Facebook Twitter RSS

River Jam Rewind

by: Cody Starr

Now that River Jam is over, it’s time to start writing again. It’s been about two weeks since attending my first River Jam so I’ve had a chance to soak it all in. I pretty much went straight from the hundred degrees heat of New Braunfels to the 60-degree beauty of Breckenridge, Colorado. The river is ice cold and rushing at a much faster clip compared to the Guadalupe, which was more of a river walk this go round. Colorado is a good place to write and process. The weather is cool and when the wind blows, it’s downright chilly. Nature is in abundance and like NB, there are afternoon thunderstorms, but more on that in a minute…

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I headed down to San Marcos on Friday. I’ll admit I got into this music thing back-asswards. I’ve been a fan, watching this scene (and Galleywinter) from the outside since the late 90’s. At the time that was enough for me, but six years ago I was inspired by my Texas music heroes to pick up a guitar and learn a few songs. Now I can campfire about as bad as the next guy. I can play “Like It Used To Be” but the Cub Scout parents only sing along if I play “Brown Eyed Girl” or “Tequila Sunrise”. Still, it nudged me closer to the music and satiated me up until about two years ago. I then started texasmusicblog.com with no goal in mind other than to write about the music and artists I love and maybe have an excuse to chat with a few of them. In January Brad Beheler brought me onboard to Galleywinter and it’s been exciting, especially knowing the history and music family it has fostered over the years.

Like I said, I didn’t know what to expect and I hadn’t met any of the Galleywinter “family” in person which didn’t sit well with me. Tweets, Facebook posts, and IMs only do so much. I’m a GenXer and prefer face to face communication. I need reality. Nobody’s ever written a song worth a damn about Insta friends.

I showed up to Cheatham Street just after the doors open. It’s easy to hang there because the place oozes ambiance and history. I chat with Red Shahan, talking about the new record coming in 2018 and about my grandfather’s liquor store, where Red had pictures taken for Men and Coyotes. Soon after I overhear people discussing Galleywinter and how “Brad and some other guy” were the primary folks writing these days. I took that cue to turn around and introduce myself as “the other guy”. Turns out it was Chris Austin (afternoon drive for 92.1 Shooter FM in Waco) and a few of his friends. Minutes later Brad and a few others join us and before you know it there’s a healthy Galleywinter contingent to get to know. That’s better.

Red comes on and was great as usual. He gave us a sampling of the new stuff coming in 2018. You’re gonna like it, check a little bit of it here:

It’s cool seeing your favorites in a listening room atmosphere where you aren’t squeezed in like sardines and girls aren’t training by you constantly making beer runs.

The show ends and I proceed to meet a few more folks, including Jennifer Allen from 92.1. I finally found a crew to float the river with the next day. Saturday comes, it’s hot as hell, the river was low and we had to get out of our tubes and do some walking. Two hours of that was enough. It was one of those days where you drink two gallons of water and never have to piss because your body is struggling to stay hydrated. We recoup, regroup and head to River Road Icehouse for the Saturday night lineup of Haley Cole, K Phillips, and Prophets & Outlaws.

And of course headlining was Josh Weathers. This dude is unreal. If you haven’t seen the video that went viral several years back, go YouTube it. But Josh has more than a kick ass voice, the guy has Jedi musical instincts and the charisma to have audiences eating out of his hand. I was familiar with his work but had never seen him live. Go see him, for the love of God and orphans around the world…

Sunday at River Jam was acoustic/songwriter day. Over a dozen artists doing what they love and playing for tips. People spread all over the patio and in the river, baking in the sun at the Lone Star Float House. John Dempsy and Mike Stanley were up and had just started “Falling Rain” when the sky completely dumped. Toads floating, 50 mph winds that bent trees and threw campsites into complete disarray. Within 60 seconds we had a packed house on the patio as people took cover. The power flickered, the amps went dead but the people went electric. Mike and John proceeded to make that lemonade.

This guy had it figured out…

That set the mood for the rest of the day and everyone was into it. The river or getting boozed up took a back seat to all the music. Johnny Chops played “Shotgun” and dedicated it to my kiddos who have latched onto that song as one of their favorites. That was cool. It’s played almost daily in my house, with my daughter doing ballerina choreography while belting out lines like “Wickedness and whiskey were my fuel”. I’ll claim that as a parenting victory.

Josh Grider and John Baumann capped off the end of an awesome weekend of music and new friends. I’m thankful that I got to extend my music family and I’m ready for next year.


  • Thanks to “The Mayor of Funville” and Darby for letting me crash overnight when I was too tired to drive. It’s cool how music can be the thread that brings people together so quickly that you suddenly make friends and feel comfortable sleeping in the same cramped camper with folks you met less than 24 hours earlier.
  • Haley Cole had a Joplin thing going on that was hip, hip, hip.
  • Steve Guckenheimer and CJ Thompson of PAO can burn it up with their instruments and Matt Boggs is a kind soul who can absolutely bring the soul.
  • Loved talking to John Dempsy about guitars and how the personality of each one you play brings out a different part of you. It got pretty ethereal.
  • Keep an eye out for Mike Stanley.
  • Next time I’m in Padre, I’m going to see Mark Allan Atwood. If you see him, ask him about what happened to his guitar case.
  • Mike Ethan Messick has a new album you should check out.
  • Got to see how The Co-Write podcast sausage was made.
  • Brad and I exchanged a head nod of “hell yes, this is what it’s about” when Seth James and family took us to church with the guitar solos and gospel music on Sunday afternoon.
  • Loved watching Tim Murphy do his thing.
  • There was one notable exception to it being “all about the music”. A chap who remain nameless showed up for John Baumann and within a stretch of 30 minutes got completely schnockered and passed out, nose first onto a picnic table. Baumann made sure we all knew about it and did some impromptu stand up to bust the guy’s balls. Rock on.
  • I did manage to stick my feet in the river and bust out the guitar for some tunes with Darby and The Mayor. Didn’t have the courage to play in front of anybody else, especially when you are around professional musicians all weekend. Baby steps, but still fun.

