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May 2019


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

In This Issue:
Lloyd Maines
2019 Buddy Texas Tornado
Gary P. Nunn
Record Review

Man of steel

A belated Buddy Texas Tornado induction for the legendary Lloyd Maines

By S.D. Henderson

Lloyd MainesSome Texas Tornadoes are like a flash of lightning, brilliant and gone just as you begin to appreciate the brilliance. There’s no better example than 1979 inductee Stevie Ray Vaughan, who electrified the world with each guitar strike and in another flash, he was gone. Tornadoes aren’t built in tranquility; they’re always accompanied by a storm.

Other Texas Tornadoes are more like the thunder, just as powerful, punctuating the storm in loud claps and a steady rumble that lasts just as long as the storm. This year’s Buddy Texas Tornado inductee Lloyd Maines rolled from the Plains of West Texas years ago and settled in Austin as a steady, powerful presence in Texas music.

We should start this off with an apology. After forty-one years of honoring masterful performers in Texas music as Buddy Magazine Texas Tornadoes, you make a few assumptions. It’s a list of the greatest players in Texas, and therefore the world. Tornadoes are nominated by Tornadoes and the editorial staff here at Buddy.

We take the list seriously, because we feel like it’s a responsibility to acknowledge the very best in Texas music. For years, Buddy Magazine publisher and editor Ron McKeown would run the list by Lloyd to glean from Maines’ keen insight and deep knowledge of musicians around the state. Always gracious and unfailingly helpful, he added a measure of quality control that we couldn’t have afforded on our own.

Music On MainAssumptions are a lot like keeping a baby rattlesnake in your left pocket. You don’t reach in to check on them very often, and when you do, they tend to bite. Standing around Ron’s pickup truck late last year, we had one of those moments. Kind of like that feeling that you left the stove on at the house before you left for vacation; we realized that years into the Texas Tornado Hall of Fame we were missing one of the most prolific and accomplished musicians in Texas music. We assumed that Lloyd Maines had always been on the list, the same way we assumed the Vaughan brothers, Eric Johnson, Willie and Flaco Jimenez were on the list. We were wrong.

When you’re wrong, you admit it and then you say you’re sorry. We apologize. Hopefully, by the time you read through this, you’ll have a good idea of just how big an oversight we made through a quick measure of Lloyd Maines’ impact and influence on Texas music.

Forged In Steel

Lloyd Maines career was undoubtedly forged in the pedal steel guitar. It’s a daunting machine just to look at, much less master, and Maines views his relationship with the steel guitar with a deep respect for the instrument. He recalls his first steel and relates, “It’s a little difficult to learn, to get to that point where it doesn’t sound like you’re killing cats, but once you get over that hump, it’s really a fun instrument. I fell in love with the sound of it, the pedals and knee levers were totally intriguing to me because you could make so many different sounds. It’s an unlimited learning process. It’s an animal. I’ve been playing it for fifty years and I still discover new things.”

Pre-Steel Age

Lloyd MainesAt thirteen, Lloyd picked up his dad’s acoustic guitar and a Mel Bay chord book and taught himself and his brothers how to play. Lloyd recalls, “For some reason, I always had a pretty good right hand for the rhythm, it was kind of inborn and I just taught my brothers what I’d learned. So, we started a band when I was about fourteen.” Before he acquired his first steel; Lloyd and his brothers Steve, Donnie and Kenny were already playing rodeo dances and VFW’s around Lubbock with as The Little Maines Brothers.

Maylee ThomasThe original Maines Brothers title was already claimed by his father James, and Lloyd’s uncles Son and Wayne’s band; who played around the flatlands with other local musicians and friends. The Little Maines Brother honed their craft in the footsteps of the original Maines Brothers Band, as Lloyd recalls, “We were playing every Merle Haggard, Bob Wills and Johnny Bush song that we could learn.” The Little Maines Brothers’ five-piece lineup was filled out with a drummer from Post and a fiddle player who lived out in the country near Lubbock by the Maines family, but Lloyd was already searching for a fuller sound.He picked up an electric guitar, but the real answer, the key to the essence of true Texas country sound was no further than his dad’s band. Maines recounted, “My dad’s band had a steel player named Frank Carter from Post, Texas.

He was a really great steel player and he was trying to build his own pedal steel. He’d gotten in about halfway done, one neck of it was done and he was building a double neck and he just kind of lost interest and gave up on it.” One day after football practice Lloyd came home and there was the half-built pedal steel set up and sitting in the living room. “He just gave it to me, so I sat down, fell in love with it and taught myself how to play from watching Frank. Two weeks later we took it to a show.”Maines has never stopped learning since; picking up new chops, knowledge and skills from watching other steel players and learning the history of the instrument through a road course at the University of Swinging Doors.

