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American Aquarium – Hard To Quit

By: Justin Dean | @TXDean23

AAquarium

It was hot. Inside and outside. The smell of Lone Star Beer and Jameson was the only thing that could mask the body odor that permeated through every single inch of surrounding air space. Yet no one cared. Not the hipster kid with the rimmed glasses and too tight pants or the guy in the cowboy hat on my opposite side that definitely wasn’t going to be getting on a horse anytime soon in his bedazzled designer jeans. Normally these guys stay miles apart and don’t even frequent the same sides of town- let alone the same bar- but this was American Aquarium on a Saturday night and no one cared.

Not many bands these days can take a demographic “label” and throw it out the window of a moving Econoline, but American Aquarium has done that. They have split the seams of the independent music world and transformed themselves from a band that played small shows in dive bars in Raleigh, NC to travelling across the country playing music for anyone who will listen.

American Aquarium put out their first two records- Antique Hearts and The Bible and the Bottle- in 2006 and 2008, respectively. They signed with Last Chance Records and put out Dances With the Lonely in 2009 and Small Town Hymns in 2010. In 2012 the band released their Live in Raleigh CD before putting out the Jason Isbell produced Burn. Flicker. Die, their most popular and praised album to date, that same year. Originally B.F.D. was slated as the band’s last, but a change of heart led them to keep the drive on.

Lead singer BJ Barham can captivate a crowd and reels them in from the first time he spits words with his Appalachian twang. Surrounding him are Ryan Johnson and newest member Colin Dimeo that belt out electric truth on guitar and Whit Wright who can whine a steel so hard it would make your grandpa cry. Drummer/blogger/Huffy enthusiast Kevin McClain commands the drums while bassist Bill Corbin makes any grown man look like a 12 year old when he busts out in his “tightest t-shirt in the land” while throwing bass licks.

The songs Barham belts out tell stories of addictions, pains, and lovers lost. There is truth in every line that resonates with everyone listening. Barham can make you feel what he was feeling when “…Her mother came and packed her bags and drove her off to nowhere”. He can take you into the bathroom stall where he found his dollar bill prescriptions then out to the dive bar where he chased the drugs with red headed women, PBR, and shots of Jameson. There’s a story in every song that makes you want to be where he has been and see the things he has seen.

The shows that the band puts on don’t have set structures that follow a regimen. The band plays off the vibe of the crowd. An older crowd in a dimly lit coffee house might get a more personal, toned down show whereas the hipster kid and rhinestone cowboy at the dive bar are going to get their faces rocked off barn-burner style. No matter where you are seeing these guys it is always an enjoyable experience.

The guys in AA have been through some tumultuous times. From stolen vans to replacing members, from being on the brink of the end just to bring it back. The pains that they sing of in their songs are the pains that they have felt from a life on the road. Be on the lookout for their latest album, Wolves, set to hit record stores next year. You can also catch the guys in a downtown dive near you on their full band tour later this year or Barham’s acoustic tour if you’re a little farther east than Texas. If you are into Ryan Adams, Drive By Truckers, Jason Isbell, Lucero, and the like- Hell, even if you’re not- check these guys out. You won’t be disappointed.

http://americanaquarium.net/

 

Introducing Zac Wilkerson

by: Brandon Meyers

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As an artist making music in the state of Texas, there are names that are synonymous with talent, longevity and doing things right. One of those names is Walt Wilkins.  Not only has Wilkins established himself as one of kind type of talent on the stage, but he has also proven to be a masterful producer and creator of albums for other artists. With names like Brandon Rhyder and Jason Eady amongst many other great talents, anyone setting out to make their debut album would be one lucky SOB to get Wilkins attached to that project… Enter Amarillo’s own Zac Wilkerson.

The road that lead Zac to Walt was unlike most of the typical “start a band and make an album” stories.  After nearly a decade of writing songs he never intended on you hearing, a friends somewhat dishonest request for Zac to join him at an open mic night at Lubbock TX’s iconic Blue Light Live turned into Zac winning their fall singer/songwriter contest and a spot on the acoustic stage at Larry Joe Taylor’s Musicfest. Little did Zac know then, that not long after standing backstage and watching Walt Wilkins play his set at LJT that year, that he would be working with Walt on his first album.

Fast forward 2 years and add countless shows and road hours and that rookie that stood on that LJT stage is much wiser, road tested and certain that the path he is on is the right one.  When the time comes to start working on that make or break new artist first album, Zac made a list of people that he wanted to work with. At the top of that list was Walt. At the bottom and middle of that list was Walt Wilkins… in fact, Walt’s might have been the only name on that list.

