Austin360 On The Record: Watters, Joe Jacksons

OUT THIS WEEK

watters_greatunknown_coverWatters, “The Great Unknown.” Recent transplants to Austin from Arizona (with stints in Denver and Nashville en route), the husband-wife duo of Daniel and Jenna Waters fit somewhere into the local indie-folk-pop spectrum that encompasses the likes of Wild Child and Calliope Musicals. On these 10 tunes, they bring in frequent horn-section support behind guitar-and-keyboards-based melodies, at times adding strings from illustrious fiddler Erik Hokkanen as well. Release show Saturday, July 2, at the Parish. — P.B.

Joe Jacksons, “It’s a Sin/Shadow People” (White Couch). A two-slice tease of down and dirty rock ’n’ roll from this new outfit featuring Black Joe Lewis and the Weary Boys’ Mario Matteoli. Release show Thursday, June 30, at the Continental Club. Here’s the A-side:

RECENTLY RELEASED

MindzOfADifferentKindAlbumCoverMindz of Different Kind, “Foursight.” The full-length debut from our Austin360 Artist of the Month for July is gritty and hard-edged, but also deftly lyrical and very positive. Each of the four emcees has a distinct voice and style, and they stand together as a powerful team. Unflinchingly, they tackle the tough subjects — racism, violence, police brutality — over soulful boom-bap beats. These young emcees have been nurtured by the local hip-hop scene since they were teenagers, and they’ve grown into a legitimate voice of the Austin streets. — D.S.S.

COMING SOON

JULY 8: Basketball Shorts, “Hot and Ready” (Fleeting Youth/Austin Town Hall), release show June 30 at Cheer Up Charlie’s.

JULY 8: Quin Galavis, “My Life in Steel and Concrete” (Super Secret).

JULY 8: Jane Ellen Bryant, “Twenties” (EP), release show July 8 at Lamberts.

JULY 12: South Austin Moonlighters, “Ghost of a Small Town,” release show July 15 at Continental Club.

JULY 15: Nightowls, “Royal Sessions” EP, release show July 15 at Scoot Inn.

JULY 29: Cotton Mather, “Death of the Cool” (Star Apple Kingdom).

AUG. 12: Kim Simpson, “Songs and Sightings 1992-2014,” release show Aug. 12 at Good Shepherd on the Hill.

AUG. 26: Jack Ingram, “Midnight Motel” (Rounder), moved from June 24; playing July 22 at Nutty Brown Amphitheater.

AUG. 26: Fabulous Thunderbirds, “Strong Like That” (Severn).

AUG. 26: Wildfires, “Aguas Frescas (Part II)” EP.

SEPT. 17: Henry & the Invisibles, title TBA.

SEPTEMBER: Band of Heathens, title TBA.

SEPTEMBER: Shinyribs, “I Got Your Medicine.”

OCTOBER: Eric Johnson, title TBA.

Sara Hickman says she’s retiring; a look back at her early days

Sara Hickman at her home in Austin in 2013.  Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez / Austin American-Statesman
Sara Hickman at her home in Austin in 2013. Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez / Austin American-Statesman

“When you’ve done something all your life, it’s in your muscle, your bones,” Austin singer-songwriter Sara Hickman wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday that acknowledged her pending plans to retire from a lifelong career of making music.

“I’ve been cracking, hurting, wrestling with the decision to leave since 2011,” she continued. “Because if you’ve seen me perform, you know I love being on stage. I love bringing people together through song. Gosh. It’s a very sacred feeling, giving people a space to be loved through music.”

The post linked to an article in the Winnsboro News previewing her July 9 show in the Northeast Texas town, which she says will be her last for the foreseeable future. It follows her appearance last night at El Mercado Backstage, as a guest of Will Taylor & Strings Attached for their regular Wednesday night residency at the South Austin Mexican restaurant.

Hickman referenced the El Mercado show fondly in her Facebook post, recalling “folks out on the floor dancing and laughing, smiling over to my partner in crime, the gorgeous Kristin DeWitt, followed by a massive hugfest afterwards.”

READ MORE: Sara Hickman takes a musical journey with African Children’s Choir

To mark the occasion, we’ve reached back into our American-Statesman archives for a 1990 interview with Hickman that coincided with the release of her 1990 album  “Shortstop.” Hickman lived in Dallas at the time but was visiting Austin for record-release events at Cactus Cafe and Waterloo Records. Here’s the full story:

Oct. 25, 1990 / Austin American-Statesman
By Peter Blackstock

Sometimes the most telling truths about individuals can be found in the stories they tell of other people.

