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February 2015: Conflating the Good Times Balance

2015 has already gotten off to a busy start for words that end in -late.  Deflate. And, now conflate. Deflate was brought to the national consciousness via the New England Patriots alleged football tampering during the NFL Playoffs.  Conflate has arrived on the back of a Chinook helicopter piloted by Brian Williams…or something to that effect. Webster defines conflate as follows, “combining two things (ideas, stories, etc) into one”.  I was recently confronted by a message board post someone sent me that criticized Texas Country music as being just as bad as mainstream bro-country by saying:

“Texas country is just as bad, it’s the same thing that the labels put out to teens with boy bands and girly pop.  What is happening is that awesome parties, nights at the bar, or having a great time at concerts is distorting your view of the music being played.  I understand.  It’s Pavlov’s theory of conditioning.  You are equating a drunken good time in the company of good looking girls with good music, and that’s not the case.”

While I don’t necessarily wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment, I feel as though there is definitely some merit there.  There’s nothing wrong with a good time.  In fact, it’s an essential life element to enjoying a well-balanced existence.  However, there is something wrong if that’s all you’re doing.  And, music that is only about the party is destined to have a short shelf-life.  That’s why I enjoy both types of shows.  That’s why Greenfest has … Keep Reading

Tempting the Fire Marshall: Magnolia with AA

Currently, there is not a better show than American Aquarium at the Magnolia Motor Lounge in Ft. Worth. Will they outgrow the venue? No doubt. Last Saturday night they set the attendance record for the place – packing almost 500 people into a 300 person capacity room. Last year when they played the Magnolia, it seemed just as crowded as Saturday night. But the Magnolia has been fans of theirs for a long time – last show, B.J. paid homage to the owners, telling the crowd that the first time they played there, they played to a crowd of about 10 people, but the Magnolia believed in them and kept having them back.

The Magnolia got the return on their investment Saturday. Jonny Burke opened the show to the capacity crowd and most gathered around the stage to hear him sing. He pulled songs from his CD Cup Runneth Over and his self-titled EP. Jonny seems to be everywhere all of the sudden, opening up for Cody Canada, Jason Boland, Turnpike, and others. It will not be too long until he’s the one headlining packed houses.

Next up the USAq guys took the stage. About two songs in, B.J. told the crowd that it was going to be a long night if they keep singing every word back to the band, and a long night it was. There is nothing better than when a crowd, a venue, and a band all fit together perfectly for one night of great music. … Keep Reading

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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Words of Wisdom From K Phillips

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Early morning rehearsal. I used to get up at this time to dig fence post holes in ground that is mostly rock. We’d ride four wheelers, shoot rifles, pistols and shotguns and do some back-breaking work. Digging a hole or a trench, in west or central Texas is some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. However, it’s rewarding. At the end of the day you see the work you have put in. You make something. Even if it’s a dang hole in the ground. You can take a picture of it when you are done. When you’re having a beer later, (I guarantee you will want a beer when you’re digging that hole, you may not even like beer or bars or talking to strangers) you can whip out your phone and nod at the guy next to you and say “look at this! Look, look at this hole I dug! Yes, in the ground! Yes it IS mostly rocks! And the guy sitting next to you might say, “look at this bathroom I re-did” or “look at this floor I stained.” and that’ll be that. The work was grueling but it was God’s country. Even the skinny cows looked angelic. The wind is wider there. It’s more like a breath than a blast. There are no building to squeeze between. I was often outworked by men twice my age. I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is to watch someone who is 10 years retired, (or should of Keep Reading