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{Brad's Corner} January 2018: Spectrum

{Brad�s Corner}

As Steamboat wraps up for another year, we are on the cusp of another year of Texas Music pandemonium…or something.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Watching the events of MusicFest unfold from Texas I was reminded of the old Mike McClure lyric from The Great Divide’s “Yesterday Road”.

Now the only thing
Around here’s changed
Is that those kids
They’ve all got different names
And the ones that used to hang around
Got a heavy work load
But their mind still goes drifting
Down Yesterday Road

The names change from Pat and Cory to Parker and Koe…but the beat goes on.  The kids raising hell on the mountain are a fresh crop replacing the ones that are now holding down heavy work loads. Dickson rolls out the most seamless and all-encompassing musical experience from this scene each year with the core group of musicians and a rotating support cast.  It speaks to the wisdom of Dickson…and it speaks to the loyalty of the fans of this music.  Getting to MusicFest isn’t easy or cheap.  You must want to get there, which makes those who make the trek that much more involved in the music once they arrive.  This is bucket list stuff they get to live each January. Dozens and dozens of their favorite artists all in one place.

Faces change, memories don’t.

Kids are doing the same thing they’ve always done.  Following the music they love with a reckless abandon.  The wily veterans content to sit back and have an extra water (or IV) or two; yet they all believe in the same thing.  This cross-generational draw is unique to our music.

Punk and metal fans are loyal, but at some point they abandon the head banging and cling to that which falls in their wheelhouse.  Hip-hop tastes generally stay in the rearview mirror.  But, country music stays with you.  Especially the raw, regional form we enjoy around here.  Does someone my age still drink Lone Star Bear in their cereal with Pat Green or have Koe Wetzel drive them to Taco Bell after a night of drinking?  No, but we once did and travel back there with each listen.  As we age, we gravitate to the more thoughtful, introspective side of this scene.  But, we never forget our roots.

Those roots being dancehalls, sawdust, beer joins, cold longnecks, backroads, empty cans, first dances, last kisses…you get the gist…but all with a regional twist.  When Koe Wetzel sings about the circumference of this damned ol’ town…he’s talking about our town.  Whereas when Luke Bryan sings about going to the river river to catch some catfish dinner, that’s a place we’ve actually been to and know he hasn’t.  He’s not catching catfish and no woman has ever wanted to get dressed up to go critter crawling next to a river before spending the night on a tailgate.  It’s not real.  But, a bleary eyed trip around town with a rowdy group of friends, neerdowells and hangers on…we’ve done that.  Some are still doing that.

Each Steamboat serves as a reminder of this.  It’s a demarcation.  A line in the sand.  A reaffirmation of what we believe in anew.  Each year transitions happen.  Bands fade, bands arrive and some remain.  Fans fade, fans arrive and fans remain.  Nobody ever leaves the show completely…it’s just varied degrees of passion and involvement.  Are you engaged?  Are you entertained?  Are you feeling it?  This goes for bands and fans alike.

A ski resort in the mountains reveals a lot.

MINOR CHORDS:

-Super, SUPER stoked for the inaugural Mile 0 Fest in Key West.  KW is a bucket list place for me and I’m excited to kick it over with my favorite music and people.  Planning to live like Buffett and Hemingway for a few days.  We’re going to be Galleywintering all over the place with interviews, photos, podcasts and the like.

-Speaking of pods, our official Podcast, The Co-Write, is back and raring to go for 2018 with new episodes.  One with Brandon Rhyder was released yesterday.  Dig in.

-This football season seemed to go by in a blur, no?

-Took my on to a Mavs-Warriors game over Christmas break. The crowd was split nearly 50-50.  In Dallas.  There was a decided ageist twist on things too.  Seemingly, anyone under the age of 25 was all Splash City.  Even in my day, when Jordan ruled and the Mavs were dreadful…I never wavered in my support of Popeye Jones and company.  Sad reality to see.  My son is all DFW for the other major sports…but Steph is just too cool to resist.

-This has been the bleariest, coldest winter I can recall.  Science may not back me up, but anecdotes will.  And honestly, aren’t anecdotes >> science.

-So, I got the flu over the break.  Or, at least I’m pretty sure I did.  Started feeling bad, went to urgent care…got the flu test…it was negative.  But my symptoms remained consistent with influenza.  Sent home with instructions and a follow-up appointment.  After 7 days of feeling awful, I finally started feeling better when the follow-up doc informed me “oh, those tests are only 40% accurate. You probably most definitely actually had the flu.”  Probably, most definitely actually….medicine.  See anecdotes>>science.

-River Jam 2018 plans are in motion.

