The Latest Shows We've Recorded

Monday, December 31, 2007

The Best of 2007...Artist Discoveries

In 2007, I discovered a lot of great artists I previously had no idea they no particular order.

Damon Bramblett (singer/songwriter, sounds like an other-worldly Johnny Cash)
Onion Creek Crawdaddies (bluegrass/newgrass/alt-country)
Stillwater Pioneers (jamband country, great gettin' high music...if I did that sort of thing)
Rattlesnake Deer (depression country...think Chris Knight meets the Steve Earle & the Drive-By Truckers on downers)
Reid Wilson & His So-Called Friends (classic country)
The Gunhands (classic country/classic rock)
Ryan Bingham (roadhouse blues-n-country)
Hot Like Love (stripped down rock and roll 3-piece)
AJ Roach (singer/songwriter)
Dan Reeder (bluesy singer/songwriter)
La Tampiquena (mexicana death folk)
Jason Eady & The Wayward Apostles (Texas county/Americana)

The Best of 2007...Official Releases

Studio Records:
--Top 5, in no particular order:

Danny Schmidt Little Grey Sheep
Stillwater Pioneers Let's Go Pioneering

Josh Ritter The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter
The Victrolas Drop The Needle
Corb Lund Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!

--The Best of the Rest:
Jason Eady & The Wayward Apostles Wild Eyed Serenade
Max Stalling Topaz City
Rattlesnake Deer 637 Texas Rattlesnake Rattles
Walk Wilkins and the Mystiqueros Diamonds In The Sun
Mark Jungers Silos And Smokestacks
Onion Creek Crawdaddies
Irons In The Fire
Larry Hooper
Deadstring Brothers
Starving Winter Report
Old Crow Medicine Show
Big Iron World

Live Records:
Scott Miller & The Commonwealth Reconstruction(Live at the Down Home)
The Devil Makes Three A Little Bit Faster And A Little Bit Worse

Best Record Made Pre-2007 That I Got This Year:
Onion Creek Crawdaddies Barn Burners and Bathtub Bourbon (2003)
Bob Childers Ride For The Cimarron (2006)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Introducing La Tampiquena, Mexican Death Folk?

This is the first show ever for La Tampiquena. La Tampiquena consists of Will Dupuy and Willie Pipkin (former South Austin Juggies), Matt Lahr and assorted guests including Chris Hill on drums, Marshall Hood on guitar and Warren Hood of fiddle. Their sound is something that takes elements from Doug Sahm, Townes Van Zandt and some Tejano jam band. It's solid. And as Will would say, heady.

Enjoy. More great things to come from these guys.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Stillwater Pioneers Go Pioneering For Christmas

...with a bunch of his friends at the legendary Horseshoe Lounge in ATX. This is the 4th Annual 'A Very Dango Christmas' show. The Pioneers' lineup on this day consisted of Dango, Dr. Lewis Card III, Andy 'Lunchbox' Hogdson, Scott 'The Sauce' Carlson and Kevin 'Buffalo' Hennessy. Special guests were Ace from the Freight Train Troubadors, Kevin Fox and Reid Wilson from Reid Wilson and His So-Called Friends and Reid's buddy Reid Dixon (aka 'Team Reid').

The list of covers was plentiful and included songs originally by Gary P. Nunn, David Allan Coe, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Neil Young, Merle Haggard, Old Crow Medicine Show, Billy Joe Shaver, the Georgia Satellites, Steve Earle, Leon Russell, Bob Dylan and Todd Snider. The Pioneers also did a majority of ther original catalog from the debut disc Let's Go Pioneering.

This is a very fun show. Enjoy it with friends. And, as always, enjoy responsibly.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Danny Schmidt..CD Release Show @ The Cactus Cafe

If you haven't heard Danny Schmidt's music, there is no better time than the present to get introduced. Danny, as I have mentioned before, is flat out amazing. There's not enough adjuectives in any writer's vocabulary, let alone mine, to do his music justice.

This is from his CD release show last week at the legendary Cactus Cafe in Austin. Danny plays a pleothra of songs from his new record, Little Grey Sheep, and a bunch from his yet-to-be-started-record accompanied by Carrie Elkin.

Really, check out the new, unrecorded ones, "Southland Street" (incorrectly labeled as "Had It All" below), "Grandpa Built Bridges" and "Serpentine Cycle Of Money".

Monday, December 17, 2007

South Austin Jug Band @ The Continental Club

Ladies and gentlemen, your newly minted South Austin Jug Band. This is a recent show with their new lineup which includes several new members and special guest/former Juggie Warren Hood. Gone are all the tunes that Will Dupuy wrote and sang replaced with songs from their new record 'Strange Invitation' (which is damn fine if you ask me...I know you didn't but whatever).

