Saturday, March 11, 2006

Happy Birthday, Kristy!

The lovely and talented Kristy Kruger celebrated her 30th birthday by playing a show at Standard and Pour's with two of her musician friends and colleagues: Doug Burr and Salim Nourallah. It took a while to get the sound equipment set up, but it was worth the wait. Each artist took turns playing songs, and sometimes chimed in intrumentally and/or vocally for each other.

Listen to Kristy.

Kristy is constantly striving to learn new instruments and push her muscial boundaries. She was trained formally, yet she uses a kazoo on some of her songs! I particularly liked "The Night You Never Came." Doug Burr is wonderful on the guitar - he plays so intricately. He is a well-respected talent in town, but I have to say that his music depresses me (each song seems to be in a minor key), and my patience threshhold is kind of low here.

Listen to Doug.

Salim was excellent as always. In addition to some of very favorite songs like "Montreal" and "Never Say Never," he played two new songs fom a new album he is working on. The subject: depression. And, "Hang On" was particularly poignant that evening.

Listen to Salim.

Photos by AG

Friday, March 10, 2006

Dave Doobinin, Blu Sanders, & Aaron Barrera

Three male musicians tooks turns onstage at Bend Studio Friday evening. All were friends and had varying styles. First up was a very tall, Brooklyn native, Dave Doobinin. His songs ranged from stories about love to stories about war. He also has a new album out: One Station Away.


Listen to Dave Doobinin

Blue Sanders, a Texas native, who currently lives in Memphis, was up next. Blu, in addition to having a cool name, has a strong voice. Every single one of his songs was about a sad love affair. It was a lot to bear...

Listen to Blu Sanders

Aaron Barrera played the third and final set of the evening. An accomplished guitarist, Aaron is most recently known as the lead guitarist for Dan Dyer's band. On his own, his style was akin to Led Zeppelin. Serious songs with a serious guitar. (Very nice guy as well.)

Listen to Aaron Barrera

Photos by AG

Monday, March 06, 2006

Salim Loves Math


Mike Snider, local music promotor and owner of The Allgood Cafe, organized a show of local artists Saturday night. Mike always supports the local scene, and all the artists who played comprise a closeknit community of music professionals whose personal and professional lives are intermingled - whether it be playing in each other's bands or recording music together.

Salim Nourallah, who records many local artists at his studio, Pleasantry Lane, opened the show along with John Dufilho on drums and Jason Garner on the bass. Unfortunately, I only caught the last third of his set, but it was great to see Salim. Jayme and Gavin were in attendance and it was fun to watch Gavin tooling around the stage while his father played.

Photo by Allison Smith. The next set was I Love Math, who consist of John Dufilho - vocals, guitar, harmonica (The Deathray Davies, The Polaroids), Jason Garner - vocals, bass (The Deathray Davies, The Polaroids), Philip Peeples - drums (The Old 97s), and Aaron Kelly - keyboard. Having just recorded their second album at Salim's studio, they invited Salim to sing on many of the songs with them. I have seen I Love Math once before, and both times they have played an acoustic set, quite passionately. It's modern rock and roll with a soul. These are some of Dallas's best rock stars.

Discography:

I Love Math - Summer Break Records (2002)

Listen to Salim Nourallah.

Listen to I Love Math.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bob Schneider and Jeff Plankenhorn at Texas Discovery Gardens

My friend Ally David, owner of Bend Studio, put together a nice concert on Friday night. The evening's opener was Chris Holt, and the main attraction was Bob Schneider. Dan Dyer was set to play as well but had to cancel the night before. The space, Texas Discovery Gardens, was quite serene and lovely. Located in Fair Park, I didn't even know that it existed. And, it was not easy to find... An indoor auditorium housed the concert.

Interestingly, each artist pointed out how the interior made them feel as if they were in a high school auditorium. There were some issues with the lights before the show started, and the event contact was not very helpful. In the middle of the show, all of the stalls in the women's restrooms were out of toilet paper. I had to track the guy down to replenish the supply. By the end of the show, my friends told me that a toilet had overflowed!

Unfortunately, it seemed that the audience was too impatient for Bob to listen to Chris Holt's set. They chatted incessantly, which I am sure must be unnerving for a performer. When Bob finally did show up, the audience was thrilled. He was accompanied by his Lonelyland guitarist Jeff Plankenhorn (Billy Harvey's replacement and a respected musician in his own right). The set list was almost identical to the show Bob did in October Mitch Watkins. Except this time, Jeff brought about five guitars with him. It seems that a guitar accompaniment to Bob's acoustic shows add a layer of depth and interest to the performances.

