Sunday, March 28, 2010

Willie Nelson - Stella Blue

Image by annableker

The idea of Willie Nelson covering a Grateful Dead song might seem to be something of a head-scratcher, at least at first. But Willie has always been first and foremost a songwriter, and the Dead were always open to traditional folkways. Their classic album American Beauty is a milestone in the development of Americana as a viable musical genre.



All the years combine
They melt into a dream
A broken angel sings
From a guitar

In the end there's just a song
Comes crying up the night
Through all the broken dreams
And vanished years

Stella Blue
Stella Blue

When all the cards are down
There's nothing left to see
There's just the pavement left
And broken dreams

In the end there's still that song
Comes crying like the wind
Down every lonely street
That's ever been

Stella Blue
Stella Blue

I've stayed in every blue light cheap hotel
Can't win for trying
Dust off those rusty strings just one more time
Gonna make them shine

It all rolls into one
And nothing comes for free
There's nothing you can hold
For very long

And when you hear that song
Come crying like the wind
It seems like all this life
Was just a dream

Stella Blue
Stella Blue

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Guitar Shorty - Please Mr. President

"Please Mr. President lay some stimulus on me.
Please Mr. President place some stimulus on me.
Cause I'm just a working man tryin to feed my family.

I used to have a good job working forty hard hours a week.
Had money in the bank and a mortgage I could meet.
But then they started to lay off and got a hold of me.
Now that mean ol' banker trying to put me in the street.

Please Mr. President lay some stimulus on me.
Please Mr. president place some stimulus on me.
Cause I'm just a working man tryin to feed my family.
I'm playin this for you, Mr. President!

Now I sure don't mind workin'- I'm not scared to break a sweat.
I'm not lookin' for a bailout, but I gotta pay my debts.
I don't know how to be a bad guy, I'm not gonna steal and rob.
But if I'm gonna feed my children, I gotta have some kind of job.

Please, please, please Mr. President lay some stimulus on me.
Please Mr. President place some stimulus on me.
Cause I'm just a working man tryin to feed my family.

I've got to have it, you know I need it.
Everybody needs stimulus."


Credited with influencing both Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Guy, Blues veteran Guitar Shorty has been electrifying audiences for five decades with his supercharged live shows and his incendiary recordings (beginning in 1957 with a Willie Dixon-produced single on the Cobra label). Through the years, Shorty has performed with blues and R&B luminaries like Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, B.B. King, Guitar Slim and T-Bone Walker. Although he had recorded a handful of singles for a variety of labels, it wasn’t until the 1990s that the wider world opened its collective ears to one of the blues’ most exciting performers. His albums since then all received massive critical acclaim, and his legendary live performances have kept him constantly in demand all over the world.

Guitar Shorty (born David William Kearney, September 8, 1939, Houston, Texas) is an American blues guitarist. He is well known for his explosive guitar style and wild stage antics. Billboard magazine said, “his galvanizing guitar work defines modern, top-of-the-line blues-rock. His vocals remain as forceful as ever. Righteous shuffles…blistering, sinuous guitar solos.”

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Storyville - Rain of Love



Storyville was a blues-rock band formed in 1994 in Austin, Texas, USA. Drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon, former members of Arc Angels and the rhythm section for Stevie Ray Vaughan's band Double Trouble, formed the band with Malford Milligan after a jam session at Antone's.

After releasing an album on November Records in 1994, the band won a total of nine Austin Music awards; they became stalwarts on the local music scene and toured nationally. They subsequently signed to major label Atlantic Records, for whom they recorded two albums before breaking up. The single "Born Without You", from their 1998 release Dog Years, reached #28 on the BillboardMainstream Rock chart.

Malford Milligan – lead vocals
David Grissom – guitar/vocals
David Holt - guitar/vocals
Tommy Shannon – bass
Chris Layton – drums

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Houston Marchman - Viet Nashville



"I was just 22 when I hit the road. Searching for truth, passion, and gold. I had an old 6-string, beat up and cracked. Hitched all the way and I wasn't coming back from Nashville , Viet Nashville.

