Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reckless Kelly - Wicked Twisted Road

Reckless Kelly is an Austin, Texas based Red Dirt band. The band was formed in Bend, Oregon, but moved to Austin in January 1997. Their name was inspired by Australian bank robber Ned Kelly.

Led by brothers Willy (vocals/guitar) and Cody Braun (vocals/fiddle/mandolin/harmonica), alternative country-rock outfit Reckless Kelly formed in Bend, Oregon, before relocating to Austin, Texas, in January 1997 (with a brief interlude in Bend, Oregon). The Brauns had previously toured with their father in Muzzie Braun & the Boys, a Western swing band, and were joined in their own group by lead guitarist Casey Pollock, bassist Chris Schelske, and drummer Jay Nazz.

Reckless Kelly's debut album, Millican, appeared in 1998; Acoustic: Live at Stubb's and The Day both followed two years later, after which David Abeyta replaced Pollock on lead guitar. Under the Table and Above the Sun from 2003 began the band's relationship with the high-profile Sugar Hill label and won the hearts of the music press and honky tonkin' legend Joe Ely, who sang the band's praises in interviews. Wicked Twisted Road was released in 2005, and the next year the live album Reckless Kelly Was Here captured the band's stage presence. Bulletproof was released in the summer of 2008 on a new label, Yep Roc Records, and includes tracks critical of and reflecting on recent sociopolitical unfoldings, such as the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina. The band regularly returns to Austin to play before capacity crowds at venues like Nutty Brown Cafe & Amphitheatre.

Reckless Kelly Website

Wicked Twisted Road:

My first love was a wicked twisted road
I hit the million mile mark at seventeen years old
I never saw the rainbow much less a pot of gold
yeah my first love was a wicked twisted road

my first love was a castle in the sky
I never thought I'd make it 'till I had the guts to try
and I sat up in my tower while the whole world passed me by
yeah my first love was a castle in the sky

my first love was a fearless drive in rain
scared to death I thought I'd never see her face again
they say god was crying so I guess he felt my pain
yeah my first love was a fearless drive in rain

my first love was a wild sinful night
I ran out with the big dogs guess I had more bark then bite
even thought I won the battle in the end I lost the fight
yeah my first love was a wild sinful night

my first love was an angry painful song
I wanted one so bad I went and did everything wrong
a lesson in reality would come before too long
yeah my first love was an angry painful song

My first love was a wicked twisted road
I hit the million mile mark at seventeen years old
I never saw the rainbow much less a pot of gold
yeah my first love was a wicked twisted road

my first love was a wicked twisted road

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lyle Lovett - Natural forces

Cover of Cover of Natural Forces

Buy Natural Forces

Lyle Pearce Lovett (born November 1, 1957) is an American singer-songwriter and actor. Active since 1980, he has recorded thirteen albums and released 21 singles to date, including his highest entry, the #10 chart hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, "Cowboy Man". Lovett has won four Grammy Awards, including Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Album. His most recent, It's Not Big It's Large was released in 2007, where it debuted and peaked at #2 on the Top Country Albums chart. A new studio album, Natural Forces, was released on October 20, 2009 by Lost Highway Records.

Lovett was born in the unincorporated area of Klein, Harris County (suburban Houston), Texas, the son of William and Bernell (née Klein) Lovett, a marketing executive and training specialist, respectively. Lovett attended Texas A&M University, where he studied German and journalism, and lived next door to Robert Earl Keen.

Lovett's music career began as a songwriter, but he soon signed with MCA Records in 1986 and released his eponymous debut album. While typically associated with thecountry genre, Lovett's compositions often incorporate folk, swing, blues, jazz and gospel music as well as more traditional country & Western styling. He has won fourGrammy Awards, including Best Country Album (1996 for The Road to Ensenada), Best Country Duo/Group with Vocal (1994 for "Blues For Dixie" with the Texas swing group Asleep at the Wheel), Best Pop Vocal Collaboration (1994 for "Funny How Time Slips Away" with Al Green) and Best Country Male Vocal (1989) for Lyle Lovett and His Large Band).

Lyle Lovett Official Website

Natural Forces is a stark and spare cowboy lament:

I rode across the great high plain
Under the scorchin' sun and thru the drivin' rain
An' when I set my sights on the mountains high
I bid my former life goodbye.

An' so thank you ma'am, I must decline
For it's on my steed I will rely
An' I've learned to need the open sky
I'm subject to the natural forces
Home is where my horse is.

We loaded up in Buffalo
Took 90s out down to Ohio
On any Western Frisco-bound
An' when I git there I'll turn back around

An' so thank you ma'am, I must decline
For it's on these eighteen wheels I ride
An' I've learned to need the western sky
I'm subject to the natural forces
Home is where my horse is.

And ev'ry year they come to town
An' then drag em on right in the round
And Mr Bradley calls the score
And the cowboy there who tried for more

So thank you ma'am, I must decline
For it's on my three-year-old I ride
An' I've spin an' run an' stopped an' slide
I'm subject to the natural forces
Home is where my horse is.

The Cherokee an' the Chickasaw
Creek Seminole an' the old Chocktaw
"We volunteered to move!" they say
"And we'll understand, come Judgement Day".

