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

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Kissinger Fluoxetine Pointer --
and Jets Under Fire (+ Brent!)

Spring is finally here, and music is rolling off the presses. So many recordings, so little time. And yet -- the good news is that much of what Austin's finest are putting forward is well worth at least a few listens.

Jets Under Fire at Eggs for Education!

[Let's face it -- you can only listen to about 8 to 12 hours of music a day, 60 to 80 hours a week, at the max! At least half of that has to be live, so the time left for recorded music dwindles to just a few records a day. Yet Austin alone has enough quality musicians to keep a guy busy year round and never get close to hearing everything he might enjoy! And that's fanatics like me!]

But I digress. Well, I don't. My pal Brent Allen put out a very good country record a few months back, "There's a Lot of Folks Like Me" (well, not that many with HIS voice!). He's got Dale Watson partnering with him on "Hair of the Dog," he's got a Freddy Powers song written just for this recording - "On the Road to My Heart"; he's got a Phillip Gibbs song, "The Whiskey Won't Help" (and Phil oughta know??); plus "Best Friend I Never Had" by Rick Cates and Brent's great producer Stephen Doster (that name alone suggests this music is worth listening to). Among the "slouches" (sic) playing Brent's (and the other) songs are Casper Rawls, Redd Voelkart, and Doster on guitars; David Carroll on bass; Dave Sanger on drums; Jason Roberts on fiddle, mandolin, and mandola; the great Marty Muse (yes, he played with Gram and Emmy Lou) on pedal steel; John Michael Whitby on piano; and Doster, Watson, and the beautiful Elizabeth McQueen on harmony vocals.

Now Brent has paid his dues with the Austin Songwriters' Group -- helped a lot of fellow musicians get venues and a fair hearing. Plus he's a great guy! Stephen Doster worked with Brent intimately throughout this year-long recording project -- and the love shines through. This is pure country -- not alt country or nuevo country -- which fully explains why Brent is a favorite out at Hill's Cafe (where he will be again this Thursday). I really like "Day Job," which reminds me of a conversation I had just last night with Jeremy Harrell -- about it interfering with his night job. There's the Ray Benson-esque ""If I Could Just Get Back (into the swing of things again)," one of two (plus the title track) co-written by Doster. The bottom line -- if you like Asleep at the Wheel, you just might like Brent's music, too. Of course I am going to be unfair and say my favorite song on the record is the Freddy Powers tune -- but Brent's own "Hopelessly in Love" (autobiographical sketch??) is pretty darn good too! But this is a record that belongs with a dance floor -- at places like the Broken Spoke and Midnight Rodeo.

Then there's "Schizophonic," from the Renaissance Man John Pointer. I've had this one for a while, too -- and if all you ever hear is "The Holy Trinity of Rhythm" (here in Parts 1 and 2), you will be glad you spent your time tracking this recording down. I am thinking what a great way to start kids off at school EVERY morning -- with about 15 minutes of Pointer beatboxing and all of them joining him in their own special ways -- with the promise that if they focus the rest of the day in school, they get to do it again before they go home. Grades would SOAR! But John is much more than beatbox (and his old Schrodinger's Cat daze) -- yes, he's a cellist, but he is also a budding lead guitarist (secrets to be unveiled soon maybe), a vocalist and actor who BECAME the Judas of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Zach Scott, and a man in demand on both coasts for BIG projects (most of which he opted out of for now). Did I forget entrepreneur and music marketer -- and great pal to have (and yes he does like to talk with not at people). Take "One by One," which is cut 2 here -- shows what a good singer and songwriter John is (with Johnny Goudie here). Players here include Pat Mastelotto, Stefano Intelisano, Will Landin, Mike Rosch, and Greg Seale -- with extra help from John Stinson on "Silver." There are messages in some of these songs that reflect John's own journey -- so travel along the way with him for a while, huh?

Then there's Kissinger -- Chopper and his bandmates go "Underwater" courtesy of the Austin Music Foundation and its Incubator Program. I caught up with the band upstairs at Emo's at a media screening ... and just as I had pronounced the new recording as "garage pop," I found numerous copies of "Garage" magazine at the venue. Hmmmmm. It is lots of fun to attend a Kissinger show -- not as clean-cut musically as, for example, Sheboygan but nowhere near as "dirty" as vintage Seattle grunge. And yet -- listen to the words: "Dig deep, rock and roll ain't cheap. It takes a lot of loaves of bread to feed this machine. I get so depressed tgrying to keep it real. I got so many bills to pay, so many bad ways to feel...."