I hit town in the middle of the night Walked 16th, stared at the light. My soul was on fire, passion it rose. I had a young man's dream, but I was an old man's fool in Nashville, Viet Nashville

Gotta little harder there every day. Texas got farther and farther away from Viet Nashville, yeah Viet Nashville.

Well I started pushing my songs and knocking on doors. Most everyday I felt more like a whore. A man said, "son, son you gotta write for an 8th grade level divorced housewife in Nashville," Viet Nashville.

He said, "It's about money, boy, money in the bank. Country ain't into no existential angst. Write for the cash, not for the soul." Right then I knew man I was bound to roll Outta Nashville, Viet Nashville Viet Nashville, Viet Nashville

Yeah, I found me this friend, I called him ponytailed Johnny. Had hair to his ass, the pot made him melancholy. Got us in this gig down on lower Broadway. He told us bout a joint man, they never could pay us in Nashville, Viet Nashville.

We'd play em our songs, we;d play em some covers. Their favorite tune was "Redneck Mother." We got fired one night down in the 4th set. To get out alive, I'd've lost that bet. This big biker chick, she grabbed Johnny's hair. Never seen a woman get hit by a chair Hell, 'cept Nashville, Viet Nashville.

Ten years later in the middle of the night Skipped out of town, but I was feelin' alright Nashville, I owe you a lesson in life Stand up for yourself and what you thinks right Play what you feel play it straight up If you don't hear a sing man I don't give a fuck about Nashville, Viet Nashville Viet Nashville, Viet Nashville."

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Ray Wylie Hubbard - Kilowatts



Ray Wylie Hubbard (born 13 November 1946 in Soper, Oklahoma) is an American country music singer and songwriter.

Hubbard grew up in southeastern town of Hugo, Oklahoma. His family moved to Oak Cliff in south Dallas, Texas in 1954. He attended Adamson High School with Michael Martin Murphey, who had his own band at the time. Hubbard graduated in 1965 and enrolled in college as an English major. He spent the summers in Red River, New Mexico playing folk music.

During his time in New Mexico, Hubbard wrote "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother", made famous by Jerry Jeff Walker's 1973 recording. Hubbard recorded for various labels but struggled with sales; his mix of country, folk and blues elements didn’t find an audience. After leaving the scene and struggling with personal problems, he returned to recording with Lost Train of Thought in 1992 and Loco Gringo's Lament in 1994.

Today Ray Wylie Hubbard is an elder statesman of the Texas music scene. From New Braunfels, Texas, Hubbard hosts a Tuesday night radio show in called "Roots & Branches". This program promotes new and established Americana artists. Like some other performers in his genre, he is perhaps as popular in Europe as in the US--Hubbard has been invited by record companies in the Netherlands to produce albums. His most recent recordings have been produced by Texas guitarist Gurf Morlix.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Flatlanders - Stars in My Life



The Flatlanders are a country band with considerable country-rock influence from Lubbock, Texas founded by singers/songwriters/guitarists Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, and Butch Hancock.

They garnered little attention during their brief original incarnation (1972-73), but when the band's three core members later found success in solo careers, interest in The Flatlanders was rekindled, and the band has reformed a few times since.

The Flatlanders formed in 1972 in Lubbock, Texas. Gilmore, Ely and Hancock formed the group, with Gilmore as the main songwriter and singer, with several other collaborators: their friends Steve Wesson, previously a non-musician, on autoharp and musical saw and Tony Pearson on mandolin and backup harmony, as well as Tommy Hancock (no relation) on fiddle and string bassist Syl Rice.

One of the band's first appearance was at the Kerrville Folk Festival in 1972, where they were named one of the winners of the inaugural Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Singer/Songwriter Competition.

The band's first recording project was produced in 1972 by Shelby Singleton, the then-owner of Memphis, Tennessee's famed Sun Studios. A promotional single, Gilmore's "Dallas", was a commercial failure, and the planned album, All American Music, was all but scrapped, being released only in a small run on 8 track tape in order to fulfill contractual obligations.

