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

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Rockin' at Nuno's with MP2!
Wednesday nights -- 10 pm. Nuno's on Sixth! Be there!

Spread the word -- and keep this good thing going. Lots of jams in Austin, to be sure, but THIS ONE features the vocal power of Storyville's Malford Milligan (with such special guests as Kelly Doze and Natalie Zoe), Austin newcomer Phil Brown (The Jimi Project) on guitar (with lots of buddies showing up to sit in), Austin's answer to George Hamilton on bass -- that's the laid back Californian Mark Andes, formerly of Spirit, Jojo Gunne, Heart, and others and Jon Dee Graham and the Bump Band among his Austin gigs, and the incredible Pat Mastelotto on drums (Mr. Mister, King Crimson, the Rembrandts, XTC, etc.).

Meagan Tubb and her argyles; Gina Chavez and her Martin.

Now, folks, that is quite a band -- and a HUGE LOTTA albums and CD's sold among them. And the crowds that this group has been drawing have put smiles on the faces of owners Nuno and Angela Vasconcellos, who are having just as good a time as their customers on these evenings. Best of all -- NO COVER!!!!!

As if the quartet -- already billing itself as MP2 (Malford, Mark, Phil and Pat) -- is not more than enough to keep people dancing (to lots of Hendrix, lots of Storyville and other Milligan songs, and much more), the guest performer list makes these evenings even more unmissable. For starters, we had the lovely brunette Natalie Zoe and the equally lovely blonde Kelly Doze do a couple of numbers (and sing backup too!), and Tim Dyer and Jon Garr of Malford's own band each showed their guitar riffs and vocal licks on more than one number. Phil's special guests included Ray McCarty and Bob Feldman, whose duet with Phil on "Live Today" was beyond good. And yet that performance may have been topped when this group was joined on stage by the incomparable Ephraim Owens for amazing renditions of "Purple Haze" and Phil's own "La La Land." Paul "Bhudda" Mills also sat in on drums, and I forget who else was on stage (hazy!) -- but folks -- this was F U N!!!!!

One evening earlier I had the pleasure of watching the Momo's debut of Austin-born and bred Latina diva Gina Chavez, who packed the house with friends and extended family for her acoustic set with her on guitar and buddy Roel Martinez on mandolin. The barefoot contessa opened with an a capella verse of "Summertime" that led into a song about St. Anthony ["won't you help me find a place called home"]. Other songs from her forthcoming CD -- "Hanging Spoons -- included "Brother Sun," "Matter," and her finale, "Saving Grace." Momo's will be hosting her CD release sometime soon.

Gina sings from her heart and from her faith, and she can keep the crowd attentive with her wit and her smile -- and off-the-cuff songs like "Baby's got a short stack, bagel in the oven ...." Her OTHER group is "Before the Throne," a worship band that writes its own music. It is quite a step up from Tazza Fresca to Momo's, but Gina (who was filling in for Suzanna Choffel, who had a gig at Antone's this evening) has the energy, the wit, and the chops to build an audience of people who are NOT her longtime pals (if she needs to -- her entourage itself is daunting!).

Also on the bill for the evening was my pal Meagan Tubb, who was sporting some fabulous Argyle socks and a matching (??) outfit. Lovely as her long legs are, though, what makes Meagan unforgettable on stage is her booming voice and her serious guitar chops (which she shares with Jason Nunnencamp). Drummer Johnny Duran and bassist Ric Ricker provide the pulsating rhythm for this high-energy band (and yes Meagan IS often compared with Susan Tedeschi -- but she's her own woman), which is getting ready to take advantage of that free time in Pedernales Studio courtesy of winning Poodie's Battle of the Bands last summer.
Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

Monday, April 23, 2007

October Sky Explodes over Austin:
Homer Hiccolm and the Rocketboys!

Brandon Kinder (hat) and Justin Wiseman of Home Hiccolm and the Rocketboys; Tommy Blank and Taylor Muse (on keyboard) of Quiet Company.

Fans of Explosions in the Sky, take heart! While everyone's favorite Austin-based, incredibly passionate instrumental quartet is on the West Coast prepping for a European tour, ANOTHER Texas band -- which hardly anyone in AUSTIN has ever heard of (blithering idiots, we are!) -- is pounding out the passion, with lyrics added, from its base out in Abilene. [There's something in that West Texas sky, to be sure.] Now, I talked with two guys who had come up from San Antonio to see the band -- which has a big following from New Mexico to Oklahoma and beyond.
Homer Hickam, Jr., is the ORIGINAL "Rocket Boy," and you may have read his books or watched the movie "October Sky" (which is an anagram of rocket boys, by the way). Memphis native Brandon Kinder, who trekked out to Abilene for college, has a signed copy of Hickam's Rocket Boys, from which the movie was made, and he and his pals opted to name their band in honor of the NASA scientist who started out in life as a country boy from Pennsylvania (altering Hickam's name for legal reasons).
The name fits this band -- a sextet of young men from small-town America seeking to catapault their music into the stratosphere and succeeding (146,000 listens to songs on their myspace site to date). So when I got their myspace bulletin that they were playing Sunday night at Room 710, I changed my plans for the evening and made sure to be in the house. [An extra bonus was my first listen to Taylor Muse's new project, Quiet Company, of which more will be told later.]
The Rocketboys are in the midst of recording a new EP, but you can catch some of their earlier efforts on DVD "Colder Nights of Texas," recorded in Levelland (McMurtry never mentions the great music school out there in his deprecatory song!) at South Plains College. My first words upon hearing them live were -- POUNDING, PULSATING, RICH FULL SOUND and absolutely beautiful! Kinder plays piano and a Les Paul, fellow Memphian Mitchell Holt also plays a Les Paul, Daniel Wheeler is on an old Telecaster, Josh Campbell is on bass, Justin Wiseman plays a second keyboard (and several guys share turns on an electrified xylophone), and WOW Philip Ellis pushes the envelope on drums and percussion.
When I got to Room 710, I found Wheeler typing furiously on a paper for one of his graduate school classes. The band had to drive back to Abilene after the gig to get Wiseman to his 6:45 am bell for his student teaching job. And, yeah, there were maybe 15 to 20 people at the show who were not in some other band (I could not stick around to hear Consider the Source). Not even my reputation was good enough to get even my best friends out on a Sunday evening!
Okay -- so Quiet Company alone was worth the price of admission (had there been one). YES -- This was a FREE show!!!!! Muse, who may one day be known as the "fifth Eisley," having left the band before they made the bigtime, plays both piano and guitar -- as does Tommy Blank; the drummer is the very active Tim Robbins (not the actor). THIS band is about to go on tour, but you can catch them at Emo's in the lounge on May 3rd and again at Stubb's on May 20th.
Muse is an animated performer, especially on guitar, but I really love his keyboard work. The tunes are what I would call passion pop (often interrupted by crescendoes of noise). Muse built this new band after laying down the tracks for "Shine Honesty" playing everything but drums (a job handled by Stellamaris' Alex Bhore) -- and I would swear there are some recorded loops that augment the three-piece lineup (sans bassist!).
Now as this was a first listen, I had a hard time figuring out song titles -- for example, I would have thought "The Sun Is Gonna Rise Up" was called "borrowed time," and surely the final number (which was awesome) was "hold onto me" -- but no -- it is "Then Came a Sudden Validation." Another song on the CD is "Love Is a Shotgun" (just think of what it means), and another asks,"How Many Times Did You Want To Be in Love?" And how would anyone figure out "Fashionabel," which is very Beatlesque pop. The only possible complaint would be that we only got seven songs -- and wanted more. And why not -- listening to this band makes you feel like you just got out of the shower (or out of the water at the beach!). [Special thanks to Leah, Taylor's REAL muse!]
AND YET -- it just got better with the Rocketboys! I quickly got caught up in the never-slowing-down pace of the twin guitars and twin keyboards and lyrics like "don't take the stars away," and "waiting for the clouds to disappear." Once again, I would have killed for a song list with actual titles to report to you -- songs that might be titled, "You Are," "It's You," "Stay," or the brand-new "For Johnny." But the diligent will soon learn the song titles -- what is important here is the music -- and the Orbison-like quality of this Kinder voice -- creamy rich in tone that just mesmerizes when he reaches the higher notes.
One I do know is "Heartbeat," which opens with quiet keyboards that break into music that sounds like a west Texas sunrise ... and the drums kick in and then the words -- "Here we go I guess I'm leaving soon" -- and then "I would sell you out in a heartbeat, cause you can defend yourself ..." As the tune wanders through time, we get to a chorus of "I'll do what I want," which to me echoes that famous Bangles song, "If She Knew What She Wants." But when you think about it a moment, who was it who sold out his best friend in a heartbeat, thinking he could defend himself?
As it happens, Kinder is a pal of my photographer friend Esther Havens -- whose photos will be featured at a May 12th opening at the Local Color Gallery (1700 S. Lamar) as part of a project to raise funds for an orphanage in an area in Nicaragua hit years ago by a major hurricane and in which children live in the city dump and forage for food there. Yes, this is the same Esther Havens who was caught (by her own camera?) dancing at Stubbs' with Kirsten Dunst during SXSW ... wonder where Spiderman was that evening?
Finally, a toast to my pal Stephanie Duphily of New Song -- she of the raised hands and silly smile (and why not -- that's LZ Love singing at the benefit at NXNW for the nonprofit, which helps set women free from the sex industry. Stephanie's own story is quite amazing -- just for starters, she was shot in the face while unknowingly pregnant with her second child -- now a beautiful 12-year-old -- and the bullet is still lodged in her spine and cannot be removed. And her third child was born AFTER she had fought off cervical cancer and told she could not have any more children. Stephanie (who ought to know) says that many of these women were sexually abused as children (as she was) and have less than a high school education (as she did) and no real skills -- and many (again, like Stephanie) have one or more children to feed.

Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Patsy's Cowgirl Cafe and Shelley King:
How South Austin Can It Get?

Shelley King and Kyle Judd rip it up at Patsy's -- on East Ben White -- great food, too! One of the many photos at auction by artbulbaustin at Dominican Joe's on Saturday; drummer Gavin Inverso, Adam Buhrman (showing his muscles), and Craig Haskell of Goldcure (catch them at Momo's next weekend).

It has been a dream come true -- but to keep this dream alive, Austinites need to FLOCK to Patsy'c Cowgirl Cafe -- on East Ben White west of Montopolis -- for some of their fabulous home-cooked American food (I had the meat loaf, but the burgers -- including the Portabello -- looked scrumptious, and their desserts are unique and to die for) and wonderful music from the excellent stage (and good sound -- thanks, Brad!). With the Shelley King Band (she who will be the State Musician of Texas in 2008!) on a Friday night, this place should have had a line out the door (and onto the porch, where some folks were dining). Just ONE reason is the superb kiddie playground to keep the little ones from getting restless while they wait to chow down. But the ART and the ambience also make Patsy's a new showcase for anyone who likes to eat well, dance to good Texas music, and just have a lot of fun with friends. The place has just been open since March (just in time for SXSW) and already there have been some interesting changes. Let's just say that if you liked Alice's Restaurant (despite the heat and the long drive), you should ABSOLUTELY ADORE Patsy's. And, for the record, I heard that the whitefish special was finger licking good!
For those curious about Goldcure (see my review a couple posts back), I thought I would post photos of the boys in the band -- from a gig late Friday at One 2 One (5th and Brazos), a venue which promises a newer and bigger stage before the end of the month and has live music on weekends (poker during the week!?*&%!). Drummer Gavin Inverso is originally from Philadelphia (dying for a Yingling's and a real cheese steak!) but met Adam and Craig down in Fort Lauderdale and convinced them that Austin would be a good place to relocate partly (perhaps) because his own brother lives here now.
Finally, a plug for a new group of artists who care -- check them out at www.myspace.com/artbulbaustin
This is what they say about themselves:
Artbulb Austin is not a band. It’s a community. And not just of musicians. We are a group of people, grounded in the artfully endowed city of Austin Texas that merges talent from every angle of the arts to pursue our passions together. Putting this into practice, Artbulb Austin hosts monthly events and shows here in the live music capital of the world to bring a diverse group of artists together, present and celebrate the art we create, and encourage each other to go for it!
A typical show will incorporate everything from performances by singer-songwriters, poets and dancers, to exhibitions of photography, paintings and film. We believe there is a great energy and dynamism that comes through the interplay of the arts. There’s something really exciting and uniquely motivating about sharing your art across disciplines and traversing perspectives a bit. Artbulb Austin also exists to serve as a resource and launching platform for artists in our community to find and engage the many outlets and opportunities for involvement in the arts that are already out there.
Our vision is to inspire each other - through consistent artistic community - to continue making our art, exploring where it can come from and where it can go, and really live out the passions seeded within us. We invite anyone who values the arts to get involved. Whether that means just coming to a show, or presenting art yourself, Artbulb Austin invites you to pursue your artistic passions with us!

Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A (Youngmond) Grand Evening!

Will Rhodes and John Pfirman of Youngmond Grand; Brian Dyer and Zach Firnhaber from Crawling with Kings; Jet Mullen (with Zach) of Emily Sparks; Clint Myers of Youngmond Grand -- all at Beerland. John and Robby from Moonlight Towers and Courtney, Will and Lily from Brothers and Sisters -- all at the Continental Club.
Thursdays are often very busy times in Austin, and this one was no exception. Slowtrain was playing early at Beerland on a bill that opened with Emily Sparks (which is NOT the lead singer's name but a character from Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology -- and what a treat to hear Bridget Jet Mullen's songs for the first time. Jet has garnered Doug Walseth and Zach Firnhaber (bass) from Crawling with Kings as band members, along with Bryant Worley and Travis Garaffa (drums). This is (her producer says) "quiet music for those who like it loud."

Okay - so I ducked out of the Slowtrain set to run to the Continental to catch Brothers and Sisters (before a PACKED house!) -- my very first time to hear this band whose music sounds like MY younger daze. The Courtney kids -- Will and Lily -- and Courtney Chavanell lead the singing, and there are lots of other band members on stage (reminiscent of Greezy Wheels, but not so decadent!). That Will Courtney writes some songs -- "Old Love Letters" (does anyone really write these any more -- though I remember writing passionate and very long letters the first time I was away from my future bride for a few days), "Sunday Morning Seven Days a Week," and on and on -- but did anyone ever say the sound is reminiscent of America and that wonderful "Sister Golden Hair" (which of course brings us back to Lily). I have to hear more of this band -- my kind of music, flowers in the hair, beads, and that peaceful easy feeling [the real one].

I was going to stick around for more of Moonlight Towers, but after a blown guitar amp stopped the band in its tracks after their very first song, I opted to head back to Beerland and caught a couple of songs from Crawling with Kings (in between conversational moments with Slowtrain birthday boy Andy Keating and his entourage) before settling down for a rare opportunity to catch Youngmond Grand (who go on the road again next week). I mean, they started right out with "I Like to Break Guitars," moved right into "Don't Hit So Hard," "Better Machine," "Not What You Said," and (sadly) only two or three more. Okay, the lyrics here are bleak and blunt -- but the music reminds me of the Cure (or New Order) on speed (walking over to Beerland there I noted that Elvis on Speed was playing next door).

I met songwriter-vocalist-guitarist Clint Myers over a year ago at the club currently known as "The Mohawk," but only got to see YG months later at Trophy's (not the best venue for what they do). Bandmates include the versatile Will Rhodes and John Pfirman on multiple instruments, Jonathan Humphrey on drums and stuff, and bassplayinben on (well) bass and electronics. These guys sometimes play three guitars, sometimes a couple of keyboards, and once in a while throw in some mumbling and some sound effects -- but the whole sound helps paint the word pictures of a world inhabited by imperfect people with real emotions. Give them a listen soon.

Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Young Rockers Picking Up Sticks:
Graves, Mordecai, and Copeland!

Black Cat's Scott Graves (long curls), Chris Copeland of Blues Mafia, and Robin Mordecai (glasses) of Maiden Austin are all dead serious and darn good musicians -- and all are still in high school. The three bands rocked the house at Jovita's on Sunday afternoon -- all three have excellent guitarists and bassists, but these drummers are a cut above and oh by the way, Mordecai doubles as one of his band's lead singers.