Quick History

Talking with Lloyd Maines about steel guitars is probably a lot like talking philosophy with Aristotle. In fact, that’s right about where you’d put Lloyd Maines on the list. I’m not sure who would get to be Socrates or Plato, but Maines is definitely the Aristotle of the Pedal Steel. You’d have to choose between maybe Bud Isaacs or Ralph Mooney for Plato and go way back to Bob Wills’ straight steel player Leon McAuliffe or Knowle Boggs for Socrates, but I think you get the idea I’m trying to get across, even while I extend the metaphor just a little too far.

MediaTech Maines has been at the vanguard of the pedal steel since the early days of the Little Maines Brothers, through their assumption of the Maines Brothers Band title in the seventies, stretching through his work today. He’s carried the instrument, both literally and figuratively, all over the world. The Maines Brothers were a force in the flatlands, signed by Mercury Polygram to tap into their popularity in the region.

When the Maines brothers were scattered about by life and school; Lloyd joined the Joe Ely Band recording and touring with Ely throughout the seventies. Maines contributing his steel chops to a sound and iconoclastic style of music that US music makers just couldn’t quite figure out how to handle. With Ely, all the rules were off, and Lloyd brought a rock edge to the pedal steel that may have never been seen since. To put it all in perspective, they toured with The Clash in Europe at the zenith of the Clash’s own revolutionary run through the seventies and early eighties.

One hallmark of Lloyd Maines’s performing career is almost paradoxical mix of continuity and intermittence. Once he becomes a part of the band, he might not play with them for years, but he just might play with them forever.

Billy Bob's TexasThe Maines Brothers Band picked back up where they left off, recording and touring successfully throughout the eighties, and still play as the spirit leads today. Maines still sits in with Joe Ely and Terry Allen from time to time, despite a schedule filled with commitments and opportunities in every direction. His career hasn’t been a linear timeline, more of a tight circle that just keeps rolling on.

Towards the end of the eighties, Maines’ career took a slightly different trajectory after sitting in with Jerry Jeff Walker at Greune Hall on the album that would become, well, you guessed it, Live at Gruene Hall. While still in Lubbock, Maines had always worked out of Caldwell Studios, producing and recording a wide variety of music, but his association with Jerry Jeff kicked his production career into high gear.

That relationship led to touring with Walker and the Gonzo Compadres and producing five or six of albums, which eventually rolled into his career as the quintessential producer of Texas music from that point forward.

Three degrees

Working on over 4000 projects as a live performer, studio engineer and producer and session player; Lloyd Maines established a ubiquitous presence in Texas music that has raised the bar for everyone he works with. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find one artist that matters to Texas music outside of three degrees of Lloyd Maines’ orbit. You could probably widen that to the whole Americana genre, since he’s also played with Uncle Tupelo and Wilco just outside state lines.

Rock 4 JamesI could spend the rest of the article listing the names of people he’s worked with, but I’ll try to just highlight some additional personal favorites and a few of the big ones not mentioned previously: Robert Earl Keen, Terri Hendrix, Max Stalling, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Reckless Kelly, Pat Green, the Flatlanders, Billy Joe Shaver, Kelly Willis, Ray Wylie, Tommy Alverson, Wayne Hancock; and those are just the ones I could think of without looking.

Artists, especially Texas artists, who want to translate their own vision of their music seek Maines’ giftedness as a producer. Cory Morrow is one of those artists who have relied on Maines ability as a producer.

Maines produced Morrow’s last album Whiskey and Pride and Morrow spoke about Maines ability and economy as a producer, “Working with him is like a well-oiled machine, he gets the best out of everybody in the room.

He knows how to go in and get out of the musicians what he wants. He doesn’t waste time or money. He speaks the language. He knows how to translate from my brain to their capabilities.”

Three Rules

Maines is understated about his work as a producer. He said, “They (songwriters) put so much thought, and so much of their time and energy into those songs. It’s like their asking me to take care of their kids. I take it seriously. My goal is to make you proud of it.”

Rockin Robert T Band

Maines treats each project and each artist individually, there is no formula or equation for Maines when it comes to producing a new album, but there are rules. Maines said, “I tell everybody that I’ve got three rules for producing a project. You’ve got to do it in time, in tune and under budget.”

Diverse Country

Over the years, Lloyd Maines has played and produced almost every facet of music that we would call country.

From his formative years with the Texas swing tinged Little Maines Brothers through the more progressive indescribable Joe Ely Band experience he has explored more territory than perhaps any other figure in Texas music, and that was just the beginning.

