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{Brad's Corner} February 2009: All We Need Is…Love?

{Brad�s Corner}
Love is in the air, hope is in the White House, and an optimistic look at nostalgia and music is back in Brad’s Corner this month. Over the past few months, I’ve been beaten down by all the ills I see with this scene, and have written about them. All too often, I haven’t taken the time to communicate all the good and cool things I see, hear and experience with this music. And, believe me…the good far outweighs the bad.
February is home to Valentine’s Day and with that in mind, I’m taking a cue from one of my most popular columns except, I don’t plan on narrowing my focus to one song so much. Yet, rather I’d like to showcase several songs, moments and feelings that display the love that I see in this scene on a daily basis.

When I sat down and began to brainstorm about all this love stuff, the first song that came to mind was “I Love You” by Jerry Jeff Walker. It’s a deep track that is certainly not the first thing people would recognize out of Walker’s canon, but it’s a sweet tune with out of the box lyrics and a winking, knowing realistic presence. I remember when I first got a JJW Greatest Hits record, I of course jammed “ Sangria Wine” and “Easy Come, Easy Go” relentlessly because that’s what my 19 year old head wanted to hear.

It is difficult to rock out to a song called “I Love You” when you’re hanging with the fellas.

Yet, I’d find myself on solo roadtrips here or there for whatever reason slipping in the cd and getting lost in thought while the white lines lulled my senses from town to town. Before you knew it, “Pot Can’t Call the Kettle Black” had rolled right off into “I Love You”.

Something’s different about this Jerry Jeff Walker. He’s not bawdy, rowdy or cocky. He’s sentimental and sweet. He’s coming to his lady in an apologetic manner. He messed up, but Jerry Jeff Walker doesn’t buy roses and chocolates. He delivers:

Diamond rings for every toe
Danglin’ earrings for your fingers
Big sparklin’ rocks for your nose

Do what?

The first time I heard this, I remember vividly veering toward the shoulder of the highway as I scrambled to hit rewind on my Pioneer. And, after several more listens it was apparent that the earring wearing fingers weren’t misheard. If anything, this song not only has out of the box lyrics, but in a funny way it has always inspired me to think outside of the box for ways to show my wife I love her. And, yes someday we might just fly away to la-Louisiana.

Another quickly and often recalled love vibe comes courtesy of our wedding.

When we got married, I only wanted to be in charge of two things: music and food. I didn’t give a damn about the flowers, colors, venue, and decorations. Being that every wedding always has brisket and the trimmings, I went for the healthy alternative of chicken fried steak. It was a big hit. I remember Ryan Turner’s band loading up Ziploc bag after Ziploc bag of leftovers at the end of the night.

The music was a much more daunting task.

I’m the type of person who imagines what music would be appropriate in all situations. I’m constantly concocting scenarios in my head. Daydreaming about things like being a sound engineer at a huge festival and picking just the right set break/change music that would keep the crowd pumped without stealing any thunder from the upcoming band.

When it came to our wedding, I knew that I wanted the music to be unique but not so obscure that people were left scratching their heads. The first decision I made was to ask Josh Grider and his lovely wife Kristi to perform during our ceremony.

Now, I just had to pick the songs they were to sing. Easy, huh?

Nope.

Not when you fantasize in your head about things such as whether Judas Priest’s “Livin’ After Midnight” or Genesis’ “That’s All” would be better mix music for a band at Larry Joe Taylor’s festival.

I definitely struggled with these decisions more than my wife did with picking out her dress. I wanted the music to be perfect. I was obsessed. After much deliberation and driving around with different mix cd’s of possibilities I found the two that felt right.

I had to drive around with them because there’s something about an open country road that makes songs sound better. It’s like they were meant for that environment. There’s something missing when I listen to it via computer and mp3 player.

The lucky winners ended up being “What a Wonderful World” and “To Make You Feel My Love”. In the Grider’s capable hands and vocal cords the tunes were transfixed and arranged into something completely cool and original. Louis Armstrong had no bulging eyeballs or fingerprints left on “Wonderful World” by the time Grider worked it up. But, the real winner was the “Make You Feel My Love” performance. Josh and Kristi traded verses back and forth complete with a bit of scatting and a tricked up melody. In the end, it turned out to be less a cover of Garth Brooks covering Bob Dylan than what seemed like a song Grider penned just for our ceremony.

