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Jack’s Journey

When on an uncharted journey it is not uncommon to get lost and led astray.  Following beacons and misguided navigational points that slightly betray your gut instincts.  True trailblazers don’t let this deter them.  Getting lost can be as illuminating as discovering paradise shortly after setting off.  Jack Ingram began his trek twenty-five years ago as just another college student seeking six-string freedom.  Narrow world-view and narrower guitar skills aside, Ingram displayed early promise as a songwriter and performer.  Songs that were real and catchy.  Live sets that were rowdy and electric.  Unbeknownst to him, he was creating a new subgenre of music.  Charting the map of a new touring circuit and industry.  Alongside contemporaries such as Pat Green, Charlie Robison and Cory Morrow, Ingram had lit the flame to a fire bigger than any of them could have ever imagined.  Along the way, the crowds got larger and the paychecks at the end of the night gained more 0’s. Yet, Ingram always stood out from his peers.  A little more unhinged.  A little more punk rock (despite the constant proclamations of “My name is Jack Ingram and I play country music.”). A little more artistic. A little more adventurous.  A little less scared.

Unafraid to take chances or follow his own path, Ingram shot up through the newly created Texas ranks and straight into Nashville consciousness.  A label deal, a record produced by Steve Earle, a cameo in the Sandra Bullock movie Hope Floats, a second label deal, national tv appearances, a third label deal, radio hits.  Some of the most groundbreaking and important music to ever come out of Texas was created during this period (Electric and Hey You to be exact).  Soon, the Borchetta brass ring came calling.  Gone was the Acoustic Motel and in its place was a slick penthouse that didn’t quite ever feel right despite awards and radio success.  But, one to never be satisfied or fully quenched, Ingram needed these experiences to confirm within his soul the type of artist he was all along.  A true Texas troubadour.  Able to hush a listening room with tales and tunes one night and able to drive his beat up Ford to a festival and rock thousands full band rock n’ roll preacher style the next.

An adventure a quarter century in the making is going to have peaks and valleys.  Money, fame, success come with sides of debt, doubt and failure.  All these elements have combined to make Jack Ingram the songwriter he has become.  We should all be grateful that Jack never quit spending time in the midnight motel rooms.  A true champion artist.  Some folks are singer/songwriters.  Jack Ingram is a performer/songwriter that plays country music.  He’s one of our greatest treasures.  We should all be grateful that he’s still pushing himself.  Underneath it all he’s still a 20 year old college kid plucking new chords and trying to figure it all out.  He’s just gotten much better at disseminating his emotions. Our emotions. As Walt Wilkins sang, I chose this road.  Jack Ingram chose this road and it got him right where he needs to be.  I can’t wait to see where he goes next.  Midnight Motel is as fantastic a Texas songwriter record as ever has been released.

RRB’s Hidden Gems

Over the past 17 years, Randy Rogers Band has cranked out some of the most memorable and standard bearing songs of the Texas/Red Dirt scene.  Their album Rollercoaster remains atop most lists as the best to ever come from this subgenre of music.  The hits are well known, be it “Kiss Me in the Dark”, “Interstate”, “Tonight’s Not the Night”, “Trouble”, “Fuzzy” etc.  Today, Randy celebrates a birthday and in honor of that and the fact that the band released many of its records around this date throughout the years, we’re going to take a deeper look at the RRB collection. Over the course of the past two decades, this band has cranked out very little filler.  Here’s a look at their top 10 hidden gems and deep cuts…the tunes that aren’t in the setlist often enough.

“Never Be That High” from 2008’s self-titled album

This Stephony Smith co-write encapsulates youthful abandon and regret with one of the best hooks ever laid down in Texas music contained in the line “We used to catch a buzz on the fact that it was Saturday night…”.  It’s a Seger-esque look at heartland adolesence.  When all you needed was an open road, $10, your friends and the optimism that something might happen.  An adrenalized version of Bruce Robison’s “Tonight”.

“If Anyone Asks” from 2006’s Just A Matter of Time

Drew Womack had knocked down many of the Nashville walls that the RRB now found themselves traversing on their 2006 major label debut.  Womack co-wrote this one with Rogers and it is epic in the John Ford sense of the word.  The sweeping melody provided by Brady Black’s fiddle is punctuated with some of Rogers’ most achingly real vocals.