An' so thank you ma'am, I must decline
For it's on this trail of tears I ride
An' I've done the road, the homeless sky
Sometimes at night I hear their voices
Home is where my horse is.

Now as I sit here safe at home
With a cold Coors Lite an' the TV on
All the sacrifice and the death and woe
Lord I pray that I'm worth fighting for

An' so thank you ma'am, I must decline
For it's on my RPG I ride
Till Earth an' hell are satisfied
I'm subject to the natural forces
Sometimes at night I hear their voices
Home is where my horse is.
Home is where my horse is.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Billy Joe Shaver - Black Rose

Billy Joe Shaver Official Website

Billy Joe Shaver (born August 16, 1939 in Corsicana, Texas) is an American country music singer and songwriter. Shaver's 1973 album Old Five and Dimers Like Me is a classic in the outlaw country genre.

Shaver was raised by his mother, Victory Watson Shaver, after his father Virgil left the family before he was born. Until he was 12, he spent a great deal of time with his grandmother in Corsicana, Texas so that his mother could work in Waco. He sometimes accompanied his mother to her job at a local nightclub, where he began to be exposed to country music.

Shaver's mother remarried about the time that his grandmother died, so he and his older sister Patricia moved in with their mother and new stepfather. Shaver left school after the eighth grade to help his uncles pick cotton, but occasionally returned to school to play sports.

Shaver joined the U.S. Navy on his seventeenth birthday. Upon his discharge, he worked a series of dead-end jobs, including trying to be a rodeo cowboy. About this time, Shaver met and married Brenda Joyce Tindell. They had one son, John Edwin, known as Eddy, who was born in 1962. The two divorced and remarried several times.

Shaver took a job at a lumber mill to make ends meet. One day his right hand (his dominant hand) became caught in the machinery, and he lost the better part of two fingers and contracted a serious infection. He eventually recovered, and taught himself to play the guitar without those missing fingers.

Shaver decided that life was too short to do something he didn't enjoy, so he set out one day to hitchhike to L.A.. He couldn't get a ride west, and ended up accompanying a man who dropped him off just outside of Memphis, Tennessee. The next ride brought him to Nashville, where he found a job as a songwriter for $50/week. His work came to the attention of Waylon Jennings, who filled most of his album Honky Tonk Heroes with Shaver's songs. Other artists, including Elvis Presley and Kris Kristofferson, began to record Shaver's music. This led to his own record deal.
Unfortunately for Shaver, the first few recording companies he signed with soon folded. He was never able to gain widespread recognition as a singer, although he never stopped recording his own music. On his records, he has been accompanied by other major rock and country music musicians like Willie Nelson, Nanci Griffith, Chuck Leavell and Dickey Betts (of the Allman Brothers), Charlie Daniels, Flaco Jiménez, and Al Kooper.

After losing his wife, Brenda, and his mother to cancer in 1999, Shaver lost his son and longtime guitarist Eddy, who died at age 38 of a heroin overdose on December 31, 2000. Shaver nearly died himself the following year when he had a heart attack on stage during an Independence Day show at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas. After successful heart surgery, Billy Joe came back to release a new album entitled Freedom's Child in 2002.
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Guy Clark - The Guitar

Guy Clark: Master Songwrite:

"Songwriting legend Guy Clark doesn't merely compose songs; he projects images and characters with the kind of hands-on care and respect of a literary master. Clark works slowly and with strict attention to detail, and has produced an impressive collection of timeless gems, leaving very little waste behind. The emotional level of his work, as well as the admiration and esteem of his peers, consistently transcends sales figures and musical genres. Using everyday language to construct extraordinary songs for more than 35 years, Clark continues to be the type of songwriter whom young artists study and seasoned writers, as well discriminating listeners, revere.

Born in Monahans, Texas, on November 6, 1941, Clark grew up in a home where the gift of a pocketknife was a rite of passage and poetry was read aloud. At age 16 he moved to Rockport, on the Texas Gulf Coast. Instructed by his father's law partner, he learned to play on a $12 Mexican guitar and the first songs he learned were mostly in Spanish.

Moving to Houston, Clark began his career during the "folk scare" of the 1960s. Fascinated by Texas bluesTownes Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker. "It was pretty 'Bob Dylan' in the beginning," Clark said. "Nobody was really writing." Eventually, Clark would draw on these roots to firebrand his own fiddle-friendly and bluesy folk music, see it embraced as country and emerge as a songwriting icon for connoisseurs of the art..."
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Los Lonely Boys - Heaven

Los Lonely Boys is a Grammy Award-winning rock band from San Angelo, Texas. They play a style of music which they dub as Texican Rock n' Roll, combining elements of rock and roll, blues, soul, country, and Tejano.

The band consists of three brothers, Henry (guitar, vocals), Jojo (bass guitar, vocals), and Ringo (drums, vocals). They follow the tradition of their father, Ringo Garza Sr., who formed a band with his brothers called The Falcones. The Falcones played conjunto music in southern Texas during the 70s and 80s. To date, Los Lonely Boys has released three studio albums and a live album, all on the Epic Records label. Their debut single, "Heaven", was a Number One hit on the Billboard adult contemporary chart and reached the Top 40Billboard Hot 100 in 2004. on the

The three brothers emerged as a group in Nashville in the 1990s. After moving back to their home state of Texas they recorded an album in 2003 in Austin at Willie Nelson's Pedernales recording studio. The album was initially released by Or Music and later acquired by Epic Records for distribution in March 2004. The group's single, "Heaven", reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #16 on the Billboard Hot 100, also crossing over even to the Hot Country Songs chart, where it peaked at #46. "Heaven" was featured in Guitar Hero On Tour. In 2005 the song won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. Other songs nominated for Grammys include "More Than Love" and "Onda", both in 2006.

