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{Review} Loco Gringo’s Lament Turns 20

by: Damon Rodgers

rwhIt seems 20th anniversaries of albums are everywhere now.   Off the top of my head, I know that Shelby Lynne, Wilco, and Todd Snider are all celebrating twenty years of something.   Of course, some of that is because of the resurgence of vinyl, which makes it a win/win for both the artist and the consumer.  I was curious about one of the albums I consider to be in the top ten of best albums ever written, and lo and behold, it was put out in 1994 – making this year the 20th anniversary.

Ray Wylie Hubbard is a great songwriter.  Undisputed.  Most known for songs like “Snake Farm”, “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother”, and “Screw You, We’re From Texas”.  He is also known for his live shows that combine wit, rock ‘n roll, blues, country and humor, often self-deprecating.

However, with the release of LOCO GRINGO’S LAMENT in 1994, he became much more than that.  He became one of the smartest men and one of the best songwriters I’ve ever heard.  Each song holds up on its own, but as an album, each song bleeds into the next, culminating with the last three songs that show more than any other, the songwriting genius Ray Wylie really is.

Listen to it.  I dare you.  Listen to it and try not to feel, try not to think, try not to empathize.

Twelve songs – all linked thematically by despair, tragedy, hope, redemption and love.

“Dust of the Chase” sets the tone for the entire record.  Simple, straight-forward, haunting.  Illustrates the dichotomy of man.  The album’s internal struggle of good vs evil and believing vs non-believing is personified by the gambler himself.  The song is full if great verses, including “Patience is a virtue that I don’t possess” and “And when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I take along Samuel Colt”

“Love Never Dies” is a ballad and “Little Angel Comes A-Walkin’” is a blues number that picks up the tempo of the album a little bit.  “After the Fall” is the classic redemption song.  I don’t ever want to say autobiographical, however, his voice as the narrator oozes credibility.  This song is not a story about hope, it is telling you that there is hope and he forces you to believe it.  There is the same feeling throughout the album and especially on “I’ve seen that Old Highway”, “Bless the Hearts of the Lonely”, and “Didn’t Have a Prayer”.

“Wanna Rock and Roll” is probably the most famous song on the album.  Covered by Cross Canadian Ragweed and featured on several albums, it is the rocker of the album.  (However, the best version of this song is on his live album when he incorporates Johnny Cash and Lead Belly songs into “Wanna Rock n Roll.”)

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{Brad's Corner} October 2014: Dinosaur Cycle

{Brad�s Corner}

There’s just something about the Texas Music scene that defies logic.  It may be the staid and repetitive nature of the music the last few years or the extremely overcrowded market. Right or wrong, there is a pecking order based on who started first and not necessarily talent in many cases. Guys that have been doing it since the late 90’s, even if unoriginally and without reaching their full potential, are handed virtual lockdowns on venues and top notch musicians.  In essence, the scene is like a big high school; with several acts who should’ve graduated long ago still hanging out like Wooderson in the movie Dazed and Confused.  Texas music is like a big bubble that forces you to breathe improperly until you emancipate yourself from it.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. Our scene is a lot like the hair metal movement of the 80’s. It sprung out of a hardcore LA club and rock scene. It was vibrant and competitive. It was a spirited and friendly competitive environment in which the bands attempted to snag a record deal, the hottest girl in the club that night, or the best blow and/or smack from some top rate dealer. Sometimes all three in one night.

The market was flooded with wannabes, burnouts, has-beens, never-weres, talents, no talents etc. All trying to jump to the next rung.

Sound familiar?

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We’re All Gonna Miss Glen Campbell

As Glen Campbell enters the final stages of his fight with Alzheimer’s, his family has released his final recording.  A moving, poignant, emotional tune called “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”.  It’s a powerful piece of art on the same level as Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”.  When paired with Campbell’s fine 2009 cover of Jackson Browne’s “These Days” you get a sad, yet fitting self-made tribute to an artist that we will all miss.

 

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Damn Good Dozen

twelve_header

The Twelve Project is one of the coolest things to cross our path in quite some time.  Located in Galveston it’s one of those things that uses good music for a good cause.  Very unique.  Just read its own description:

Armed with a camera and a roll of film, 12 musicians are capturing their view of life behind the mic. In addition to performing in a TWELVE concert series running through December, each will choose one photo for public display and Artwalk auction.

We didn’t get this blurb posted in time for you to actually bid on the artwork this go around but with the backing of folks like Hayes Carll, Ian Moore, Walt Wilkins, Drew Kennedy, Jamie Wilson and more we’re pretty sure this isn’t the last the TWELVE project will be deserving your attention.  There are still two fantastic concert events upcoming.

November 20 with Walt Wilkins and Matt Harlan

December 12 with Ian Moore and Drew Kennedy

 

To find out much more information about this worthwhile and cool project (and how you can get tickets to the gigs) check this link:
http://www.twelvepeople.org/events/Keep Reading

{New Braunfels} Artist Spotlight: Smoke Wagon

smokewagonband2014Like many bands, I’ve been trying to see Smoke Wagon perform live for quite some time. I finally had the opportunity to see them last Friday at Billy D’s in Universal City. The acoustics weren’t optimal, but the sound was well balanced and filled the oddly arranged room well. Smoke Wagon plays primarily Texas Country and Red Dirt tunes from the more popular bands of the last decade, and they do this very well. With highly capable musicians in all corners and the recent addition of a clasically trained violinist turned fiddle queen, it really rounds out their sound and enables them to match the instrumentation of many bands such as Randy Rogers Band, Wade Bowen, Reckless Kelly, Turnpike Troubadours and more.

Smoke Wagon was formed in 2011 which involved a Craigslist post and an urge to put together a band to cover a better brand of popular music. Going back a bit, lead singer Jay Brown and bassist Dave James were already comfortable playing together as they were both founding members of the raunchy, San Antonio-based parody band “Skunkweed” since the mid-90’s. Skunkweed members Jay Brown and Leon Waddy branched out and started an additional band “The Country Fried Pickles” in 2008 which played primarily in New Braunfels and achieved some level of success. However, life eventually got a little too hectic for Jay to keep up with the demands of two bands and “real life” so he had to step down as lead singer of “The Country Fried … Keep Reading