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October 2019


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

In This Issue:
Jason Roberts
Taking Texas to Tennesee
Texas Country Music Awards
Record Review
Blah Blah
In Memoriam

From Nowhere: The Story of the Vaughan Brothers
NEW Documentary by Kriby Warnock

Texas Premier on October 19th 2019 at the

Texas Royalty

Jason Roberts and the Bob Wills Fiddle Fest

By S.D. Henderson

Making the Jason Roberts

"It don’t matter who’s in Austin. Bob Wills is still the king.”
- Poet and Philosopher, W.A. Jennings

It’s an undisputed truth in Texas, formally expressed by one of the premier bards of our generation. Bob Wills, who passed away in 1975, is still the king. There have been many pretenders to the throne, some great, others lacking, but to borrow from another truism; if you want to be the king of Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in your hand.

Jason Roberts, the reigning heir apparent, wasn’t born with a fiddle in his hand but there was one waiting for him, as soon as he was ready. After twenty years playing fiddle with road warriors Asleep at the Wheel and a long run as the front man of western swinging Jason Roberts Band, Roberts will rosin his bow and direct the new incarnation of the Texas Playboys next month in Greenville. Handpicked by the Wills estate and the late legendary Texas Playboy vocalist Leon Rausch, two-time Grammy winner Roberts is a natural and fitting choice.

Texas Homegrown Music

From Camelot to Greenville

Few people might consider Greenville, Texas to share much in common with the legend of Camelot, but on the first weekend in November; Downtown Greenville plays host to the sixth Bob Wills Fiddle Festival and Contest, where the crown prince of Texas fiddle will preside over a new generation of musicians seeking to join the long lineage of Texas fiddle royalty.

Bob Wills never wore a gold crown like the legendary King Arthur; he preferred a Stetson. To my knowledge the Texas Playboys never slayed a single dragon like some of the Knights of the Round Table; but for nights on end, they carried the invention and tradition of western swing to dancehalls across the country fanning the flame years after Wills’ death. That tradition is well preserved in men like Jason Roberts and events like the fiddle festival.

Western swing runs deep through the veins of Roberts, which serves to keep the music alive and well today. It all starts with the fiddle. I noticed that there aren’t too many fiddle stores after a quick Google search, so I had to ask the question. I asked Roberts about the difference between a fiddle and a violin, he answered, “Well, technically it’s the same instrument, but if you’re playing Mozart it’s a violin, if you’re playing Bob Wills it’s a fiddle.”

Tavern On Main Street

Bowstrings and Bloodlines

You might say that western swing runs more through bowstrings than blood lines, but Roberts has been blessed by both.

Roberts said.“My grandfather that was a fiddler, unfortunately I never did get to hear him play. After he passed on I had two fiddles that belonged to him, hegot them put back together and those were the instruments I started on.”

The other side of the family also has close ties to music, Roberts said, “On the other side of the family, on my dad’s side my grandfather played upright bass and had a western swing band called The Roberts Brothers Rythmaires, they played all over Texas in the ’40s and ’50s. Johnny Gimble actually played with them before he joined Bob Wills. My grandmother was also an amazing piano player; having that as a musical influence at an early age I think that all contributed to my musical ears.”

A legend in his own right, Gimble was kin by marriage and a huge influence on Roberts’ play and development as a fiddler. Roberts took full advantage of the blessing of having access to a world-class fiddler. As Roberts relates, “Another leg up I had was the fact that Johnny Gimble and my grandfather were good friends. I was able to sit at Johnny Gimble’s feet when he’d visit my grandparents and I just soaked that up. I didn’t know what I was hearing at the time, but I knew that I loved it.”

Roberts added,”“I remember as a kid when I was just starting to play, I got a tape in the mail from Johnny Gimble. It was just him in a room, giving me a theory lesson on the Nashville numbering system. I don’t read music, but he explained it in a way that made since to me.”

Making the Jason Roberts

Perhaps Predisposed

Perhaps predisposed to western swing, Roberts still loves the music for the same reasons Bob Wills forged it into an iconic form, “That’s one of the things that drew me to western swing, there are so many things stylistically speaking that are going on in western swing and Bob Wills’ music in particular. There’s a little bit of traditional fiddling, a little bit of country, a little bluegrass, a little jazz, big band and even rock and roll. That’s why Bob Wills is in the Rock and Roll and Country halls of fame. They were playing hard boogie woogie and crunchy guitars long before Elvis and Little Richard.”

There is a lot at stake when you’re both keeper of the flame and a working creative artist. You can’t just be the curator of an ancient tradition; you have to create new music in order to give the tradition new life. The Jason Roberts Band released That’s My Home in 2014, to widespread critical acclaim. Hearing the album, I was struck by the deep jazz influenced undertones to what sounded at first as stark simplicity and pure western swing.

