Friday, October 1, 2021

Gruene Music & Wine Fest...and Then Some!

 Hey Folks,

Fall is in the air and that means Gruene Music & Winefest, which this year will have a new twist...The Sunday Songwriter Shindig....But before I get to that, let's talk about a couple of shows I am so excited are coming to New Braunfels! First up, Mike & The Moonpies at Gruene Hall Saturday Oct 2nd. 

Performing songs from the incredibly diverse sounding Cheap Silver and Solid Gold Country, these guys have amassed a following unlike any I have witnessed in recent years. 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. This show will sell out, so get you tickets TODAY!




Wednesday October 6th brings the ALWAYS amazing Raul Malo to The Brauntex Theater in downtown New Braunfels. First making his mark in the country music world and then slipping into the Latin and jazz arenas via roots rock, Raul Malo has proven to be an ever-expanding musical talent. Malo first rose to fame with the eclectic country group the Mavericks, scoring hits with the albums What a Crying Shame (1994) and Music for All Occasions (1995). The Mavericks' work in the '90s found them dabbling in Latin music and vintage pop, and Malo put the focus on those sides of his musical personality for his solo debut, 2001's Today. Malo showed he was a sure hand with old standards on two efforts steeped in pop and vocal jazz, 2006's You're Only Lonely and 2007's After Hours, and folded some country flavors back into his mix on 2009's Lucky One.

Raul Malo, born in Miami of Cuban parents on August 7, 1965, started playing bass guitar in high school and soon found his way into several small bands. In 1987, he made his first recording with the Basics, and one song, "Paperheart," appeared on the promotional collection Unsigned. While the album wasn't a success, the experience whet Malo's appetite for more. Later in the '80s, Malo and a high school friend, bassist Robert Reynolds, formed their own country band based on their mutual love for Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Patsy Cline. Paul Deakin, with experience in several progressive rock bands, became the drummer, and the group chose the name the Mavericks.


Under Malo's leadership, the Mavericks independently released their self-titled debut album in the fall of 1990. The album managed to grab the attention of many big labels, and MCA Records signed the Mavericks in May of 1991, after they played their first gig in Nashville. David Lee Holt, who previously played with Carlene Carter, Joe Ely, and Rosie Flores, became the lead guitarist for the band, with Malo concentrating on the songwriting and vocals. MCA released From Hell to Paradise in 1992; it was critically acclaimed, but not a financial success. However, What a Crying Shame brought forth financial fortunes when it was released in 1994, with its title track reaching the Top 40; the album went platinum by spring 1995. Holt was replaced with Nick Kane as lead guitarist for the next release, 1995's Music for All Occasions. Many of the band's singles reached the Top 40, with "O What a Thrill" making number 18 in the summer of 1994 and "There Goes My Heart" reaching number 20. The Mavericks eventually won a Grammy, and the Country Music Association twice bestowed them with Top Vocal Group honors.


As Malo began to integrate Latin rhythms into his songwriting during the latter part of the '90s, the Mavericks' recordings picked up a stronger Havana influence, leaving the country rhythms in the shadows. The band became an eclectic mix of rockabilly, honky tonk, Tejano, native Cuban, and country, with their multi-faceted sound reaching its apex on 1998's Trampoline. The Mavericks quit playing gigs together in early 2001, but Malo continued to work with his bandmates.

During the latter years of the '90s, Malo began doing parallel solo work, sometimes accompanied by the Dennis Burnside Orchestra. In October 1999 he completed his first solo tour in the U.K., performing many of his new songs. By 2000 he had become a producer, supervising sessions with Ethan Allen and K.T. Oslin, and joined roots music supergroup Los Super Seven as a lead vocalist and songwriter, in addition to working with Latin singer Rick Trevino in his studios. Malo's first solo recording, "Bailare (El Merecumbe)," was self-penned in Spanish, and he also did a solo recording of "Downbound Train" by Bruce Springsteen. When the Country Music Association needed a voice that could handle singing all the different hits of those being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001, they called on Malo because of his ability to handle a diverse range of styles.


Malo's first album as a solo artist, 2001's Today, reflected his Cuban heritage, but didn't entirely leave out the deep-twang guitar of country music as he mingled the pop sounds of the '60s with salsa, jazz, and country. Released by OmTown/Higher Octave Music in October 2001, the album also included Shelby Lynne on guest vocals and an 11-piece backup band that mimicked the big-band sounds Malo loved. Malo also covered "Black Is Black," a Latin rock hit, on Los Straitjackets' 2001 album Sing Along with Los Straitjackets, and sang "Thanks a Lot" on Country Goes Raffi, a 2001 compilation of country artists covering songs by the noted children's entertainer. The Nashville Acoustic Sessions, a pared-down collaboration with Music City session players Pat Flynn, Rob Ickes, and Dave Pomeroy, was released in 2004. Malo returned to the studio for You're Only Lonely and After Hours in 2006 and 2007, respectively; the former was dominated by his interpretations of old standards, while the latter put a sophisticated spin on country classics. The country-accented Lucky One followed in 2009.


In late 2009, Malo signed to Concord's Fantasy imprint and began recording a slew of new tracks at his home studio in Nashville. He took them to Sam "Lightning" Seifert at Bismeaux Studio in Austin and enlisted the help of the legendary Vox Continental organist Augie Meyers; guitarist Shawn Sahm (son of the late Doug Sahm of the Sir Douglas Quintet); accordionist Michael Guerra (known for his work with the Tex Mex Experience), and Austin's lauded vocal group the Trishas (Savannah Welch, Kelley Mickwee, Liz Foster, and Jamie Lin Wilson), who provided background vocals. The end result was Malo's debut for the label, Sinners & Saints, released in October of 2010. In 2012, he delivered Around the World, a set of classic love songs backed by Britain's 30-piece Northern Sinfonia Orchestra, including versions of "Let It Be Me," "Make the World Go Away," "Dance the Night Away," and "Around the World." After periodic reunions for live work, in 2013 the Mavericks returned with a fresh studio album, In Time, and Malo divided his time between solo projects and recording and touring with the group. In 2018, as the Mavericks released the album Hey! Merry Christmas!, Malo dropped a seasonal single; "I Don't Need Anything for Christmas" was a collaboration with David Colon of the group Small Town Fair. Raul Malo brings an energy and uniqueness to every performance I have worked with him, this show will be truly special. Tickets are still available at brauntex.org.





Now, to take us through the middle of October, Gruene Music & Wine Fest will have n incredible lineup on Sunday October 10th. The Sunday Songwriters Shindig will embrace some of the finest songwriters on the planet !! Songwriters such as Vincent Neil Emerson. Vincent is a torchbearer of the Texas songwriter tradition. He channels the straightforward truth-telling and resonance of his songwriting heroes in Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Steve Earle into something fresh and distinctly his own. Where his 2019 debut Fried Chicken and Evil Women proved that he is one of the most reverent students of country and Western musical traditions, his follow-up LP, the masterful Rodney Crowell-produced Vincent Neil Emerson, which is out June 25 via La Honda Records/Thirty Tigers, is a brave step forward that solidifies his place as one of music's most compelling and emotionally clarifying storytellers. His songs are cathartic and bluntly honest, never mincing words or dancing around uncomfortable truths. 

