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{Brad's Corner} February 2017: All Stars

{Brad�s Corner}

I just got back from a rowdy trip to New Orleans.  The NBA All-Star game is arriving there very soon, and all over town they were preparing for it.  Posters of LeBron were as common in the French Quarter as overzealous and pushy shot girls. On any trip to a town that isn’t mine, I enjoy finding out what the locals are doing.  At one local non-touristy haunt we landed at, Molly’s, a couple of the locals were arguing over who should be the starters and who shouldn’t make the roster etc.  Typical bar talk.  As the jukebox played relentless Pantera and Sturgill (not of my own hand), my wheels started turning regarding musical All Stars.

Specifically, the musical all stars of our little scene.  When things first started, it was clear that Pat Green was the MVP.  Whereas in 2016-2017, he’d be the wily veteran getting a nod on the shoulders of his past work.  Juxtaposed with Jack Ingram who had a resurgent near career max year.  These are the things you think about while in a Bourbon daze.

For the purposes of our exercise here, we will divide our All Stars into two teams.  Instead of West and East…we will have Texas and Rest.  We’re in one of those phases of music where Rest is clearly dominating Texas…and that’s okay.  Because, the pendulum always swings back.  Be it eastern conference basketball or Texas Music.


William Clark Green–the scene’s most dominant force in the paint enjoys whiskey and melodies equally.

Cody Jinks–the state’s hottest current export is making so many new fans that he’s the leading vote getter at visiting arenas.

Jack Ingram–as mentioned above, Ingram was able to parlay his introspective experience into a career year.

Cody Johnson–he gets western and he gets hotter than Cedric Ceballos in NBA Jam.

Parker McCollum–provides the team with length and a ton of upside.  One to watch.

Aaron Watson–slick honky-tonk kid sat atop the national rankings for a short time.

Hayes Carll–cagy veteran returned to the limelight with his most personal work yet.

Paul Cauthen–rookie sensation who bounced around the D league for a while before making a roster on the strength of moves we’ve never seen before.

Cleto Cordero–promising young shooter with the support of a veteran cast in the front office and a backing band with fresh legs.

Jamie Wilson–comes off the bench to provide harmonies for all the other acts on both teams…but is just as comfortable running the point.


Sturgill Simpson–unorthodox player that creates his own shots and toys with the media and league office.

Jason Isbell–best pure shooter in the game, makes the complex look simple.

Chris Stapleton–most natural talent in the league, a bit overexposed but still one of the top 3 players in the world.

Ryan Bingham–this Hobbs, New Mexico product is the genuine article.  Even on off nights he’s going to give you a double-double.

Evan Felker–unpredictable and wiry; has many angles he uses to make shots.

Adam Hood–smooth delivery, transitions well and is good with the assist.

BJ Barham–NC State’s best player.  Rocky start to his career has caused him to work harder for his goals. Jim Valvano would be proud.

Brent Cobb–his cousin in the front office gets more attention, but this guard put together one of the best seasons in recent memory.

Margo Price–a throwback player with the respect of her peers.

Whitey Morgan–Charles Oakley has nothing on this big man who isn’t afraid to throw some elbows in the paint.



-This is also the type of column you write after you listen to Bill Simmons podcasts on your flights.

-The two best podcasts happening in our scene right now are The Bad Truth and The Co-Write.  Please listen to both religiously.

-Sturgill won a Grammy, but not the big one…still a huge accomplishment. Those bemoaning him not getting on the main telecast are misguided.  His performance slot was better than an acceptance speech.

-He and Isbell both have major tours coming this summer/fall…that’s rad.

-GREENFEST dates and info are coming your way in the next two weeks…it just might be a River. Jam.

-As mentioned, I just did New Orleans for the first time as an adult and wow.  Easily my favorite town I’ve ever visited.  I’m ready to go back.  Although as I noted on social media, it took 12 hours of sleep, 2 showers, Mexican food and 64oz of Topo Chico to feel normal again. But, I’m ready for the rematch New Orleans.

-The news of the current state of Lone Star Music/Superfly’s is depressing.  Among other things, I wish San Marcos would crack down on that towing racket. Got me and mine in my days on the Hill a couple times.  It was BS then, it’s BS now.

-One thing the San Marcos civic government is doing well…supporting Randy Rogers Cheatham Street venture.

This month’s recommended album: K Phillips – Dirty Wonder.  His first record is one of the best we’ve seen in the last 10 years. This one picks up where that one left off…full of Leon Russell barroom bravado, Texas spirit, witty imagery and melodies for days. The Rolling Stones met Jerry Jeff Walker and fronted themselves with Jerry Lee Lewis.

-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” -Mark Twain

Red River Songs Reviewed

by: Storm Hoobler

16463360_10210229047796614_7991069575171995855_o(photo credit: Dave Hensley)

Red River Songwriter’s Festival. Red River, New Mexico. The teeth cutting Northern New Mexico town of Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robert Earl Keen, Michael Martin Murphy and some other song makers with serial killer names. Elevation 8,671 feet. Quite a ways up for flatlanders and Texans alike. But, not so far west that the drive home is unbearable.

This festival is the brain trust of what I will refer to from here on out as the “Red River Brain Trust,” because that’s what I think they should be called. This trust is comprised of (originally, may be subject to additions) Drew Kennedy, Kelly Mickwee, Walt Wilkins, Susan Gibson, Josh Grider, Brandy Zdan, and Red River local, Mike Addington. Honorary members include anyone who plays, but especially Jamie Lin Wilson and Michael Hearne, and accompanist Michael O’Connor. The last mentioned being the unofficial-official MVP of the weekend. It was started six years ago during what, I assume, was a drunken night filled with magical voices and revelatory thoughts. And this time it sold out.