Play All You Know

There’s probably more we owe to the jazz tradition than I’d care to admit, as Roberts said, “That’s what Bob Wills was doing too. He hired good players, and they’d play a nice simple melody, but when it was their turn it was jazz. They played what they felt. That’s what Bob Wills wanted, his famous quote was ‘when I point my bow at you, I want you to play all you know.”

Jason has the good fortune of some amazing players to point his bow at when the time is right. The band as presently constituted has a lineup that even Wills might envy, with Wayne Glasson on piano, drummers Michael Morris and Tony Ramsey, steel guitarist Dave Biller, Albert Quade on bass and George Strait guitarist Rick McCrae.

And there’s always room for a second fiddle, which in this world is a credit not a critique. Shawn Howe will be fiddling with the Roberts and the Texas Playboys in November.

Roberts also understands the need for new infusions into the tradition, so he’s busy at work on the Jason Roberts Band’s next recording. He relates, “We’re always working on something. I really felt the need to write some new material. To me, that’s important, it’s a defining thing for an artist to have original material. I’ve been focused writing new songs, I’ve got a good couple of handfuls of songs that we’ve finished and are putting together and I’m planning to make a big push this year on the new record.”

Memorial Benefit For The Family Of Richard Chalk

Sage Advice

Following the path of an icon and an iconic tradition can be a little daunting, but Roberts was given some sage advice from long time mentor Johnny Gimble: “Never forget the world already has a Johnny Gimble, it needs a Jason Roberts.”

There will be a lot going on in Downtown Greenville on November 1 and 2, which cynics may say is a rare occurrence, but in addition to the opportunity to see history lived out and breathing again through Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, under the direction of Jason Roberts (which is a mouthful, but it’s the way they put in print) there will also be a unique opportunity to see the future of fiddling at the Bob Wills Fiddle Festival running all weekend long, at venues around the downtown area.

Somewhere on stage (since it could be considered sacrilege to say you’ve found the next Bob Wills we won’t say it here) you might just get to see the next Johnny Gimble, or the next Jason

Roberts which is just a two step away from the original king of western swing himself. It’s a celebration of all things fiddle, more than worthy of a short drive to Greenville. I didn’t know Johnny Gimble, but I do have some good advice for you just the same; make plans to see Jason Roberts lead the new incarnation of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys at the 6th Bob Wills Fiddle Festival in Downtown Greenville, and keep your ears open for the next Jason Roberts Band release.

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Taking Texas to Tennesee

A tale of two music cities divided

By Jan Sikes

Taking Texas to Tennesee - Cody Jinks

On the heels of the Ken Burns sensational film, Country Music on PBS, the one undisputable conclusion is that country music has been and continues to be a large part of American history. At one time during that history, Nashville was the only place to go if an artist wanted to break into the business. However, over the years, that changed and Texas played a large part in that change.

It is no secret that there has been a complicated rift between Nashville and Texas music artists ever since Waylon bucked the establishment, insisting on making music his own way and Willie took his music home to Texas.

MediaTech Institute

I compare it to the famous feud between the Hatfields and McCoys. Shots were fired, and many folks threatened, but now the dust has cleared, and hands shaken. Judging by the recent spate of Texas musicians who’ve made the trek to the famous city to perform on the Grand Ole Opry, I’d say there is at the least a truce.

Could it be that the Nashville heads are watching the flourishing Texas music industry with some envy? Or perhaps they are only seeing dollar signs.

Taking Texas to Tennesee - Gary P. Nunn

Whatever the reason, I recently had the distinct honor of witnessing something that I believe will have lasting ripple effects for years and artists to come. I traveled to Nashville along with approximately 500 other avid Texas music fans to see our legendary Texas performer, Gary P. Nunn, make his debut on the iconic Grand Ole Opry on August 3, 2019. And, it came as no surprise that Nunn performed his two mega-hits, “London Homesick Blues,” and “Last Thing I Needed The First Thing This morning.””

While it was my first real visit to the city, I enjoyed exploring the places that created and now preserve country music history throughout the decades.

But the crowning moment was when Gary P. Nunn strode onto the Grand Ole Opry stage and stood in the legendary “circle” while his fans jumped to their feet to welcome him with a Texas-size display of love for their favorite artist. The significance of performing at the mother of all country music venues cannot be understated.”

Rockin' Robert T. Band

Later that evening, Nunn had this to say about the experience.

“It’s always been on my “bucket list” to play the Grand Ole Opry and I never really thought I’d get the chance. It’s overwhelming.”

Add in the massive amount of folks that traveled to Music City to see him, and there was no denying that Nunn was deeply touched.

“When I looked out into the audience and saw all the Texas music fans that had traveled to Nashville to share this experience with me, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was completely blown away,” Nunn said with misty eyes.