Raised in Van Zandt County in East Texas by a single mother of Choctaw-Apache descent, Emerson's world changed when he first heard Townes Van Zandt's music. "To hear a guy from Fort Worth say those kinds of things and make those songs was pretty eye opening," the now 29-year-old songwriter says. "I had never heard songwriting like that before." He's spent the better part of the past decade honing his songwriting and performance chops playing bars, honky-tonks, and BBQ joints across the Fort Worth area. His first album Fried Chicken and Evil Women, which he wrote in his mid-twenties and came out on La Honda Records—the label he co-founded that now includes a roster of Colter Wall, Local Honeys, and Riddy Arman—is a snapshot of his growth as a songwriter and stage-tested charm with songs like "Willie Nelson's Wall" and "25 and Wastin' Time" expertly combining humor and tragedy. 

These marathon gigs and the undeniable songs on his debut introduced Emerson to Canadian songwriter Colter Wall, who quickly became a close friend and took him on tour. With Wall's audience, and sold out theater shows on runs with Charley Crockett, Turnpike Troubadours, and many others, Emerson found his niche. "It took a guy from Canada bringing me on tour for people to actually start paying attention," says Emerson. "Before that it was a grind like anything else, just trying to make a living." Crockett is another staunch early supporter of Emerson's and covered Fried Chicken highlight "7 Come 11" on his 2019 LP The Valley. 

Like every working musician, 2020 pulled the rug out from under Emerson. With the pandemic shuttering live music venues and cancelling promising tours, he processed the upheaval the only way he knew how: by writing his ass off. "At the beginning of quarantine, I was really frustrated with everything else going on," says Emerson. "Everything was falling apart around me, and I didn't know what to do." He took to his writing shed and came up with the single "High On Gettin’ By," a gorgeous song full of self reflection and resilience: the most autobiographical thing he's ever written. He sings, "I got my first child on the way / And the bills are all unpaid / I should have finished high school / Got a job and learned to save / But the words keep on fallin’ / And the highway keeps on callin’ / To my pen." 

That song proved to be a turning point for Emerson. "After I wrote it, the floodgates opened up for me in my songwriting and emotionally," he says. " Songwriting has always been a therapeutic thing for me. So I just started writing more from the heart." Allowing himself to be open and revealing some of the most intimate details of his life was a scary, yet freeing, prospect for Emerson, especially on the raw and devastating "Learnin' To Drown," which addresses his father's suicide. "I've been trying to write a song about my father's passing for a while," he says. "I was just having a hard time processing that emotionally. Before I was always trying to find a way to kind of dance around it and not really give too much away. But there's no beating around the bush here." He sings, "Well there ain’t much that lasts too long / All the rights that I took wrong / All the lefts that still ain’t gone / They will be here / Here in my sad bastard song." 

Elsewhere, on "The Ballad of the Choctaw-Apache," he sings of how in the 1960s, the Choctaw-Apache tribe of Sabine Parish in Louisiana was forced to sell "180,000 acres of ancestral land" to the government, uprooting them from their home. Emerson pulls no punches in his narration of the historic injustice, channeling the essence of traditional folk songs. He sings, "Well you take away their home / And you claim what you don’t own/ Well I guess it’s just the American way." Emerson explains the track: "This happened not too long ago and it affected my grandparents and my family directly. I've always strayed away from trying to write political songs, but this is more about human rights. For those people who were stripped of their land like that, it's still tough." 

His intense and productive writing sessions produced ten finished songs over the course of just a couple of months, a body of work so personal that he knew he would have to name the final product Vincent Neil Emerson. These demos caught the attention of Texas country and folk icon Rodney Crowell, who signed on to produce and record the LP. "Rodney is a hero of mine," says Emerson. "He wanted to make something that serves the songs, as opposed to making a record trying to put focus on production or the playing. It was an honor to work with him." Crowell had similar high praise for Emerson: "if he grows on the public the way he’s grown on me, it’s possible young Vincent will plant the flag of his [songwriting] forebears firmly in the consciousness of a whole new generation." At the studio, Emerson tracked the songs with a crack team of session players put together by Crowell. "Because of them, we were able to get those songs in one take," he says.

You can hear that no-frills approach on the barnstorming "High on the Mountain," a bluegrass tune that highlights Emerson's versatility as a performer and depth as a lyricist. On first listen, the track opens with upbeat fiddles and blistering guitar feels, but Emerson's voice achingly sings of heartbreak, loss, and irrevocable change: "I pulled into Austin‘ / Cause Fort Worth ain’t the same." Opener "Texas Moon" grapples with home after so many days away on tour: "I been missin’ home / But I just can’t ever stay / Well it don’t feel like ramblin’ / 'Til ya take it day by day." Emerson is never overly sentimental, and across this album, he makes a point to just say how he feels in the most straightforward and real way he can. 

"I think I've always gravitated towards artists that are honest about what they're doing." says Emerson. "It's the most important thing because people have a chance to connect to a little more if you're telling the truth." I expect his set to be nothing short of amazing. 


Another premier songwriter taking the stage that day is Kaitlen Butts. After listening to Kaitlin Butts’ pure and simple country music, it is obvious that she is not riding the fence where her music is concerned. With vocals that throw you back to the honesty of early female honky-tonkers, and with that nostalgia refreshingly uncontrived, this Oklahoman sings her songs with 50 years of heartbreak in her voice, though she is not even half that age.

In 2014, Kaitlin entered Red Dirt artist and producer, Mike McClure’s Boohatch Studio to begin recording her album, Same Hell, Different Devil. Kaitlin was able to have some of her favorite Oklahoma musicians on the album such as Whiskey Myers’ Jon Knudson, Alan Orebaugh, as well as Grammy-award winner, Lloyd Maines. The project was mixed and mastered by Joe Hardy who has worked with artists such as ZZ Top, Steve Earle and Turnpike Troubadours. The new album draws the listener into the stories of love and fun, as well as to the darker corners of life, like heartbreak, revenge, jealousy, and the inevitable whiskey drunk.  Same Hell, Different Devil was released in late February, 2015, and a tour of regional radio and shows featuring Same Hell, Different Devil is underway.

This rebellious redhead has supported artists such as The Great Divide, John Fullbright, Mike McClure, Willaims Clark Green, Zane Williams, Wade Bowen, Cody Canada, and Charlie Worsham.  She has performed at SXSW, Gypsy CafĂ© Music Festival, Norman Music Festival, and OKC Fest, where she was named an artist to watch by NewsOK. Kaitlin is also a frequent performer at the Centennial Rodeo Opry, Oklahoma’s “Official Country Music Show.”

Kaitlin’s music has recently received praise from Oklahoma/ Texas Music blog, Red Dirt/Blue Collar, who wrote that “in a short time, Kaitlin has managed to become one of the most promising, young Oklahoma songwriters to demand their due attention.” The article also stated that “Same Hell, Different Devil serves as a showcase to this young ladies incredible songwriting skill and powerful vocal prowess. Exhibiting a maturity in her lyrics well beyond the reach of her 21 years of age, so many of the songs on this album will certainly leave listeners wondering which of the ghosts of songwriters past this girl has tapped in to. The entire lineup is listed at gruenehall.com, and there will be a couple of surprise guests that will take the stage as well. I expect more than a few jams among several of the artists throughout the day. This will be one for the history books! 


I will be back mid month to round out the rest of October! Until then, get out there and support our incredible live music scene, here...'In New Braunfels'...


Until next time...

Cheers!




Thursday, September 9, 2021

September Overflows with great LIVE MUSIC

 Hey folks,

I don't think I can remember a September that has more live music planned than this year! So let's get to it shall we? These are my picks...

This weekend, Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights will take the stage at Gruene Hall Saturday Sept 11th. An eclectic mix of Rock and Americana leaves me in awe every time I see these guys. 

The band was formed in January 2007 in Dallas, Texas by Jonathan Tyler, Brandon Pinckard, along with Oklahoma natives Nick Jay, and Jordan Cain. The band immediately went into the studio with local producer Chris Bell to record their first independent record Hot Trottin'. After playing nearly every venue in Deep Ellum the band began to venture outside of Dallas into Austin, Houston, and other surrounding cities. Emotion Brown joined the band in May 2007.

By 2008, the band began garnering regional and national attention by supporting major national acts including Erykah Badu, Leon Russell, Deep Purple, The Black Crowes, Kool & the Gang, Chicago, Heart, Cross Canadian Ragweed, among others. The band was discovered at SXSW 2008 by an A&R representative from Atlantic Records, and was soon signed to F-Stop Music/Atlantic Records. The band was awarded "Best Blues Act" by the 2008 Dallas Observer Music Awards.

In 2009, JTNL continued touring extensively across the United States, most notably alongside Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kid Rock, O.A.R., & AC/DC. The band also played the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Forecastle Festival, Summerfest, Wakarusa, and SXSW. In August, JTNL recorded their first album Pardon Me for F-Stop Music/Atlantic Records. Jay Joyce was selected by the band to produce the record from his Nashville studio. The band was awarded "Best Group", "Best Male Vocalist", and "Best Blues Act" by the 2009 Dallas Observer Music Awards. Rave reviews from outlets across the country began pouring in for the band and their live show, including praise from critics in USA Today, American Songwriter, Chicago Sun Times, Orlando Weekly, Austin American Statesman, Arizona Daily Star, Urban Tulsa Weekly, and Nuvo Weekly (Indianapolis) among numerous others.

On April 27, 2010, Pardon Me was released nationwide. It was awarded "Reader's Pick Best Local CD Release" in the Dallas Observer,[8] the "fourth best release of 2010" by the Dallas Morning News, and received favorable reviews nationwide.

In 2010, JTNL most notably toured alongside ZZ Top,JJ Grey & MOFRO, American Bang, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and others. They played Bonnaroo Music Festival, Voodoo Fest, Summerfest, BamaJam, and Bonaroo Music Festival, just to name a few. Jonathan Tyler also went on to do some great solo material. I am sure you will get a taste of all of it during this show. Come feel this guys energy, you will not regret it.



On Friday September 17th, the great Lee Roy Parnell AND Seth James will bring the blues, R&B and rock to The Brauntex Theater in downtown New Braunfels. This show will be spectacular and I am excited I will personally be there. 


Lee Roy Parnell is part of a long line of Texas roots-music eclectics and is among the elite few who can be identified as a triple threat. An ace guitarist, as well as a distinctive singer, and hit songwriter, his music runs the gamut of diversity. Combining the influences of Blue-Eyed Soul, Delta Blues, Road House Rock, Southern Boogie, Texas Swing, and Gospel, Parnell’s sound defies conventional classification. He draws from a broad range of musical sources and combines them with seamless dexterity and, unlike many other hard-to-pigeonhole artists, Parnell has enjoyed a run of success on the country and blues charts. He reflects, “I am a writer, guitarist, vocalist & a performer. Every skill set feeds the next. I’ve never been able to separate one from the other. It all starts with the song and when writing I’ve found that nothing is stronger than the truth. It is from that wellspring that my singing and playing are born…performing, too. My goal is to keep it honest and let the listener feel what I’m feeling. No matter our different walks in life I believe that most of us experience similar emotions. I’m tapping into you as much as you are tapping into me.”

From the start of his career through today, Parnell has approached all aspects of his life with a keen sense of protecting his integrity. He offers, “The people I most respect and relate to musically or in life have been people who stood up for what they believe in and stuck to their guns, no matter what.”


Midnight Believer, Parnell’s new album encompasses a realized vision that reflects the cumulative essence of who Lee Roy Parnell is today. He states, “One of the best things about gaining some maturity is you finally find out ‘Who You Is and Who You Ain’t.’ That said, I’d have to say that the song ‘Too Far Gone’ best describes me as an artist, now. It’s clearly a Blue-Eyed Soul ‘Beat Ballad’ as Barry Beckett (of The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and my first producer) would call it. Barry really taught me how to make records. He taught me about groove, soul, vocal delivery and how to make every note count! The message here is in life and love we ebb and flow. We have good days and tough days. What counts is going the distance (or at least as far as you can.) I would be remiss not to give credit to ‘Sunny Days.’ That song is a real gift. The message is one of survival. ‘At least I lived long enough to know, that the rainy days, they make the flowers grow.’ It took me a long time to get that vocal…not because it was too ‘range-ey’ but because the lyric really hit home for me, and I’m not alone. I have countless people come to me after we’ve done a show with tears in their eyes saying, ‘Man…that song slayed me!’ I reply, ‘I know…me, too.’”

Musically, Parnell presents some of the best performances of his career on Midnight Believer. He approached this release with the intention of letting the music and performances speak. There is a level of organically-delivered emotion through his playing that took the path of not over-producing every track. He reflects, “Well, it’s funny…most folks think of me primarily as a slide guitarist, and to some degree that is true, but I played ‘regular lead guitar’ long before I played slide. On the song ‘Hours In Between’ what you’re hearing is one continuous lead guitar track from me…one pass going down with my band and no fixes. Not to say I didn’t want to, but they all threatened to walk out on me if I did! Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t get the chance to fix anything.”


Along with Parnell will be the always entertaining Seth James,   AT FIRST, SETH JAMES’ STORY READS LIKE PLOT LINES HAVE GOTTEN THEIR WIRES CROSSED OR TRANSLATIONS MUDDLED: COULD A WORKING COWBOY FROM DEEP WEST TEXAS REALLY BE A ROCK-AND-SOUL ROOTS FUNK MASTER, EDUCATED BY THE BLUES? 

 One listen to James’ new album Different Hat proves the answer is implicitly––resoundingly––yes.

 “A lot of those songs sounded like they were from people who worked hard,” says James of the blues he found as a kid in the middle of the Texas plains. “I was just a long way from anything. But the language was simple and romantic in a way that I could understand.”

 Music––especially the blues––has a history of jumping through generations, continents, and races thanks in large part to old roots that are gnarled, broad, and strong enough to bust through crowded city sidewalks––and lonely mesquite-pricked pastures. Working cattle on his family’s ranch in King County, James wasn’t inundated with pop culture like other 90s teenagers. He was isolated, and if he wanted music, he’d have to dig. “There’s not a radio on a horse,” James says with a soft laugh. “I was musical, but music didn’t seem like it was everywhere. I was always hunting for it.”

 James found Muddy Waters and Lightnin’ Hopkins––then Booker T. & the MGs, NRBQ, Delbert McClinton, and ultimately, a sound entirely his own. A couple of decades ago, he emerged with an easy voice that can croon and soul-shout, campfire storytelling chops, and moody, virtuosic electric guitar playing capable of blistering rides, New Orleans drama, and roadhouse funk. His new album, Different Hat, puts all of that and more on confident display. Produced by Kevin McKendree, the record runs wry country folk, organ-soused trios, and more Americana riches through an unapologetically blues filter. Recorded live with ace players, Different Hat also firmly cements James’ place as a preeminent torch bearer, still influenced by what shaped him as a kid. “There was nobody there to stifle me or tell me not to listen to this or that,” James remembers. “It was always just about the way it made me feel.”

 A large grassroots following has been hip to James for years. His 2009 solo record That Kind of Man brought next-level acclaim. The next year, James co-founded roots rock group The Departed with friend Cody Canada. Three years and two albums later, James returned to his solo career, simply because he missed playing his own sound he’d worked so hard to find. The miles logged and music played have led James to an important place. “If you just sit and talk to some old cowboy in West Texas, he doesn’t change the way he talks from conversation to conversation,” James says. “It’s the same way with music.” James is who he is––no matter who else is around.

 That self-assurance shapes Different Hat. Opening track “Mamarita” saunters with boozy Big Easy energy. Written by Al Anderson, Pat McLaughlin and Shawn Camp, the song is a buoyant welcome to the album that also sharpens our collective longing to hear music, live. James points excitedly to the track’s players. “You can take a song like that and just almost have it right––and it’s terrible,” he says. “It’s really important that the musicians understand the intricacies of that kind of music. There is a lot of stuff happening.”

 Every one of the album’s covers reveals more of James’ quiet prowess as an interpreter. His "Ohoopee River Bottom Land" slinks all the way to country funk perfection, while his version of JJ Cale’s “Raising Cain”––a song that’s never been cut by anyone else, including Cale––features Lee Roy Parnell on slide guitar, as well as horns and plenty of swing. James recorded a second Cale song for the album: “Wish I Had Not Said,” enriched by sublime vocals from Jessica Murray––James’ wife––and a sultry groove that nods to Memphis and Muscle Shoals.

 James has studied Delbert McClinton for years––and it shows. When McClinton, with whom James has also toured, suggested James cut his song, “Solid Gold Plated Fool,” James didn’t hesitate. “It’s been an anthem for me most of my life,” James says of the song. “I don’t run around seeking approval because I’ve learned that’s scary and just not a healthy thing to do, but when you get that kind of nod from him, it does mean a lot.” 

 Listeners won’t hear James’ signature guitar on the powerful closing track “Real Bad Deal”––only his smooth vocals, backed by sparse drums and keys. It is the first time James has ever not played guitar on one of his recordings. “Sometimes it’s all about space,” James says. “The space is huge, and it can be scary, especially if you’re a guitar player. If the song requires you to have a bombastic moment of, ‘Hey, I play guitar and you better look out,’ then that’s great. But if the space is more beneficial for the song, the space wins. This song is a prime example of that.”

 “Gettin’ It On” takes a bad divorce and makes it funky, while “He Don’t Love You” channels Motown swagger. With crisp high-hat taps and a chorus of keys and horns, “Pleasing Linda Lou” is James’ addition to Fort Worth blues folklore, while “Burn It Down” takes a joy ride through a hard-driving beat with growling guitar. 

 Two standout tracks are intricate story songs penned by James. With horns and keys leading the supporting cast, “Big Trouble” is a mostly true tribute to an underground Texas guitar great. “Moonpies” is a stunning vocal showcase packed with clever lines and vivid pictures. James planned to finish the song with McClinton, and the two texted back and forth about it. “Finally, Delbert said, ‘You know, I think it’s done––I might change this one little line here,’” James remembers. “So when it came time to put the record out, I reached out to him about his publishing information, and he said, ‘You’re out of your mind.’ So, according to Delbert, I wrote the song by myself.” James laughs, then adds, “It’s a fun song––and pretty bizarre, musically. It’s kind of half Howlin’ Wolf, half Burt Bacharach.” 

In the trippy and forlorn “World Full of Strangers,” James tackles the isolation of the last year. Instead of burrowing into quarantine blues or pandemic fear, the song looks outside to acknowledge the shared experience of trying to find familiarity again. “You can see somebody that you know very well, but you haven’t seen them in nine months and all of a sudden, they feel like strangers,” James says. “It’s just felt like everybody got put in the corner. To me, that’s the most dangerous thing to come out of all this.” 

 James has spent his life discovering and proving what music can do, not just artistically, but when it comes to something as ordinary and universal as Saturday night. “I don’t want to do a good job so that I can be successful and sell more records,” James says. “Don’t get me wrong––that would be great, too. But that moment where everyone is together, their glasses cheers-ing while they shake off the blues a little bit––I want to be part of that.”


Get your tickets now for this show...I believe it will be the highlight of the month.



Staying at the Brauntex, on the 23rd, the one and only Jefferson Starship will bring the hits to New Braunfels!! 

Formerly the Jefferson Airplane, the band evolved into the Jefferson Starship after Paul Kantner (17 March 1941, San Francisco, California, USA; guitar/vocals) had previously released Blows Against The Empire in 1970, billed as Paul Kantner with the Jefferson Starship. His fascination with science fiction no doubt led the Airplane to metamorphose into a Starship.

Jefferson Starship’s official debut was Dragonfly in 1974, which became an immediate success. Joining Kantner on this album were Jefferson Airplane colleagues Grace Slick (b. Grace Barnett Wing, 30 October 1939, Chicago, Illinois, USA; vocals) and Papa John Creach (b. John Henry Creach, 28 May 1917, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, USA, d. 22 February 1994, Los Angeles, California, USA; violin), along with former Quicksilver Messenger Service bass player David Freiberg (b. 24 August 1938, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; vocals, keyboards), Craig Chaquico (b. 26 September 1954, Sacramento, California, USA; lead guitar), John Barbata (drums, ex-Turtles), and the experienced ex-Sons Of Fred and Sam Gopal Dream member Pete Sears (b. Bromley, Kent, England; bass/keyboards). The tracks included ‘Ride The Tiger’, which was accompanied by an imaginatively graphic, early video and ‘Hyperdrive’, a Slick magnum opus featuring Chaquico’s frantic screaming guitar. Old Jefferson Airplane fans were delighted to hear Marty Balin guesting on one track with his own composition ‘Caroline’, and further cheered when he joined the band at the beginning of 1975. Red Octopus later that year became their most successful album and ended up selling several million copies and spending a month at the top of the US charts. The flagship track was Balin’s beautiful and seemingly innocent ‘Miracles’, including its oblique reference to cunnilingus with Balin singing ‘I had a taste of the real world, when I went down on you’ and Slick innocently responding in the background with ‘Mmm, don’t waste a drop of it, don’t ever stop it’.

