My YouTube channel just passed 100 subscribers. I’m glad people are enjoying it. I’ve had the channel for over seven years, so it’s been a slow climb.
Last Sunday, we saw Rye Mountain Revelry at Gruene Hall. This Austin-based act combines bluegrass, country, and rock. Their first full length album is forthcoming. The five piece band is fronted by the husband-and-wife team of Eric and Anna Madden. Eric is originally from eastern Kentucky. He plays acoustic guitar and sings lead. Anna plays fiddle and sings harmony vocals. The other members of the band play drums, electric bass, and one musician splits time between mandolin and electric guitar. In addition to their original songs, they covered classic country like Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, and Johnny Cash and classic rock like the Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead. They even did a bluegrassy cover of Bob Marley.
On Wednesday, we saw Der Klein Steins at Krause’s in New Braunfels. This band has been a fixture in central Texas for decades at Oktoberfests. The Swingin’ Dutchmen formed in 1965. Der Klein Steins are a subset of that larger group, formed in 1989 to play smaller shows than the full group. The five-piece band specializes in the music of central Europe: Germany, Austria, Czech Republic,etc. They do a good job introducing and explaining the songs in English before singing in German or Czech. As is most often the case with American polka bands, a few American country songs also show up in the set, such as “Crazy,” “Fraulein,” and “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You).”
On Thursday, we saw Jake Shimabukuro and Andrea Magee at the 04 Center in Austin. The venue is an old Methodist church with a very high ceiling. This was our first time to visit this venue, but it was very nice. It was weird to see so many of the people in the audience in Austin still wearing masks, because thirty miles away in San Marcos, most everyone was done with that crap a long time ago.
Anyway, the opening act was Andrea Magee, who was accompanied by guitar player Dave Scher. We had seen her a couple of times with Beat Root Revival, but she is currently working on her solo career. She is best described as an “Irish singer-songwriter,” as her music doesn’t neatly fit in any popular American genre. She played guitar, bodhrán, flute, and tin whistle and all of the songs she performed were originals. She will have an album release concert at the 04 Center next month and Dave Scher will also release an EP the same date. Andrea Magee frequently plays shows in the Austin area as a solo artist, but also with groups Beat Root Revival, Ulla (group of Irish artists in the Austin area), and PAACK (group of Austin-area women songwriters).
Jake Shimabukuro is a true master of the ukulele. The Hawaiian has collaborated with top artists from every genre over the years, and the album he released last year, “Jake and Friends” is definitely worth your time. Although it’s not a “country” album, it does feature Willie Nelson, Lukas Nelson, Asleep At The Wheel, Billy Strings, and Vince Gill. Jake’s music feels young and fresh, so it might come as a surprise when digging into his musical catalog to find out how long he has been doing this. Although Jake is especially known for his rock influences, he has toured and collaborated with such artists as Bela Fleck and Jimmy Buffett, so you get a bit of everything. “Orange World” is his bluegrass-inspired tribute to Bela Fleck. He recorded the song in 2003 and it is still a fixture in his set. If you’re a fan of great musicianship, regardless of genre, be sure to see Jake Shimabukuro in concert. It was just him and an electric bass player, but they brought it. I’ll also mention that I saw Jake talking to fans outside the venue an hour or so before the show and he patiently waited for a little boy and his mother to go back to their car to bring back the child’s ukulele to sign. There was no “VIP level-only meet and greet” business like you see with so many of today’s country and pop music stars. It was just an artist being a good guy and appreciating every fan, without regard for what “level” they paid for tickets. Both Jake Shimabukuro and Andrea Magee stayed after the show to talk to fans, too.