2/18/18 Concerts

I saw Beat Root Revival yesterday at Gruene Hall, and recommend checking them out. The free show was scheduled for 1-5, but crews were already setting up for LeAnn Rimes’ sold-out, expensive show later in the day (doors at 8). My brother is in a wheelchair, and at roughly 3:45, he was asked to move by the crew setting up the night show. So, we left early. I usually watch shows with my brother, so I doubt we’ll want to go back there for some time. Otherwise, we probably would’ve gone next Sunday afternoon to see Joey McGee (Americana) and LaVelle White (blues). Miss La-Vell turns 89 this year !

Anyway, back to Beat Root. The talented folk duo has three albums out already, and also played some songs from their next album. The guy is from London, and we saw him weeks ago playing guitar to back up traditional country singer Teri Joyce (who was a presenter at Ameripolitan Awards), and the lady is from Belfast. She played four instruments (guitar, flute, tin whistle, and her main instrument, the bodhrán). They’re opening for Hal Ketchum next week and recording a music video at that show.

Today, I plan to see Manzy Lowry with special guest Dallas Moore at Kent Black’s BBQ in San Marcos. Dallas is celebrating his new CD (street date 3/2), and one of the new songs includes a reference to BBQ in San Marcos. Dallas was a presenter at Ameripolitan Awards. Manzy Lowry is based in San Marcos, and I’m curious to learn if and when he has new music on the way. Kent Black’s has been an outstanding venue for us.

I have no firm plans for other concerts or festivals. There are quality shows at  “standing room only” venues that simply don’t fit our situation. We also had a negative experience at One World Theatre in Austin a few years back. Various workers there moved us back and forth during a concert, because some ass kept complaining that he couldn’t see past the wheelchair guy. So, one staff member put us one place. Another  staff member angrily moved us. Another moved us where the first one had us. One of the earlier ones moved us back. Each one treated us like we were doing something wrong, when all we did was to go where we were told to go. I simply kept quiet, because I knew my brother especially wanted to see that show (The Chieftains), and I didn’t want to take away from his experience.

Mike and the Moonpies are playing a free in-store at Waterloo Records in Austin Wednesday, so if I can get free, I’d like to get to that.

I’m hoping to go to some of the free, “unofficial” showcases at SXSW in March. Although I wasn’t living in Texas yet, I did visit my brother for a few days, so I got to see four outstanding days of free music in Austin. My brother was able to go with me to Threadgill’s for two of the days, and it was a really good venue for him with tons of  music (The Railhouse Band, The Jibs, Chris Fullerton, Robyn Ludwick, Charlie Faye & The Fayettes, Whitney Rose, Band of Heathens, Michigan Rattlers, Sunny Sweeney, Shinyribs Kinky Friedman, James McMurtry, and Ray Wylie Hubbard). I’m going by memory, so I’m sorry if any skipped my mind. My brother had to work the other two days, so I also did the Thirty Tigers showcase at Yeti HQ (Colter Wall, Whitney Rose, Jason Eady, Blank Range, and Steel Woods), and the Lucy’s Chicken showcase (Jon Langford, Brandy Zdan, Kelley Mickwee, Jesse Dayton, Jason Eady, Ray Wylie Hubbard). Yes, all of that was free, and that was just four days that I happened to be in Texas to attend. There was more stuff for another whole week. I didn’t get to go to the Garth Brooks deal, because even though that was also free, you had to have a ticket, and it was first come, first serve, and I didn’t make the cut.

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2/17/18 Campy Western

The Riders in the Sky are a long-time staple at the Grand Ole Opry, have a Sunday morning show on Willie’s channel on XM, and members are also in Vince Gill’s Time Jumpers. They’ve won all sorts of awards, provided songs for movies like the Toy Story franchise, and deliver a wholesome style of comedy that is kid-friendly. Their next album comes out April 13th. They recently made episodes of their old show that aired 1988-1995 available for free on iTunes.

I saw Farmer & Adele the other day in Memphis, and they have their own radio show .  Farmer & Adele were nominated in Ameripolitan’s western swing category. In addition to their 2015 album, check out Grace Adele’s 2012 album, “The Grand Sessions.”

2/16/18 Friday = New Music

Although no one blogger can get to everything, this appears to be a huge release week. I know I will like Courtney Patton’s album a lot, but I haven’t found it on YouTube yet, so can’t add any of her songs to my playlist, 2018 New Country Showcase

I have found a whole lot of other cool things, though. Bonnie Montgomery has a huge voice and honky tonk style. Craig Gerdes, who recently did an album release show with Dallas Moore, checks in with an outlaw country sound. Levi Riggs’ EP was released last week, but I just found it. Kyle Martin also landed a spot on my list, with a song about a mule. There are so many good releases today that it will take me a while to get to them, but I’ve already added several songs this morning.

