Flanfire (Duggan Flanakin) is bringing LIFE to Austin music -- and telling the world how sweet it is!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Addictions Awe She Rocks Show!
There were a lot of hot chicks at Momo's on Wednesday night at Part 2 of the She Rocks! calendar

Taz (spiderman?) gets off as Beth gets UP;
Beth and Jason Richard belt 'em out!

release party (part 1 had been at Antone's the Wednesday before). But just as she had done in the calendar itself, The Addictions' Beth Richard showed her peers how to dominate. Well, the whole band rocked their socks off, in their final show until December 30 (as they sneak into the studio to work on a new album). Yes, there was "Roller Girl" [dedicated this evening to Adrian Conner, who was in the house and is in the calendar with her bandmates] and "Jaded" and a few others from their last CD, but the band also unveiled new songs like "Suck Up Your Dreams" and "See Right Through You" and others soon to be recorded.

The 15 women (including the Sickness trio of Adrian, Heather, and Nina) were all photographed by Ricardo Acevedo, whose posters and photos and other art forms are fast becoming legendary here in Austin where he has lived since 1999. [OK -- this year's calendar may not be as racy as last year's - but think HOT!] Other 2007 calendar girls who rocked the house at Momo's included Wendy Colonna, Jane Bond (whom Acevedo actually got to wear makeup for her shoot!), and Meagan Tubb -- fresh from having her band win the battle of the bands at Poodie's (for which the grand prize is getting to play the next Willie Nelson Fourth of July show) - but lots of others (from both 2006 and 2007) were in the house keeping the party going. One of them -- Momo's coowner Kate Tomich -- was behind the bar.

After a solo acoustic opening set by Miss May of 2006, Ernie Ernst (which featured her tongue very much in cheek - or somewhere else - "I Want To Be Sexually Harassed Tonight"), Austin newcomer Meagan Tubb [and no, she has no real idea whether she is kin to Ernest Tubb] brought out her sparkling Gibson Les Paul (and BIG Marshall amp) and showed the prowess on electric lead guitar - and vocals - that brought down the house at Poodie's week in and week out. Meagan's band included Berklee graduate (and another Austin newcomer) Johnny Duran on drums, Jason Nunnencamp on guitar, and Rick the new bass player (playing a

Wendy Colonna (red guitar); Meagan Tubb (silver Les Paul).

red Fender). Meagan and the gang rocked the house with songs like "Flower of the Night" and "Color Outside the Lines" -- and BTW, she's 5-10 and a mountain biker and a college graduate too. Catch her band at Waterloo Ice House next Friday (November 3).

Next up was the lovely Jane Bond (in her normal sans makeup jeans) ... with Josh Hoag on bass, El Goins on drums, and Spencer on lead guitar. Jane is playing here and there with Chad Tracy, but on this night she opted for more of a blues rock pose -- reminiscent of her early Austin sets with smokin' guitarists and a tight rhythm section. Check out Jane's myspace page and hopefully you can find a delicious photo that shows the flash in her eyes that has long made her the most captivating singer in South Austin since Toni Price.

Okay, I can never say enough about Wendy Colonna -- who started out to do a solo acoustic set - just her and her guitar and her amazing poetry in musical motion. But very quickly El Goins jumped behind the Momo's drum kit - and after another couple of solo songs -- including the beautiful "Coffee Today" -- El and Mark Addison joined the diva for "Judas" and an awesome rendition of "Vacancy" (which was so stark on the CD) that included a great solo by the beautiful bald guy (who makes me proud!). Reminding us more of Cleopatra than ever (imagine if she'd had a lute instead of an asp!), Wendy closed out with the really old classic "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now" which segued right into "October."

