Is it Friday already? Yes it sure is! It has been one heck of a week and I am so glad that the weekend is here. I know, I know, I usually have this up on Thursday night. As previously mentioned, it has been a heck of a week. But here we are, at 2:30 in the morning and my dedication WILL NOT let me sleep until this is posted.
I would like to send out a big “Good Luck” to 2 fantastic artists, Andrew Frelick and Chris Ising, who are on their way to Nashville this weekend for the Josie Show Awards. Both of these talented gents are up for awards this weekend and will be playing a show there. Please join me in wishing them all the best! They both are deserving of any awards that they win.
And now – on to the news.
You may not have had the opportunity to see George Strait on tour, as he officially retired in 2014. However, that doesn’t mean that you will never have the opportunity to see him play live. On Tuesday (Sept.22), at a press conference at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Strait announced 4 special performances that he will be doing at the new Las Vegas Arena, scheduled to open in April of next year. He will be among the first artists to perform at the new venue on April 22-23, 2016 and will have 2 more performances on Sept. 22-23, 2016. Texan songstress Kacey Musgraves is slated to be the opening act for Strait for all 4 performances. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Oct. 2, 2015. If you love country music and have been looking for an excuse to plan a trip to Sin City, I believe I just gave you one.
Yearwood Over Texas:
Trisha Yearwood and husband Garth Brooks are in the middle of an ongoing world tour. They have been on tour for 10 months and are currently on a quick break while the set-up is being reconfigured. Yearwood, who turned 51 on Sept. 19, was busy that night, as she was playing the American Airlines Center in Dallas, forcing her to work on her special day. Have no fear; she did have the opportunity to celebrate. Six Flags Over Texas is typically only open to guests on the weekends. However, when country royalty comes to town, apparently they pull out all the stops. According to NBC Dallas-Ft. Worth, the amusement park made arrangements for Brooks, Yearwood and their band to hold a private gathering to celebrate the singer’s birthday on Monday (Sept. 21). Brooks was reported as saying that his favorite ride was Mr. Freeze, while Yearwood prefers The Texas Giant. Happy Belated Birthday, Trisha!
Music Row Freebie:
I know I just wrote about Blake Shelton, but this is just too fantastic to not talk about. Last week, Shelton sent a message to all of his followers on Twitter that he would be holding a free concert in Nashville this week. Well, he apparently delivers what he dangles because on Wednesday (Sept. 23) a 2 block section of Music Square East was shut down and a stage was put in the streets for a free 1 hour concert by Shelton and his band. Naturally, fans showed up in droves to see their favourite Voice coach perform 12 songs on an intimate stage. His whole band accompanied him and the group were off stage just after sunset so that the street could be re-opened to traffic. Thanks for giving me one more reason to love Music City, Blake.
I will say this loud and proud – I love camo. In fact, one of my favorite fall jackets is a Browning zip-off sleeve camo fleece. When discussing camo, it is almost imperative that one brings up the brand Realtree.
In 1986, Bill Jordan decided to try designing camouflage. He had already been involved in the sporting/ hunting industry for a few years with this company Spartan Archery Products. At that time, he was having t-shirts made at a mill for his business.
The industry at that time was not a profitable one. Margins had to be kept low as the cost of manufacturing garments increased. While at his parent’s one afternoon, Bill sat sketching some ideas for a camouflage pattern. According to the company’s history, he believed that”… by layering the images of twigs and leaves over a vertical bark background, he could create a 3 dimensional appearance that would match a variety of terrain…” and thus, Realtree was born.
As years and finances allowed, Jordan innovated the brand. It has staked a claim at the head of the pack when it comes to sporting goods. Using computers, photography and digital imaging, Realtree has become and continues to be a leader in fabric design and printing. The images they produce are now used by over 1500 licensees of their product. Visit their website at www.realtree.com for more information. Personally, I am a huge fan of this brand. Here are a couple of my personal favorites:
I first heard The Lonesome Band on an online radio show called The Iceman Show. On their website, they referred to their music as “Texas Cosmic Honk Tonk”. I wasn’t sure what the heck that was, but whatever they were selling, I was buying. When I started doing my research on them, I also found out that they were from one of my favourite cities of all time, Austin, Texas. My excitement grew because I have been to Austin a few times and I am familiar with the live music scene there. I have seen many a great band there, so I knew I was in for a treat when I decided to listen to more of their music.
The band originally started as a duo that consisted of 2 college friends, Sam Whips Allison (Whips is actually his name and not a nickname) and Anthony Lucio. Not only were they college buddies but they are also both audio engineers. The commonalities do not stop there. Both of them were native Texans and they both come from homes where they grew up around music. Anthony had set himself a goal to write 100 songs in a year. I know from the limited writing experience I have (and the fact that I have tried writing a song or 2) that this is no easy feat. One of the songs that he wrote (“Agree To Disagree”) left a mark on Sam. He added a few final touches and before you knew it, the group had their first song. After playing a number of gigs around Texas with just the 2 of them, they opted to expand the group and brought aboard Miguel Gilly, Barrett O’Donnell and Dan Johnson. They released their album “Running Alone” in May of this year. I really recommend checking it out! It is gritty and well, down right “honky-tonky” (yes, I made that up and it is staying). Amidst their busy schedule, Sam and Anthony took some time on a rare day off to talk to me.
When a band refers to their style as Texas Cosmic Honky-tonk, the first question really writes itself. I asked the guys if they could clarify what that means. Sam laughed, “It kinda took a while to get to that. We didn’t even know what we were playing until other people started telling us what it was. We didn’t really sit down and think ok, we’re going to play Texas country music or country music. We just tried to let it develop naturally and that’s what it came out as.” The sound could be described as traditional country, or even like Shooter Jennings, which is the sound that they were looking for.
