Friday, April 24, 2009


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RHETT MILLER at Shady Grove 4-23-09

The new season of KGSR's Unplugged at the Grove started last Thursday. Didn't make it to the opener but got there last night for Rhett Miller. He is the front man for Old 97's. Turns out he's got a solo record coming out soon. Old 97's are still together, though.
It's always fun when you get to see someone who is pretty big play at this tiny place. And Shady was packed! It was nice to see a young crowd who knew all the words to his songs and were having a great time.
I like Old 97's. I know their hits and such but I wouldn't say I'm a big fan.
After seeing Rhett last night, I am a big fan of his. This guy worked very hard. He sang and played his rear off for about an hour and forty minutes. Didn't take a break and barely paused between songs. The guy really poured his heart into the show. He even moved away from the middle of the stage and monitors so the people out on the lawn could see him. He did this often. Seemed real intent on giving everybody a good show.
Rhett played the Old 97's hits; Murder (Or A Heart Attack), Timebomb, King Of All The World, Question, Rollerskate Skinny, Big Brown Eyes, Dance With Me. He also played his huge solo hit, Come Around. That closed the show and was great! Rhett played several from his new record, also. Great mix of old, new, solo and band material.
This was a fun night. The time flew by. We are lucky to live in a town that offers so many great choices for live music, let alone free, like the Unplugged series is.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


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BETTYSOO and CHARLIE FAYE at Momo's 4-21-09

Since I was already downtown for The Greencards, decided to head over to Momo's afterward to catch BettySoo and then Charlie Faye, $5 cover. Both were playing with their bands.
This was a tough night. Momo's had a leak that day so they put a new floor in along with a sealer. Therefore, they had all the windows open trying to air the place out. Problem was it was 90 degrees along with nasty smelling it was also sweltering in there.
BettySoo had a different drummer as the Mailman was out of town. Jeff Plankenhorn was back on lead guitar, in place of Will Sexton. They're both great so it really doesn't matter. She played much from the new cd which is coming out June 9th. It's called Heat Sin Water Skin. It is going to be terrific.
Charlie Faye had a 5 piece band. She's on acoustic, a lead guitarist, Will Sexton on rhythm mainly, a bass and drums. Turns out the drummer who filled in with BettySoo plays with Charlie.
Hadn't seen her before. I would say folk/country rock with an emphasis on rocking. I really liked her. Her voice is strong and has attitude. I look forward to hearing her more often. Honestly, it was hard to concentrate on the music it was so hot and nasty in there.


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GREENCARDS at Waterloo Records 4-21-09

The Greencards were in town for the Old Settler's Festival and hung around doing radio shows to promote their new record, Fascination. They came to Waterloo and played about 5 or 6 of their new songs. They are a folk/bluegrass sometimes jam band. They have mandolin, violin, bass and acoustic guitar. Carol, the lead singer, bass and sometime mandolin player, has the warmest voice you ever did hear. The guitarist and mandolin player had a couple of big jams that were very fun. This new record sounds good, lots of pretty melodies.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


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Songwriter Showcase at Evangeline Cafe featuring GURF MORLIX, BETTYSOO, JIM PATTON and SHERRY BROKUS 4-18-09

After leaving Old Settler's we headed to a little Cajun cafe close to home to wind down the night. This was a $5 cover. Can you stand it? I really wanted to see Gurf Morlix doing his own music because the only times I've ever seen him has been as the lead guitarist for somebody else. Plus, he produced BettySoo's latest record that is coming out in early June! Both of them playing together, I thought, would be a great time, and it was.
This again, was a song swap format. Gurf, however, played with all. He is an amazing guitarist. With the music he wasn't familiar with, Jim would tell him, "come in at the end & do a solo" and Gurf would just take it away and go! Very cool.
But when it was his turn and he played his stuff, oh man, it was great. For one thing, Evangeline Cafe is so small, it's like they're sitting in your kitchen playing for you. Gurf has a stage presence. You either have it or you don't and he has it. He starts picking that little guitar of his, hitting the bass lines and breaks into "Walkin' To New Orleans" and you are hooked!
He did at least 5 or 6 songs from his new record, Last Exit To Happyland. This cd, if you don't have it, put it on your list. Gosh, it is good. Patty Griffin sings on 3 of the songs and Ruthie Foster also sings on it.
Another BIG surprise about Gurf, he can sing in a nice voice! He harmonized with BettySoo and if I hadn't been there, I wouldn't have believed it. Who knew??
As for BettySoo, it was nice to hear her this time without echo! Again, she sold the most cds after the show. Everybody who bought cds raved about her.
Jim and Sherry are a duo who play and sing songs about colorful characters. This was my first time seeing them. Originally from the East Coast, they now live in Austin. Their songs are those that by the time they end, you feel like you've met all these different people and know where they came from, where they went, everything that happened along the way. Story songs. I like that.