The songs and the performance are both first rate but the most noticable difference here is the drums on most tunes and the electric guitar. It's different...not necessarily better or worse than the way things were when they were entirely a stringed-outfit.

Anyway, have a listen for yourself and make up your own mind.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Danny Schmidt - Little Grey Sheep

Danny Schmidt's new record Little Grey Sheep dropped into my lap from the fine folks at cdbaby a few weeks ago and I've listened to it a dozen times easy.

A combination of new material and older re-worked tunes, this record is simply amazing.

You can grab mp3s of "Drawing Board", "Cliff Song" and "Adios To Tejasito" here. You can also find some of the other tracks on previous live shows on

Get this record. It's easily one of the best things I've listened to this year.

If you want to read more about the record or individual tracks, I can't say it better than Danny. So here's his synopsis of the whole thing...

And as always with Danny read and re-read the lyrics.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Josh Ritter @ The Parish 2007.10.29

Josh Ritter played at the Parish on 6th Street Monday night October 29th. My wife and I had never seen Josh and his band before and they did not disappoint. From the first 'howdy' to the end of the hour and forty-five minute set they were in great form. More amazing than that was the crowd which by my wife's estimation was very drunk (it is Halloween week in the ATX after all). They were hanging on Josh's words and rolling right along with the ebbs and flows of the performance. Raucous and loud during the right songs and quiet and respectful during the solo stuff. In fact, you can even hear the drums from the band (or PA) downstairs during "Wings". The Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen covers were fantastic.

Three great moments:
1) At the beginning "Monster Ballads" a girl yells "you're adorable." Josh responds: "so are you" and says he wants her to have a beer for him. No word on whether that happened or not.
2) A different girl screams during "Empty Hearts" to which Josh responds "I'm gonna buy you a tattoo". He goes on to sing a line of the chorus and then says "you can choose...whatever you want".
3) At the end of the show the band comes back onstage in roman hemlets (ala the one on the cover of Josh' latest record) and Josh says "these are Roman helmets but....we're gonna pretend they're pirate hats." To which several guys in the crowd respond "arrrrgggghhhhhh!!!!".

I can't say enough good things about this show. Listen and decide for yourself.

Here's ya go....enjoy.

ps, one note to would-be tapers. I didn't see this on Josh's site, but soundboard plugs aren't allowed without special permission. Make no mistake though, he's cool with recording.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mark Jungers And Friends @ Gruene Hall

Here's a nice show from Mark Jungers and the Whistling Mules from last week at Gruene Hall. There's a bunch of tracks on this show where he and the band turn on the electric guitars.

After they close the show with a rollicking cover of "Powderfinger" featuring special guest Scott Nolan, they get a few special guests to play some songs. Namely, Adam Carroll shows off two of his new tunes "Oklahoma Hustler" and "HiFi Love" before launching into a cacophonic cover of "Werewolves of London". Duncan Walters also does a pair of his own tunes before Mark rejoins the gang for a few more to close out the night.

Thoroughly enjoyable all the way around. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Recommended Listening...The

The Gougers have a new record called A Long Day For The Weathervane that just came out Tuesday (10/16). There are a few new tunes as well as a few old ones. You can download or order the new record from Anyway, get it. It's good. Until then...

Here's a nice soundboard recording of the Gougers (formerly the Sidehill Gougers) opening up for Scott Miller this past June at Stubb's. I have seen them a few times as an acoustic trio but this was my first experience seeing them with the drums (John Ross Silva) and a full-time electric guitar player (Lance Smith, formerly Hayes Carll's guitar player). I really enjoyed the lineup and the way they had reworked some of the tunes. The new tunes are also quite good.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Corb Lund in Houston Pictures

Corb Lund Live In Our Living Room

We had the pleasure to host a house concert on Sunday September 23 with very special guest Corb Lund. The turnout was somewhat smaller that we would have liked but those who did come out where very enthusiastic and appreciative of Corb's wonderful performance.

Corb was in fine form playing several tunes that we had never heard him do live including Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and the traditional "The Strawberry Roan" along with a slew of tunes he doesn't normally do with the Hurtin' Albertans like "Heavy And Leaving" and "Apocalyptic Modified Blues". On top of the varied song selection, it was fantastic to hear Corb perform these songs unaccompanied. The new songs also sounded excellent acoustic.

Corb was very gracious and hung out with everyone before the show, swapping stories and beers, for a while, in between the sets and afterwards. It was a fantastic experience the whole way around.

As I mentioned in the post about the show at the Mucky Duck, the new tunes are great. I am extra excited for the new record to come out. November 13th in Canada. Mark your calendars.

Set 1:

Set 2:

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Shooter Jennings Covering "Walk Of Life"

Shooter's new video for his cover of Dire Straits' "Walk Of Life".

