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RRB’s Hidden Gems

Over the past 17 years, Randy Rogers Band has cranked out some of the most memorable and standard bearing songs of the Texas/Red Dirt scene.  Their album Rollercoaster remains atop most lists as the best to ever come from this subgenre of music.  The hits are well known, be it “Kiss Me in the Dark”, “Interstate”, “Tonight’s Not the Night”, “Trouble”, “Fuzzy” etc.  Today, Randy celebrates a birthday and in honor of that and the fact that the band released many of its records around this date throughout the years, we’re going to take a deeper look at the RRB collection. Over the course of the past two decades, this band has cranked out very little filler.  Here’s a look at their top 10 hidden gems and deep cuts…the tunes that aren’t in the setlist often enough.

“Never Be That High” from 2008’s self-titled album

This Stephony Smith co-write encapsulates youthful abandon and regret with one of the best hooks ever laid down in Texas music contained in the line “We used to catch a buzz on the fact that it was Saturday night…”.  It’s a Seger-esque look at heartland adolesence.  When all you needed was an open road, $10, your friends and the optimism that something might happen.  An adrenalized version of Bruce Robison’s “Tonight”.

“If Anyone Asks” from 2006’s Just A Matter of Time

Drew Womack had knocked down many of the Nashville walls that the RRB now found themselves traversing on their 2006 major label debut.  Womack co-wrote this one with Rogers and it is epic in the John Ford sense of the word.  The sweeping melody provided by Brady Black’s fiddle is punctuated with some of Rogers’ most achingly real vocals.

“Reason To Stay” from 2002’s Like It Used To Be

Written by lead guitarist Geoffrey Hill, this waltz comes from the early pre-fiddle era of the band that featured the steel guitar of Eddie Foster.  There aren’t ever enough good waltz’s and this winsome, longing love song is one of the best. And the vocal on the end of the bridge is one of Rogers’ finest.

“Didn’t Know You Could” from 2008’s self-titled album

Rogers pulled Micky Braun into the co-writers seat for this verging on alt-rocker that rips through a stick-with-you melody and pushes Rogers’ rasp to its upper vocal reaches.  Radney Foster’s production falls in the vein of his own See What You Want To See era and make this one of the least country, yet most effective songs in the RRB catalog.

“One More Sad Song” from 2013’s Trouble

Very similar to the previous track, this Sean McConnell co-write pushes the band’s sonic boundaries and veers into Rogers love for 90’s alt-rock. Bands like Blue October and Flickerstick led the late 90’s/early 00’s Texas alt-rock scene…but this song demonstrates that Rogers and the boys can pull that off very well too.

“65 Degrees” from 2000’s Live at Cheatham Street

A ramschackle production just to have something to sell at the pitiful merch stand and send to promoters/booking agents etc in the early internet days.  The live record wasn’t good, but it was real and it showed promise.  Other tracks from that record live on like “Lost and Found” and “I Miss You With Me”, but this one evoked Rogers at his early Steve Earle best.  Vivid, authentic, real.  A character portrait of small town Texas. It was a testament to those of us around during that time that maybe we were all doing something right.

“I Met Lonely Tonight” from 2010’s Burning the Day 

Rogers’ songwriting is never better than when he is painting Dean Dillon-esque barstool seclusion and heartache. This song was written solely by Rogers and distills all of his best qualities in one tune…both vocally and with his pen.

“Still Be Losing You” from 2002’s Like It Used To Be

The band’s first studio release wasn’t fully formed, but it did signal a band and songwriter with something to say.  This commendation to an ex-lover was a live favorite in the early day and the attitude with which Rogers delivers the vocals are a testament that even her dog now knows his name.

“You Don’t Know Me” from 2006’s Just a Matter of Time

Bassist Johnny “Chops” Richardson has contributed a Waylon-esque thumper to each album.  “Ten Miles Deep” and “Shotgun” are more well-known, but this Hank Jr/Charlie Daniels Band swamp rocker just might be the best.

“Things I Need to Quit” from 2016’s Nothing Shines Like Neon

It’s still too early to tell what will be the most lasting songs off the latest RRB release, but this song that Rogers did not write seems to have not received it’s fair share of buzz.  This is a honky-tonk master class in regret, despair and tiny threads of hope.

“Satellite” from 2014’s Homemade Tamale’s: Live at Floore’s

This studio track was tacked on as a bonus to a live record and I’m adding it to the end of this list.  The song kind of slipped through the cracks and it has a very cool video (above) that stars some of the band member’s kids. It’s a classic RRB song thematically and musically, but it matches forlorn verses with a bombastic chorus that showcases many of the elements that make the band so solid and versatile.