Such was the case when I asked Dallas singer-songwriter Sara Hickman how she ended up being managed by Austinite Kevin Wommack. Her response ultimately revealed more about herself than about her manager.

Hickman recalls meeting Wommack two years ago, when she was handling all her business and promotional duties on her own. Although the work was exhausting, she was worried about turning over those responsibilities to someone else. “I was really fearful that if I gave somebody that control,  it could ruin my career, ” she recalled.

“So it took a couple of months for me to really trust him. But he would do all these wonderful things for me. He helped me open for Leon Redbone, which at the time was really exciting for me,  and I got to play at the Austin Opera House, and all these really neat gigs. And he never asked me for anything. He was giving me advice, and he helped counsel me with some things.

“Finally, one day when I saw Kevin playing with his daughter, I just realized that he was a really good person. And I decided, ‘That’s it,  he’s my manager.’ I know that sounds kind of silly, but all those other things didn’t seem as relevant as the way he respected and treated his daughter.”

The importance Hickman places on such basic human values is central to understanding her personality and her music. Though her career has grown steadily since she began playing Dallas clubs in 1986, Hickman appears determined to stand by those values as she takes on the often harsh realities of the music business.

It can be a daunting task, as evidenced by her tale of a recent conflict involving her Elektra Records debut “Shortstop,” which was released Tuesday. (She celebrates its release with concerts tonight and Friday at Cactus Cafe and an in-store appearance at Waterloo Records at 5 p.m. Friday.)

The record company, Hickman recounts, was in favor of including a song she recorded for the “Arachnophobia” movie soundtrack on her new album. “And in my heart, I felt like there was no place for it on my album — partly because I didn’t write it,  but also because it’s just a different style of music completely. … So we bartered back and forth and back and forth, and finally I just said, ‘No,  I’m not going to do it.’ And I think they were really disgruntled with me from a business sense.”

But not in an overall sense. “I think that Elektra and I have a very respectful relationship with one another,” she says. “I concede sometimes because I trust that they know what they’re talking about. But if my instinct is that it’s not right for me, I don’t concede,  and I stick with it.”

READ MORE: At home with Sara Hickman

So far, sticking with it has paid off for Hickman, 27, who began playing music at age 8. During her high school years at Houston’s School for the Visual and Performing Arts, she and Gretchen Phillips, now a member of Austin folk-rock band Two Nice Girls, played together in a folk group called, appropriately enough, The Folk Group.

After high school, Hickman moved to Denton to attend North Texas State University, where she graduated with an art degree in 1986. While at NTSU, she became friends with members of Denton polka-rockers Brave Combo. Band leader Carl Finch released Hickman’s single “How Can It Be”/”As Much As Me” on his own label, Four Dots Records, shortly after her graduation.

Hickman moved to Dallas in October 1986. Over the next couple of years, her reputation grew gradually as a result of her engaging live shows, which showcased her outgoing and talkative personality as much as her songs. One Dallas music writer described her performances as “a cross between a stand-up comedy routine and group therapy — with great music as an added bonus.”

It was during this period that she hooked up with Wommack, who also works with Austin acts Omar & the Howlers, Pariah, Ian Moore and Water the Dog. Wommack first saw Hickman in September 1988 when she opened for Darden Smith at Austin’s Cactus Cafe.

“In 10 minutes, I was nailed,” Wommack recalls. “She was so witty, so funny, and her vocal capabilities were incredible. And she had songs that I felt were phenomenal.”

By December 1988, Hickman had recorded a full-length LP, “Equal Scary People,” which was produced by Finch and released on the Four Dots label. In March 1989, she received several awards from the Dallas Observer, a weekly entertainment publication.

One of the magazine’s readers was Elektra vice president Howard Thompson, who has helped his label become a leading force in introducing new talent to the mainstream by spotting acts such as 10,000 Maniacs and the Sugarcubes in the early stages of their careers.

“He happened to be reading the Observer one day, and he saw my name listed all these different times. And — this sounds really funny,  I still don’t believe this — but he said he walked around the office saying ‘Sara Hickman, Sara Hickman,’ and he just couldn’t get my name out of his head.

“So he called Kevin Wommack, and I was on tour with Killbilly (a Dallas neo-bluegrass band) through the Midwest at the time. He flew to Kansas City and he saw me, and the night he saw me, he said he wanted to sign me to Elektra.