I sat down recently and talked to Zac about his experiences recording this album and what is was like working with Wilkins. As expected, he had nothing but great things to say. As a relatively new artist working with not only Walt but his band the Mystiqueros in the studio could be somewhat unsettling. Zac told me though that Walt not only made him feel at home but made him truly feel like he belonged. The long hours, the days away from family and all of the sacrifices he has made to this point were going to pay off. That vote of confidence fueled a creative energy between Zac and Walt that led to such synergy between the men, that the studio work was completed 2 days early. Trusting the rest of the project in the capable hands of Ron Flynt (engineer) and Jerry Tubb (mixing) promised to potentially create a work of auditory splendor that few can rival.

The words to accurately describe the album honestly escape me. There are no “Zac sounds like (insert artists here).” There are equal parts soul, rock, and Texas country that are more or less evident depending on which track you happen to be listening to at the moment. When asked about the song choices on the album, Zac only laughed and told me that half of the songs were written years ago when he had no plans yet to ever record them.

In a way that may be what makes this album special. These songs are more than personal. Aside from a couple of co-writes (including one with Courtney Patton) Wilkerson wrote these songs for himself. Not to fill an album, not to get radio play and sell tickets and t-shirts. These songs are his stories and his experiences. It’s almost like being a fly on the wall in his confession.  And it’s fitting in a way. Because it would truly be a sin to let a talent like his stay hidden away.  It remains to be seen but it is my belief that performing his songs and bringing his music to the people will be his cross to bear for years to come.

http://www.zacwilkersonmusic.com/

 

{Off The Cuff} The Real Girls in the Songs and With the Songs

As the father of a young daughter, husband to a strong wife, brother of an awesome sister and son of a loving mother I’ve been taking in all this “Girl in a Country Song” vs Bro-Country brouhaha with a keen interest from afar.  The Bro-Country phenomenon is a fad.  A passing fancy no different than the Urban Cowboy, Countrypolitan, Neo-traditionalist, or Hat Act eras. It’s interminable in the moment, but will be gone relatively soon.

The difference in those previous fads and the current Bro-Country one is that those paid deference to women (for the most part–there were sexist elements that were a product of their time).  They respected them.  They weren’t just booty shorts on a tailgate. They weren’t just compared to a melody or relegated to disrespectful arm candy via the most baseless, brain-dead lyrics imaginable. I can’t fathom Conway Twitty, Charlie Rich, Randy Travis, George Strait, Keith Whitley et al singing about throwing beer cans at a girl’s window, skinny dipping in a river, or stripteasing in the bed of a pickup. Would they possibly allude to those things?  Sometimes.  But, they’d do it in a very clever manner.

The degradation of women is nothing new in the hip-hop world.  The late 90′s/early 00′s was fraught with the same types of disrespect women are currently being shown in country music.   Rap music, at large, moved beyond those elements years ago.  Nashville is still embracing them (just as they rip off the most corny elements of that terrific, … Keep Reading

{Brad's Corner} August 2014: Scouting

{Brad�s Corner}

A few weeks back at Greenfest, I was having a conversation with an artist who wasn’t on the bill but was just there to take in all the music.  He told me “Galleywinter does it right, man.  Y’all are always ahead of the curve.” This is a sentiment I heard several times throughout the weekend and have heard many times before.  One time somebody compared us to the old Buzz Bin videos on MTV if you’re old enough to remember that.

Being in front of trends is a dangerous thing on the night you’re promoting a concert, but is a thrilling thing all other 364 days of the year.  Heck, it’s even thrilling the night of the big show. Our community has been all about exposing, promoting and sharing music we dig since Pat Green was a newcomer. Over the course of the past 15 or 16 years we’ve seen trends, bands, styles and artists come and go.

This process is very similar to that of a pro sports scout.  A grizzled baseball scout looking for that 5 tool player.  A hardened football scout seeking that raw, athletic phenom.  A gruff basketball scout searching for that versatile player that can fill multiple positions and hit a jump shot.  And so on. We’re always simply looking for new bands (and old) that turn our ears. Are they doing something new, unique, different, original, cool?

Over the years, we’ve identified bands we thought were on the cusp and they proved us right.  … Keep Reading

Do It For Durrett

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Monday Sept 8th at Billy Bob’s some of the brightest names in our music scene will gather to pay tribute to a sportswriter named Richard Durrett.  If you’re unfamiliar with Richard’s story, you may ask why?  Well, the answer lies in the fact that he was an unusually kind, caring person and really thorough professional journalist.  The type of guy that by the recounting of friends would text out individual texts for Fathers Day, New Year etc instead of a group text.  The type of guy that worked his way up the journalistic ladder quickly in the cutthroat world of modern sports journalism via sheer kindness and tenacity.  Tragically, Richard passed away suddenly at his home a few weeks back.  He leaves behind a young family.  His friends have organized this concert as a way to raise funds for his kids and honor their friend.

We can’t announce the line-up exactly just yet because of some fun, music-biz legalese radius clause stuff…but just know that you don’t want to miss it. In addition to the music, the night includes one of the largest sports auctions of all time.

For complete info:

Follow @DoItForDurrett on Twitter
For More Info/To Buy Tickets:  http://doitfordurrett.com/?p=569Keep Reading