Los Lonely Boys Website

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Band of Heathens - Hallelujah

The Band of Heathens are an Americana band from Austin, Texas.

The three principal songwriters - Colin Brooks, Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist shared the bill at Momo's, an Austin club. Originally, each singer/songwriter performed his own set, however they eventually started sharing the stage, and collaborating together with bassist Seth Whitney. The Wednesday night series was billed as "The Good Time Supper Club". A misprint in a local paper billed the act as "The Heathens." In 2007, drummer John Chipman joined the band. Also notable is a version of "Aint No More Cane",a traditional prison work song of the American south. The Austin, Texas-based Band of Heathens included their distinctive arrangement of the old song on their "Live at Momo's" album. 

Band of Heathens Website  

Band of Heathens MySpace Page

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Steve Earle - Copperhead Road

Copperhead Road album coverImage via Wikipedia
Steve Earle, 1988:

"well my name's John Lee Pettimore
same as my daddy and his daddy before,
you hardly ever saw grandaddy down here
he only come to town about twice a year,
he'd buy a hundred pound a yeast and some copper line everybody knew that he made moonshine
now the revenue man wanted grandaddy bad,
headed up the holler with everything he had,
its before my time but i've been told, he never come back from copperhead road

now daddy ran the whiskey in a big black dodge,
bought it at an auction at the masons lodge
johnson county sherif painted on the side
just shot a coat of primer and they looked inside
well him and my uncle tore that engine down
i still remember that rumbling sound
then the sheriff came round in the middle of the night,
heard momma crying knew somethen wasn't right
he was headed down to knoxville with the weekly load
you could smell the whiskey burning down copperhead road

i volunteered for the army on my birthday
they draft the white trash first round here anyway,
i done 2 tours of duty in vietnam
i came home with a brand new plan,
i took the seed from columbia and mexico
just plant it at the holler down copperhead road.
now the DEA's got a chopper in the air, i wake up screaming like i'm back over there,
i learned a thing or two from charlie dont ya know,
you better stay away from copperhead road

copperhead road
copperhead road
copperhead road"

Steve Earle Official Website
Buy Copperhead Road

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rodney Crowell - Earthbound

Rodney Crowell

Rodney Crowell (born August 7, 1950) is a Grammy Award-winning musician, known primarily for his work as a singer and songwriter in country music.

He is considered to be part of both the alternative country and the mainstream country music camps. He is a contemporary of Steve Earle and, like Earle, was also influenced by the songwriting greats Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. Crowell played guitar and sang for three years in Emmylou Harris' "Hot Band".

Crowell was born August 7, 1950 in Houston, Texas to James Walter Crowell and Addie Cauzette Willoughby. He had come from a musical family, with one grandfather being a church choir leader and the other a bluegrass banjo player. His grandmother played guitar and his father sang semi-professionally at bars and Honky tonks. At age 11, he starting playing drums in his father's band. In his teen years, he played in various garage rock bands in Houston performing hits of the day mixed with a few country numbers.

After producing Rosanne Cash's highly successful Rhythm & Romance, Crowell signed to Columbia Records in 1986. His first album for that label Street Language was co-produced with Booker T. Jones and featured a blend of Soul and country music. The album, however, failed to produce any chart activity.

Although best known as a songwriter and alternative country artist, Crowell enjoyed mainstream popularity during the late 1980s and early 1990s. His critically acclaimed album, 1988's Diamonds & Dirt, produced five consecutive No. 1 hits during a 17-month span in 1988 and 1989: "It's Such a Small World" (a duet with Cash), "I Couldn't Leave You If I Tried," "She's Crazy for Leaving," "After All This Time" and "Above and Beyond" (a cover of Buck Owens' 1962 hit). His follow-up album, 1989's Keys to the Highway, produced two top 5 hits in 1990, which were "Many a Long and Lonesome Highway" and "If Looks Could Kill."

As Crowell's popularity in hit-radio country music faded, he continued his prolific songwriting. After 1992's Life Is Messy, he left Columbia Records and signed to MCA Records where he released two more albums.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lightnin' Hopkins - Mojo Hand

Lightnin' Hopkins

Sam "Lightnin’" Hopkins (March 15, 1912 — January 30, 1982 was a country blues guitarist, from Houston, Texas, United States. Born in Centerville, Texas, Hopkins' childhood was immersed in the sounds of the blues and he developed a deeper appreciation at the age of 8 when he met Blind Lemon Jefferson at a church picnic in Buffalo, Texas. That day, Hopkins felt the blues was "in him" and went on to learn from his older (somewhat distant) cousin, country blues singer Alger "Texas" Alexander. Hopkins began accompanying Blind Lemon Jefferson on guitar in informal church gatherings. Jefferson supposedly never let anyone play with him except for young Hopkins, who learned much from and was influenced greatly by Blind Lemon Jefferson thanks to these gatherings. In the mid 1930s, Hopkins was sent to Houston County Prison Farm for an unknown offense. In the late 1930s Hopkins moved to Houston with Alexander in an unsuccessful attempt to break into the music scene there. By the early 1940s he was back in Centerville working as a farm hand.

