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!

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Sounds of Summer Ring Through NEW BRAUNFELS

 Hey Folks,

Venues back to full capacity has bands galore making their way to New Braunfels! Here are my picks for the remainder of June! 2 Tons of Steel has returned to Gruene Hall this Tuesday and every Tuesday through 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."

   Two Tons Of Steel, Kevin Geil, Jake “Sidecar” Marchese on Upright Bass, Brian Duarte on Guitar and Paul Ward on Drums, are sure to get your foot tappin! Five bucks at the Door, showtime is 830pm.

On Friday June 18th Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits with take the stage in downtown New Braunfels at The Brauntex Performing Arts Theater at 730pm.

Herman's Hermits were one of those odd 1960s groups who accumulated millions of fans, but precious little respect. Indeed, their status is remarkably similar to that of the Monkees, and it's not a coincidence that both groups' music was intended to appeal to younger teenagers. The difference is that as early as 1976, the Monkees began to be considered cool by people who really knew music; it took decades longer for Herman's Hermits to begin receiving higher regard for their work. Of course, that lack of respect had no relevance to their success: 20 singles lofted into the Top 40 in England and America between 1964 and 1970, 16 of them in the Top 20, and most of those Top Ten as well. Artistically, they were rated far lower than the Hollies, the Searchers, or Gerry & the Pacemakers, but commercially, the Hermits were only a couple of rungs below the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

The magnitude of their success seemed highly improbable, based on their modest beginnings. Guitarist/singer Keith Hopwood (born October 26, 1946), bassist/singer Karl Green (born July 31, 1947), guitarist/singer Derek "Lek" Leckenby (born May 14, 1945), and drummer Barry Whitwam (born July 21, 1946) were among the younger musicians on the Manchester band scene in 1963, when they started playing together as the Heartbeats. The city was home to many dozens of promising bands, most notable among them the Hollies, the Mockingbirds, and Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders. Later that year, the Heartbeats got a new member in 16-year-old Peter Noone (born November 5, 1947), who filled in one night when their regular vocalist failed to turn up for a gig. Noone was already a veteran actor, trained at the Manchester School of Music and Drama; he had been a child star on television in the late '50s, on the television series Coronation Street, but he also had musical aspirations. As a vocalist with the Heartbeats, he initially worked under the name Peter Novak. The quintet followed the same path that any other struggling band did, playing shows at youth clubs and local dances, hoping to get noticed, and they picked up a pair of managers, Harvey Lisberg and Charlie Silverman.

Accounts vary as to the origins of the name they ultimately adopted -- some say that their managers remarked on the facial resemblance between Noone and the character of Sherman in the Jay Ward cartoon show "Mr. Peabody & Sherman"; others credit Karl Green with mentioning it. In any case, "Sherman" became "Herman" and the group, in search of a more distinct name, became Herman & His Hermits and then Herman's Hermits. They played a pleasing, melodic brand of rock & roll, mostly standards of the late '50s and early '60s, with Noone's attractive vocals at the fore. Their big break came in 1964 when producer Mickie Most was invited by Lisberg and Silverman to a show in Manchester. He was impressed with their wholesome, clean-cut image, and with Noone's singing and pleasant, non-threatening stage presence, and he agreed to produce them, arranging a recording contract for the group with the EMI-Columbia label in England; their American releases were licensed to MGM Records.

Herman's Hermits' debut single, a Carole King/Gerry Goffin song called "I'm Into Something Good," released in the summer of 1964, hit number one in England and number 13 in America. Ironically, considering the direction of many of their future releases, the group displayed anything but an English sound on "I'm Into Something Good." Instead, it had a transatlantic feel, smooth and easy-going with a kind of vaguely identifiable California sound.

Of course, that statement assumed that the group had much to do with the record -- as it turned out, they didn't. In a manner typical of the majority of the acts that Most produced, the Hermits didn't play on most of their own records; Mickie Most, as was typical of producers in the era before the Beatles' emergence, saw no reason to make a less-than-perfect record, or spend expensive studio time working with a band to perfect its sound -- as long as Peter Noone's voice was on the record and the backing wasn't something that the group absolutely couldn't reproduce on stage, everyone seemed happy, including the fans. Conversely, the group didn't have too much control over the choice of material that they recorded or released. On their singles in particular, "Herman's Hermits" were mostly Peter Noone's vocals in front of whatever session musicians Most had engaged, which included such future luminaries as Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, with the other members relegated to background vocals, if that.

The group was grateful for the hit records that they chalked up, the revenue that those generated, and the gigs that resulted. They charted six Top 20 hits each in the years 1965 and 1966 and were a major attraction in concert, usually in a package tour situation, with the Hermits at or near the very top of whatever bill they were on. Their records were smooth, pleasant pop/rock, roughly the British invasion equivalent of easy listening, which set them apart from most of the rival acts of the period. Their cover of Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World" (which reached number four in America) and remake of the Rays' 1950s hit "Silhouettes" were good representations of the group's releases; on their EPs and early LPs, they also threw in covers of old rock & roll numbers like Frankie Ford's "Sea Cruise." They were purveyors of romantic pop/rock just at a time when the Beatles were starting to become influenced by Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and the Who were redefining the British beat sound with higher volume, greater complexity, and harder sounds.

Most recognized that those acts were leaving behind a huge number of listeners who would still buy songs resembling simple, relatively innocent sounds of 1964 or even earlier. Just how far back he and the group could reach was revealed to them by accident, following the release of Introducing Herman's Hermits on MGM Records in the United States during 1965, coinciding with their first U.S. tour. An American disc jockey heard the song "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" on that album and convinced the label to issue it as a single. The song had been done almost as a joke by the group, its guitar/banjo sound and Noone's vocal performance -- Mancunian accented and laced with a vulnerable, wide-eyed innocence -- deliberately reminiscent of George Formby, the immensely popular ukelele-strumming British music hall entertainer of the 1930s and 1940s. In England, that record would never have been considered for release by an image-conscious rock & roll group; the parents and grandparents of their audience would have loved it, but it would also have destroyed their credibility. In America, however, it was considered just another piece of British Invasion pop/rock and a pleasant, innocuous, and eminently hummable one at that -- and it shot to number one on the charts, earning a gold record in the process. It seemed to slot in with Americans' image of England's past in a comfortable, cheerful way, evoking a kind of "theme park" cockney image that easily adjoined the contemporary vision of "Swinging London." In the end, "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter" sold 14 million copies around the world, making their first film appearance (in the movie When the Boys Meet the Girls), which came off of that same U.S. tour, seem almost an after-thought. In England, however, "Mrs. Brown" was never issued as a single.

After that, a formula was established. Mickie Most got the group to record more songs in the same vein, including the actual Edwardian-era music hall number "I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am," specifically for release as singles in America. The latter record reportedly made the group members cringe over what it would do to their image in England, but in America it hit number one and chalked up yet another gold record award. Amid all of this American chart action with novelty tunes and albums that easily rose into the Top 30 in the U.S.A., the group's British releases were a whole other story. The Hermits continued to issue current romantic pop/rock, which sold well and kept up their image as a respectable if somewhat soft rock group. At the same time, their British album sales were virtually negligible, only their debut LP ever charting (at number 16). This was unfortunate, as the British version of their second album, Both Sides of Herman's Hermits, was a perfectly respectable pop/rock LP with some very hard, loud sounds (and one "period" standard, "Leaning on a Lamp Post"), mostly solid Brit-beat numbers like "Little Boy Sad," "Story of My Life," and "My Reservation's Been Confirmed," as well as a stripped-down, straight-ahead version of Graham Gouldman's "Bus Stop." That album and its 1967 follow-ups, There's a Kind of Hush All Over the World and Blaze (which never even came out in England), were excellent representations of the full range of the group's sound, including hard rock, psychedelia, and pop/rock, featuring very respectable originals written by Green, Hopwood, and Leckenby.

While their record sales remained healthy in America well into 1966, their British singles gradually slackened in sales until the group recorded Graham Gouldman's "No Milk Today," which put them back in the U.K. Top 10; in America, the same song was also a hit paired off with "Dandy," a poppish cover of the Kinks song. The group made their second film appearance, this time in a starring role in the comedy Hold On! (1966), which mixed Herman's Hermits in a story about space flight. By the end of that year, however, the stage was set for the gradual decline in the group's fortunes, even in America. Producers Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson, in conjunction with NBC and Columbia Pictures Television, had devised a television series that touched upon a formula for success very similar to what Mickie Most had found with Herman's Hermits: The Monkees -- all about a fun-loving pop/rock group created specifically for the series.

The program debuted in late 1966 and by that winter, the Monkees were selling millions of singles and LPs to the very same young teen audience that Herman's Hermits had cultivated. The presence of English actor/singer Davy Jones in their lineup, as the principal vocalist on their records and the romantic heartthrob of the group, only heightened the resemblance between the two acts. By 1967, Davy Jones and the Monkees were selling millions of copies of "Daydream Believer," a song that surely would have gone to the Hermits had it been written at any time earlier.

"There's a Kind of Hush (All Over the World)," a bright, upbeat pop number, put the Hermits back at number seven in England and number four in America; but an attempt at latching on to the folk-rock and psychedelic booms with a recording of Donovan's song "Museum" never charted in England and reached only number 37 in America before disappearing. They made the American Top 20 just once more with "Don't Go out Into the Rain," after which everyone seemed to recognize the inevitable. The group made one more feature film, entitled Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter -- the song, which had rocketed them to fame in America, served the group one last time, yielding a movie about dog racing that gave Noone a lead acting role and which was a decent box office success in 1968.

During this period, Noone co-produced a good LP for songwriter/singer Graham Gouldman (with whom he later went into partnership) that never sold well, despite some very interesting sounds. The Hermits, as a group, hewed closer to the pop market after "Museum" and enjoyed another two years worth of hits in England before Peter Noone decided to leave in 1970. The group soldiered on for another three years, cutting singles for RCA in America that were duly ignored and Noone returned briefly to the fold in 1973 to capitalize on the rock & roll revival boom and made an appearance hosting NBC's The Midnight Special, in an installment devoted to the sounds of the British Invasion, that became one of the most collectable shows in that program's run. Thereafter, Noone tried re-entering the rock & roll arena fronting a new band, the Tremblers, in 1980, without much success. He fared much better on stage in The Pirates of Penzance on London's West End, which was a huge hit in the mid-'80s. Both he and the latter-day Herman's Hermits have turned up on the oldies circuit at different times, usually working in the context of a revival of the British Invasion sound. Derek Leckerby passed away in 1994 at the age of 48, but drummer Barry Whitwam was leading a group of Herman's Hermits at the opening of the 21st century. Noone has resumed performing regularly and also became a star VJ on MTV's VH1 channel. In the year 2000, Repertoire Records began the long-overdue exhumation of Herman's Hermits album catalog, issuing state-of-the-art CD editions with bonus tracks that show off the full range of the group's music. Just as Rhino Records had previously done with the Monkees catalog, it seems like Herman's Hermits may finally be getting the recognition they deserved. Tickets are still available at Brauntex.org.