I always enjoy Bob's performances. Some of the songs have their own personas, and it is fun to see Bob play so many different characters ("C'mon Baby"). Then there are the songs I do not care for that seem to please the drunk fraternity crowd ("Titty Banging"). What can you do?

Listen to Chris Holt.

Listen to Bob Schneider.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Kacy Crowley is Better Than Me

The lovely and talented Kacy Crowley played at Standard and Pours Thursday night. This space is a casual coffee bar with brick walls and comfy couches to sit on. This was Kacy's first time to play here, and lo and behold, another lovely and talented artist, Kristy Kruger, was working behind the counter as a barista! I can't remember the young man who opened for Kacy, but he was wearing the t-shirt you see above. Kacy talked about how she should wear it, or how Karl, her husband who was sitting on one of the couches, should actually wear it. I suggested we get one for Billy Harvey to wear...

Lately, I've been listening to quite a bit of Kacy's music. She inspires me in that she seems to have overcome so many incredible hardships, and the way she expresses those experiences is so raw and poignant. The music seriously touches me in a profound way. She played so many of my favorite songs: "Bottle Cap," "Rebellious," Sinner's Hallelujah," "Holding in the World," "Kind of Perfect," "Badass," and a song that has not yet been recorded that I have been stupidly searching for on all my Kacy CDs - "There is Love."

I find this particular song so meaningful: "It's the reason I get up in the morning/The reason I shower/ and walk the the streets with 1,000 strangers/ There is love." And then: "If you have questions, love's got answers." If that is not your religion, then what is?

By the way, Kacy just shot a video for "Badass." Apparently the theme has to do with some roughneck Roller Derby girls!

Listen to Kacy's music on her MySpace page.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Bikram and Bozo

Photo by Steve Poltz.
Steve Poltz (Bikram) and Billy Harvey (Bozo) played at Bend Studio Saturday night, and we, the audience, didn't want it to end...
Billy opened the show and played for an hour. He brought his loop and performed newly-styled versions of "Crush You" and "Candleshop." So very interesting. He played a few of his new songs, which will hopefully be recorded on a new album with a new record deal! He is waiting this week to hear from a small label, so cross your fingers for him.

Billy and Steve drove up together from Austin because Billy is producing Steve's newest album. Steve told us he was appreciative of Billy, not only as producer, but also for allowing him to stay in his home. (He brought is futon from California and has been sleeping on the floor in the recording studio room of Billy's house.) Every morning Steve gets up at six to go to a Bikram yoga class, hence the photo he and Billy sent to Ally at Bend Studio. Not sure that the Bozo part means though... Steve played tunes like, "Silver Lining," and "Tree Huggers." My favorite was his performance of "Stax," however. A childhood friend and her children were in the audience, so he constantly imparted wisdom to them: "Stay true to your dreams and talents and the money will follow." Steve shared two songs he wrote as part of a songwriting game he and many of the artists on this site take part in. The artists in the group come up with a title and have 24 hours to write a song with the words of the title in it. The first one Steve played was "Cold German," and no doubt, it was a hilarious tune about a cold German woman he had a relationship with (at one point in the song, he described here putting three ice cubes up his ass!). Fictional? Who knows? The other song was "Sewing Machine," and he stood up to act it out (dramatic pre-recorded music was piped in). The narrative had to do with a bad man who stole children and sewed them to canvasses in his house. Oy veh!

For the final song, Billy accompanied Steve on stage to play the David Hasselhof version of "Hooked on a Feeling." (Billy did the "Boom Chaka Laka" part and the percussion. There is a bit of an inside joke amongst Bend friends and Billy's yahoo group friends who have been sharing a link to Hasselhof's video of the song.

Overall the evening was a treat. Two creative and handsome men, who courageously live their lives doing what they love, shared their talents and joy with us.

Photos by AG

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Shows I've Seen This Fall

I've been remiss in keeping the music blog updated this autumn, but I have not been remiss in going to shows. Here's a brief lowdown:

Bob Schneider/Thursday, December 22/Rock House Pictures
Bob played a sold-out Bend show at Rock House Pictures. It was one of his best solo shows. I got to manage the merch table and made $60! (Hey, it helped at the slot machines in Vegas!)

Kacy Crowley with Love and Happiness/Saturday, December 10/AllGood Cafe
I finally got to see Kacy with her band. It was a different vibe from her solo shows. I loved watching her dance and sway on stage. She graciously gave me a Moodswing t-shirt as a gift!

Tom Freund (with Abra Moore)/Sunday, December 4/Bend Studio
I am so glad i dragged my ass to this show. Tom is quite the California bohemian and tree-hugger if I don't mind pointing out myself. His songs were deep and reflective. Abra Moore has a beautiful voice! She played alone and then with Tom later in his set. You might recognize from the film Slacker, where she played the mean senior, Has Change.