“And I said, ‘Get outta here, you do not.’ And he was saying, ‘Yes, I do.’ And I was thinking, ‘Nobody just walks in and offers you a record contract.’ … But he kept coming to all my shows. He came to some in Austin and in Dallas, and the next thing I knew, I was on Elektra. It really happened pretty fast.”

READ MORE: Sara Hickman speaks out about suicide and depression

Hickman signed with the label in August 1989; Elektra re-released “Equal Scary People” two months later. The record didn’t make much of a commercial dent, but it provided a subtle preface for her full-fledged major-label debut.

“On my first album, I was learning as I was going along, kind of stumbling in the dark,” Hickman said. “On this album, I had a stronger sense of myself and who I am and how I wanted the music to come across.”

She also had studio help from David Kershenbaum, renowned for producing Tracy Chapman’s first two albums. Kershenbaum produced eight of the album’s 11 tracks, with Hickman handling the other three herself.

The result of her more focused approach and the assistance of a first-class producer is an album that’s much more orchestrated than its predecessor. The fullness of the sound should help break Hickman from the folk mold in which she originally was cast by the press.

“I’ve never really categorized myself as folk. That was something that I was branded with when my last record came out,” she said, though she acknowledges that “Equal Scary People” seems more in the acoustic-folk vein.

“It was my first attempt at making a record, so I was kind of learning as I was making it,” she continued. “And since a lot of people had seen me solo, I wanted to keep the songs basically simple and straightforward.

“And I think because of that — and I think also because of the fact that I’m a woman — I was instantly just dumped into this folk category. Which I don’t mind, because there’s a great history behind folk music. But I was kind of surprised because I’m very jazz-oriented, so I kept waiting for people to go, ‘Wow, look at those jazz transitions in her music, or the way she vocalizes.'”

Her vocal strengths and jazz leanings are showcased on the album’s first single, “I Couldn’t Help Myself,” which already is in rotation on VH-1.

And it’s not the only potential hit on the album. The leadoff tune, “In the Fields,” is a powerful pop song that seems destined for radio; the album’s title track is equally appealing in a gentler way.

Whether “Shortstop” will break Hickman as a major artist remains to be seen. Whatever happens, she seems determined to keep a grip on her values and ideals. An example is her continued involvement with Arts for People, a group that boosts the spirits of hospital patients by arranging entertainment for them. Hickman has played for patients through the program since 1987.

“I love the organization, and I hope to get to a level where I can help actually raise money for them,” Hickman said. “But as for the one-on-one contact with patients, I hope I’ll always be able to do that.

“And I’m sure I will, because there’s just nothing like it in the world. Patients  just teach you a lot about what’s really important in life. I guess that’s the simplest way I can say it.”

Best of Austin Music, June 2016: Prince tribute, Liberty Lunch reunion and more

TRIPS DOWN MEMORY LANE

Austin looked back fondly at cultural touchstones, both local and universal, in June. The month began with a bang as hometown heroes Grupo Fantasma, once Prince’s backing band, led a cast of luminaries through the sold-out, two-night “Austin Salute 2 Prince,” a loving tribute to the late Twin Cities icon at Antone’s on June 1-2.

Austin salute 2 Prince at Antone’s on Wednesday, June 1, 2016. Erika Rich for American-Statesman
Suzanna Choffel performs at the “Austin Salute 2 Prince” at Antone’s on Wednesday, June 1, 2016. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Two weeks later, ABGB presented a celebratory remembrance of Austin’s 1980s-90s musical heyday as “I Still Miss Liberty Lunch” drew a massive crowd to hear era-appropriate bands from the Wild Seeds to Joe King Carrasco to Pressure. The June 18 bash, benefiting Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, included a silent auction of Lunch memorabilia; all told, nearly $6,000 was raised for HAAM.

BEST LIVE SHOWS

June 22: James Taylor at Erwin Center. Though he’d been here last fall to tape “Austin City Limits,” the folk-pop icon got to play a longer set for more fans on this return visit. From his renditions of classics such as “Fire and Rain,” to new highlights including “Angels of Fenway,” to engaging stories about how tunes such as “Carolina in My Mind” came to be, it was a near-perfect night with one of the deans of American popular song. — P.B.

June 12: Andra Day “Austin City Limits” taping. The rapidly rising R&B talent took the stage at ACL Live than 24 hours after the shootings in an Orlando nightclub shocked the world. Day’s entire performance was marked by raw passion and boundless heart, but her decision to dedicate “Rise Up,” a powerful anthem of resilience, to the victims and their families was so moving and cathartic many in the audience wept openly. — D.S.S.