 

{Brad's Corner} August 2016: Minoring in PR

{Brad�s Corner}

My good friend Rita Ballou has recently been beating the drum about an issue that is minor among the most pressing facing our cottage music industry, yet one that is important nonetheless.  It’s the notion of “exclusives” and “premieres”.  Many of the biggest artists in our scene employ management and publicity agencies that are disconnected from Texas.  Whereas once they might have featured a new tune on our very own The Drop or over at Radio Free Texas, it’s now hosted on those uber Texas Music-centric sites such as The Boot, Texas Monthly, Taste of Country and Rolling Stone.  At least those sort of make sense.  We’ve also seen previews end up at GQ and just yesterday a new Cody Johnson song landed at that vital hotbed of Texas Music info PopMatters.

As I said, in the grand scheme of things it’s not that big of a deal.  Bands outgrow venues.  And, I suppose they can argue that they outgrow websites.  In all the talk of major league vs minor league loyalty, I think this minor portion was lost.  It seems to me that one would rather be a big deal on a regional website instead of an easily ignored/clicked past part of a national site.  But, I guess that’s just me.  And Rita.  Far be it from us to keep that song on a pedastal and away from a sidebar sandwiched between The Band Perry’s latest drama and The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas tour dates. You know, the important stuff that Cody’s fans want to know.  In the end it doesn’t matter because we dedicated fans will traverse wherever we need to, to hear the music and a website that doesn’t care about us or the music gets to boost their hits on the backs of our passion.  It also allows the Nashville publicity team the allowance to pretend they are expanding the CoJo brand.  PopMatters and rodeo have a big crossover.

TownSquare Media controls all of it and it is what it is.  I promise this isn’t sour grapes.  We plug along either way and so do they.  Rita and I just find it interesting. It’s all irrelevant really.  I was at a tech conference within the last year that talked about web hits steeply declining each year as the Idiocracy of our culture continues and (present company included) people only want content via their phone and social media platforms. We don’t want to wait 15 seconds for an ad and we’re becoming immune to clickbait.  For example, via GW. I can post a video on our FB page and generate 30K views.  I post the same video on our home page and only hit 3,000.  That’s just the game in 2016 and beyond.  I sincerely hope that PopMatters feature generated hundreds of new CoJo fans. He’s amazing.  Arguably our best current representative on a major stage.  Point only being that a cursory cruise by PopMatters today showed no sign of yesterday’s feature whereas here or RFT or Lone Star Music would still be prominently displayed and promoted. Just saying.  Long ago, Pat Green liked to use the phrase Taking Texas to the Masses.  If this is what it looks like, maybe we’re all doing it wrong.

MINOR CHORDS:

-Greenfest 16 was another success.  As we said in the run-up.  We’ve never tried to be the largest festival, but we do strive to be one of the realest.  It’s about connections with people.  And although there weren’t thousands of folks raucously not paying attention to the music.  There were hundreds enjoying each other’s company and building relationships.  That’s what GF is about.  We’ll do it again in 2017.

-If this column offended you, speak to the person who inspired me to write it via her tersely worded text rant:  Rita Ballou.  She’s also my complaint department.

-It’s been a minute since a photographer in this scene caught my attention, and Todd Purifoy remains the gold standard.  But, Georgia transplant Tim Murphy aka Crackers and Cucumbers has an eye for human detail that is phenomenal.  His shot of Jason Eady watching Courtney Patton play at GF is incredible.

-Football is finally here.  Now, we just need the weather to get here too.

-Wouldn’t it be cool if there were an audience for a Randy/Wade -Hood/Eady type collaboration…but females.  Like if Jamie Wilson and Courtney Patton went on the road with a badass band and played their tunes and Haggard covers?  How awesome would that be?

-If you float/eat/drink from an outfitter on River Road other than Lone Star Floathouse…you’re doing it wrong.

-Instagram is also doing it wrong.  Stop trying to be Snapchat.  You too, Facebook.

-This month’s recommended album: Cody Jinks – I’m Not the Devil. Jinks is on the threshold of national recognition.  He’s poised to launch himself into that Sturgill/Isbell/Bingham level that’s beyond the Texas plane without sacrificing anything. It’s been a long, steady climb for Jinks who has built his career out of straightforward baritone honky-tonk Texas tinged honesty.  This is the record that makes him next level.  Listen to “Chase That Song” on The Drop

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

 

Plating the Future

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Ever since he arrived at the directorship of the Texas Music Office, Brendon Anthony has been creating new and innovative ways to support this music we all love. He’s networked, politicked and raised funds.  Streamlined, performed and made modern. The latest project of the TMO is the creation of a new specialty license plate that will provide the office to do some much needed things to sustain our music and keep it moving forward into the future.  … Read the rest

Help George Reiff

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(photo credit: Mark Abernathy)

 

GEORGE REIFF GO FUNDME

George has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer- in his brain, liver, adrenal gland and right lung.
He is going to have a tumor removed from his brain today or tomorrow.

At this time, the Reiff family is asking for privacy as they process.… Read the rest

Adios Hastings

5761e164d9581.image(photo credit: WacoTrib)

The paint was fresh, but the building was ramshackle and the previous home to a furniture store. One one side sat an Office Depot. One the other end a Subway.  In the middle a retail revelation known as Hastings.… Read the rest