Billy Harvey (with Kacy Crowley)/Saturday, November 19/Bend Studio
Ah--it was a night with my two favorite artists. And, I finally got to meet Karl, Kacy's talented writer husband. (He videotaped the show). And, Kacy tried to behave by not telling too many stories about Karl... Billy was great as usual. He and Kacy are friends, and he actually produced her last album, Tramps Like Us.

Beth Wood (with Maren Morris/Friday, November 11/Bend Studio
Beth played joyfully, as usual. Prolific in songwriting and guitar-playing. The opener was only 14 years old! She has budding talent, but has a long way to go. I mean, what kind of life situations can you write about as a young teen? I wonder what Bob is thinking in this photo?

Salim Nourallah (with Chris Holt)/Friday, November 18/Bend Studio
The duo rocked the house, and I was thrilled when Salim played "Montreal" just for me!

Billy Harvey/Saturday, October 15/Bend Studio
The man's a creative genius. We're lucky he's a Bend Studio frequenter.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Steve Poltz


You haven't seen a show until you have seen Steve Poltz. He has an uncanny ability to connect with the audience and make you laugh. (He tells the wildest stories, has been known to strip down to his boxers and socks, and makes nutty facial expressions.) In fact, after the show, you will probably chat with him and be proud to call him your friend. And this is not even mentioning his extraordinary musical talent...

I saw Steve Poltz for the first time last spring during a low period when I found out my dog had a terminal disease. Not only did Steve's joie de vivre lighten my spirits and remind me that life was precious and good, but he actually sat down and chatted with me about my dog and even looked at photos I had taken digital camera earlier in the day. I was rather taken aback by a rockstar who actually cared and showed some humanity rather than indifference. Obviously, it had quite an effect on me.

Born in Nova Scotia, Steve's family moved to San Diego when he was a child. Like so many talented artists, he picked up the guitar at an early age and began taking lessons. You will learn more about Steve than I could possibly tell you when you go to one of shows: he grew up in a very Catholic family, he has a sister and a nephew, he and his dad love baseball, he has suffered a collapsed lung numerous times, he still keeps in touch with his childhood friend, Mokie (who happens to live in the Dallas-area), and he wrote "You Were Meant for Me" with Jewel.

After college, Steve took off for Europe to travel and busk his way around. When he came home, he started The Rugburns, a popular San Diego band. It was he who discovered Jewel and wrote that amazing song with her. And it is Steve who keeps getting "San Diego's Most Influential Artist of the Decade," award at the annual San Diego Music Awards.

Steve is an amazing songwriter--from the profound and sad to the humourous, his music never ceases to amaze me. Be sure to check out his website and read the periodic blogs he posts while he is traveling and playing. You will be laughing out loud. Photos by Deana Mason

Sample some of Steve's music on his MySpace page.

"Every Hour, Every Day"

and i won't stop
till i pop
don't try and take away my fun

don't want t.v.
cause all i see
are people shootin people with their guns

days are numbered
in the good book
ain't that what they say?
i'm gonna cram all the livin that i can
in every single hour and every day

don't be shy
try not to lie
open up a brand new door

eat weird food
elevate your mood
give a little bit then give more

days are numbered
in the good book
ain't that what they say?
i'm gonna cram all the livin that i can
in every single hour and every day

live my life
i won't be scared
for the world i say a prayer
i won't sell my soul to compromise
i want to look you in the eye

want to read a book
learn how to cook
visit some strange exotic land

one day i so
want to go go go
try my best to land a helping hand

days are numbered
in the big book
ain't that what they say?
i'm gonna cram all the livin that i can
to every single hour and every day
to every single hour and every day
to every single hour and every day


Discography:
Chinese Vacation (2003) Immergent
One Left Shoe (1998) Polygram Records
Conversations Over a Cerveza
Live at Largo
Answering Machine

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bob Schneider and Mitch Watkins

Bob Schneider was accompanied by Mitch Watkins for one of the best acoustic sets I have ever seen/heard. As part of Bend Studio's Intimate Music Series, the event was held at a satellite location on October 6th. Rocky Powell, director, photographer, and Bend friend, offered up his amazing studio, Rock House Films, for the show. The space was open, acoustically phenomenal, and still as intimate and as cozy as Bend's yoga studio. Poster designed by Robert Lin.

Together the duo played material from their album, Underneath the Onion Trees, which was recorded in Mitch's home in Austin. They also played tunes from Bob's more recent albums, I'm Good Now and Lonelyland. In addition to a jazz lick, the duo's style ranged from rock to blues to country to jazz. Bob never ceases to amaze me with his incredible talent. His vocal styling covers just about every gamut. Truly there is nothing he cannot sing. Cleanly-shaven and in an affable mood, Bob continually acknowledged Mitch, who is probably the best guitarist I have ever seen. Both men were clad in black, and Mitch's black beret was certainly a nod to his classical jazz background. (For more info. on Bob, see this previous blog entry. Photo by Deana Mason.

Mitch Watkins was born in McAllen, Texas. He learned piano at age eight and guitar at age twelve. After the normal guitar worship (Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, & Jimi Hendrix), Mitch fell in love with classical music (Bach, Stravinsky). He attended Texas Christian University on a choral conducting scholarship, but ended up quitting school to join a rock and roll band. He eventually went back to school at the University of Texas at Austin and studied composition for four years. At this time, he became immersed in jazz. Mitch currently lives in Austin. When he is not playing with his band, he is playing with people such as Lovett, Paul Glasse, and John Fremgen. Photo by Deana Mason.

The show was recorded on CD and on DVD and may be purchased on the Bend website.

Discography:
Underneath the Onion Trees - Bob Schneider & Mitch Watkins
Humhead (1995) - Mitch Watkins
Strings with Wings (1992) - Mitch Watkins
Curves (1990) - Mitch Watkins
Underneath It All (1989) - Mitch Watkins

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Darden Smith

Darden Smith played Bend Studio on October 1st. As a new listener, I was struck by the maturity of the lyrics. His ballads were imbued with philosophical thoughts covering all kinds of subjects: love, war, friendship. He was incredibly gracious to the audience, in which some of his family members sat. He talked with us about being 43, married, and having children. Hence, the maturity, I suppose... One of his songs played with the idea of having fantasies (yes, THAT kind). Of course, everyone laughed, but the chorus tenderly described lying next to his wife, and the both of them knowing what was real and true.

Style-wise, Darden blends western swing, rock, and folk to create his own unique sound. He was raised on a farm in Brenham, Texas. He started writing songs at age 14 when his family moved to Houston. While attending college in Austin, however, Darden was exposed to the club scene that influenced his career choice.

Darden has always experimented with various music venues and programs. In 1989, he composed music for experimental dance-theater works. And, in 1999, he was commissioned to create an orchestral work for the Austin Symphony Orchestra (Grand Motion-2000). He is currently working on a new theater piece and creating a radio documentary on Texas songwriters for the BBC2.

“I don’t worry about a lot of the stuff I used to worry about. This is my 10th record and my 20th anniversary in this business, and I realize how fortunate I am to be able to make a living being a musician, doing what I love to do. Why fight it? This is who I am, so I’m just going to groove along and enjoy the ride. I feel great, better than ever. So here we go.” - Darden Smith

Discography:
Field of Crows (2005)
Circo (2004)
Sunflower (2002)
Extra Extra (2000)
Deep Fantastic Blues (1996)
Little Victories (1993)
Trouble No More (1990)
Evidence

Friday, September 23, 2005

Lucinda Williams

I think one of the main reasons I love Lucinda Williams is because she is so honest--about herself. Sure, many singer/songwriters write about the truth of their surroundings and wax philosophical about the state of the world, of love, of sex. But Lucinda invites you into her world, exposing vulnerabilities most people wouldn't even reveal to their shrinks. In "Those Three Days," she sings, "Did you only want me for those three days/ Did you only need for those three days?" Obviously a brief affair ended with abandonment. Instead of the usual angry rock-n-roll response, Lucinda soulfully asks, "Did you love me forever?"

Lucinda played a great show at The Gypsy Tea Room last week. She started late and ended even later, as she is known to do. She was accompanied by her outstanding band: Doug Pettibone (guitar), Jim Christie (drums, keyboard), and Taras Prodaniuk (bass). Wearing a pair of tight jeans, boots, and her signature cowboy hat, Lucinda was in a great mood and talked about her fondness for Texas and Texas songwriters. She played many old songs and shared lots of new ones as well.

Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Lucinda represents those aspects of the South that I am drawn to. Certainly not the southern belle crap, but the gritty sense of being with all its pain and joy. I always think of wet heat, rhythm, sultry evenings, being a little drunk, and the blues when I listen to Lucinda. She was raised by her father, Miller Williams, a well-known poet and professor. His love of words influenced Lu, and to this day, she will runs songs by him. (Her mother, Lucy, was a piano teacher who divorced her father when Lucinda was still young.) Miller Williams' academic post took he and Lucinda to places like Chile and Mexico City. And, she was also privy to her father's poet and writer friends: Allen Ginsburg, James Dickey, Charles Bukowski, and Flannery O'Connor. Musically, she listened to quite a range of genres, from country (Loretta Lynn & Hank Williams) to jazz (John Coltrane & Chet Baker) to Delta blues (Robert Johnson & Howlin Wolf), to folk (Joan Baez & Bob Dylan) to rock (the Doors, Jimi Hendrix).