-As anyone who has lost a parent can attest, there are days you still need them and talk to them.  I always talk to him…he’s there.

-This month’s recommended album:  Two years after the husband-wife duo Shovels & Rope bestowed Volume 1 and it’s inescapably cool Neil Young cover with Shakey Graves on the world, they are back with another covers collection Busted Jukebox: Volume 2 featuring guests Rhett Miller, Brandi Carlisle, John Moreland, Hayes Carll, John Fullbright and more!  Much like the first volume, it’s an uneven group with some pairings not living up to the hype…but the gems make the whole batch worth checking out and judging for yourself.

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

Favorites of 2017

The albums, songs, people and places (in no particular order) that were our favorites in 2017.

ALBUMS

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Baumann – Proving Grounds
Baumann had already established himself as perhaps the finest writer of his class, and this album catapulted him to one of the finest writers period. “Old Stone Church” is as real and honest as it gets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zephaniah OHara – This Highway
Throwback, old-school honky-tonk can be kitschy and poorly done…this is neither.  This record sounds as if it was unearthed from a time capsule circa 1968 in all the best ways.

 

 

 

 

 

Drew Kennedy – At Home in the Big Lonesome
Kennedy has long been a emotive, verbose writer of song with the skills to present them in a manner unmatched by peers.  He’s never put out a bad album, and this is the best of those good albums.  The production of Dave Brainard brought an expansion of thought and sound that push this record into uncharted waters for Kennedy and folk singer/songwriters (and fans) everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Ethan Messick – How Close We Came
Story songs, clever songs, Springsteen crossed with Keen.  Messick has been one of our state’s most underappreciated songwriters for some time and this is his triumph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jason Isbell – Nashville Sound
The master of the moment delivers another standout record.  Isbell continues to impress and make it look easy…when it’s far from it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Margo Price – All American Made
Making good on the promise of her debut, Price excels at music that echoes of Petty, Springsteen and Mellencamp without the imitations that falter folks of the other gender who tread the same waters.  She is direct, honest and forthright…all characteristics of good music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tyler Childers – Purgatory
Produced by Sturgill Simpson this record sounds like Chris Knight merged with a garage band…and yes, that’s as rad as you think it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kody West – Green
Apt title for a record that evokes it but showcases gobs of promise for when West becomes a grizzled veteran.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turnpike Troubadours – A Long Way From Your Heart
If our list had a numerical bent, you’d find this at number 1.  It was the only unanimous choice among our staff.  Felker and Edwards took the songs to new places while staying true to old friends like Lorrie. It’s one hell of a ride and the music perfectly compliments each syllable.  You won’t find a better record this year in any genre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deryl Dodd – Long Hard Ride
One of the year’s biggest surprises was this duets record from Double D.  Revisiting his hits with the help of the biggest scene stars of the day gave them all a fresh spin and new meaning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jason Eady – self-titled
Eady veers back toward his greasy swamp-stomp roots a tad, but keeps the flavor of his country throwback to meet somewhere in the middle and deliver another stone cold authentic collection of life set to music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Moreland – Big Bad Luv
Heartache, heartland, punch and verve.  This is the record where the music finally caught up to Moreland’s lyrics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natalie Hemby – Puxico
Hemby finally saved some of her best songs for herself and delivered one of the year’s best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shinyribs – I Got Your Medicine
Shinyribs is an experience where the recorded output never quite matches up to the live show.  But, this record gets as close to it as anything Mr. Russell has put out.  Eclectic, funky and good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dalton Domino – Corners
Domino takes another artistic step forward with an album of songs that contains perhaps the best lyric of the year “People like me have to live in hell to see if heaven is worth it…”

 

SONGS

John Baumann – “Old Stone Church”
A gut punch of reality that his Baumann’s story to tell, but hits ever so close to home for anyone that’s lost someone they love.

 

Koe Wetzel – “February 28, 2016”
This tune technically was released in 2016, but it reached critical mass in 2017.  It’s been a long time since a song and artist took over the scene like these cats.  Energy, youth, good times, poor choices, memories all soaked in booze…it’s all here.  There’s a reason it connected because you’re either living this song or once did.

Josh Grider – “Good People”
Written in response to the toxic climate we find ourselves in here in 2017, Grider’s uplifting anthem is a reminder that yes, there are still good people (and good songs) in the world.

Jason Isbell – “Vampires”
A completely unique and breathaking take on the love song tropes that paints “forever” in a macabre and melancholy light.

Josh Abbott Band – “Until My Voice Goes Out”
Everlasting love, strings, nostalgia and life crash into each other.