Now earlier in the evening I had stopped by Central Market South for a bite to eat and some super jazz from Little Alice and Her Monkey Butlers -- aka Alice Spencer, Mark Rubin (tuba), Pops Bayless (banjo), Joe Cordi on piano, and Ben Saffer on clarinet. The band is debuting a new CD - "Joe's Basement" - which was recorded - duh - in Joe Cordi's basement. The band is playing at the Elephant Room on Friday - and we were wowed by such classic hits as "Who'll Chop Your Suey WHen I'm Gone" and Pops' own "Cakewalk" - and some smooth solos on "Bye Bye Blues" and "Some of These Days" -- and other classics and originals too.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wedding Bells and Honkytonks

You never really get weary of the Weary Boys - those California hippies who staggered into Austin a few years back with big dreams and hopes of learning how to actually play their instruments (and, yes, they eventually brought another NorCal dirt farmer to join up with them - but opted to keep their actual Texan bass player). I remember an early show at the Continental - some punk kid on guitar with curly hair, a tall skinny guy who held the fiddle all wrong and the big guy in the middle .... and yet ... and yet, their music made you feel good and you had a good time.

Darren Hoff and Mario Matteoli -- "good boys."

Fast forward a few years and a few CD's and a LOT of beer (and such) .... and those wild-eyed lads (of the type for whom songs of legend are written) are all respectable citizens (okay, that is a stretch) in the sense that they all are tied to one woman and quite happy about it -- and have much improved their musical skills without becoming geeks seeking individual attention in the process. In short, the Weary Boys have matured as a BAND and in particular as a band the whole of which is far greater than the sum of its parts. [Which means that the internal charisma and camaraderie adds something extra!]

This was the final weekend of bachelorhood for front man Darren Hoff - whose own website proclaims that he is "getting married to the most wonderful girl in the world" - this coming weekend, by the way. And electric guitarist and songwriter Mario Matteoli (who on this night also sat in with singer-songwriter Mark Ambrose, whose opening set featured a couple of brand-new songs of his) is engaged (and the personal favorite of both the lovely Ashley AND her great dancer mom Betsy), and fiddler Brian Salvi looked quite happy at his family table during Ambrose's set. The best news about the three musketeers is their choice of Cary Azanian (the fourth musketeer) to play drums and sing a bit and of Darren Sluyter to thump the acoustic bass and sometimes the electric bass (and not sing). Because a band without a great rhythm section can get lost out there.

The real genius of this band (now, Mario is a fine songwriter and their originals are very good) is their ability to take old classic tunes from the heartland of America and rework them with this Weary Boys kind of shuck and jive bouncy sound that keeps toes tapping and jaws yapping. Guy at the table next to me was telling his buddy, "This is the best band in [was it Austin, Texas, or the whole effing world?]" And THEN he added, "And the drunker they get the better they play!" [Well, maybe, maybe not -- but let's hope these guys' livers last a while.]

But then on the other side of me, someone said, "These are the guys whom you want to play at your wedding." And I immediately thought, absolutely at the finest Hill Country weddings, these guys would make the party happen and even get feuding families to kiss and make up (and let the "kids" get on with their lives). My favorite songs of the evening (which I had to cut a little short - and you will hear why) were the Doug Sahm classic, "Mendocino" (which is not far from these boys' hometowns), Mario singing "Matilda," Cary singing "Ophelia," and the whole band taking us to Lafayette for Clifton Chenier time (Wearies style).

Jesse Dayton Rules!
But I had promised myself I would not miss Jesse Dayton, who was playing a rare gig at Ego's (with the Texas Sapphires, whom I missed, opening). Now I had not seen Jesse live and up close and personal on stage in waaaay too long (back in my Houston daze), but since this honky tonk hero is cutting a duets record with my good friend Brennen Leigh [and by the way, her gospel collaboration with Maria Mabra may be available very soon], I thought it was HIGH TIME I got another honkytonk fix (and I really needed one).

Now there MAY be people in Austin (or anywhere else who read these words) who are ignorant of the Beaumont flash who is every bit as good a guitar picker as he is a singer -- and as Brennen sez, he has great hair! too -- and an infectious laugh-smile that makes every gig a high school hop reunion. But then what would you expect from a guy who still has his best friend since sixth grade (Eric Tucker) playing drums in the band? Also on stage was bassist Justin Kolb and the youthful (but fast emerging) Nathan Fleming -- who has been seen aboutt town with STAR Sapphire Rebecca Lucille -- on pedal steel guitar. And since this was an Ego's gig, there would be a LOT of people up dancing and carrying on.

