June 2010: Different Grooves

A few years ago, Adam Hood delivered an upbeat song about putting your soul in the music and finding a different groove. Different grooves are all I found when I first discovered this wonderful music.
There were no sexy tractors, nobody was warshing whiskey to make corn, and nobody was singing about crazy towns over recycled Def Leppard beats. It was a refreshing change for myself and many others.

Yet, that was over a decade ago and the scene as it were is no longer. Much like the drought between the Steve Earle/Robert Earl Keen/Lyle Lovett era of Texas Music and the mid-90’s rejuvenation, we are in a rut. There are still bands out there making great music, it’s just harder to find. And, the whole scene has become a machine.

I’m not breaking any new ground here.

There seems to be an undercurrent of fans striving to locate what they qualify as good music and rejecting anything they hear on the radio. Fans of this music have never been more savvy. They are suspicious of most everything they hear on radio rotations and anything they feel has some sort of corporate backing. This is the notion that leads to cries of sell-out, even when that is not the truth of the matter.

I once read a book that had a bit about alternative scenes of anything always leading to failure. The book explained that the problem with any alternative scene is that they spend every waking moment fighting to bring attention to themselves. Yet, once they achieve their goals, they are automatically a failure because instead of fighting the mainstream…they now are the mainstream. This was the problem faced by Nirvana after Nevermind became a cultural landmark. What was once a fresh diversion from saccharine pop-metal…was now being copied and manufactured by record labels as a product. What had been real and ethereal to Cobain was now just a marketing ploy for the record execs.

The same thing has happened down here, which leads me and those music fans like me searching for a different groove.

I continually find myself searching for things that deliver a different groove. What I mean by that is that I’m constantly looking for music that stirs your soul. It doesn’t have to be a lyrical masterpiece or the type of crossword puzzle song I mentioned in last month’s column…but it needs to make me feel something.

Lucky for us, there are a handful of bands, led by the patriarch of groove Ray Wylie Hubbard that are delivering more than just three chords sprinkled over lyrics about rivers, highways and cotton. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that so many folks are doing that type of music and copying other bands in that ilk that it becomes redundant and repetitive. All of which makes bands with soul and a hard rockin’ groove stick out.

I’m referring to bands like Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, Uncle Lucius, Charlie Shafter, Statesboro Revue, Javi Garcia, Jonathan Terrell, and Zach Huckabee among others.

These guys have amped up the elements of rock n’ roll and blues in their mix of country and folk to come up with what I’ve heard some describe as Americana Rock. Some of these guys sound close to straight up rock bands while others lean more to the country side of things…but they all manage to write songs full of melodies that resemble velcro in the way they stick to your brain and lyrics with more hooks than a tackle box.

They are living southern rock…not just a relic.

To borrow a phrase from Wade Bowen’s all time best selling t-shirt, these ain’t no dancehall bands. These are the type of bands and musicians that have you subconsciously tapping your foot and involuntarily throwing up Dio’s (RIP) devil horns. These guys have dropped the fiddle in favor of finding that different groove.

And, just because they rock out doesn’t mean they skimp on lyrical content. Quite the contrary. These cats are tackling the same lovelorn classic themes of country music in refreshing ways. They have found an amped up semblance of the balance I referred to last month.

Now, that’s not to say just because they rock harder than your average Texas/Red Dirt band that’s the only thing that makes them different. Another difference is they are not chasing ghosts of dancehalls past or carbon copying things that came before. They are chasing their own muses and knocking down the boundaries of what this music can be.

These bands are opening ears, minds and doors via the use of different grooves.

You don’t have to crank the Marshall’s up to 11 and play country infused rock n’ roll to have a different groove. Other types of grooves I’ve dug on over the years and recently due the soulful crunch of their overall vibe are Band of Heathens, Sean McConnell, Will Hoge and Josh Grider Trio. These cats take big, unique, and deep voices (respectively) and crank out mind-blowingly good tunes that evoke other artists without infringing on any legacies.

As, I sit here listening to 11 Bones, I’m left to wonder…what different grooves are you diggin’ on these days?

Minor Chords:

-I hope you’ve been groovin’ on the new features we’ve added: The Drop and Live. They are very cool and we are super stoked about the possibilities.

-Poodie Locke’s old adage was that “There are no bad days.” That saying has really been put to the test recently with the Randy Rogers Band. But, they have come out of all the sorrow on the other side with the bright beacons of a healthy baby girl and a new album!

-Kudos to Ragweed for having the balls to continue doing things their own way even when they knew it might upset the apple cart. Much love and luck to that whole crew.

-This Big 12 realignment talk is just odd. I’d really like to see the conference stick together and play hardball for a new TV deal. But, that will probably not happen. The thought of our state schools kicking off at 9:30PM Texas time is crazy to me.

-Another fantastic house concert/holiday party at Knight’s Bay is in the books. Grider and DK played tunes and Mother Nature delivered the vibe.

-GreenFest will be here before you know it. Make your plans and tell your friends–July 31/Aug 1 in New Braunfels!

-I’m not in front of the TV much during the summer…but it is a wasteland thus far. I think my golf game might get back in shape at this rate.

-Haven’t been able to float yet this year…but I’m hearing the conditions are primo!

-There seems to be more time off between NBA playoff games than between Stoney albums.

-The Rangers are teasing us again…each year I say I won’t fall for it. Then, they seduce me through July…and just as they fade 2-a-days start and I forget all about them. Keep me interested this year Rangers!

-This month’s recommended film: It Might Get Loud. A fantastic music documentary that involves The Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White. People kept recommending it to me, I finally saw it and really dug it…so now I’m passing on the recommendation.

-This month’s recommended album: Rosehill-White Lines & Stars. Rosehill is a revamped Texas High Life that has matured in sound and brought in Radney Foster’s golden touch to the production duties of this album. It is a nice blend of songwriting and musicality that makes a statement this band will be around for a while. They are taking part in the GreenFest festivities this year by performing at the Aug 1 acoustic LoneStar Floathouse portion…come check them out!

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

Brad Beheler

Raised in Waco, refined in the Hill Country, escaped from DFW. I've worked in just about every facet of the music business for 20 years. I like to write about it all. e-mail Brad Editor-in-Chief

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