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American Aquarium In the Fishbowl of Success

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Without fail, every so often a band from outside the borders of Texas and Oklahoma resonate with Red Dirt music fans in a way that the homegrown talent just isn’t doing at the time. We’ve seen it happen with Lucero, Will Hoge, Sean McConnell, Adam Hood, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson and others.  Currently that band is American Aquarium.  A band heralded and certified as the ultimate road warriors has built up a loyal (and sizable…and growing) fandom in the Texas region.  On the strength of a blistering live show that was built on the back of BJ Barham’s intense songwriting, AA is connecting with a wide swath of hungry music fans.  As usual, fans down here crave realness.  Authenticity.  Grittiness.  USAq has that in spades. Their last album, Burn. Flicker. Die, was an Isbell-produced collection that solidified them in the scene and beyond. It propelled them from aimless wanderlust to the path of independent success. Their latest album (out Feb 3), Wolves, is the one that is currently elevating them to next-level status.

On the heels of a near-breakup, Wolves finds the band settling into a healthy groove both on and offstage. Marriage, sobriety and determination are clearing a new course for this pack of hungry artists.  Blazing a trail across the Texas scene like many have done before, but in their own way.  It was a slow burn at first.  Opening shows in a venue here or there.  Gradually, the band began building up its Texas following.  … Keep Reading

Jason Eady at 40

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Today is Jason Eady’s 40th birthday.  And what a 40 years it has been.  Jimmy Buffett famously sang about a pirate looking at 40.  Jason Eady is a troubadour looking at 40.  Jason Eady has lived a very full and interesting life thus far; and it shows in his music.   Eady has traveled the globe in search of new adventures and new songs.  He’s been through the hell of Nashville and lived to tell about it, coming out stronger on the other side.  His music has transformed from a swampy, delta-blues stomp to full-blown honky-tonk.  He’s adept at both.  A talented writer, underrated performer and country music traditionalist.  Originally from Mississippi, Jason Eady found his way to Texas in search of audiences that would embrace his original music.  After over a decade of splitting time between Fort Worth and Austin, Eady is now quintessentially Texan. He’s lived a life that a Hollywood screenwriter would envy.  Military translator turned country singer. There’s not too much he hasn’t seen and we’re all the better for it.  With a first 40 years act like that, we’re intrigued to see what lies ahead in Act II.

 

Below is one of our favorite Eady moments ever.  The time he took Greenfest 11 to the river, literally. Enjoy your day sir!

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Goodbye Mr. Monahan

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When news broke recently that Casey Monahan had been forced out as the director of the Texas Music Office, a swift and massive outrcry began among those of us who support, create and cherish the arts in this state. For good reason.  Monahan has overseen an explosion of musical innovation in the 25 years he has been at his post.  Since the inception of such an office.  The reason for his ouster is hard to ascertain despite shake-ups being rather common post election cycle.  He has faithfully served administrations of both major parties and withstood wide-ranging budget cuts and office demands over his three decades in state office leadership.  This non-partisan position is responsible for a great deal of revenue within our borders.  The promotion of our music both contemporarily and historically is of great visage and importance.  Nobody has had a bigger hand in shaping the Texas Music business model into the behemoth it has become.

As the Dallas Morning News said,”No one did more to promote Texas music, from mariachi to punk to country. And no one loves Texas music more.”

News on a successor has been hard to come by.  Political rumblings have thrown out rumors but no viable names as of yet.  Whoever takes on this role will be held to a high standard.  He or she will be facing a mountain of work greater than he/she most likely anticipates.  This positions requires a person that can be patient with all audiences but push the right … Keep Reading

{Brad's Corner} January 2015: Finding Warmth

{Brads Corner}

As a native Texan, I’m uncomfortable with cold weather.  Pretty much anytime it gets below 40 I’m complaining.  Although I do refrain from posting photos of my truck’s thermometer with a cool IG filter. (I’m with you in spirit and  a fav/like people).  We just don’t handle it well down here.  We’re much more equipped to deal with 102 rather than 22.  It’s different when you’re up in Steamboat experiencing it because you’re prepared for it.  There’s also a secret ingredient that keeps you warm up there too.  Well, two actually.  Music and friends.  All the material goods in the world can offer you only x-amount of solace in the face of a blizzard.  Art and companionship will warm those bone-chillingly frozen bodies.

There’s something special about being part of a movement. A  moment.  A happening.

This takes place at festivals, concerts and gigs each year.  That precise point in time when everything aligns and connects. Where thousands (or hundreds or tens) become one unified spirit.  While of course this happens in all genres, we happen to be particularly fond of the manner with which it takes place under the OKOM umbrella.  Sociologists refer to this as a pack or herd mentality.  That’s a fancy way of saying we’re all having a good time together (at least in these instances).

Shared experiences bind us together and are the reason why I still watch sporting events live.  It’s the thing left that I refuse to DVR.  I must exalt and exhale … Keep Reading

{Brad's Corner} December 2014: Getting Away To Get Back

{Brads Corner}

The holiday season is always one of reflection, even if subconsciously.  At the store the other day, I saw a giant display of shiny, new bicycles waiting for their new homes.  This definitely took me back to some of my own favorite Christmas gifts growing up and certainly my own rad BMX, Evil Kneivel days.

When I was a little kid there was nothing better than hopping on my black and gold Huffy and hoofing it around the neighborhood or up to my family’s full service gas station (back when such things existed). Along the way my imagination would take over and I would envision myself as the pilot of a big jet plane, an astronaut, a race car driver, a monster truck car crusher and more all in one trip.

As I got older, I graduated from Huffy to Mongoose to Suzuki, Honda and Kawasaki. My friends, cousins and I became big time dirt bike enthusiasts and racers. And as I got further involved in these new, grand machines my imagination ran more rampant. I was Bob Hanna and Ricky Johnson and if I was dared I was the aforementioned Evil Kneivel. I can still vividly remember crisp fall afternoons spent inhaling the cold Texas air through my helmet as I flew through the air and took in the big blue skies. For those few brief seconds I would forget everything except the breathtaking awe of the skyline…trees, roofs, whatever got in the way. Around the end of this … Keep Reading