2/15/18 Austin City Limits

Late last year, I got to attend the television tapings for Chris Stapleton one week, and Shinyribs the next. The staff remembered us and gave us the exact same spot on front row to the side of the stage. Each performer put on a full, 90-minute concert, which was incredible from ten feet away. The Shinyribs episode aired last weekend, and Dan Auerbach was also on that episode, even though he taped a different day. Similarly, Turnpike Troubadours taped a different day, but are on the same episode with Chris Stapleton, airing this weekend.

Here are ACL performances Chris Stapleton “Untangle My Mind” and Shinyribs “East Texas Rust”

In unrelated news, I recently added songs from Wade Bowen, Lindi Ortega, Marit Lystad Johansen, and Presley & Taylor to the 2018 New Country Showcase. I’m still playing catch-up from being out of town for a week, but what did I do in my down time at the hotel ? Looked up music, of course.

2/14/18 Ameripolitan Awards

Ameripolitan posted a link to the full 4.5-hour award show. I’d guess there were 500 or so people in attendance, but that is just a wild guess. Nominated acts like Country Side of Harmonica Sam were there from Sweden, but didn’t perform. Nor did  Charley Crockett,  Tommy Ash or many others. I saw the Barnyard Stompers from Texas attending events all five days, and they drew possibly the loudest applause of anyone when their name was mentioned as a nominee, but they didn’t perform any of the five days. I did finally get to see Nikki Lane sing a song. The first time I ever heard of her was a few years ago on an Andrew Zimmern show about Nashville restaurants.

The awards themselves made little sense. Apparently, it doesn’t matter whether the artists released new music  last year. Luke Bell might as well have been on the side of a milk carton in 2017.  Whitey Morgan’s last album was nearly three years ago.  Cody Jinks’ 2017 was a reissued album and a Pink Floyd cover. He did not show up to pick up his award. I like all of these acts,  but come on…

I’m still glad I went, and still believe it’s a net positive that someone is shining a light on some independent and traditional acts. I hope that my criticisms are taken as constructive.

2/13/18 Ameripolitan on Beale

Today is the fifth and final day of my Ameripolitan trip in Memphis, so I’ll  recap yesterday’s events. I’m not overly familiar with or immersed in this particular scene, but there’s a whole lot of music at a very affordable price ($100 got me in to all days, including the awards show tonight, a t-shirt, and discounts at places like Graceland).

Yesterday afternoon in the hotel lobby, Guitarist Sean Mencher and pedal steel player Rose Sinclair played an instrumental set, joined by guitarist Chris Casello, the drummer from The Go Getters, and the double bass player from Don Diego Trio.

There was an Ameripolitan fashion show scheduled from 3-6, but the reality was closer to 4-4:45. That’s not  in my wheelhouse, but it was the only thing going on. Musical artists such as Whitney Rose and Jake Penrod were the models. Elvis Presley’s jacket from Jailhouse Rock made an appearance.

The evening music showcase was not at the hotel like most of the other events. Rather, it was in a cramped little place on Beale called the Blues City Cafe. I don’t know how many people are at Ameripolitan. Maybe a couple hundred? Doors for the 8pm event opened at 6:30. I found $5 parking a block away, and told two beggars I had no money for them on my one block walk. I did not advise them to wear crappier clothes if they wished tourists to believe that they they were indeed destitute.  I arrived shortly after doors opened, and found  the next to last chair. Most had to stand the entire time, and it ran past 12:30. While that packed-like-sardines experience vastly lacked in comfort, it did provide a certain “packed-house energy” as a listening experience,  properly befitting honky-tonk, outlaw, and rockabilly.

On to the music… The first three scheduled acts and an unscheduled guest or two took the first three hours or so, and  the folks who went later played shorter sets. In addition to the scheduled performers (Green Line Travelers, Dale Watson, James Intveld, Summer Dean, Whitney Rose, Josh Sorheim, Zephaniah Ohora), there were special guest performances by Jason D Williams, James Hand, and Jesse Dayton. The Reeves Brothers backed Zephaniah, and Rosie Flores joined James Intveld.

There were many Ameripolitan performers in the audience. Also, I’ll mention that Jerry Lee Lewis’ son, who gives tours of his father’s home, was at the next table from me. Gina Haley was at the afternoon instrumental offering  at the hotel.