The revived Maines Brothers Band took him through the eighties and eventually led the crossing paths with Jerry Jeff Walker, who pretty much defined the post-outlaw independent Texas music revolution that continues through today, he’s been at the forefront of each of these events in music history.

When you throw Lloyd’s daughter Natalie Maines into the equation, he’s also played a huge part in mega-universal country music as well. Lloyd has played for, produced and literally been the dad of one of the biggest, most successful acts in music for years.

Where ever he’s playing, or whatever he’s producing, the common thread is quality, consistency, decency and skill. For the last twenty years, Maines has played regularly with Terri Hendrix, who is one of the most interesting and positive forces in music.

Maines provides the music muscle with his acoustic guitar, dobro or Tacoma Papoose and Hendrix provides the light, the insight and the words; the combination is powerful in the kind of way the world could use in much greater quantities.

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2019 Buddy Texas Tornados Announced

Buddy Texas Tornado Complete List

2019 Buddy Texas Tornados

The Texas Sound. For some, it’s the report of a .12-gauge on the opening day of dove season. For others, it’s the grinding of a diamond bit on a dusty Austin-Chalk lease. For the rest of us, it’s the sound of a guitar laced with a smidgeon of sweet distortion, a singing violin-like tone that can make an audience quiver in harmonic sympathy with a bend this way or a vibrato that way.

Texas is guitar country. Has been since before World War I, when Wortham-born Blind Lemon Jefferson brought the Texas Blues from his hometown to Dallas and then to the whole Midwest. Before Dallas-born Charlie Christian became the first electric guitarist to gain fame, with the Benny Goodman Sextet. Before Tioga-born Gene Autry strummed his way to fame as the first singing cowboy star. Even before Buddy Holly denned the rock trio format for generations to come.

Butch Bonnor

Butch BonnerBorn Floyd Earl Whiting on March 22nd, 1953 in Fort Worth but raised in Dallas and known as Butch Bonner, he is a musician’s musician. There are “Guitar” players and “Good-tar” players, the difference is why Butch is highly respected in the music industry. From Freddie King’s back up man; collaborating with Johnnie Taylor to touring with Lucky Peterson, “Butchie Boy” learned from the best and is not just a guitarist but well known as a songwriter, arranger, producer, keyboardist, vocalist, band leader, a recording engineer and technical support.

The Free ManStarting in the early ’60a his first guitars were whatever you could get your hands on. He paid his dues with Jolly George Harris, Z.Z. Hill, Robert “Goodie” Whitfield and R.L. Griffin. In 1973 he was part of the Black Grass record produced by Leon Russell. Later in Los Angeles he joined the funk band “Zoom” releasing Blasting Off on MCA in 1981 and Saturday, Saturday Night on Polydor in 1983. That helped him land multiple appearances on Soul Train and American Bandstand.

When he returned to Texas he helped form Lazzar Band and built his own recording studio Butchie Boy Music where he produced artists for Pelican Records. He produced records for Sang’n Clarence on Pelican, Waloxy and Malaco Records also tracks for Mel Waiters. Butch not only toured Europe with Freddie King in 1974 and 1975 but later toured overseas with Lucky Peterson. He also wrote with Lucky and played on several of his records. He wrote songs with Johnnie Taylor and produced three tracks on Taylor’s Good Love.

He is credited on Bobby “Blue” Bland’s 1998 release “Memphis Monday Morning” with co-writing “You Left Me With The Blues” and co-wrote a song with Bootsy Collins for Cartoon Network’s “Dragon Ball Z.” He produced and played on records by Bobby Patterson, Yarbrough & Peoples, R.L. Griffin, Big Bo and Trudy Lynn among others. Butch currently plays live with the Bobby Patterson Band and the Stratoblasters. His technique is smooth, soulful yet full of fire and passion. He plays from the heart but also commands the fretboard within the song he is playing.

Only showing off when you have to, Butch knows how to play the stage and the crowd. His favorite guitars are a Gibson 355 and a Fender Strat going through his Crate amp or Fender twin. Butch gives all his talent and blessings to the creator and says “God is good all the time” and music is to share. His knowledge of the music business and the way it works is invaluable to younger musicians for years to come and he can show you how to be a “Good-tar” player.

Tyler Bryant

Tyler BryantHoney Grove native Tyler Bryant’s star shot over the North Texas area very quickly in early aughts, and has since continued to ascend worldwide. Recognized in his teen years as a blues prodigy, he won the 2006 Robert Johnson Gibson New Generation Award for aspiring young guitar players, and in 2007, Bryant won Ernie Ball’s first “Play Crossroads Competition” and a slot performing at the Crossroads Guitar Festival. He has since gained fandom of some of the world’s most legendary guitarists. B.B. King, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Vince Gill, and Billy Gibbons.