Jesse is still beside himself at the fact that our hero Willie was pulled over in south Louisiana (a special humor here given Jesse's Cajun heritage) and the arresting officers wisely noted that the pound and a half of non-industrial hemp (and other assorted goodies) were not for distribution but for personal use. Because it was Ego's he felt no fear in playing "real white trash honkytonk music" ... and promptly proved his point with the stirring "I'm home getting hammered while she's out getting nailed."

Now Jesse is the man who once played guitar for Waylon Jennings and who covers everybody from Rob Zombie to George Jones to Townes Van Zandt -- and then demonstrates he can write songs that oughta be hits .. in fact, the very first time I heard Jesse Dayton I kept asking why this guy is not a household name. It never ceases to amaze just how blessed we are in Austin to get to see this kind of talent for a few bucks and a beer or two. And, yes, Jesse and the Texas Sapphires are playing at the Continental Club for First Thursday on November 2, and Jesse will be back at Ego's on November 9 and again at the Continental on November 16.
Nathan Fleming - one tough customer!!!

Jesse, by the way, has picked up the Texas Sapphires' new CD, "Valley So Steep," to give it national distribution -- and the band has changed out some personnel since last we reviewed their gigs. Haystack Novak (from Bakersfield) is playing pedal steel and dobro, Austin's Trey Wilson is on bass (and vocals), and Craig Bagby (like Jesse, from Beaumont) is on drums -- with Paul Schroeder (another Beaumont kid) on banjo, mandolin and vocals .. and of course Billy Brent Malkus and Rebecca Lucille Cannon doing the lead singing (with Brent also on guitar).

In other tidbits, Brent says he and Nathan Hamilton have just wrapped up recording tracks for the upcoming No Deal CD -- likely out after the first of next year -- and it is pure bred rock and roll!!! Smokin'! And speaking of Brennen Leigh, she debuted at Hippie Church at Maria's Taco X-Press in the chilly wind on Sunday (with Josh Hoag, who just got hired by the Asylum Street Spankers, on bass, and Ricky Turpin (Asleep at the Wheel and many other bands) on fiddle.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

"Gospel" Rocks Fat Caddy Showcase

Big Jon Patillo and his attorney (and wife) Amy were all smiles during their Fat Caddy Records Showcase Friday night at Momo's Club - which was by no means at celebration of Marc Katz's Cadillac. Six hours of music by five bands -- from songwriter Austin Collins to Slowtrain to Macon Greyson to Black Water Gospel to

A very happy Fat Caddy couple!

the Band of Heathens, who are celebrating the release of their fast-selling CD that was recorded (where else?) live at Momo's. Ma Nature cooperated with wonderful weather, the place was packed out, and everyone was having a very good time.

The best performance of the night had to be Colin Brooks' haunting "Water in the Sky," featuring Colin's all-steel dobro and soulful solos by bandmates Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist on electric guitar and Brian Keane on his little red keyboard (with Seth Whitney on bass and drummer Jeff Botta playing mostly tambourine here). The boys have been on a whirlwind tour - Houston's Mucky Duck last Friday, Gruene Hall opening for Leon Russell last Saturday, and Wednesday's Austin CD release at Momo's - and have nearly sold out their first pressing (to the Patillos' delight!) prior to their Sunday show back at Gruene. And for good reason.

Brooks and Quist are Kerrville New Folk winning songwriters, and Keane and Jurdi are just as good at their craft. Sure, they still sound a little at times like "songwriters in the round," but with each passing week they begin to find their solos more easily, work their harmonies and trade-off vocals more evenly, and get more integrated as a single band unit. Based on rave reviews from the big-timers who are hearing their music for the first time, we propose that readers catch this band before their prices go up dramatically.

Just for the record -- Ed Jurdi, who hails from Boston, is the big tall guy with the hairy chest and bushy eyebrows who could have been the construction worker taking his shirt off in the TV commercial as women gathered to watch. Houston's Gordy Quist (who was wearing a Jon Dee Graham style hat on Friday) could well have just stepped off the set of The Long Riders. Washington State native Seth Whitney has been (so we are told) mistaken for Bob Schneider but to us looks like Jack Black's younger brother - and has the twinkle in his eye as well. Michigan native (so we read) Colin Brooks, with his new short haircut, is kinda like that supposed hound dog who secretly has a pedigree -- just look behind the mask. And then there's Brian Keane -- who ought to be getting royalties from all of the cartoon characters who have stolen his big smile (from unnamed Care Bears to the big moose in Ice Age). Our song for Brian - the Animals' (who else?) "Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood":

Baby, do you understand me now
Sometimes I feel a little mad
But don't you know that no one alive
Can always be an angel
When things go wrong I seem to be bad
But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good

Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

Baby, sometimes I'm so carefree
With a joy that's hard to hide
And sometimes it seems that all I have do is worry
Then you're bound to see my other side ...
But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good

Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

[R -- this is for YOU!]

Brian Keane

Black Water Gospel Tells It Like It Is!

But enough of those guys -- the best BAND on Friday night (in my very humble opinion) was Black Water Gospel. Lead singer Juan Gutierrez (aka John Gutz), who hails from El Paso and is still a college student!, has more soulful passion than just about anybody I have seen in a long while -- and a gravelly voice that some say reminds them of Eddie Vedder (but with energy!). Bandmates Jesse Duke (lead guitar), Travis McCann (drums), and Daniel White (bass) were

Juan Gutierrez sweats out the soul! Matt Mollica and his B3!

joined this night -- and will be again at next Thursday's can't miss show at The Continental Club -- by Matt Mollica on the Hammond B3 organ (which he and ten friends lugged up the Momo's back staircase in a herculean effort to please the fans). This band has that feel of the Sixties, with the full, rich chords and twin leads and all that PASSION! [Sorta like Jesse Colin Young singing "Get Together," which he will be doing in Kyle next month, BTW.]

Black Water opened with "Six Down," from its 2005 self-titled CD, then moved to three songs that they will be recording very soon - "Gold Mine," "Big Black Cadillac" (a tribute to Fat Caddy?), and "Lucy." Then it was "On the Road" and "Soul Searching" and two more -- and then Juan called up Macon Greyson guitar slinger Harley Husbands for a rousing version of Lucinda Williams' classic, "Change the Locks." [Since the whole evening was being duly recorded by and for ME TV, maybe we will get to see some of this stuff again soon!]

Jesse Duke and Harley Husbands changing the locks!

There is just not time nor energy to say much about Austin Collins (a songwriter whom Jon says very much impressed Ray Wylie Hubbard with the depth and quality of his lyrics) or Slowtrain (which has perhaps the city's top pair of band wives! -- but see my prior musings on this boys) or even Dallas rockers Macon Greyson (except that they are cool enough to have brought the fabulous Bonnie Whitmore to the show!). Okay, I will add a few words about these guys, who next return to the Hill Country on November 3 for a show at Poodie's (nuff said!).

For those who have not heard them, they look like a classic Southern Rock band, but as Colin Brooks and I ascertained, they SOUND like Southern Alt-Rock! Good songs, good vibes - but not the guys to politely invite to a party unless you really want them to hang out until the sun comes up). This band is playing all over Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma and is planning a dual CD-DVD release in the not too distant future -- because they want you to FEEL their presence in your music listening room.
A Socia-ble Evening at Shoal Creek!

Robert Socia with his new Santa Cruz guitar; my own photographer, Winker (see my profile on myspace), on the OTHER end of the camera.

In his first appearance at the Shoal Creek Saloon since his engagement party (which we hear was a karaoke blowout of major proportions!), Robert Socia packed the house and then proceeded to blow the crowd away, especially in his second set. Socia, who was recently blessed with a Santa Cruz acoustic guitar to replace the Gibson that was stolen about a month ago by a dark spirit hanging around Jovita's, had Andy Tindall sitting in on fiddle along with stalwarts Eric Smith on bass and Jimmy Anderson on drums.

