Friday, August 21, 2009


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BRUCE ROBISON at Unplugged at the Grove 8-13-09

Saw Bruce 2 weeks ago at the Cactus but still looked forward to this show just as much. Different vibes and it’s all good.
He had most of the band, lead, bass, steel & drums with him. The only person missing was Sweeney on keys.
The cool thing about an Austin show is there is always the chance his wife, Kelly Willis, might show up and sing a few, too. Sure enough, Kelly and their 4 kids rolled in about an hour before show time.
Bruce kicked the show off with a rollicking, brand new song called “Born To Roll.” This is a vintage Robison song about being on the road and it is catchy! When the record comes out, Rodney Crowell will be singing on it with him.
He did a great 1 1/2 hour set with many of his classics: Travelin’ Soldier,” “Lifeline,” “The Good Life,” “California 85,” “She Don’t Care,” “Rayne, Louisiana,” “Desperately,” “My Brother and Me,” and “Wrapped.”
We also got another new song called “The New Me.”
He brought Kelly up early in the set and they did 2 songs together: “Angry All The Time” and “I’ll Go To My Grave Loving You.” It is always so much fun when they sing together. God, what a voice she has! Never ceases to amaze me.
So, I have heard 3 unreleased songs in the last 2 weeks from Bruce and they are all sounding really good. Have no idea when his next record is coming out but I know I’ll be buying it straight away!
Got some nice videos from this night including the 2 with Kelly, the 2 new songs and also “Lifeline.”



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SARAH JAROSZ at Unplugged at the Grove 8-6-09

Opposite worlds, last night to tonight. From the veteran Eliza the night before to the 18 year old Sarah on this night. Sarah was solo, just her & her various guitars, mandolin and banjo. I thought, no way this kid is going to be able to hold this crowd for 2 hours by herself. I was dead wrong. It was a pretty big audience and it was quiet. Everybody was paying attention because she is that good. She just released her debut record "Songs Up In Her Head." She played many from the album. I would put Sarah in the Americana/Folk/Bluegrass genre if I had to stick her somewhere. But her tastes and sounds are all over the place. As an example, she did covers of Patty Griffin, Gnarls Barkley, Bob Dylan, The Decemberists, Tom Waits, Bill Withers and Gillian Welch. Mature way beyond her years, she appears to be a humble, yet seasoned, performer. This was a fun night. You don't get a chance very often to see someone at such a young age, starting to make their way. It's exciting. Sarah leaves soon to begin her college days at the New England Conservatory of Music. You'll be hearing from her. I guarantee that. Check out Sarah from this video she put out of her cd release show at the Blue Rock studio:

and then go buy her excellent debut cd here:

or at Waterloo Records.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ELIZA GILKYSON at Scholz Beer Garten 8-5-09

A rare treat these days, getting to see Eliza. Let alone for free.
It was hot as could be, over 100, but nobody seemed to care. The place was packed.
We got a full band show. Nothing new, just your basic, great Eliza singing her basic, great songs. We got several of my favorites: "Not Lonely," "Emerald Street," "Runaway Train," "Wildewood Spring," "The Party's Over," "Dark Side Of Town," "Think About You."
Eliza was more chatty with the audience than I've seen her previously. Joking about the hot weather and such. She is recently back from a tour of Europe where the high was in the 60's every day.
The show consisted of 2 sets and lasted until 10pm. It started at 7:30. The crowd demanded an encore so she came back for the "die hards," as she referred to us.
Just a wonderful night of great music, as always, with Eliza.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


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BRUCE ROBISON at Cactus Cafe 7-31-09

Boy, have we missed Bruce. He spoiled us last summer, playing every Wednesday night at Scholz Beer Garten. Haven't seen him since. Not that he hasn't been playing around town. We just, for one reason or another, hadn't made it to a show since the Scholz series ended.
On this night he had part of the band with him: pedal steel, lead guitar and keyboard. They played 2 one hour sets. He is the best writer around, period. His stuff never gets old, no matter how often you hear it. He can really get you going with honky tonk or do the softest ballads to where you can hear a pin drop in the place.
We got to hear 2 new songs. One is called "The New Me." It's written from the perspective of a jilted lover who is being replaced. Hence, the new me. Which is really a clever play on words since usually when you hear that phrase, it's a positive. Leave it to Bruce to come up with that spin.
The second new song we heard I don't know the title of, but it was written about the cop who killed the UT Texas tower sniper back in 1966. Evidently, that cop, Houston McCoy, struggled throughout his life afterward. It is a very powerful song, one of those where, if the pin dropped, we'd have heard it. It was especially memorable as the anniversary of the shooting was the next day.
Bruce played all the favorites, too; "My Brother and Me," "Wrapped," "Not Forgotten You," "Angry Anymore..." the list goes on and on.
Opening was Jenny Reynolds. She did a great job, about a 30 minute set and really won over his audience.
This was a $15 cover. Expensive by Austin standards : )