Fellow Texas artist, Ray Wylie Hubbard, made his own debut on the Grand Ole Opry on July 17 of this year

Taking Texas to Tennesee - Gary P. Nunn

“There are certain moments in time more powerful than others.” Said Hubbard. “Walking onto the Grand Ole Opry stage is one of the most powerful.”

Cody Jinks made his Grand Ole Opry debut on August 28.

“I was as nervous about playing the Opry as I’ve been about any show,” Jinx admitted. “It’s an amazing experience that’s hard to sum up. It’s just special.”

So, why is Nashville suddenly opening its arms to Texas Music artists?

I think the answer to that quintessential question is complex and can’t be answered in a few simple words, but he Country Music Hall of Fame Museum in Nashville could be partially responsible for the shift.

Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth, Texas

Outlaws & Armadillos

Imagine 5,000 sq. ft. of nothing but Texas music history. That’s larger than an NBA basketball court, and that is precisely what you’ll find in the “Outlaws and Armadillos – Country Music’s Roaring ’70s” exhibit which resides on the third floor of the Hall of Fame Museum in downtown Nashville.

I had the honor of sitting down with exhibit co-curator, Michael Gray, in his office at the museum to talk about how this exhibit came into being.

“There is a perceived division between Texas and Tennessee,” Gray explained, “but that relationship between Nashville and Austin is maybe a little more surprising and complicated than people realize.

“It started before the ’70s when we began to see artists insist on taking charge of their music rather than having a label executive tell them what to do. But the ’70s really brought it to a head when Willie left Nashville and went back home to Texas. We all know the story of how he began to play at the Armadillo World Headquarters, then contacted his friend, Waylon and invited him down. But, also at the time, even though these rebelling artists had taken their music out of Nashville, they often had to return to Nashville to record because, at the time, there were little to no studios in Texas.”

Taking Texas to Tennesee - Ray Wylie Hubbard

And the decades-long standoff between Nashville and Austin grew exponentially with artists like Willie, Waylon, Bobby Bare, Gary P. Nunn, Jerry Jeff Walker, Michael Martin Murphey, Marcia Ball, Joe Ely, and many others who had a burning passion to create original music without boundaries.

Austin filmmaker, Eric Geadelmann, memorialized Texas music history in a series of documentaries: “They Called Us Outlaws,” which tells the story of Texas music directly through the artists themselves. The idea to create the “Outlaws and Armadillos – Country’s Roaring ’70s” exhibit came from these documentaries.

“Eric Geadelmann met with us about six years ago here at the hall of fame,” said Gray, “and shared that he was going to produce this documentary series about the outlaw movement in the 1970s.

The Hall of Fame became an official partner with him on this series. We opened up our archives to him to help him make his film. We had an exhibit at the time in that exact same gallery that was all about the late sixties and early seventies in Nashville when Bob Dylan came to record (1969’s Nashville Skyline) along with all the folk and rock artists that followed him here and opened the city a little bit.

So, as that exhibit grew to a close, we decided to do an exhibit that went along with Eric’s film. And that was how it all started.”
Gray went on to explain how trips back and forth between Austin and Nashville set it all in motion. And they weren’t just satisfied to explore and feature the music artists, but also the great visual artists who helped create a brand.

Stagecoach Ballroom Fort Worth Texas

Among those were Jim Franklin, known far and wide for his outrageous poster designs for the Armadillo World Headquarters, Micael Priest who designed the first poster for Willie Nelson’s 4th of July picnic, and Ken Featherston who created iconic posters for various Austin events and venues.

Franklin designed the logo for the “Outlaws and Armadillos Country’s Roaring ’70s exhibit.””

Over time, the Nashville museum curators met with numerous people in Texas as they gathered donations from family members, friends of these legendary artists to be used in the display.

The result is a comprehensive tribute to that special period of time when music artists embraced a newfound freedom of expression.
This was the true emergence of singer/songwriters. No longer was the artist required by label heads to sing someone else’s songs. They took this creative power to write, publish and produce their own music. You only have to look back to recognize that the music speaks for itself.

Not only is The Outlaws and Armadillos exhibit a fantastic display of artifacts, but it is educational as well.

And it illustrates the undeniable impact the Outlaw Movement had on the direction of Country Music forever.

A large part of the exhibit is in photographs from music historians such as Chet Flippo, Buddy publisher/editor/photographer Ron McKeown, Joe Nick Patoski, Dave Hickey, Michael Bane, Jan Reid, and Kimmie Rhodes.

The exhibit is so large it is next to impossible to see everything in a few hours. I would have liked an entire day spent absorbing the rich and vibrant history of the Outlaw Movement.

The bottom line is that there is a shift. The tale between two cities seems to be morphing, and no longer are the Texas music artists looked down on by Nashville as the ugly stepsisters of country music.

In fact, the tale of two cities, in which music amounts to a way of life for a substantial number of the populace, is often reduced to a simple division of Nashville executives and Texas artists, when the story of the relationship is more complex and diverse.

While the ending to that story remains to be written, for now the plot, premise, and characters are taking a new direction, carving out new roads, and taking millions of fans along.

Taking Texas to Tennesee - Ray Wylie Hubbard

Our beloved Texas music artists are getting to enjoy a monumental juncture in their careers by walking onto the Grand Ole Opry stage, as honored guests, and standing inside the historic and coveted circle. The place at the table has gotten much bigger, and I say it’s high time!

And, as each of the artists I spoke to has expressed, there is nothing that compares. It is a dream come true. And for Texas music fans, it’s a great opportunity to explore Nashville and the rich music history it has to offer - like standing in the footsteps of so many greats who left a clearly marked path for others to follow.

An undeniable shiver ran up my spine when I stood in the middle of the famed circle on the Grand Ole Opry stage and imagined Hank Williams singing, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

When Nashville invited, Texas responded. By taking Texas to Tennessee, and Nashville opening its arms to iconic Texas musicians, are we perhaps seeing the end of the musical gulf that has separated the two for so long?

Stay tuned!

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Pat McKanna and the Trees

By Blue Lisa

Pat McKanna and the Trees

In the dawning days of Deep Ellum as Dallas’s original music incubator, you couldn’t miss the impact of Pat McKanna and the Trees. They stood apart from the many moody Goth bands simply by being themselves with no pretension, as they played to increasingly growing, happy audiences.

The Trees wrote rocking, twangy songs that defined the term “Americana” long before it came into use, with their 1986 EP Locomotion Vs . Hitting The Break. As one of the most popular bands on the scene, their song “Cattle Car” was included on the 1987 compilation, The Sound of Deep Ellum (Island Records). Many consider it the pivotal record that put this burgeoning original music scene on the world map. Like many of the bands on that project, the Trees recorded an album for Island, which, typical for the music “business,” never saw the light of day. Those were heady days for Pat and the Trees and there wasn’t much time for planning for the future. It was hard to know which way to go when everyone was whispering in your ear what you should do next. Then, suddenly in the midst of the hoopla, the whole thing ground to a halt with McKanna standing there feeling a little confused, a little jaded and more than a little discouraged.

Fast-forward to the new millennium. In 2017, The Sound of Deep Ellum had a much-celebrated 30-year anniversary re-release. He had played in a few other bands over the years, but an older, wiser McKanna no longer felt the push to please anyone but himself. And in the years of reflection he realized there were still things unsaid. So he began the meticulous process of songwriting. “I could hear the songs come together in my head,” said McKanna. On these new demos, he not only wrote sang the songs, but he also played all the instruments. Longtime band mate Matt Swaney (guitar) worked with him, fine-tuning the demos for months. Life moved at a slower pace for McKanna now and there was time to get this right.

Happy 80th Birthday Benny Turner

Frankly, that was all that mattered: getting it right for himself. When the demos were ready, a mutual friend helped him connect with Pleasantry Lane Studios and its owner, Salim Nourallah. Nourallah ended up as the bassist for the session and introduced McKanna to the musicians who would round out the endeavor: Daniel Hopkins (drums), Rip Rowan (drums, keyboards), Milo Deering (violin, viola, cello, mandolin, banjo) and Matt Hibbard (piano, guitar). McKanna sang and played guitar, bass, keyboards and harmonica in the studio. These experienced musicians brought their own touches but were willing to play the songs the way Pat heard them in his head. “A producer for the project would have been not only unnecessary but annoying,” he said.

“The studio is not the place to try to figure it out. I knew going in exactly the sound I wanted.” And that sound became the Trees’ Palace of Sin, a joyful labor of love: nine glorious originals and one cover (an outstanding version of the Psychedelic Furs’ “Pretty in Pink”) proving a tree does indeed grow strong from carefully cultivated roots.

Rock Rattle N'Roll Collectibles

“This is the one I’ve always wanted to make,” allowed McKanna, “an album I can proudly hand to people and say: “This is me.”

Utilizing classic recording techniques like panning instrument tracks and using no over processed vocals results in a warm, enticing sound. McKanna’s vocals and lyrics are pure, truthful and engaging. They draw you into the songs, whether that be the tale that the best of us like a little taste of poison on the opening track “Scheherazade,” the advice of taking personal responsibility in “Grow Your Own” or the wisdom of coming to terms with the shady side of a career in music that can bleed you creatively dry in the rocking “Backslider.” “Cash Is King” highlights the barter we make daily between the soul and the filthy lucre.

The last and title track “Palace of Sin” was inspired by the Flying Burrito Brothers’ debut album The Gilded Palace of Sin. “I always thought they should have written a song with that title,” explained Pat. “This was my attempt to do just that.” Although there is a melancholy feel to some of the songs, Pat McKanna and the Trees’ Palace of Sin is not disheartening. On the contrary, it is reassuringly uplifting. The message is someone else has felt what you are feeling and that there is hope still to be had - a beautiful message of human connectivity in these often trying times.

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And The Winner Is…
The 2019 Texas Country Mucic Awards

By Jan Sikes, photos by Mary Jane Farmer

The 2019 Texas Country Mucic Awards

The Texas Country Music Assocition, established in 2008, hosted their third Annual Texas Country Music Awards Show last month. The event started on Friday evening, September 20 and culminated on Sunday, Sept. 22, with the awards show held at Billy Bob’s Texas in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards.

TCMA President Linda Wilson and Vice-President Richard Wilson were on hand for opening announcements, then turned the hosting over to Brandon Rhyder and Jenn Ford.

The 2019 “Trailblazer Award,” given to the Texas artist who has contributed to the growth and preservation of Texas Country Music throughout their life, went to Mr. Gary P. Nunn.

2019 has been quite a year for Nunn - he received a commendation from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this year, he made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry in August, and now he’s received this award.

“I never even thought about what I was doing when I started out making music,” Nunn explained, “I just wanted to do it. I wanted to write and play and never thought about what I’d be doing 50 years later. I’ve always said that the P in my name stands for perseverance.”

“I am honored to receive this award from the Texas Country Music Organization,” he added with a laugh. “I guess I’m an overnight success.””

“TCMA is very excited and pleased to have presented Mr. Gary P. Nunn the 2019 Trailblazer Award as part of the Awards Ceremony,” said TCMA president Linda Wilson.

“He certainly ‘blazed the trail’ for others and he’s very deserving to be honored.” Presenting the award to Nunn were Craig Cavileer, FW Stockyards developer, and Cathi Maxwell, Operations Manager for Love and War in Texas.

Entertainer Of The Year went to Curtis Grimes. Male Artist of the Year: Zane Williams. Female Artist of the Year: Holly Tucker. Country Band of the Year: Saints Eleven. Americana/Other Artist of the Year: Jake Hooker & The Outsiders. Young Artist (16 & Under): Riley Thompson. Emerging New Artist: Tanner Sparks. Country Album Of The Year: More Than I Deserve, Josh Ward. Country Single of the Year: “Mirror Mirror,” Randall King.

Terrestrial Radio Station of the Year: 98.5 and 99.3 KOKE FM, Austin. Broadcast Personality Of The Year: Charlie O, 104.1 The Ranch, Tyler. Internet Radio Station of the Year: TroubadourCountry Radio.com. Live Music Venue of the Year: Billy Bob’s Texas, Fort Worth.

The Entertainer of the Year, and Male and Female Vocalist of the Year winners received a trip to Las Vegas for NFR with Gold Buckle seating and a stay at the Silverton Casino Hotel, compliments of Title Sponsor, the Hotel Drover at the Fort Worth Stockyards. 

Gary P. Nunn received a certificate for a custom hat from American Hat Company.

Texas State Representative Bill Zedler (Dist. 96) read a House Resolution commending the Texas Country Music Awards for this one-of-a-kind event, celebrating the talent of homegrown Texas performers and contributing to the vibrancy of the Lone Star State’s music scene.

The 2019 Texas Country Mucic Awards

Another highlight, the TCMA 2019 Artist’s Scholarship, was presented to Texas artist singer/songwriter Daniel Sampley from Sanger, Texas. The Artist’s Scholarship will pay to have one single recorded, mixed and mastered at Split Window Studios; single distribution by CDX Traction TX; a music video by Chris Romain; and a one-year Artist Sponsorship from American Hat Company.

The Texas Country Music Association’s mission is to promote and enhance the Texas Country Music industry, its artists, songwriters, musicians, venues, media, and businesses behind the scenes to make it all happen. “We’re already planning the 2020 Texas Country Music Awards,” said Richard Wilson, TCMA Executive Vice President, “but from now until then we have big plans that will certainly continue to energize the Texas Country Music industry, and all involved in it.”

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Record Review

Season Ammons
Steel Hearts
Independent Release

By Jan Sikes

Steel Hearts is a unique and special album for New Braunfels-based singer/songwriter, Season Ammons, for many reasons, but one is the fact that she journeyed across the pond to record in the legendary Studio 2, at London’s fabled Abbey Road Studios.
Sought-after producer 

David Percefull  mixed Steel Hearts  at Abbey Road in  Studio 3, and  Sean Magee (Beatles, Rolling Stones, Rush, Iron Maiden)  mastered the album there.

While she titled the album, Steel Hearts, it could have easily been called “The Soulful Side of Season Ammons.”

That is because each track exposes emotions in such a deep, honest, and convincing way with an R&B feel to them.

The first song, “Show Me Your Love,” is a bluesy feel-good song about a new romance.

But that feeling doesn’t last long with “Love is a Losing Game,” full of heartache and full of pain. And yet it’s a risk she is willing to take.