The little festival started in a tiny mountain town, with 24 attendees, has become one of the best festivals around. Especially, if you’re a fan of songs, virtuoso musicianship, and awesome crowds. (Read awesome as: “people who shut up and let everyone listen to the songs and let the song people sing their songs”) The attendance, unfortunately for people who aren’t timely ticket purchasers, is capped at 300. Which is the capacity of the infamous Motherlode Saloon (shout out to Clark and JP, the greatest bartenders in Red River).

I arrived a bit late to the first day, work sucks, but as soon as I had checked in to my room at the Copper King, I went straight to the Motherlode. The lead-off for my weekend was Michael Hearne and Slaid Cleaves. Not a bad start. Michael Hearne serenaded and lead the crowd in sing-a-long, and spirits started high for this Panhandle kid. The man does what he does, and does it well. A true veteran and an always engaging performer. Slaid walked up next to the mic stand. And, came out swinging like Tyson with “Drinking Days” and “Horseshoe Lounge”. If you don’t know those two songs, shame on you, but redeem yourself and listen to them. He then ran through quite a bit of his catalog. Reminding us again that, with the exception of Chris Knight, he is the working man’s poet. I felt like my dad wrote his songs. Two more bourbons and time for bed. Next two days were packed.

Friday opened up with a new addition to the Red River Songs set-up, Fireside Shows at the Motherlode. Drew Kennedy, Kelley Mickwee and Walt Wilkins opened up the day. Terrific set and setting, seriously. (If any of the RR Brain Trust reads this, keep that stuff.) The late afternoon shows took place at the Lift House Grill, right at the base of the mountain. Awesome setting, but the bar crowd is kind of a bummer. However, it’s not terrible, I just wish all the ski cats were there to listen to songs too, and not blast “Bad & Boujee” through their backpack speaker while they walk by. Brandy Zdan opened them on Friday and rocked more than waltzed as she always does. Stupendous rest of the afternoon by Kelley and Josh as well.

The Lost Love Saloon is the 4th venue for this festival, however, it takes place in Texas Red’s. Red River’s famous steakhouse that is hard to get into when there aren’t badass songsters playing there. Needless to say, I did not make it to these shows, but I talked to quite a few folks who did, and they were apparently as awesome as the rest of the weekend. So that is a plus.

Friday night was, personally, my big night. I’ve been a fan of one John Fullbright since Live at the Blue Door, and I’ve apparently been a terrible one, this was my first show. Jamie Lin Wilson played first, however, and she was magnificent as always. Her songwriting chops are top notch, and her musicianship as well. She brought Brandy and Kelley up to do a few Trishas’ songs. And I turned into a small child, because I love the Trishas. And if you don’t you’re wrong. Then, her and Drew Kennedy closed with a banjo laced duet of “Ain’t No Grave,” so that was neat too.

Then Fullbright stepped up to the mic, and did what he does. Just blow everyone away and hold their undivided attention for every note. The man is a fascinating performer and person. I don’t know how many of you have heard a musician accompany themselves, but John Fullbright does. I really have no other words. Just, phenomenal.

We all woke up the next morning (Saturday) and had Bloody Mary’s with Walt, then went to the Fireside again for Susan Gibson, Josh Grider and Brandy Zdan. Susan Gibson is my newfound songwriter of this festival, and I’m an idiot for not finding and realizing this sooner. She’s spectacular (more on that later). Grider is always awesome (support the new record! It’s gonna be awesome!). And Zdan went electric and scared a bunch of old people off, and I don’t hate old people, but I love rock ‘n roll and I’m glad it still makes some of them scatter. Lift House rocked again that afternoon, and the Lost Love was spilling out its doors all night.

Damn, now it’s wrap-up time, the Whole Gang is here. After a “sing by numbers” individual introductions, everyone was on stage. Song swap after song swap for around an hour and a half, Susan Gibson even made up two on the spot. Then, surprise, Fullbright stayed for the last night! So, along with the original seven and Jamie Lin, we got a 9th, the man from Okemah. The last night was the best, as it should be. The night was ended with a nod to one Mr. Guthrie and we all sang along to “This Land Is Your Land.” And there couldn’t have been a better sign off.

It’s a week or two late. But, Red River Songs made me slow down. And life isn’t as cool off the mountain. Love each other.

Are We To Judge?

by: Cody Starr

Brad turned me on to the Galleywinter seeded podcast, The Co-Write with Bobby Duncan and Donovan Dodd, (shout out, check it out https://thecowrite.wordpress.com/) and I’ve been binge listening to last year’s episodes. Last summer there were a couple of times the guys posed the question as to whether or not we could “judge” art or music.… Read the rest

A Troubadour’s Prayer Answered

by: Cody Starr

Dan Johnson’s latest single off his self titled album Dan Johnson and the Salt Cedar Rebels turned from prayer of desperation into a dream come true.

Most people trying to make it in this scene can relate heavily with “Troubadour’s Prayer.”  It’s a song about hopelessness and self-doubt that surrounds a struggling artist.

Read the rest

Linville Album Release

by:  Richa Chandra

It was a Tulsa takeover of Nashville, at The Basement, tonight for the album release show of Travis Linville.


Travis Linville played to an eager audience.  The lyrics were pure Americana with stories of longing, memory, love and melancholy touched with a healthy dose of optimism.  … Read the rest