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


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BEN MALLOTT at Flipnotics 7-30-09

As I mentioned previously, I left Shelley King's great show & hopped across the street to see Ben at Flip's. He was doing a one hour set, solo. Up to now I've only seen him in small spurts, 3 songs here, 3 songs there. Liked him from the first time I saw him so really wanted to get to a show where there would be more than a couple of songs.
He has a really neat voice. He doesn't sound like anybody else although sometimes, stylistically anyway, he reminds me of Tom Waits. Probably it's the soulfulness as he's got a bunch of it. He has a baritone that is sometimes very clear, sometimes kind of grainy, sometimes kind of higher pitched, really, he's just a darn good singer. It's his phrasing, too. Kind of reminds me of jazz because he mixes it up.
I guess he fits the Americana, singer/songwriter groove but like I said, he has a sound all his own. Very good writer, too. Guitar wise, he's pretty much a strummer but with his voice and lyrics, not much else is required.
He has a debut album called "Look Good, Feel Good." I don't have it yet but it is on my list to buy. A couple of my favorite songs are "Heartbreaks" (getting much airplay on KUT here in Austin) and Shotgun Suzy, a duet with Eliza Gilkyson. I have a couple of videos of Ben doing this song, solo at Flipnotics and also with Eliza at Threadgill's.


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SHELLEY KING at Unplugged at the Grove 7-30-09

This show took me by surprise. Maybe because I've never seen Shelley with her own band. I've always seen her solo or with Carolyn Wonderland.
This show, and I only saw the first 50 minutes of it, was the highlight of my music summer, so far! Blew me away. Talk about joy.
First of all, if you aren't familiar with her music, better go straight away to her myspace page and listen:

She has a new record coming out in the fall, we hope. It was made with the Subdudes and the first single from it, "Summer Wine," is killer! The perfect summer song, seriously. It is getting a lot of airplay in the Austin area.
Anyway, back to the show. What a band! They played honky tonks, shuffles, blues, rock, pretty ballads. They did it all. She has a great voice and such a warm personality on stage. I tell ya, I had a grin on my face the entire time and people were up dancing from the beginning. Very unusual at Shady. I did get a good video of "Summer Wine" which you can view here:

I had to leave after the first hour as I made a promise to be at another show which was across the street at 9pm. Killed me to leave! Heard they played another 45 minutes and did nothing but pick up more steam! Dang.


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CAROLYN WONDERLAND at Blues on the Green 7-29-09

Carolyn. What can you say? She plays and sings like no other that I've ever seen.
Blues on the Green is a free, summer series put on by KGSR. It is held at Zilker Park (home of the ACL Fest) but this year it's taking place at Waterloo Park due to some renovation at Zilker. Waterloo is much, much smaller.
Carolyn had her band, which consists of keyboards and drums. With her, you don't need much else.
The 1st set was somewhat on the mellow side, I thought. It was good, just not rowdy. The 2nd set, however, had everybody up and dancing from the get go. This set also brought out special guests. Guy Forsyth played harmonica, guitar and did some singing. Shelley King came out and sang harmony, did one of her own songs called "Summer Wine." This is a killer, catchy, little number. Once you hear it, you will be humming it continually. Guy did a classic background vocal on this one. Also helping out was a guy on trumpet. Didn't catch his name but he has been showing up lately and playing with Carolyn.
Another fun, rocking time tonight in Austin.


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WILLIAMS & WILLIAMS at Cactus Cafe 7-28-09

Well, I am officially a week behind in writing up the music I've been to & am battling a pretty good sinus infection so these notes will be short.
This show is the 3rd or 4th annual tribute show to Hank and Lucinda. Jenny Reynolds came up with the idea. It is a free show.
Each musician did a Lu song, a Hank song and one of their own. Pretty neat. Some highlights for me were the sets by Seth Walker, Guy Forsyth, BettySoo, Southpaw Jones and a guy I hadn't seen before named Eric Hisaw. The coolest thing was Southpaw who yodeled like there was no tomorrow! Was that ever great!