Songs about women -- Henrietta, who's just "washed another worthless man away," putting on her headphones to drown out the emptiness, yet "soundly optimistic about her chances" in the next town; Catalina, to whom our muse has "held to every promise since I met you"; Catherine, the "dry cleaner's daughter in the bathroom drinking water" [at her own birthday party] "'cause the drugs she took were stronger than she thought"; Josephine, the siren for whom our hero is willing to be lashed to the mast and MAYBE the one with whom he swims "Underwater". Plus that "fishnet stalker" who's "the last one wading through the streetlight" when the party's over. But then our guy finds himself "fifteen thousand miles away from home" fighting in a war he hardly understands, the same guy who had observed that, "Wartime is a dangerous place for putting pennies in your pillows while the neighbors escape," even though he pledges to "sacrifice, dedicate my life to winning now." But winning in a war half a world away, or in the war inside his own mind -- fighting for sanity in a crazy world?

Or how about Fluoxetine? Wish they would play some gigs, because ANY excuse to hear Landis Armstrong and his amazing Stratocaster is a good excuse. And that's just ONE reason to love this band, which is built around the songs and vocals of Ryan Morris and has Dr. Ron Haas on drums and percussion and (on the record) Seth Gibbs on bass [but Amy Hawthorne in the photo on the jacket]. Music for the Prozac generation -- or at least to challenge couch potatoes to get up close and personal with real LIVE stuff -- with sweat and smells and raw energy instead of thumbnail blisters from video gameplaying. The theme of this recording is that "the media's preoccupation with fallen-angel teenyboppers assures that most people won;t know about the real issues of the day" -- so stay alert and present -- the life you save may be your own! Or, "will we always view those who seek meaning in life as egocentric lunatics?"

Did I mention Landis Armstrong on guitar? Yeah! Morris is a clever songwriter, yet one wonders if even he can provoke this medicated generation into real life. At least he's trying. "Two Weeks & Holidays" -- kinda the same message as from Joanna Barbera's song, "Beautiful Life." [Hurry back from California, Joanna!] Ryan has a running commentary on each of the songs on the CD (and a few more) on the band's website -- but bottom line, "Rainwater" (which chronicles conflicts), "Northwestern Squall Line" (great guitar solo), and "Best Western Religion" (yeah, the motel chain -- but it's all about other people's puppet strings on your life, reminding me of Aimee Bobruk's "Puppets at Play") -- are great listening (and pondering). But my favorite has to be "Reclaim Your Voices," which suggests it's time to quit letting politicians steal us blind while ignoring the weightier matters facing society. Be on alert for live shows!

Finally, I get to one of the coolest CD covers in a while -- the castles that identify the theme of Jets Under Fire's "Kingdoms." Yeah, these guys are confrontational but on another plane from that of Fluoxetine -- "Kingdoms rise, kingdoms fall," after all. Jason Poe came down from Springfield, Missouri, a couple of years ago with his band, "The Professional Americans" (Jets meanwhile had begun as a solo project that turned into much more after the PA's broke up). This is good music -- and by the way the band plays May 9th at Stubbs on a bill with Sounds Under Radio and Ars Supernova. [And, yes, I am not quite sure who is still in the band.]

Poe says of himself that the past two years have been the hardest in his young life -- and that these songs reflect the joys and struggles of life that led him to conclude that, "we're a broken people, and we feel it. There is no quick fix, just this hammering process called life." Song 1 is "Broken Parts," in which Poe asks, "If love is the key, tell me why don't we set the whole world free?" Song 2, "Where Do We Go from Here?," asks "where do we go when we're broken? Where do we go to feel awake?" "All the Sad Songs" reminds me of Seth Woods and the Sad Accordians -- "Why do we sit on these bad solutions? Why do we think we are wise?" After all it is the sad songs that remind us of the good times, and the good times make us sad through the hard times. "Just Like the Cold" is so singable, an anthemic song to sway arm in arm along to -- maybe this is why Jets sometimes gets misidentified as Brit pop! [but more like Craig Marshall].

"My body is tired, my mind is not the same, been broken (there's that word again!) for days." That's the opening lines of "The Writing on the Wall," a song about fading out and fear of failure. I could write more about the other songs, but just get to a show and see for yourself.