Lucinda started playing the guitar and writing songs at age 12. She eventually enrolled in college and dropped out to play music. After a time of playing in New Orleans bars for tips, she moved to Austin where she worked as a street perfromer. She then moved to Nashville for a duration of 15 years. It was during this time when she won two of three Grammy's (1993 - "Passionate Kisses" - Best Country Song and 1998 - Car Wheels on a Gravel Road - Best Contemporary Folk Album). (Lucinda's third grammy was for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance in 2001, for the song "Get Right with God."

Lucinda currently lives in Burbank, CA. She is a true poet, sharing tender, heart-renching stories that range from the broken-hearted ballads to homelessness to child abuse to thoughts about God.

"righteously"

you don't have to prove your manhood to me constantly
i know you're the man
can't you see
i love you righteously

why you wanna to dis me after the way you been kissin me
after those pretty things you say
and the love we made today

when you run your hand all up and run it back down my leg
get excited and bite my neck
get me all worked up like that

think this through i laid it down for you everytime
respect me i give you what's mine
you're entirely way too fine

arms around my waist
you get a taste of how good this could be
be the man you ought to tenderly
stand up for me

flirt with me don't keep hurtin me
don't cause me pain
be my lover don't play no game
just play me john coltrane

Discography:
Live at the Fillmore (2004)
World Without Tears (2003)
Essence (2001)
Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)
Happy Woman Blues (1980)
Ramblin (1979)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Billy and Salim at the Granada

Friday night was a great night for music in Dallas at the Granada Theatre! Billy Harvey and his band played an interesting and fun set. Each time I have seen the full band, they play the same songs in different styles. A new bass player used a saw as accompaniment for "Honey." It was like that spooky Elvis version of "Blue Moon." Billy ended the set with "When I Say Go," another one of his great songs. Photo by Holly Bronko

Listen to Billy's songs on his MySpace page.


Salim Nourallah and his second band, The Noise, played after Billy. This was their second live show, and it was fucking incredible. Salim has a real knack for assembling amazing musicians to truly make beautiful noise. Now I am just waiting for a recording and for a bumper sticker... Design by Jayme Nourallah

Listen to Salim's songs on his MySpace page.

"all waste the days"

most people love the sound of their own voice
over the white noise
push and they shove
get on to the subway
while all barely awake

all waste all waste
the days
all waste all waste the days

we feed in to line, the glare of the sun shines
in to our dull eyes
the meaning of life stretched on a billboard
but we know what that's for

all waste all waste
the day
all waste, all waste
the days

set us all free
open the big sky
shut off the night light, kiss us goodbye

i wanna be
soaring above clouds
not in a coffin stuck in the ground

all waste all waste
the days
all waste all waste
the days
all waste all waste
the days

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Patrice Pike

I finally got to see Austin artist Patrice Pike live at Bend Studio on Saturday. The last time she played, I was in the ER, but that's a different story... A petite woman with a powerful presence, Patrice exudes these good vibes. She has a lovely voice and is absolutely earnest when she talks about her music and her life experiences. In fact, many critics and fans revel at Patrice's ability to "connect" with her audience. Having grown up in Dallas, she talked about spending the day in town and hanging out with her friends and her family (her father was in attendance at the show). One of my favorite songs was "Swimming," which was about watching a friend lose his life to the bottle. Then there were heart-felt love songs like "Truly, I Want You." Some of her ballads included the popular, "Chico," and another song about her grandmother. Patrice was the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the popular Austin band Sister Seven. Her current band is the Black Box Rebellion. She was accompanied on stage by Steven Wiedermeier. The final amazingly cool aspect of Patrice is her tattoo. Check it out.

The evening was opened by the one and only Kacy Crowley. She sang her heart out, and graciously took a final request of "Kind of Perfect," a beautiful song she wrote for her husband. (This time she got South American pastries.)

"kind of perfect"

why don't you talk about it?
i know there's something on your mind
you go on and get a cigarette
i'll be waiting outside

the last few years have been much harder
than we'd ever thought they'd be
i know you hate it when i say i'm sorry
but i'm sorry

there was never a point in our love
that i didn't love you
not a point in our love
i always did
i always will
i always do
love you still
i always would
how could i not
just look at us baby
we're kind of perfect

sometimes i get all wrapped up
cause i don't know who to be
you know know when to be my security blanket
and when to uncover me

so let's just sit out on the backporch
and unravel everything
someday these will be our old days
let's make them worth remembering

there was never a point in our love
that i didn't love you
not a point in our love
i always did
i always will
i always do
love you still
i always would
how could i not
just look at us baby
we're kind of perfect

never planned on loving somebody so much
but i always had pretty good luck, baby

i always did
i always will
i always do
love you still
i always would
how could i not
just look at us baby
we're kind of perfect

we're kind of perfect...

