Thursday, July 31, 2008


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BRUCE ROBISON at Scholz Garten 7-30-08

Tonight's weekly Town Dance, as Bruce likes to call it, had a packed house. I'm guessing because he was on KGSR the day before talking about this series of concerts he's doing, a whole lot more people now know about this. So the atmosphere was ratcheted up a notch & the band really seemed to be more fired up. Dance floor was packed much of the time & there were several really good dance couples to watch. That is always fun. A different drummer tonight, not sure if this is a temporary or permanent move.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


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GRUPO FANTASMA at Waterloo Records 7-25-08

Grupo has a new album out called Sonidos Gold, hence the in store performance at Waterloo Records. These in stores usually last about 30 minutes. Afterward they move to an autograph table.
Grupo Fantasma is made up of 11 or so musicians with full percussion & horn sections. The stage at Waterloo is so small that several of the musicians were on the floor instead of the stage which prevented me from even seeing the bongo player. They have what I call the Funk Rock/Cumbia/TexMex sound and are lots of fun live. As you'll see in the video, the camera is moving up & down because I could not stand still while they were playing. At least the video is moving to the rhythm!
One of my favorite memories of this band is seeing them open the first ever Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2002. My friend Bruce & I met in Austin (I didn't live here then) with no idea what this festival might be like. I'm from Illinois & he lives in California. We liked the lineup & decided to meet down here. We had never heard of Grupo and had no clue as to what they were about. Next thing you know a bunch of people hit the stage & a big wall of sound came at us. We just looked at each other, smiled & said this is going to be fun. I didn't know much about that music then but now I would guess they started with a cumbia of some sort. You couldn't stand still.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


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CAROLYN WONDERLAND at Blues on the Green 7-23-08

I'll start out by saying I screwed up 2 ways on this one. I didn't video the right song & I was too close to the stage so the sound is not good. Lessons learned.
Carolyn is, for my money, the best female guitar player I've ever seen. Add to that a great soulful, booming voice & you are in business. She also plays a mean trumpet, mandolin & who knows what else. As one of the dj's from KGSR stated after the show, "I just have to say it. She is a badass!" Oh yes, she also writes pretty good songs. If you're not familiar with her go to her myspace page & listen to Misunderstood:
Blues on the Green is a free KGSR sponsored event held every summer from June through August. It's every other Wednesday & so far I've managed to miss Asleep at the Wheel, Marcia Ball & Los Lonely Boys performing at it.
I will catch Carolyn later this year & video one of her guitar playing showcase songs & be in a better position for sound :)
Blues on the Green is a KGSR sponsored, free concert series held every summer in Zilker Park, home to the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

Friday, July 18, 2008

KEVIN WELCH at Shady Grove 7-17-08

Tonight's Unplugged at the Grove concert featured Kevin Welch & opening was an Australian folk/country singer now living in Nashville named Audrey Auld. Audrey was pretty entertaining, good sense of humor, chatty between songs. She also had one heckuva lead guitarist with her. Can't remember his name, shame on me as he was really good.
Kevin Welch I had heard a lot about but didn't know his music at all. There are so many good artists here and I'm surprised regularly by how many are not on my radar. It just kills me. This guy is terrific! He mentioned his latest disc is up for album of the year but unfortunately their category also has the Robert Plant/Allison Krause record. He's been around a while. Has a great voice & is an awesome songwriter. His son Dustin, who opened at Shady last week, played with his dad tonight. Also in his band was a cellist & keyboard/accordion player. As so often is the case, these were a couple of guys who live in Austin so when they're around they play with whoever. The cellist is a regular in Alejandro Escovedos band & the keyboardists regular band is the BoDeans. That's just how it is here. It's pretty amazing to think that less than 2 weeks ago the cellist was playing in front of 100,000 people along Chicago's downtown lakefront as part of the annual Taste of Chicago/4th of July celebration and tonight he's here on this tiny stage in front of a couple hundred people at Shady Grove. Pretty cool.
At any rate I will be picking up plenty of Kevin Welch & going to hear him whenever he plays. He recently moved to Austin from Nashville so hopefully I'll get to see a lot more of him.
Check Kevin out at:

Thursday, July 17, 2008


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BRUCE ROBISON at Scholz Garten 7-16-08

Tonight's show was much different from last week's - more up tempo, dance music. The dancers were up early tonight! I also thought the band sounded better. Not sure how short a time these guys have been playing with Bruce but I think the only member from his previous band is the keyboard player so you can see them getting used to each other & this week they seemed to be more together. This is fun to watch.
So, with Bruce my favorite song is Lifeline & I was hoping to video it tonight. Got lucky as he played it while it was still light enough & also filmed Travelin' Soldier which is posted at YouTube.
He is such a good writer.

