag’s New Friend, as well as the novel, Holiday in Your Heart and the inspirational book What I Cannot Change. She also has a new book in its beginning stages focusing on life’s crossroads. 

LeAnn has long-supported a variety of charity organizations including advocating for the National Psoriasis Foundation, The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes and StandUp For Kids. She most recently began work with The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.

Tickets are still available, and every time I have worked with her, she is just as amazing!! I highly recommend this show!! So come visit Gruene Hall this week...In New Braunfels !
I've dropped a little video here of Leann, just to prove my point!
Until next time...


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Cold of Winter is NO Match for the Hot Music, 'In New Braunfels'

Hello Folks, 
So, I'm not a big 'winter' guy, never have been, but this winter I have had the pleasure of attending some of the best live music performances. Music of course warms the soul, and we have another batch of great live music heading for New Braunfels. This Friday another 'hot' commodity in the Texas music scene will take the stage at Gruene Hall. It's been a long time -- a decade, in fact -- since Amanda Shires left her native Texas and all the musicians she had performed with since her youth, for the platinum possibilities of Nashville. From the age of 15, the Lubbock-raised violin player and singer had been a go-to collaborator for both legends and up-and-comers.
But sawing on the strings from the side of the stage wasn't exactly the way Shires wanted to spend the rest of her career, even if it was as a fiddle player for honky-tonk heroes such as Billy Joe Shaver or the Texas Playboys. It's not that she was desperate to become a center-stage star, but she was ready to progress and embrace the roles consistent with her artistic growth.
"I didn't start out thinking I would lead a band and write my own songs, but I've naturally grown into that role over time," Shires, 36, says by phone from her home in Nashville. A refrigerator technician is working in the background, installing a new appliance. This seemingly mundane activity is yet another sign of progression for Shires, given that "this is the first time I've bought a brand-new refrigerator," she says.

Her latest album, 2018's beautiful, genre-bending To the Sunset, displays a stylistic departure from the folk-driven Americana roots-rock of her previous solo efforts, dating back to 2005's Being Brave. Produced by acclaimed producer Dave Cobb -- who has been at the controls for each of the last three records from her husband, Jason Isbell -- To the Sunset paints an ambitious landscape with psychedelic textures and rock-focused flourishes.
The album offers tangible evidence that her path has taken exactly the direction she wanted to go after leaving Texas, where she had become an integral member of popular alt-country band Thrift Store Cowboys. The memories of her time in that group are great, she admits, and the lessons learned from that period are what she often draws from these days.
"I learned a lot about touring with that band," she says. "We found all sorts of ways to make a tour work, like staying at as many KOA campgrounds as possible."
The hard-knock schooling continued in full force in Music City, as Shires found herself in a town packed with thousands of others dreaming the same dream. Her early days as a Nashville resident involved waiting tables, saving up money and looking for a way to make music for a living. She now recognizes the trials and insecurity she felt as key tools in the strength she enjoys today.

She admits that as her life moves forward, her career thrives and her recorded catalog expands, there are songs from her past she simply cannot play anymore. Because her songs are personal statements and sonic time stamps, her relationship with them often changes.
"I only play the songs I like now," she says. "You grow up and there are just more things to say that feel more important now than some of the things you said and felt a long time ago. Some of my old songs describe feelings I just don't have anymore because I've grown past that feeling."
Much of her family still lives in Texas, including her father, grandfather and some aunts and uncles. And although she admits she'll always be a "die-hard Texan," Shires cherishes her current musical freedom -- something she may not have ever won had she not moved away from home.
"I really do like being a side-player for anyone I think writes great songs, and that I can learn from," she says. "I think there's always something to be learned, but I like being able to make the decision as to when I do that, or do my own thing." If you would like to see Amanda 'do her own thing', you better get tickets fast, this show will sell out! Doors are at 7pm and show is at 8.