Now for something a little different, staying at the Brauntex for Saturday June 19th, an Elvis impersonator that is so good, I just have to mention him here. Donny Edwards will bring 'The King' to New Braunfels for one show at 730pm. An Authentic Heart & Soul Tribute to THE KING” Donny Edwards’ admiration and appreciation of Elvis Presley began at an early age. His mama recalls how he tried to dance to Elvis’ records even before he could walk. By the age of five, Donny was so passionate about Elvis that he pushed his grandmother’s hand away from the radio dial as she attempted to change the station while “Hound Dog” was playing. Little did he know that his devotion would lead him to a beloved career, paying tribute to one of the greatest musical artists in history.

Donny Edwards is an international, multi-award winning professional Elvis tribute artist. Today, he is one of the most sought after performers in the business, bringing his show to stages in casinos, theaters/venues, fairs/festivals, corporate/special events, cruises and production shows, world-wide. He is a versatile performer with the ability to re-enact each era of Elvis’ life and career. His dynamic performance will take you back to the 1950’s and the early years of rock n’ roll, getting you “all shook up”, all over again. Then you’ll go on a ride through the 1960’s, from Elvis’ biggest hit movies to the famous black leather “68 Comeback Special”. Finally you’ll revisit the legendary Las Vegas years of the 1970’s as Donny recreates the performances that made Elvis the one and only “King of Rock n’ Roll”.

Throughout his career, Donny has had the opportunity to work beside many of the original musicians that performed with Elvis Presley himself. He’s worked with the Jordanaires, The Sweet Inspirations, DJ Fontana, Charlie Hodge and Bob Moore, to name several. Donny has also had the pleasure of working with Elvis’ inner circle such as Sonny West, Al Dvorin, Charles Stone and Ed Bonja. Elvis Presley Enterprises and CKX have hired Donny for tribute shows, TV spots and corporate events, many times over the years. Donny has also performed private parties for and worked with celebrities such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the NASCAR family, Marie Osmond, Bill Medley of the Righteous Bros. and Elvis’ friends and co-stars, Jimmy Velvet (Elvis’ friend and recording artist), Darlene Thompkins (Elvis’ co-star in “Blue Hawaii”) and Cynthia Pepper (Elvis’ co-star in “Kissin’ Cousins).

Not only is Donny known for his riveting live performances, but he has also appeared in numerous TV shows and ads, including ABC’s “Monday Night Football”, MTV’s “Viva La Bam”, CBS’s “The Young and The Restless”, ABC’s, “The Next Best Thing” and many Elvis character TV ads in the UK, Europe and Australia including “Kingsmill Bread” and “Toshiba”.

He regularly sells out shows, performing with an 8-9 piece band, all across the US and in countries such as Canada, Japan and Australia and to audiences as large as 25,000.

Among his professional accomplishments, Donny was the star performer at Las Vegas’ famous “Elvis-ARama” museum and showroom for 3 years before it closed its doors in 2006. He has appeared on the cover of two published books about Elvis tribute artists and is also a 2 time world champion of two of the biggest Elvis contests ever, at Isle of Capri and Potawatomi in 2006 and 2007. Donny also finished in the top 3 in the “Ultimate Elvis” contest held in Memphis, Tennessee for 3 years in a row in 2007, 2008 and 2009 (he no longer does contests as we feel his career has moved beyond the amateur competitions at this point and his professional tribute show is what is important to him and what he focuses on now).

Recently, Donny was asked to appear on the David Letterman show, but due to other commitments during the time, he was unable to accept. This past August, during Elvis Week 2013, in Memphis, Tennessee, Donny was given the honor of being the one and only Elvis tribute artist to have been granted permission by Elvis Presley Enterprises, since 1977, to perform his show on the estate grounds of Graceland while at the same time, being commissioned an Honorary Tennessean by the Governor of Tennessee. He is also proudly on Elvis Presley Enterprises, “preferred” tribute artist list and is held in their highest esteem. Donny just recently became an official Las Vegas casino headliner act as well, selling out all 3 of his debut shows ~ a major accomplishment!

Donny Edwards maintains a performance of remarkable authenticity. His humility, charm and southern manner, coupled with his uncanny sound and appearance, will make you feel as if you are watching “The King”, himself.

Next up the weekend on June 25th, up and comers The Cadillac 3 will take the stage at Gruene Hall.

When it comes to straddling the line between rowdy country music and rebellious hard rock, no one does it better than The Cadillac Three. Name another band that can play a country festival with Florida Georgia Line or Keith Urban one day and then jet off to the U.K. to share the stage with Metallica or Slayer the next.

 On the Nashville trio’s long-awaited fourth album, they push their country, hard rock and southern rock bona fides to the limit while also introducing elements of funk and soul. The result is a dirty, greasy and hard-hitting sound that can only belong to The Cadillac Three — one they've christened COUNTRY FUZZ. 

But COUNTRY FUZZ isn’t just the name of the group’s new album. It’s also their aesthetic, the phrase that best sums up both the music and lifestyle of singer-guitarist Jaren Johnston, drummer Neil Mason and lap-steel alchemist Kelby Ray, three guys who have become closer than brothers while growing up and playing in bands together in America’s most buzzed-about music city.