Meanwhile, I have to put in a word for Blastbeat and the upcoming Regional Blastbeat Finals, to be held on May 31st (afternoon) at Emo's Lounge. Blastbeat is an Irish import -- the idea is to work through schools, afterschool clubs, or whatever to teach high schoolers how to form their own music management company and put on concerts -- and to give back to the needy. Here in Austin this year four schools have had Blastbeat companies -- Akins High (winning band was The El Guapos), Austin CAN Academy (winning band was "Next"), LBJ High's LASA, the arts and sciences academy (winning band was The Diving Captain), and Anderson High (and THEIR battle of the bands will be on May 10th -- details to come). Meanwhile, another gaggle of teen bands will perform on May 3rd at The Mohawk on behalf of Uganda's "Invisible Children," and on May 5th yet another group of bands will be blaring away at Stubbs (Cinco de Mayo in the afternoon) as part of St. Andrew's High's spring fling (everyone welcome, I think).

Lots more great music on the horizon -- but enough for now.

Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ugointa Uganda, Anyone? Sydney Is!
Artist, photographer, graphic designer -- and now teacher? Sydney Berry gathered friends to purchase "Eggs for Education" in support of the work she will be assisting in Kampala, Uganda, starting in May. Gina Chavez and the band Jets Under Fire (really nice sound) showed up to eat, play music, and be merry -- and ogle Sydney's wonderful art. The Jets have a brand-new CD, "Kingdoms," of which I will say more soon.
These past two weeks have flown by, yet they were marked by two great celebrations -- the first anniversary of the grand opening of Ming's, MY favorite Chinese food since owner Fai Jow [pictured here with Momo's co-owner Paul Oveisi] opened his FIRST Ming's in the Montrose area in Houston a decade ago. Then the annual reunion of Sis Deville -- Austin's premiere all-woman, all sassy rock and roll band.
One-time Houstonian Eldridge Goins has also long been a fan of Jow's cooking (and his ebullient personality), and shortly after the new place (the old Little City coffeehouse on Guadalupe) opened, he began gathering together Laura Scarborough and Brad Houser (most of the time) and a few other friends to play standards as the Mingtones on Monday nights. In the house for the big party were bandmates Johnny Vogelsang and Suzanna Choffel (the main Mingtones are also in Suzanna's great band), Kevin Lovejoy and Kat Edmonson (frolicking with Laura), fellow old-school Houstonians Darren Fisher and Carolyn Wonderland, and a host of others -- and of course the soon-to-be 97-year-old Eluida Flanfire. Later that week we trekked down to the Elephant Room and caught Kat and Kevin's REAL set (with J. J. Johnson on drums, John Fremgen on bass, and Ephraim Owens on trumpet) -- WOW!
Then there was this Tuesday, when I ran up the stairs at Momo's to catch Sis Deville -- Texas musician of the year Shelley King, the aforesaid redhead (Miss Wonderland), the belle in black Ann Marie Harrop (who spends most of her time these days on the road with Brave Combo and who did one of her Polish songs that Carolyn spent all day learning on he guitar), mother of two and new Dallas celebrity Floramay Holliday, and the world-traveling Lisa Pankratz on drums. Signature SIS -- enough to make Sunny Sweeney think about (but not dare to) hop onstage. [That's major music lover Kathy Kelly on the dance floor!]

The saga would hardly be complete without mention of the lovely Raina Rose, shown here as she shared the Opal Divine's stage with Vanessa Lively and Gina Chavez. But that's nowhere NEAR all the great music [no, I did not get out to Old Settlers, but I do want to congratulate The Fireants for being chosen as the best young band at the annual event]. Well, of COURSE you will find fireants at an outdoor party in Texas. I caught Aimee Bobruk at Botticelli's (and enjoyed their amazing Botticelli Bread); the Hudsons WITH Leah Zeger at Waterloo; and one of the most amazing shows I have seen in quite a while, Dustin Welch with Kevin Welch and sister Savannah at the Continental Club. After playing a bunch of his own songs, Dustin brought up his new Texan dad, who smoked the house with "Beneath My Wheels" and kept on going through "Millionaire" (written for Solomon Burke) and "Cold Train." It was a joy to behold!
Other great fun of late included Blues Mafia at Antone's for the Austin Blues Society -- Sasha has never sounded so strong, and the crowd warmed up to the band quickly. Then it was Goldcure under the night lights at the Belmont (yummy burgers, too!). I also got out to the Blastbeat Battle of the Bands at Akins High School but missed the set by winning band The El Guapos.
Made up for that, though, by catching part of their set at the Red Eyed Fly the same evening I was invited to Emo's Lounge for a private hearing of the brand-new Kissinger CD, "Underwater" (and a long-awaited introduction to the artful Chopper). I promise reviews of Kissinger, Jets Under Fire, the amazing John Pointer CD, Schizophonic," and maybe even my nephew's band, "The Spaghetti Western String Company" (and likely a bunch more).
For the record, the El Guapos and three other battle of the bands winners (in shows produced by Blastbeat companies at Austin CAN Academy, LASA, and Anderson High) will be duking it out for a trip to the national competition later this summer at Emo's Lounge on the afternoon of May 31st. This event is cosponsored by Rock Camp USA and the Austin School of Music.

Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

So Much Music -- So Little Time!

Right off the bat, I am going to apologize for providing less than a prompt review of several of the very fine recordings that I will discuss today. Two caveats: First, I have taken on new responsibilities in the Austin music scene (and points beyond), of which you will learn more as time continues. Second, I am still recovering from music overload during March. But here goes.

Austin Collins -- "Roses Are Black"

I caught Austin Collins and the Rainbirds at Stubbs' BBQ a while back when he unveiled the new record, "Roses Are Black," at a show that also featured Graham Weber and I can no longer remember who else. These guys are from Dallas (I believe) but they are on the Fat Caddy label, which means that they are truly Austin music makers. Will Johnson produced this 12-song cycle, with Austin writing (two with Daniel Makins) all of the songs but one -- "Broken," written by percussionist/pianist Craig Bagby. Adding to the sound (in addition to Bagby, guitarist Dylan McDougall, and bassist Troy Wilson) are Johnson, Scott Melon, Todd Pertell, and Eleanor Whitmore -- all of whom combine to produce a rich set of music in support of Collins' lyrics.

I really like "11 Months," the CD's first cut -- feels like The Eagles a good bit (though I still want to hear more changes in this music to truly make that comparison). "Broken" cries out for stronger harmonies in the choruses -- and that's the trouble. There is so much good here and yet you want more upfront pathos, more urgency -- and more of that sense that you are sitting around late at night sharing a six-pack with a guy who really has a broken heart. This is a good album by guys who have a GREAT album or two or three inside. For example -- "The Witching Hour" has some powerful images and yet you feel as though the band is rushing through the song to get to the end -- rather than living in fear of that "hour" when all hell breaks loose.

The title cut is truly a dirge (about the death of a relationship) -- and finally, the last part of the song captures that kind of shock you can find in, say, a Patty Griffin song. "Bridge Street Lullaby" shows just how good this band can be -- especially on the choruses -- and the great instrumental bridge and outro. This is a beautiful song (but, please, more high harmonies!). "Unapology" (which features Eleanor's fiddle and Todd on resonator) has the kind of vocal energy I want all night long from this band [maybe Austin is really a country singer?]. You just have to sing along to this one -- and you do not want it to end. "Eight Dollar Thrills" also begs for more dynamics -- I seem to recall a screeching but quiet guitar in the live show (or I hope I do) -- and maybe someone sliding across the stage floor. But what is really needed here is a little "Native American" drumming in the middle of the cut. I also like "Today," but I wanted a pause between verse 1 and the chorus that gives time for the song's energy to build. MORE SPACE! But there is a REALLY NICE guitar solo here -- best of the whole CD maybe -- and I really LOVE great guitar solos. And I really like this band -- and expect even better next live show.

Izzy Cox -- "Love Letters from the Electric Chair"
World traveler Izzy Cox(who returns to Austin on April 25th from a West Coast tour) reminds me immediately of Edith Piaf, the French pop singer who died 45 years ago but remains a legend on both sides of the Atlantic. I caught up with Izzy at Ego's (before it was turned into another Canary Roost style karaoke bar) -- with Sean Ziegler on lap steel and Brendan Rhyne on bass. Captivating -- off-putting -- Izzy makes you feel downright uncomfortable in your own skin. And that's why you want more.

This record was made in Los Angeles with guitarist Billy Pittman and a host of players -- mind you, Izzy has recorded 13 albums and is working on a new one here in Austin. Songs here include "Devil, Devil," "Electric Chair," "Killer from Hawaii," "Burn Your Bed," and more songs about death and murder and other bizarre themes. She calls herself an anarchist crooner singing "voodoobilly jazz" music. She is also a veteran of the Montreal music scene that produced Rufus Wainwright and Arcade Fire (and more) -- and despite her stage persona, I found Izzy to be a vulnerable, lovely person whom I first saw supporting her peers as if she were the little matchstick girl.

