Tag Archives: Merle Haggard

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!


Concerts

We hear a song, purchase/download some music; it raises our awareness of the band and then we become a fan.  The concert is the culmination of our musical inclinations.  It is the holy grail of the musical experience.  At least, in our mind, it is. 

The concert is the musical equivalent of craps (the game of chance, not Jack in the Box 2 for $1 greasy tacos passing through your bowels)

Some nights go like this:

You purchase your ticket with the expectation that it will be musical bliss and a night to remember.  You get there, fight the crowd, listen to the mediocre, at best, opening act, and wait impatiently for the headlining show.   After what seems like an eternity, out stumbles the drunk/high lead singer, forgets the words to your favorite song, becomes enraged at the crowds displeasure and walks of the stage giving you the double fisted one finger salute. 

While other nights go like this:

You show up at some little dive barbeque joint and begin to think the show has been canceled because there are only four cars in the parking lot.  You go in, order some food and a beer, take you pick of the abundantly available tables and notice two chairs on the stage and a couple of guitars.  You take a seat, sip your bear and out strolls the singer and his buddy and the play for several hours, come sit down and thank you for coming to the show and take your request and play it before the night is over.

I’ve regaled you with some stories of concerts from my past and touted the greatness of Austin City Limits Music Festival but today, I’m going to chronologically list the concerts, to the best of my recollection, I’ve attended over the years.

Year Band
1983 Quiet Riot
Interesting Facts
7th grade, first concert to attend and broke my ankle that afternoon after being chased by a large classmate who took off his belt and began swinging it at me.  I left the hospital on crutches and planned on going to concert while my mother drove along beside me screaming at me to get in the car.  Being 12 and disabled, mom won and I missed the concert.  I did, however, get the t shirt as a consolation prize from my buddy who I gave the ticket to.
1985 Def Leppard
Interesting Facts
My first official concert that I actually got to attend.  Reunion Arena in Dallas, TX.  Oddly enough, I do not remember much about the concert other than it kicked much 14 year old musical butt.
1985-1989 Tom Petty

Stevie Nicks

Elton John

Don Henley

White Snake

Tesla

The Cult

Metallica

Interesting Facts
This period was the high school years and while there are funny stories, time has blurred the lines a bit.

  • One concert I went to with a group of girls and as soon as we got to Starplex Amphitheater, they all had to go to the rest room.  So, they opened the passenger door and all took turns squatting in the parking lot under the shroud of secrecy that was the afore mentioned door.  Don’t worry ladies; your identity is safe with me.
  • Another concert had some of the above mentioned girls and on the way home we got lost and drove around through an amazing fog which we likened to the moors, a Sherlock Holmes reference at the time, and eventually made it home.  Some of attendees were really upset with the turn of events.
  • White Snake concert we bought tickets from scalpers and got totally ripped off but thought we were so cool because we were seeing White Snake.
  • Metallica was an amazing show and the first time I had seen mosh pits and thoroughly enjoyed the frantic pace of the music.  Some fans really enjoyed the show and started lighting the lawn on fire and once security came out, the fire just seemed to move to another location.

 

1989-1992 Travis Tritt

Shenandoah

Various country acts at Billy Bobs

Interesting Facts
Some of my buddies were really in to country music and I would often tag along because I had nothing else to do and wanted to make some new female acquaintances. The Shenandoah concert was particularly memorable, not because the concert was good, in fact, I never actually saw them.  I got kicked out of the bar because I was 18 and using a fake ID to buy beer.  My buddies, of course, stayed and watched the show.  The crushing event of the night was that the girl I took to the show also stayed inside and I sat alone in the back of my friend’s truck for several hours.  The night was not a total loss, because I drank all of the beer in the cooler while sitting in the parking lot of Billy Bob’s.
1993-1995 Lots of local acts in the musical mecca of Denton, TX

Rush

Interesting Facts
The Rush show stands out for two reasons:To procure the tickets for this concert, my buddy and I left Denton very, very early on a Saturday morning after a very, very, late Friday night to go to Lewisville Mall to get tickets.  We arrived way too early and drove to Braums and got a double order of biscuits and gravy.  While this might not read as funny as it was, we were way hung over and those biscuits and gravy were the magic elixir that restored our health. Night of the concert we pick up our dates, have dinner and head to Dallas.  There is mild drinking, as colleges kids are known to do, and before you know it, we are on the floor of Reunion Arena basking in the glory of Rush.  On the way home there is some conversation of the concert and the girl that I took begins to nod off a bit and then suddenly hurls into and on the door.  We stop and ask if she is ok and she looks at us as if nothing happened and denies what is clearly on her chin, clothes, seat, floor, and of course door.  We get home she gets out like nothing happened.
1995-2005 The Dave Matthews BandMetallica