Next up is a fantastic songwriter doing two free shows in New Braunfels at Bill's Ice, Friday and Saturday. Dave Fenley was born and raised in the small town of Lufkin. This East Texas town is deep rooted with religion, family values, and of course... music. At a young age Dave showed a special aptitude for learning melodies and lyrics. At 3 years old he was recorded singing a number of children's songs as well as “Honky Tonk Man” by Johnny Horton. He also sang with the children's choir in his Southern Baptist church while his father sang bass in the “big choir.” His father Elton would sing in the home all the time. He would teach Dave harmonies to all the good country songs on the radio. Dave recalls, “sometimes we would just sit in the driveway after a baseball game and sing along to the radio till mom called us in for dinner.” Dave also joined the choir in his elementary school and stayed with it till high school. In high school his family moved to Canada so Dave had a whole different set of influences. No longer surrounded by only country music, Dave found that he loved anything with soul. Starting with Boyz II Men, Dave back tracked to artists like Otis Redding, Ray Charles, and Percy Sledge. Thats when Dave really started using his voice. He began writing songs at the age of fifteen and picked up a guitar at 18. There was no stopping him after that. He taught himself how to play songs he loved and would perform them at bars before he was even legal to drink alcohol. The next decade was just Dave honing his craft, figuring out what type of artist he would be, and learning that he loved every kind of music. He had a “genre-free philosophy” for his shows so the audience would always be surprised by what would come next. Dave's talent with an audience did not go unnoticed. He has shared the stage with musical royalty like Dwight Yoakam, Miranda Lambert, and Dierks Bentley. Dave currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee and writes songs for a living... all kinds of course. His performances on 'The Voice' left little doubt for me, that this guy is destined for great things....

Whatever you do this week, get out there and support live music 'In New Braunfels'

Until Next Time...


Thursday, January 3, 2019

A NEW Year, Welcoming New Music in 2019 !!

Hey Folks!

I'm always excited for the new beginnings of a new year and all the possibilities it will bring. We kick off this year with a new artist to Gruene Hall. San Antonio-born Mike Ryan is set to enter the next phase of his career with the release of “New Hometown,” the lead single from his forthcoming album. Ryan set the bar quite high with the release of his last album Bad Reputation, in 2014, which featured a trio of number one singles on the Texas Music Charts. Ryan says he is more than excited to give his fans new music.
“New Hometown” tells the story of a guy who is struggling to get over a break up, and it seems like everywhere he looks is a memory that he had with his ex-girlfriend. He’d spent his whole life in this hometown, but now he can’t even walk down the street without seeing a place they had spent time together.
“I think it’s a song that most folks can probably relate to in some way,” says Ryan. “I love the melody of the song, and I think it tells a good story.”
Ryan’s musical story began in the Lone Star state, his first exposure to music was from his grandfather, who directed the Texas National Guard Band for over 30 years. He became one of Ryan’s biggest musical influences, first learning the clarinet from him – among other instruments.
“I found out after one short lesson with my grandfather that there was way more to this music thing than I had ever realized before. My grandfather was able to make people fall in love with music in a way that no one else could. I was very grateful for that growing up.”
From there, Ryan taught himself how to play the guitar – though he admits he had to learn the art of patience. “I didn’t have lessons or anything. I just had some extra time on my hands when I finished high school football, so I picked up a guitar and hit the ground running.” Needless to say, he was hooked.
“The way I learned was mostly by listening to the radio to figure out chords. I would lock myself in a room and play for hours. I would play my G, C, D, and if it didn’t sound right, I would just move the capo up, until I figured out the right chord. I taught myself how to play the way that it worked for me. Maybe learning from other people could’ve made certain things easier, but I think learning it my way might’ve helped make it stick. I think sometimes if you learn things on your own, you learn them better.”