Four solid hours of classic rock and roll, screaming lead guitars, intricate arrangements (no three chords and a lot of noise here!), and, yes, the amazing vocal power of 19-year-old Sasha Ortiz of Blues Mafia -- plus Jovita's migas, some cold Coronas, and hanging out with the Hudsons and Willie Pipkin, too! And MORE of this amazing Austin teen music is yet to come.
Austin owes a lot to having great summer music camps and outstanding music teachers for these young professionals (yes, they play for money but mainly for the love of the work!). On April 28th, Blues Mafia and nine other teenaged bands will perform at Threadgill's in the Austin version of TEXAS 10 UNDER 20 (there is a separate event in Dallas on April 22nd) ... and even though the Daze and a lot of other groups that should force lots of older guy bands to practice harder and be much more focused will not be on this year's bill, there is plenty of talent to make it worthwhile to eat seconds and thirds on your veggies and stick around for the whole show.
Sunday's show began with a 15-song set by Black Cat, which features Matthew Lyons on guitar, Luis Rangel on bass (but he too is a classical guitarist), and Scott Graves (the old man of the band) on drums. All are freshmen at Anderson High (as I noted after hearing them in February) -- and these guys just keep getting better! Original songs included "(She wants to be a) Movie Star," "Rock-a-Holic," "Rock & Roll Summer," "Scorching Heart," and of course, "Black Cat" -- but also Matthew's acoustic "Rainy Day Song" (a classical piece) and a couple of instrumentals that may one day have vocals too. They also did two Hendrix covers and three Beatles songs -- including "Blackbird" done by Luis on his Ibanez classical guitar and the show ender, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Fact is, these guys can play lots of musical styles already and they are just getting started. Up soon -- maybe a new lead singer (they have actively been looking for the right guy -- or gal).
Maiden Austin was missing guitarist Joseph Villanacci, so they asked Max Frost of Blues Mafia to sit in on two covers -- "Little Wing" and a long but wonderful "Sultans of Swing" (they could have kept playing another five minutes and I would not have minded). Guitarist Alex Campbell is another kid whose fingers just light up the fretboard, and bassist Alec Woodruff (the tall guy in the band) also sings lead on many of the tunes. I know Robin Mordecai through his mom Laura and dad Mike -- both of whom are well known in the Austin music scene -- but had not heard him play or sing before, and I left looking forward to my next visit to a Maiden Austin set (which MIGHT be April 29 at the Red Seven, where The Daze will also perform). These guys covered Eric Johnson, Three Doors Down, and Billy Idol (Rebel Yell!) but tossed in a few of their originals and might have done more had they had the whole band on hand. I liked "Requiem for a Dream" and "The Shoreline."
Drummer Chris Copeland was smiling for much of his band's set, and no wonder. Blues Mafia, with Patrick Mertens and Max Frost on guitars and Kai Roach on bass, have already won big-time recognition as an up and coming Austin band -- and it was their commitment and skill and camaraderie that led Sasha Ortiz (who I am sure is the only high school graduate who was on stage all afternoon) to start working with them about a year ago. Now I have been writing about these guys for quite a while (and I must acknowledge that Sasha has been a family friend for half a dozen years now), and so when they opened up with Summertime Blues and Four Sticks and then Patrick's new tune, "O Baby Baby," I was cruising along with the rest of the crowd, having a good time.
And then Sasha just exploded across the stage.
From her take on "Mojo Working" to the Blues Mafia original, "Phunk It Up," and another original (tentatively titled "Too Long," which ends with a lengthy "happy jam"), Sasha and her bandmates upped the ante. THEN she sat down while the band covered "Killing Floor" and "Outside Woman Blues" (with Patrick on vocals) but snuck back on stage for "Communication Breakdown" and the major explosion of the afternoon -- the band's own "Higher" followed by "Alone" -- where Sasha went from Janis to Robert Plant without blinking an eye. J.W. of Rubber Monster (which also features Blues Mafia's Kai Roach and Chris Copeland plus Yayo on guitar) took Max's guitar over for "Red House," and he and Sasha took turns upstaging each other gracefully. The band closed out with two more originals -- "Devil's Jam" and "Da Man" -- and the sizable audience slumped in their seats in total exhaustion.
You can catch Blues Mafia with Euphoria on Friday at the Rockin' Tomato or on April 28 (with Rubber Monster and eight other bands) on April 28th at Threadgill's.

Sasha Ortiz; Luis Rangel and his Ibanez.
Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Matt Slusher: McAllen Man!

