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{Brad's Corner} March 2009: Marching to Greatness

{Brad�s Corner}
March is an important month in Texas.

It is the home to the anniversary of Texas independence. The arrival of spring abounds and the Hill Country turns to heaven on earth. SXSW pops up in Austin. Spring Break parties itself into a stupor down in Padre. And perhaps most germane to our purposes, music festival season begins across the state in earnest.

Nothing against January and February but there is a definite lull between Steamboat and SXSW.

In years past this is where we would squeeze Greenfest in, yet we’ve decided we’re going to take a cue from the RRB and RFT by relocating to summer. Details on that to be released soon. Yet, even with the removal of Greenfest, the March calendar stays stacked up with great events taking place like the inaugural Lonestarmusic.com Awards at Gruene Hall and The Tom Webb Benefit.

For me personally, March doesn’t just mean some of the best shows of the year. The month holds very deep memories. It takes me back to March of 2000. Sitting in the dorm room with my buddy, dipping snuff, sneaking Lone Star beer in because Pat Green told us it was cool and we were too young to know better, and listening to some of our newly discovered favorite Texas acts.

I distinctly remember the top five album’s in our rotation were Phil Pritchett-Phil Comes Alive, Cory Morrow-Man That I’ve Been, Charlie Robison-Life of the Party, Jack Ingram-Hey You, and Pat Green-Live at Billy Bob’s.

Living in San Marcos and working in New Braunfels, I was at ground zero of the new Texas Music movement and had no clue what all awaited me in the decade ahead. Randy Rogers was still just some dude I hung out with and ran into on campus. Mike Eli was probably still in high school. Pat Green was still not well-known outside of Texas. And, sites like Galleywinter were just a pipe dream.

Yet, as time has marched on through all these years, one thing about the seasons of change both from Mother Nature and the music scene has remained constant.

March.

Each year as February wraps up and rolls into March, an energy is swept in with the early spring winds that cannot be duplicated. Everything seems to get recharged. Venues and bands start filling their calendars, the aforementioned festivals start taking place, and fans rediscover their love of the live show after a few months of relative hibernation.

Within that cultural reboot each year, our music scene usually witnesses the ascension of new bands. There seems to be a central theme in the two bands I hear the most buzz about these days: Band of Heathens and Modern Day Drifters.

Both are true bands in every sense of the word. Every single person in the band writes, sings, and plays their tail off. It harkens back to bands like the Eagles. And, as has been the case so often in this modern incarnation of Texas Music, Walt Wilkins started a blueprint that others have perfected. Walt and his Mystiquero’s were making music in this matter several years ago.

After several years of great music in this scene being drowned out by drunken revelry, it seems that the independent streak that clued many of the fans of this scene on to the fact that there even was a scene is driving them to music that is organic, warm, soulful and real. Many of the traits that turned us all onto this type of music before it became an oversaturated beer-drenched party.

That’s the type of music being provided by Band of Heathens and Modern Day Drifters.

BOH have created a unique vibe all their own. Multi-part harmony, clever songwriting produced by a band full of singer/songwriters, and the ego-less task of sharing a spotlight each night have them treading down a path all their own. Their grooves and sounds have won them fans as far and wide as Alaska to Europe and everything in between.

Meanwhile, MDD was created with the same ideals in mind. Each person contributing equally and putting aside personal agendas to do whatever is best for the band. This has led to a free-flowing creativity that has been lacking in Texas music. And, now folks from across the country are calling on this band. With good reason. There are not many bands in this scene, or any other, that vamp into Ray Charles from a Bob Dylan song, and then riff back into one of their originals as the lead singer duets with the drummer…but MDD does.

It has been established that both of these bands are the biggest buzz in Texas right now, but why?

Many bands have come along and copied the Randy Rogers Band model of sticking the lead singer’s name on the front, attaching band to the end, playing that guys songs and calling themselves a band. But, they are a band in name only. Band’s like BOH and MDD are what you’d find in Webster’s if you look the term up.

I think the reason is what I alluded to earlier. Fans of this music are wise. They seek things out. They don’t settle for what they hear on the radio or CMT. They don’t dig what the mainstream has to offer and by now, they’ve heard every variation of GCDC poetry about the Lone Star state that they can take.

These bands are offering up something tangible.

It has feeling, groove, emotion. It has commonalities with the best of Motown, Delta Blues, and the Outlaw movement. The players and writers of these bands don’t think music began with Robert Earl Keen and Pat Green.

