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Articles | Face The Music

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

Like It Used To Be

Ten years ago in one of our first 20 Questions features, Randy Rogers talked about the stories behind some of his songs.  The tale of “Like It Used To Be” sums up how many of us were feeling in the days after 9/11.

-“Like It Used to Be” – I wrote it on my buddies couch in Ft. Worth. I used to stay there for days after we played a gig in Ft. Worth. He never complained. I really didn’t have anywhere else to go. The girl I was dating lived in Dallas and so it was closer to her than San Marcos. I wrote it during those crazy few months after 9/11 when you didn’t know what was going to happen next. I just wanted to go out and forget about the world around us.

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American Aquarium – Hard To Quit

By: Justin Dean | @TXDean23

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It was hot. Inside and outside. The smell of Lone Star Beer and Jameson was the only thing that could mask the body odor that permeated through every single inch of surrounding air space. Yet no one cared. Not the hipster kid with the rimmed glasses and too tight pants or the guy in the cowboy hat on my opposite side that definitely wasn’t going to be getting on a horse anytime soon in his bedazzled designer jeans. Normally these guys stay miles apart and don’t even frequent the same sides of town- let alone the same bar- but this was American Aquarium on a Saturday night and no one cared.

Not many bands these days can take a demographic “label” and throw it out the window of a moving Econoline, but American Aquarium has done that. They have split the seams of the independent music world and transformed themselves from a band that played small shows in dive bars in Raleigh, NC to travelling across the country playing music for anyone who will listen.

American Aquarium put out their first two records- Antique Hearts and The Bible and the Bottle- in 2006 and 2008, respectively. They signed with Last Chance Records and put out Dances With the Lonely in 2009 and Small Town Hymns in 2010. In 2012 the band released their Live in Raleigh CD before putting out the Jason Isbell produced Burn. Flicker. Die, their most popular and praised album to date, … Keep Reading

Introducing Zac Wilkerson

by: Brandon Meyers

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As an artist making music in the state of Texas, there are names that are synonymous with talent, longevity and doing things right. One of those names is Walt Wilkins.  Not only has Wilkins established himself as one of kind type of talent on the stage, but he has also proven to be a masterful producer and creator of albums for other artists. With names like Brandon Rhyder and Jason Eady amongst many other great talents, anyone setting out to make their debut album would be one lucky SOB to get Wilkins attached to that project… Enter Amarillo’s own Zac Wilkerson.

The road that lead Zac to Walt was unlike most of the typical “start a band and make an album” stories.  After nearly a decade of writing songs he never intended on you hearing, a friends somewhat dishonest request for Zac to join him at an open mic night at Lubbock TX’s iconic Blue Light Live turned into Zac winning their fall singer/songwriter contest and a spot on the acoustic stage at Larry Joe Taylor’s Musicfest. Little did Zac know then, that not long after standing backstage and watching Walt Wilkins play his set at LJT that year, that he would be working with Walt on his first album.

Fast forward 2 years and add countless shows and road hours and that rookie that stood on that LJT stage is much wiser, road tested and certain that the path he is on is the right one.  … Keep Reading