The Flatlanders performed through 1973 before disbanding. By the end of the decade, however, Gilmore, Ely and Hancock had all found success as solo performers, and rumors of their earlier obscure collaboration began to circulate. In 1991, Rounder Records issued the 1972 sessions as More a Legend Than a Band, now recognized as a milestone of progressive,alternative country, at once reminiscent of early country music from the 1930s and '40s, and with an otherworldly quality from Wesson's shimmering musical saw and Gilmore's mysticalleanings, as on his song "Bhagavan Decreed."

The three musicians continued to reunite for occasional Flatlanders performances. In 1998 they contributed to the soundtrack of The Horse Whisperer, and then in 2002 released their long-awaited follow-up album, Now Again, on New West Records. In 2004 this was followed with Wheels of Fortune, again on New West. In 2004, New West released Live '72 a live recording of the then-unknown country band performing at the One Knite honky-tonk in Austin, Texas.

The Flatlanders' new album, Hills & Valleys, was released by New West on March 31, 2009. The album features the classic vocals of the three members with the ephemeral sounds and lyrics that have made The Flatlanders popular.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Jack Ingram - Keep on Keepin' On

Jack Ingram

Jack Ingram on Amazon

Jack Owen Ingram (born November 15, 1970) is an American country music artist signed to Big Machine Records, an independent record label. He has released eight studio albums, one extended play, six live albums and seventeen singles. Although active since 1992, Ingram did not reach the U.S. country Top 40 until the late 2005 release of his single "Wherever You Are". A number one hit on the Billboard country charts, it was also his first release for Big Machine and that label's first Number One hit. Besides this song, Ingram has sent six other songs into the country Top 40: "Love You," a cover version of Hinder's "Lips of an Angel," "Measure of a Man," "Maybe She'll Get Lonely," "That's a Man" and "Barefoot and Crazy."

Ingram was born in The Woodlands, Texas. He started writing songs and performing while studying psychology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Ingram toured throughout the state of Texas in the early 1990s, opening for Mark Chesnutt and other acts. His first release was the self-titled Jack Ingram in 1992 via the Rhythmic label, followed by Lonesome Question in 1995. Warner Bros. Records eventually signed him and released a live album entitled Live at Adair's, and re-issued his first two indie albums.

In 1997, he released Livin' or Dyin' via Rising Tide Records, which produced his first chart single in the #51-peaking "Flutter". Two years later came Hey You via Lucky Dog, a division ofEpic Records, which accounted for a #64 country single in its title track. In 2000, he collaborated with Charlie Robison and Bruce Robison for the live album Unleashed Live.

Electric, his second album for Lucky Dog, was also his first album to enter Top Country Albums, despite not producing a chart single. This album was supplemented a year later by an EPentitled Electric: Extra Volts before he left Lucky Dog. Two more live albums followed before he signed to Columbia Records for the release of Young Man in 2004, which accounted for no singles. Another live album, Acoustic Motel, was issued in 2005.

In 2005, Ingram signed to the independent record label Big Machine Records. Under the Big Machine banner, Ingram released a predominantly live album entitled Live: Wherever You Are. His first single release on that record label, "Wherever You Are", became Ingram's first top 40, and later his first Number One single on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, as well as the first Number One for the Big Machine label. "Love You", the only other studio track on Live: Wherever You Are, was also released as a single, peaking at #12 on the charts. This song was also recorded by Trent Summar & The New Row Mob (whose frontman, Trent Summar, co-wrote it) on their 2005 album Horseshoes & Hand Grenades.

In late 2006, Ingram released a cover of Hinder's song "Lips of an Angel". Ingram's cover peaked at #16 on the country charts "Lips of an Angel" was the lead-off single to This Is It, his second album for Big Machine. This album also produced the #18 "Measure of a Man" (a Radney Foster co-write) and the #24 "Maybe She'll Get Lonely".