Soon afterwards, Kantner and Slick separated; she moved in with Skip Johnson, the band’s lighting engineer, and eventually married him. Later that year Slick was regularly in the news when her drinking problems got out of control. Spitfire and Earth continued the Jefferson Starship’s success, although the band had now become a hard rock outfit. Balin’s lighter ‘Count On Me’ was a US Top 10 hit in 1978. That year, Slick was asked to leave the band, to be allowed to return when she dried out. She was eventually dismissed, closely followed by Balin, who left towards the end of a turbulent year. He was replaced by Mickey Thomas and further changes were afoot when stalwart drummer Aynsley Dunbar (b. 10 January 1946, Liverpool, England) joined in place of Barbata. Freedom From Point Zero and the US Top 20 hit ‘Jane’, at the end of 1979, bore no resemblance to the musical style towards which remaining original member Kantner had attempted to steer them. He suffered a stroke during 1980, but returned the following spring together with a sober Grace Slick.

Both Modern Times (1981) and Winds Of Change (1982), continued Jefferson Starship’s commercial success, although by now the formula was wearing thin. Kantner found his role had diminished and released a solo album later that year. He continued with them throughout the following year, although he was openly very unsettled. Towards the end of 1984 Kantner performed a nostalgic set of old Jefferson Airplane songs with Balin’s band, amid rumours of a reunion. The tension broke in 1985 when, following much acrimony over ownership of the band’s name, Kantner was paid off and took with him half of the group’s moniker. Kantner claimed the rights to the name, although he no longer wanted to use the title, as his reunion with Balin and Casady in the KBC Band demonstrated.

In defiance Kantner’s former band performed as Starship Jefferson, but shortly afterwards became Starship. Both Thomas and Freiberg left during these antagonistic times, leaving Slick the remaining original member after the incredible changes of the previous few years. The new line-up added Denny Baldwin on drums and recorded Knee Deep In The Hoopla in 1985, which became their most successful album since Red Octopus. Two singles from the album, ‘We Built This City’ (written by Bernie Taupin) and ‘Sara’, both reached number 1 in the USA. The following year they reached the top spot on both sides of the Atlantic with the theme from the movie Mannequin, ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’. Their image was now of slick perpetrators of AOR, performing immaculate music for the MTV generation (on which China Kantner was a presenter). Now, having gone full circle, Grace Slick departed in 1989 to join Kaukonen, Casady, Balin and Kantner in... the Jefferson Airplane.


The current lineup will bring the history and all of the incredible hits right to the intimate setting that is The Brauntex Theater. 


My final pick for the month is something a bit different. The Isaacs will bring country goaspel to The Brauntex on Thursday September 30th. The Isaacs, a multi-award winning family group who began singing 35 years ago are based out of Hendersonville, TN. The vocalists are mother Lily Isaacs and siblings Ben Isaacs, Sonya Isaacs Yeary and Rebecca Isaacs Bowman. Playing their own acoustic instruments and joined by other band members, The Isaacs have a unique style that blends tight family harmony with contemporary acoustic instrumentation that appeals to a variety of audiences.  Their musical style has been influenced by many  genres of music including bluegrass, rhythm and blues, folk, and country, contemporary, acoustic and southern gospel. 

 

They perform frequently at the Grand Ole Opry,  are active members on the Gaither Homecoming Videos and Concert Series, and travel internationally throughout the year to perform to welcoming fans in countries such as South Africa, Norway, Holland, Scotland, Ireland ,Israel, Canada and many more. Concert venues include civic centers, auditoriums, arenas, fair grounds, parks, churches and other locations. They have been nominated at and performed on the Dove Awards, IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) and  NQC (National Quartet Convention) Awards, the ICMA Awards (Inspirational Christian Country).  Other notable performances include CMA Fan Fest (Country Music Fan Fest), Carnegie Hall, and many professional sporting events, including a Cincinnati Bengal's football game, Nashville Predators Hockey games, and an Astros/ Braves baseball game.  The Isaacs have won over 7 Doves in various categories and have had several Grammy nominations in their career.  They feel blessed to be able to travel and spread the message of hope and grace through song and story. 



Whatever your musical tastes, there are a ton of live music venues and genres just waiting for you...IN NEW BRAUNFELS!!


Until Next time...Cheers!

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

August is PACKED with Great Live Music

 Hey Folks,

It's starting to look like bands are making up for lost time. August has multiple big name artists and a slew of local talent filling all of our venues in New Braunfels . So let's get started with my picks through the rest of August. Hayes Carll, the prolific songwriter, story teller extrodinare will take the stage at Gruene Hall this weekend for two nights August 13th & 14th. Joshua Hayes Carll, is a singer-songwriter from The Woodlands, Texas. Carll has toured relentlessly in North America and abroad (performing over two hundred shows a year), founded a successful singer-songwriter music festival on the Gulf Coast of Texas, secured a record deal with Lost Highway Records, and has even seen his album Little Rock become the first self-released album to reach #1 on the Americana Music Chart.

"When I started, I moved down to this place called Crystal Beach, Texas where you need to take a ferry from Galveston across the bay to get to this little peninsula on the Gulf of Mexico," recalls Carll, who grew up just outside Houston. "It's this isolated coastal community with a wild assortment of people either hiding out, hanging on or getting lost– a lot of drugs and drinking, a fair amount of violence, but at the same time a lot of really interesting people with great stories to tell. Folks in the bars there weren't necessarily interested in what I had to say as a songwriter– they wanted to hear David Allan Coe and Merle Haggard, and other stuff they knew. So that's what I did six nights a week for four years. I haven't run into tougher crowds since. It was an initiation into becoming a performer."

Those experiences not only gave Carll a thick skin, they gave him plenty of material to spin into songs like the low-slung, finger-picked blues "I Got a Gig" – populated by characters like the "barefoot shrimper with a pistol up his sleeve" – and the tear-in-your-beer waltz "Beaumont," in which a suitor bearing a single white rose makes a fruitless trip to try to win over a lady love. Carll says of the latter tune. "I like to try to tackle a heavy topic but do it with a light touch. The more personal, weightier stuff doesn't come as easy, even though that's what I like to think about the most."

Carll has developed that touch over a long stretch that began when he was still in his teens, a stretch he spent writing poems, short stories and songs by the notebook-full. He eventually discovered that the last of those three flowed from him most easily, and while he dutifully headed off to college, he spent more time strumming and singing. To hear him tell it, "I sort of sabotaged my career options to the point where, by the time I was out of school, I was pretty much unemployable and had no choice but to be a musician."