While I was busy narrowing all this important stuff like menu and music. My wife had selected a venue for our wedding that was outdoors in Texas in June. The sight of Grider singing love songs while wearing aviators and thrift store dress up clothes is indelible in my brain.

Whereas that took care of the ceremony, we still had first dance issues to contend with. There were several choices bandied about, including Mando Saenz’s “All I Own” before we settled on Brandon Rhyder’s “Let the Good Times Roll”.

As Marshall Foster cued the song up on the ones and twos, the temperature must’ve been 139, or it could’ve just felt like that on the immense, sawdust covered concrete dance floor that had its spotlight on my bride and me. I think that song is somewhere around four minutes long but as I danced with the most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen on that muggy Texas evening in front of family, friends and Grider’s aviators I think the song lasted about fifteen minutes.

The patent leather shoes were grinding on my feet, the sweat was making my develop a vibe that I don’t even think LL Cool J’s Old Spice could fix, but to this day when I hear the opening refrain of “Come her baby, closer still…” I am immediately transported to a place where I’m walking on air, I smell like daisies and LL Cool J comes to me for advice on dating.

Another musical example that leaps to mind is “Like a Coat From the Cold”, possibly my favorite Guy Clark song. Such a simple, yet heavy and meaningful lyric. Guy Clark makes the mundane sound profound in all of his songs…yet none more so than this one:

I found comfort and courage from bottles of whiskey.
I swear to you friends these old high times sure seem risky.
I have backed away gently from those who tried to burn me.
and blocked up my ears that no one should learn me.

But the lady beside me is the one I have chosen
to walk through life with me
like a coat from the cold

Here’s a protagonist, much like Walker with “I Love You” and every other guy on this planet for that matter, who has put their significant other through quite a bit of headache and stress. Yet, at the end of the day he realizes her love is what strengthen and supports him through the winters of life.

And, bonus points for many years later making a decent lyric shout out for Walt Wilkins and Pat Green.

I am also reminded of love in things other than these songs, the Beatles aura and Sugarland’s latest attempt to be the U2 of country.

Each benefit I’ve ever attended, promoted, produced or supported in one way or another abounds with love. Musicians playing out of the kindness of their own hearts. People throwing cash at raffle items when in these desperate times they could probably use it for more selfish reasons.

One moment that stands out above all others was the magic of the original 2005 Big O’ Benefit’s closing set.

Mando Saenz, Drew Kennedy, Ryan Turner, Josh Grider, Kristen Kelly, Derrick Dutton, Scott Matthews, Kimberly Kelly, Larry Hooper and others singing gospel songs in a debauched den drenched in the stench of keg beer and soapy schooner dishwater right across the highway from the world’s largest Baptist university. If love and compassion can transpire via music in a screened-in metal porch at a landmark bar made infamous by a Pat Green song, then it can happen anywhere.

Love even pops up here on this site at times when people aren’t busy arguing over some childish b.s. Over the years this has occurred in various ways, but most recently it happened around Christmastime when the old school Galleywinter spirit kicked into overdrive as the founding godfather of this website, JonPaul Long was stricken by a double whammy of indescribably bad news.

He found himself laid off and seeking employment. And, as he returned from a job interview, he discovered his home ransacked and burglarized. Losing nearly everything of monetary value and the peace of mind that has unspeakable value.
Yet, without missing a beat, this community rallied behind JP, Melinda and Ethan.

In a matter of hours, a PayPal account was set-up and folks were donating to restore Christmas, house, life, and faith in humanity for a family that only hours before didn’t know where they were going to turn.

Blaine Martin, God rest his soul, gave Drew Kennedy the jacket off his back.

The list goes on. What are your favorite love memories? Drop them in the comments section!

MINOR CHORDS:
-I wasn’t in Steamboat this year, but I’ve heard nothing but raves about the Kevin Welch tribute. I think Dickson should make Rusty Wierthe tribute artist next year. Nobody’s more deserving and I think hearing some of these contemporary cats dig into the Rusty catalog and rock out on songs like “Honey Do” , “Truly Julie” and “Coast of Colorado” would be unbelievably good.