Corb Lund At McGonigel's Mucky Duck

My wife and I ventured to a McGonigel's Mucky Duck in Houston to check out Corb Lund and his band the Hurtin' Albertans on Friday evening. Having never been to the Mucky Duck before I was very excited to check out this room that I had heard a whole lot about.

The Duck is a little short on space so there wasn't a lot of moving around after getting our seats, a few drinks and some snacks as a substitute for dinner. That probably sounds worse than it really is though. The sound inside the venue was fantastic. The crowd was polite and really into the whole show.

Corb and the band did two sets that infused some of the material from their new record with their great old stuff. [The new record, Horse Soldier, Horse Soldier comes out on November 13th in Canada.] We got a taste of some of those new tunes at Hayes Carll's Stingaree Music Festival in April where he played a few of them during a songswap with Roger Marin and Romi Mayes. It was great to hear those songs modified slightly and arranged for the full band presentation.

I commented to my wife that of all the bands we've paid to see over the years, Corb and the Hurtin' Albertans are the only ones who've never had a change to their lineup. That familiarity, in my humble opinion, a strong work ethic and loads of musical talent leads these guys to be one of the best 4-piece bands around, music genre not withstanding.

The highlight of the show for me was "The Hockey Song" which I had never heard performed live.
There's a new last verse to the song that comes courtesy of Mike Plume that includes mention of the hockey strike from a few years ago. It goes like this here:

Hey Ron MacLean when you save the game don't leave us hanging here
Cause those overpaid pricks with hockey sticks they make too much a year
Holy fuck just drop the puck, boys, have you got no shame
Jesus Christ, get on the ice and play the goddamn game

If they come to your town, go check 'em out. They're coming to ATX tonight and that's exactly what I'm fixin' to do. They'll be in the states for a good chunk of the next few weeks. You can check out their schedule here.

Here's the show....enjoy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

For Your Consideration...Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses

Ryan Bingham is going places in the alt-country/americana music scene. His 2nd release, Dead Horses, immediately grabbed me and I was a believer. Bingham's sound is definitely country-roadhouse-honky tonk but the songwriting is western-mystic in the vein of Ray Wylie Hubbard or Terry Allen. His voice is a rough-gravel growl that is as unique as voices come.

The bio on his myspace gives the background a and tenor for his music lot better than I could so I will just say to read that. I second every word of it.

The live shows are also fantastic. I've been very lucky to see a pair of them so far. Earlier this year at the Continental Club in Austin and this past Sunday evening at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels. Despite the oppressive heat of Gruene Hall, Ryan, dummer Matthew Smith, lap steel/mandolin/electric guitar player Corby Schaub and bass player Jeb Stuart managed to excite the sweaty Texas with some great music.

Bingham and the Dead Horses will be out touring in support of their new release for Lost Highway, Mescalito, which is largely a re-hash (maybe re-recordings?) of the music on Dead Horses. They'll be touring with the Drive-By Truckers for most of October. Truckers fans...enjoy Bingham. Truckers'd be great to see some Bingham shows floating out there in the bittorrent-o-sphere.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Corb Lund House Concert - Austin, TX (southwest) - September 23, 2007

My favorite artist.
Our house.
Sunday September 23rd, 2007, 6p.
If yer close by, drop me a line at I'll send you the details.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Stillwater Pioneers Covering Dublin Blues

Guy Clark's "Dublin Blues" is one of the greatest songs ever written. There's no debating. This is a fact. Stillwater Pioneers tried their hand at it recently at the Hole In The Wall.

Check out #5.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

For Your Consideration...Who The F Are Rattlesnake Deer?

Truth be told, I haven't any idea about these guys. There's not much in the way of a bio on their myspace site so I guess they are truly letting the music speak for them. The music, in this case, they are giving away free to download from mediafire. I've listened to this record, 637 Texas Rattlesnake Rattles, a half dozen times since my initial download and have really enjoyed it each listen.

The first 15 seconds of the first song, "Try Try Try" set the tone of futility, misery and despair for the whole record. "You can't live forever on soup tequila codine but you can try, try try".

The arrangements, though in some spots sparse, are an interesting and nice change from a lot of the overproduced alt-country stuff out there. Somewhere in the neighborhood of the Drive-By Truckers (
without all the distortion and more acoustic), Chris Knight and Steve Earle, these guys are really kicking it with a very strong back-beat, some banjo, steel, dobro and a bit of mandolin. For never having heard of these guys or even having seen them playing around Austin, this came completely out of nowhere. I hope they get on their goat and get some gigs around Austin so I can check them out.

It does appear they are hitting the road soon. This is from the lone blog entry on their myspace site. Check 'em out if they comes your way.

