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THE ORIGINAL TEXAS MUSIC MAGAZINE

June 2019 VOLUME XLIIII, NUMBER 12

On Stands Now!

Buddy Magazine: The Original Texas Music Magazine Dallas Texas June 2019

In This Issue:
Tyler Bryant
Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis
Triston Marez
Texas Dance Hall Preservation Society
Record Review

The hard rockin’ soul of Honey Grove

Buddy Texas Tornado, Tyler Bryant and his band Shakedown explode onto the world stage with new CD Truth and Lies

By Rob Garner
Photos by ©James Bland

Tyler BryantBlues-rock guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Tyler Bryant was born and bred in Honey Grove, Texas, population 1,678. To know something of the town is to know something of the man, musician, and his band’s ethos. Musician Tyler Bryant descends from a Texas pioneer family that settled tiny Honey Grove, Texas, over 100 years ago. Honey Grove was first scouted and described in letters by Davy Crockett in 1836 to a surveyor friend in Tennessee, while Crockett was en route to meet his fate at the Alamo. Bryant’s family came decades later. “My relatives have been here forever. I’m the only one who has ever left,” says the 28-year-old, who went to the same school as his father and great-grandfather.

MediaTech InstituteThere is also notable Texas music history in Honey Grove. Buddy Holly’s father, Lawrence Odell Holley, was born in Honey Grove in 1901. Young Buddy and his father would later visit from Lubbock, and stay at a small hotel on W. Market St. and 3rd.

Peggy Sue, the namesake of Buddy Holly’s most famous tune, got married to Buddy Holly’s drummer Jerry Allison in Honey Grove on July 22, 1958. One can imagine the same exact paths and places, and possibly mindset, where both Buddy and Tyler are connected, only by different points in time.

Bryant says working-class Honey Grove has shaped who he is today, though he didn’t realize it until he left town. “I wouldn’t be the way that I am if I hadn’t come from these people. I’m just the same.”

In the 2009 documentary film, Rock Prophecies, Tyler was featured as one of the world’s upcoming rock and blues guitar prodigies, as assessed by the film’s subject, rock photographer Robert Knight. Knight was the last photographer to capture Stevie Ray Vaughan on stage. Vaughan had personally told Knight how to spot the next big talent in guitar when he saw that person. What he saw in Bryant was the embodiment of the vision Vaughan had placed in him. Robert and film crew came to Honey Grove and profiled young Bryant playing in his dad’s shop, and in the old Methodist church downtown, built in 1873, which is the oldest standing church in Northeast Texas.

Nashville

Tyler BryantAfter moving to Nash-ville, Bryant formed his band Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown with bassist Noah Denney, guitarist Graham Whitford, and drummer Caleb Crosby. They have since toured the world several times over, opening shows for AC/DC, ZZ Top, Guns N’ Roses, Jeff Beck, Aerosmith, and many others.

Bryant stresses that the band is hard working to the core. “Even though we have opened for all these bands, we’re a working band. We still tour in a van. We’ve always had the mentality that we ‘starve together, feast together’. We’re business partners, but most importantly we’re into the same kind of music, and also excited by the same style of noise. I’m excited to get to hang out with those guys. Whenever we get home from being on the road, we still hang out with each other.”

While playing for massive stadium crowds around the globe doesn’t seem to faze him, performing for the home crowd in Northeast Texas does. “The only time I’m ever shy is when I come back here,” says Bryant, who once performed an acoustic set of Led Zeppelin songs for Jimmy Page at an honorary event. “I get a set of nerves. There is more pressure when you are playing in front of people who have seen you in all of life’s stages. I love coming home. I normally don’t do anything when I come home.”

Home

“Home” to Bryant is his father and mother Scottie and Sabrina’s house on the outskirts of town, straddling the countryside and the edge of the town boundary. “I used to set up stacks outside and play them just to see if people could hear them in town. Coming home, it seems a lot quieter than I remember it.”