Also: Blink-182 at X Games, June 4; Refused at the Mohawk, June 6; Boston, Dennis DeYoung at Skyline Theater, June 11; Selena Gomez at Erwin Center, June 17; Echocentrics album release at the Parish, June 23; Flatlanders at Hogg Auditorium, June 24.

BEST NEW SONGS/VIDEOS

My Jerusalem, “No One Gonna Give You Love.” There’s plenty of depth and darkness to dig into on My Jerusalem’s new album, but the song that hits most immediately is this gorgeously melodic, richly arranged track that highlights Jeff Klein’s dramatic vocal delivery. — P.B.

 

Mobley, “Swoon.” Technically, we’re cheating here. The video was released in January and the song actually came out last year, but in June this gloriously catchy slice of poppy electro-soul topped 650,000 spins on Spotify. The rest of the country is clearly tuning in to this young Austin talent, so let’s not be late to the party. Mobley plays the Scoot Inn at 10:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday). — D.S.S.

BEST NEW ALBUMS

Mindz of Different Kind, “Foursight.” The full-length debut from our Austin360 July Artist of the Month, Mindz of a Different Kind, is probably my favorite release of the year thus far. It’s gritty and hard-edged, but also deftly lyrical and very positive. Each of the four emcees has a distinct voice and style and they stand together as a powerful team. Unflinchingly, they tackle the tough subjects — racism, violence, police brutality — over soulful boom-bap beats. The group of young emcees has been nurtured by the local hip-hop scene since they were teenagers and they’ve grown into the legitimate voice of the Austin streets. We’ll have much more on MDK tomorrow, but for now, check our video them performing the title track to their new release live in the Statesman studio. — D.S.S.

Charlie Faye & the Fayettes, self-titled. Faye’s previous records leaned toward sophisticated folk-pop, but this time she teamed with fellow Austin singers Betty Soo and Akina Adderley to revisit the girl-group heyday of the 1960s. Recorded in Los Angeles with noted producer/engineer Dave Way, the disc features an ace backing band that includes longtime Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas, Jellyfish keyboardist Roger Manning and X/Lone Justice guitarist Tony Gilkyson, along with her husband Eric Holden on a variety of instruments. All 11 tracks, which Faye either wrote or co-wrote, go down smooth, from the upbeat opener “Green Light” to the slightly jazzy “Carelessly” to the horn-section-spiked strutter “Eastside.” — P.B.

ONE NIGHT IN JUNE

The third installement of our new monthly series honed in on Monday residencies, the every-week gigs that are essential to Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World. Check out the full recap, along with the video sampler of music from each of six stops:

Levitation organizers update 2016 refund info, promise to return in 2017

Carson Creek Ranch suffered significant storm damage following Levitation cancellation. Courtesy of Carson Creek Ranch
Carson Creek Ranch suffered significant storm damage following Levitation cancellation. Courtesy of Carson Creek Ranch

At the end of April, Levitation Festival 2016 was washed out in the severe storms that swept through Central Texas this spring. Threatening weather led Travis County officials to cancel the festival less than 24 hours before the gates were set to open.  The storms arrived later than predicted, but Carson Creek Ranch, where the festival was set to take place, sustained significant damage.

The festival was able to reschedule some shows in clubs, but fest-goers who traveled to Austin for the event were frustrated when many tickets were snapped up in open online sales by folks who never planned to attend Levitation.

At the time of the cancellation, Levitation organizers estimated the refunds would take 30 days, but in late May they reported delays. “Many events have financial backing, from investors or parent companies, which can be tapped into to immediately refund money. Levitation is an independently owned event, and the cancellation has been an unprecedented blow for the tiny company and record label that organizes it, The Reverberation Appreciation Society,” organizers said in a statement.

Yesterday, organizers posted an update to the Levitation site promising refunds would begin processing on July 5.

“We realize this has taken much longer than our initial estimates, and far longer than anyone had hoped,” organizers wrote in the post. “We’re sorry for the situation, it’s not one that we ever expected to be in, or wanted to see our customers go through. The cancellation and subsequent insurance process has been an extremely difficult time and we’re very grateful to those all those who have shown us patience and understanding through the situation.”

Organizers also promised that Levitation, which now hosts a series of festivals around the world will return to Austin next year. “In 2017 the festival will be back, and better than ever,” they wrote in the post. “We look forward to the festival in Austin next year, and a great year of events. Stay tuned for the good news.”

Whether our young friends from around the world will return remains to be seen.