10th - 11th Austin TX
12th San Antonio TX
13th Lafayette LA
14th Mobile
15th Montgomery
16th Birmingham
17th Memphis
18th Nashville
19th Asheville
21st Raleigh
22nd Richmond
23rd Philadelphia
24th 25th NYC
26th - 28th RI / Boston area
29th Pittsburgh
30th Columbus

1st Ann Arbor

2nd Chicago
3rd Iowa City
4th Omaha
5th 6th Lincoln
7th Lawrence
8th Oklahoma City
9th Dallas
10th Austin

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Recommended Listening...The Stillwater

One of the finest bands in Austin is the Stillwater Pioneers. Part jam-band, part outlaw country, part singer/songwriter-fare. Already a rag-tag lot with varied musical interests, they can now add to that list an absentee singer/songwriter in Johnny Dango who is moving to the coast...Corpus Christi to be exact to be a sports reporter. Hopefully, Dango can show off his reporting chops, advance and get back to the 512 in short order. They're still going to be playing around Austin but they'll most likely be expanding to include a few shows down in Corpus, Port A., and other points south.

Their new cd "Let's Go Pioneering" is easily the best cd to find its way into my collection so far this year.

This is a great little show from the Mean Eyed Cat from August 2007 where you can hear them do a bunch of great covers including Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard, Todd Snider, Hank Williams, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt and the Georgia Satellites in addition to a slew of the tracks from their record. There's also a great cover of the NWA classic "Automobile".

Recommended tracks: 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 22, 24, 25, 27.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Mark Jungers...Work. Then Work Harder.

Remember when country music had rural content? Outside an occasional pink John Deere and a girl thinking someone's tractor is sexy, that bent on country music is gone. Gone with the days of ugly guys like Johnny Cash and Hank Williams being viable draws. That rural content has been picked up, absorbed and embraced by the Americana music scene which is wholly unknown to the music-listening public. One of the bastions of Americana music is Mark Jungers from Martindale, Texas.

I've been listening to Mark's music for two years now in various live configurations ranging from an acoustic duo with guitarist and producer Adrian Schoolar to a full-on live rock-n-roll experience with dual electric guitars, drums and stand-up bass. While the presentations vary, the musicianship and songwriting have both been first-rate, in
addition to a second-to-none level of class and a hearty respect for the audience - what little there is some nights - and a friendliness that is unparalleled.

--A Little Background--
Having roots in Minnesota, Mark's music is infused with the pervasive awareness of the growing season, and the changes and implications associated with weathering storms, floods and bad weather. Mark's music is also drenched in a blue-collar upbringing that makes you believe without a doubt the words wafting around him. Loss, remorse, sorrow, agriculture, toil, suffering, trains, trucks, tractors, dust, double-wides and a dash of irony are not at all strangers to Mark's songs.

I mention Mark's background and the basics surrounding his music not to create some sort of treatise on it but to give you some background. The other pieces of background you need to know are that Mark has a full-time gig that isn't music related and has put out four independent records since 2000.

--The Records--
His debut, 2000's Black Limousine, is a great record. Flat out. Produced by then-bass player Dave Ray, it holds well up to some great rural records like Fred Eaglesmith's Balin' or Butch Hancock's West Texas Waltzes & Dust-Blown Tractor Tunes and in certain respects eclipses them. I can't write enough good things about this record. Get it and have a listen for yourself.

2002 found Mark releasing Standing In Your Way. Some artists have trouble following up their first release with something equally as palatable but Mark seemed to avoid that trap on his sophomore release. The arrangements on Standing seem a bit less elaborate than those on Black Limousine. Standing has more a straight-forward Americana feel with drums, bass, harmonica, mandolin and acoustic guitars in slight contrast to the banjos, fiddles and steel guitars on Black Limousine. In those stripped-down arrangements Mark finds, or more accurately exhibits, the sound that will evolve into his live sound. There's no shortage of excitement in live-show staples "Conviction", "Remorse Waltz", "Unlucky" and "Sentimental Guy" and the lesser-played "Standing In Your Way" and "Be With You Tonight" tuned up for the studio. The record is punctuated by "The Critic Song" which seems to be a pretty clear diatribe on the state of popular music, and likely our culture in general.

In 2004, Mark released One For The Crow. "Just Can't Wait" starts out with a wonderful bit of fiddle that hints at a more diverse Americana feel on this record than Standing. The songwriting on Crow doesn't stray far from Mark's typical wheelhouse on tracks like "Guns And Dust", "Won't Be Long", "You Left The First Time", "We Talk", "Fences" and "Learned By Now". "Digg" really sticks out on this record as a potential theme song for that which is Mark Jungers. In addition to the Americana feel of Standing, this record has some other more experimental arrangements that include a bit of electric guitar, some fiddle, piano, organ and not quite as much acoustic guitar in certain spots in the final mix. These make for a very enjoyable listen and a pleasantly interesting change from the rootsy feel of the first two records. In the end, Crow is a very solid third record that any Americana artist would be proud to call his own. [I don't know much of the sound of this record is owed to producer Lars Goransson or to Mark and the band but the combination yields some great results.]