Hopkins took a second shot at Houston in 1946. While singing on Dowling St. in Houston's Third Ward (which would become his home base) he was discovered by Lola Anne Cullum from the Los Angeles based record label, Aladdin Records. She convinced Hopkins to travel to L.A. where he accompanied pianist Wilson Smith. The duo recorded twelve tracks in their first sessions in 1946. An Aladdin Records executive decided the pair needed more dynamism in their names and dubbed Hopkins "Lightnin'" and Wilson "Thunder".

Hopkins recorded more sides for Aladdin in 1947 but soon grew homesick. He returned to Houston and began recording for the Gold Star Records label. During the late 40s and 1950s Hopkins rarely performed outside Texas. However, he recorded prolifically. Occasionally traveling to the Mid-West and Eastern United States for recording sessions and concert appearances. It has been estimated that he recorded between 800 and 1000 songs during his career. He performed regularly at clubs in and around Houston, particularly in Dowling St. where he had first been discovered. He recorded his hits "T-Model Blues" and "Tim Moore's Farm" at SugarHill Recording Studios in Houston. By the mid to late 1950s his prodigious output of quality recordings had gained him a following among African Americans and blues music aficionados.

In 1959 Hopkins was contacted by folklorist Mack McCormick who hoped to bring him to the attention of the broader musical audience which was caught up in the folk revival. McCormack presented Hopkins to integrated audiences first in Houston and then in California. Hopkins debuted at Carnegie Hall on October 14, 1960 appearing alongside Joan Baez and Pete Seeger performing the spiritual Oh, Mary Don’t You Weep. In 1960, he signed to Tradition Records. Solid recordings followed including his masterpiece song "Mojo Hand" in 1960.

By the early 1960s Lightnin' Hopkins reputation as one of the most compelling blues performers was cemented. He had finally earned the success and recognition which were overdue. In 1968, Hopkins recorded the album Free Form Patterns backed by the rhythm section of psychedelic rock band the 13th Floor Elevators. Through the 1960s and into the 1970s Hopkins released one or sometimes two albums a year and toured, playing at major folk festivals and at folk clubs and on college campuses in the U.S. and internationally. He traveled widely in the United States, and overcame his fear of flying to join the 1964 American Folk Blues Festival; visit Germany and the Netherlands 13 years later; and play a six-city tour of Japan in 1978.

Filmmaker Les Blank captured the Texas troubadour's informal lifestyle most vividly in his acclaimed 1967 documentary, The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins.

Houston's poet-in-residence for 35 years, Hopkins recorded more albums than any other bluesman.

Hopkins died of cancer in Houston in 1982.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Asleep at the Wheel - Way Down Texas Way

Asleep at the Wheel carries on the tradition of western swing.

Since forming in 1970 in Paw Paw, W. Va., Asleep at the Wheel has been the leader in keeping western swing – a danceable amalgam of country, jazz, pop, and blues – alive. Lead by deep-voiced mainstay Ray Benson, the local juggernaut has shifted lineups considerably over the years, and more than 80 musicians have passed through it. In 1971, Benson, joined by steel guitarist Lucky Oceans, rhythm guitarist Leroy Preston, and vocalist Chris O'Connell, moved to San Francisco, where the band added pianist Floyd Domino and strengthened an alliance with touring partners Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen. 1973 brought their debut, Comin’ Right at Ya, on United Artists. The following year, at the suggestion of Willie Nelson, the Wheel relocated to Austin. Switching to Epic Records resulted in a self-titled release and some action on the country charts with a remake of Louis Jordan's "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie.” Another label jump, this time to Capitol, produced 1975's Texas Gold, a country Top 10 album and their only Top 10 hit on the country singles charts, "The Letter That Johnny Walker Read." In 1980, Chris O’Connell and Lucky Oceans left the band, and after some financial difficulties in the early part of the decade, Benson and friends signed to Dot with little success. Returning to Epic, 1987’s 10 brought them back to the Top 20 of the country album charts and, with “House of Blue Lights,” the singles charts. In 1990, a major personnel shift brought steel guitarist/Dobroist Cindy Cashdollar onboard. 1993’s A Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys and 1999’s Ride With Bobbrought western swing to a new audience and national acclaim and recognition to the band. The latter, which featured fiddler Jason Roberts who is now an important cog in the Wheel along with vocalist Elizabeth McQueen, was adapted for the stage and has been played to audiences nationwide. – Jim Caligiuri

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Monday, December 7, 2009

James McMurtry - Levelland

Folk musician James McMurtry at the South by S...Image via Wikipedia

James L. McMurtry, along with his Austin-based band, James McMurtry & The Heartless Bastards, is a self-described “rock & roots” guitarist and singer-songwriter, drawing on elements of , and old-fashioned .