{Review} Josh Abbott Band – Until My Voice Goes Out

Many bands reach the point of having a distinguishable brand and stop evolving.  From AC/DC to Reckless Kelly and the Rolling Stones to George Strait, once an artist lands on what makes them tick and sells albums/tickets, they normally don’t fool with the formula.  The Beatles were the first band to toy with that notion and have been followed by the likes of everyone from Robert Earl Keen to Ryan Adams and Taylor Swift. Pushing the envelope is what artists do in the first place, when they meet that fork in the road they have two paths to choose from.  Either are acceptable, but only one is easy.

Josh Abbott Band started as a Texas Country collective from Lubbock that specialized in party songs, songs that pandered to female college students and songs with unclever sexual inneundo.  It proved to be a winning strategy, as within relatively short order, JAB rocketed from Lubbock to one of the top three live draws in the region and a major label record deal.  Along that journey, their playing got super tight, their production went next level and the songs began to grab hold of some depth.  Whether conscious or not, band leader and principal songwriter Abbott began to push himself to be a more layered songwriter. This push was joined by the public deterioration of his marriage and the loss of that record deal.  Whereas other bands may have quietly gone back to Texas and kept playing the hits, JAB doubled down on their artistic journey and delivered their best album to date, Front Row Seat.  FRS was a personal exploration of love, pain, betrayal, faith, redemption and closure as viewed through the protagonists’ own relationship.  The fact that fans could hold the songs up to the prism of Abbott’s very own failed marriage made it that much greater of a record.  Abbott’s willingness and openness to put himself out on front street like that was commendable.  He could have easily tucked his tail, written another “She’s Like Texas” and counted the money.  The fact that he didn’t is a testament to the artist he feels he can be.  The fact that his fans followed him gives hope to all bands in this scene.

All that background brings us to JAB’s latest release, Until My Voice Goes Out. A record that finds JAB still mining similar lyrical themes, albeit with new perspectives.  Upon first listen, what you will immediately notice is the expansion of the JAB sonic palette. Strings and horns are way up in the mix in a constructive, supportive spot similar to the way those instruments are featured on Sturgill Simpson’s Sailor’s Guide To Earth.  There is pronounced banjo on nearly each track and at every turn just when you think this song sounds like vintage Josh Abbott Band, there’s a string or horn twist that makes it fresh. Longtime fans of this band will find plenty to love (“The Night Is Ours”), more recent converts will find a continuation of what they dug  (“I’m Your Only Flaw”) and haters will have plenty of ammo with song titles like “Texas Women, Tennessee Whiskey” and “Girl Down in Texas”.  The rub is the two former groups greatly outnumber the latter and this album will be a massive success on Texas radio and all across this market. “Ain’t My Daddy’s Town” is the strongest track on the record and it evokes the same emotions as John Baumann’s “Old Stone Church”.  The song is as gut-wrenchingly real as it gets, with the knowledge that Abbott’s own father passed away unexpectedly during the recording of this album.

UMVGO finds the Josh Abbott Band merging the two characteristics which made them successful and refining them into a hybrid of less ham-handed songwriting, more progressive musical arrangements and an evolution of the JAB brand into something fresh. Hallmarks of what made them, flashes of what changed them and promises of what can be.  Abbott is still far from winning any awards for songwriting, but he knows what he does best and he’s damn good at it.  He’s found his lane, refined it, sharpened it and gotten better at it. These are songs that are easy on the ears and not too hard on the heart.  There’s a reason the Josh Abbott Band is as big as they are and this record encapsulates why.



{Brad's Corner} August 2017: Best of Both Worlds

{Brad�s Corner}

Last week the two hottest tickets in this scene were Sean McConnell and Koe Wetzel. Two acts as divergent as salt and pepper.  Yet, like those handy seasonings…they both go well over the same morsels.  McConnell has been mining the soulful singer/songwriter folk path without peer for over a decade now.  … Read the rest

River Jam By the Bullets

* Josh Weathers is freakishly talented. He should be a household name along the likes of Bruno Mars, Chris Stapleton or Justin Timberlake. The dude is unreal.

*People don’t come more genuine and real than Seth James.

*Haley Cole is fierce in every aspect of the word.… Read the rest

River Jam Band Schedule

Friday 7/ 28

8:00 – Red Shahan 
Cheatham Street Warehouse
Tickets:  https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1490966/

Saturday 7/29

6:00—Haley Cole
7:30—K Phillips
9:00—Prophets & Outlaws
10:45—Josh Weathers
*Austin Gilliam (sidestage between sets)

River Road Icehouse
Tickets: https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1487476/


Sunday 7/30

3:00– Mark Allan Atwood/Mike Ethan Messick
3:50– Jade Patek/Kensie Coppin
4:30— Mike Stanley/John Dempsy
5:30— Clayton Landua/Ryan Turner
6:30–Nate Rodriguez/ Jackie Darlene
7:30—Bobby Duncan/Johnny Chops/special guest
8:30–Josh Grider/John Baumann/special guest
Lone Star Floathouse
FREE… Read the rest