Colter Wall – “Motorcycle”
Using the two wheel method of transportation as an analogy for life, Wall talks of wrapping it around a telephone pole and other frightening, very real possibilities.

John Baumann – “Here I Come”
A mission statement of every working musician trolling the Texas/Oklahoma highways.

Turnpike Troubadours – “Housefire”
One could easily pick any song off this album, but this one in particular features Felker’s eye for detail and melody to an impressively awesome degree.

Drew Kennedy – “24 Hours in New York City”
Co-written with Sean McConnell, Kennedy relives a teenage dalliance to the Big Apple in a “Walking in Memphis” type ode.

Shinyribs – “I Don’t Give a Shit”
Shades of Hayes Carll’s “Another Like You”…just seedier (and more joyful).

Jason Eady – “Barrabas”
It’s hard to recall another song that’s used the Gospel in such an imaginative way.

Tyler Childers – “Whitehouse Road”
Anthemic, boisterous and meant to be cranked.  You feel like you’re riding shotgun in a 1982 F150 careening through the backroads of West Virginia.

 

SONGWRITERS

Drew Kennedy

John Baumann

Margo Price

Evan Felker

Mike Ethan Messick

Dalton Domino

John Moreland

Slaid Cleaves

Colter Wall

Natalie Hemby

 

LIVE ACTS

Koe Wetzel
A true phenomenon.  The energy of a rock show with the attitude of hip-hop topped with the independent spirit of a Texan doing his own damn thing.

Josh Weathers
The most talented cat to be found anywhere. Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist performed at Trump’s inauguration and that wasn’t even his best gig of the year.

Sean McConnell
Acoustic or full band, it doesn’t matter. This guy is spell-bindingly good.

American Aquarium
Backed by a new set of musicians, BJ Barham’s outfit roared back into the scene’s consciousness as a show to not be missed when it hits your town.

Shane Smith & the Saints
Harmony. Harmony. Harmony.  And they rock when needed too.

Shinyribs
The most fun live experience around.  Part dance party, part religious experience, part Parrot-head escapism.

Uncle Lucius
Jam band veterans hanging it up and went out on top…of the rock.

Jamie Lin Wilson
Nobody worked harder in 2017 than Jamie Wilson.  Touring, guesting, driving, flying…chances are if you went to a show anywhere in the lower 48 this year you found Jamie Wilson doing her thing.

 

DISOVERIES

Mike Stanley

Charley Crockett

Tyler Childers

Kensie Coppin

Read Southall

Kody West

 

MUSICIANS

Ben Hussey

Tony Calhoun

Andres Rocha

Todd Lanningham

Johnny Chops

Preston Wait

 

SOCIAL MEDIA FOLLOW

Dalton Domino
Domino caused some storms with his words, but you never stopped reading them.

Charlie Stout
Everyone’s cranky uncle.  He could be defined as a hipster if he didn’t hate them and that description so much.  Stout does his own thing and will mute you in a second.  His wit is only exceeded by his photography.

Parker McCollum
A pure volume tweeter. Tons of content, nuggets of gold.

Red Shahan
This posts aren’t often, and are sometimes indecipherable…but they’re usually spot on.

Wade Bowen
Vodka, memes, dad jokes…all the best stuff.

Jamie Wilson
Wilson takes you into her home, hotel rooms, car, porch and gigs with a good-natured charm.

Kaitlinn Butts
Endearing, entertaining and insightful posts give you a glimpse at two for one…see Butts and Cleto Cordero here.

 

VENUES

House of FiFi Dubois – San Angelo, TX

Kessler – Dallas, TX

Redneck Country Club – Stafford, TX

Blue Light – Lubbock, TX

Magnolia Motor Lounge – Fort Worth, TX

Backyard – Waco, TX

Favorite Tweets of 2017

by: Cody Starr

The circus that is social media conveys the zeitgeist of the day and occasionally the news feed gives you a gem worth stashing away for later. With 2017 coming to a close, we are in the midst of reflecting on our favorite music and saying our final goodbyes to the musical heroes we lost (looking at you Petty, Berry, Fats, etc.).… Read the rest

Visiting the yellow DOG

by: Cody Starr

The studio is a place where art and tech cross paths. Taking a song birthed from raw creativity and figuring out how to best capture its essence and onto a medium, whether it be vinyl or digital bits to be streamed over the ether, is an art form in and of itself.… Read the rest

Domino Theory

by: Heather Copeland

 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard about the recent controversy between up-and-comer Dalton Domino and a patron of his recent show at Hoot’s Pub in Amarillo. Much ado about smoking was made by the patron and the controversy sparked a trending hashtag on Twitter #LETDALTONSMOKE.… Read the rest