The title track, “Steel Hearts,” is a gorgeous cathartic centerpiece that tells of Ammons’ own experiences with love and overcoming self-sabotage.

“Desperately in Love,” is a rocking song commemorating the highs of a new all-consuming love.

Taking another turn, “Raining in Memphis” is soulful mourning over loss, heartache, and pain.

“Feel Alright” takes the listener on another rollercoaster ride. “I’m in the mood for something hot/Let me tell you what I’ve got in mind…”

The sound of thunder and raindrops set the mood for “Rainy Day Serenade,” and the orchestra violins give the melody an easy ride.

“Lovesick,” brings together two of the album’s overarching themes, personal growth, and healing.
“My blood is red, my heart is blue/You stole my heart, and I want it back…” delivers a strong message on “Give It Back.”

The album ends with “This is Goodbye.” There comes a time when it is necessary to walk away from a toxic relationship for everyone’s benefit.

About the album, Ammons said, “None of us get out of love unscathed. Time heals all things and time tempers all hearts. Time is the key that unlocks it all. Now is my time.”

And I couldn’t agree more. If you are a fan of strong female artists with incredible vocal and songwriting talent, you will love this new album from Season Ammons! You can find Season’s tour schedule on her website seasonammons.com

The Goat Dallas Texas

Monica Rizzio
Sunshine Is Free
Independent Release

By Jan Sikes

Monica Rizzio’s deep East Texas roots influence not only her perspective on life but her music as well.

Her new independent release, SUNSHINE IS FREE, is Americana tinged with folk, produced by Michael Rinne.

Monica Rizzio Sunshine Is Free

The songs on this album are all about  appreciating how the little things in life make everything worthwhile.

“Nothin’” celebrates the simple act of taking a day of rest. She asks the question, “Why’s it so hard to do nothin’? Why we gotta always be runnin’?”

The title track, “Sunshine is Free,” takes the materialistic rat-race out of the equation and honors the simple things in life. “It don’t cost no money. If your pockets are empty, sunshine is free.”

A lot of songs have been written about broken hearts, but “My Sweet Heart” is different. It is a love letter of sorts, to a heart that is broken but still beating, knowing that the winter ice will pass. It carries a warning to the heart to be careful who you choose to take care of you.

“The Shire” features a Jerry Garcia-esque electric guitar and captures the essence of a place of solace and rejuvenation.

The upbeat “Story of My New Year” showcases Rizzio’s versatility as a singer and declares that as a new year rolls in, the future is limitless.

Sometimes there is nothing to do with a relationship but let go and “Hard To Love,” could be the anthem. “It’s hard to love you when your life’s always stuck in second gear…”

A single’s ad put to music, “The Real McCoy” is all about looking for someone who is exactly as they appear to be.

Co-written with Mindy Smith, “While With You” is a tried-and-true love song full of mesmerizing melodies.

“A Little Bit of Truth” is about those moments of deep soul-searching. Tired, but hopeful that somewhere out there is a little bit of truth to be found.

A beautiful ballad, “Sunday” is full of reminiscing and longing. “You used to say/I’ll be with you ‘til we’re old and gray/How was I to know/It was all for show/On Sunday…”

The album closes with “Don’t Keep Me Up Waiting.”

I was impressed with Monica Rizzio’s angelic vocals and honest songwriting. She can write and sing about deeply personal life experiences, yet she delivers through a fictional approach that makes the experience universal for the listener.

I loved everything about this album, and it is one I will listen to over and over. Monica will be at Poor David’s Pub on October 24.

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Ben McPeak
Better Off
Independent Release

By Jan Sikes

Ben McPeak Better OffSolid traditional country music is what you’ll hear on Ben McPeak’s debut album, Better Off.

A San Antonio resident, McPeak worked for six years at Fiesta Texas Opryland, performing six shows per day, six days per week. That gave him the experience and confidence he needed to take the next step and release this album.

The music is tight, the vocals are good, and the lyrics cover all the bases expected in country music. I kept waiting for a surprise as I listened to the album.

I enjoyed the word banter on “What Would Chris LeDoux,” which was a nod to the iconic singer.

“Fix You Up,” is a motivational song about leaving a broken heart behind and getting fixed up. “Gonna fix you up/Get ready because I’m picking you up/Tell the bartender to mix you up/A little party cup/Put the smile back where it belongs…”

“Lonely Leave me Alone” is the classic tale of love gone wrong.

My favorite track is “Looking Back With You.” It is filled with hope for a future, hope for a long life filled with love and looking back at the good times.

“Who says Friday has to be a party/Who says a good time’s gotta have neon lights/We got us we don’t nobody/We’re doing this thing right/If I could say one thing about tonight/I’d say “Put it on Repeat…”

The wordplay on “Better Off” is clever and well-done. Sometimes a relationship is better off than on.