MemphisScottie Bryant’s shop was the perfect place for Texas musicians to congregate and cut their chops, and to jam and learn from some of greats in the area’– including players like Roosevelt Twitty, Jesse Black, Paul Vickers, and Ben Allsup. Bryant was also supported early in the area by guitarists Wes Jeans and Lance Lopez. “I idolized those guys,” he says. He also played with fellow Honey Grove native Kayla Reeves (with the multi-platinum selling Trans-Siberian Orchestra), and recently collaborated with her on some songs at his studio in Nashville.

Bryant’s immersion into playing guitar was partially borne out of finding his place in the community. “The fact is that I was too scrawny to play football, and too uncoordinated to play basketball. It didn’t leave too many places to fit in. I could come play guitar in this shop. I got rid of my bed in my bedroom to record.”

Amongst substantial material for a future solo record, he has written a song for his town. “It is about the school and the whole are. The hook is ‘I am Honey Grove.’ It’s about little marks of time. Some of them are yours, and some of them are mine,” he says from behind the wheel of his 1965 Chevy truck that he received from his great-great uncle, as it rolls slowly through the downtown square.

This backdrop of where Bryant found his calling paints a fascinating picture. Back in 1895, the town boasted of no less than 18 millionaires, and it was reflected in the amazing Victorians built tightly around the square. Many of these historic buildings and homes of Honey Grove – some of the most magnificent in the state of Texas – are now abandoned, standing in ruins.

Leaving his mark

On the town square’s southeast end sits the monolithic Marcom building. Beginning in the 1890’s, it served as a hospital, wherein over 1,000 babies were born – though not all at once. Today the roof has caved in, yet its 18 inch thick limestone walls still stand strong. Nearby on W. 5th Street, an old bottling company sits deserted, with a collapsed roof. Exposed on an outside wall is a hand-painted Coca-Coca mural with a protected patina.

The Dial House is a rare historic Victorian design on 8th Street, with a Texas Historical marker in the front yard. Rain and feral cats have made their way inside through the broken, stained-glass windows. Disrepair and neglect have pushed the structure beyond repair. The old Brown Feed Store is on the west end of town; its owner literally walked away from the business over two decades ago. Peering in the window, one can see letters and bills on a desk dating back to 1999, as if time stopped.

Tyler BryantAs we cruised around the town for the cover photo shoot, Bryant showed us a small crawl space in the side of the abandoned school that he attended in the early 2000s, a building that was originally built in 1937, but vacated for a newer and bigger school on the northeast side of town in 2009. In his younger days, he crawled inside and graffittied his name in the basement. Much like how Austin claimed Stevie Ray Vaughan from his Dallas roots., Nashville is now trying to claim Bryant and the band. But just as Bryant left his mark in the school basement, Honey Grove left its mark on him, and will always be who he is, and will always be a part of him.

Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown’s latest track, “On To The Next,” was released in early April, and a new full studio album drops in June.

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It’s a Beautiful Lie

Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis are two names synonymous with Texas and Americana music.

By Jan Sikes

Lloyd MainesThis powerhouse couple is releasing their fourth duo album, Beautiful Lie. And while they are both successful solo artists, when they combine their talents together, they create a special kind of magic.

I had the pleasure of asking Kelly Willis what that looks like coming from a solo artist’s viewpoint.

Kelly said, “We were solo artists before we ever married and never intended to be a duo. But, little by little, over the years, we’d do shows together, with the first ones being the Christmas shows. It was so much fun and totally different working as a duo that we eventually just decided to do an album. And now we’ve released our fourth. The brilliant thing is that it fills a spot in our creative lives that we weren’t getting to do before. It feels really good to have these options. We still go do our solo work, but when we work as a duo, it brings such creative joy in getting to make music together, and it balances us out.”

Stagecoach BallroomBesides great songwriting and performing, this couple is known for their unique studio nestled in the Texas Hill Country. In a digital and computerized world, they remain a fully analog studio, keeping the ambiance and recording techniques organic and simplistic.