The son of novelist Larry McMurtry, James was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1962, and grew up in Virginia. James McMurtry’s seventh studio album,
Childish Things, was released on Compadre Records in the fall of 2005. As writer L.E.Brady notes, “The album includes McMurtry’s statement on American decline - We Can’t Make It Here - his most unabashedly political number yet.”

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Los #3 Dinners - Chingadera

The lowdown on Los #3 Dinners

Los #3 Dinners are a mainstay of San Antonio’s diverse music scene. The story begins in 1979 with the band's first incarnation, Los #2 Dinners. After years of pounding the SA club scene, The Dinners called it quits in order to pursue personal interests in the early 1990s. Shortly after, band leader “Lenny” Eric Friedland, guitarist Frank Karpienski, bassist Bart Nichols, and blues musician/childhood friend Joe Shortt formed the short-lived blues band "The Pralines." As word of the Pralines spread around town, a renewed interest in the old #2 Dinners material emerged. In 1995, The Prailines changed their name to Los #3 Dinners after the addition of drummer Jake Perales. Thus, Los #3 Dinners was born!

The sound of Los Number #3 Dinners is a high-energy mix of guitar-driven garage rock, South Texas soul, surf-instrumental, and the blues. This ain’t no Austin band...todo S.A. vato to the max. These guys are busy playing the soundtrack to your weekend.
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ray Wylie Hubbard - Snake Farm

Ray Wylie Hubbard in Austin, TexasImage via Wikipedia

Ray Wylie Hubbard

It wasn’t that long ago that Ray Wylie Hubbard allowed to an acquaintance that he wouldn’t mind being a hybrid of Guy Clark and John Lee Hooker. Now, I’m no seer or mystic, but my instincts suggest that wish came true. And then some. A. Enlightenment, B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is no C) confirms it.

Ray Wylie Hubbard writes the kind of songs that make you want to ride along no matter where he’s going, because you know it’s gonna get strange somewhere along the way. The references to Muddy Waters being as deep as William Blake (“I really do believe it,’’ Ray says) and lipstick pickups, resonator slides, the dreams of drunken poets, deceased call girls, opium, wasp’s nests, clouds growing a tail, his ability to segue seamlessly from primal exclamations of carnal lust into songs about salvation without pausing for irony; and a craftsmanship that manages to rhyme mescaline and gasoline and Volkswagen with dragon while painting vivid portraits of characters both real and unreal, all evoke a sense of place that is larger than life but in no way made up.

Anyone who’s followed Ray Wylie Hubbard over the long and winding path he has traveled already knows he possesses the kind of exceptional gift for observation that any songwriter yearns for. His sense of wonder is tempered by an accumulated wisdom and knowledge that comes with experience that has elevated him into the Wylie Lama of Texas Music, freely imparting songwriting verities to all kinds of aspiring musicians, which allows him to lay all his cards on the table and let the listener decide what it all means.

In case you’re wondering where he’s been since his last album Snake Farm, Ray’s been writing, only he moved out of the song category to test his chops as a screenwriter, conceiving an outlaw western straight out of the Peckinpah school of blood and vengeance (“set in 1912 so we can have a Buick and a motorcycle and automatic weapons well as horses”). That his first screenplay actually got funded, filmed and slated for release is a testament to the caliber of his writing, the fact that Kris Kristofferson, Dwight Yoakam, and Lizzy Caplan appear among the ensemble of accomplished actors speaks volumes of the respect he has earned among his peers.

Besides the movies, a weekly Tuesday radio show and constant touring as well as producing other artists, his focus remains fixed on the song-constructing and performing stories set to music that resonate like no one else’s. Not for nothing is he the dark literary, cat daddy of Americana songsters who was outlaw long before it was cool.

But don’t take my word for it. Ray Wylie is far better-versed explaining how the sacred and the profane, the yin and the yang, the eternal and the now, the hippies and rednecks, the saved and the damned are all part of the same conversation.

“I like to look at both enlightenment and Endarkenment,” he declares. “I feel comfortable observing each. Now I really feel like I gave up the right to judge anybody a longtime ago. With my behavior back in my twenties and thirties, I don’t have that right. I really don’t.” That doesn’t stop him from taking note of what’s going on around him. “It’s so turbulent right now,” he says. “Like the idea of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. That’s pretty strong and scary stuff, especially since I try to stay here in this Pollyanna world of hope and idealism I’ve created, but I’m able to get in that mind set and look at it and write it from the point of view of one who believes it.”

“In ‘Rise Up,’ I can go in there and see the need for that kind of Salvation and understand why that need is there but then read about Chet Baker and heroin and think, yeah, man, it does make the deep things appear (which he captures in ‘Opium). “I feel very fortunate, being able to see that, but not really go there.”

“Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” and “Rise Up,” two straight up gospel pieces that could be sung in a four square church are “straight, basic fundamental Pentecostal Bible,” Ray explains with a sly grin. “Then all of a sudden I write about a naked woman in ‘Drunken Poet’s Dream.”