2/12/18 Ameripolitan Outlaw and Rockabilly

Day three of five is in the books. Before I dig in, I will again sing the praises of the Graceland Guest House. It’s a delightful place to stay, and I spent several hours yesterday at the Graceland complex. The $45-million, 200,000 Elvis complex addition that opened March of 2017 is a great place for anyone who loves music or history. I posted a video on the Facebook site of Elvis singing bluegrass. Of special interest to country fans is the Marty Stuart Collection exhibit about the country roots of rock and roll. The Sam Phillips exhibit covers the Sun Records years, so the fans of Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis and so on will want to check that out. The last song that Elvis sang for friends at his house the day he died was “Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain,” first made famous by Roy Acuff, and later Willie Nelson.

I’ll admit that I don’t know much about  the international rockabilly acts, but I enjoy listening to most kinds of music. Al Dual is from Spain, and on El Toro Records, which represents a number of European acts. Bloodshot Bill is a wild, one man show from Canada. I don’t know what to compare him to. Levi Dexter from England played with the Don Diego Trio from Sicily, and Levi mentioned that he will play the Nashville Boogie this summer with the Gretsch Brothers from Japan. The Go Getters from Sweden have been playing rockabilly for three decades or so.

Eddie Clendening played piano in the lobby before the event, including a couple of Johnny Cash numbers. Bailey Dee had to call in sick, so Lawrence Peters stepped in on short notice, and has a honky-tonk sound. Hillbilly Casino is sort of  rockabilly with a punk edge.  Bonnie Montgomery played some songs off her new album, releasing this Friday. She has a big voice, and a honky-tonk sound with fiddle and steel. Dale Watson joined her for a duet that’s on the album. Jesse Dayton sang a song off his next record, too, but we don’t have a time frame on that. Be sure to check him out, too. Whitey Morgan closed the night, and although he has new music on the way, he stuck with more familiar songs for this set.

Finally, I’ll give a shout out to the many other acts who were in the audience. You definitely get the impression that this thing is sort of a community. I talked to outlaw nominees Barnyard Stompers, whom I’ve seen in Texas, and they’ve been at the events every day.

2/11/18 Ameripolitan Honky Tonk and Western Swing

We saw seven acts this evening. Rosie Flores mentioned she has a new album on the way this year, and as with the show the day before, she brought out Jolie Goodnight for a song.  The Reeves Brothers from Las Vegas drew a standing ovation for a very spirited set. They came across very well live. Sophia Johnson from England, now residing in Austin, joked about her US work visa stating that she’s an “alien of exceptional talent.” The Farmer & Adele have a new show on WSM radio. If you like western swing with a dose of campy humor, check them out. Luke Bell is an act I also saw perform at the Americanafest gospel brunch in 2016. Carolyn Sills describes her style as spaghetti western swing. Jake Penrod closed the night with a great cover of Hank Sr.

2/10/18 Ameripolitan, Day 1

This is my first year to attend the Ameripolitan Awards,and the first year of the five years of the program’s existence that the show is somewhere other than Austin, which is just my luck since I moved to an area thirty miles south of Austin just last summer.

Anyway, the show last night was a good way to kick things off. There were a few antique cars, and a good bit of rockabilly in the mix. It’s a bit of a curiosity in the last decade or so how 1950s rock and roll has pretty much shifted from “rock” to “country.” In truth, it seems like much more of a fit  than with modern rock.

Celine Lee was first up. In addition to her own material, she threw in some choice covers, like “Night Train to Memphis” (associated with Roy Acuff and others), and Wanda Jackson’s “Fujiyama Mama.”

Don Diego brings rockabilly and country from Sicily. He has some trucker songs, and is another fun act to listen to. Host Dale Watson said that a  documentary about the Don Diego Trio will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival. I saw the Barnyard Stompers doing some two stepping during Don Diego’s set.

Next up was some insanely energetic guitar work from Chris Casello, who was Ameripolitan’s Instrumentalist of the Year last year. He even threw in some Herb Alpert, but with electric guitar instead of trumpet. He alternated between electric guitar and steel guitar on some songs.

Rosie Flores was Dale’s co-host for the evening, and she brought Dale on for a song or two, and she brought Jolie Goodnight on stage for a song or two. Jolie had done a song with Don Diego earlier. Jolie is also one of the dancers in Whitney Rose’s recent video.

Dale Watson was the evening’s closer, and he took a few minutes to describe his vision, to create a framework to support the artists who “fall between the cracks.” Memphis is now Dale’s second home, and my initial impression is that Memphis is a very welcoming host city. I visited Beale Street and the Rock and Soul Museum yesterday, and look forward to absorbing more history over the next few days.