Sunday, May 20, 2012


SLAID CLEAVES at Shady Grove 5-17-12

Hadn't seen Slaid in a full show in probably 2 years.  Gorgeous night at Shady Grove to sit out under the big oaks and listen to new songs, old songs, covers and always, the yodeling!
What was also exciting about this concert is it was announced that Scrappy Jud Newcomb would be part of his band, on lead guitar.  Rounding out the trio was Chojo Jacques on fiddle/mandolin.  He's played with Slaid for quite a while.
I thought it was going to be interesting to hear Slaid with somebody different on guitar.  Seems like Michael O'Connor and Slaid have been together forever.  I love Michael.  Think he is one of the greats in this town and that is saying a lot.
The first thing that was different was Scrappy playing electric and resonator, no acoustic.  Michael was always on an acoustic.  Scrappy was pretty laid back at this show.  I think he is pretty much brand new to the band so he seemed to be really going by feel.  Still good to hear him again as he's one of my favorites and I hadn't seen him in a while.
Slaid did all of his standards:  "Hard To Believe"  "Horsehoe Lounge" "Drinkin Days" "Horses and Divorces" "One Good Year" "Broke Down" to name a few.
Talked about Don Walser quite a bit.  Covered him on "Rolling Stone From Texas."
Also played several new songs, all of which sounded vintage Slaid and good.
The show lasted about 2 hours, 2 sets.  This was a free show, sponsored by a local radio station.
I took two videos.  One song is going to be on the new cd which is coming out real soon.  It's called "The Texas Love Song."  Here is the link:
Second video is here:  It's called Rust Belt Fields and was written with Rod Picott.  He said this one has never been released.  It's really good and lyrically made me think of Springsteen.
Great to see Slaid again after a too long time away.


ANAIS MITCHELL at Blue Rock 5-10-12

When this concert was announced, there wasn't a second thought for me.  I got turned on to "Hadestown" by a musician here in Austin who said I had to hear it.  Bought it and have been a fan since.  Her latest, "Young Man In America" was recently released and is a real marvel.  Needless to say, I was looking forward to this show.
Somebody who I was sitting next to asked me to describe her as he was not familiar with her.  Well, she's a folk singer but that's not enough.  She sounds differently from everybody else.  She's got an edge.  Can be quite gentle.  Sharp lyrics.  Oh yeah, she also wrote a folk opera ("Hadestown").  I think you'll really like her.
First off, she had weather issues and didn't arrive at Blue Rock until 5 minutes before it was to start!  Her misfortune was our good fortune as we got to be entertained by Devon Sproule and Paul Curreri.  They were there for the show and were asked to play a few songs.  They floored everybody in that place, I do believe.  Her music is very stripped back, Smoky Mountains sounding, think Gillian Welch only doesn't sound like her, just great like her!  Did a song called "Ain't That The Way."  It was a head bopping, bouncy sounding little ditty that you couldn't help but smile through.  And Paul, holy cow, can that man sing.  He did a song called "California" and I loved it!  And they both are guitar players.  They're not strummers.  He also did some singing with Devon and the two of them going back and forth was spectacular.  Turns out they've recently relocated to Austin and I can't wait to see a full show of both.  I know they're married but I believe they do their own thing and aren't a duo.
Then Anais came out, cool as a cucumber. If she was frazzled at all, arriving at the last second, it didn't show.  Complete professional.  She was very funny.  Told us about the nightmare getting to the show.  Did almost all, if not all, of "Young Man In America."  Turns out it is her dad on the cover of the cd when he was a young guy.  One of the stories she told us about.
Also did several from "Hadestown" and Devon and Paul joined her for a couple of those.  Turns out they had performed it with her in West Virginia, taking on some of the parts on the album that were sung by the likes of Greg Brown and Ani Difranco, among others.
Anais live is very captivating.  Has a unique, gorgeously different voice.  Very emotive.  Then her lyrics.  Listen to them.
2 sets.  Probably 2 solid hours of music.  $25 cover.
Kinda neat at the end.  We were having a big thunderstorm, rare around these parts.  We had a cool lightning show.  She ended the night with Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall."  Devon jumped up with her, spontaneously.  Great ending.
As per Blue Rock, no photos or video.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

BUTCH HANCOCK at Rock Garden


BUTCH HANCOCK at Rock Garden 5-5-12

Not much you can say that hasn't already been said about this great, great songwriter.  So, I'll tell you instead about going to shows at special places.  Things are changing in Austin.  Or maybe I'm just getting older and less tolerant of less than stellar listening experiences.  Now I look to go to shows where it's all about the music.  So, even though it's getting tougher to go out to a club and have a good experience, that's led to house concerts, small rooms and other ways to hear live music.
The Rock Garden is one of those places.  It's a back yard.  That's an understatement.  It's big, roomy, a natural amphitheatre, gorgeous view.  So yes, the atmosphere for music is about as good as it gets.  This was my first time here.  I'm not sure how often they hold concerts but they have a nice little stage built, great sound system and everybody listens.  And into this setting we get Butch Hancock.  What more could you ask for?
He did 2 sets, about 45 minutes each.  Got my all time favorite "If You Were A Bluebird!"  Also heard some new songs that will be coming out on a solo Hancock cd and also new Flatlanders material.  Believe both are due out later this summer.
Did video my favorite song and you can see it here:

