Showing posts with label country music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label country music. Show all posts

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lyle Lovett: the voice of the broken down, yet still hopeful

Lyle Lovett and his Large Band play Austin City Limits in September 2011
(Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman)

"I Will Rise Up"

I just came home from seeing Lyle Lovett and His Large Band at The Warfield. And here's the thing: Lovett could put my grocery list to music and it would sound good, that's just how moving his voice is. And not to mention his band... holy shnikeys! (Special shout out to fiddler/vocalist Luke Bulla and guitarist/mandolin/vocalist Keith Sewell) These dudes are insanely talented and a pleasure to see perform.

I actually think I probably prefer the smaller five piece backup band to the "large" band Lovett has played with in the past. This smaller setup is more intimate and seems more old school country/bluegrass to me, something that folks seem to appreciate lately.

I will admit, I did not, and still really do not, know Lovett's music well. I heard about him when he married Julia Roberts and I've seen him appear in the Altman films, but I never got into the music. It's not that I didn't like it, I just never gave it a moment. I even lived in Texas for three years (he's from the Houston area and spends a lot of time in Austin), and nada; don't know why.

Not until 2am last month when I happened upon his Austin City Limits episode, the last one filmed in studio 6A on the University of Texas campus, before the show moved locations. His live show is so gorgeous.

This is the kind of country music you can add to the list that's "okay to like"; you know, the same list on which Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton reside. His music is deep, beautiful, playful and meaningful.

What I also love about Lovett is his deadpan sense of humor and awkward stage banter. Calling out his bandmates and embarrassing them for all their accomplishments like a proud parent, telling bad jokes and drawn out stories of being on the road. He was enjoying himself, and that is always one of my favorite things to witness.

My blog is named upon the idea that there will always be more music to hear, whether it is new, old or from far away. There are artists you will know about and yet one day, their music will smack you in the face (or the ears) and you will have a whole new appreciation for their craft.

This is one of those times.

"Up in Indiana"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

SXSW highlights from Saturday March 19: yeay for house shows!

Best house show ever - frog sandbox full of beer (and milk for the kiddies)

Yesterday was a fun day. Got a Jimmie John's sandwich and wandered around a bit downtown. Then headed to South Austin for some outdoor house parties, which by the way, are totally the way to go.

First I checked out the 3rd Annual Brooklyn BBQ party in someone's backyard off of South Congress to see alt-country/bluegrass/punk band the Defibulators. Erin's brother and my brother went to junior high together, so I keep up with what she's doing and her band is really fun. The bbq had two stages, food, drink and dancing.

Brooklyn BBQ back yard show (double click to see larger image)

Then I headed over to a house show at Brian and Elaine's house. They came to my show on Thursday and enjoyed it so much that they invited The Family Crest and Megan Slankard to perform in their front yard It was a blast.

It was also really nice to hear Megan play an acoustic set with just her guitar. This girl can sing.

Megan Slankard plays Elaine and Brian's front yard

Even on such short notice, a bunch of Brian and Elaine's friends showed up, many of them with their kids. It was so fun to watch them enjoy the music and just wander around. Watch this video and just look at all those little faces. Some of them were super into the music. I got another video on my camera of them playing percussion along with the Family Crest, I'll post it when I get home.

Then it was over to a funny little bar called G&S on South First that I had never noticed. I finally got to see The Hello Strangers live, which was a total treat. Larissa and Brechyn have all these new songs that I'd not heard before, like this gospel-y tune "Big Flood." I love the way these ladies harmonize. This song gave me goosebumps.

I have a lot more videos and photos to share, I'll try to roll some of it out in the next couple weeks.

Today we decided to go toobing in the Guadelupe River. It was WAY too cold for toobing. I don't recommend it. My butt is still freezing, and strangely, I got a little bit of color.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

White Dress and The Beaumont: Tuesday March 15th - South by Southwest

Last night we ended up at funky Jovita's in South Austin for a hodgepodge of music. Even though there were only maybe twenty people in the whole joint, the bands still worked it out for us.

This is The Beaumont from Lubbock. They are not for the un-humored, singing about every hedonistic, R-rated theme you could think of: drugs, Toby Keith being a pretty woman, having an affair with a member of the AARP, mayo as a favorite lubricant, burning churches and every sexual taboo you can think of. These good (?) old boys are not for the faint of heart and easily offended, so of course I was laughing my ass off.

In their cowboy hats, sunglasses and cowboy shirts, these middle-aged dudes could not have been more hilarious, making everyone in the room smile and shake their heads in disbelief. The Beaumont is like Z Z Top on a drinking binge.

This is a snippet of "Money for Drugs" (I took this with my friend's flipcam, pretty good!):

White Dress - photo by Eric Morales @

I was pleasantly surprised by Austin based White Dress. It's nice to see more and more powerful women with electric guitars in their hands. Singer-guitarist Arum Rae Valkonen has a versatile voice that spans a range of colors from Billie Holliday to Ann Wilson. Combined with her dirty guitar sound and the badass drumming of Grant Van Amburgh, a Black Keys comparison is unavoidable.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Country Music Love Down Under

Who knew that Australians love country music until Nicole Kidman married Keith Urban (who was actually born in New Zealand). But they do. And even I recognize some of the names on wikipedia's list of Australia's country music stars.

When I lived in Sydney in 2000, my friend's mom insisted that she and Reba MacIntyre were old friends and on a first name basis. And this was before the sitcom "Reba" was on the air.

A small town in New South Wales called Tamworth, is the Australian tourist equivalent of Nashville, Tennessee. In a week in mid-January, Tamworth is home to a week long Country Music Festival. Like the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, this festival takes over dozens of night clubs in town.

The above pictured 40 foot golden guitar replica of the Country Music Awards trophy can be found next to the Gallery of Stars Wax museum. Every few years, another figurine of an Australian star is added.

I'm thinking that Australia and Texas have more in common than I ever knew.

p.s. Apologies to Australians, my family and friends included, that hate country music : )