Linkin Park

Beastie Boys

Pat Green

Willie Nelson

Jack Johnson

Bob Dylan

Bruce Springsteen

Beck

G. Love & Special Sauce

Merle Haggard

Tori Amos

Korn

Chevelle

Robert Earl Keen

Interesting Facts
All pretty good shows and some artist like Dave Matthews and Pat Green I’ve seen multiple times.  The one stand out concert story is this:A group of folks went to see Willie Nelson at Lone Star Park which is an outdoor horse track.  His stage was set back a bit and there were risers and bleachers that elevated the fans to better see the stage.  I am walking up, wearing loose cargo shorts and minding my own business, when I feel something moving up my leg and heading north central.  I look down and there is an older woman with her hand up my shorts grabbing my junk.  I jump up and swat at her as if she is some form of annoying insect and she looks up, smiles with what teeth she has left and says “Oh, excuse me” as if she had accidently bumped into me as were passing on a sidewalk.  She then turned and walked away as if nothing had happened.
2006-Present Pearl JamBen Harper

Foo Fighters

Tom Petty

Beck

G. Love & Special Sauce

Wilco

Son Volt

Drive-By Truckers

State Radio

Brett Dennen

Bruce Springsteen

B-52’s

Robert Plant & Allison Krause

Joe Purdy

Cross Canadian Ragweed

The Killers

The Tragically Hip

The Eli Young Band

Pete Yorn

Bob Schneider

James McMurtry

Kris Kristofferson

Merle Haggard

Damien RiceDonovan Frankenreiter

Arcade Fire

The Shins

Okkervil River

Mason Jennings

The Black Keys

Ray LaMontagne

Queens of the Stone Age

Bob Dylan

Willie Nelson

Van Morrison

The Toadies

The Killers

John Mayer

Steve Earle

Bjork

Iron & Wine

Walt Wilkins

The Dead Weather

The Raconteurs

Lucinda Williams

Erin Ivey

Amos Lee

Interesting Facts
The majority of these artists have been seen at the Austin City Limits Music Festival which is an annual pilgrimage for me.  Some artist I have seen both at ACL and their own headlining tour.

So, there you have it, a little stroll down concert memory lane.  Let me know about some of your favorite or at least memorable concert experiences and who is a must see when they roll through town.

Great music awaits!


50 Artists you should be listening to and own at least one album!

Ok, I thought yesterday’s blog was fun and elicited some reaction from you, the sweet , gentle reader  and a few David Cassidy fans( ITILY ladies and possibly gentlemen) and also caused a bit of a stir on facebook as well.  So, let’s go and reverse the whip.

I will attempt to continue to WOW you with my vast musical knowledge and then silently judge you if you are not impressed with my musical prowess.  Just kidding, I would never judge you or your poor musical taste. 

I do think that there are some artists that transcend genres and have universal appeal.  Others have a loyal following and then have that one album that regales the masses and they are beloved for generations.  Some of us grew up on music and we think it is greatness based solely on the nostalgia for the time and place in which we first heard it.  And then there are music purist who likes a band /artist because they respect the lineage and the impact that they had on music.

I tend to be a bit of all of the above.  There are some artists that I like because there is some form of connectivity that I really can’t explain, while others are truly a moment in time that has endeared me to an artist, and then there is the whole musical heritage piece.  I am intrigued by the evolution of music and the artists that find themselves compelled to play.  As mentioned previously in a blog, I have no musical talent.  I do not play and instrument, I do not sing close to well, and I’ve never had aspirations to do either.  I simply love to listen to music. 

As much as I have a propensity to scorn/judge, in my humble opinion, awful music, I really respect the fact that those dreadful musicians had the nerve to attempt to play, at some point get signed, and were able to release an album or at the very least a single.  When it comes down to it, I don’t judge the horrific musicians as mercilessly as I judge the faction who listens and procures the music.

So, below is a listing of artists/bands that you should be listening to and would be in any reputable music collection.  