GLENN FUKUNAGA at Continental Gallery 5-3-12

Unique show.  6 piece ensemble in a room the size of a comfortably large living room playing jazz from Glenn's first ever cd called "Not A Word."  I've seen this guy play with everybody and their brother, all genres, all venues, all ways...except instrumental jazz.
Everybody who played on the cd was at this show:  Joel Guzman on keys, Dony Wynn drumming, Alex Coke on sax and other woodwinds, Kevin Flatt on bass and not on the cd but also at this show was the percussionist Jose Rossy.  Believe he and Dony played together with Robert Palmer.  Jose also played with Weather Report.  That alone blows my mind.  One of the many things that makes living in Austin so dang special.
So, I bought this cd 3 months ago, before it officially was out, when Glenn was playing bass at another show.  I'll say jazz, particularly instrumental, a little goes a long way for me.  I love jazz vocal and there is an occasional  instrumental that will knock me out but as a rule, I want lyrics, melody, my usual rock n roll, Americana, whatever.  But I bought this cd, listened to it and the thing grabbed me straight off.  I don't know how to describe it except to say every time I listen to it, I get lost in it.  Tune out what I'm doing and just listen.  Guess that's all you really need to know.
So, when I saw he was going to do a cd release show at this little room, I was thrilled.  The place was packed!  SRO  I know some people who were turned away.
It was very cool to listen live to "Not A Word" and watch all of these exceptional, even for Austin, musicians play this room.
I didn't take any pictures or video.  Wish I had at least snapped a photo.  So, I'll just post the cd cover and tell you if you like jazz at all, buy this baby.  Really, once "Ha Ha Hawaiian" starts, you'll settle in.



WILLIE NELSON at We Walk The Line

WE WALK THE LINE Tribute for Johnny Cash 80th Birthday at ACL Moody Theatre 4-20-12

I could just list the names of all who played this show and that would be all that needs to be said:

Willie Nelson
Kris Kristofferson
Lucinda Williams
Shelby Lynne
Sheryl Crow
Brandi Carlile
Rhett Miller (Old 97's)
Ronnie Dunn
Sam Beam (Iron & Wine)
Pat Monahan (Train)
Amy Lee (Evanescence)
Jamey Johnson
Shooter Jennings
Andy Grammer
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Buddy Miller
Don Was
Kenny Aronoff
Ian McLagan (recent inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!)
Greg Leisz
Matthew McConaughey (host)

What a night!  Going into this we knew it was gonna be great but really, I don't think you can anticipate just how spectacular a concert can be until it's presenting itself.  After the opening rave up with Brandi Carlile doing "Folsom Prison" came Andy Grammer, somebody we were not familiar with, who proceeded to do a smashing version (including some beatboxing!) of "Get Rhythm."  After that 1, 2 start we kind of looked at each other and said ok!
There was never a letdown.
Some other highlights now a month after the fact:  
Ronnie Dunn (never a Brooks & Dunn fan) did the coolest "Ring of Fire" I've ever heard.  He had 2 women playing the mariachi trumpets and believe me, the 3 of them lifted that entire room way up into the air.
Carolina Chocolate Drops did "Jackson."  Had never seen them and loved everything about those folks.  It was acoustic and included a cello.  As far as I can remember they were the only ones who did not use the house band.
I wish I could remember what song Amy Lee did.  I've heard of Evanescence but couldn't name you one of their songs.  Her voice blew me away.
There were collaborations.  Sheryl, Rhett & Brandi performed together as did Shelby and Pat.  Sheryl and Willie did "If I Were A Carpenter."  Kris, Shooter and Jamey did "Highwayman."
For me, the drop dead I'll never forget if I live to be 150 you had to be there jaw dropping goose bumping wrist slashing came when Lucinda Williams hit the stage and did "Hurt."  Just as "Ring of Fire" lifted us to the rafters, "Hurt" put us on our knees.  God, that was a powerful 3 minutes.  Times like that all you can do is acknowledge the living soul of music.
The night ended with everybody on stage singing "I Walk The Line."  I did pull out the camera for that and filmed it.  You can see it here:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

JESS KLEIN at Threadgill's

JOHN FULLBRIGHT at Threadgill's

JESS KLEIN at Threadgill's 4-18-12

Little late with this but not because I've forgotten about it.
This was the Austin CD Release show for Jess Klein's new record called "Behind A Veil."  It was a perfect evening to be sitting outside listening to her and the band play almost every song from the new cd.
I hadn't heard the songs with a band live.  Her solo shows the past year and a half, if not longer, have included all of the new material and you could tell it was gonna be a good, good album.  I swear to God, "Riverview," like "Shonalee" from years ago, should be known by everybody.  Damn shame commercial radio sucks.
Anyway, the concert was great.  They played about 90 minutes so the set hit all corners of her music.
I hadn't seen Jess in quite a while so I was unfamiliar with her new band other than the bass player, Mark Addison.  He also produced the album.  New to me is Billy Masters on lead guitar and the drummer, John Paul Keenon.  He is brand new!  Had only rehearsed with Jess the day before.  He did a fantastic job and it was great fun watching him watch Mark Addison for cues.  At any rate, some things never change.  Jess always sings and plays with tons of passion, the new songs are really good and so the show seemed to go by in the blink of an eye.
Opening for Jess was John Fullbright.  I've raved about him since the first time I ever saw him.  He has a debut studio cd coming out, I think, in the next week or so.  Seems like we've been waiting for it forever.  I know it's been at least 3 years since I first came across him.  He played about 45 minutes and we heard many of the songs that will be on the debut.  This guy is the real deal.  He also joined Jess for a couple of songs, playing piano and singing harmony.
Just a spectacular night of music we got from both.  Cover was $10 and that was a steal.
Here are links to a couple of videos. Jess does the title track here:
She ended the show with that and it was awesome!

Here is John doing "Gawd Above"