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{Brad's Corner} April 2014-What’s Old Is New Again

{Brad�s Corner}

New albums from established artists.  For a great majority of acts they arrive with varying degrees of half-hearted fanfare.  When an artist is particularly hot they can release just about anything and it will sell.  Once they begin to slide down the other side of Mt. Relevance, they must work doubly hard to get just half the attention they did previously.  Their ticket sales may remain sky high, but sales of their new album often flatline.  The masses want to hear what they know.  They’re not interested in “here’s something from our new album”.

That is the constant scenario in music released outside the Americana/Texas scene.  The Texas/Oklahoma region actually craves new music.  We’re on the flip side of that…for the most part.  It’s still hard to get people to buy in to any post-Canonball era Pat Green.   (Or the Load/Re-Load era of Metallica for that matter which still only has me and Josh Grider as champions.)

So, why do some artists thrive and others stagnate?

It’s a tricky equation with a simple answer.  Country music is founded on the strength of songs.  If the song’s good enough it won’t matter if there’s a fourth runner-up beauty contest contestant belting it out or a hardcore troubadour.  The songs are what people connect to.  If the quality of the new stuff isn’t up to par with the expectations of the audience you’re in for trouble.

It’s the reason why Turnpike Troubadours have become so huge despite playing by their own rules and not bending to any silly regional allegiances of playbooks.  They’re doing what they want to do and where they want to do it.  Much like Ryan Bingham, they’ve grown beyond this scene’s borders by sheer force of will.  And they’re the most popular act going right now simply because they don’t have one bad song on any of their albums.  Their songs resonate across demographics.  Old, young.  Male or female.  Everybody finds something to identify with…and that’s what keeps the crowds coming.  Now, it’s a near certainty that their next album will be huge.  But, the true test will be the one after that.  If this next one maintains the quality of the first few, their dominance will continue.  If it falls short of the high bar they’ve created for themselves, cracks will begin to show.

Keep Reading…

{New Braunfels} Haggard, Bowen, Rogers

Merle Haggard

Whitewater Amphitheater set the bar high when they kicked of their 2014 live music season on Saturday, March 29th with Merle Haggard plus an opening set from Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers’ “Hold My Beer and Watch This” acoustic tour.  Wade and Randy took turns performing acoustic versions of their songs with Brady Black joining in on fiddle and Todd Laningham on guitar.  If you’re not familiar with this annual tour, they drink beer and swap songs and stories.

It was an early show with Wade and Randy taking the stage at 7:30, but Whitewater was already starting to fill up despite that.  Rock, Paper Scissors is apparently a tradition to see which man will start the show, and Wade won out and kicked things off with “If We Ever Make It Home”. From there they played one song after another with an occasional stop for a drink of beer and some humorous conversation about life on the road, etc.

By the time Wade and Randy’s set ended the place was packed, and people were of course antsy to see Merle Haggard on stage.  After a brief wait while the stage was prepared, The Strangers (Merle’s band) took the stage to sing a few songs while waiting for Merle to appear.  Finally it was time, and at almost 77 years of age (he was born April, 6, 1937), Merle Haggard doesn’t appear to have lost a step. His well-staffed 8 piece band performed every hit Merle Haggard song I could remember, and it truly was an honor to be able to witness such a country music legend performing live.

I just happen to have some video from the show!

Whitewater Amphitheater has now officially launched concert season for 2014, here are the shows I know about, clickable shows are links to buy tickets:
• 5/3 - Jmblya
• 5/24 - Josh Abbott Band w/Roger Creager + William Clark Green
• 5/25 - The Spazmatics
• 6/14 – Stoney LaRue & Randy Rogers Band
• 6/23 – Goo Goo Dolls, Daughtry, Plain White T’s
• 7/4 – Eli Young Band w/Chase Rice
• 7/5 – Turnpike Troubadours w/Jerry Jeff Walker & Jonny Burke
• 7/26 – Pat Green & Cory Morrow
• 8/9 – Dwight Yoakam w/Jason Boland and Jason Eady

Sharing and Collective Creativity

This entry may be horribly incongruent & scattered, and I apologize for that. Coffee & stuff. Also typos.

I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity lately. I’ve been thinking about where it comes from, how to stimulate it, how to harness it… all kinds of things. This has led me to reading interesting articles & books, to watching YouTube videos, to drawing, to writing, to creating music. I tend to post a lot of these things I’m doing online. Sharing them with the public as if they should have some kind of interest. Only after reading Austin Kleon’s book, Show Your Work, did I realize that that has somehow become a weird part of my creative process…

Early in the book, Kleon states:

Almost all of the people I look up to and try to steal from today, regardless of their profession, have built sharing into their routine. These people aren’t schmoozing at cocktail parties; they’re too busy for that. They’re cranking away in their studios, their laboratories, or their cubicles, but instead of maintaining absolute secrecy and hoarding their work, they’re open about what they’re working on, and they’re consistently posting bits and pieces of their work, their ideas, and what they’re learning online. Instead of wasting their time “networking,” they’re taking advantage of the network. By generously sharing their ideas and their knowledge, they often gain an audience that they can then leverage when they need it – for fellowship, feedback, or patronage.

Now, reading that alone … Keep Reading

LJT Campsite Jams

ljt0830(photo credit: Joni Beard)

We are teaming up with our friends over at TXRDR.com to bring you the best of what makes LJT special each year:  those unique and magical acoustic moments around campfires.  The guitar pulls that last until sunrise and feature some kid you’ve never heard of singing his heart out right alongside someone who headlined the mainstage earlier the previous day.  The feeling of community and spiritual harmony that is found in these instances can’t be matched and we’re stoked to be joining forces with the TXRDR boys to bring you the best of the best.  We’ll be cultivating a special set of campsite jam sessions Thursday-Saturday nights.  We did this in the past with Mandatory FM to great acclaim and aim to recreate that magic.  Drop by and say hi after the mainstage shuts down.  It’s gonna be a scene not to be missed!… Keep Reading

Greenfest 14

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Planning for this year’s edition of Greenfest began in the waning stages of last year’s festival.  We knew we wanted to keep the same vibe, but ratchet it up just a notch.  Greenfest has always been a different type of festival.  A unique blend of exposure to new bands, jamming to familiar favorites, offbeat family reunion and good-times revival.  No matter the venue, line-up or location it’s always held true to the mantra of for the fans, by the fans.  Each year we gather input from other fans and winnow everything down into a potent mix of awesomeness as best we can. There are bedrock Greenfest artists that will be with us every year, and many new acts each year who could very well be the next big thing.  Turnpike Troubadours in 2010 comes to mind. They played early on the bill to a middling crowd.  12 months later they were headlining the biggest stages in the scene.

Greenfest 14 will once again take place over 2 days in New Braunfels, TX.  Tickets, $15, for Saturday will go on sale April 20th.  Sunday, as always, is FREE!

SAT JULY 26 at River Road Icehouse:  Shinyribs, Lincoln Durham, Seth James Band, Folk Family Revival, Leroy Powell and the Messengers, Chris King and The Bigsbys.  Full (and one-man) band shows.  Loud, live, electric and rockin’.

SUN JULY 27 at Lone Star Floathouse:  Walt Wilkins, Drew Kennedy, Adam Hood, Josh Grider, Ben Danaher, Kylie Rae Harris, Jamie Wilson, Kelley Mickwee, Nate … Keep Reading