The studio

“It was Bruce’s desire to have a studio, but not just any studio, one that would keep the warmth and honesty in each recording,” said Kelly., He has a passion for finding what it is that makes the older music sound the way it does. He loves playing around with the different gear and instruments to find the right sound for each song. It’s his joy pursuing that art form and seeing what he can do with it.”

Kelly made a great point by comparing analog and digital recording with photos on film to that of a digital camera. For the most part, it’s simply a preference.

However, based on the recordings coming out of The Bunker, as Robison refers to it, he is having no trouble concocting a magic potion for each song.

Nothing drives that point home more than their new album, Beautiful Lie.

Besides the authentic production on this record, the songs themselves are a unique blend of originals and covers.

“One of the side benefits of what Bruce does with The Next Waltz projects, of taking an artist and producing a single song, is that we are constantly looking at songs written by our friends, our own catalog, and songs from all different artists,” Kelly said. “Here are all these wonderful songs out there. For example, Bruce and I recorded “If I Had a Rose,” written by Adam Wright. “We put it out on a Next Waltz episode and loved it so much that it really was the jumping off place for this new record. A lot of it is playing around with different songs and seeing what fits, then figuring out who will sing lead and the different parts.”

The GoatThe album title came from a song on the Amazing Rhythm Aces 1975 debut album. Out of the ten tunes on Beautiful Lie, there are four Bruce Robison originals.

As always, whenever I listen to an album, there are certain songs that touch me on a personal level.

I’ll go back to the first song on the album which Kelly already mentioned, “If I had a Rose.” The harmony that Kelly and Bruce render gave me goosebumps. Combine that with the lyrics and melody, and it is a true standout song.

“Nobody’s Perfect” is another one that spoke volumes to me. Not only the message but the musicianship and delivery are truly that magic combination guaranteed to draw the listener in.

Kelly said, “You know, that’s another Adam Wright song. Maybe we could do an entire album of his music.” She laughed. “But, it’s just this outdoor stage sort of anthem feel. You know, something that is fun to play in that setting. It also has that seventies country feel to it.”

A vintage nugget, “One Dime at a Time,” written by Ed Bruce and Jerry Chestnut, and originally recorded by Del Reeves is a classic two-step that Bruce and Kelly breathe new life into with their unique rendition.

Another song that touched me deeply was “Lost My Best,” written by David Ball.

“We have been big fans of David Ball forever. That song was recorded by Uncle Walt’s band,” Kelly said. “We could probably do a whole album of Uncle Walt songs too. That’s a deep well of great material that we visit every time we are looking for a new song.”
“Heartache to Houston,” “Brand New Me,” “Coming Down,” and “Astrodome,” are all Bruce Robison originals on the album.

Every song on this record stands alone and yet combined, the ten tracks flow in such a way that is easy to listen to over and over again.

I’d be remiss if I did not mention the musicians that play on Beautiful Lie. Bruce Robison plays acoustic and electric guitar, Geoff Queen plays electric, slide and steel guitar, Scott Davis is on lead guitar, banjo, mandolin, and piano, Treavor Nealon is on the B3 organ and piano, Joshua Blue is on drums and percussion, and John Michael Schoepf is on bass guitar. These musicians are all perched at the top of their game, and it shows in this album production.

Jimmy Wallace Guitar GalleryThe dynamic couple will be touring the United States to promote Beautiful Lie. And when you look at the schedule already lined up, they are heavily booked through the rest of the year leading up the holiday season.

Not only are Bruce and Kelly working and touring artists, but they are also parents. And as with any mother and or father on the road, there has to be a secret to juggling and balancing a family with music.