DAVE ALVIN and the GUILTY WOMEN at Old Settler's

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LOVELL SISTERS at Old Settler's

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STONEHONEY at Old Settler's

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This is a yearly 4 day festival held about 15 miles outside Austin. We went only for the day on Saturday. They have 2 outdoor stages and one indoor. They should get rid of the indoor as the sound echoes. and echoes. and echoes...We, of course, started off at the indoor stage. That's because BettySoo, Ben Mallot and Jenny Reynolds were doing a song swap. Other than the echoing sound, it was a good set. I especially liked the end when together they did Gram Parson's "The Return of the Grievous Angel." It really works because Ben Mallot, who I hadn't heard before, has an incredibly soulful voice. It's perfectly suited for the Americana, mournful songs of the day.
On their own, they did about 4 songs each. Obviously, I'm a big BettySoo fan and have written about her repeatedly. Suffice to say, as always, she won many new fans on this day. I know because a friend was volunteering at the festival and selling merchandise. After their set, I guess a lot of people came over wanting to buy BettySoo cds. As for Jenny Reynolds, this was only my 3rd time seeing her and I still haven't seen a full set, just song swaps, or a 1/2 hour gig. What I've heard, I like. She's a good writer. Her latest record, Next To You, rocks and whispers. It also has some of Austin's best musicians playing (Warren Hood), singing (Ruthie Foster) or producing (Scrappy Jud Newcomb). Pick it up at Waterloo or order from CD Baby. Ben Mallot, since this was my first time seeing him, all I can tell you is I'm looking forward to hearing more of him. When I hear someone for the first time, I usually end up focusing on whatever it is that strikes me first. With Ben, it was that soulful voice. I couldn't tell you anything about his lyrics. I just listened to that voice. So, next time, I'll pay attention to the songs!
Next we went over to the small outside stage to hear Belleville Outfit. They are a local band who play country flavored jazz. Great musicians and voices. A unique sound. Lots of fun to sit and listen to.
From there we went back to the indoor stage to catch the last 1/2 hour of Stonehoney. I heard them for the first time during SXSW. They are from California but now live in Austin. This is a country rock band with great harmonies and catchy melodies. They look to be getting a pretty big following in Austin.
Back outside to the small stage to hear a bluegrass trio from Nashville called The Lovell Sisters. I am not a huge bluegrass fan. I can take it in small doses and while they played for an hour I lasted about a 1/2 hour. They are very good but I can only listen to so many violin/mandolin solos. That's just me.
We went back inside to catch a little bit of Ray Wylie Hubbard who was doing a songwriter clinic. It was pretty crowded by the time we got in there so we didn't stay long.
Headed over to the main stage to wait for Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women. I'm a big Dave Alvin fan but for some reason, never had seen him. The Guilty Women are a group he put together to record his latest record. All are from Austin except for the great vocalist, Christy McWilson. He played all of his well known material, nothing new as far as I could tell. I love his old stuff so this was fine by me. The band includes Cindy Cashdollar on dobro and steel. Any time you get to see her play, it's a good thing.

Monday, April 13, 2009


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BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN And The E STREET BAND in Houston at Toyota Center 4-8-09

I guess this will be a tale of 2 cities. Austin and Houston were both great shows. The key differences were the crowd and the sound.
The crowd was lame, compared to Austin. Many people sitting on their rears all night. How can this be? Makes you wonder. People coming and going during the songs, up and down all night. They aren't real Bruce fans. I think they are season ticket holders for the Toyota Center and wanted to say they were at the big event. What a waste of good seats.
The sound was so much better here at the Toyota Center in Houston. This was my first time in this venue and it is very nice. Impressive sound for an arena.
Our seats were very similar to what we had in Austin, just a little bit closer to the stage. We were 9 rows off the floor, end aisle seats about 30 feet away.
As for the show...Bruce, as usual, was firing on all cylinders! We got a couple of fun rarities: Cadillac Ranch, It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City and Rosalita. All were requests. The Big Man, I'm happy to say, was on his game in Houston and didn't miss a note. Little Steven and Bruce, with their dueling guitar solos on It's Hard To Be A Saint, were having fun and it was great to watch!
In place of Youngstown they did The Ghost of Tom Joad and all I can tell you is the 2 Nils Lofgren guitar solos, especially the one near the end of the song, you have to see to believe them. Nils was a raving, intense lunatic on both but the second one, he did one handed while pointing at the crowd and going nuts. You can see it here and it's well worth the time to view:

The show continues to evolve. I'm looking forward to seeing how much it changes between now and when it hits Chicago in another month. Still hopeful more new material gets played, especially Life Itself.
This show was 4 songs and 20 minutes shorter than the Austin show.
It's been 5 days and I'm still in Bruce withdrawal mode. Never enough.

Friday, April 10, 2009


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The night after the Springsteen concert in Austin, Southpaw Jones put on his 2nd annual(ish) free show. It is a benefit for the Capital Area Food Bank. He invites local singer/songwriters to play Bruce's music.
I got to hear many musicians I hadn't heard before, including Southpaw. Coming the day after the concert, this was a lot of fun (other than being very tired!).
I enjoyed everybody but there were 3 which stood out for me.
First was Southpaw's version of Two Hearts. He slowed it done and really sang it like the love song it is.
Second, Matt the Electrician did a cool Born in the USA, accompanied by Scrappy Jud Newcomb. Matt used a cajon drum and played it, style wise, somewhat similar to the version Bruce does on the Tracks record.
Third, and a stunner, was Jess Klein singing Highway 29. I could kick myself for not videoing this. She had Scrappy accompany her on guitar while she sat on a stool and sang this song better than Bruce does it. I'm not kidding you. She really made this one her own. Everybody in the place was totally mesmerized. If I ever see her again (and I definitely plan to) and Scrappy is with her, I'll surely request it.

Monday, April 6, 2009


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BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN And The E STREET BAND at Frank Erwin Center 4-5-09

Holy cow, where to start? Still buzzed from that great dose of BruceJuice last night!
I'll start with the facts. They hit the stage at 8:20pm. Played non-stop until 10:25pm. Encore went from 10:25pm until 11:15pm. That is 2 hours and 55 minutes total, 28 songs! Mercy!
It was loud. How loud? I was a little scared once the music stopped and I could feel my ears. They hurt and I couldn't hear very well. Everything sounded muddy. That loud.
Our seats - killer! Along the sideline, probably 40 feet from the stage, great sight line, 9 rows off the floor and on an end aisle. Everyone around us - fantastic! Totally into the show and having a great time.
We got several premieres (granted, it's early in the tour, 3rd show) but they were terrific: Prove It All Night, Youngstown, Sherry Darling, She's The One, Jungleland, I'm A Rocker and Glory Days.
This tour, which is in support of Working On A Dream, Bruce has a definite theme he's getting across. Due to the troubled times, every night he's been playing Badlands, Seeds, Johnny 99 and Hard Times. Throw in the other stuff like Youngstown or Ghost of Tom Joad and you get the idea. But he always brings the hope with him too: Promised Land, Land of Hope and Dreams and American Land.
And of course, the fun stuff! The all out rockers! Out In The Street, She's The One, I'm A Rocker, 10th Avenue Freeze-out and Born To Run.
The show was fast paced. No time between songs, just boom, boom, boom. Bruce put on his usual over the top, hardest working rocker in the world show. It was a blast from beginning to end. I have a bruise on my inside palm from clapping so hard. That's a first for me.
There were a couple of awesome guitar solos from Nils on Because The Night and Youngstown.
They've added a couple of background singers for this tour and they add much, especially on Hard Times. They are stand out, front and center on that song.
Badlands into Outlaw Pete is epic! Seeds sounds better than ever.
The guttural screams on Jungleland still bring chills.
My only complaint is I wish there was more from the new record being played. 5 songs wasn't enough.
I did get some pretty darn good videos if I do say so myself:

Working On The Highway (in it's entirety)

Sherry Darling (most of it-security shut me down with about a minute left in the song)

Born To Run (two videos - first one is the beginning of the song, I had too much light so I shut it down and changed the settings - second video is the rest of the song)

Glory Days (complete song)

2 days to rest up and then on to Houston!


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