No country album would be complete without a “Good Woman Waiting.” Temptations are strong, but nothing can replace that one special woman who is always waiting.

“All I Want” is a great love song. It’s simple and to the point. It’s the exact words you’d say to the one who has stolen your heart.

McPeak has included all the elements Country music requires. Although recorded in Nashville, this record is all Texas. With great session musicians, it is flawless in production and delivery.

If you’re looking for a new traditional country artist to check out, Ben McPeak’s new album is sure to satisfy even the staunchest country fan. For more you can visit his website at benmcpeakmusic.com.

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Blah Blah

The Bob Wills Fiddle Festival and Contest will celebrate it’s sixth year in downtown Greenville on November 1-2. Besides honoring the life and music of Bob Wills, it gives fiddlers the chance to compete for $8,600 in prizes in seven divisions. On Saturday night, Bob Wills Texas Playboys under the direction of Jason Roberts, Riders In the Sky and special guest, Teea Goins will perform at the Historic Greenville Municipal Auditorium. You can enjoy the Playboys on Friday night as well, at the Big Ball in G-town dinner and dance at the Landon Winery Emerald Ballroom. Contact the Greenville Chamber of Commerce for tickets. Enjoy a great Western Swing line-up on the free outdoor stage on Lee Street all day Saturday featuring Jody Nix and the Texas Cowboys, Billy Mata & the Texas Tradition and Kristyn and Hailey.

The piney woods of East Texas are rich with blues history of enduring legacy. On October 25, celebrate the history, legacy and the future of Texas Blues at the inaugural Lone Star Blues and Heritage Festival, at Salmon Lake Park near Palestine, Texas. A three-day star-studded celebration of the blues featuring artists Benny Turner, Buddy Flett, Kathy & the Kilowatts, Milton Hopkins, The Peterson Brothers, Sparky Parker, Steve Krase, The Stratoblasters, Sue Foley and Trudy Lynn plus many more from veteran artists to rising young stars. Tickets are available online as well as nearby lodging information lonestarbluesfest.com


World Premiere of Light Crust Doughboys 90th Anniversary Big Show Band & Revue is coming to The New Granbury Live on October 4. They cover the 20th Century of Texas-style Country and American music with the famous hit songs of the legendary Texas string band coupled with a sprinkling of country blues horns and soulful ensemble vocals--Branson-style!

Austin-based non-profit, Swan Songs, will hold their signature benefit, the 2019 Swan Songs Serenade, on October 20 to help raise money for their mission of fulfilling musical last wishes. This year's event will take place at The Four Seasons in downtown Austin (98 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin, TX 78701). The evening will consist of live and silent auctions, a seated dinner, and special performances from American blues singer and pianist Marcia Ball and friends! 

On October 6, Terri Hendrix and Team OYOU (Own Your Own Universe) invite YOU (and the whole family!) to share in the fun — and experience firsthand the joy of helping to make a positive difference in the world — at the OYOU's second annual Tammi Fest, an art and music festival unlike any other in the state of Texas. This year's festivities will be held in the Crooks Building at 417 Main Street in downtown Martindale, next to the Martindale River Cafe and Mercantile — and just down the road from Wilory Farm, the 12-acre spread Hendrix purchased for the OYOU in 2017.

Forty eight years after releasing his only album, Texas iconic songwriter, Willis Alan Ramsey, celebrates his latest efforts with The Next Waltz live tour. The tour features Bruce Robison, Carrie Rodriguez, John Fullbright, and the legendary Willis Alan Ramsey. They are scheduled to perform at the Kessler in Dallas on October 4.

New Releases

As part of the ongoing celebration of their 50th anniversary, on September 6 the Allman Brothers Band Recording Company--caretakers of the original band's unreleased catalog--in conjunction with distributor The Orchard released a four-CD set titled Fillmore West '71, culled from an epic weekend of live music recorded at the legendary San Francisco venue. The Grammy-winning, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band (formed in March 1969) were in great form on this weekend, where they were the middle act playing between headliners Hot Tuna and the 24-piece opener Trinidad Tripoli Street Band. This will be the debut release of these recordings. The packaging contains a front cover photo of Duane Allman from Jim Marshall Photography (taken at these shows) that has rarely been seen before. 

Esteemed singer-songwriter Chris Knight will release his first new music in over seven years with Almost Daylight  on October 11th via Thirty Tigers. Almost Daylight  features the colorful characters and compelling rural narratives that dedicated Chris Knight fans have long been drawn to. Tales of small-town despair (“I Won’t Look Back”) and outsiders bound by love (“Crooked Mile”) are classic Chris Knight, while at the same time, the new album features testaments to perseverance (“Go On”), redemption (“Send It On Down”), and even love (“Almost Daylight”).  The balance of tough and tender, raw, yet open hearted is what sets this new work apart from previous albums.