So what’s up with the unusual title song? “It is my honoring Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Raven,’” he says, breaking into a conspiratorial smile. “That is my favorite poem of all time. It still is. I re-read it and as I was going to bed I thought, I should write something like this. I couldn’t use a raven so I used a black sparrow. And it started. It was so weird, just laying in bed thinking, OK, here’s Edgar Allen Poe, he’s drinking, he’s just lost the most precious thing in his life and all that. What would happen if I was in that frame of mind and suddenly this bird lands by my bed? What would it say? 'A. Enlightenment, B. Endarkenment (Hint: There Is
No C).' ''

He continues “ Finally, a little bit later, came the line I’d heard my grandmother say when I was a kid, ‘Heaven pours down rain and lightning bolts’– that line kind of sums it all up for me as far as everything, really... Heaven is this beautiful place and yet it pours down rain and lightning bolts on both the just and the unjust. So being mindful of this, I was reminded of one of my wife Judy’s spiritualisms ‘the days I can keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, those are good days.’

“When it’s all said and done and the record is released whether I ride through the streets in a chariot with rose pedals falling upon me and thousands cheering my name or I find myself standing against a wall being asked if I want a cigarette and a blindfold, I am extremely grateful for each of these songs. And if the truth be known, after every song I write I always say, 'thanks' ''

With a keen eye of observation and a wise man’s knowledge, Ray Wylie Hubbard composes and performs songs that couldn’t spring from anywhere else but out of his fertile rock and roll bluesy poet-in-the-blistering-heat southern noggin.

Hint: the answers are all within A. Enlightenment, B. Endarkenment.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Townes Van Zandt - Marie

This video is from a 1993 performance in San Antonio. Poet , musician, and madman Townes Van Zandt sings of the hopeless and the homeless. Walk the streets of Austin or any American city, and live Van Zandt's harrowing vision.

"I stood in line and left my name
took about six hours or so
Well, the man just grinned like it was all a game
said they'd let me know
I put in my time till the Pocono line
shut down two years ago
I was staying at the mission till I met Marie
now I can't stay there no more

Fella 'cross town said he's lookin' for a man
to move some old cars around
maybe me and Marie could find a burned-out
van and do a little settlin' down
Aw, but I'm just dreamin', I ain't got no ride
and the junkyard's a pretty good ways
that job's about a half week old besides
it'd be gone now anyway

Unemployment said I got no more checks
and they showed me to the hall
my brother died in Georgia some time ago
I got no one left to call
Summer wasn't bad below the bridge
a little short on food that's all
Now I gotta get Marie some kind of coat
we're headed down into fall

I used to play the mouth harp pretty good
hustled up a little dough
but I got drunk and I woke up rolled
a couple of months ago
they got my harp and they got my dollar
them low life so and so's
harps cost money and I ain't got it
it's my own fault I suppose

The Pocono's down but the Chesapeak's runnin'
two freights everyday
if it was just me I'd be headed south
but Marie can't catch no train
She's got some pain and she thinks it's a baby,
says we gotta wait and see
in my heart I know it's a little boy
hope he don't end up like me

Well, the man's still grinnin' says he lost my file
I gotta stand in line again
I want to kill him but I just say no
I had enough of that line my friend
I head back to the bridge, its getting kinda cold
I'm feelin' too low down to lie
I guess I'll just tell Marie the truth
hope she don't break down and cry

Marie she didn't wake up this morning
she didn't even try
she just rolled over and went to heaven
my little boy safe inside
I laid them in the sun where somebody'd find them
caught a Chesapeak on the fly
Marie will know I'm headed south
so's to meet me by and by

Marie will know I'm headed south
so to meet me by and by."

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bind Willie Johnson - Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground

Blind Willie Johnson was born in 1897 near Brenham, Texas (before the discovery of his death certificate, Temple, Texas had been suggested as his birthplace). When he was five, he told his father he wanted to be a preacher, and then made himself a cigar box guitar. His mother died when he was young and his father remarried soon after her death.

Johnson was not born blind, and, although it is not known how he lost his sight, Angeline Johnson told Samuel Charters that when Willie was seven his father beat his stepmother after catching her going out with another man. The stepmother then picked up a handful of lye and threw it, not at Willie's father, but into the face of young Willie.

It is thought that Johnson was married twice, first to a woman with the same first name, Willie B Harris, and later to a young singer named Angeline, who was the sister of blues guitarist L.C. Robinson. No marriage certificates have yet been discovered. As Angeline Johnson often sang and performed with him, the first person to attempt to research his biography, Samuel Charters, made the mistake of assuming it was Angeline who had sung on several of Johnson's records. However, later research showed that it was Johnson's first wife.

Johnson remained poor until the end of his life, preaching and singing in the streets of Beaumont, Texas to anyone who would listen. A city directory shows that in 1944, a Rev W J Johnson, undoubtedly Blind Willie, operated the House of Prayer at 1440 Forrest Street, Beaumont, Texas. This is the same address listed on Blind Willie's death certificate. In 1945, his home burned to the ground. With nowhere else to go, Johnson lived in the burned ruins of his home, sleeping on a wet bed. He lived like this until he contracted pneumonia two weeks later, and died. (The death certificate reports the cause of death as malarial fever, with syphilis and blindness as contributing factors.) In a later interview his wife said she tried to take him to a hospital but they refused to admit him because he was black, while other sources report that, according to Johnson's wife, his refusal was due to his blindness. Although there is some dispute as to where his grave is, members of the Beaumont community have committed to finding the site and preserving it.