“Whew!” Kelly exclaimed. “We don’t always juggle it well, but we keep trying. Now that they are teenagers, it’s much easier. When they were little, it was very hard. We have one daughter who is a big rule follower, and she helps to keep the others in line. And sometimes we bring one or all of them with us depending on the logistics of the trip. We don’t stay out for long periods of time. Typically, four days would be the max. But we just try to find a balance, and it’s always a puzzle. It’s never the same. The kids are always our priority. It’s a no-brainer. We just make everything else fit in around them.”

What’s next for Bruce and Kelly?

Music On Main“I don’t know what we’ll do. I won’t rule out another duo album, but it won’t be for a while. For the rest of this year, our focus will be on promoting the new record,” Kelly said. “Maybe I’ll do another solo project next. We just try to do what feels right.”

Something I often hear from artists who I interview is that they no longer shoot for putting out entire albums. Instead, they are doing more. As the owner of a studio, I asked what their take is on this new trend.

“Well, really that’s what Bruce has been doing with The Next Waltz, just producing one or two songs. It is expensive to do an entire album. There is very little money in this industry anymore so trying to recoup the cost of an album is hard,” Kelly said. “But Bruce and I both still look at making albums as an art form. We still want to produce albums as one body of work. It’s just the way we’ve always done it.”

When asked what advice she would give to an up and coming new female artist, Kelly responded.

“I would tell her to figure out how to make the best decisions possible. To make sure you can go out and tour, learn how to be a bandleader and learn all the different jobs so that you can appreciate and understand where everyone else is coming from. The more knowledge you have, the better chance you have at pulling it off and living the life that you want.”

If you are a fan of Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, you are going to love this new album, Beautiful Lie.

If you’d like the chance to hear them perform and pick up a copy of the new album, they will be at Love & War in Plano on June 16.

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Triston Marez not only sings country music, he lives it

By Jan Sikes

Triston MarezHouston native Triston Marez is making inroads in the world of traditional country music. And, he  is the first songwriter added to the new Austin roster of  Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI).

“It’s rare that you find an artist who has made such an impact in such a short amount of time. Making an impact in Texas is a great barometer for success,” said  Mitch Ballard,  Senior Director, Creative, Austin. “Triston is not only a great songwriter; he’s incredibly hard working. Every bit of his success can be attributed to a great combination of talent and determination. We are thrilled to welcome him to the BMI family.”

The vibes Marez projects aren’t just centered around country music; it’s woven through his entire 22 years.  Yes, you read that right - twenty-two years. As a member of a musical family, Marez started playing guitar at the age of six, and his first live performance was a Buck Owens song in a first-grade talent show.

Texan Theater Joe ElyThings changed drastically for Marez when he won the 2014 talent show at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

“I had entered the talent competition in 2013 and placed as a finalist but didn’t win. So, I spent the next year working hard and getting ready to enter again. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a big deal, and to win it gave me the confidence I needed to go ahead and really jump into the music business.”

Marez worked as a ranch hand and even rode bulls to support his music habit while waiting for a break.

It is obvious that he loves country music, but what caught my ear about this young man is the quality of his voice. He reminds me of a very young Mark Chesnutt or perhaps Alan Jackson. Smooth as silk vocals with good looks and confidence, he easily commands the stage with the ease of a seasoned performer.

He released a new EP, That Was All Me, in January and it debuted in the top five on the iTunes country chart.

That Was All Me opens with remarkable classic country music that dominates the album throughout with fiddle and steel guitar. But it’s the vocals and lyrics that carry it across the finish line.

It’s hard to believe someone so young could write such compelling tunes. “That Was All Me,” replays a night of honky-tonking and drinking with your sweetheart. “If I said I ain’t drunk/It was the neon buzzin’/I danced all night/It was the jukebox jumpin’/When I let you take my hat/It was whiskey #3/But when I told you that I love you, Baby, that was all me…”

My pick from the EP, “Reservations for Two.” With sweet fiddle refrains, it told a story.