 

 

 

Willie Nelson talks about his Picnic, hempcrete, Chips Moman and more

Willie Nelson performs at his annual Fourth of July Picnic in 2015. (Erika Rich/American-Statesman)
Willie Nelson performs at his annual Fourth of July Picnic in 2015. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

It’s less than a week until Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic takes over Circuit of the Americas, the second year the hallowed event has been back in the Austin area after an extended Fort Worth run.

On Monday, we talked to Willie by phone from Minnesota, where he’s in the midst of a Midwest tour that continues through the end of this week. There’s more from our interview in our full Picnic preview on mystatesman.com and in Sunday’s American-Statesman. In the meantime, here are a few outtakes.

About the inclusion of up-and-coming Austin acts such as Shakey Graves and Jamestown Revival on this year’s lineup, the first Picnic appearance for both artists:

“I think it’s important that we do that. The promoters this year brought up some names that they felt like were good and needed to be in the show, a lot of new names that I wasn’t familiar with. I’m always glad to see the new guys coming along, and come out and work the Picnic. It’s good for everybody.”

RELATED: Taking Willie’s Picnic back, decade by decade

About how his new “Summertime” album of Gershwin tunes was partly inspired by Frank Sinatra — an intriguing symmetry with Bob Dylan’s two recent Sinatra-centric records:

“I listened to all the things that Frank Sinatra had recorded of Gershwin songs. There’s a whole lot of them out there. So I asked Buddy Cannon, my producer, to check those out and use those as examples to go by, and try to do the best we can with them. Because I think they’re great songs.”

On working with Cannon, who has produced most of Nelson’s records in the past decade and co-wrote almost all the songs on 2014’s “Band of Brothers,” Willie’s first collection of new original material in many years:

“Buddy knows all the great musicians in Nashville; everybody knows him. It’s easy to do records with Buddy. We write a lot together. We just sort of found it easy to write things together, and I’m not that easy to write with. I haven’t written that many songs with other guys. I used to write a lot with Hank Cochran, but that was a long time ago.”

About the many uses of cannabis, as he prepares to bring his “Willie’s Reserve” brand to the market in marijuana-legal areas such as Colorado and Washington:

“There’s a product now called hempcrete, which is a direct competition, or in partnership with, concrete. This is a new product that’s doing well, especially over in Maui. A friend of mine, Don Nelson, has some buildings and things over there that he’s built out of hempcrete. And he praises it. So there’s a whole new industry out there. And fortunately in a lot of places, it’s not illegal.”

RELATED: “Willie’s Reserve” is now hiring

About his daughter Amy Nelson’s band Folk Uke, who’ll appear at the Picnic after spending almost all of June opening a national tour for the Jayhawks:

“God bless ’em! I’m proud of them.” The duo, which also features Arlo Guthrie’s daughter Cathy Guthrie, is known for setting sweet harmonies to expletive-laced lyrics. Their song “M*F* Got F*d Up” recently got placed in both Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” and in Snoop Dogg’s “G7” movie. “I think they’ve got a number one record. Who’d have thought it?”

About the June 13 passing of songwriter Chips Moman, a good friend who co-wrote the iconic tune “Luckenbach, Texas” among many other widely known songs:

“Chips was out on the stage with me the other night [May 20] when we played in Georgia. He sat out there on the stage. Naturally he wasn’t feeling that great, but I got to see him one more time.”

Weekend music picks: Celebrate an American tradition at the home of the blues

FRIDAY

Antone’s 41st anniversary begins. Following the legendary blues club’s long tradition, the anniversary of its opening in the summer of 1975 is an extended affair, lasting a couple of weeks. It kicks off with a “Chicago blues weekend,” starting Friday with Henry Gray, whose 1940s-60s Windy City heyday before moving to Louisiana included a long run as Howlin Wolf’s pianist. Saturday brings 81-year-old guitarist Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, a fixture on the Chicago blues scene since the 1950s. $15-$17 each night; 10 p.m.

Miss Lavelle White. (Photo by Jay Janner/American-Statesman)
Miss Lavelle White. (Photo by Jay Janner/American-Statesman)

And Sunday happens to be local soul singer Miss Lavelle White’s 87th birthday, so the club is spicing up her regular 6:30 p.m. show with special guests including Marcia Ball, Benny Turner, Blues Boy Hubbard, Shelley King and Carolyn Wonderland. It’s a potluck, too, if you want to bring something to share. Bastrop teen duo the Peterson Brothers play Sunday’s late slot.  $10-$12.

Check antonesnightclub.com for the full slate of anniversary shows, which continue through July 16 at the club’s new location, 305 E. Fifth St. — P.B.