-I constantly find myself hearing or seeing “artists”, “musicians” and “bands” (the quotes are used because the folks I’m referring to need those labels loosely placed upon them) on a national platform that I can’t understand how they got where they are. I’m not hating, I just honestly don’t understand: a) how some A&R guy caught the crap act and thought it was good and b) how the act in question manages to make a go of it and actually have success. If it was still the early 90’s and A&R guys and major labels were vital cogs in the music industry machine, I’d love to be one. I’ve got a critic’s ear, a businessman’s brain and a b.s. detector of the highest order.

-I see quite a bit of live music and Wade Bowen quite possibly has the best band working in Texas right now. Gary Wooten and Caleb Jones are the two best at their instruments in this scene. The latest incarnation of Modern Day Drifters is also fairly fascinating. They’ve revamped with a new style of twin guitar attack that sounds like the Black Crowes fronted by Susan Tedeschi. I’ve not seen many twin guitar pairings work as seamlessly powerful and harmonious as Derrick Dutton and Joshua Roberts.

-Funny thing is Caleb and Joshua are survivors of an old jam band named Willis Brownstone. While that type of music isn’t my cup of tea, the musicians that come out of those bands are always top-rate. Something about playing 37 minute long songs and freestyling all night really builds the chops.

-CMT Pure is still awesome, but why does their Pure Vintage block repeat so often. I’m pretty sure there are more videos from the 80’s and early 90’s than Sammy Kershaw “Didn’t Go Near The Water” and Joe Diffie’s “Pickup Man”. VH1 Classic better not start slipping. Metal Mania rocks and rarely do I catch repeat video offenders there.

-In my renewed video watching activities, I caught a Dwight Yoakam video that was directed by Fred Durst. Odd.

-I still haven’t decided if the Johnny Cash remixed album is brilliant or disturbing or both.

-As I’ve done in years past, we will be hosting a Grammy Watching Party/Live Blog on Sunday Feb 8th. Don’t be afraid to come swim with the snarks.

-Glad to see Michael Devers brought back the Texas Dirt video series over at LoneStarMusic.com. Also, was glad to be part of the nominating committee that chose the nominees for the first ever LSM Awards to be held on March 29 at Gruene Hall. Exactly one week after Dave Lytle hosts the GWE Awards at Hill’s Café. Both are terrific events and I plan to be at both.

-Lots of award shows flying around. Several years ago we had our own awards here on the site. It turned into a trainwreck of epic proportions. As we left the nominations and categories open to a completely democratic field of 10,000. Feelings were hurt, careers were ended, and I think we somehow managed to break the Internet for a couple hours. I don’t forsee us getting back into that game anytime soon!

-Those are both happening around the time we usually have Greenfest. Fear not children. Greenfest is coming down the pike. We are putting together a really cool format for it this year. Returning to the roots of the event somewhat, while tweaking it based on lessons learned. It is looking like it will happen in July and be a 2 day event. Saturday in Austin. Sunday in New Braunfels. We’ve just about got our line-up wish list arranged and are working on it. Alas, everything’s still in the planning stages so…all that, like so much in the music biz…is subject to change.

-I must be one of the only people who when he checks his hometown area newspaper online and sees a headline about something going wrong at a Volunteer Fire Department that automatically assume it’s related to my the part of the burg where he grew up. The VFD in our town could’ve been a Hee-Haw sketch…just a general comedy of errors that the most distinctive thing I remember about them growing up was watching an obese volunteer sat on a tailgate while spraying down a grassfire and simultaneously eating a sandwich; while the volunteers from the next town over successfully and safely fought the fire. Luckily, in this instance the headline was related to a completely different area.

-Very frustrated that all of the sports franchises I follow are in a bigger tailspin than Mischa Barton’s career.

-This month’s recommended film: Slumdog Millionaire. The hype is deserved. This movie has quickly vaulted into my all-time top 20. Go see it before the Oscars. Just go.

-This month’s recommended album: Derek Trucks Band-Already Free. Trucks is one of my favorite guitar players. I think this is his best album…rootsy, real, and soul-cinching. All the things we like about our little scene down here but done with a really cool blues, jazz and southern rock blend. And, I’ve yet to meet a band in this scene that isn’t jamming this one on their Ipod!

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

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