Although only 28 years old, the veteran guitarist, singer, and songwriter has toured and performed with the world’s biggest rock acts and musicians, including ZZ Top, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, Aerosmith, and Chris Cornell. Bryant has had many great memories of playing on stadium bills, but he says his most memorable gig was playing in Lisbon, Portugal, opening for AC/DC before a rain-soaked crowd of 50,000, with the debut of vocalist Axl Rose on May 8, 2016. “People were standing in the mud, chanting for the music to start. And we were on first, and nobody knew who we were. We were a bit tense backstage, but it turned out great,” he says.

Bryant cites his biggest guitar influence as Alan Haynes. As a teenager, Bryant gained a big fan by the name of Don Nelson Jr. Nelson asked him what his dream guitar was, and it was a 1960 Fender Strat, just like Alan’s. Nelson presented Bryant with a 1960 Stratocaster three days later.

Fender has also issued a Tyler Bryant model Custom Shop Strat based on this guitar, one he calls “Pinky”, in tribute to the classic pink Cadillac and his favorite rock star of all, Elvis Presley. On tour and in the studio he plays a D’Angelico Deluxe 335 in Rose Gold, a limited EVH Fender with a Tele neck pickup, and a 1931 National Duolian resonator guitar. He also uses Marshall Amplication, and Orange amps and speakers.

His Nashville-based band, Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown, has released two studio album, Wild Child (2013), and a self-titled record in 2017. Their next full-length album, Truth and Lies, drops this month.

James Hinkle

James HinkleFort Worth hipster and internationally acclaimed musician, James Hinkle, began his journey in 1976 playing solo guitar at the local Shakey’s Pizza and Hip Pocket Theater. In 1977 he met Freddie Cisneros or “Little Junior” as he was known and he introduced James to the FW Blues scene.

Hanging around cats like Robin Sylar, Robert Ealey, U.P. Wilson, Jim Colegrove, Stephen and Sumter Bruton, Slim Ritchie and Doyle Bramhall Sr tend to influence your Cowtown ways and cutting your chops at the legendary Blue Bird Club seems to build confidence and charm. In 1981 James enrolled at University of Texas in Austin where he received a degree in Art and Education. He started playing jazz in a band called Tempest that later morphed into Housewives’ Choice by 1984. They toured the Midwest and regularly played Antones. In 1986 they released their first record produced by Doyle Bramhall Sr.

In 1987 Hinkle scored a gig with Marcia Ball, what was just a couple of gigs on the Gulf Coast turned into a three year job touring the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Europe and recording with her on “Gatorhythms” in 1989. James joined the Hoo Doo Cats in 1990 and released Hoo Doo Happens followed by Vicious Rumors and Lucky Charms with Johnny Mack in 1993. He toured with Johnny Reno, Buddy Miles and his own band through the 1990s. His first solo release was Running Too Hard in 1997, he then released a string of critically acclaimed records in the 2000s, Straight Ahead Blues, Blues Now Jazz Later, Some Day, Daddies Ju Ju , First Crossing with the Transatlantics in 2012. and “Let It Out” in 2017 with his daughter Claire. “Eclec-Tex” is a diverse style with immense technique and feel for the music.

That is what separates James from other guitar players, his unique ability to not only play but to blend all styles is the secret to his magic mojo bag of tricks. He is also a noted artist with works in art galleries and local exhibitions. Hinkle has gathered numerous recognitions from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram such as Best Blues Act in 1995 and 1999. Also the FW Weekly Music Awards, Artist of The Year in 1998 and Best Blues Band in 2005, 2006, 2007 and Guitarist of The Year in 2011. His influences besides all the local musicians is Wes Montgomery, T-Bone Walker, Snooks Eaglin and Charlie Christian. His fave set up is a Gibson Les Paul running through a Fender tube amp.

Michael Lee Clemmer

Michael Lee ClemmerMichael Lee was born in 1988 in Bedford, and became obsessed at an early age with Stevie Ray Vaughan. He knew then and there that the guitar would be his life’s calling. Sneaking out of his house during his high school years he would go and jam at the Hole in The Wall sacrificing his academic performance but learning how to play to a crowd and becoming a guitar hero.

At nineteen he joined his first band and started paying his dues, a few years later he joined the Dennis Lee Band where he was working as a sideman and guitar slinger. They recorded an EP and a full length record but soon broke up after leaving the studio. Another influence is Buddy Whittington, after Michael saw him perform with his incredible vocals and guitar playing he quit his day job.

