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{Brad's Corner} October 2014: Dinosaur Cycle

{Bradís Corner}

There’s just something about the Texas Music scene that defies logic.  It may be the staid and repetitive nature of the music the last few years or the extremely overcrowded market. Right or wrong, there is a pecking order based on who started first and not necessarily talent in many cases. Guys that have been doing it since the late 90’s, even if unoriginally and without reaching their full potential, are handed virtual lockdowns on venues and top notch musicians.  In essence, the scene is like a big high school; with several acts who should’ve graduated long ago still hanging out like Wooderson in the movie Dazed and Confused.  Texas music is like a big bubble that forces you to breathe improperly until you emancipate yourself from it.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. Our scene is a lot like the hair metal movement of the 80’s. It sprung out of a hardcore LA club and rock scene. It was vibrant and competitive. It was a spirited and friendly competitive environment in which the bands attempted to snag a record deal, the hottest girl in the club that night, or the best blow and/or smack from some top rate dealer. Sometimes all three in one night.

The market was flooded with wannabes, burnouts, has-beens, never-weres, talents, no talents etc. All trying to jump to the next rung.

Sound familiar?… Keep Reading

Stevie Ray at 60

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Few artists are transcendent. ¬†There are those that make a mark so indelible that even a tragic, untimely death can’t lessen the tight grip they have on our collective consciousness. ¬†Such was the case with Texas guitar virtuoso Stevie Ray Vaughan. ¬†The man cut his teeth in the dives of Dallas, helped break open the Austin scene and slummed at Cheatham Street before becoming an international superstar. ¬†Tales of SRV’s talent and excess are commonplace and we won’t rehash them here. ¬†Just know that he was more than the sum of those narratives. ¬†He was a talented singer, songwriter and producer as well. ¬†He had the artistic abilities to stretch beyond 1-4-5 blues and did so on occasion, but he always knew where home was. ¬†He was an old soul with a Texas spirit that embodied all he did. ¬†After beating around throughout the 70s, Stevie Ray shot to fame and infamy in the early 80s on the strength of his live shows. ¬†He was a throwback bluesman with Hendrix-esque intensity and mystique, all in an original Texan package. ¬†Stevie Ray Vaughan climbed mountains that seemed impossible both personally and musically. ¬†He overcame many obstacles, including a great number of self-inflicted ones, to become the preeminent post-Hendrix guitar player.

Had Stevie Ray Vaughan lived he’d have turned 60 today. ¬†He was robbed from us nearly 25 years ago at the age of just 35. ¬†His life made him a legend, his death escalated that notion and his music confirms it … Keep Reading

Ketchum’s Cure

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Hal Ketchum was a mainstay on country radio in the 90’s. ¬†Huge hits like “Small Town Saturday Night”, “Past the Point of Rescue” and “I Know Where Love Lives” resonated with audiences far and wide. ¬†Ketchum’s songs also embodied certain trends that would later escape Nashville and flourish in Texas. ¬†Specific, heartfelt, smart, melodic and distinct. Ketchum cut his teeth in the burgeoning Texas troubadour scene of the 1980’s that blossomed on the shoulders of Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett. ¬†A regular gig at Gruene Hall and an independent record release led to Nashville, which led to his grand successes.

As the years wore on, Ketchum’s musical muse wore out. ¬†He found making music less enjoyable and lacking the fulfillment to which he’d originally been attracted. ¬†As this inspirational fade began, a health issue paralleled this. ¬†Ketchum was diagnosed with a¬†neurological disorder called acute transverse myelitis, a companion disease to multiple sclerosis. ¬†Ketchum was achingly familiar with the hell that living with an MS disease can be, as he lost his mother at a young age to the affliction. ¬†Touring became more of a challenge and less frequent. ¬†Studio time became less enticing and more of a hassle.

And so it went for the next decade or so. ¬†Then, something funny happened. ¬†Music seduced Hal Ketchum again. ¬†In a most unlikely place. ¬†Ketchum had removed himself from many of the trappings of modern life, decamped to a secluded cabin in Wimberley and worked on treating his MS ailments … Keep Reading

{Brad's Corner} September 2014: Brick and Mortar Soul

{Bradís Corner}

I live in central Texas and one of the most exciting recent developments has been the construction of the new Baylor facility McLane Stadium. ¬†Baylor fan or not, the modestly sized but aesthetically outstanding football stadium is a¬†splendid¬†point of pride for all locals who drive by it on 35. ¬†Up the road in Arlington, Jerry Jones constructed the world’s preeminent multi-event facility with AT&T Stadium. ¬†It is a true wonder of the world. Two new palatial venues at different levels in different towns to ostensibly host the same types of events. ¬†Yet, they couldn’t be more different.

Music venues can be like that too. ¬†I’ve been in new ones that click right away and new ones that falter. ¬†I’ve been in some that are over 100 years old and I wouldn’t change a thing. ¬†While other older venues need a complete renovation. ¬†I’m far from an expert, but I’ve been attached to venues in all sorts of capacities: performer, road manager, booking agent, talent buyer, concert promoter and even bartender/bouncer. ¬†What makes a nice venue isn’t the brick, wood or concrete. ¬†It’s the people. ¬†The staff. ¬†The musicians. ¬†The fans. The soul.

Our own Jon Paul “Hogleg” Long is now venturing into the venue business with a very cool space down in New Braunfels. ¬†I have all the confidence that JP’s space will be one of the coolest venues in the state. ¬†Don’t think he can’t, as he would say. ¬†He’s been around the block too and he … Keep Reading

{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