Friday, July 11, 2008


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THE DEDRINGERS at Shady Grove 7-10-08

Unplugged at the Grove this week brought The Dedringers who were having their cd release party. I had never heard them so had no idea what to expect. From the sound check all I knew for sure is it would be loud. And so it was but also very good. Not sure how to describe them. They don't remind me of anybody. There seem to be 2 main guys who both write. They did a mix of shuffles, boogies, ballads & straight ahead rock. They were called back for an encore. When they came up John said this is not a familiar position for us so we don't have a song planned. They had a discussion & did a great version of the old Faces song Ooh La La.
Opening for The Dedringers was Dustin Welch & the House Band. He has a Texas voice, like he's got a throat full of dust, kind of like Ryan Bingham. The music was on the side of Texas Alt. Country, whatever that is. They were a good warm up.
Also on hand was James McMurtry who held up one end of the outside bar all night taking in the show.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


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BRUCE ROBISON at Scholz Garten 7-9-08

Bruce Robison has a new record coming out in September & to promote it he's playing every Wednesday night at Scholz Garten, an old German restaurant sandwiched between UT & downtown. It has quite a history as a hangout for reporters, politicians(mostly Democrats, yea!)and if you've ever read any Molly Ivins, it was a favorite place of hers. In fact when she died this is where they had a celebration of her life service. The outdoor beer garden is pretty big with basic picnic tables for seating.
The paper said Bruce would have special guests every week. Night 1 brought his wife, Kelly Willis, who harmonized on Travelin' Soldier. That is the song the Dixie Chicks had a big hit with that Bruce wrote. A singer/songwriter in her own right, Kelly is taking a break from touring due to their having 4 kids who look to be between the ages of 2 thru 8! All 4 were with her last night. They are fun to watch. The daughter had her violin & one of the boys had his little guitar & at times they stood off to the side playing along. Very cute.
I am hoping to video Bruce playing my favorite song, Lifeline, but since the show is outside I have to video before it gets too dark so I did When It Rains, another great song from his last record, It Came From San Antonio.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

James McMurtry and the Heartless Bastards

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Speaking of not interacting with the crowd...James McMurtry has to be the most sullen, almost scary person I've ever seen live. He just looks nasty! He looks like the songs he writes. They are great songs so I guess it doesn't matter. What a tight 3 piece band he has! You don't think of his stuff as dance music since it's so dark but boy, when this band kicks into Choctaw Bingo just try to stay seated. You have to hear the live version as the studio version doesn't have the fire. I wish I could have filmed that song but at Shady you need to film & get photos right away or it gets too dark.
The vocals on this video are pretty jumbled. Why, I do not know. The guitars sound fine & in the audience the vocals were good so no idea why they didn't come across on the video.

Sahara Smith

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Folker SAHARA SMITH at Shady Grove 7-3-08

So...after catching Los Lonely Boys at Waterloo I flew over to Shady Grove. They have a free music series called Unplugged at the Grove, sponsored by KGSR, Radio Austin. Opening for James McMurtry tonight was Sahara Smith. Accompanying her on guitar was Jake Owen. He was very good. As far as I can tell Sahara doesn't have a record out yet. There was a song she played that stuck in my head about wanting to drive all night to Laredo. I wish I could find it. She is very young, maybe 20, pretty shy & doesn't interact with the crowd much. I'm sure she'll get better at that as she goes along. Sure has some cool, red cowboy boots!

Los Lonely Boys

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LOS LONELY BOYS at Waterloo Records 7-3-08

This is one of those nice free shows, an in-store promotion. Waterloo also provides free beer for these shows. I don't know how it could get any better. This is a video of them singing Staying With Me from their new release Forgiven.

RUTHIE FOSTER at Antone's 7-1-08

We decided to go to this show for a couple of reasons. #1 Ruthie is not playing around Austin much these days. She's touring so her next Austin area show is not until October. The old days where you could catch her once a month if you wanted to seem to be over. We are so spoiled here in Austin. #2 opening was Bettysoo & since we liked her so much after hearing 3 songs at the KGSR Fan Drive we wanted to hear a longer set.
What a fun night!
Bettysoo had a full band including Will Sexton on lead guitar. Check her out because she is going places. You'll be able to say you knew her when...I did not take a photo or video & I have no idea why. Guess I was too interested in just listening.
Ruthie was on fire. For this show she had a sax player & also an organ/keyboard player. I'll tell ya, everybody knows no one has more soul than Ruthie but these guys brought the funk, especially the organist. I wish I knew his name. Shame on me for not remembering. He even gave me his copy of the setlist afterward. I have 2 videos. They are both too dark but I'm posting them so you can hear the music. This was a great show.

Monte Warden

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another really good Austin Americana singer/songwriter


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A good funk band. The lead singer has that gravelly Omar Kent Dykes kind of yowl. "The Girls" are fun to watch, all moves choreographed in unison.

Jon Dee Graham

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A voice with a million cigarettes behind it. Writes good songs, great guitar playing. Used to be Alejandro Escovedo's lead guitarist.

Seth Walker

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If ever a white boy was born to sing the blues this is the guy. His voice was made for it. Seth has it all - the voice, writing and guitar playing.

Bruce Robison

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This guy is a great writer:
"She used to curl up like the steam from a train.
I can still see her but she's gone just the same."
Doesn't get any better.


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Winner of the 2008 Kerrville Folk Fest "New Folk" Award
I had never heard of her so had no idea what to expect. She blew everybody away, good writer & powerful voice. or

Suzanna Choffel

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SUZANNA CHOFFEL and her band

She has an interesting, different voice, kinda smoky. I like it. Phrasing makes me think she's listened to jazz quite a bit. Who knows?

Following are some photos of other performers at the Fan Drive.

Eliza Gilkyson

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Eliza Gilkyson at Threadgills 6-20-08

This was the KGSR/Family Eldercare Fan Drive. It's held every year with live music from 8am until 6pm. You bring a fan or they ask for a $25 donation which will buy two. They are given out to the elderly in the greater Austin area who can't afford them. I chose Eliza to video & was lucky enough to get her playing the single from her latest record. The song is called Runaway Train and it is from Beautiful World. This is my first video & I learned a couple of things. First of all you shouldn't move the camera all over the place. Secondly, don't swear out loud.