His father would often leave him on street corners to sing for money, where his powerful voice left an indelible impression on passers-by. Legend has it that he was arrested for nearly starting a riot at a New Orleans courthouse with a powerful rendition of "If I Had My Way I'd Tear the Building Down", a song about Samson and Delilah. According to Samuel Charters, however, he was simply arrested while singing for tips in front of a Custom House, by a police officer who misconstrued the title lyric and mistook it for incitement.

Johnson made 30 commercial recording studio record sides in five separate sessions for Columbia Recordsslide guitar. According to a reputed one-time acquaintance, Blind Willie McTell (1898-1959), Johnson played with a brass ring, although other sources cite him using a knife. The only known photograph of Johnson does not reveal any fretting instrument.

Some of Johnson's most famous recordings include "In My Time of Dying" (identified as "Jesus Make up My Dying Bed" on his recordings), the stirring "It's Nobody's Fault But Mine", his rendition of the famous gospel song "Let Your Light Shine On Me", as well as the raw, powerful "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was the Ground", where he sings in wordless hum and moans about the crucifixion of Jesus. This song was a "moaning" piece related to the Bentonia school of blues practiced by such "eerie voiced" artists as Skip James and Robert Johnson. On 14 of his recordings he is accompanied by Willie B Harris or an as-yet-unidentified female singer. This group of recordings includes "Church I'm Fully Saved Today", "John the Revelator", "You'll Need Somebody on Your Bond", and "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning". 

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Townes Van Zandt - Pancho and Lefty

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John Townes Van Zandt (March 7, 1944 – January 1, 1997), best known as Townes Van Zandt, was a country-folk music singer-songwriter, performer, and poet. Many of his songs, including "If I Needed You," "To Live Is To Fly," and "No Place to Fall" are considered standards of their genre. AllMusic has called him "one of the greatest country and folk artists of his generation."

While alive, Van Zandt was labeled as a cult musician: though he had a small and devoted fanbase, he never had a successful album or single, and even had difficulty keeping his recordings in print. In 1983, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard covered his song "Pancho and Lefty", scoring a number one hit on the Billboard country music charts. Despite achievements like these, the bulk of his life was spent touring various dive bars, often living in cheap motel rooms, backwoods cabins and on friends' couches. Van Zandt was notorious for his drug addictions, alcoholism, and his tendency to tell tall tales. He suffered from manic depression, and attempts to treat it with insulin shock therapy erased much of his long-term memory.

Van Zandt died on New Years Day 1997 from health problems stemming from years of substance abuse. The 2000s saw a resurgence of interest in Van Zandt. During the decade, two books, a documentary film and a number of magazine articles about the singer were created. Van Zandt's music has been covered by such notable and varied musicians as Bob Dylan, Lyle Lovett, Norah Jones, Steve Earle and The Meat Puppets.

In 1977, Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas was released. The album showcased Van Zandt solo at a 1973 concert before a small audience, free from the over-production that shackled many of his early records. The album received extremely positive reviews, and is considered by many to be among the best albums that the songwriter ever released. Several points on the album showcased his dry sense of humor, a feature that also showed in some of his songwriting.

According to Susanna Clark, Van Zandt turned down repeated invitations to write with Bob Dylan. Dylan was reportedly a "big fan" of Townes and claimed to have all of his records; Van Zandt admired Dylan's songs, but didn't care for his celebrity. The two first met during a chance encounter outside a costume shop in the South Congress district of Austin, Texas on June 21, 1986. According to Johnny Guess, Dylan later arranged another meeting with the songwriter. The Drag in Austin was shut down due to Dylan being in town; Van Zandt drove his motorhome to the quartered-off area, after which Dylan boarded the vehicle and requested to hear him play several songs.

Van Zandt has been referred to as a cult musician and "a songwriter's songwriter." Musician Steve Earle, a close friend, once said Van Zandt was "the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that." The quote was printed on a sticker featured on the packing of At My Window, much to Van Zandt's displeasure. Van Zandt responded: "I've met Bob Dylan's bodyguards and if Steve Earle thinks he can stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table, he's sadly mistaken."

allmusic profile

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jimmie Dale Gilmore - Dallas

"Dallas is a rich man with a death wish in his eye."

Dallas, by Jimmie Dale Gilmore:

"Did you ever see Dallas from a DC-9 at night?

Well Dallas is a jewel, oh yeah, Dallas is a beautiful sight. And Dallas is a jungle but Dallas gives a beautiful light.

Did you ever see Dallas from a DC-9 at night? Well, Dallas is a woman who will walk on you when you're down. But when you are up, she's the kind you want to take around. But Dallas ain't a woman to help you get your feet on the ground.

Yes Dallas is a woman who will walk on you when you're down.

Well, I came into Dallas with the bright lights on my mind, But I came into Dallas with a Dollar and a dime.

Dallas is a rich man with a death wish in his eye.
A steel and concrete soul with a warm hearted love disguise. A rich man who tends to believe in his own lies.

Dallas is a rich man with a death wish in his eyes."