Photos by AG

Friday, September 09, 2005

Tony Scalzo

Austin-based artist Tony Scalzo played at Bend Studio Friday night. Sans keyboard, he played guitar and was joined by the very talented Jason Enright on guitar as well. Together, they played beautiful music. Tony's lyrics tend to be ballad-driven, communicating messages about love and relationships. And he has such a unique voice, smoky with a range on the high side. Friday night he sported a new hair style, the one that only the cool gay guys in Dallas have discovered: a slight mohawk on top but no shaved sides. Very nice. Tony is the lead of Fastball, which is currently on hiatus. He played old and new songs including: "Motorcycle Girl," "The Fallout," "The Way," and of course, "Out of My Head." Listen to some of Tony's tunes on his MySpace page.

Photo by AG

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Momo's: Austin, TX


The appeal to drive down to Austin for the Labour Day holiday was accentuated by the fact that two of my favorite artists were playing at Momo's on Friday night. Salim Nourallah and Chris Holt travelled from Dallas to Austin for a show and for a little break with their families. I was sad for them in that the high gas prices ate up the money they were paid for the gig... And, the venue put them on first, when they should have played right before (my other fave) Billy Harvey. Apparently Momo's is notorious for scheduling an evening of sets with bands that have no cohesive theme whatsoever. Some cheesy (and not very good) band played after Salim. We left to get dinner during this time. Then some guy who was not even publicized as being part of the evening's set, took the stage.

Billy was accompanied by his band. It was fun. His drummer wears a skirt. I wish they would all wear skirts. I've told you all about Billy. Just enjoy the photos...

Photos by AG

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Peter, Salim, Chris, Blake, Fallon, and Matt

I was privy to lots of good music this weekend, and all of it was performed by local (Dallas and Austin) artists. Peter Schmidt and one of his Gentleman Scholars, keyboardist Rich Martin, opened at Bend Studio Friday night. I love that Peter has Gentleman Scholars, even though I'm not sure exactly what that means. Peter has a strong stage presence, and his songs sound as if they were very much influenced by Elvis Costello. I thought he seemed quite serious, but then one of his songs broke into: "Who's you daddy? Who is your daddy? Who's your daddy?" Well, I thought it was funny. I noticed on his website that he was in Funland (in the 90s), a band that a particular college friend idolized. It's a small world. Peter has these great music critiques of various records on his website, very subjective and very interesting. I can't tell you too much more about Peter--he is working on an album, and I'm looking forward to being on his email list because he admits to cursing quite a bit. Groovy.

Salim Nourallah and Chris Holt headlined the evening. Rich Martin, an excellent keyboard player joined in on a couple of songs. No, I'm not a Salim groupie--I'm a big fan. The set was so fucking incredible! Chris is such a badass on the guitar, five millions pedals and everything. Songs I have heard live before, were transformed into new and interesting forms with his riffs. Then, when the keyboard was added, it was truly beautiful noise. Seriously, if you have not checked out Salim Nourallah, get off your ass and do so. Immediately!

Saturday night was a more folksy evening at Bend Studio. Blake and Fallon, singer/songwriters from Austin opened. Fallon Franklin, a lovely young lady, has an equally lovely voice she is known as "The Voice" in Austin). Blake Powers is a strong songwriter, having made finalist in the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk category a few years ago. One of his songs dealt with the illness of his father (brain cancer) and the suggestion of a co-worker to pay a religious organization $200 to cure him. Their music is generally Americana, but their is a heavy dose of jazz and blues as well. Drummer Joey Campbell joined Blake and Fallon on the bongo drums Saturday night.

Discography:
Lines (2004)
Red Lights (2004)

Matt the Electrician was a real treat. A California native, whose father was an electrician, Matt Sever now lives with his wife and daughter in Austin. He had just come back from the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest in Lyons, CO, where he was a finalist in the songwriting competition. In a self-deprecating way, he joked that he lost the competition throughout the show. I'm not sure why, or who the judges were because his songs were great. Whether serious or funny, he entertained us on his guitar and on a banjo. I've been remiss from this blog for a bit, so I can't remember all the song titles, but he ended the show with a "children"'s tune that spoke about the "black, black" night.