It was during this time that the trap of drugs and alcohol became a priority. He had the strength to kick the habit and has been sober going on seven years. He released his self titled debut album in 2014 which received national airplay here and in Europe.

Tavern On Main StreetIn 2015 Michael was nominated by the San Angelo Blues Society to represent them in the 32nd Annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. After that experience a brand new direction was born with Michael Lee and The Wartime Limousine playing to sold out venues and reaching legions of new fans. In 2018 Michael auditioned for Season 15 of The Voice and was selected to be on Team Blake and made it to the live shows. After the show he was contacted by the B.B. King Blues Band to record the “The Thrill is Gone” which he had performed on the show and it now has over six million views.

Currently, he is touring with the B.B. King Blues Band and he has signed to Ruf Records and will release his new record this summer. Michael backs up his guitar prowess with commanding vocals and a professional stage presence that he has crafted after years of hard living and playing. He has reached a level of actualization with his music and is ready to keep it growing

He prefers a Fender strat but loves the Gibsons too going through a Supro amp, the same kind Jimi Hendrix played when he was with the Isley Brothers. His favorites are a 1986 Fender 59 reissue named “Gracie”, a 2018 Kerry Langford he named “Cowboy” and a 2006 Fender named “Junkie.”

Lloyd Maines

Lloyd MainesLloyd Maines is the kind of Texas Tornado you can write 2000 words about and still leave off the fact that he’s a Grammy Winner. Maines is an understated statesman in Texas music as both a legendarily gifted pedal steel player and prodigious producer of amazing Texas music.

Hailing from outside Lubbock, Maines is now a mainstay around Austin as a producer and session player but still finds time to make incredible live music with Terri Hendrix, Joe Ely and Terry Allen. Maines has performed, produced or engineered more than 4000 projects over the years who has never sacrificed quality for quantity.

Kicking off his music career and following in his dad James’ footsteps, Lloyd founded the Little Maines Brothers Band when he was fourteen years old. He was given his first pedal steel guitar at seventeen, fell in love and never looked back.

Touring with the Joe Ely Band in the ’70s, he took the steel to places unknown both sonically and geographically alongside the iconoclastic music of Joe Ely. In the ’80s, Maines enjoyed commercial success again with the Maines Brothers Band who still play together when time and lives permit.

In the late ’80s, Lloyd agreed to sit in with Jerry Jeff Walker on a little record that could arguably be listed as New York states’ finest contribution to the Texas music. Live at Gruene Hall was a key spark in the revival of independent Texas music that has fueled these pages for the 35 years since its release.

Lloyd plays a Mullen G2 SD-10 pedal steel guitar, a Gibson Dobro, and a really cool little guitar called a Papoose by Tacoma Guitars that I mistook for a ukulele. Maines uses a Bourgeois Guitar exclusively in the studio for session work. For live and outdoor gigs, Maines relies on a CA (Composite Acoustics) Guitar made entirely out of carbon fiber. Lloyd has enjoyed a long relationship with Peavey Amps and depends on them for pretty much every amplified sound he plays. Add Fishman and Baggs pickups, and GHS Strings for everything; and you’ve got your own Lloyd Maines starter kit. Just add talent, skill, great hands and ears and in 53 years or so, you might just start sounding like him.

It also marked the spark that established Maines as the guy you wanted to work with if you played Texas music. You’d be hard pressed to find a better steel player, a better producer or a better guy to interview or know anywhere. Men like Lloyd Maines are not just rare, men like Lloyd are a singularity.

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Texas Music Legend Honored at State Capital

Gary P. Nunn

By Jan Sikes

Gary P. NunnGary P. Nunn is most known for his iconic songs, “London Homesick Blues,” and “The Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning. But, beyond that, he is also noted as one of the early pioneers of what we know today as Texas Music.

On April 10, Nunn was honored by Governor Greg Abbott, The Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate of the 86th Texas Legislature. The legendary singer-songwriter was presented with a proclamation and two resolutions in the Governor’s Office and on the House and Senate floors. The resolutions were authored by Representative Kyle Kacal (R-District 12) in the Texas House of Representatives and Senator Dawn Buckingham (R- District 24) in the Texas Senate honoring Gary P. Nunn’s lifetime achievements in Texas country music.

Representative Kacal also presented a Million Air Performance Certificate for Nunn’s song, “The Last Thing I Needed The First Thing This Morning.” Kacal had this to say. “Let me put this into perspective. The average song is three and a half minutes long and would have to be played back-to-back for six years for it to be played a million times. Gary, your song has reached that status.”

Nunn accepted the certificate with smiles and a few tears as he thanked his family, his music family, friends and the State of Texas for his success.