He won the Academy of Country Music award for top new male vocalist on May 19, 2008. Ingram also filled in for radio host Bob Kingsley on the countdown show "Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40" for the week of September 20-21, 2008.

According to CMT, Ingram's Big Dreams & High Hopes album has "more guts" and Ellis Paul's "The World Ain't Slowing Down" may be the song that takes Ingram to the "next level".Ingram says "It'll be fun for me to expose people to a fantastic song from an artist who's had a 20-year career of being a very successful folk artist." The song was cut from the album. Its lead-off single "That's a Man" charted in the Top 20, followed by "Barefoot and Crazy," which became his second Top 10 hit.

On August 26, Ingram set a Guinness record for the most radio interviews in one day, when he was interviewed 215 times.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Zack Walther And The Cronkites - Down Easy


Zack Walther on Lone Star Music

Down Easy:

My baby’s out of sight
Guess the underground’s been treatin’ her right
Been running,
ain’t hard to find comfort there
Yeah you know it gets worse at night
Barely holding it together,
you’re still holdin’ her tight
And I see her everywhere
Rolling like a stone down to the water
Not long ago you were somebody’s daughter
Somebody’s lover but you run them into the ground
I hate to tell you baby,
sugar ain’t medicine
It may taste sweet,
it won’t bring you right up again
You love anything that goes down easy
Spend the night pacing the halls
You’re the one with the habit,
I’m the one with withdrawals
thinkin’ that the night will never end
I think it’s sad,
you found a new remedy
Your new best friend,
pretty soon will be your enemy
If it goes down smooth you take it in
Rolling like a stone down to the water
Not long ago you were somebody’s daughter
Somebody’s lover but you run them into the ground
I hate to tell you baby,
sugar ain’t medicine
It may taste sweet,
it won’t bring you right up again
You love anything that goes down easy
Rolling like a stone down to the water
Not long ago you were somebody’s daughter
Somebody’s lover but you run them into the ground
I hate to tell you baby,
sugar ain’t medicine
It may taste sweet,
it won’t bring you right up again
You love anything that goes down easy
Rolling like a stone down to the water
Not long ago you were somebody’s daughter
Somebody’s lover but you run them into the ground
I hate to tell you baby,
sugar ain’t medicine
It may taste sweet,
it won’t bring you right up again
You love anything that goes down easy
Goes down easy
Goes down easy
Goes down easy

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Drew Kennedy - Goodbye


Drew Kennedy on Lone Star Music

New Braunfels resident Drew Kennedy is an accomplished singer/songwriter whose vision effortlessly bridges the folk, country, and Americana genres.

From the album Dollar Theater Movie, a song called "Goodbye."

He wrote her a note
Through the whiskey and smoke
On a brown paper bag that he found on the table
Said, I'm sorry I'm not able to stay
But I've got to be going away
So much that I want to say
You deserve the truth
You deserve your youth
You deserve much better than holding me together

Remember the night
We drove under the lights
And the golden gates all the way to Oakland
I've never had more fun in my life
When you think of me remember that night
If I have the right
To ask that's what you do
I am so in love with you
And you deserve much better
Than trying to hold me together

So I'll be gone
When you come home
Please don't cry
And waste your gorgeous eyes on me
I believed you when you said you'd never leave
So please let me

Be with me until I die
When I wake up alone in a home that's sad and new
Forgive me for the things that I do
You deserve the truth
You deserve your youth
You deserve much better than holding me together

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Wayne "The Train" Hancock - Jumpin' The Blues

Wayne Hancock

Wayne "The Train" Hancock (Born May 1, 1965) is a country musician.

Hancock began writing songs at the age of 12, and at 18 won a talent contest called the "Wrangler County Showdown." Immediately after the contest, he was shipped to recruit training and served four years with the United States Marine Corps. In 1994 he performed in the musicalChippy. Hancock released his debut album in 1995, and has continued to tour and record albums since then. He lives in Austin, Texas.

His music is comparable to that of Hank Williams and Hank Thompson.