Being that the majority of the band is from Texas, I thought it was only right to ask the one thing that a non-Texan wants to know about a Texan – did they identify as Texan first or American first? Sam replied, “Maybe a little from column A. Maybe a little from column B. Maybe a little bit more from column A.” We all laughed, because if you know anything about Texans, this is typically the response. As Barrett is the only non-Texan in the group, I was curious to see how much they harassed him over that fact or if they had accepted him as one of their own. Anthony (referred to as “Ant”) and Sam both laughed. Sam answered, “He is an honorary Texan, for sure. He’s been here for a while.” Being an honorary Texan myself, I can understand the compliment that this is.
The music on their album has a real depth and honesty to it. There was one song in particular that stuck with me. I really needed to know if “Woman Who Can Shoot” was in fact, fact or fiction. Again they both chuckled and Sam said, “You know, being from Texas, we do have a quite a few women who can shoot. You know, you just don’t want to mess with a lady like that. There is definitely some fact in that, leaning a bit on the fiction side because it makes a good story.” Anthony added, “We didn’t find anybody with bullet holes or anything.”
Since I am a huge fan of their sound, I was really interested in finding out more about their song writing process, including how they settle creative differences. I mean, it couldn’t be easy in a room with 5 guys in it, could it? Apparently, for them, it could. Sam clarified, “We chose from those songs (the 100 songs that Anthony challenged himself to write) and then we sat down together and altered things, wrote melodies and did that kind of stuff. That was for the first album. For the second one, that’s a different process I think.” When thinking of song writing, it is always interesting to find out where the ideas for their music comes from. I asked the guys where they drew their inspiration from. Sam answered, “Oh man, anything!” He regaled me with a scene from a recent radio tour they were on, “We saw a guy walking down the road with a fiddle in his hand. The nearest, largest town was about an hour each way. This is not just a road, it’s I-20, a major interstate!” Anthony expanded on the idea, “We saw him walking and we’re thinking what’s his story? We kinda felt like writing a story about you know, did he tick someone off and they dropped him off on the side of the road?”
I then took a bit of a detour from music and song writing. As these guys are from one of my favorite places, I wanted them to pretend they had to describe Austin to someone who has never been there. I also mentioned that “weird” and “dripping normal” didn’t count. (If you do not know what this means, I highly recommend looking them up as the explanation behind it is hilarious.) Sam answered, “Well, changing pretty fast. There’s a whole new influx of people. They say that there’s 50-100 new people moving here every day. So it’s definitely changing. And unfortunately it’s losing a lot of what made Austin great. A lot of great venues are closing down to make way for new, big condos for everybody to live in. I would say to anyone who has never been here before, hopefully they can come and appreciate what made Austin, Austin.” We started talking about some of the great venues in Austin so I asked where some of their favorite places to play were. Sam said, “There’s tons of great places to play. You know, there are places that won’t go anywhere. The Continental Club, that’s where we had our album release party. It was great. White Horse, The Hole in The Wall, Sahara Lounge, those are the places where we really cut our teeth.”
This really gave me a great lead in to the next question I had for them. Now that I knew where they liked to play, I wanted to know who they would want to play there with, past or present. It was decided that at the top of the list for Sam were Hank Sr., George Jones, Waylon Jennings and Billy Joe Shaver. Anthony and Sam had both grown up listening to them. “They were originals,” Sam added. And all 3 of us decided that an Outlaw Tour featuring “The Highway Men” would certainly be a sight to be seen.
Since I am doing this whole project to really get the word out there about great new artists, I asked what was next on deck for the band. They are so great that I want to let everyone know! The Lonesome band is really getting involved in the festival circuit in the state of Texas. They will be playing at the Peanut Festival in Floresville, Texas in October, as well as the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival in New Mexico. Sam and Anthony explained to me that there are tons of small towns and cities in Texas that are all known for something. Anthony clarified this, “They are all self-proclaimed. Self-proclaimed sausage capital of the world. Self-proclaimed cowboy capital of the world.” As we were already on the topic of festivals, I decided to gain a little insight on one of the largest festivals in Austin – South By South-West – from a performers point of view. Sam explained, “It can be great but you really gotta watch which shows you do. There are people who come to town and they want to take advantage of hungry musicians who are willing to play for anything. But the actual official shows are awesome. We are really hoping to get on some of those this year.”
It was time to have a little fun with these guys. We had been having so much fun, I knew that they would be game. I asked some rapid fire questions:
- Who eats the most CFS (chicken fried steak): Sam (Anthony chimed in, “You know, to try the self-proclaimed world’s best chicken fried steak.”)
- Who’s a slave to coffee: Barrett
- Who has the most tattoos: Anthony
- Who takes the longest to get ready: The previous drummer and apparently the new drummer (we decided it was something to do with drummers in general).
- Who has the craziest ex-girlfriend story: “Speaking from personal experience, I would say me.”, Anthony
The last question I asked was the good ol’ standby; “What was the last photo you took with your phone?” Anthony took a Guitar Center Screen Shot and Sam? Well, he took one of his best friend. “Me and my dog went dove hunting. It was opening season and I took a picture of my dog with some birds she got for me.”
Be sure to look these guys up! If you like what you hear, let them know! They were so great to talk to and really nice guys. The next time I am in Austin, they MAY even take me for that tattoo I wanted! Their website is: http://www.thelonesomeband.com/ and follow them on Twitter at @TheLonesomeBand. Also make sure to check out their Facebook page and like it: https://www.facebook.com/TheLonesomeBand. If you have never heard this band before, that is all about to change. Here is “Love I’ve Never Known” by The Lonesome Band: