Tag Archives: Texas

Last night I pushed the bounds of parental responsibility!

Last night I pushed the bounds of parental responsibility.  I took my oldest son (14) to a State Radio concert at House of Blues in Dallas.  It was not the show that pushed the boundaries; it was the time at which he returned home.  And that time, dear, sweet, gentle reader was, after midnight.  Can you hear Eric Clapton playing as you read?  Why? You might ask.  Well, he had a song called, wait for it….. After Midnight!

And I digress!

So, back to the point, Cade and I have always shared a special musical bond.  As a baby, I would always have music playing and to get him to sleep, I would have to stand and rock him to R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts”.  As he got older, he became fascinated with the cadence and delivery of the Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Also, much like me, he would connect to certain lyrics and relate them to certain things in his life.  Most of what he shared, with me, was songs about fathers and sons, family, etc…. 

So, for the last fourteen years, I have had the pleasure of expanding his musical horizons and forming this unique bond.  I have taken proper measures to not, intentionally, prematurely expose him to inappropriate lyrics or subject matters.  At fourteen, he has yet to listen to any of my old school rap CD’s. 

Over the years, we have acquired quite a soundtrack to our lives.  He is open enough to initially listen to anything I play and independent enough to make his own informed decision of good or bad music.  Oddly enough, we tend to agree more than not.  The one glaring difference is the current radio friendly Pop and R&B music that he likes.  The difference there is more of an age and experience thing.  I’ve got Milli Vanilli to live down and he, too, will have his musical regrets.

Here is where I really get to the point!

The concert began at 8:00 and the Austin, Texas band Full Service, relatively promptly, took the stage and played an interesting 30 min. set.  Their sound was a combination of bombastic rock and quirky, yet endearing, stage personality.  After the first few songs, I warmed up to their sound.  However, 30 minutes was just enough time.  The kazoo song was funny and interactive with the crowd.

The same thing cannot be said for the second opening act, American Fang.  This band, out of Houston, Texas was torturous at best.  The lead singer pranced around and screamed while the skinny leg jean guitarist struck customary rock posses and feigned indifference to the crowd.  The music was redundant and lacked creative merit. 

State Radio was great and played about an hour and fifteen minutes and did a commendable job of offering tracks from each of their three full length albums.  Cade knew the words to every song and sang along while taking pictures and recording video with his phone.  This was our second time to see State Radio and Cade’s second concert.  You might recall, from a previous blog, that I took him to Austin City Limits Music Festival a few months back. 

So, last night, I kept my son out late, on a school night, and then, fed him McDonald’s at midnight.  Not exactly a Father Knows Best type move, but for one more day, I was still cool and relevant to him.  We shared an experience that I won’t forget and hope that he, too, holds dear. 

And, yes, he got another State Radio T shirt and a CD.  I might be totally irresponsible, but I’m not a jerk.

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 Bruce Robison!

Bruce Robison is the country hit maker of the country music stars.  You may be more familiar with Bruce than you might realize, as his songs have been covered by several high profile country artists, The Dixie Chicks covered “Travelin’ Soldier”, Tim McGraw and his lovely, blushing bride Faith Hill covered “Angry All the Time”, and George (all my songs are hits) Strait covered “Wrapped”.  All of the songs went to No. 1 on the country chart. 

Robison is a singer/songwriter from Bandera, Texas who is married to singer/songwriter Kelly Willis and brother of Charlie Robison who is a diesel mechanic, what, no that’s not right, oh, he too is a singer songwriter.  There must be something in the water in lovely Bandera, Texas because Robert Earl Keen lived in Bandera when he released his debut album “No Kind of Dancer”

Bruce Robison Discography:

  • Bruce Robison
  • Wrapped
  • Long Way From Anywhere
  • Country Sunshine
  • Eleven Stories
  • It Came From San Antonio
  • The New World
  • His Greatest
  • From the Top

Top 5 Bruce Robison Songs:

  1. My Brother and Me (Wrapped)
  2. Angry All the Time (Wrapped)
  3. Travelin’ Soldier (Long Way Home From Anywhere)
  4. What Would Willie Do (Country Sunshine)
  5. Tennessee Jed (Eleven Stories)

Robison’s songwriting is reflective and moving and is the force behind all of his albums.  His singing is warm and capable but not always enough to carry the greatness of his lyrics.  It is not surprising that his songs that have reached No. 1 have been sung by others.

Bruce and I have quite a bit in common.  He writes and sings great songs, I write about singers of great songs, He has four children, I have four children, he has twins, and I have twins.  He is a talented in demand writer with a successful music careers, and well, that, my dear readers, is where it ends. 

Check out Bruce Robison at www.brucerobison.com.

Bruce Robison’s music is available at iTunes, record stores, and www.brucerobison.com.

Great music waits!


You should be listening to Doyle Bramhall II !

Doyle Bramhall II is a Dallas, Texas born guitarist, singer/songwriter who just happens to be the son of, wait for it…… Doyle Bramhall, friend of the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan.  While in his late teens, Doyle Bramhall II toured as the second guitarist with Jimmie Vaughan and his band The Fabulous Thunderbirds. I thought my high school job was cool and I only I worked at the local video store.

In1992, he and fellow Texan, Charlie Sexton, co-founded the rock band Arc Angels. Doyle and Charlie completed the lineup with the former rhythm section from Stevie Ray Vaughan’s backing band, Double Trouble (Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon).  Although they have only recorded one album, the band was well received critically and had several radio hits.  Their second album is due sometime in 2010

In 1996, he released his self titled debut solo album which featured Wendy and Lisa who formerly worked with the artist formerly known as Prince.  Bramhall wanted to establish himself beyond a guitarist and the album did not do well commercially but by critics gave it some praise.  His second album Jellycream was released in 1999.  It was met with low sales and led to his label, RCA, to stop funds for his new musical project.  Bramhall eventually asked to be let out of his contract. 

Shortly thereafter, he caught the ear of Eric Clapton and worked on Clapton’s 2001 album Reptile.  It was around this time that Bramhall formed his new band Smokestack which, ironically, opened for Clapton on his 2001 tour and by 2004 he was Clapton’s second guitarist.  Bramhall also played guitar with Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd greatness, on his In the Flesh tour.

Doyle Bramhall II Discography:

  • Doyle Bramhall II
  • Jellycream
  • Welcome

Top five Doyle Bramhall II Songs:

  1. Ain’t Goin’ Down Slow (Doyle Bramhall II)
  2. Marry You (Jellycream)
  3. Green Light Girl (Welcome)
  4. So You Want It To Rain (Welcome)
  5. I’m the One (Jellycream)

What sets the music apart, is the diversity of Bramhall’s talent; songwriting, passionate, soulful vocals, and virtuoso guitar playing.  His sound is taut, unyielding and haunting.  Clearly influenced by the guitar greats of the past but individualized enough to claim a sound all his own.

Check out Doyle Bramhall and let me know what you think www.doylebramhall2nd.com.

Doyle Bramhall’s music is available at iTunes, record stores and www.doylebramhall2nd.com.

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Robert Earl Keen!

Robert Earl Keen is a Texas born singer/songwriter who has built a cult following of both fans and musicians alike.  He is a better writer than singer but that is not meant to damn with faint praise.  After all, he was journalism major in college.  Many of the musicians from in and around Texas credit Keen with being the grandfather of the Texas music scene.

In 1984 Keen self financed the release of his debut album No Kind of Dancer features The Front Porch Song, which he wrote in college with Lyle Lovett. In 1986 he made the trek to Nashville but was unable to score a recording deal.  In 1989, Keen released his national debut West Textures contains his now signature song, The Road Goes On Forever.  With the release of 1993’s A Bigger Piece of Sky, Keen gained a larger fan base and some critical acclaim which in large part can be attributed to his rigorous touring schedule of almost 200 dates per year that he kept up in the 90’s.