Also: Country fiddle master Charlie Daniels brings his band to the Nutty Brown Amphitheater. Check our interview with him on austin360.com. … Longtime Austin favorite Alejandro Escovedo, who moved to Dallas last year, returns for a two-night stand at the Continental Club. … Grizzly Hall hosts a bone-shaking, teeth-rattling double bill of rowdy Austin noise with Riverboat Gamblers and American Sharks. … Former Austinite Will Courtney returns to celebrate the release of his new disc “Planning Escapes” at Hotel Vegas with John Wesley Coleman, Ramsay Midwood and Siberian Traps. … Threadgill’s presents a tribute to honky-tonk great Gary Stewart with Weldon Henson, Mike Stinson and Rosie Flores.

SATURDAY

Mitski at the Sidewinder. “Puberty 2,” the new release from NYC-based talent Mitski, is a collection of heart-on-the-sleeve indie rock rich with complex metaphors, gorgeous harmonies and grandiose instrumental flourishes. It’s a sophisticated take on teen angst that transcends self-indulgent cliches on waves of raw emotion, culminating in one of the year’s strongest releases. Japanese Breakfast and Jay Som open. $13. 8 p.m. doors. 715 Red River St. thesidewinderaustin.com. — D.S.S.

Also: Acclaimed singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov brings the tour for his latest album, which he recorded with the Colorado Symphony, to Emo’s with Dualtone Records artist Langhorne Slim opening. … The omnipresent Bob Schneider gets his Independence Day show in a little early at Nutty Brown Amphitheater. … It’s a pre-holiday smash of a bash at ABGB with local indie luminaries Black Joe Lewis, Sweet Spirit and Ghost Wolves. … Hometown teen sibling sensations Charlie Belle play indoors at Stubb’s with Nic Armstrong & the Thieves. … Folk-rock duo the Watters, recent transplants from Arizona, celebrate the release of their new album at the Parish. … Austin metal scene lifer Jason McMaster brings his Broken Teeth band to the new Grizzly Hall with Sigpop and Crimson Devils. … Strange Brew explores the bluesy side of the singer-songwriter spectrum with Northwest native Curtis Salgado at 9 p.m. and local Red House Records veteran Ray Bonneville at 7 p.m. … Longtime Austin folk-roots fixture Jimmy LaFave plays Threadgill’s. … Congress Avenue bar the Townsend celebrates its first anniversary with acoustic performances by Johnny Goudie, the Bluebonnets, Belle Sounds and more.

SUNDAY

Rock Candy 4th of July Till I Die at the Grand. The Rock Candy DJs turn their regular Sunday and Monday stand at the pool hall on Airport Boulevard into a Lone Star-soaked rock ‘n’ roll rager for ’Murica. Atlanta power trio Dinos Boys headlines a bill that also includes the Bad Lovers, Sister Rays, Teenage Cavegirl and more. The evening kicks off with a backyard barbecue from 3 to 7 p.m with A Roy Orbison tribute set starting the music at 5:30 p.m. The party continues on Monday at 10 p.m. Free. 4631 Airport Blvd., Ste 121. Check the event’s Facebook page for more details. — D.S.S.

Also: Last decade’s emo darlings Dashboard Confessional headline a Cedar Park Center bill that also features Taking Back Sunday, Saosin and the Early November. … English electronica duo Way Out West visits Kingdom. … Local singer-songwriter Bonnie Whitmore will be recording her show at the Townsend live for video. … The 4 p.m. “Sunday Best” show at ABGB features up-and-coming local country act Sophia Johnson.

Watch: Fresh-faced George Strait singing ‘Amarillo by Morning’ on ‘ACL’ holds up 30 years later

Capture
Via Youtube

Back when country legend George Strait was a lot closer to having just what he had on, the singer took the stage on “Austin City Limits” and introduced “the most requested song ever, even before we recorded it” and launched into Texas anthem “Amarillo by Morning.”

The 1984 performance would have been a few years after then-32-year-old Strait gained recognition for his debut hit “Unwound” but, according to Wide Open Country, was his second performance in front of the mock Austin skyline.

Characteristic of the “King of Country,” the performance is both effortless and moving. To gauge the timelessness of Strait’s performances, compare the above video to a rendition of the same song three months ago, also here in Austin:

Although the singer announced his retirement from touring last year, so long as the sun is high in that Texas sky, King Strait will reign.