Grammy Award-winning modern American roots band Old Crow Medicine Show released Live From The Ryman, on Septeber 20 on Columbia Records via The Orchard. Honoring the history and traditions of the legendary Ryman Auditorium,  Live From The Ryman  captures the raucous energy of Old Crow Medicine Show’s performances, recorded throughout their many headlining shows on the hallowed ground of Nashville’s Mother Church.

Fastball’s seventh album, is due for release on Oct 18. The Help Machine follows on the heels of their acclaimed 2017 release, Step Into Light. The 11-song set, on the Austin, Texas trio’s own 33 1/3 label once again demonstrates the distinctive songwriting, expressive vocals and inventive melodic sensibilities of Miles Zuniga, his bandmate Tony Scalzo, with drummer Joey Shuffield completing the band’s time-tested creative rapport.

The Messenger: A Tribute to Ray Wylie Hubbard, is a superlative new collection from Eight 30 Records, featuring performances by a who’s who of Americana music including Rodney Crowell, Bobby Bare, Charlie Musselwhite,  Tom Russell,  James McMurtry,  Terri Hendrix, Jonathan Tyler and others. The album serves as a companion to Brian Atkinson’s new book The Messenger: The Songwriting Legacy of Ray Wylie Hubbard, published by Texas A&M University Press. 

Texas guitarist Sparky Parker self-released his new CD, In the Dark, featuring 10 blistering blues-rock tracks that aptly demonstrate why he is becoming one of the most talked-about performers in his Houston hometown.

Houston-raised Jason Hawk Harris just released his debut album Love & the Dark  and will be coming to Fort Worth to perform at Magnolia Motor Lounge on October 25.

Mike and the Moonpies have confirmed an October 4 release date for the vinyl edition of their sixth studio album Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold. Produced by Adam Odor, Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold was recorded at Abbey Road Studios with help from the London Symphony Orchestra. Shooter Jennings, Nikki Lane and Season Ammons also contribute vocals to the Austin-based band’s most adventurous release — an album that diversifies the band's honky-tonk roots by adding lush strings, cinematic arrangements, and collaborative songwriting to the mix.

Kinky Friedman is releasing a new album on October 25, Resurrection. In working with superstar producer, multi-instrumentalist, and three-time Grammy Award winner Larry Campbell, Kinky Friedman has finally found the perfect complement to his jagged-edged Texas Hill Country persona.

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Memphis Dallas Texas

In Memoriam

Kylie Rae Harris

The Kylie Rae Harris that I knew loved people, and made friends instantly. She talked with a man as if she’d known him forever. I asked how long he’d known her and he said about 45 minutes. Once, a young girl danced during sound check. Kylie sang “I see a pretty little girl in a pretty little dress.” Later, she visited with this girl and her parents. Her stepdad said it best at her memorial service when he said that he needed to learn to love more like Kylie did.

In Memoriam Kylie Rae Harris

Kylie also loved playing and singing harmony with others. That’s when she always seemed the happiest. Another thing about Kylie is the “authenticity” of her music. When Kylie wrote a song, she did not need to imagine what it might feel like, because she had lived and felt it herself. The stories behind most of Kylie’s songs were written from her own experiences, many having come from learning things the hard way. She knew, though, her daughter Corbie was the best experience she ever had. Kylie loved Corbie more than life itself, followed closely by her family and Corbie’s dad.

She knew and loved Jesus. That means more than anything else I could ever know about Kylie. Kylie performed regularly at the Cadillac Pizza Pub in McKinney, and the venue is holding a remembrance of her and benefit for Corbie on October 29. Music will include Zane Williams, Will & Crystal Yates, Adrian Johnson and many others.

--David Pennybaker

In Memoriam

Richard Chalk

The first time I met Richard Chalk, I had answered an ad in Buddy magazine from a new label looking for songs. I had submitted a little song I wrote, and much to my surprise, I got a call from Richard. Next thing I knew, I was in Sumet-Burnet Studios recording for Topcat Records’ very first CD.

In Memoriam Richard Chalk

The first thing Richard told me when he shook my hand that day in the studio was that I was a “great songwriter.”

He would tell me that just about every time we spoke for the next 25 years. Richard believed in me and his generous kindness and patience taught me a great deal.

We spoke not too long before he passed away for over an hour. Several times during that conversation, he would casually remind me that I was “a great songwriter.”

To my pleasant surprise, I discovered that he had done the same with many other artists that he helped get started over the years, lauding their “great songwriting.” Of course he did. He had the same relationship with all his artists.

I don’t know if I would have kept at writing if it hadn’t been for Richard giving me that first break along with his tireless support and mentoring.

So, to Richard Chalk, I say, “Sawat dee and obrigado.” (Thai for “goodbye” and Portuguese for “thank you,” two languages Richard spoke fluently).

The world is a little less bright today now that you’re gone. We’re sure gonna miss you, my friend.

--Holland K. Smith

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Love And War In Texas

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