“We’ve been COUNTRY FUZZ forever,” says Jaren. “When I think of Southern rock, I think of Lynyrd Skynyrd. When I think of country, I think Garth Brooks. This record and this band are all of that. But it’s also ZZ Top and Jerry Reed. It’s Medeski Martin & Wood and Prince. There’s no better way to describe who we are than Country Fuzz.”

“It’s not easy to land on something that is your own thing, but we’re proud to say we did that,” Neil says of the band’s sound. “It works for us in any direction that we’re going. COUNTRY FUZZ is anything from a stripped-down country ballad to a sludgy, riff-heavy rock song. And it’s also country-funk.”

“We’ve matured as musicians and as a band,” says Kelby, whose lap steel lays down the bass line for The Cadillac Three and is largely responsible for the trio’s one-of-a-kind vibe. “Our sound is second nature to us and that only comes from playing together for as long as we have.”

Averaging 140 shows a year, The Cadillac Three are perpetually burning up the highway, Traveling 40 out of 52 weeks. It’s grueling, committed work, but Jaren, Neil and Kelby wouldn’t have it any other way. Nor would the band’s fans, who make pilgrimages to see The Cadillac Three and will often catch an entire weekend’s worth of gigs. To reward that devotion, the group was adamant about giving their fans as many songs as they could on COUNTRY FUZZ.

The 16 tracks on the record touch on all eras of the band’s history, from the swampy stomp of their 2012 self-titled debut and the power chords of 2016’s BURY ME IN MY BOOTS to the polish of 2017’s LEGACY. 

The trio wrote much of COUNTRY FUZZ, which they also produced, with their live show in mind. ”As many shows as we play, we still switch our sets up every night. We really try to do something different, and now we have 16 new songs that we can add in,” says Neil.

With its serpentine lick and Jaren’s thick-as-syrup delivery, “Slow Rollin” echoes the band’s most-played live song, the fan favorite “Tennessee Mojo.” The group wrote “Slow Rollin” on the bus before a show in Las Vegas, with Jaren plugging in and rattling the back lounge. “I had the amp in the back of the bus, and when you turn it to 11, it’s loud as fuck,” he laughs. “I wrote that riff and was like, ‘How the hell didn’t we write ‘Slow Rollin’ yet?’ It’s such an obvious TC3 song.”

So is “Hard Out Here for a Country Boy,” a tongue-in-cheek list of all the things that good ol’ boys deal with on a daily basis while trying to live “that slow life in a real fast world.” Chris Janson sings a verse and adds harmonica, while the band’s recent tourmate Travis Tritt lends his unmistakable voice to the commanding choruses.

“Heat” is equally hard-hitting. A fiery salute to a lady who’s as combustible as “in a bar fight with gasoline,” it slinks along on Neil’s rhythmic beat before exploding in a noisy breakdown that blends Kelby’s steel with Jaren’s guitar. Even so, Neil calls it more of a vocal song.”It’s a chance for Jaren to show off his voice and the way that it’s matured,” he says. 

While the band still sing about cold beer, hell-raising and Saturday nights, the idea of maturity underscores all of COUNTRY FUZZ. The Cadillac Three have never been as cohesive a unit as they are here, with all three musicians seemingly sharing the same musically tattooed brain. When Kelby adds subtle slide in the stunning closer “After Last Call” to accentuate Jaren’s delivery, Neil instinctively knows to pull back and give the notes room to breathe. “We’ve always been pretty good at that,” says Jaren. “But we’re all focusing more on our instruments. I care more about playing guitar now than I ever have, and I’ve been honing that. And Kelby is figuring out different ways to make his lap steel work in the songs, especially with the funkier stuff.”

That new funky direction is readily apparent in the devil disco of “The Jam” and on the swerving “Blue El Camino,” two tracks on COUNTRY FUZZ that point to the future of The Cadillac Three. “When we started playing “The Jam” at soundcheck, I used the lap steel to build a bass line and glue together Jaren’s funky guitar,” says Kelby. “It’s a cool new sound for us”  

“The funkier aspects of this record is where we’re wanting to go, but with big ol’ country hooks,” adds Jaren, “because that is what we’re addicted to from growing up in Nashville. We love country songwriting and huge hooks.”

Still, The Cadillac Three refuse to be categorized. Listen to the song “Labels,” a brilliant, succinct slice of songwriting from Neil with Corey Crowder and Luke Dick, that asks, “I wonder what you see when you look at me?” It’s a pulsing anthem, with Jaren repeating, “Nobody wants to be labeled,” and stands as one of the band’s most incisive songs.

Along with the heavy-funk explorations, Country Fuzz marks a first for the group: “Back Home” is the only song the group has ever recorded that at least one of its members didn’t write. Co-written by Craig Wiseman, James McNair and Chris Tompkins, the tune is a straight-ahead blast of country-rock nostalgia and proved irresistible to The Cadillac Three. 

“I couldn’t imagine anyone doing “Back Home” more than I could us doing it,” says Neil. “That’s the true test of what is or isn’t a Cadillac Three song.”

“The story was so good and the syncopation of the lyrics flowed so well that I knew we could make it work,'“ says Jaren. “That song is a hit, but it’s still very much us.” 

Without a doubt, The Cadillac Three know exactly who they are — and they say the same is true of their fans. It’s all one big community that’s summed up by Country Fuzz. The trio is even launching a clothing line under the Country Fuzz name. 

“The Cadillac Three are at a place now where we’re not scared to take chances and see what we can actually become,” says Jaren.

 “The path we’re on is the natural way we do things, making each album and idea bigger than the last one,”  Kelby says. “It's like a pitstop on a motorcycle ride, where you stop here, grab a beer, look around, learn from it, and then keep riding.”

And COUNTRY FUZZ provides the soundtrack for that ride.

“This album has a little bit of everything, and you can see where we started and where we’re going,”  Jaren says. “The Cadillac Three is evolving in a badass new way.” This one's gonna be GOOOOD, so get your tickets early.

On Saturday the 26th of June another 'newly solo' artist will make his way to Gruene Hall. After years of playing fiddle with the Oklahoma-based country outfit the Turnpike Troubadours, Kyle Nix has emerged with a new role on his debut solo album, Lightning on the Mountain & Other Short Stories. You will hear most of the Troubadours roaring as his backing band on the record but this isn’t an uninspired spin-off or half-baked reboot of a good thing.  Lightning on the Mountain has an identity entirely it’s own- a western-inspired collection of literary songs, which tell stories from Nix’s own history as well as of the many unique characters he “may or may not have encountered” throughout his years on the road.

Originally from Perry, Oklahoma, Kyle Nix grew up literally surrounded by musical instruments.  His grandfather was a carpenter and part-time fiddle maker. “As a kid, the fiddles were off limits because they were breakable, delicate... that just made me want to mess with them more”, he laughs.  Eventually, though, he got his hands on the instrument and began taking lessons in Enid, Oklahoma from bluegrass fiddler Shirley Landrum. “I was lucky that my parents were willing to drive me around to lessons & bluegrass festivals. It really helped fan the flame”, he remembers. 

Nix’s involvement with the Turnpike Troubadours was an entirely organic process.  The band had just formed when he happened to run across Evan Felker and RC Edwards at a co-billed show. “I remember thinking, ‘man I really like what they’re doing. I should probably be doing that, too!’” he laughs.  Not long after that, Kyle, Evan and singer-songwriter Clint Osmus moved into a house a stone’s throw away from Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater, Oklahoma. They played music as often as they could, usually only pausing to go to work. Eventually, Nix quit the band he was a part of and joined up with the Troubadours.  It was during this time that he fell in love with songwriting and was inspired to write more of his own tunes.  “It was around those guys that I first heard John Prine and Townes Van Zandt songs. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I’ve been missing out on alot’” Nix says. “It really lit a fire inside me. I wanted to learn how to tell a story like those guys” 

He says of the album’s theme, “I’ve really gotten into short stories these past few years. You have to sum your ideas up quicker- really trim the fat.  I like what they do”.  With that in mind, he wanted to treat his album as a series of short stories; all encompassed by a Spaghetti Western theme.  “I’m into Ennio Morricone (composer). He composed a ton of classic western soundtracks. On the record I applied the “spaghetti western” theme with instrumentals to imply a front cover, a back cover & picture pages… a short story collection”.  

The stories on “Lightning On The Mountain” range from shoot-outs in Michigan (Wolf At the Door), to love-sick ballads of the south (Sweet Delta Rose).  Nix’s gritty, down-home vocals take a fearless lead role, energetically and tastefully supported by his bandmates Ryan Engleman, Gabe Pearson, RC Edwards & Hank Early . The album was recorded and co-produced by Wes Sharon (John Fulbright, Parker Milsap, Turnpike Troubadours) in Norman, Oklahoma, and also features special guest musicians Ian Moore, Byron Berline, Kevin Foster (Jason Eady, Sunny Sweeny), Dan Walker (Ann Wilson, Heart) & many more.

Although Nix’s gritty, driving fiddle playing is not to be missed, he has shown a whole new side of his musicianship with Lightning on the Mountain & other Short Stories.  Profound moments of everyday life are framed with fierce, no-nonsense country drive and polished with a cinematic touch.  Now that Nix has shown all his cards, it may be hard for him to return to his  role as exclusively a fiddle player, and there is no doubt that this album is merely the tip of the iceberg with regard to his writing and singing chops. 

I know a lot of folks are really looking forward to this one and that includes myself!

Wherever you find yourself in our beautiful city, be sure to get out to one of the many live music venues waiting for you to discover! All styles of music on any given night!!

Until next time...


Friday, May 14, 2021

The Music Keeps Flowing....

 Hey Folks!

With warm sunny days turning into beautiful nights here in New Braunfels, the great sounds of music can be heard throughout our community every night of the week from multiple venues. There is so much of it these days it makes it hard to 'pin down' exactly what to write about, but I've done it! These are my picks just up the hill from the beautiful Guadalupe River at Gruene Hall through Memorial Day Weekend...

Micky & The Motorcars will take the stage tonight at Gruene Hall playing tunes from all of their releases including the latest release...'Long Time Comin'. For a handful of summers about 30 years ago, tourists who wandered into a large dancehall in Stanley, Idaho, witnessed a family tradition finding new life. Young and old sat shoulder-to-shoulder, taking a break from the town’s mountain hikes and river campgrounds to take in Muzzie Braun and the Boys––a local family band who’d made it to the Grand Ole Opry, effortlessly spouted cowboy poetry and Western swing at gatherings around the country, and featured Muzzie’s four young sons––precocious boys with rock-and-roll futures.

“There were kids running around, people dancing,” says Micky Braun, the youngest brother who first climbed on stage to join the family when he was about five years-old. “Gary and I’d get up and play a couple of songs, then we’d get off and the older brothers would stay up and play a couple more. It’s pretty funny, looking back on it.” He laughs a little, then adds, still smiling, “That’s how we got started playing.”

The Braun brothers never stopped. Big brothers Cody and Willy started Reckless Kelly, and Micky and Gary left Idaho for Austin and started Micky and the Motorcars, a road-dogging favorite whose nonstop tour for the last 17 years has defined not just the lives of the brothers, but also shaped Austin’s roots-rock resurgence that has played out over the last two decades. With their anticipated new album Long Time Comin’, the Motorcars cement their place as elder statesmen of that alt-country scene who have managed to master that ever-elusive blend of artistic familiarity and surprise.

“I hope people take the time to hear the album as a whole, and I hope they like it,” Gary says from his home in Austin. “I think this one is a little bit better.” He pauses and laughs as he drawls, “So I hope they like it a little more.”

For the Motorcars, the question is never really whether to tour but where to play next. Gary––who handles guitar, mandolin, harmonica, harmonies, and occasionally lead vocals––and Micky, lead vocalist and acoustic guitarist, are joined in the Motorcars by Joe Fladger on bass, Bobby Paugh on drums and percussion, and new bandmate Pablo Trujillo on guitar. The combination of familiar and fresh players has reinvigorated the Motorcars’ live show, which buzzes through a low-key rock-and-roll rapture built on grooves and the Brauns’ signature harmonies.

A mix of new and old also shaped the Long Time Comin’ recording process. Produced by Keith Gattis, the 11-song album relied in part on Gattis’ go-to Nashville studio players––a first for the Motorcars. “It still sounds like Micky and the Motorcars, but it was fun working with different guys who we’d never worked with before,” Micky says. “They’ve been Keith’s band for 15 years. He can say, ‘Give me a shuffle with a boom-chuck,’ and they know what he’s talking about.”

The band isn’t the only change on Long Time Comin’. Gary, who has always contributed a song or two to Motorcar records, wrote or co-wrote six of the album’s tracks and sings every tune he penned. “I don’t think I decided to really write more––I think I just got better at it and worked a little harder at it the past couple of years,” Gary says. “In the past, I just let Micky do it because he was good at it. It was easy for me not to do it.”

Micky loves the shift. “It’s almost a split album between the two of us on lead vocal––very different from our normal,” he says. “I think our fans will enjoy it. They always love the songs Gary sings live. They always want him to sing more.”

The album kicks off with the ambling “Road to You.” Written by Micky and Courtney Patton, the rollicking singalong is classic Motorcars and an ideal welcome mat for the collection. Sauntering “Rodeo Girl” swings and punches up the pace, before “Alone Again Tonight”––a Gary track written with Gattis––watches loneliness with empathetic ache.

Several tracks take note of the universal search for comfort––even when it’s not the stuff of fairytales or even particularly dignified. Over crunchy guitars, “Stranger Tonight” captures an evening’s quest for no-strings companionship. “It was an idea I had just watching people at bars––that lonely girl I saw time and time again but with a different set of glasses, over and over,” Gary says. “It seems like everybody can relate to that––out looking for something new that doesn’t have to be love.”

Sweet and sad, “Break My Heart,” another track penned by Gary with Jeff Crosby, looks back after the end of a relationship. “You’re not mad anymore but you’re thankful of the good times,” Gary says. “It’s also about finding yourself again. It’s a moving-on song.” Quiet and sparse, the Gary-penned “Run into You” details a longing to cross paths with an ex-lover who’s moved on with heartbreaking clarity.

Anchored by crying B-3 organ, “Hold This Town Together” explores the struggle to enjoy what once was easy after the loss of someone who’ll never come back. After years of trying, Micky wrote the song for Mark, a friend and the Motorcars’ first bassist, who passed away. “Hold This Town,” written by Micky and Jeff Crosby, muses over the hometown faces and places that never change. “There are the same people at the same bars, the same people working at the grocery stores,” Micky says, then adds with a laugh, “It’s kind of a depressing party song.” Another Jeff Crosby-Micky collaboration, “Thank My Mother’s God” pays beautiful tribute to moms and their devotion to their black sheep, running wild.

Two album standouts stand tall: “Lions of Kandahar,” written by Gary alone, and the title track, which Micky penned with master songwriter Bruce Robison. Over instrumentation that evokes the tense hum of Middle Eastern military activity, “Lions of Kandahar” follows a deployment from a first-person perspective. The result is jarring, compelling, and deeply human––a breathtaking piece of songwriting that took five years to complete. Winsome “Long Time Comin’” is an ode to the satisfaction of patience and perseverance rewarded in different forms––a stunning tapestry that also reflects the road to the album itself.

Guitars and songs at the ready, Micky and Gary hope most of all that their sprawling cross-continental fanbase connect with Long Time Comin’, a collection four years in the making. “If you can put your heart on your sleeve and say it, it’s the best medicine for people,” Micky says, reflecting on the album. “They can lock into it and enjoy the ride.” Tickets still available...I'll leave you with a little incentive right here...

A relative newcomer to our neck of the woods, Brent Cobb makes his way to Gruene Hall for an intimate acoustic set. In 2017, This heartfelt songwriter has some amazing stories, and some great songs to back 'em up. Brent Cobb was in Arizona touring with fellow country troubadour Jamey Johnson. After his opening set, the relatively unknown Cobb was hanging outside in the dirt parking lot with his wife, Layne. Underneath desert stars lit up like a chandelier, the two ran into a priest who crafted rosaries, telling them he “doesn’t know who they’re for until God lets me know.” He gave one to Cobb, who then hung it from his truck’s rear-view mirror. 

Three years later, this past July, Cobb was in the same truck with his toddler son, Tuck, when they were T-boned on the driver’s side by a car that blew through an intersection near their home in South Georgia. Cobb broke his collarbone and tore a ligament in his back, but Tuck emerged unscathed. When Cobb went to fetch items from the truck, the rosary had broken, and the cross had landed just below Tuck’s car seat. “I mean, I don’t want to get too out there on you,” Cobb says in his molasses-thick drawl. “But the accident could have been a lot worse. I need to find Father Matthew and have him make me a new one.”

Cobb puts plenty of stock in the mystical and in the symbolism of life-changing events. This from a man who freely admits to eating a good amount of psychedelic mushrooms in the run-up to the release of his mesmerizing new album, Keep ’Em on They Toes. “I have had a couple of life-altering experiences after eating mushrooms,” he says. “That being said, I’ve had the same feelings praying to God when sober.” 

A South Georgia native, Cobb recently moved back to the area with his family after spending years in Los Angeles and Nashville, where he cowrote hits for the likes of Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert. He released his major-label debut, Shine On Rainy Day, in 2016, showcasing a knack for melody and vivid lyricism that earned him a Grammy nomination and took him to the upper echelons of Nashville songwriters. That album and Cobb’s fantastic 2018 swamp funk follow-up, Providence Canyon—both produced by top Nashville producer Dave Cobb, his cousin—are filled with evocative snapshots of things he missed from country life: hunting, fishing, and meeting the old-timers at the gas station for a cup of coffee. 

The new material gently but firmly stakes out more personal and topical terrain. But it’s never brash or confrontational. If anything, it sometimes lets the listener off easy. “Soap Box,” a shuffling piano duet with the Nashville singer Nikki Lane, asks people to “get along,” while the sparse, mournful “When You Go” digs deeper, with Cobb lamenting family members who pass the mashed potatoes around the table but take their differences to the grave.

The delicate title track is a message to his newborn son about walking to his own beat. And in the ironically titled, harmonica-fueled romp “Shut Up and Sing,” Cobb defiantly lays out his job as a songwriter. “Every album I do I have the mindset that if I died the day after it came out and it was the only thing my kids would ever have, who would I be to them?” he says. “The last two albums said, ‘This is where I came from’ and ‘This is what I care about.’ The new one is how Daddy feels about things.”

Cobb cowrote those two songs with his wife, who, before their son was born, worked as a pharmacist. Occasionally, when the couple can pawn off Tuck and his six-year-old sister, Lyla, onto their grandparents, they’ll relax on the porch trading lyrics. Family is paramount to Cobb, something that resonates even more deeply after the truck accident. He’s taken to waking up early with the kids, grabbing coffee, and walking down to a nearby lake, where his daughter has become obsessed with fishing. “She’s got the fever,” he says proudly. Afterward, they sometimes take long strolls in the woods. “I never wanted to leave Georgia in the first place, and I was gone for twelve years. All the things I had been missing I can now experience every day.”  Brent will take the stage at 9pm Saturday May 15th.

Next up, two artists that can each carry a headlining show on their own, team up for one night at Gruene Hall on  May 22nd. Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis, who just happen to be married will take the stage together and performing sings from each of their solo careers as well as their latest release, Beautiful Lie. Bruce Robison has been making music professionally for decades. He still discusses his craft with so much enthusiasm he sounds almost like a kid raving about superheroes. That infectious energy is evident in every note of his new album, Bruce Robison & the Back Porch Band, as well as his new project, The Next Waltz, a blossoming community of artists, fans and friends gathering both virtually and at his recording studio in Lockhart, just outside of Austin.

In both cases, the point is to celebrate country music’s rich traditions while giving creativity free rein to go where it might, as long as it’s somewhere worth traveling. It’s also about celebrating Robison’s “love of the craft of song.”

“Writing is where it all starts for me,” he explains. “Whether it’s my writing, or songs I want to do with somebody else. I love the mechanics of it; how simple it can be.”

Keeping it simple — and organic — was the guiding principle behind the latest album, a collection of Robison originals, co-writes and covers that capture country’s most beloved stylistic elements: good-time, lighthearted romps (“Rock and Roll Honky Tonk Ramblin’ Man”; “Paid My Dues”) and wistful, sometimes bittersweet ballads (“Long Time Coming”; “Still Doin’ Time”). But even the Who’s “Squeezebox” — which Robison calls “a great country song by some English dudes” — shows up, in a lively version dressed with cajun fiddle by Warren Hood and acoustic guitar and harmonies by Robison’s wife, Kelly Willis.

Hood is one of a hand-picked crew of regulars tapped for Next Waltz recording sessions with Jerry Jeff Walker, Randy Rogers, Jack Ingram, Rodney Crowell, Willis, Hayes Carll, Turnpike Troubadours, Sunny Sweeney, Reckless Kelly and others. They’ve re-imagined favorites, reinvigorated covers and even crafted new works, which Robison shares with audiences on the Next Waltz website and other platforms. Meanwhile, he’s cultivating a house band he hopes might one day be as revered as Stax Records’ Booker T. & the M.G.’s or Muscle Shoals’ Swampers. The Back Porch Band does it old-school, all analog, cutting songs together in one paneled room where “happy accidents and all kinds of things that just feel real,” including sound bleed, are allowed to occur.

“It really brings the players and their own voices, their own styles, into the music,” says Robison. “That’s the kind of vibe I’m trying to get back to.”

Their familiarity breeds an undeniable cohesiveness; a relaxed rapport that comes through not only in the music, but in the casual between-track chatter and laughter that further conveys the convivial atmosphere Robison envisioned for The Next Waltz.

“The music just ends up showing the way,” Robison says. “I always thought that the music coming together in the studio, and just the way a studio works, was the most fascinating part of recording. I want to let people see how cool this process is, and how much it has to do with country music, and how the kind of music that we make is tied to those traditions.”

Next Waltz sessions are documented on video, along with interviews in which Robison, speaking artist-to-artist, often draws out stories journalists don’t. The content is designed to let fans peek behind the curtain to witness the creative process, not only providing unique insights, but tightening their connection to the proverbial unbroken circle of country music.

The Country Cover Challenge, another Next Waltz facet in which fans help an artist select a cover tune to record, led to the final Bruce Robison & the Back Porch Band track, the George Jones hit, “Still Doing Time.”

From the sparse arrangement of Robison’s weary voice over Marty Muse’s steel, Brian Beken’s fiddle and bass, Chip Dolan’s keyboards and Conrad Choucroun’s drums, it builds in intensity; as Dolan adds honky-tonk piano tickles, Robison’s voice climbs higher, till he drills the down- and-out drama deep into listeners’ souls.

Robison recruited his pal Jack Ingram for “Paid My Dues,” by Jason Eady and Micky Braun (of Micky & the Motorcars). They turn it into a hilarious honky-tonker in the vein of Jerry Jeff Walker, one of Robison’s (super) heroes.

“When we got Jack in there, it really was just a party,” But it’s balanced by more thoughtful tunes such as the Braun-Robison co-write “Long Time Coming,” a gentle ballad filled with the kind of poetic imagery he attributes to another major influence, Guy Clark.

That influence actually extends far beyond songwriting; Robison’s ultimate dream for The Next Waltz is to follow in the late Guy and Susanna Clark’s footsteps by providing a safe, welcoming place for artists, a haven where musicians can socialize, inspire one another artistically and find a creative, emotional and spiritual nourishment.

Whether they’re trading tales at a barbecue or putting them on tape in the studio, it’s all about true interaction. Musicians record live together, not shunted off into iso booths, and there’s not a computer screen in sight — in fact, there are no screens at all, except on the video cameras that capture the action. There’s also little attempt to clean up imperfections; even the squeak of rewinding tape heard before the “Long Shore” count-in is part of the charm.

“The song that I cut with Jack Ingram, there’s not one overdub on it,” Robison marvels. “That sounds like a simple thing, but I’ve never done that in my entire career, where we don’t even go in and fix anything.”

“It’s all about performing the song and seeing where it takes us,” says Robison, “and having great players in a real collaborative atmosphere.”

Those players also include bassists Andrew Pressman, Dom Fisher and George Reiff; acoustic and slide guitarist Geoff Queen; fiddler/vocalist Kimber Ludicker; and keyboardist Trevor Nealon. Robison also plays acoustic guitar, as does Willis on two tracks, and Hood adds mandolin to “Sweet Dreams.”

That particular track is populated with characters Robison actually grew up with in Bandera, Texas, “this weirdo little place that had such an effect on me.”

It’s where Robison, his brother, Charlie, and their sister, Robin Ludwick, fell in love with Willie, Waylon, Hank and other country luminaries, and started writing their own tunes. Eventually, Bruce’s songs turned into hits for George Strait (“Desperately”), Tim McGraw (“Angry All the Time”) and the Dixie Chicks (“Travelin’ Soldier”). He also has recorded on his own and collaborated with Charlie and others as a songwriter, singer, guitarist, harmonica player and producer/engineer. After doing his last two albums with Willis — as well as recording their annual Christmas performance — they’re back to creating separately. But Robison found the perfect love song to record for this album (he says he’s incapable of writing one of his own): Damon Bramblett’s “The Years,” a sweet, slow waltz.

Robison wrote “Long Shore,” a soft, lovely lullaby he sings with Ludiker, after finally catching the film, O Brother, Where Art Thou. The album reflects other influences as well; Christie Hayes’ “Lake of Fire” reflects his love of the ‘70s West Coast sound embodied by Jackson Browne and Linda Ronstadt.

“I’m always collecting songs,” he says. “That’s what The Next Waltz is about, too; I’m just a fan of songs, and I love the way they come alive in the hands of the right artist.”

One visit to The Next Waltz will provide you with Jerry Jeff Walker revelations about writing “Mr. Bojangles,” an exclusive recording of Randy Rogers singing Merle Haggard’s "Misery and Gin," the Turnpike Troubadours performing "Come As You Are,” or Rodney Crowell telling Robison and Willis about how he came to own one of John Lennon's suits. He will bring this passion to the stage on May 22nd, Get your tickets now before they sell out.

And to round pout the month AND Memorial Day Weekend, the worlds most fun band 'in my humble opinion' SHINYRIBS! 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. Always full of surprises and energy, this band is the perfect way to wind up the holiday weekend. 

So wherever you find yourself in New Braunfels this month...be sure to make live music a part of the fun!

Until next time...CHEERS!