WATCH: George Strait, Avett Brothers and more help Ray Benson celebrate

Remembrances and good causes: a brief weekend recap

Johnny Nicholas, second from right, prepares to perform at Saxon Pub as part of the memorial for his late wife, Brenda Nicholas, on Sunday, June 26, 2016. Photo by Peter Blackstock
Johnny Nicholas, second from right, prepares to perform with bandmates at Saxon Pub as part of the memorial for his late wife, Brenda Nicholas, on Sunday, June 26, 2016. Photo by Peter Blackstock

Hundreds gathered at the Saxon Pub on Sunday afternoon for a celebration of the life of Brenda Nicholas, the owner of longtime Hill Country restaurant the Hilltop Cafe who died June 18 from leukemia.

Brenda’s husband, Johnny Nicholas, has held down a Wednesday residency at the Saxon Pub for many years. “I didn’t know if I could play, but then I realized that’s all I could do,” Johnny said midway through the event, which helped raise money to pay for alternative treatments Brenda had undergone to fight the disease.

Musicians including Ray Wylie Hubbard, David Grissom, Denny Freeman and Augie Meyers performed as friends and well-wishers filled the Saxon’s front room. In the back, bids were entered for items in a silent auction, including a signed guitar donated by Eric Clapton, a family friend of the Nicholases. (Bids on the guitar will be accepted through July 16 at the Heritage Auctions website.)

Two days earlier, those responsible for presenting the June 18 “I Still Miss Liberty Lunch” reunion reconvened at ABGB to donate proceeds from the event to the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. On hand were Liberty Lunch co-owners Mark and J’net Pratz, ABGB co-owner Mark Jensen and HAAM representative Reenie Collins and Rikki Hardy.

Between a silent auction of Liberty Lunch memborabilia, sales of posters for the event and donations to tip jars from those who packed ABGB for sets by Fastball, Joe King Carrasco and others, nearly $6,000 was passed along to HAAM.

From left, J'net Pratz, Mark Pratz, Reenie Collins, Mark Jensen and Rikki Hardy at ABGB on Friday, June 24, 2016. Photo by Peter Blackstock
From left, J’net Pratz, Mark Pratz, Reenie Collins, Mark Jensen and Rikki Hardy at ABGB on Friday, June 24, 2016. Photo by Peter Blackstock

 

 

‘Sound and Cinema’ announces 2016 season

Sweet Spirit. Photo by Erika Rich.
Sweet Spirit. Photo by Erika Rich.

“Sound and Cinema,” the collaborative project between Do512, the Alamo Drafhouse and the Long Center which brings a series of free movie screenings and music pairings to the Long Center,  announced the lineup for the 2016 season today.

The series kicks off on  July 6 with Adrian Quesada’s psychedelic road trip project Echocentrics and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” The series continues on July 20 with a Master Pancake version of “Footloose” and the Urban Achievers Brass Band. On Wednesday, August 10 Sweet Spirit performs followed by a quote-along of “Labyrinth,” and the season closes out on Wednesday, Aug. 17 with Delta Spirit’s Matthew Logan Vasquez and “Tommy Boy.”

It’s a solid lineup, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my reservations about the decision to launch with “Temple of Doom” at a moment in U.S. history when anxiety in the Indian American community is running so high popular comedian Aziz Ansari recently penned an op-ed in the New York Times titled, “Why Trump Makes Me Scared for My Family.”

In 1984, the Indian government denied requests to film in India and banned the film over offensive depictions of Indian characters (monkey-brain munching savages, Kali-crazed cult lunatics, etc.). Consequently, many Indians still have mixed feelings about the film.

I totally get how the movie’s international action adventure theme meshes well with the exhilarating cross-cultural mash up that is Echocentrics, but “Temple of Doom” is not a movie that stands up well over time. My entirely personal (visceral) response is to wish they’d made a different choice.

 

Charlie Daniels to showcase a career of hits at Nutty Brown

Charlie Daniels turns 80 this year, but the legendary country performer sounds like he has the vigor of a man a third of his age.

While speaking to him on the phone June 17 as he was preparing for a show in New York, it became clear that the “Devil Went Down to Georgia” singer is just happy to still be performing, and shows no signs of stopping.

Charlie Daniels
Charlie Daniels performs at the CMA Music Festival at Nissan Stadium on Thursday, June 9, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Al Wagner/Invision/AP)

Daniels, along with country stalwarts Randy Travis and Fred Foster, will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame later this year. It’s a goal Daniels said he has always wanted to see realized.

“The Hall of Fame is just such a deep desire of my musical life, and I’ve only wanted to play music since I was 15,” Daniels said. “I was in my 70s before I was invited to [be a member of] the Opry, so this is a huge honor.

