Category Archives: Live Music

Mixed Tape Monday: Pass the Jar

Today’s Mixed Tape Monday is not so much a mixed tape as it is a live album with a varied assortment of artists and cover songs.  Zac Brown and his rowdy band of musical brothers did a benefit concert for the Georgia Theatre, a cultural haven of the Athens music scene that burned down in 2009, and released it as a live album entitled Pass the Jar.  The album is a two disc set that is accompanied by a DVD of the concert.  Zac’s music is typically fun in nature and drenched in the good time vibe.  The concert exemplifies that vibe and the diversity of the cover songs reflects his deep appreciation for music in general. 

The album is a good mix of some of Zac’s songs from his major label debut The Foundation such as:

  • Toes
  • Free
  • Chicken Fried
  • Highway 20 Ride
  • Whatever It Is
  • Where the Boat Leaves From

In addition to Zac and his band, Kid Rock, Shawn Mullins, Little Big Town, and Angie Aparo as well as several other artists lend their vocal prowess to the cause.  As diverse as the special guest are, the cover songs are the real gems. 

  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia (Charlie Daniels)
  • Into the Mystic (Van Morrison)
  • Blackbird (The Beatles)
  • Jolene (Ray LaMontagne)
  • Can’t You See (The Marshall Tucker Band)
  • The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (The Band)
  • I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan)
  • One Love (Bob Marley)

The album is warm, fun, and a tribute to the strength of the band’s live shows.  To take nothing away from the band’s studio album, to truly enjoy the Zac Brown Band, you need to see them live.  While this album and DVD is as close as I’ve gotten thus far, I have added him to the list of folks I am on the lookout for on the DFW concert calendar.

 Great music awaits!


The Sweet Spot!

As I’ve gotten older, I find myself with more time to listen to music than when I was younger.  Part of this is due to the advent of portable music players, the evolution of digital files, and the technology that allows music to be played on computers.  The stability of a job provides the disposable income for concerts, an excessive catalog of music, and multiple playing options. 

The afore mentioned job also allows me time to listen to music.  When I am in my office, music is constantly playing.  The sanctuary of my truck is also a musical haven. The drive to work, the drive home, and the many miles that I drive weekly all afford another level of listening.  This is also the opportunity that I have to expose my children to music that is in fact played with instruments and songs written by genuine artists.

When I was younger and finding my musical way, I would delve into an album or artist and listen with relentless pursuit.  I would listen to songs, albums, and said artist almost exclusively until the next sonic epiphany.  These neurotic bouts of musical exclusivity could last days, weeks, or even months.  Looking back, it seems that the level of musical monogamy did indeed lend itself to my lifelong love affair with music.  As fleeting as some of those love fests might have been, they allowed a wide range of music to enter my live and much like all past loves, left a mark. 

At times, I revert back to the halcyon days of my formative years and roll the windows down and embarrass my kids with a litany of musical gems while singing and doing the obligatory air guitar or drums.  While my musical tastes have expanded, I still have a passion for the music of my youth.  The bombastic guitars and drums of Metallica always make my musical pants go crazy.  The southern drawl of Tom Petty makes me smile and remember old friends and good times.  Springsteen is still “The Boss” and makes me appreciate the importance of lyrics. 

As I discover new music, I do not seem to be searching for an exact musical type whereas before, I would strictly be looking for alternative music, heavy metal, or some other genre specific music that I heard on some commercial driven radio station.  I’ve come to appreciate the country landscape to some degree and am a huge fan of the burgeoning Texas music scene.  I actively pursue the independent artists and do not subject myself to the pandering of FM pop stations.  By the time the artists I like make it to the radio, I am on to the next thing. 

While each generation has their musical sins, looking back, I feel like I was in the sweet spot of music.  Old enough to appreciate the contributions of Dylan, Hendrix, and others of their ilk, young enough to have grown up with Tom Petty, Springsteen, Journey, Foreigner, Fleetwood Mac, and all the other great artists, and fortunate enough to be part of the musical revolution that brought Pearl Jam, The Beastie Boys, Nirvana, and a myriad of other artist who changed the musical landscape of my generation.

The classic rock of yesterday is now ancient and the music of my childhood is now played on the oldies station.  While it makes me feel a little older, I do not begrudge the process.  I am just glad that I was part of it.

 Great music awaits!


Walt Wilkins and Tommy Alverson: A Night of Sweet Music and Barbeque

Last night was one of those night you just kind of stumble upon and realize how good life can be when you slow down a bit.  Walt Wilkins, a favorite of mine, was in town this week playing with the great Tommy Alverson.  He did a show in East Parker County on Tuesday night and then a show in North Richland Hills last night. 

I’ve mentioned Walt in several of my blogs and just can’t seem to get enough of his music.  Each show I find something that I did not see or hear before.  Last night was no different.  The show took place at the Big Barn Barbeque in North Richland Hills.  It consisted of Tommy, Walt, two guitars and songs traded between the two.  The set list was a variety of covers and original music from each.  There was plenty of good natured banter between the two as well as considerable amount of talking to and from the crowd. 

Walt’s music has a timeless feel to it with poignant lyrics about love, loss, and the varying stages of life.  His voice is comfortable and familiar with a hint of wisdom.  Walt’s honey dripped tenor is the embodiment of Texas.  Rich, smooth, with just the right amount of twang. 

Tommy Alverson is no slouch in the vocal arena and is a mighty fine guitarist.  His voice is warm and inviting with just a hint of mischief.  Promoting his new album Texas One More Time, his ninth studio album, Alverson played a few cuts from the album, as well as several fan favorites like Una Mas Cerveza”.

There was much discussion from each on how they just love to play and how much music has meant to each.  They covered songs from the likes of Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan, and an impressive show closing cover of Van Morrison’sInto the Mystic”. 

The night had two defining moments for me:

  •  When B3, the current pseudonym of my bonus child, mentioned that she hoped that Walt would play his song “Poetry”, which has covered by Pat Green on his album Wave On Wave.  After some gentle prodding and a few words of encouragement from her mother and me, B3 marched up to the stage and politely asked Mr. Wilkins if he would play Poetry for her.  He responded with a hearty “Yes I Can” and lo and behold, the next song played was “Poetry”!  The ear to ear grin that washed over her face was pure bliss.  Even better was the 6-7 minute version that he sang, talked to the crowd, and did impromptu lyrical changes.  

 

  • As the show is winding down, Tommy and Walt are talking to the group and Tommy mentions that no one can sing this next song like Walt.  Walt begins strumming his guitar and then you hear the familiar word “We were born before the wind” and off he went into a beautiful Texas style version of “Into the Mystic”.  I just sat back in awe of what Ii was witnessing.  I’m a huge Van Morrison fan and am sometimes critical of the various covers of his music.  Not this one, he absolutely nailed it, played with complete reverence, and still made it all his own.

If you ever get a chance to see either Walt Wilkins or Tommy Alverson, take the time, drive the distance, and enjoy what music can do in the span of an hour or two.

Great music awaits!


Carole King & James Taylor: Two Musical Icons Reunited and They Sound So Good!

I’m a fan of the smooth, golden voiced James Taylor and recently stumbled upon a PBS showing of his concert with Carole King.  The show took place at the Troubadour, a legendary West Hollywood spot, back in 2007 to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic musical venue.  The Troubadour was a place that many artists like The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, as well as Taylor and King performed early in their career.   What was intended to be a one and done show has turned into a world tour and the release of the cd/dvd combo pack of the reunion between King and Taylor.

I caught the tail end of the show and sat captivated listening to the distinguishing tenor of James Taylor and his acoustic guitar while Carol King accompanied him on piano.  Last night, I purchased the afore mentioned cd/dvd combo pack and treated the whole familial crew to a little bit of musical greatness.

Even though the concert is co-billed, only “You Got A Friend” is performed as a duet while the other fourteen songs receive backing vocals and musical accompaniment.  Speaking of musical accompaniment, the other musical trio in the show included original and longtime band members; Danny Kortchmar was on guitar, Leland Sklar on bass, and Russell Kunkel manned the drums. 

Keep in mind that it has been almost forty years since Taylor and King last played together.  The years were not at all evident in the show.  The intimacy of the show was certainly enhanced by the apparent love and respect that each has for the other. 

The fifteen song set list included:

  1. Blossom
  2. So Far Away
  3. Machine Gun Kelly
  4. Carolina On My Mind
  5. It’s Too Late
  6. Smackwater Jack
  7. Something In the Way She Moves
  8. Will You Love Me Tomorrow
  9. Country Road
  10. Fire and Rain
  11. Sweet Baby Jane
  12. I Feel The Earth Move
  13. You’ve Got A Friend
  14. Up On The Roof
  15. You Can Close Your Eyes

While these might seem like some obvious selections, consider the source and realize that anything that made the list would seem obvious given their long, tenured career.  These are two musical icons reuniting after forty years of successful songwriting careers and each has given us a litany of classic songs. 

There was the occasional banter between the songs with each singer regaling us with snippets of song inspiration, emotional connectivity, etc…  None of it felt forced or contrived, just two old friends talking about the good old days. 

Great music awaits!


Burgers, Beer, and Mike Ryan = Greatness

Well, it is Friday and it has been a few days since I last posted a blog.  Part of that is due to my hectic vacation schedule of lying in bed, watching T.V., drinking beer, and attempting the occasional home project.  The other part is due, in no small part, to my incredible laziness the last couple of days.  However, it has not been a total waste of a few days. 

As luck would have it, I stumbled upon some live music on July 4th and was treated to the musical greatness of University of North Texas Alum (Go Mean Green!) Mike Ryan.  This, of course, was completely accidental and coincidental that the place we went for beer and burgers, the always amazing Fred’s in Fort Worth, was having some live music. 

The dude was pretty remarkable and the best part about him was the cover songs.  He played some really amazing and ballsy tunes.  He covered icons like George Strait, Conway Twitty, and then mixed in a little Lenny Kravitz.  His voice was strong and his playing extremely capable. 

He had a few original tunes that were pretty solid and a stage presence that was not overwhelming except when he sang.  He was comfortable enough to show up to the gig in gym shorts and a t-shirt.  He mixed and mingled with the crowd and was extremely gracious to all that he spoke with.

After his set, he passed out copies of his CD “The First One” which is a compilation of three original tunes and three covers. 

  1.  Slow hand
  2. Won’t Let It Show
  3. Dancin’ Til Dawn
  4. Turnaround
  5. Some Fools Never Learn
  6. The Chase

Today, I tip my musical hat to you Mike Ryan, I dig your scene.

Check out Mike Ryan at www.mikeryanband.com

Great music awaits!


Musical Evolution

As music has evolved, so has the process of recording and distributing to the masses.  We can now download music to our phones, computers, and portable music devices.  The fact that I can carry my entire musical collection electronically on a gadget that is no larger than a deck of cards is crazy.

Technology has certainly advanced the music industry and created a more diverse consumer market but I wonder if the immediacy of the process has made us less informed about the music that we claim to love.

Being close to 40, I made the following musical format progression:

  1. 45’s
  2. LP’s
  3. Tapes
  4. CD’s
  5. Digital Files

In the halcyon days of my youth (pre high school), I could not wait to go and buy the latest album from my favorite band (Rush, Styx) and go home, analyze both sides of the cover, check out the linear notes, and drop it on the record player.  I had the cool Panasonic stereo that had a tape player (that recorded) so I could make a tape of the album and put it in my Boom Box and walk around the neighborhood.

I would wait all week to listen to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 on Sunday afternoons and hope to hear my favorite song.

In high school, I had a huge collection of cassettes and would carefully select which ones I would load in my 48 tape carrying case.  And by carrying case, I mean luggage.  This thing was huge, had two handles and Velcro straps on both sides.  The stereo in my first car was worth more than the car itself.  I had the awesome tape deck that would actually fast-forward or rewind by song and a digitally tuned radio.  I was cool!

In college, along comes the small, thin, circular beauty of the Compact Disc, affectionately known as the CD.  It was revolutionary.  You would carefully place the CD on its tray, push a button and watch it disappear and then crisp, clear, CD quality sound emanated from the speakers.  The case was thin, square, and easily stackable.  The carrying case for multiple CD’s was thin, rectangular, and easily portable. As the technology progressed, there would be artwork on the disc, and the beauty of all beauties, the hidden track. 

Enter the digital age!  I embraced the digital age and purchased several MP3 players before I fell victim to the siren song of the iPod.  I own several iPods and a variety of docking stations to play them at home, work, in the truck, etc…

I am a fan of the portability of digital files however; I still buy CD’s in mass quantity.  To me, there is something pure about going into a record store, perusing the racks of music, and selecting a few must have items.  I still examine the covers, read linear notes, and enjoy every minute of each musical discovery.

Today, my kids have iPods!  The only albums they have ever seen are the few that I have left in my collection.  Record players and cassettes are completely foreign to them.  They have an awareness of CD’s but do not own any.  They like to purchase and download individual songs. 

As parents, we always want better for our children.  We want to afford them the opportunities we never had, we want to teach them from our mistakes, we want to raise them to lead a joyful, fulfilling existence. 

With all that is right with their world, I can’t help but feel a bit sad knowing that they will never have the kind of musical experience that I had as a child. 

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Texas Music!

Recently I posted a blog that featured six Texas artists and it got me to thinking about all of the great music that comes out of Texas.  In years past, when I heard the term Texas music, I immediately associated that with country music.  As I’ve gotten older and immersed myself more into the music scene, I’ve realized that Texas offers a lot to all of the musical genres. 

I grew up on the greatness of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble as well as Jimmie Vaughan’s band the Fabulous Thunderbirds.  They were two paragons of the Texas music scene who paved the way for so many other Texas musicians such as the Arc Angels.

From the country side of music, you have early pioneers such as Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen.  These two college buddies have been leading the charge for over 20 years.  Based on their dedication to the craft, a whole new crop of Texas artists has emerged.  Folks such as Pat Green, Cory Morrow, Wade Bowen, and Walt Wilkins are just a few that top the list.

Austin has been dubbed the Live Music capital of the world and with good reason.  Not only are they home to one of the greatest music festivals (Austin City Limits Music Festival) they also have SXSW which is a great place to catch a litany of great musical acts.  Austin is home to musical greatness such as Spoon, Erin Ivey, James McMurtry, and Bob Schneider.

Dallas has given us the likes of Tripping Daisy, the Old 97’s, Nora Jones, and the erratic and recently erotic Erykah Badu.

Fort Worth is responsible for The Toadies, Elizabeth Wills, and the Butthole Surfers.

Denton, a thriving musical Mecca and home to my Alma Mater has provided us with artist such as Roy Orbison, Bowling For Soup, Eli Young and the always fun polka band Brave Combo.

Houston has provided the Southern Rap community with artists such as The Ghetto Boys, Paul Wall, Mike Jones, and Chamillionaire

Texas has a killer music scene and you should be listening to Texas music in whatever form/genre you dig.

Great music awaits!