“I know this is going to sound cheesy, but when I was in school, I had a high school sweetheart,” Marez said.” So, on Valentine’s Day in our senior year, I wanted to do something different. I told her not to dress fancy and that I’d pick her up. Then, I drove to our favorite spot in the country where I had a table set up with candles and flowers and the whole works. She was surprised, and it was probably the most romantic thing I ever did. It was great, but when it got dark, she got scared, and we left. But it was that scene that inspired the song.””

The song getting a lot of radio airplay these days is “Where Rivers are Red and Cowboys are Blue.” It takes us back to the time of poignant rodeo tunes and a former love. With a lone coyote howling in the night, he’s not the only one that feels alone.’

The EP ends with “Here’s to the Weekend” where Marez gives his unique perspective on the grind of a work-week and living for another weekend.

Triston Marez is a young man with a bright future in country music. His voice is pitch perfect and mature beyond his twenty-two years. To follow and keep up with his tour dates, check out his Facebook page! And while you’re there, don’t forget to congratulate him on being the first artist to sign with the Texas office of BMI!

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Two-step through history

The Texas Dance Hall reservation society promoting four area events to raise money for the cause

By Jan Sikes

Two-step through historyTexas is known for many things, and one of them is the iconic dance halls that have survived for over a century scattered across the state.

Deb Fleming is the president of the Texas Dance Hall Preservation Society and her passion for these old structures stems back to her childhood.

“I am a San Antonio native,” Fleming said. “When I was a kid, our family entertainment came in the form of loading up in the station wagon and taking short road trips. I think it was my parents’ way of showing us rural Texas. It was important to them. So, I carried the love for spontaneous road trips, old architecture, and history over into adulthood. It was on one of the many road trips that I stumbled across an old German style abandoned building sitting out in the middle of a field south of San Antonio. I crawled across the fence, even though I was trespassing, and explored it. I found that it was at one time an old shooting club. Everything was still intact, just abandoned. But it was that random discovery that sparked the passion for finding and preserving these old buildings. And it turned out that many of those old structures also served as local dance halls.”

Two-step through historyThe formation of the non-profit in 2007 set into motion the process of documenting the old dance halls, and then recording the history and working with the owners help preserve them.

Fleming went on to say that at one time, between the mid-1800s through approximately 1940, were over 1,000 documented Texas Dance Halls across the state. However, they weren’t designated solely as dance halls. They were built to serve the needs of communities. Many of the buildings were built in the distinct German style with six, eight, or twelve sides and were referred to as round halls.

Two-step through historyFleming said, “Most of the buildings were originally constructed to serve as community centers. They were sort of the town square of a community. It’s where people came to transact business and trade goods. From the agriculture perspective, it was the place farmers gathered.”

I found Fleming’s story intriguing about the way immigrants (especially the Germans) banded together to determine how to farm the land in this new place. She explained that for the most part, they weren’t farmers. So, they experimented with unique varieties of seeds by issuing them to different farms and then coming back together to discuss how their particular seed stock produced. And that helped to determine their success at raising food for their families and communities.

Everything was not only about functioning but thriving in this new world they’d settled.

Fast forward to 2015 when the Texas Dance Hall Preservation Society established the Texas Dance Hall tours to serve as fundraisers for the approximately 400 dance halls that still exist across the state today.

To bring attention to the old buildings themselves, the shows on these tours have all taken place in the dance halls.

Two-step through historyFleming explained. “Ray Benson came on board with us in 2014 and helped us establish these tours. He talked about how other performers were doing cruises and that he’d been approached many times about doing an Asleep At The Wheel cruise, but he said that just didn’t fit them. So, we created the on-land tours that would take us to the different dance halls, and of course, help us raise money for the non-profit organization.”

The Texas Dance Hall Tour, which features Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel along with other artists, is coming to the DFW area in June.

Ray Benson said, “There wouldn’t be Texas music without our Texas dance halls. They’re like the Carnegie Hall of Western Swing and Texas Music! This is where Bob Wills, Willie Nelson, and George Strait cut their teeth. We are losing this important slice of history and need to support the communities and these establishments.”