The celebration moved to the Governor’s office where Nunn was presented with the “Lifetime Achievement in Texas Country Music” award.

Governor Abbott read the proclamation, “Gary P. Nunn - In honor and recognition of his renowned Texas Music career. As a Texas Hall of Fame inductee and Ambassador of Texas Music, Gary P. Nunn continues to be a vital influence on the country music scene and his contribution as a singer and songwriter highlights the very best of the Lone Star State.”

Eastside Kings FestivalBut this monumental event didn’t end there. HR 1154 was read on House Floor by Representative Kacal and on the Senate floor by Senator, Dawn Buckingham who stated, “It is impossible to think of Gary P. Nunn without visions of Luckenbach, live music and honky-tonk fun.”

Kevin Fowler and Bruce Robison both attended the event. Robison said this in his speech. “He was part of a movement that I think changed the way that people looked at country music. Ambitious and crafty music that definitely flew the flag of Texas, but took it all around the world…”

Fowler said, “I always joked with everybody that I wanted to be Gary P. Nunn when I grew up. He’s had the perfect career. He’s the energizer bunny. He just keeps going and going and going.”

I don’t think it could be said any better.’

Gary P. Nunn has driven over two million miles across the great state of Texas performing over 100 days a year for more than 46 years and still takes fans on yearly trips to Belize, saddles up for his annual trail ride with the Tejas Vaqueros, and performs at the World Championship Chili Cookoff in Terlingua.

A crowning accomplishment for any artist, Gary P. Nunn has been invited to appear on the Grand Ol’ Opry stage on August 3rd.

Closer to home, Nunn will be doing back-to-back performances at the Sons of Hermann Hall on May 17 and 18. These shows will sell out so get your tickets early!

2019 is the year for Gary P. Nunn, despite the announcement of his intention to retire in 2020.

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Record Review

Austin Cunningham
Country & Western Music
Senior Parter Records

By Jan Sikes

Austin CunninghamAustin Cunningham and his music have been compared to the spirit of a wild mustang that will never be tamed. With over seventy cuts by a diverse group of top-shelf artists, he is no greenhorn, and that’s for sure.

His new album, Country & Western Music, produced by Jim Reilly shows why his well-crafted songs, muscular guitar and pleasing vocals are loved by his fans as well as his peers.

“Homesick Gypsy,” is a rockin’ country tune, and it opens this album. “Feelin’ Better” keeps the rhythm going while the lyrics uplift.

I had to laugh at “I Don’t Want A Dog.” The lyrics are clever, and the song is fun. “I don’t want a dog/Who don’t want to be my dog…”

A popular song on radio, “God’s Last Name,” is a reminder that sometimes we might want to hold our tongue when we hit our finger with a hammer, because “God’s last name is not damn…”

My pick from this album, “No Friend Like an Old Friend,” reminds me of a Guy Clark song. “There ain’t no friend/Like an old friend/The kind who’s always been/There when you needed them…”

Austin sings about the itchy-feet syndrome with “Gypsy Boots.” Sometimes you just have to go!

“Long Train” is a life lesson set to music. He shows the sharp contrast between being late and being dead.

Another fun song, “Juan’s Drunk Again,” is a songwriter’s lament.

Taking us south of the border, “Friends, Fajitas, Ice Cold Beer,” offers a solid solution to all the world problems.

Only a seasoned songwriter like Austin Cunningham could write a love song that covers every aspect of a relationship like “My Favorite Song.”

A tribute to a dobro player, “Jerry Holt Jam,” is about an all-night party with some fancy jamming.

This album closes with a fan favorite, “Testicle Festival.” There are several of these festivals around the country and in Texas, and Cunningham memorializes them in song. “Give me them calf fries/Give me them calf fries/Just like mountain oysters/Mercy sakes alive…”

If you are a fan of well-written, country songs with music and vocals that are above par, you are going to enjoy Austin Cunningham’s new album!

Jack Ingram
Ridin’ Hight Again
Beat Up Ford Records

By Jan Sikes

Jack IngramJack Ingram has released his tenth studio album, Ridin’ High…Again, in conjunction with the 7th annual Mack, Jack and McConaughey benefit in Austin with Mack Brown, Jack Ingram, and Matthew McConaughey. The benefit consists of two days of golf and two nights of music with proceeds going to charitable organizations dedicated to children’s health, education and wellness.

Ridin’ High…Again ranges from rowdy to reverent and everything in between.

The album kicks off with the saying Matthew McConaughey is famous for, “Alright, Alright, Alright.” Over five minutes long, I’d say it’s a comprehensive tribute.

Done in only a way Jack Ingram can, the infamous Rusty Weir tune, “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance,” is the perfect Texas country music song.