This was my first visit to Shoal Creek's great listening room, and I credit Sommer Novak for getting me there. The sound was good, there was beer and good food available, and the stage was comfortable for the musicians -- and people (including my buds Winker, Tiger, and Eric) were all having a good time. Early on Robert sang a song he had written for his lady (kinda reminding me of Slowtrain's song in which Adoniram Lipton says, "it might not be that bad" spending the rest of my life with you) - plus Ten Long Miles, The Great Divide, and Something Ain't Right off his debut CD and the Bobby Earl Smith (father of Eric) tune, Dry Creek Inn, written during his days with Freda and the Firedogs.

The band really got hot in the second set, and after reminding us all that he is a Texan and then playing some T-Bone style blues, Robert and Andy teamed up with an awe-inspiring instrumentally strong "In Your Dreams." Later in the set it was "Up on Cripple Creek," covering The Band, and then Robert quieted the whole room with a haunting version of the Townes Van Zandt classic, "Waiting Around To Die." Sixty-plus people and not a single sound from anywhere except the stage....

The band played a couple more, and then Robert let Andy loose on the fiddle and the evening was over. Robert will be back at Shoal Creek on October 26; at Jovita's the next night; and at Momo's the night after that. OR you can catch his electric guitar slinging side at the Poodle Dog this Sunday as he backs Sunny Sweeney.

Earlier in the evening I stopped by Flipnotics to catch a few numbers from About:Blank, in which my pal Kyle Clayton plays the acoustic bass. DJ Stillness had his turntables set up on stage, adding to the sounds. The band lineup most days is Dave Adams on drums, Danny Anderson on electric guitar, Clayton on double bass, Kevin Gibbs on saxophone, and Paul Luedke on trumpet. These guys play original music that sometimes combines funk and even hiphop (Idol-C sometimes lends his skills to the band) with traditional jazz.

The About:Blank horn section!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

HAAMing It Up! (Thanks, Wendy!)

Austin musicians lined up all over town on Tuesday to raise money for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians - and they got help from lots of local businesses in the process. We lift our cups to all who participated or donated, but reserve special praise for recent birthday girl (and, no, she did not jump out of her own birthday cake!) Wendy Colonna, who was the featured interviewee on the front page of the Daily Texan (where she acknowledged her own use of HAAM's services), our gal showed up at SIX AM (along with Brennen Leigh and others, I am told) looking good for live local television on the rooftop at the Whole Foods world headquarters.
Harmoni Kelley with Beth Garner -- drool, dudes!

This writer did NOT make it to Whole Foods for those ceremonies, but we DID get over to 26 Doors (a cool little shopping center next to Waterloo on 38th Street that features the revamped Santa Rita restaurant, which used to be Tres Amigos before being significantly upgraded by the new owners). Caught the last bit of Sara Shansky's set (she's out with The Late Fees tonight at The Chain Drive on Sixth Street) and the full sets of Rick Hornyak and la belle Beth Garner. Hornyak is a transplant from far western Pennsylvania, and until last year was a member of the Austin-based Dealers. His next Austin gig is October 13 at Baby A's on Barton Springs. The "lovely and talented" [or low-down and terrifying?] Miss Garner closed her set with a cover of Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Snake Farm." Her next Austin gig is on October 13 at Maggie May's - and the day after she opens for the Derailers at Gruene Hall! [I will not mention that Harmoni Kelley blessed Beth at the gig or that she is playing with the Small Stars in at Rudyard's in Houston on October 28th.]

After the good times were over at 26 Doors, the next stop was the Evangeline Cafe - where Brennen Leigh (who had after all been up for the SIX AM Whole Foods kickoff) had turned her Tuesday gig into a Gram Parsons Hoot for HAAM. Special guests included Ted Roddy (who was nearly upstaged by his handsome offspring), Jane Bond, Chad Tracy, Leo Rondeau, Brian Jefferson, Chico Oropeza (husband of Polly the waitress and a heckuva mandolin player), and the sublime Tommy Spurlock on pedal steel.