Mark's latest release is Silos And Smokestacks. Mark and producer Adrian Schoolar have done an excellent job making this record stand apart from the first three records. Electric guitars, banjo, steel guitar permeate this record in addition to Wes Green's mandolin and Josh Flowers' bass. The thematic elements of Silos are more exact and prescient than in previous records. The air struggle and hardship is unmistakable and Mark is presenting it as clearly, concisely and melodically as anyone. This record stands up to Chris Knight's own rural toil and struggle and pushes back on Scott Miller's Civil War and WWII strife with a gusto that I haven't heard before.

There's not a wrong place to start listening to Mark's studio music. The records all compliment each other in way that many artist's records do not without being the that similar that you might get them confused.

--The Live Shows--
You can tell a lot about somebody the first time you see them. Especially when you've never heard a solitary note of their music prior to that first listen. Well, I can anyway. My first encounter with Mark & his band was in Gruene Hall on November 17, 2005. I can't claim that was absolutely blown away by Mark and the Whistling Mules but their show did grab me. It grabbed me in a way that I could relate to down deep. I know the people who reside in those songs. I could draw that dotted line between those songs and their experiences and struggles. I liked that and I decided to come out to another show some day soon. I'm glad I did.

Here are some pictures from that show which was a co-bill with Roger Marin.

There's a lot to like about Mark's shows. There are the varying lineups that include on a given night, drums, mandolin, fiddle, slide guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitars, harmonica and bass. From night to night, Mark mixes up his setlist and doesn't get caught up in Snider-esque bits where he tells the same story every night or even plays the same 15-20 songs. He plays songs from each of his records - which are all 50+ minutes and 13+ tracks a piece - as well as several well chosen covers from the likes of Neil Young, Scott Miller, Fred Eaglesmith and Jason Ringenberg, among others.

The damnable misery of all of this and for all of his talent, Mark's following is limited. He's never had the big record contract where some company was putting a boatload of marketing money behind him. In a sense, the struggle of those people in his songs - whether directly or indirectly - is really his own. Mark is spreading the seeds of his music all over the growing fields of Texas' bars and dancehalls. Tilling the soil with show upon show all over the Hill Country. Watering it with a good-natured personality and some great music, letting word of mouth soak the soil. He's reaping the rewards of a loyal, if limited, fan following but has yet to reap any great modicum of financial success. Having a straight full-time gig outside of his music lends a certain level of credibility and believability to the tenor of Mark's music that no artist cannot beg, borrow, buy or steal other talents and desires not withstanding. That believability and cred need be earned. Through hard work. And then through some more hard work. In the end, playing music really isn't about getting paid. It's about easing your soul, maybe making a connection with a listener or two. It is because it has to be that way.

You can get all Mark's records at cdbaby - and I suggest you do so asap - or at one of his live shows which are really waaaaaay more fun than waiting at home for the mailman to stop by.

--Some Samples--
More than a dozen live recordings are available to download or stream free and clear from
Powderfinger from June 12, 2007...this is the electric version

Conviction from April 2, 2007

Lonesome LA Cowboy from April 2, 2007

--The CDs--

Friday, August 31, 2007

Onion Creek Crawdaddies...See For Yourself

Playing at a benefit....doing "Far Side Of Nowhere"

St. Patty's Day at the Gingerman doing "Wagon Wheel"

Thursday, August 30, 2007

For Your Consideration....The Onion Creek Crawdaddies (Or How I Became A Fan)

A couple of months ago my wife sampled some of the tracks from the Onion Creek Crawdaddies newest record, Irons In The Fire, at Waterloo Records. She was sufficiently impressed to buy the record. I listened to it a few times and could have taken it or left it. It didn't grab me.

Fast forward two months to July when we caught the Crawdaddies at the Dive on 5th (near Whole Foods). Again, I wasn't really blown away but the show was entertaining, the beer was cold and the weather hotter than hell. Their instrumentation & arrangements were really fantastic as were their vocals but overall the show didn't grab me at the time.

Fast forward a few weeks when I got around to listening to the recording of that show from the Dive. I must've been watching a different show because the show I heard on the recording really blew me away. I mean really. Could this have been the same show my wife and I stood there and listened to? Possibly, especially given the proclivity of d-bags who were all around us chatting in a manner that more resembled yelling over the band.

We went to see the Crawdaddies again in August at the Mean Eyed Cat. I was able to pay a lot more attention to the show this time around and really enjoyed myself again. After the show, I bought their first record, Barn Burners & Bathtub Bourbon. This cd hasn't strayed from my truck's cd player yet. I love it. There's not a weak spot on the whole record.

I am awful at band comparisons mostly because I think that there's always some huge gap and something missing from said comparison. However, I'll give it a shot here but only as long as you understand that these guys are unique unto themselves and deserve a listen. If you like the instrumentation and musicianship of the Gourds absent Jimmy Smith's and Kev Russell's straight-outta-left-field lyrics and you like the harmonies of the South Austin Jug Band with a touch of Splitlip Rayfield, these guys are for you.

The moral to this story is that sometimes liking a band isn't immediate even if it should be. Sometimes it takes going to multiple shows, buying multiple records and listening to the shows again. It's what I do.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the guys in the band. Very friendly lot...

Ryan Hunter Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Brian Reed Harmonica, Drums, Vocals
Brink Melton Bass, Vocals

Jay Harward Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals

Trent Shepherd Mandolin, Fiddle, Vocals

Get out there and support these guys. Buy a record. Go to a show.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Real First Post....Danny Schmidt

(for fans on Dylan & Townes Van Zandt)

Chances are you have never heard of Danny Schmidt. Danny is an Austin-based singer songwriter. Singer/songwriter doesn't begin to describe Danny's immense talent as a songwriter. "Poet" is a much better description of what Danny does. I am convinced that had music not called him, poetry in its purest form would have and he could almost certainly make a living at it.

Danny's songs aren't simple. And they aren't obvious. You might have to dust off your musical-interpretation/appreciation hat to fully realize Danny's talent. I realize comparing anyone's songwriting to Bob Dylan's is musical sacrilege, but I think here it's fair. There's a lot of gravity to Danny's writing that manifests itself in songs that reflect human emotions and the human conditions without in any way being preachy.

"Stained Glass" is a song that people love to deconstruct and I am no exception. Here's the climax to the song where the omniscient narrator runs through a glut of situations that everyone comes across on a regular basis....

There was every fearful smile, there was every joyful tear
There was each and every choice that leads from every there to here
There was every cosy stranger and every awkward friend
And there was every perfect night that’s left initials in the sand
There was every day that filled so full the weeks would float away
And there was all those days spent wondering what to do with all those days
There was every lie that ever saved the truth from being shamed
And every secret you could ever trust a friend to hide away
There was the fortune of discovering a new face you might adore
And the thrill of coming home to find her clothes upon the floor
And the prideful immortality of children in the home
That the storm can’t grind the mountain down, it can only shift the stones
And there was everything your mouth says that your lips don’t understand
And every shape inside your head you can’t carve with your hands
And every slice of glass revealed another slice of life
Emblazened imperfections in a perfect stream of light
It all flooded through the window like rapids made of fire
And then God rode through on sunshine and sat down cause he was tired
He was tired.

Easily, one of my favorite songs. Outside of Dylan and TVZ, easily one of the deepest, most profound works in any writer's cannon. Have a listen here.

"Stained Glass" is not alone in Danny's catalog. Many others like "Esmee by The River", "Cleopatra", "Serpentine Cycle Of Money", "Make Right The Time" and "Two Guitars On The Sofa" are there to keep "Stained Glass" company.

On top of his tremendous musical acumen, Danny is one helluva guy. But, you can find out for yourself when you go out to see him somewhere, sometime soon.

Danny's Schedule:

Cactus Cafe show from June 2007:
A House Concert from 2007:
Another House Concert from 2006:

The First Post...Why We're Here

A lot of music goes unnoticed. Well, I guess it's more apt to say that MOST music goes unnoticed. Lack of press coverage, lack of radio play, lack of good terrestrial radio stations and a seeming lack of commercial viability all contribute to this situation. These are especially true of the genres of non-commercial country, folk, alt-country, americana, alt-rock and texas-music.

There are other sites, blogs and columns out there where people are covering the Texas music scene or the Austin music scene in general but these only begin to scratch the surface of what's out there. We want to throw back the storm-cellar door and wade through all the music that's waiting in the basement to be heard by you.

We're here to talk about those guys and gals who aren't being featured on galleywinter or lonestarmusic, who aren't getting the shows at Kerrville or Old Settlers and who aren't getting the big shows opening for the Old 97s or the Gourds.

We're also here to talk about live recordings. We record shows quite a bit..ranging from artists without record deals (and without actual records), playing for free in the dives of the Hill Country, all the way up to the likes of Robert Earl Keen, Todd Snider and Scott Miller. There's no dearth of live recordings out there available free and clear for everyone to listen to and download. No userid, no password and no decoder ring required. We'll talk about those recordings.

We're still working out how this will work or how often but we'll try to bang something out on a pretty regular basis.

And with that said...onto the first post....