Another iconic western swing performer, Jason Roberts is participating in this tour along with Benson.

Asleep At The Wheel“I grew up playing music in Texas Dancehalls,” Roberts said. “They are a part of Texas culture that has helped to form people like myself and have helped keep traditional country and western music alive. God bless Texas Dancehalls!”

The dance halls and artists featured on this tour include:

Thursday, June 13 - Asleep at the Wheel at Sons of Hermann in Dallas, Texas

Friday, June 14 - Hot Club of Cowtown and Big Cedar Fever at The Historic National Hall in Fort Worth, Texas

Saturday, June 15 - Jason Roberts and Summer Dean at The Stagecoach Ballroom in Fort Worth, Texas

Sunday, June 16 - Asleep at the Wheel at The Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas, Texas

Ticket packages range from one day passes to three, and four-day weekend passes.

For ticket and show information go to texasdancehalltour.com
Proceeds will go to the Texas Dance Hall Preservation, committed to saving historic Texas dance halls and the authentic music and culture that is still found in them. If you’re interested in how you can become a member of the preservation or how you can donate directly, please go to: texasdancehall.org

Let’s join in to help keep this part of Texas history alive and flourishing!

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Record Review

George Strait
Honky Tonk
Time Machine
MCA Nashville

George StraitGeorge Strait’s newest CD, Honky Tonk Time Machine, got its full release in late March, but the public heard a couple of songs ahead of the full-fledged release. The first release was “Every Little Honky Tonk,” which remains on the Billboard charts. It’s danceable, high-energy, and has imaginative lyrics, such as the lead, “Whiskey is the gasoline that lights the fire that burns the bridge. Ice creates the water that’s no longer running under it.” And the chorus continues in that style, full of similes all of which combined “That’s what happens in every little honky tonk bar.”

And by now every law enforcement officer has probably heard “The Weight of the Badge,” a tribute to the very people who put on the badge and go out regularly to protect and serve us.

KNON Bobby Rush“Old Violin” is a story about growing older, “Tonight I feel like an old violin, soon to be put away and never played again.” It’s about the helplessness of feeling so much hopelessness.

“Cause I can’t change this feeling in the slightest way — I try.” So much emotion in it, and Strait has just the voice to pull it off. “And just like that it hit me, why that old violin and I, we’re just alike. We give our all to music, and soon we’ll give our life.” That’s one of the songs on the CD that is a pure cover, Johnny Paycheck wrote it.

And the fun ditty called “Sing One with Willie,” about Strait’s never having sang a duo with Willie Nelson

“Now I ain’t too proud, I’m gonna shout it out loud, I aint’ never got to sing with Willie.” And the good-natured lament continues until, all of a sudden, that very recognizable voice kicks in and it’s Willie singing, “Back and forth up and down the highways, wherever our big buses can go. But I think that it’s great to finally sing one with Strait.” Just pure fun. George and Willie co-wrote that with Bubba Strait and Buddy Cannon. George’s son, Bubba, co-wrote many of the songs here, as did George himself. Strait’s long-time songwriter, Dean Dillon, joined in the co-write on “Blue Water” and several other of the cuts. Actually, the truth is that George Strait co-wrote eight of the 13 tracks, possibly a record for the man who can recognize a good song, even if he didn’t write it. They kept their pens out of the writing of “Two More Wishes, which was written by Jim Lauderdale and Odie Blackmon.

It’s a keeper of an album.

By Mary Jane Farmer, Scene In Town


Tyler John
Proud to be a Redneck
Independent Release

A local North Texas artist, Tyler John is better known as the Concrete Hillbilly. His newest release, Proud to be a Redneck, was recorded at the WarRoom Studio in Princeton and produced by Dustin Hendricks.