I have been a Matt Slusher fan ever since the early daze of the South Austin Jug Band -- and have known all along that he is first and foremost a guitarist (Harris and Ryden, Rodney Hayden) who picked up the mandolin because Warren Hood could not play three instruments at a time in the same band -- and did amazing things with an instrument which at the time was fairly new to him. More recently, Mattie Groves (oops! but he has that folkish impishness about him, and I am a big fan of old English ballads) Slusher has been picking and grinning with Tommy Byrd and Kathy Street and the wonderful Robyn Ludwick (went to Europe with her band -- and I believe they may have opened for Robyn's brother Charlie).

In his thirty-fifth year, McAllen Matt has released his first solo CD -- and when I say "solo," this time I mean he plays EVERY instrument (some of which he borrowed) on all 12 songs. He also produced, engineered, mastered, took photos (including of his own paintings), and swept the floor of his living room studio -- and also gave us a jewel case with all the lyrics to all the songs.

The CD opens with the title cut, "Somewhere Between Nowhere and Gone," in which Nowhere is somewhere in California -- a song that makes you want to open a tallboy and tell tall tales, and "listen to Kris Kristofferson sing a Beatles song," or "to Cash sing Petty." I gotta tell you -- this music grows on you -- and why not? Slusher wrote "Ramen Noodle Rag" and many others of my favorite Jug Band songs (or bits of songs).

Now, I will say that while I admire Matt's effort to do the whole thing himself, I hardly think he can pull off the one-man band on stage and trust that some of his many many friends will join him at what I hope will be several gigs to showcase the new CD. Indeed, Matt is "on my way" -- NOT "listening to Willie Nelson sing a Ray Charles song" ... but singing his own. Some of them on this CD may well be about someone he once fiddled around with ... but then real life is often the spark that sets afire the creative muse.

"I Know" is one of those hopeful songs that sometimes creeps through, but then there's "The Sun Didn't Come Out Today" -- "Maybe I belong here all by myself tonight, To walk these lonely sidewalks by the city lights, The cold damp darkness suits my mood, and it's a little sad, but hey ... the sun didn't come out today." And yet the banjo lead here treats these lyrics with a bluegrass bounce, morphing into mandolin and electric guitar riffs that make you want to do-si-do and swing your partner (if you had one)..... a Charlie Robison feel..... with a hint of piano.

"She's Going Out to Carolina" may be Matt's best vocal -- and, yes, it too lets us know that, "she wasn't really mine to keep...." Gotta like Matt's engineering feats here for keeping the flow going while wearing about a dozen ten-gallon hats. One of my favorites on the CD is "Small," an upbeat call to recognize that, "It's a big ol' world, and I just gotta try."

The high point of the CD, though, has to be "The Cost," which has the feel of a cool morning in deep rural Virginia and the irony of a man whose eyes have been opened but who still feels "the urge to wander" and yet "can't help but wonder if this freedom is worth the cost." I can just hear John Starling and the Seldom Scene in the deep background (and BTW, John has a great new record that once again makes my skin crawl). Good electric guitar solo here, too.

"Shine on Moon" is a showcase for Matt's mandolin, an old-fashioned tune that hearkens back to the 19th Century. "Love and Love Again" brings out memories of Will Dupuy -- and finally our boy is all better .... even though "love ain't no simple game." "I'm Still Here" is pure singer-songwriter, quiet and honest ... and with that tinge of hope that comes from the recognition that, "someone believed in me." And finally there's "The Slush Breakdown," Matt's tribute to all of the great Texas fiddle players (including, whether he knows it or not, my grandfather who was a legend in his own time long before the turn of the 20th Century). And just as he did when the Jug Band reshuffled to form the "South Austin Hug Band," Matt is on the fiddle (and everything else) on this hot instrumental ditty.

Matt says of his own music that, "This one is meat, green pepper, egg and onion covered in a couple of slices of white, square wonder bread till it's one big meatball wrapped in greasy, gooey dough. Just like mom used to make." Kinda makes you hungry for a bite - right?

I have a friend who says the songs he writes are way too sad for anyone else but him to hear.

Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.
Goldcure Soothes the Soul!