After moving to the Gulf Coast, Carll honed his craft in the area bars and beer-joints as well as more serious folk clubs like the venerable Old Quarter in Galveston, where he opened for a wide array of respected songwriters such as Ray Wylie Hubbard, Willis Alan Ramsay and many others. By 2002, he was ready to unleash his recorded indie debut, Flowers and Liquor, which, while not widely distributed, garnered plenty of critical praise, including American Songwriter's claim that the disc "suggests the young Texan might be the next great songwriter from a state full of maestros."

He lived up to that praise on his next outing, Little Rock, an offering on which Carll showed off his stylistic breadth by steering his band from searing rock to jazz-tinged balladry – a scope that earned praise both at home and across the pond, where the Irish Times raved "This is the first mighty country record of the year, a bruised, bedraggled affair full of jagged memories and wry observations."

On his 2008 album Trouble In Mind, there's a much sharper focus to the material, thanks in part, to more time in the studio and some great players sure to be familiar to roots-rock aficionados, including, Dan Baird, Darrell Scott, Will Kimbrough and former Flying Burrito Brother Al Perkins.

“My first record I did in five days, and my second one we did in twelve," Carll explains. "This time around I had a solid month, so it was really a luxury. It was amazing to get all these talented people in the room and have them listen to me describe my vision and then go out and try to realize that and capture it on tape. My strength isn't that I have the world's most amazing voice or that I'm this incredible player – hopefully it's that there's some aspect of my personality and my lyrics that people can relate to."

Carll’s personality, emotional but never too sentimental, mischievous, funny, world-weary and sardonic, imbues every track of Trouble in Mind. He’s never afraid to be vulnerable and direct, as on one of the standout tracks, “Willing to Love Again” - “I feel too much, I protect too much, most times I probably expect too much. I spend my life on this broken crutch, and you believe I can fly.”

Carll's 2011 album KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories) was The album includes "Another Like You," a duet with Cary Ann Hearst The L.A. Times described the album as "Carll is every bit as expressive a singer as he is a writer, drawling his trenchant observations with deceptive ease."

Carll’s live performances continue to win over fans everywhere. His clever, irreverent lyrics and sharp observations combined with his warm Texas drawl make his stories and anecdotes as compelling and entertaining as his songs. There’s that sweet taste of honey followed with the sharp sting of a wisecrack. Never is that tongue-in-cheek humor more obvious than on the red neck rant “She Left Me For Jesus”, where a clueless lover is upset and suspicious over the changes in his girlfriend. “Now she’s acting funny and I don’t understand. I think that she’s found her some other man. She’s left me for Jesus, and that just ain’t fair. She says that he’s perfect, how can I compare?” “You know I’m always a little nervous when I sing that song. Like Ray Wiley Hubbard says, the problem with irony is that people don’t always get it.”


His soon to be released album ‘You Get It All’ is already making waves in the singer songwriter world. I expect he will lay a couple of those tunes down this weekend as well. Tickets will sell out, so get yours NOW.


Next up, the final Two Ton Tuesday for this summer in Tuesday August 17th.  Before there was Americana, before there was Texas Country, Two Tons of Steel front man Kevin Geil and his original band, “Dead Crickets,” rocked a sound that blended the best of musical worlds and pushed the envelope of “Texas” sound with a signature brand of country meets punk.

   The San Antonio-based group packed the small bars and local hangouts and quickly became the Alamo City’s most-loved band, earning them a spot on the cover of Billboard Magazine in 1996. It was the beginning of a twenty year journey for Geil and the 4-piece ensemble.

   Releasing “Two Tons Of Steel” in 1994 and “Crazy For My Baby” in 1995 on Blue Fire Records, a sponsorship deal with Lone Star Beer quickly followed. Dead Crickets, renamed Two Tons of Steel in 1996 began traveling outside of Texas, including stops at the Grand Ole’ Opry in Nashville, Tenn., the National Theater in Havana, Cuba, and European tours, to greet fans who had embraced their Texas-born sound. In 1996 they released “Oh No!” on their independent label, “Big Bellied Records.” They followed up the passion project with a live recording at the legendary Gruene Hall in Gruene, Texas, taped during a Two Ton Tuesday Show 1998.

   2018, will mark the bands 23rd year of “Two Ton Tuesday Live from Gruene Hall.” The summerlong event has drawn over 230,000 fans since it began its annual run in 1995. The popular concert series was captured in “Two Ton Tuesday Live,” a DVD-CD combo

released on Palo Duro Records in 2006. Also that year, the band’s first national release, “Vegas,” produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Lloyd Maines on the Palo Duro label, took them to No. 7 on the Americana Music Charts and was one of the top 20 releases of 2006.

   Two Tons released “Not That Lucky” in 2009. The album peaked at No. 4 on the Americana Music Charts and has made Two Tons of Steel a band to watch in 2013. Along the way, the band has collected a number of awards. To date, Two Tons has cleaned up at home, winning "Band of the Year" on 12 separate occasions and "Album of the Year" for its self-titled debut. Two Tons has also been named "Best Country Band" by the San Antonio Current ten times. Geil also has nabbed 'Best Male Vocal' honors four times.

   Two Tons of Steel’s reach extends beyond their live gigs. In 2003, the band was filmed during a “Two Ton Tuesday” gig for the IMAX film, "Texas: The Big Picture," which can be seen daily at the IMAX Theatre in the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin and has been seen as far away as Japan. The band also has been featured as supporting characters in award winning author Karen Kendall's romance novel, "First Date."

   These guys know how to ‘bring the energy’ on a Tuesday, so get out there and support them for summer's last hoorah!





If more traditional country is your thing, and you wish someone ‘new’ would come along doing just that, then Jon Wolff performing at Gruene Hall on August 21st, is where you should be…

 The best introduction to Jon Wolfe is the basic yet not so simple fact that he’s a country singer and songwriter. Country music, as it was, is and always should be, with boots firmly standing on the bedrock of tradition and an eye focused on taking it into the future. And that, as any fan of true country knows, is no simple proposition.

“At heart, it’s all about being a great singer and storyteller.”

Hence the other best introduction to Jon Wolfe is to hear him sing and share the stories in the songs he performs and writes. And to learn his life story — from small town Oklahoma to the bustling big city commodities trading floor to the dance halls and honky-tonks of Texas and Oklahoma to Music Row, to give the highlights — and witness his faith in the power of music and determination to touch the hearts of others with something that means so much to him.

It’s world-class country music from the American heartland, informed by the great singers that inspired Wolfe — like George Strait, Garth Brooks (a fellow Okie), Clint Black, Merle Haggard, Alan Jackson and Dwight Yoakam, to name a few — yet fired by his own contemporary energy and vision.