Monday, March 19, 2007

SxSW 2007, My Story

(Get comfy…Ron, you might want to print this out and head to the john)

This past week was the big South By Southwest music and film festival here in Austin. This typically entails magazines and record labels coming to town, putting on free shows, giving away free stuff and trying to hype their acts. In addition, pretty much every restaurant, bar and club also has a show of some sort. Some are free…some are a couple of bucks. I didn’t get into the swing of things until Thursday evening mostly because of work but I also didn’t want to die by Friday night (sounds like a Buffett song). Here’s a non-brief description of the activities that comprised my SXSW.

Thursday March 15th
Worked all day and was getting texts from Chad about the goings on at Cedar Street Courtyard (free Dewars of which Chad got his fill) encouraging me to come. I’m kinda glad I didn’t because I think Chad checked out mid-text message. I started things off at the Shoal Creek Saloon where the Gunhands and Reid Wilson and His So-Called Friends usually play a rockin’ country show every other Thursday. On this evening, Reid and the gang were out of commission for whatever reason and were replaced by the Stillwater Pioneers. The Pioneers started things off which a bunch of great originals with and some solid covers of Steve Earle (Ben McCullough), Todd Snider (Can’t Complain), Dylan, TVZ and the Rolling Stones (among others). The Gunhands followed with their brand of rockin’ country. The highlight was a cover of Roger Alan Wade’s “If You’re Gonna Be Dumb, You Gotta Be Tough” that they modified to fit their number one fan, Gunner, “If You’re Gonna Be Gunner, You Gotta Be Tough”. As Gunner says “Hoawnoawpackinpaws!” They also covered John Prine “Onomatopoeia”. Good night of music.

Friday March 16th
I met up with Chad shortly after noon to chow down on some Rudy’s and to watch a little basketball at his RV before heading to Yard Dog Art Gallery on South Congress for the Bloodshot Records party. We got to Yard Dog around 1p and immediately found the line for free PBR. What a treat. As if I need to tell any of you that. The first act at Yard Dog was Clem Snide whose set we caught the end of. From there, Jon Rauhouse played some 1940s tiki lounge music with a random, random group of people. Then came a crazy Irish guy who looked like the illegitimate son of Dave Attell and Mark Linn-Baker (cousin Larry Appleton) who liked to quote Shakespeare and generally stir the political shit (I’m sure half the people in attendance didn’t know what to think…Chad and I found it thoroughly entertaining). Mark Pickerel was next. He was a decent singer/songwriter. Not much memorable. The next band that we actually saw was The Deadstring Brothers who were a mix of early 70s Stones and the Black Crows (if there was female singer in the band). I really enjoyed them and bought their record. It’ll be in the player by the time I finish this email.

We didn’t stick around much longer after that. Chad was going to see Public Enemy at Auditorium Shores and I was off to grab some pizza at Home Slice and then head down to Hotel San Jose for the tail end of Dale Watson and then Ryan Bingham’s set.

I got down to Hotel San Jose just in time to see the entirety of Dale Watson’s set (their 3rd set of the day at various locations) and they really rocked as always. Bingham was next and well, I love his record. Probably too much. Anyway, I had very high expectations. And he started playing and just flat out brought it. He played maybe 4 songs off the record and a bunch of other what seemed to be original tunes including my favorite as yet unrecorded tune “Hard Times”. From there and after buying a Bingham t-shirt, I headed back down South Congress to Chad’s RV park…I figured the walk would do me good.

Between the walk south and sitting on the tailgate of my truck, it was an hour or so until I made down to Sam’s Town Point in time to see a couple of bands whose name I can’t quite recall at the moment. I was excited to hear that Folk Uke would be playing a short set. Let’s just say that they were a pair of waifish female singers playing very softly who weren’t afraid to drop f-bombs during their tunes. Good times. Next up was Kev Russell, lead singer of the Gourds. He played 30 minutes solo and then was joined by an all-star-ish band including Tony Gilkyson who was easily the best guitar player I saw all day. The all-star band mixed it up. Every time Kev’s turn came around, he was playing some Waylon or Wille and quite frankly it was super dooper. Mark and Joy were kind enough to take me home because by this point I had misplaced my ability to operate a motor vehicle. Good times…and the next day was St. Patty’s Day. Oh boy.

Saturday March 17th
It was a little rough getting going on Saturday. I can’t figure out why but I suspect free PBR might have had something to do with it. I met Chad, Brad and Gwen at the greatest bar in the galaxy, the Mean Eyed Cat. The band was the Polyphonic Spree. Very high energy….everyone in the 86 piece band was dressed like they were extras in the movie version of Pink Floyd’s the Wall. Good times. At the end, their kettle-drummer (they also had a wind chime player) took his kettle drum to the middle of the crowd and passed out drum sticks so the crowd could get in on the action. It was cool but I couldn’t help the nagging feeling that scene was like something I saw in U2 video from the 80s or something. “I award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul.” The beer was Pearl and lordy was it ever free. I stuck around there long enough to have a couple of free beers (the tastiest kind) and to buy 4 “Kiss Me I’m Mean” St. Patty’s day shirts for various drinking enthusiasts.