Jimmie Dale Gilmore (born May 6, 1945) is a country singer, songwriter, actor, recording artist and producer, currently living in Austin, Texas. Gilmore is a native of the Texas Panhandle, having been born in Amarillo, Texas and raised in Lubbock, Texas. His earliest musical influence was Hank Williams and the honky tonk brand of country music that his father played. In the 1950s, he was exposed to the emerging rock and roll of other Texans such as Roy Orbison and Lubbock native Buddy Holly, as well as to Johnny Cash. He was profoundly influenced in the 1960s by the likes of The Beatles and Bob Dylan and the folk music and blues revival in that decade.

With Joe Ely and Butch Hancock, Gilmore founded The Flatlanders. The group has been performing on and off since 1972. The band's first recording project, from the early 1970s, was barely distributed. It has since been acknowledged, through Rounder's 1991 reissue (More a Legend Than a Band), as a milestone of progressive, alternative country. The three friends continued to reunite for occasional Flatlanders performances, and in May 2002 released a long-awaited follow-up album, Now Again, on New West records.

After briefly attending Texas Tech University, Gilmore spent much of the 1970s in an ashram in Denver, Colorado, studying metaphysics with teenaged Indian guru Prem Rawat, also known as Maharaji. In the 1980s, he moved to Austin. His first solo album, Fair and Square, was released in 1988.

Gilmore's fans admire his fine tenor voice, which delivers expressive, pure, country singing.

Gilmore also had a small but memorable role in the 1998 movie The Big Lebowski as a bowler named Smokey, an aging, emotionally "fragile" pacifist threatened with a pistol by the main character's right-wing sidekick (John Goodman). He has also been a guest on Jay Leno, David Letterman, A Prairie Home Companion, and Fresh Air with Terry Gross.


Jimmy Dale Gilmore @ allmusic

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Alejandro Esovedo - Rosalie

Alejandro Escovedo (born January 10, 1951, in San Antonio, Texas) is a Mexican-American musician and singer-songwriter. His parents emigrated to Texas from Mexico. Escovedo is from a very musical family that has generated several professional musicians, including his brothers Coke Escovedo and Pete Escovedo, both percussionists, and longtime Prince collaborator Sheila E (who is Pete's daughter and Alejandro's niece). Another brother, Mario, fronted the hard rock band The Dragons. Escovedo began performing in the first-wave punk rock group The Nuns, with Delphine Neid, Jennifer Miro, and Jeff Olener, in San Francisco, California. After Escovedo's departure, The Nuns recorded an album on Posh Boy Records, but had little commercial success.

In the 1980s Escovedo moved to Austin, Texas, where he adapted a roots rock/alternative country style in the bands Rank and File (with Chip and Tony Kinman) and the True Believers (with his brother Javier and Jon Dee Graham). However, it was with the release of his first solo albums, Gravity in 1992 and Thirteen Years in 1994, and on through his sixth album, A Man Under the Influence (produced in 2001), that he found his true voice. Although he has yet to crossover to any type of mainstream audience, he has a huge underground following, and many popular artists cite Escovedo as a strong influence.

In 1997, Alejandro collaborated with Whiskeytown and Ryan Adams during the recording sessions for their album Strangers Almanac. He sings on "Excuse Me While I Break My Heart Tonight", "Dancing with the Women at the Bar", and "Not Home Anymore". As a salute to Alejandro, a cover of a True Believers song written by Alejandro is covered by Whiskeytown on the Deluxe Edition re-release of Strangers Almanac.
In 1998 No Depression magazine named him Artist of the Decade. Alejandro was also involved in a side project that represents his hard rocking tastes. Buick MacKane released an album in 1997 The Pawn Shop Years, hearkening back to his musical roots from the 70's.

In 2003, after having lived with Hepatitis-C for many years, Alejandro fell critically ill, following a performance of By the Hand of the Father, and nearly died. In his long road to recovery, he faced increasing medical bills. Without medical insurance, Escovedo could not pay the substantial medical bills. Friends and admirers around the country organized benefit shows to help the songwriter. This effort grew into the album Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo, a two-disc set whose proceeds benefit the Alejandro Escovedo Medical and Living Expense Fund. Contributing musicians included Steve Earle, Jon Dee Graham, Lucinda Williams, John Cale, Jennifer Warnes, Ian Hunter, The Jayhawks, and Son Volt, as well as family members Pete Escovedo [with niece Sheila E.], Javier Escovedo, and The Dragons [featuring youngest brother, Mario Escovedo].

In 2005, Alejandro was declared to be free of the disease.

Also in 2005, Escovedo's song "Castanets" appeared on the iPod playlist of George W. Bush , prompting a three year self-imposed ban on live performances of the song. The song returned to Escovedo's live shows in 2008 along with an explanation for its absence.

Boxing Mirror came out on May 2, 2006 and included many of the songs he had promoted with The Alejandro Escovedo String Quintet, including Jon Dee Graham. Escovedo went on a short tour with the Quintet, which included a date at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall in early December 2006.

Escovedo's latest record, Real Animal, was released on June 24, 2008 and was produced by Tony Visconti. All of the songs were co-written with Chuck Prophet. In April, 2008, it was announced that Escovedo will be managed by Jon Landau and Barbara Carr. Landau has long been Bruce Springsteen's manager.

Alejandro Escovedo.com 

Alejandro Escovedo MySpace

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Townes Van Zandt

Townes Van Zandt