Discography:
Long Way Home
Made for Working (2003)
Home (2000)
Baseball Song (1998)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Kacy Crowley is a Badass

She's a tiny figure with a powerful voice and an excellent sense of humour. She is the badass known as Kacy Crowley. When I first heard Kacy's music, I was struck by her confessional lyrics. They express life's intimate moments and struggles in such a direct and honest way. Kacy has obviously faced her demons (including substance abuse and cancer) and no matter what your own experiences have been, you can't help but respect her courage and ability to tell her story so poetically. Onstage, Kacy has a patient and kind presence, and she is ever conscious of her audience and their moods. Then there is her humour. I think she should charge extra for her funny stories. At Bend on Saturday night she talked about how she and her husband got caught having sex in their car (30 minutes from home): "It wasn't pretty." Of course there is the aspect of Kacy where she just calls it like it is, curse words and all. A woman of my own heart...

Born in Massachusetts and raised in Conneticut, Kacy was exposed to music at a young age by her mother, a piano teacher. As a little girl she learned to play both the paino and the guitar. And when she was a teenager, her father came home with a box of classic rock records that were the mainstay of her music collection. After high school, Kacy attended the University of Massachusetts. She dropped out after a year to follow the Grateful Dead. She explains: "The thing that really attracted me was the music and the misfit-ness of the people that hung around it." She continues, "I didn't have a close-knit group of friends until I met these Deadheads, who were the misfits from every group. We came together and I just got so into it. I think a lot of the appeal to me was just traveling." Her next expedition was to Los Angeles, where she played in coffeehouses but spent much time living life in the fast lane. Two years later she went back home, and with the help of her parents, got her act together. She formed a band and moved the NYC in 1992. In between waiting tables, she worked on her music. In 1995, she and now-husband Karl Anderson, a playwright and novelist, decided to move to Austin--a place where there was a community of artists, where the weather was good, and where the chaos of the city was absent.

Kacy started busking on 6th street and eventually made friends with many of the artists she now works with. After making her first record, she took a sabbatical where she wrote, learned French, and went horseback riding. She came back to the music scene, refreshed, and continues to make records. Along with Trish Murphy and Renee Woodward, Kacy is also a part of The New Hot Damn trio.

She is an amazing artist and woman, and when you go to see her, be sure to take her a box of Krispy Kreme donuts.

“sinner’s hallelujah"

i don’t want to fight with the evangelists
but I think that I’m already on god’s guest list
but I smoked like a chimney
and I drank like a fish
if these are my mistakes, i think that god’s already pissed

i sin, i sin, i sin
but i’m in---i’m in, i’m in, i’m in

well i stole from my friends and i know it was wrong
i lived every cliché like some shitty country song
and i made my amends and the list was freaking long
it’s easy to own up when everything is gone

i sin, i sin, i sin
but i’m in---i’m in, i’m in, i’m in

and i’m sorry that it took so long in getting here
i was hypnotized by lust and by pride and funny fear
but god made me crazy so i could learn to care
it’s that you can choose truth but i choose dare

i sin, i sin, i sin
but i’m in---i’m in, i’m in, i’m in

now salvation is a tricky thing
you’ve got to lose a lot of faith to be safe from within
and wish what i done, know what
but I love my life and i’m not done

i sin, i sin, i sin
but i’m in---i’m in, i’m in, i’m in

i’m in i’m in i’m in i’m in i’m in i’m in

(Be sure to check out "Badass" as well.)

Discography:
Tramps Like Us (2004) Stable Records
Moodswing (2003) Stable Records
Anchorless (1997) Stable Records

The headliner for the evening was Charlie Mars,a young man who went to my university. I remember seeing him once at a local college hangout when he opened for some friends of mine. A southern boy to the max, Charlie grew up in a small town in Mississippi, and the southern rock style is evident in his music. He currently lives in Oxford, MS. I think half his fraternity alums showed up because in addition to Charlie making comments about them being late to the show, I turned around and saw the whole back row of the studio standing up at one point in the show. Maybe it was the fact that I ran right into Charlie (I'm talking body slam) in the green room before the show (he winced), or maybe it was the empty beer cans and bottle of Jack Daniels his friends left for us to clean up, but I wasn't all that impressed.

Discography:
Charlie Mars (2004)
The End of Romance (1999)
Born and Razed (1997)
Broken Arrow (1995)

(first two & last) Photos by AG

Billy Harvey is a Monogamous Playboy

Friday night, my favorite singer/songwriter/producer, Billy Harvey, played at Bend Studio. This is going to be quite biased as Billy is one of my two all-time favorite artists (the second is Kacy Crowley). The first thing you need to do is visit Billy's website. It is probably the most creative site I've ever seen, and many others think so too because it has won numerous awards. To move around, click the masking tape. Billy will appear in various rooms in his house, singing and talking to you. Click on the jam box on the couch to hear him rap. Go to the t.v. and watch some of his videos (the House Sitter is hilarious).