“A seasoned performer, Wolfe has opened for some of country’s biggest stars and has played more than 400 live shows over the past four years. ”

His 2010 release, It All Happened In A Honky Tonk, became such a regional success that it was re-released as a Deluxe Edition by Warner Music Nashville in 2013. The album debuted at #34 on the Billboard Album Chart and has collectively sold 25,000 units. 

2015's Natural Man debuted #13 on iTunes, #25 on the Billboard chart, and #8 on the Nielsen SoundScan Top New Artist Albums Chart. The 13-track collection merges Wolfe's signature traditional sound, influenced by some of country music's greatest legends, with an edgy, modern energy. 

The blend of rawness and accessibility of Natural Man gave Wolfe the undeniable identity of a torchbearer for country music. Any Night In Texas (2017) - Wolfe’s most recent and proudest collection of songs to date - landed at #3 on iTunes Country, #15 on Billboard Country, and continues to burn up the charts. With three highly-lauded studio albums in his repertoire, Wolfe’s garnered 12 consecutive Top Ten singles (7 have hit No.1), positioning him as a must-see act in Texas, Oklahoma, and well beyond.

Jon released his latest EP, Feels Like Country Music, in 2019 produced by Grammy nominated producer, Dave Brainard. So far, Feels Like Country Music has garnered two additional, consecutive number one singles in Texas with Some Ol’ Bar in the 90s and the title track, Feels Like Country Music.

Jon Wolfe recently created his own 100% Blue Agave tequila under the moniker of his name in Spanish: Juan Lobo.  Juan Lobo Tequila is now available all over Texas, California, and Colorado. You can learn more about Juan Lobo Tequila here, attend the next Juan Lobo Tequila Fest, or simply sip on a Juan Lobo Tequila at the next Jon Wolfe show near you!

“Wolfe invites country music fans everywhere to dust off your boots, download or spin the single, and come see the electrifying live show that has everyone talking. The numbers don’t lie: Jon Wolfe is the torchbearer for country music.”


And finally, an old school band that's 'still got it'  Sawyer Brown will make an appearance at The Brauntex Theater in downtown New Braunfels on Sunday August 29th. One of those rare acts who actually became stars directly from winning Star Search, country-rockers Sawyer Brown wound up enjoying a long, hit-filled career and remained commercially viable into the new millennium. The group originally grew out of country-pop singer Don King's touring band, with guitarist Bobby Randall and drummer Joe Smyth signing on in 1979, and bassist Jim Scholten, keyboardist Gregg "Hobie" Hubbard, and guitarist/future lead singer Mark Miller all arriving in 1980. King stopped touring in 1981, and the group decided to stay together, naming themselves after the Nashville street where they rehearsed. They spent the next two years on the road, and their agent landed them an audition for the popular syndicated talent show Star Search. Sawyer Brown won the grand prize of 100,000 dollars, and it wasn't long before Liberty/Capitol signed them up in 1984. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1985, and their debut single, "Leona," climbed into the Top 20; its follow-up, "Step That Step," went all the way to number one, and the album fell one spot short of that same position. Their sophomore album, Shakin', was another hit, producing the Top Five single "Betty's Bein' Bad."


The band endured a singles-chart slump over 1986-1987, likely a result of their increasingly slick country-pop production, but they rebounded when "This Missin' You Heart of Mine" went to number two at the end of 1987. Another commercially disappointing period followed, lasting into 1991, but it was interrupted by the Top Five single "The Race Is On," which helped its accompanying album, The Boys Are Back, climb into the Top Five. Following 1991's Buick album, Sawyer Brown parted ways with Liberty and signed with Curb; around the same time, guitarist Randall departed and was replaced by Duncan Cameron. Through it all, they never stopped touring, which helped them maintain a following, and it paid off when "The Walk" went to number two in late 1991. Their first Curb album, The Dirt Road, produced two big hits in the Top Five title track and the band's second number one hit, "Some Girls Do." Their follow-up, 1992's Cafe on the Corner, was acclaimed by many critics as their most consistent, fully realized album, and it gave them three Top Five hits in the title track, "All These Years," and "Trouble on the Line." 1993's Outskirts of Town continued their hot streak, producing two more Top Fives in "The Boys & Me" and "Hard to Say," plus their third number one in "Thank God for You." The band capped off their commercial resurgence with Greatest Hits 1990-1995, a Top Five-selling compilation whose two new tracks, "I Don't Believe in Goodbye" and "This Time," both made the Top Five themselves.


Released later in 1995, the Top Ten This Thing Called Wantin' and Havin' It All produced another Top Five smash in "Treat Her Right" and was followed by two albums in 1997: the live Six Days on the Road (another Top Ten seller) and the gospel/CCM record Hallelujah He Is Born. The Top Ten Drive Me Wild arrived in 1999, and its title cut was also a Top Ten hit. Following 2002's poppy Can You Hear Me Now, the group parted ways with Curb and signed a new deal with Disney's country subsidiary Lyric Street. The band continues to tour and write songs to this day. A liitle bit of music history takes the stage...here...'In New Braunfels'.


Until next time...

Cheers!




Tuesday, July 6, 2021

July means HOT Summertime Concerts

 Hey Folks,


The summer is in full swing and so are the amazing concerts heading our way. The temps are hot and the music even hotter...my picks for July are...

Gary P Nunn plays Gruene Hall, Friday July 9th. Born in Oklahoma, Gary P. Nunn found his heart’s true home in the Lone Star State after his family moved to West Texas when he was in sixth grade. In the town of Brownfield just outside of Lubbock, he was an honors student, excelled in athletics, and started his first band soon after arriving. When he landed in Austin in 1967 to study pharmacy at the University of Texas, he presaged the “cosmic cowboy” movement to come with one of Austin’s favorite bands, The Lavender Hill Express, with the late Rusty Weir. After Willie Nelson, Michael Murphey and Jerry Jeff Walker all moved to town, Nunn was such a pivotal figure on the scene that at one point he was playing bass with all three artists. His talents on keyboards and vocals were also heard on many of the legendary albums from that era.

When Murphey arrived in Austin in 1972, he immediately asked Nunn to help him put together a band. While in London recording Murphey’s Cosmic Cowboy Souvenir album, two key events occurred for Nunn. One day in his hotel room, wishing he were back in Texas, he wrote “London Homesick Blues.” As Nunn recalls, “I just wrote it to kill time, and as a humorous exercise in writing a country song. I never thought that anything would ever become of that song. No one is more surprised than me at what it became.”

At Abby Road Studio, he also met an English music publisher who at the time had 90 songs on the British Top 100. It inspired Nunn to start his own publishing company when he got back to Austin to funnel songs he liked by songwriters he knew to the artists he worked with as well as others.

Nunn was a key figure in The Lost Gonzo Band when they recorded Jerry Jeff Walker’s landmark ¡Viva Terlingua! album, on which “London Homesick Blues” was a breakout hit. During his time with Walker, Nunn recalls, “I was fortunate enough to have some good songwriters come my way, and I channeled some of their tunes to Jerry Jeff. And they became some of his more popular songs, even today. I seem to have always had a knack for finding a tune.” And Nunn’s own songs have always served him well, being recorded by stars like Willie Nelson (“The Last Thing I Needed, The First Thing This Morning”)which hit #2, Rosanne Cash (“Couldn’t Do Nothing’ Right”), which hit #15 on the country singles charts), David Allen Coe and many other artists.