“Staying Out of Jail,” is an eclectic tune dedicated to those who are “riding high, eating good, staying out of jail…”

Guy Clark’s “Desperados Waiting for a Train” has been recorded by many artists through the years, but no version is as reverent and honest as this one from Ingram.

A song that stands out on the album, “Where There’s a Willie” is the ultimate tribute song. “Where there’s a night/There’s a day/There’s a will/There’s a way/Down in Texas/We have our own saying/Where there’s a Willie/There’s a Waylon…”

Great cover tunes, “Gotta Drunk,” “Down the Road” (a Hayes Carll tune) and “Never Ending Love,” are well-done and different. Ingram isn’t afraid to use more cow bell, which is apparent on “Never Ending Love.”

“Sailor and the Sea” is a poignant tribute about dreams, hopes, and wishes. It has a beautiful flowing melody and is easily my pick from this album.

I think it’s safe to say that “Everybody Wants To Be Somebody!”

“Shooting Stars” pays homage to the musicians that dare to do it their own way. “God bless the boys from Texas/Sticking to your guns.”

The album ends with a Kris Kristofferson tune, “Jesus was a Capricorn.”

The album title is a tip-of-the-hat to Jerry Jeff Walker’s album Ridin’ High. It encompasses everything we’ve come to expect from Jack Ingram from gritty to solemn. Every Ingram fan will be grabbing this one.

Wild Fire
Been There
RSI Enterprises

By Jan Sikes

Winners of the 2018 Josie Music Awards Female Vocalist of the Year (Young Adult Category), two sisters, Kayla, and Kelli Lutzwig are making waves in the pop country music.

Houston natives, these girls are in their mid-teens and have been studying with a vocal coach since they were six. Both also learned to play guitar with Kelli doubling on drums. And, now they are ready to showcase their songwriting talent.

With the release of a new EP, Been There, that is exactly what they are doing.

The first song on the EP, “Been There Dumped That,” is a strong statement. I think most every teenage girl will relate to the lyrics. Johnny is so sure his pickup line is infallible, but the girl shuts him down when she tells him she’s heard it all before a time or two and throws him out the door.

“Gone In a Flash,” is a lament over lost love. When you think you’ve found a love that will last forever only to realize, it’s all gone in a flash.

Then there’s the guy who only wants eye-candy on his arm, and these girls declare they won’t be his “Flaunt.”

Keeping with the thread that runs through this EP, “Billboard Sign,” is about a kiss that is more than friendship. You can see it in their eyes, and it might as well be plastered on a billboard sign.

“Hold On to That,” is a hope, a dream, a wish. “When you’ve got the hand of the one you love/Hold on to that…”

These girls are not shy when it comes to putting their feelings into song lyrics. And “My Over You Song” is a perfect example.

Each tune on Been There comes straight from the perspective of a teenage girl. While I personally am not a fan of pop country, I have a deep appreciation for the vocal prowess of these two girls and the perfection with which they blend harmonies together. They are young, beautiful and have a bright future ahead. With nearly 100,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram, they are building quite a fan base. We will most definitely see more of them in days to come!

George Ensle
Independent Release

By Mary Jane Farmer, Scene In Town

Sometimes the best music come unexpectedly. George Ensle has been producing good — no, make that great—music for decades, and this newest of his CDs, Home, is perhaps the best of them all.

Ensle either wrote or co-wrote all the songs on this 10-song project, and has some of the best co-writers one could ever ask for on his side. Tony Ramey co-wrote “Black Sheep,” a song about “the prodigal, always on the run… black sheep always need a second chance.” And Chuck Hawthorne added his pen to one of my favorites on this project, “Gloves.” This tune is reminiscent of Guy Clark’s “Randall Knife,” yet not the same at all. The gloves were a gift from his dad when he set out to be on his own. “Wear ’em for the greater good, and always remember, son, Always build God’s kingdom…”

And a verse about how he failed when he wasn’t wearing them. And “through the years I mended fences every chance I had, and I rebuilt old foundations when they were going bad.” Lines of really growing up, growing in maturity. Lessons in life. And “All I Need,” co-written with Richard Dobson, is a song of answered prayers. “I asked for strength, and I got troubles to get me straight and strong, asked for wisdom and I got problems that taught me right from wrong… I asked for mercy and I got an old friend who needed a second chance, I got all I wanted when I got all I need.”

As I’ve listened to this CD over and over again — it’s that good — I would think with one song—“That’s my favorite,” and then another song will play and it’s be, “No, wait that one’s my favorite.” Ad infinitum. But, it’s settled now… my favorite is “Old Windmill Waltz,” and maybe that’s because hardly anybody every writes, plays, or sings waltzes any more. Well, George Ensle did.