  • Ryan Adams
  • The Band
  • The Beastie Boys
  • The Beatles
  • Beck
  • The Black Crowes
  • Jimmy Buffet (with love to Gwendolyn)
  • Johnny Cash
  • Eric Clapton
  • Credence Clearwater Revival
  • Drive-By Truckers
  • Bob Dylan
  • The Eagles
  • Steve Earle
  • Foo Fighters
  • Pat Green
  • Merle Haggard
  • Ben Harper
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Robert Earl Keen
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • Dave Matthews Band
  • John Mellencamp
  • Metallica
  • Willie Nelson
  • Nirvana
  • Pearl Jam
  • Tom Petty
  • Pink Floyd
  • The Pixies
  • Joe Purdy
  • Radiohead
  • R.E.M
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Rush
  • Paul Simon
  • Sonic Youth
  • Sound Garden
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • James Taylor
  • Traveling Wilburys
  • U2
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Wilco
  • Whiskeytown
  • The Who
  • Neil Young
  • ZZ Top

I just listed the artist and not the album or albums that you should be listening to and really own by said artist.  Also, I stopped at 50 and that took a considerable amount of restraint.

This is fundamentally meant to light the candle of thought and get you to think about your 50 artists.  If you only had 50 artists that you could listen to, who would they be?  Think of yourself as Tom Hanks in Cast Away and instead of Wilson the volleyball, you have an iPod with 50 artists and their entire catalog. 

So take some time, peruse the list and let me know who you would have added or deleted from the list or send me you complete list.

Great music awaits!


Last night I witnessed greatness!

Well, dear, sweet, gentle blog readers, last night I witnessed greatness.  Not once, mind you, but twice.  I saw Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson at the Bass Performance Hall in lovely Fort Worth, Texas.  The show was sold out and had been for weeks, as it should have been. 

I realize that the genre, musicianship, and singing style may not be in line with the musical palette of everyone, but there is no denying the impact and influence these legends have had on the musical landscape.  Both men have had commercial and critical success, survived the business for more than forty years and, most importantly, are still relevant.

The brilliant musical pairing began in 2009 when Merle and Kris performed a few shows in California, which was the first time these icons shared the same stage at the same time in their storied and illustrious careers.  The fan reaction was enough for them to contemplate the continuation of the shows.  As of this blog, last night’s show was just one of six dates that the boys are doing in 2010.

Kristofferson, who is a much better songwriter than singer, covered his hits such as “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, “Me and Bobby McGee”, “Help Me Make It Through the Night”, and “Why Me” to name a few.  His voice was grainy, and gruff with just enough of a whisky stain to remind you of the hard living that he crafted in his songs.

Merle played some of his staples such as “Okie from Muskogee”, “The Fightin’ Side of Me”, “Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star”, “Silver Wings” and “I Think I’ll just Stay Here and Drink”. His voice was just beautiful, the tenor and pitch might have lost a little something over the years, but Father Time takes a little from each of us every day. 

It was evident that the two had not rehearsed much; at times they were out of sync, out of tune, and even off key.  The sound was raw, gritty, authentic and perfectly fitting for two legends in their seventies who played and sang for two hours. 

I can’t imagine that anyone left the show disappointed.  For two hours last night, I shared a lifetime of music and history with two musical icons.  They have certainly earned the right to be human and less than perfect in their performance.  And yet, they were perfect for all of the right and wrong reasons.  Last night, I witnessed greatness.

 Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Amos Lee!

Amos Lee is a Philadelphia born singer/songwriter with a soulfully smooth voice.  His self titled debut album was released in 2005 and since then, he has opened for such acts as Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, B.B. King, Paul Simon, Merle Haggard, John Prine, and an extended tour with Norah Jones.  Not a bad start for this relative new comer.

 His musical style is primarily acoustic, set to guitar, piano and a bit of percussions.  He tends to stick pretty close to the folksy soul style while occasionally bringing a little funk to the mix.  For you fans of the “ARC Angles”, Amos Lee’s latest album “Last Day at the Lodge” has Doyle Bramhall II playing guitar. 

If you watch much television, you might have heard Lee’s music on“Grey’s Anatomy”, “Studio 60”, “E.R.”, “Army Wives”, “Brothers and Sisters”, and “Six Degrees”.

Lee has a great musical DVD “Amos Lee Live from Austin TX” that has tracks from his first two albums and really showcases his talent. 

Amos Lee Discography

  • Amos Lee
  • Supply and Demand
  • Last Day at the Lodge

Top 5 Amos Lee Songs according to Butler (Albums listed to right of song):

  1. Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight (Amos Lee)
  2. Street Corner Preacher (Last Day at the Lodge)
  3. Shout Out Loud (Supply and Demand)
  4. Seen It All Before (Amos Lee)
  5. Baby I Want You (Last Day at the Lodge)

Check out Amos Lee and let me know what you think.

Amos Lee’s music is available on iTunes, some record stores and www.amoslee.com.

Also, if you have a facebook page, you can become a fan of the blog.

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#/pages/Music-you-should-be-listening-to/261897107787?ref=ts

Great music awaits!