Billy began playing the guitar at age nine. Influenced by “pretty words,” this Austin resident is well known and respected in independent music circles, having produced records for and worked with artists such as Bob Schneider, Steve Poltz, Trish Murphy, and Kacy Crowley. Jon P. writes the following (brilliant, I think) description of Billy's music (found on Billy's Myspace page): "Harvey mixes clunky, off-kilter baroque pop and acoustic-based power pop with some analog blips and bleeps, and sings it all with a familiar, laconic drawl. The result is a strangely heartfelt concoction so warm and slightly twisted it's as if the songs are melting into new forms as you listen to them."

A true poet at heart, Billy's lyrics are penetrating, whether it's a love song, an expression of loneliness, or one of his funny tunes. Here are some of my favorite lines:

1. "Invisible" - I don’t know what’s worse: a heart of stone or a love that burns.

2. "Oblivions Pearl" - You wonder if I think of you/I miss you now/I always do/A million years of light go by/You're still here stopping time.

3. "Piggyback" - I'm gonna win a million bucks and drive it in a monster truck to her house.

4. "Falling in Love with Jill Kotowski" - You will eat your heart out/You will want to be me/When you see Kotowski in my car.

5. "Speedfreak" - You can be the sole protector of the rock within my chest. (See the full lyrics for this beautiful song below.)

6. "Candleshop" - Never wish away what you're given/The world ain't going to end tonight.

7. "Non-Stop Laughs" - Got a mouth full of rusty nails/Some used-up fairy tales/A figure like a garbage pail/A belly full of non-stop laughs.

There is a whole body of work Billy has drawn from a songwriting game he and other artists regularly engage in (many of them featured this blog). A subject or title is given and each artist has 24 hours to come up with a song. “Piggyback” and “Dope Wings,” were born out of this creative exercise. And one of the most humorous songs came about due to a misunderstanding Billy had about the song subject. While everyone else wrote serious lyrics for “I Killed Walter Matthau,” Billy thought that the assignment was to write about “I Kissed Walter Matthau”! One of the funniest lines ever written, “If I could be another man—I’d be Jack Lemmon,” is the kind of thing that endears Billy to his listeners. His quirky sense of humor, reflects itself in his music in songs like “Chocolate Feet,” “Nonstop Laughs,” and "Fingers," where he experiments with keyboard effects, voice effects, and looping.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Billy always knew he wanted to play music. He lost his father at age eight, and his mother moved the family around geographically to places like Boston, Santa Fe, and Seattle in order to make ends meet. After high school in Chicago, Billy drove a VW van he bought from his mother for $1 to San Francisco. He lived in the van for the first six months and eventually got a gig playing guitar for the then popular SF band Flame. When the band broke up, Billy moved to Austin and played in various bands. He produced records, honed his writing skills, and joined Bob Schneider's band, Lonelyland.

At Bend last night, Bill played many new songs that had a heavier tone (in meaning). He balanced these out with his humour (he's one of the funniest people you will ever meet). After his first song, a new one, the audience cheered. Billy asked, "Did you really like that one, or is it because I'm cute?" He rapped (the song from the jam box on the couch on his website) and invited an audience member to provide the vocal percussion. It was great! There was such a great vibe in the room--we were all in tune with Billy and his guitar. He closed his eyes and sang soulfully. When he completed the set, we all gave him a most heart-felt standing ovation. Billy has just left Lonelyland to focus on his solo career. He is truly incredible: creative, talented, kind, fucking hilarious, and yes, cute.

I should mention that Rahim Quazi opened with a very nice set of acoustic tunes. Rahim has this earnest face and joyful spirit that is so refreshing. I'm just getting to know his his music and look forward to more shows as he plays in many venues around town.

"speed freak"

let's dance let's swing
baby throw you head back into me
let's play for keeps
the night is still within our reach

and i will be your mister morning
frailty is my defense
you can be the sole protector of the rock within my chest
and we will finally be together
scratching heads will disappear
i will be forever dear

let's act like fools
abandoning all the rules
let's jump so high
our shadows stain the sky

and i will be your huckleberry
you can drive that shiny car
faster than a puerto rican speed freak
racing for the stars
and we will be together
turning doubt upon its ear
and i will be forever dear

i will be your mister morning
frailty is my defense
you can be the sole protector of the rock within my chest
up against a thousand lifetimes
crackling the atmosphere
we will be forever dear

Discography:
Pie (2005)
Toast
More Happy Than Sad, EP
Moonlight Theatre

Photos by AG and website by Sofake