Besides the hit records, Ryan’s resume also includes winning New Male Vocalist of the Year at the Texas Regional Radio Awards in 2015. The list of sold-out venues he’s played around the country continues to grow. He’s also headlined several times at Billy Bob’s Texas an iconic nightclub in Fort Worth, admitting that it’s a special place.
“Growing up in San Antonio, I really didn’t hear that much about it. It wasn’t until I moved up to North Texas that I started seeing all these bands I loved coming through there. It’s so huge. It seems like the kind of place that even if folks aren’t too familiar with the band that is playing, they go there because it’s Billy Bob’s. They have a good time there, and it’s a good family atmosphere. You can bring the kids. That’s a little bit different than other venues that you don’t get to see that often. To see the looks on some of these little kids’ faces, when you walk by them – and they get this wide-eyed stare because they think you’re some kind of famous person, it such a cool vibe all the way around. It’s a great place – aside from the historical significance of it. It’s just a great place to play because of the people that show up and the energy and the electricity that exists in the building.”
Billy Bob’s proved to be a critical spot in the career of Mike Ryan – without him even being there. Renowned songwriter and producer Chris DuBois, who co-founded Sea Gayle Music Publishing in Nashville, said it was at the “World’s Largest Honky Tonk” that he first became aware of Mike and his music in 2013.
“We had two of our artists playing there on back-to-back nights,” says DuBois. “I was hanging out back in the green room, and I ran into Robert Gallagher, who had been the backstage manager at Billy Bob’s for years. We sat and talked a little bit, then the next night, he came back and said ‘I’ve got a CD I want to give you. I see a lot of artists pass through here, but this guy has something special. I stuck it in my pocket, and brought it back with me to Nashville. I get a lot of CD’s, and with all due respect to Robert, my expectations were not super-high. But, when I put the CD in my jeep, I thought ‘This guy is really good.’ So, we set up a meeting the next time he was in Nashville.” DuBois offered Mike a publishing deal with Sea Gayle right there on the spot.
With the number of discs that DuBois receives in an average week, what was it about Mike Ryan? DuBois says, “I’ve been in this business for going on twenty-five years, and when you hear something that is different, you can’t describe what it is that strikes a chord in you. You can just tell. He just had that thing in his voice that made him great. I just heard that special quality, and he had written all the songs on that first CD. That said to me that he had skills as a writer.”
With the release of his forthcoming new album, Ryan is hoping to make more music that his Texas audience loves, but he also wants to take his music all the way around the world. “I consider myself very fortunate to have the support from Texans that we do. We’ve actually been playing in the surrounding states for the past couple of years, and we’re getting further and further away from home all the time. I just want to keep making music that I am proud of and that I believe in. Texas has a lot of great fans, and I know the rest of the United States does as well. I’m ready to take it to them!”

I have not heard him live yet, but will be looking forward to his show this Saturday January 5th. 

Also this Saturday at the Phoenix Saloon is something that caught my eye. El Rocker will be taking the stage at 9pm.  Phil Rocker aka Felipe Ossa is a musician from the City of Medellin, Colombia where he was born and still lives and performs. Weaned on both local and American music, Rocker deftly fuses Rock ‘n’ Roll, Jump Blues, Rockabilly, Hillbilly and more with Colombian street music from Tangos, Boleros, Tropical Music, Salsa and Pasillos. For influences, he gives a tip and a nod to the likes of Carlos Santana, Nick Curran, Ronnie Dawson and Mike Ness of Social Distortion. This Latino Rock ‘n’ Roller has even been honored with a place in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Nashville, alongside the luminary likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.  He is the first non US Latino on their wall! Expect the unexpected! I plan on dropping in on this show, I just have to!

One last show that I don't want to slip by is a Fleetwood Mac Tribute band appearing at The River Road Icehouse on Saturday as well. Nightbird featuring Brook Alyson as a 'spot on' Stevie Nicks. I have seen this band and they are amazing, I highly recommend them! There's a little sample below!

2019 is going to be incredible, plenty of live music will fill the air this year...let's get to it I say!

Until next time...