Ensle has a voice that puts sweetness and sincerity in every lyric. Harmonies are added by the sweet voices of Christine Albert and Kristin DeWitt. And the instrumentations are provided by the who’s who of the Texas Hill Country musicians.

Home is available on Ensle’s Website, GeorgeEnsle.com and on most streaming sites. He normally plays around the Texas Hill Country, and is due to play Harmony House Concerts in the Bonham area July 6.

The Texas Horns
Get Here Quick
Severn Records

By Jan Sikes

The Texas HornsThe Texas Horns, comprised of Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff (tenor sax), John Mills (baritone sax) and Al Gomez (trumpet) is one of the most in-demand horn sections for both recording sessions and on tour with some of the biggest names in roots music.

They have released their debut CD, Get Here Quick that features a group of special guests who are at the top of the Who’s Who list in the world of music. This album is full, robust, and extraordinary from start to finish!

“It took us a year to make Get Here Quick,” recalls Mark Kazanoff, who with his horn-mates arranged all the songs and horns on the sessions.

“I don’t usually like to do record production projects like that. But this time, we had so many wonderful guest musicians in mind that we knew we would never be able to get everyone together in one place for a week or two; so we did the CD bit-by-bit.”

One of the things about this album that makes is unique is the top-notch musicians that joined with The Texas Horns for the production.

Kazanoff said, “We used a couple of different rhythm sections, including both Tommy Taylor and John Bryant on drums. We also were fortunate to get both Chris Maresh and Russell Jackson on bass. We were so fortunate to have guitarists Denny Freeman, Ronnie Earl, Anson Funderburgh, Jonn Del Toro Richardson, Johnny Moeller, and Derek O’Brien with us at different stages of the recording process. No way to get all those great players in one place for very long.”

Add in the amazing vocalists that gave of their time and talent to this project, and you can quickly see there is incredible magic happening here.

Kazanoff said it best. “Of course with our vocal guests, I have to pinch myself that we have Curtis Salgado singing one of our tunes; same with John Nemeth. We were very happy to be able to get into the studio with Gary Nicholson for a couple of his original songs. We also wanted to do something with Carolyn Wonderland, so we asked her to sing my song, “I’m Doin’ Alright, at Least for Tonight.” We also were so happy to get to work with Guy Forsyth. He did a beautiful job with John Mills’ “Guitar Town.”

While I loved every one of the twelve cuts, there were some that stood out above the rest.

“I’m Doin’ Alright, at Least for Tonight,” features Carolyn Wonderland on vocals and lead guitar. With the horn section backing her, she puts herself into the spirit of the song, and it becomes an almost religious experience.

The infamous Red Young is featured on keys on “Feelin’ No Pain.”

Two songs by Gary Nicholson, “Fix Your Face” and “Soulshine” are stellar instrumentals as well as down-and-dirty lyrics done only the way Nicholson can.

The song that the album takes its title from,— “Better Get Here Quick,” features Johnny Moeller on blistering lead guitar and Red Young on keys. Blend all that greatness with the horns, and you’ve got an instrumental that takes music to an entirely different level.

“Love is Gone” slows it down, and John Nemeth delivers soulful vocals that grieve for a love that can never be reclaimed.

The distinctive guitar riffs from Johnny Moeller and incredible vocals by Curtis Salgado, “Sundown Talkin’” is blues at its very finest.

“Funky Ape” is an instrumental that delivers exactly what the title represents. It’s funky, bluesy, and cool.

Featuring the sultry sounds of the baritone sax, “You Can’t Be Serious,” is fun satire. “What can we do?/By the turn of the screw/You take it from the many/And you give it to the few…”

While the lyrics are engaging, it’s these incredible musicians and the song arrangement that give this tune wings. Besides the incomparable horn section, Johnny Moeller and John Del Toro Richardson swapping licks on electric guitars, Derek O’Brien on slide guitar, and Red Young on keys, the spotlight shines on some of the most accomplished musicians on the planet.

The album concludes with “Truckload of Trouble,” and that’s precisely what it is. It is a culmination of everything I heard throughout the entire album.

Recorded at Stuart’s Wire Recording Studio in Austin, this is an album that is destined to remain for decades as some of the best musical arrangements by mega-talented musicians! I can’t say enough great things about Get Here Quick. It is a must-have for any true lover of all things Texas and music.

The Texas Horns will be performing on May 3, at the Dallas International Guitar Festival along with Kara Granger and Chris Rodriguez. A CD release party is planned at Antone’s in Austin on June 19.

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