I have absolutely no intention of describing Izzy's songs -- words cannot express .... and you really should just go see her sometime. Okay -- I will explain that "Lyin' Eyes, Cheatin' Heart" is a show shuffle with very sparse instrumentation (she hardly needs anything else but herself), and that "Man of the Cloth" (the final cut of 14 here) opens with some killer dobro -- here she says she is not going to heaven -- after all, she shot her husband square in her front lawn. This, too, is basically a stipped down, slow ballad. Did I mention that this woman is truly special?

Izzy told me she is enjoying living in Texas again (last time here she was a child) -- catching up with herself in this slower paced environment. OKAY I have to tell you, she can actually sing a love song -- and does. She can also invoke massive distortion out of her guitar -- and play tricks on us with her vocal machinations. I want to catch Izzy sometime on a big stage where she can truly choreograph. And I have barely scratched the surface of an artist of vast dimension.

Vanessa Lively -- "A Chain Unbroken"
Gentleness -- and grace. Vanessa and husband Jason Lively (who plays bass and charango in her band) recently returned from South America, where they traveled about doing good. While in Ecuador they ran into Englishman Stefan Pope, who invited them to England (somewhere along the way, Vanessa had written the beginnings of many of these songs while at Kerrville Folk Festival) -- where they recorded more of this album. [Yes, there is an earlier album floating about as well -- much of which she recorded while in Ecuador.] Then they came back home to Texas, hooked up with Sick and finished the recording. Released it a few weeks back.

Vanessa hails from San Antonio, is bilingual and bicultural -- and beautiful inside and out. Her concerts are a spiritual experience -- built upon a philosophy espoused in "The Only Day There Is" -- "Looking out the window today / All I see is loads of grey / And I think of yesterday But then again I know that I should be / A little bit of better company / ‘Cause there’s people right beside me. So I’ll look today as the only day there is / ‘Cause there’s no other way to go through life than this / And I’ll be right here in the moment (so) I don’t miss / A single thing waiting / Waiting like a kiss."

In the title cut, Vanessa encourages us to "Hold her hand, hold his hand / Reach out and really take a stand / Breath on in to begin / One foot forward is how you start steppin’ in / Quiet lies, pass them by / Open hearts, minds to opportunity." The final cut, "Alleluia," is truly an anthem to living for others -- "We’re gonna rise above and open up our eyes / We’re gonna rise up singing and change each others lives / ‘Cause when we reach out and take another’s hand / We’ll raise our voice together as we walk across this land / And we’ll be singing."

And you know what? Start hanging out with people like Jason and Vanessa Lively and you too will be raising your voice in song, letting your own life be transformed as you participate just as vitally in changing the lives of those around you. And, oh by the way, the music is beautiful!

Danny Schmidt -- "Little Grey Sheep"
Now that he has run into Carrie Elkin (left) and started hanging out with the Livelys (or so it seems), how much longer will Austin native Danny Schmidt be able to get away with his dark cynicism about the ugliness he sees all too often in his travels? What a reporter this songwriter is! A poet, too -- and some of his songs are so powerful you have to rethink your entire value system, even though at other times you sense he is singing his own version of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." And, oh by the way -- Danny is a wonderful guitarist and has a great voice.

For that first side, try out "Company of Friends" or "California's on Fire." For the latter, "Trouble Comes Calling" and especially "Adios to Tejasito" (which has the GALL to disparage the Lone Star State, well, except for Austin). But perhaps the real gems on this collection are "Emigrant, MT" -- which captures a vacation (unexpected?) fly fishing in Yellowstone and all of the beauty there -- and "Tales of Sweet Odysseus" [oddly, I was at the Regents' School play tonight -- The Odyssey] -- though even this was nowhere near as strong as the brand-new song I heard live at Momo's -- "O Child, You're Right in Time."

Danny has gathered a coterie of friends to work on this record -- Paul Curreri on just about everything, Joia Wood and Devon Sproule on vocals, Randall Pharr on bass, Spencer Lathrop on drums, Matty Metcalfe on accordian, Jeff Romano on harmonica, Sara Read on fiddle, and the inimitable Colin Brooks on steel guitar. This is excellent music -- "Go Ugly Early" and "Cliff Song" are just a couple examples of the quality of the musicianship here.

Ah -- the passion of youth. Danny (whose mom was in the house when I saw him at Momo's) sums up his view of life in "Drawing Board" -- "I've lived my life in two pursuits -- to capture time and free the truth." Watch this guy mature as he realizes more fully that love means learning how to lead even those whose actions you despise -- to sneak into Saul's tent and leave your calling card but leave his fate to the maker of us all.

Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The March Merry-Go-Round of Austin Music!
Evan Butts of The Daze; Mary Cutrufello and Flanfire's MOM!

March after SXSW week is a big blur -- but I did take a few photos and so have SOME memories to share of this windiest of months.

In no chronological order, let me see what I can do here. May as well start off with the budding MOVIE STAR -- Evan Butts and The Daze opened for The Steps at Threadgill's on one starry night. These young rockers (who can also play some salsa) are featured in the movie "Will," shot here in Austin and due out next spring. But, WOW, look at the wonderful Mary Cutrufello stepping down from the stage at Patsy's Cowgirl Cafe to visit with Flanfire's own mom (who will celebrate her 97th birthday in May in Dulac, Louisiana, where she is being honored for missions work with the Houma Indians some seventy-five years ago.

Suzanna Choffel; Mario Matteoli and Cayce Marsh are in AWE of drugstore cowboy Paul Minor -- all at Lambert's.

I also remember stopping by Lambert's two or three nights -- once to catch an amazing set from Dustin Welch with his "string quartet" of Brian Standefer on cello, Tricia Keefer on violin, and Joe Beckham on string bass. That same evening, though, Suzanna Choffel and in particular the amazing Laura Scarborough (aided by Eldridge Goins and Johnny V) flat out smoked all of the salmon, barbecued the beef and pork, and fried all of the potatoes in the downstairs kitchen -- the same way she has been smokin' the competition in Famecast.

Gina Chavez and Tricia Keefer at La Palapa; Al Sato joins Byrd and Street at Quality Seafood.

And speaking of food, I just had to mention that I stopped by Quality Seafood on Airport to catch the first of what will be for now a weekly Wednesday show by Tommy Byrd and new grandma Kathy Street. That same evening I went over to La Palapa, where Gina Chavez and her full band were warming up for her upcoming trip to Washington, DC. Tommy is an accomplished artist as well as a topnotch songwriter -- and what better excuse could one have for eating 25 cent peel and eat shrimp than to hear this duo entertain?

Burton Lee and Sarah Stollack (with the Lonesome Heroes); Clyde and Clem (or is it Clem and Clyde?) and those nasty Shake Em Ups at the Hole in the Wall!

What's a month of music without a little levity? Clyde Clow and Clem Clowan and Whiskey Business sing songs of cocaine and (of course) whiskey, backed by the fabulous Skewrl on bass, Ole Red on banjo, Boxcar Stanley on washboard, and Smokin' Guns on harmonica (they all sing some) -- great songs like "Whiskey Jesus" and "Cocaine Habit Blues." The boys also announced a coloring contest -- winner to be announced at the end of April. On another evening I caught a little of Leo Rondeau (memorably, he brought Brennen Leigh up for one glorious song -- almost as good as his own stuff) and then the Shake 'Em Ups -- no hi-jinks there! Somewhere I recall that the beautiful Landry McMeans had broken (??) her wrist and brought in the peripatetic Burton Lee to play on pedal steel the parts she normally plays on dobro. Good thing she did not break her singing voice!

And speaking of pickin' and sangin', the South Austin Jug Band has a new CD out (to be reviewed here soon!) with some wonderful songs (and great picking) from James Hyland [photo], Brian Beken, and Dennnis Ludiker as joined by Matt Medford and Joe Kidd (and the handsome Joe Beckham on the Board!). One recent night at Momo's they played songs from "Strange Invitation" that really touched the heart -- this could be the best work they have ever done (with no disparaging the four charter members no longer on stage). The boys could be in for bigger and better (or so it is said) things with this record -- they play again on Friday night at Threadgill's downtown, and that ought to be a night to remember. Otherwise, you will just have to drive a ways or wait till May 1 at Shady Grove.

Also at Momo's one night, Raina Rose brought her pals Vanessa Lively (new CD review coming) and Danny Schmidt (ditto!) on stage for songwriters in the round. I opted to throw in a photo of Carrie Elkin and Melissa Greener, who were in the house to listen (and Carrie to sing with her man Danny just a little).

Lost in the ozone of the month was a show by Izzy Cox at Ego's (yet ANOTHER CD review on the way) and I heard that Justin Thompson had a scooter accident. And Joanna Barbera is still beautiful -- but her smile is even bigger now that Danny Anderson is playing guitar with her band.

Flanfire -- Bringing LIFE to Austin music.

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