Hank Williams III, who is often compared to Hancock, has recorded some of Hancock's material, including "Thunderstorms and Neon Signs" and "87 Southbound". The two have also recorded a live duet of Hancock's "Juke Joint Jumpin'".

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Phil Pritchett - High Tide in the Heartland

Phil Pritchett


Phil Pritchett (born 1971) is a rock and roll musician from Texas. Currently residing in Ft. Worth, Texas. Members of his band have varied over the years. The current incarnation of the Full Band includes J.W. "Blu" Marshall on bass and Stu Wiley on drums.

Phil's performance to his eighth grade class of The Beatles Love Me Do first inspired him to enter into music. Phil got his real musical start at age 13 starting a Van Halen-style cover band and started playing local parties. His original high school band the Suburbans was an acclaimed Texas rock trio before breaking up in 1990.

Phil graduated from Higland Park High School in 1990, and entered Southwestern University studying History. At Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, Pritchett formed the eclectic acoustic duo Romantic Embargo with friend James Dewitt. They played regularly in Austin and surrounding cities and made two recordings, a live tape "Cut Me Some Slacks" and a CD "Central Chilling Station No.5." Pritchett went out on his own in 1996 and spent 5 years living in Austin, Texas and playing his original music to fans all over Texas and the South and building a large regional fan base. He started Spitune Records in 1995 and began recording and releasing his music independently. After a brief stint in Nashville, he moved back to Texas and has been touring consistently since 2002, often playing 150 shows a year or more.

Pritchett is known for his insightful songs, artistic albums and his live performances. His high-energy shows around Texas and the surrounding areas are known for the performances of songs such as "Song of the Doorman", "High Tide in the Heartland", "Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones", "Colorado On Trial," "Tougher Than the Rest" and the all-time fan-favorites: "Maria," "Snuff Machine" (written by ex-Suburbans' memberWes Cunningham), "Antarctica U.S.A." (written by Dewitt now of the Residudes), and "Drink When I Think" and "Rolling" (both co-written with Chip Evans).

In 2006, Pritchett opened Trinidad World Recording in the Fort Worth Stockyards to self-produce his album High Tide in the Heartland. After the release of High Tide, he was asked to produce records for other acts at Trinidad. His producing credits include projects by Texas High Life, Johns Guns, Ty Wick, Magee Payne, Kurt South, J.D. Clark, Kyle Redd, Clay Thrash, Kevin Smith, Slow Rollin' Lows, Zach Huckabee, Mike Mathis, Notorious Gringos, Change of Standard and several of his own albums.

Phil has played with many of the fan favorites in Texas including Jack Ingram, Roger Creager, Honeybrowne and others.

In 2007, Phil began selling his albums in MP3 format for $4 each at p2tunes.

In 2009, Pritchett launched the P2 Podcast from his website. The weekly, hourlong show delves into life as a musician, road stories, and discuss current challenges in the changing music business. He is frequently joined by guests, usually people he knows from his time in the industry including Pat Green, Pete Coatney (from Jack Ingram's band), Zach Huckabee, Buddy Huffman (Macon Greyson), Owen Temple, Wes Cunningham and many others.
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Friday, March 5, 2010

Alejandro Escovedo - She Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Alejandro Escovedo
She Doesn' Live Here Anymore:




Alejandro Escovedo (born January 10, 1951, in San Antonio, Texas) is a musician and singer-songwriter based in America.

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-wavepunk 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 Own 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.

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.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Norah Jones - It's Gonna Be

Norah Jones at Bright Eyes at Town Hall 29 May...Image via Wikipedia

Norah Jones came by her Texas connection, like so many of us, in a decidedly roundabout way.
Jones was born Geethali Norah Jones Shankar in Brooklyn, New York on March 30, 1979 to Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar and concert producer Sue Jones. She spent her childhood with her mother, who moved to the Dallas suburb of Grapevine, Texas, when Jones was four. She attended Colleyville Middle School, followed by a short period at Grapevine High School before transferring to Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas. Her only formal vocal training was her stint in the choir at Colleyville and Booker T. Washington. While at Colleyville, she also participated in band and played the alto saxophone. At the age of sixteen, with the blessings of her parents, she officially changed her name to "Norah Jones."

Jones always had an affinity for the music of Bill Evans and Billie Holiday, among other 'oldies.' She once said, "My mom had this eight-album Billie Holiday set; I picked out one disc that I liked and played that over and over again." She considers Willie Nelson her mentor. She began singing in church choirs and took piano lessons as a child. She still attends church. She considers herself spiritual and appreciates the ritual of church but does not consider herself the religious type. She attended Interlochen Center for the Arts during the summers. While at high school, she won the DownBeat Student Music Awards for Best Jazz Vocalist (twice, in 1996 and 1997) and Best Original Composition (1996).

Jones went to the University of North Texas, where she majored in jazz piano. It was during this time she had a chance meeting with future collaborator Jesse Harris, which would later catapulted her to fame. She was to pick up a band playing at the university that also happened to be friends of Jesse Harris. Jesse Harris was making a stop on a cross-country road-trip with his friend, and future Little Willies member, Richard Julian, to see the same band play. After meeting, Harris was soon sending her lead sheets of his songs. In 1999, she left for New York City. Less than a year later she started a band with Harris.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Ryan Bingham - Bread and Water

Ryan Bingham has spent most of his life on the road, first on the rough-and-tumble rodeo circuit, then moving from town to town on the equally volatile roadhouse musical circuit. Those travels have given him plenty of material to draw from – and plenty of reason to stop for a moment to dig in his heels and take a stand.

That’s exactly what the Texas-bred troubadour does on his second Lost Highway album, Roadhouse Sun, a hardscrabble collection that’s at once unblinkingly personal and unapologetically political – the latter a new and bracingly vivid addition to Bingham’s palette. The expanded consciousness bursts to the surface of several cuts on Roadhouse Sun – nowhere more movingly than on “Dylan’s Hard Rain,” a stark look into the darker corners of an America in which the storm its namesake sang of has blown through.

“With all that’s happened politically and economically in the last couple of years, I felt like there was a lot to say,” explains the 28-year-old singer-songwriter. “As a young person, I felt like it was time to get involved, to write something that wasn’t just about Saturday nights in bars. And as far as Dylan? Things that were happening back then are still happening. Things keep repeating themselves.”

Roadhouse Sun showcases Bingham’s flair for cutting a listener to the quick with slashing, blues-inflected guitar leads that’d do Lone Star forebears like Lightnin’ Hopkins proud – his approach on the steely “Endless Ways” – and then offering a balm of bucolic melody, like that of the soaring “Bluebird.” He and his road-tested band stretch out most intriguingly, however, on the epic “Change Is,” seven minutes of meditative, hypnotic riffing that builds to a near-psychedelic crescendo as Bingham spins his tale of empowerment and responsibility.

“In some ways, I’d gotten burned out on the straight-ahead country scene,” he says. “Because I wear a cowboy hat, people assume we’re just this honky-tonk band, and we’re not. I want to be seen as a versatile artist who draws on a lot of different things and tells a lot of different stories.”

They’re tough stories, to be sure, but Bingham has come by them honestly. He’s lived on his own since his mid-teens, when circumstances and substance abuse tore apart his nuclear family. Rather than get sucked into the system that’s destroyed so many adolescents, he took a road far less traveled – riding bulls on the highly-competitive rodeo circuit around the Midwest and southwest. It was on these long hauls that Bingham was able to get in touch with his musical muse, taking things public one night at a bar in Stephenville, Texas. “A bunch of friends asked me to play a couple songs for them. I went out and got my guitar and the owner said ‘you oughta come on in and play now and then,’” he recalls. “So I did -- I started playing every Wednesday night and people started showing up to hear me play -- it was pretty much an accident, I guess.” Read more about Ryan Bingham

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Townes Van Zandt

Townes Van Zandt