As they continue their respective marches to greatness, I will gladly sit back and enjoy as they crank out some of the best music in this scene or any other.

How about you?

MINOR CHORDS:

-Please visit the PayPal Donation Link for Scott Matthews and his wife Jenn. They are going through untold health and financial struggles, and it’s time the Texas Music/Galleywinter community rallied around one of the good guys. He’s carried a badge and guitar admirably and done everything he can to help others. It’s his turn to be paid back.

-Major props to Randy Rogers Band and Eli Young Bnad on their ACM nominations. Lost Trailers, we hardly knew ye!

-Saw Jack Ingram tweet about playing a songswap with Randy Houser and being blown away. And, Jack is correct. That guy is legit. Check him out as he’s about as good as Nashvegas is promoting these days. “Anything Goes” is a good song and Mr. Houser sings the hell out of it.

-We added three new forums recently to some very deserving acts: Modern Day Drifters, Bo Cox, and Bobby Duncan. MDD is one of the best live shows in the scene right now. Bo’s debut record is getting rediscovered thanks to the folks at Smith Music, and Bobby just cut one hell of a record with Walt Wilkins at the production helm. All three are going places.

-The “Off the Cuff” features seem to be getting a great response. We’re going to try to keep throwing some new ones at you guys as often as possible. If any of you artists, managers, agents, etc would like to contribute…let me know!

-I like a lot of new music, but don’t love it. I’m not just talking Texas/Red Dirt stuff. Rather, across the board. There are exceptions, but when I’m zooming through my Zune, I often come to the realization that Waylon, Cash, Willie, The Beatles, The Stones, and Zeppelin will never come close to being matched.

-What is Gerald Meyers smoking out in Lubbock? Must be the same stuff DeLoss Dodds got his hands on when he decided to retire Kevin Durrant’s number. Anyhow, Meyers’ tiff with Mike Leach was unbelievable. I hate the Techsters, but don’t look a pirate of a gift horse in the mouth.

-How is Brad Leland not mentioned as one of the best supporting actors on television? His Buddy Garrity runs circles around Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy, yet no Emmy nods or buzz. It doesn’t hurt that I grew up knowing guys just like him and still run into those types of guys in the music biz. But, even if I did not know those types of people, I would notice what a great fleshed out, salt of the earth character Garrity is. And, the incredible touch and humanity with which Leland portrays him. What gives critics and award shows? I think this season has been the best of Friday Night Lights yet, and I’m really hoping NBC/Universal bring it back. It’s by far the best show on television.

-Radio is dying. It’s sad when aside from the Ranch, the most promotion Texas/Red Dirt music gets in the Metroplex is from a sports station.

-Exhibit A. But, it’s also a sad day when 50% of the Ranch’s playlist and 50% of the big time stations’ playlists are crap. I was gently rocking along to Hayes Carll and Robert Earl keen coming through my speaker as I rolled down a local highway early one Saturday morning recently and relishing in the fact that their tunes weren’t being produced by a cd or my mp3 player when along came a song so horrible that I nearly veered off the road. It was something about “letting the Texas Kings like Pat Green ride…and yeehaw for fresh Copenhagen…and having too much Lone Star Beer left to drink as I float down the river of life.” Seriously. Songs like that diminish any artistic integrity that has been cultivated over the past few years and is on par with “International Harvester” for awfulness. I’m sure the guy singing it has much better songs, why not play them?

-LJTs is almost here…and not a moment too soon!

-That OctoMom chick needs to be locked away and have her kids put up for adoption.

-I agree with Bob Lefsetz, Taylor Swift was more tolerable before her handlers decided she should be forcefed to crossover.

-Still waiting for another great straightforward, no frills rock album to come out this decade. [i[Get Born[/i] was so many moons ago.

-This month’s recommended film: The Wrestler. As a kid who grew up watching the Von Erichs and Freebirds tussle with Ice Man King Parsons and Gentleman Chris Adams live from the Sportatorium each week, I’ve always been intrigued by the subculture of wrasslin’. This heartbreaking and gritty portrayal of what happens in a profession that has no 401K or union to protect those who build it up is fantastic. Even if you have no interest in pro wrestling, this is a great tale of human triumph and tragedy. Mickey Rourke is amazing in it. Check it out.

-This month’s recommended album: Lost Immigrants-Baptized (Live From the Hill Country). These guys are one of the best duos working in Texas right now. Their writing is unique and they combine that with a more rocking take on Americana than most of their peers. These cats aren’t striving to fit into any particular genre or scene and that freedom allows them to thrive with their own style.

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

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