Seven original tunes make up Proud to be a Redneck, and all carry a single theme that is reflected in the album title. “45 Miles and 15 Minutes,” could be any truck driver’s anthem. “I’ve been driving all night/And I can’t wait to get home/I’ve got the pedal to the metal/I’m on my way and hauling ass…”

Love & War In TexasThere comes a time when you can’t make a living on the farm, so you trade in the tractor for a “Blue Collar,” but it’s not always as good as it seems. “You may take off that ol’ blue collar, boy/But your neck will still be red…” One of the best guitarists in the North Texas area, Mark LaFon, burns it up on this song.

Not a care in the world, not a thing on his mind, Tyler paints a vivid picture on “Down By the River.” I love Joe Austin’s fiddle work on this song.

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash have been written about from many different aspects, and Tyler put his own personal spin on a love story with “Johnny and June.””

Taking us south of the border, “She’s Better Off,” is a common tale related through a man’s eyes. “She’s better off without me… ” Mitchell Smithey on the pedal steel and Dustin Hendricks on mandolin give this song a special flare.

“Tennessee Train” is heading east from L.A. and never coming back. Once again, Mark LaFon shines on lead guitar with blistering precision licks.

The final and title track, “Proud to be a Redneck,” says it all for Tyler John. “There’s some folks say that I’m plain white trash/Y’all can get in line to kiss my ass/Well I’m tried and true/Red white and blue/Redneck to the core…”

Tyler John is a friend to the working man, and this album reflects that from start to finish. You can find Tyler’s tour schedule at facebook.com/concretehillbilly

By Jan Sikes


Bianca DeLeon
Dangerous Endeavor
Lonsome Highway Music

Native Texan Bianca DeLeon writes about what she knows, her life growing up in the Texas-Mexico borderland. She’s lived through a lot, and it shows in her music.

Recorded at John Inmon’s studio and produced by Inmon, Dangerous Endeavor is a mixture of DeLeon’s original tunes and a handful of carefully picked covers.

The first thing that struck me about this album is DeLeon’s voice. She’s gritty and gutsy with her delivery of the lyrics.

A dark story, “Thorns of a Different Rose,” written by Will Dudley, sets the mood for what is to come on this album.

Reflective and relatable, “Has it Really Come to This,” a DeLeon original, is the ultimate break-up song. What stands out to me on this track is the sweet violin refrains from Javier Chaparro.

How different things would be, “If You Just Had a Mirror,” because you’d never do what you do.

A standout song for me, “Hollow Victory,” tells such a powerful story. “It’s a hollow victory/Down the hallway to hell/One you have to walk on your own/It’s an empty hallway/Built on pain and misery…” With a whiskey-soaked, sultry vocal, DeLeon makes me feel every word she sings.”

“That vintage ’67 Cadillac” is a Rockabilly tune that lightens the mood. She brings a bit of naughtiness into play when DeLeon suggests, “Let’s Put the Dirty Back In Dancin’.”

Hank Williams Sr. made “(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle” into a hit, but DeLeon puts her own spin on it.

A song that grabbed my attention with the lyrics was “Sad Corners of Her Eyes.” DeLeon depicts situations when there is a smile, but the sad corners of the eyes give it away. “An old photograph of Marilyn Monroe/With JFK and Jackie too/She looked so fragile/Holding his arm/Sad corners of her eyes/Gave her away…”

Something we can all relate to, “I’m Waiting for a Miracle” screams for help for our darkening planet; waiting for someone somewhere to turn the lights on.

A personal friend and confidant to Townes Van Zandt, DeLeon’s version of “White Freightliner” gave me chills. It was as if she had a deep insight into the author of the lyrics, which she did.

The album concludes with “Dangerous Endeavor.” Written in Van Zandt’s storytelling style, this song could be a movie.

Everything about DeLeon’s Dangerous Endeavor from the songwriting to the vocals, and the music, is excellent! She embodies Texas storytelling in every lyric.

By Jan Sikes


Jack Barksdale
Live from Niles City
Independent Release

Jack BarksdalePint-sized Jack Barksdale is making quite a name for himself in every music circle from the local DFW area to songwriter’s events across the United States.