“Reason To Stay” from 2002’s Like It Used To Be

Written by lead guitarist Geoffrey Hill, this waltz comes from the early pre-fiddle era of the band that featured the steel guitar of Eddie Foster.  There aren’t ever enough good waltz’s and this winsome, longing love song is one of the best. And the vocal on the end of the bridge is one of Rogers’ finest.

“Didn’t Know You Could” from 2008’s self-titled album

Rogers pulled Micky Braun into the co-writers seat for this verging on alt-rocker that rips through a stick-with-you melody and pushes Rogers’ rasp to its upper vocal reaches.  Radney Foster’s production falls in the vein of his own See What You Want To See era and make this one of the least country, yet most effective songs in the RRB catalog.

“One More Sad Song” from 2013’s Trouble

Very similar to the previous track, this Sean McConnell co-write pushes the band’s sonic boundaries and veers into Rogers love for 90’s alt-rock. Bands like Blue October and Flickerstick led the late 90’s/early 00’s Texas alt-rock scene…but this song demonstrates that Rogers and the boys can pull that off very well too.

“65 Degrees” from 2000’s Live at Cheatham Street

A ramschackle production just to have something to sell at the pitiful merch stand and send to promoters/booking agents etc in the early internet days.  The live record wasn’t good, but it was real and it showed promise.  Other tracks from that record live on like “Lost and Found” and “I Miss You With Me”, but this one evoked Rogers at his early Steve Earle best.  Vivid, authentic, real.  A character portrait of small town Texas. It was a testament to those of us around during that time that maybe we were all doing something right.

“I Met Lonely Tonight” from 2010’s Burning the Day 

Rogers’ songwriting is never better than when he is painting Dean Dillon-esque barstool seclusion and heartache. This song was written solely by Rogers and distills all of his best qualities in one tune…both vocally and with his pen.

“Still Be Losing You” from 2002’s Like It Used To Be

The band’s first studio release wasn’t fully formed, but it did signal a band and songwriter with something to say.  This commendation to an ex-lover was a live favorite in the early day and the attitude with which Rogers delivers the vocals are a testament that even her dog now knows his name.

“You Don’t Know Me” from 2006’s Just a Matter of Time

Bassist Johnny “Chops” Richardson has contributed a Waylon-esque thumper to each album.  “Ten Miles Deep” and “Shotgun” are more well-known, but this Hank Jr/Charlie Daniels Band swamp rocker just might be the best.

“Things I Need to Quit” from 2016’s Nothing Shines Like Neon

It’s still too early to tell what will be the most lasting songs off the latest RRB release, but this song that Rogers did not write seems to have not received it’s fair share of buzz.  This is a honky-tonk master class in regret, despair and tiny threads of hope.

“Satellite” from 2014’s Homemade Tamale’s: Live at Floore’s

This studio track was tacked on as a bonus to a live record and I’m adding it to the end of this list.  The song kind of slipped through the cracks and it has a very cool video (above) that stars some of the band member’s kids. It’s a classic RRB song thematically and musically, but it matches forlorn verses with a bombastic chorus that showcases many of the elements that make the band so solid and versatile.

 

{Brad's Corner} August 2016: Minoring in PR

{Brad�s Corner}

My good friend Rita Ballou has recently been beating the drum about an issue that is minor among the most pressing facing our cottage music industry, yet one that is important nonetheless.  It’s the notion of “exclusives” and “premieres”.  Many of the biggest artists in our scene employ management and publicity agencies that are disconnected from Texas.  … Read the rest

Plating the Future

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Ever since he arrived at the directorship of the Texas Music Office, Brendon Anthony has been creating new and innovative ways to support this music we all love. He’s networked, politicked and raised funds.  Streamlined, performed and made modern. The latest project of the TMO is the creation of a new specialty license plate that will provide the office to do some much needed things to sustain our music and keep it moving forward into the future.  … Read the rest

Help George Reiff

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(photo credit: Mark Abernathy)

 

GEORGE REIFF GO FUNDME

George has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer- in his brain, liver, adrenal gland and right lung.
He is going to have a tumor removed from his brain today or tomorrow.

At this time, the Reiff family is asking for privacy as they process.… Read the rest