So much music -- so little time. And I actually have a writing career outside music. Alas -- and flying to Orlando to speak before the amasses power structure and driving to Shreveport and back with Miss Daisy (well, my beautiful, fun-loving 96-year-old in May mother -- you gotta meet her!). So here is the nutshell --

Sis Deville -- Lisa Pankratz, Ann Marie Harrop,
Floramay Holliday, Shelley King, Carolyn Wonderland

First of all, Sis Deville ROCKS!!! And maybe it is the glow of her second pregnancy, but Floramay Holliday was RADIANT all evening last Monday! Word is we may get MORE Sis Deville shows, even though bassist Ann Marie Harrop has moved to Fort Worth to be closer to her Brave Combo bandmates (she's singing in Polish on their upcoming CD, and she sang in Polish at Momo's with her sistahs!). Sorry, guys, no CD or vinyl yet available, so you have to catch their all too rare shows in person -- also featuring Lisa Pankratz on drums and vocals, Carolyn Wonderful-land on guitars and vocals, and Official Texas Musician of the year 2008
Shelley King on guitar and vocals.
My only other show of late was last Thursday at Momo's, where I FINALLY got to hear Dertybird -- and the band's awesome (from Muscle Shoals, Alabama) lead singer and songwriter, Clayton Colvin -- along with J. T. Holt on guitars, Nick Summers on drums, Doodlbug (Lee Brock) on bass, and Justin Sherburn on keyboards. This is a band that ought to be playing four-hour gigs at major parties ..... for people who know how to have a good time. Slowtrain played late, with Zach Firnhaber sitting in on bass and a guest harpist named Aaron or something like that. But my treat for the evening was my introduction to Goldcure, a band of brothers (of a sort) who escaped the hurricane tracks of Fort Lauderdale last September and found new freedom to be creative in Austin, where they are playing the good venues (Stubb's on Thursday with Loss Rayne and Twilight Broadcast).

Goldcure, which used to be called Lilylock Timbers and was once a folk duo, is Adam Buhrman on guitars and vocals, Craig Haskell on guitars and vocals, Gavin Inverso on drums and currently on bass is Jessica Will. These guys feed on Jeff Tweedy and Ryan Adams (so they say) with a twinge of Coldplay (note the falsetto!) but have a depth of vision all their own and lyrics that remind me more of Mark Heard. They also have a brand-new seven-song CD, simply called Goldcure, produced by Dean Dydek (part of Buhrman's extended family).
"Stolen Water" opens with visions of an illicit love affair, with a title straight out of Proverbs 9, and a message that "for a time it satisfies, but 100 days in a demon's cave will teach you the harder parts of life." Lots of soft, smooth guitar work all through this music. " One longtime Austin music observer noted this band's need to expand its musical range -- no big surprise for vocal-oriented music makers, but something the band is already aware of and a major reason they are in Austin.
"Thoughts in Letters" has some nice changes -- and talks of responsibility one to another and the challenges that commitment presents. "Dirty" continues that mellow sound (Jon Sanchez would love this song!) about a person "living lost romances" even though his life is "not over yet." "Dirty lost soul, dirty and empty-handed, you know you just can't stand it .. you played the fool many times before ... you cannot find your section, you lost your seat when all you want is to sit and watch the show" [rather than live an active, risk-taking life]. Nice denouement!

"My Own Cure" is a simple song -- "What I see is what I know," and all about "a woman in my life, I thought one day I'd call her wife." Sounds like he got his wish. The "Sage" on the shore is about "the one who's lived every song there was to sing," whom the thief begs to "take me now" to where he is headed. But it is "Glory" that gets my attention -- "There must be this side of glory a place where I can rest my head, There's gotta be this side of glory a place to run ..." This sounds like an old gospel hymn set to modern rhythms ... and is as rich and satisfying as Amy's ice cream or New York cheesecake.
The CD closes with "Never Alone," which is pure testimonial to a God who has always been there for us. The piano here defines the music ... with the guitar as musical fill in this anthemic song of promise ... "Sing to me, sing to me like I never was alone here..... never along, never lost, never shaking in the dark .... " This is U2-ish stuff indeed! Very Seth and the Sad Accordians -- and a song that one can envision the audience singing along in unison as the music crescendoes to its passionate climax. Like that first meal after an unintended 40-day fast (or a 40-year journey through life's dark highways that finally ends at the Jordan River) .... but really like that long pause to give thanks for the rescue, the end of the nightmare ... you just breathe deeply and let all of the relief flow all the way through your pores into your soul.

Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

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