After four years and six albums with Walker, The Lost Gonzo Band struck out on their own in 1977 to record three critically acclaimed major label albums. Then in 1980, Nunn went solo when the Gonzos called it a day, and he hasn’t looked back since.

He started his own label, Guacamole Records, and was finally the full master of his own musical fate. His unflagging popularity in and around the Lone Star State has kept the houses full for 30 years whenever and wherever he plays. And Nunn has also made numerous visits to Europe, where he’s considered a Texas musical legend. Along the way he has appeared on TV shows like “Austin City Limits,” “Nashville Now,” TNN’s “Texas Connection” and many others as well as on national broadcasts of Texas Rangers baseball games singing the National Anthem.

In 1985, Nunn relocated to a family farm he inherited in Oklahoma, running an 800-acre cattle ranch at the same time as his musical career. He established the Terlingua North Chili Cook-Off and Music Festival there, where now popular acts like Pat Green and Cross Canadian Ragweed played early in their careers. “It seems every time we had a young and upcoming band up there, it was like they hit a diving board and just sprung into the air,” Nunn notes. And within today’s thriving Texas and Red Dirt music scene, he’s a revered elder statesman to countless performers and songwriters who teethed and grew up on his music. “They’ve let me know I inspired them and showed them how it could be done.”

In addition to the many gold albums on which he has played and/or written and published songs, Nunn has earned a number of notable awards and honors over the years. He was named an Official Ambassador to the World by Texas Governor Mark White, and years later Governor Rick Perry also declared him an Ambassador of Texas Music. In 2004, he was inducted into the Texas Hall of Fame, and he is also honored in the West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock as well as the Texas Department of Commerce and Tourism’s roster of Lone Star Greats who are leaders in the fields of art, athletics and music. As well, the Oklahoma House of Representatives recognized Nunn for his contribution to the preservation of the unique Southwestern style of music.

“The thing I’m proudest of is being a member of the West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock with Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings, Bob Wills and Roy Orbison — guys who were my heroes. To me that’s just the greatest thing,” he enthuses. “And then today, turning on Sirius/XM radio and hearing myself played next to Hank Williams, Hank Thompson, Willie Nelson and Johnny Bush. I’m just so proud and pleased to be there among them.”

For Nunn, who in 2003 moved back to the Austin area, the secret to all his continuing success is deceptively simple. “My focus has always been on the audience and showing then a good time, and perhaps they will take a little Texas pride home with them,” he explains. “What I’ve tried to do is incorporate the musical genres that are indigenous to Texas, along with some neighboring styles. My goal is to paint as much of a Texas picture as I can with the music and just immerse people in that culture. I think it’s great, and I just love it and want to promote it.”

And now, more than half a century since he first started playing music, Nunn enthuses, “I’m having more fun now than ever. It just feels good. When you have a great band behind you and the audience is out there on the dance floor, you just say, ‘Yeah! This the reason I got into this in the first place.’ I love it more than ever.” He will bring this 'love' to Gruene Hall and with it, all of the excitement and energy as always!


Thursday July 15th brings a blast from the past, the legendary country band Exile, to The Brauntex Theater. 2021 marks Exile’s 58th year as America’s longest running band.

On September 30, 1978, the award-winning band who had initially set out to play small clubs in Richmond, Kentucky back in 1963, skyrocketed to world-wide fame with their multi-week chart-topper “Kiss You All Over.” In fact, it made Billboard’s Year End Hot 100 Singles of 1978 (Top 5) and later placed in Billboard’s The 50 Sexiest Songs of All Time (Top 10) category. The iconic song has been showcased in feature films such as “Happy Gilmore,” “Employee of the Month,” “Zookeeper, “Wildhogs,” and is played in it’s entirety at the end of the 7th episode of “Mindhunter” currently available as a Netflix original.

In the early 1980’s, Exile began to focus on country music. During their run on the country charts Exile had 10 number one singles including “I Don’t Want To Be A Memory,” “Give Me One More Chance” and “She’s A Miracle.” The band wrote their own songs, played on all their recordings and also proved to be prolific songwriters composing hits for other artists such as Alabama, Restless Heart, Engelbert Humperdinck, Huey Lewis, Diamond Rio, Janie Fricke and many more.  During this country phase of their career, Exile received 11 nominations including Vocal Group of The Year and Best Instrumental Performance for the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music awards.

The 5 original Exile members re-formed in 2008 with J.P. Pennington, Les Taylor, Sonny LeMaire, Marlon Hargis and Steve Goetzman. The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame members continue to perform for legions of fans on the 2018 No Limit Tour and have appeared over 100 times on the Grand Ole Opry. Exile recently released their latest project Hits and the album contains 11 number one songs spanning three decades, along with four additional top ten’s. The ultimate, cross-over band has sold over 8 million records worldwide, with three Gold albums. Exile has lasted longer than most marriages. this show will sell out, get your tickets now!





July 17th, one of Texas' best songwriters makes his return to Gruene Hall. Radney Foster will be bringing his treasure trove of perfectly crafted country tunes to New Braunfels. 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 BRINGS IT...everytime!





Curtis Grimes plays Gruene Hall on July 30th. a relatively new artist that has done very well at the historic venue.


With over 50 million digital streams, over 100,000 albums sold, twelve #1 singles on the Texas Country Music Chart and a #1 song on the national Power Source Christian Country Music Chart, Curtis Grimes has proven to be a force in the country music industry that can't be denied.

 

To hear Grimes sing is to take a trip through the heart of country music. As a Texas native, he was raised on a steady diet of Alan Jackson and George Strait. He possesses the everyman charm of both influences along with a refreshingly mature voice that truly stands out. After a childhood filled with playing baseball and eventually earning a Division I scholarship, Grimes was given the opportunity to appear on the hit reality TV show “The Voice” in 2011. Under direction of coach CeeLo Green, he ended up finishing as a coveted Top 8 finalist of Season One.

 

Following success from the show, Grimes hit the ground running and released new music while performing shows across the United States. In 2014, Grimes and his hit single “Home to Me” were picked up by the salon chain “Supercuts” and placed in the mainstream spotlight. Not only was the song featured across the country, but Grimes also got to put on his acting boots and star in the national television commercial. That same year Grimes started to see his hard work pay off when he was awarded “New Male Vocalist of the Year” at the annual Texas Regional Radio Awards.

 

In 2019, Grimes was named "Entertainer of the Year" at the TCMA Awards Show hosted by the Texas Country Music Association. He also received the honor of “Christian Country Song of the Year” for the second year in a row! In 2020, Grimes took home the "Christian Country Artist of the Year" award along with "Country Single of the Year" for "River Road Dream", a song co-written with Trent Willmon


So get out there and support live music at any venue,  in any genre, on any night...'In New Braunfels'

Until next time...cheers!