Miss Jane Bond; Ted Roddy with Superman!

The show went so well that Brennen is now thinking about a MAJOR GRAM PARSONS HOOT -- and what better time than November 5, which would be Gram's 60th birthday!!!!! [Note to self -- since you are a MAJOR GP fan, make sure Brennen contacts Neal Flanz and Earl Poole Ball, both of whom played with Gram over 35 years ago!] While all the songs were good, the highlight of the evening had to be Roddy's versions of the Flying Burrito Brothers' versions of the classics "Do Right Woman" and "Dark End of the Street," from The Gilded Palace of Sin.

Brennen Leigh and Leo Rondeau making
beautiful music together (on Grievous Angel).

HOT FLASH!!! The Band of Heathens will have their brand-new CD available at tonight's gig at Momo's -- and they open for Leon Russell at Gruene Hall this Saturday!

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Brave Night at the Continental!

Groundwork founder Neal Kassanoff shows why he's the man to teach children to sing and dance; future Continental Club regulars swinging to Brave Combo on the legendary dance floor.

On normal days, the Continental Club has a strict age 21 and up policy that applies to just about everyone except young music prodigies such as Warren Hood before he turned legal. Not so last Sunday, when Grammy-winning polka partiers Brave Combo made music for a raucous crowd that included many of the children whose lives have been touched by The Groundwork Music Project - which for the past few years has been providing free music education to Austin pre-schoolers.

The monthly fundraisers are sponsored by the Whip In (South Austin's finest libation source); the November fundraiser will feature Groundwork founder Neal Kassanoff and the lovely Carolyn Wonderland (just before she leaves for Amsterdam and the Wonderjam!). Kassanoff says he got the idea for Groundwork after being paid to write a few children's songs and from a couple of well-established children's music programs. The key to Groundwork, he said, is that he brings his own songs to the schools - and hopes that other musicians will follow suit elsewhere in Austin and in other cities where the doors are open for children's music education.

Kassanoff, who holds a Master's Degree in School Psychology and got his training in children's music from Princeton, New Jersey's Music Together program, says, "We are hardwired to be musical. Developing musical skills is no less fundamental than learning to move and speak and analyze the world around us." For the record, Neal also writes some pretty fair country adult music (see our review of his brand-new CD).

A Sunny Evening at the Poodle Dog!

Later on Sunday, we stopped by to catch a solo set at the Hole in the Wall by old pal Leo Rondeau and then joined Leo and the lanky Brennen Leigh as special guests of songbird Sunny Sweeney at the Poodle Dog Lounge on Burnet Road. Sunny is from Longview and has what has been described as a thick East Texas accent and a twang to go with it. She's also a self-described smartass who posts a sign announcing a forty-dollar fee for any Patsy Cline song (even though she probably would turn down twice that amount rather than sing "I Fall to Pieces"). Sunny wrote some - but far from all - of the songs on her debut CD, "Heartbreaker's Hall of Fame," and even got the venerable Jim Lauderdale to record a duet with her for the record.

Brennen had warned me that Sunny has a hot band - and indeed it was so, beginning with Mark Patterson on drums (whose credentials go all the way up to Billy Joe Shaver - the top of the mark in Texas country). Chris Brady is on bass, and Joey Borja (whom I last saw playing with Leo) was on pedal steel. Handling the lead guitar was the gunslinger Robert Socia (whose own band opens for the South Austin Jug Band in Denton this weekend), and on keyboard was Bruce James (whose trio will be at Flipnotics this Saturday). Sunny persuaded Brennen to sing a couple of songs (wearing her cowboy hat, of course) while she took a break, and then hornswaggled Clay Harrell to leave his comfortable seat in the back of the room for another couple of songs.

Sunny is playing again at the Poodle Dog on October 15 and October 29; in early January she has a week booked in Key West at the Hogs Breath Saloon (no, she's NOT there for the World Famous Home Made Bikini Contest). Just remember - ask her to sing any Patsy Cline and she will turn into the Sunny that Shawn Colvin wrote about -- you know, the one who came home "with a vengeance."

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