He’s taken another step and released a new full-length CD, Live From Niles City. I’m not normally a fan of live albums, but in this case, I love hearing Jack introduce the songs.

There is so much I can say about this young man, but I will start with his guitar playing, and that’s where the CD begins with “Niles City Blues.” Jack shines on the slide guitar on this instrumental number.

On the intro into “Widow of the Wind,” Jack pays tribute to the late great Townes Van Zandt as a musical influence. A Barksdale original, the lyrics are lonely and haunting and reach far beyond his twelve years of living.

Another original, “Never to Love Me,” is Jack’s fingerpicking showcase. He credits Jed Zimmerman as his teacher.’

“Until The End” is deep and dark. “I was born with sorrow in my heart/No happiness could get in/Nobody wanted a thing to do with me/I was just wishing I could start again…”

There is no love like a mother’s love, and Jack wrote a song called “My Mother.” When he dedicates it to her on the album, he says he wrote it when Clara, his mother, was going through cancer treatment. He plays a lonesome harmonica in accompaniment.

“Revival Song No. 2” is another great instrumental that showcases this young man’s mastery of the guitar.’

“Somber Sundown” is a sad tune written by Jack that expresses haunting loneliness. “It’s a somber sundown/It’s a sorrowful kiss goodbye…”

Another tip of the hat to Townes Van Zandt, Barksdale sings “White Freightliner Blues.” His version is different from any I’ve ever heard. He plays it fast and hard and inserts lively harmonica riffs that make this a toe-tapper.’

Jack BarksdaleThe live album ends with Jack’s slide guitar version of “Folsom Prison Blues.”

There is no doubt Jack Barksdale is destined for a lifetime of making music, and Live From Niles City is just the tip of the iceberg.

Help support this young man and his music by adding his album to your playlist and attending local shows! You can follow Jack at facebook.com/jackbarksdalemusic

By Jan Sikes


Aaron Watson
Red Bandana
Big Label Records

People are supposin’ why Aaron Watson chose to title his forthcoming CD Red Bandana, due out June 21. But, Watson is releasing a song or two at a time on the streaming sites, not all 20 songs included. So far, there’s five songs on the sites, available to those who pre-order the record.

KNON Chili Cook Off And ConcertOne of those songs is called “Riding With Red,” which, without all the promo stuff that usually comes with CDs to reviewers, one could believe or imagine is about Watson’s, or even one’s own, grandfather. With lyrics like “About the time that I came around… he was slow climbing in the saddle, but once he was up, he could fly… And I learned how to rope and I learned how to pray and how actions speak louder than any words you may say… And though he’s long gone, I’m still out here Riding With Red.”

And that’s just a condensed version of the lyrics about lessons learned from a genuinely-wise mentor… Well, here’s one more… “I’ve busted broncs, I’ve hung on for dear life—to everything he had to say.”

Maybe that’s the reason for naming this project Red Bandana. I believe so. He did say in one interview that he just didn’t see the need for yet another photo of him on a CD cover.

Aaron Watson has the talent for uniqueness in tunes and rhythms, when using cliches, arrangements, witness “Trying Like The Devil” (which, by the way, has a line about wearing a red bandana with old blue jeans) as compared to “Old Friend.” Both upbeat, high energy tempos, yet completely different word and phrase usage. And most folks are already familiar with the celebratory break-up tune “Kiss That Girl Goodbye,” which has been on just about every state and national chart out there.

There’s one on this CD that hasn’t been opened up to the ears or the heart yet, and I check for it daily. It’s called“Ghost of Guy Clark.”

Oh, and by the way, Watson wrote all 20 songs on this CD. No co-writing, even, much less covers of other writers’ songs.

To pre-order, go Online to AaronWatson.com. There are packages available when pre-ordering this CD.

Me? I’m wearing a red bandana every day until June 21, telling people about this gotta-have CD.

By Mary Jane Farmer, Scene In Town

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