“The Opry, you can lobby for; but the Hall of Fame, you ain’t got a clue. Voting is a huge secret. Nashville is rife with rumors, but [voting’s] kept totally completely secret. The Opry was the icing on the cake; the Hall of Fame is just the cherry on top of the icing. I mean, where do you go from here? My heart is full, it’s hard for me to articulate.”

Read more: Willie Nelson and Gary Clark Jr. will bring a hometown slant to this year’s ACL Hall of Fame show

Where do you go from here? You go to Nashville, that’s where. And then you throw yourself a birthday bash with all your friends.

When he does turn 80 in October, Daniels will celebrate by throwing an 80th Birthday Jam with Kid Rock and Larry the Cable Guy at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

But before all that, he’ll play Nutty Brown in Austin on July 1st.

“I’m always excited to play Austin,” Daniels said.

Listen: 20 of the best country songs about Austin

What can fans expect to see at the concert? A healthy mix of old and new.

“I hate to see a self-indulgent band play, where they only want to play their new album and maybe some of the old hits,” Daniels said. “I like to hear the things I hear on the radio when I see other shows, so we try to do that in our show, too. We do everything—new stuff, ‘Devil Went Down to Georgia,’ ‘In America,’ maybe some gospel.”

And speaking of “The Devil went Down to Georgia,” Daniels’ 1979 breakthrough about a Southern boy who beats Satan in a fiddle-playing contest: Does Daniels ever get tired of playing it at every show?

“It’s a challenging song- I’ve yet to play it perfectly, even in recordings,” Daniels said. “But I love it. It was a hit even in countries where they don’t speak English and it still gets a lot of play.”

No matter what, fans can expect Friday’s set to pull from a deep catalog: “The Legend of Wooley Swamp,” “Simple Man,” “Uneasy Rider.”

Daniels has released more than 30 studio albums and dozens of live, Christmas and compilation albums in his career. His latest, 2014’s “Off the Grid: Doin’ It Dylan,” is a set of Bob Dylan covers.

“Every album has had its place, like a crossword puzzle or a game of chess. There’s some pawns, some kings and queens, but they all matter,” Daniels said.

Read more: See our way too early Best Country Album of the Year contenders

Uneasy Rider” was Daniels’ first hit, a novelty song about hippies and rednecks and counter-culture that may seem at odds with his current politics.

Daniels isn’t shy about his political views, but anybody who’s listened to him for a few years could tell you that. “In America,” probably his best-known political song, deals with feelings of awoken American patriotism in the wake of the Vietnam War and the Iran Hostage Crisis. It enjoyed a renewed interest following the attacks on Sept. 11:

“And we may have done a little bit of fightin’ amongst ourselves, but you outside people best leave us alone/’Cause we’ll all stick together, and you can take that to the bank/That’s the cowboys and the hippies, and the rebels and and the yanks.”

Daniels said he’s just expressing his heartfelt feelings.

“When I wrote ‘In America,’ we had just been to Vietnam and dealt with the draft card burners and the anti-American sentiments, which is why I wrote that song. After Iran, there was  hunger for revenge, and we didn’t really get there,” Daniels said. “I think [the situation] did awaken us to realize that we do have a strong military.”

Recently, Daniels spoke out about the Pulse shooting in Orlando, tweeting that “Terrorism has come to America and if you’re depending on Obama forget it.”

 

“Obama, when he went to Orlando, which was a very nice gesture, talked all about guns and refused to acknowledge Muslims, terrorists or the like. He will not acknowledge who our enemy is,” Daniels said.

Read more: See what other country singers had to say about the Pulse shooting

“But I’m sure people will disagree with me, and I don’t mind that, this is America and everybody is entitled to their opinion, that’s what it’s all about.”

Since he’s performing at the start of the 4th of July weekend, fans will surely hear at least one of his patriotic songs.

Daniels is a man of strong convictions, whether that’s about his politics, purposefully censoring himself on “Devil” and “Long Haired Country Boy,” or what he thinks he’ll be remembered for the most.

“I still get little 5-year-olds walking up to me and saying , ‘Mr. Daniels, ‘Devil Went Down to Georgia’ is my favorite song,’ and so changing the big line up from ‘son of a b—-‘ to ‘son of a gun’ seemed like a no-brainer. I’ve got to answer to God, not people.”

He aims to be nothing less than himself, which is all he wants his legacy to be when he receives his Hall of Fame award.

“I don’t think anyone deserves to be remembered for anything more or less than what they were. I’m not perfect, but that’s who I am.”

Daniels plays Nutty Brown this Friday.