Keen’s music is bathed in humor, the hills and landscape of Texas as well as the cast of characters he has met along the way.  His 1994 album Gringo Honeymoon has Keen covering the great Steve Earle’s Tom Ames’ Prayer.  His 1997 release Picnic features the duet Then Came Lo Mein with Cowboy Junkies’ Margo Timmins as well as his cover of James McMurtry’s Levelland

Robert Earl Keen Discography:

  • No Kind of Dancer
  • The Live Album
  • West Textures
  • A Bigger Piece of Sky
  • Gringo Honeymoon
  • No. 2 Live Diner
  • Picnic
  • Walking Distance
  • Gravitational Forces
  • Farm Fresh Onions
  • The Party Never Ends
  • Live from Austin
  • What I Really Mean
  • Live at the Ryman
  • Best
  • Marfa After Dark
  • The Rose Hotel

Top Five Robert Earl Keen Songs:

  1. Mariano (West Textures)
  2. Lynnville Train (Gringo Honeymoon)
  3. Rolling By (No Kind of Dancer)
  4. Shades of Grey (Picnic)
  5. Road to No Return/Carolina, New Life in Old Mexico, Still Without You (Walking Distance)  This is actually a trilogy(Tracks 7-9) of songs and perhaps the finest work he has ever done

Keen began an annual music fest, Texas Uprising that showcased local talent and took place in a variety of locations around Texas.  I believe that this, in addition to his great music, is why so many of the bands that have been lumped in the Texas music scene feel such reverence for Keen and his music. 

Check out Robert Earl Keen at www.robertearlkeen.com

Robert Earl Keen’s music is available at iTunes, record stores, and www.robertearlkeen.com.

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Counting Crows!

I’ve always liked the Counting Crows and fondly recall the release of their debut album “August and Everything After”.  This was due, in large part, to the timing of the release which was late in my college career and I associate the album with the freedom and liberating experiences as a student of the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas.  To be fair, I was pretty liberated before this time but at this point, I was in my own apartment and had cultivated a wide circle of friends to share the experience with.  And yet, I digress.

August and Everything After” was released late in 1993 and the band toured relentlessly in 1993 and 1994.  They toured with The Cranberries, Bob Dylan, Cracker, Los, Lobos, Midnight Oil, and The Rolling Stones to name a few.  The surprise success of their first single, “Mr. Jones”, an ironic tail of struggling musicians who dream of becoming a star, propelled them to stardom and made their debut the fastest selling album since Nirvana’s “Nevermind”. 

The sudden and staggering success took a toll on the band and caused lead singer Adam Duritz to have a nervous breakdown.  It also halted their touring as they only played two gigs in 1995.  This allowed Duritz to write their sophomore album “Recovering the Satellites” which was released in October of 1996.  The sound was a little heavier and lyrically dealt with the trappings of stardom and the ability or lack thereof, to acclimate.  Their touring resumed and they released “Across a Wire: Live in New York” which was a double live album that captured their acoustic VH1 Storyteller concert on one disc and disc two was a bit of a an electric set recorded for MTV’s Live from the 10 Spot.

Over the course of years, the band has had a variety of  musicians that have come and gone.  While their sound has stayed relatively close to its origin, in large part, due to the emotional connectivity of Duritz’s passionate vocals, there has been some variation of songs that have been done both electrically and acoustically.

Counting Crows Discography:

  • August and Everything After
  • Recovering the Satellites
  • Across a Wire: Live in New York
  • This Desert Life
  • Hard Candy
  • New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall
  • Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings

Top 5 Counting Crows’ Songs

  1. Anna Begins (August and Everything After)
  2. Colorblind (This Dessert Life)
  3. Miller’s Angels (Recovering the Satellites)
  4. Holiday In Spain (Hard Candy)
  5. Omaha (August and Everything After)

Personally, I’ve always been drawn to the emotionally tortured vocals of Adam Duritz.  Lyrically I find him to be beautifully expressive while, on their latest album in particular, at times a bit self absorbed.  Lately, I’m more inclined to listen to their live music as it seems riskier in the respect that they alter the arrangements and can do multiple interpretations of a song in either acoustic or electrical instrumentation.

Their music has appeared in several movies, which include: Clueless, Rounders, Cruel Intentions, Mr. Deeds, Two Weeks Notice, and most notably, Shrek 2.  As well as television shows such as Dawson’s Creek, Scrubs, Party of Five, Felicity, E.R., One Tree Hill, and Brothers and Sisters.