Next up was Jon Green’s house concert featuring several excellent songwriters including Sam Baker and Danny Schmidt. When I arrived Nels Andrews was playing to a very enthusiastic crowd. I really liked a few of his songs but I didn’t buy his cd because I had to start rationing my money because my total SXSW music/beer/t-shirt/fun tab to the moment was roughly $8,312. Nels did do us the courtesy of detailing the Casey Jones Museum in Jackson, Tennessee (HOW DID WE NEVER STOP HERE?) and also explaining the difference between a hobo, a tramp and a bum.

Hobo – one work works and wanders
Tramp – one who dreams and wanders
Bum – one who drinks and wanders

Next up was Danny Schmidt who played 4 great tunes (“Stained Glass”, “This Too Shall Pass”, “Wrap Me Up In Austin”, “Spring In Austin Texas”) before turning it over to a friend he had in town whose name I never caught. She really had some pipes but only got to do one song. After that was Kris Delmhorst followed by AJ Roach who I really enjoyed (I was actually about to leave before AJ’s set but then he pulled out a banjo and I somehow felt obligated to stay). Anyway, I really liked his set and bought his cd, which I just listened to (2003’s Dogwood Winter) record which was very good and will be back in my player shortly.

Between my hangover and general exhaustion from the previous 36 hours, I was d-u-n done by the time I left Jon’s show (sadly before Sam Baker played). But there was one more show I had to check out. The Palo Dura Records Beer & BBQ showcase at the Broken Spoke. Sadly, only the bbq was free (which brings the day’s total to three events that featured free bbq…1….2….3….4….”God Bless Texas”). First up at the Spoke (which by the by, I respect the hell out of as a Texas institution but they could really afford to spend some money on upkeep….no seriously….they could) was Walt Wilkins and the Mystiqueros (mysti-care-o’s). I hadn’t seen Walt with this lineup before but there put on a strong performance featuring mostly original tunes (including my favorite of Walt’s “Ramblers”) and a cover of the “The Shape I’m In” by the Band which by that point was oddly appropriate. After the Mystiqueros was Trent Summar and the New Row Mob. I’ve been a big fan of Trent’s since 2001 when the “Paint Your Name In Purple” song was all over the place. He took his good sweet time in putting out a followup to that record which came out last year and was equally as good. Again, just like the Bingham show on Friday, I had high hopes for this band’s performance. They came out and kicked it old school. I can’t wait until they come back again. The Derailers were last but I have absolutely zero Derailers love and decided it would be best to head for the house and call it a very successful SXSW.

Sunday March 18th
Exhausted. I couldn’t bare the thought of any more live bands or even, gasp, free beer. OK….that’s not true. I wanted to go out but I physically couldn’t…much in the same manner that Joe Elliott won’t be in attendance at Irwin’s bachelor party in May. So, Kim and I went down to Barton Creek and hiked around for a while trying to avoid any run-ins with snakes, dogs and small children. And that seemed like a good way to end a great weekend. Well, that and UT losing to USC yesterday.

Here’s a quick review of the records I bought.
Dead String Brothers Starving Winter Report – really, really good stuff….more Crowes than Stones but more country than rock which daddy likely. Was that a banjo I just heard? Why yes it was.

AJ Roach Dogwood Winter – folky singer/songwriter spinning tales about himself and his family. Really enjoyable for fans of older acoustic Steve Earle and that ilk (think “Copperhead Road” and “Texas Eagle” with less production).

Johnny Danjo and the Stillwater Pioneers Let’s Go Pioneering – somewhat melancholy, kinda downbeat, somber country with lots of pedal steel, fiddle and mandolin and just a touch of Gram Parsons. This would be a great record for getting high…if I did that sort of thing. “Trouble All My Life” is just super. Actually, it’s got a bit of Neil Young circa Harvest Moon to it, which was the last Neil Young record I bought, 16 years ago. Is that guy still alive? I kid…really.

Best Text Message Received:
8:11P Sat Mar 17 “I ABOUT POINT 23” from… guessed it….Mr. Ron Shebek. (Yes, that quote is accurate and verb-less.)

PS, I also wanted to send a shout out to Storrs who apparently was in Baudette, MN (which is just 10 minutes south of Santa’s sweatshop) in a hungoverless-state this weekend for work. Not exactly Boston, Austin, Columbus, Cleveage or Tittsburgh…I’m sure he made the most of it though. Who knew there was cell coverage in Baudette?

PPS, 24 days until Stingaree. Needless to say, I’m excited.