I’m a fan and I know that nostalgia plays a factor in that but I also think that musically, they have found a way to stay somewhat relevant.  I don’t think there music necessarily paved the way for bands or pioneered a sound, but I also think that they don’t suck. 

Check out the Counting Crows at www.countingcrows.com.

Counting Crows music is available at iTunes, record stores, and www.countingcrows.com.

Great music awaits!


You should partake in Austin City Limits Music Festival!

Austin City Limits Music Festival is a three day music festival that takes place in Austin, Texas at Zilker Park and unites 65,000 people (music lovers, drunks, stoners, hippies, college kids who don’t own shirts, middle aged men and their 20 something mid life crisis, middle aged women wearing their mid life crisis, etc…) and showcases 130 bands that range from established acts, up and coming artists, and cult bands.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am a huge fan of Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) and have attended each year since 2005.  In addition to being a fan of the event, Austin is my favorite city in Texas and ranks in the top five in the country.  Shout out to San Francisco and Chicago as well.

Each year is special and I recall fondly my time spent with the mass of people who endure a new environmental nemesis while responding to the siren sound of the multi staged musical extravaganza.  In five wonderful years, I have seen fire (burning trailers while Pete Yorn performed and burning speaker while Bjork performed) and I’ve seen rain (thanks James Taylor), I’ve seen dust (Foo Fighters were absolutely worth the 2 weeks of brown soot seeping from my nose) and I’ve seen what some thought was mud (Eddie Vedder became one with the crowd and slid in it) but smelled a bit more pungent and was actually some animal fecal matter. 

Over the course of my attendance, I have seen some pretty amazing shows.  Listed below are just some of the high lights: 

Ben Harper Tom Petty Foo Fighters Pearl Jam
Beck Robert Plant & Allison Krause The Raconteurs Drive-By Truckers
Son Volt Donavon Frankenreiter State Radio Brett Dennen
The Dead Weather Damien Rice Cross Canadian Ragweed Arcade Fire
Amos Lee Robert Earl Keen Iron & Wine Mason Jennings
Van Morrison John Mayer Ray LaMontagne Wilco
G Love & Special Sauce The Toadies The Shins B-52’s
Slightly Stoopid Eli Young Band The Black Keys Okkervil River
Queens of the Stone Age Bjork The Killers Steve Earle
Bob Dylan Lucinda Williams The Tragically Hip Willie Nelson

Over the last few years, it has become a tradition for me and my long term, heterosexual, significant other, life partner to attend.  We eagerly anticipate the sale of the early bird tickets and the unveiling of the lineup.  She too is a huge fan of the festival and city.  Which makes the trip all the better.  While our musical tastes are similar, with the variety of acts available at the festival, we have a ritual of mapping out the days and comparing our schedules and see how close they match.  There is usually some slight difference with the day shows but most of the evening shows are fairly in-line

Last year was particularly memorable because we took our oldest children (her daughter, my son). It was my son’s first concert, he is fifteen and we share a pretty strong bond over music.  Several of his favorite bands were playing and I surprised him by waking him up early Sunday morning and driving to Austin and living vicariously through him as he excitedly took in the whole seen.  His first concert consisted of Brett Dennen, The Toadies, State Radio (his favorite), Ben Harper, and Pearl Jam.  Not a bad first concert.  As if this were not enough, he got to meet State Radio, get a picture with the band and their brand new CD “Let It Go” signed. The look on his face was priceless as he posed for a picture and the band talked to him for a few minutes.   Add to this day, Home Slice Pizza, two concert shirts, and the use of port-a-pots on the last day of a three day festival.  It was indeed a day to remember.

All this, is to say, if you have not attended ACL, I strongly suggest you take the time and attend a day or two if the thought of three days is too grueling.  I am a fan of the three days and love every minute of the music and the experience.  However, I recognize it is not for everyone and as I have gotten older I have come to realize that the recovery time is just a bit longer with each passing year.  My days include less beer, more water, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, and a chair.

So, if you have some time and disposable income, check out www.aclfestival.com.

Great music awaits!