En Vogue’s set and a tribute to Draylen Mason set powerful mood at Austin Urban Music Fest

By Kayleigh Hughes, special to the American-Statesman

The weather could not have been better on Friday night for the musical celebration that went down at Auditorium Shores during Austin’s 13th Urban Music Festival. On a crisp, clear night with a big full moon hanging bright in the sky, families, friends and lovers — our photographer snapped some great photos of a newly engaged couple — gathered to embrace the power of music, browse handmade art and fashion from local entrepreneurs, and, of course, sing and dance to one of America’s greatest girl groups, En Vogue. (Shoutouts to City Council Member Ora Houston and new Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk, who both made appearances onstage.)

En Vogue performs Friday, March 30, at the Austin Urban Music Festival at Auditorium Shores. Photo by Tess Cagle/For American-Statesman

Texas Jazz Explosion rocked it out as the first musicians of the festival’s evening stage show. While every performer in the group had a chance to shine with the kinds of solos and improvisations that make jazz performances so special, flute player Althea Rene stole the show with a presence and star quality I’ve never seen in a flutist.

FROM 2014: Soul Tree Collective trains young R&B musicians for the Austin Urban Music Festival

Singer Vivian Green took the stage next, delivering soulful R&B to a fun and receptive crowd. Green showcased her powerful vocals with songs from throughout her almost two-decade-long career as a performer, pulling out feelings of heartbreak, empowerment, sensual desire and playful nostalgia at various turns. Giving her backup singers plenty of opportunities to highlight their own strong voices, Green fostered an environment of collaboration and sharing, both on the stage and with the audience, who she encouraged to love themselves and had singing and dancing for almost her entire set.

Behind the scenes, the kids of Soul Tree Collective, sharply dressed in all white and glowing with youthful energy after performing onstage earlier in the day, donned pins honoring fellow musician Draylen Mason, who was killed in the recent Austin bombings. The gifted 17-year-old Mason was a bassist in Soul Tree Collective, the Austin nonprofit that supports and trains local young R&B musicians, and his life was honored throughout the evening. The young performers got to speak with the members of En Vogue backstage, even singing a few bars with the iconic group.

Members of Austin’s Soul Tree Collective hang out with En Vogue backstage on Friday, March 30, at the Austin Urban Music Festival. Photo by Tess Cagle/For American-Statesman

And before En Vogue took the stage, the Urban Music Festival took time for a moving tribute to Mason, showing videos and photographs of the remarkable young man and calling for the entire crowd to shine their cell phones and light up the night for him. Looking out at thousands of tiny dots coming together to form a sea of light, you could feel the weight of loss and the equally strong sense of community support that builds love and keeps people close during hard times.

It was a cathartic moment of release when the celebrated headliners finally took the stage, charging immediately into one of their most-loved tracks, “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get it)”. Dressed in cool black ensembles, Terry Ellis, Cindy Herron and Rhona Bennett rocked choreographed dance moves and a vibrant energy that shows just how consistent these musicians have been throughout their remarkable career. During their concise, carefully planned set, the trio delivered hit after hit while taking several moments to speak directly to the crowd.

After the group poured out a performance of “Give It Up Turn It Loose,” Ellis spoke of Mason, requesting a moment of silence and dedicating En Vogue’s show to the memory of the young musician. Then, in what was perhaps the highlight of a night full of them, the musicians burst into an electrifying performance of “Free Your Mind” in honor of Mason.

LOOK BACK: At 10, evolved Urban Music Festival carries on afro-centric vision

Playfully warning that Salt-N-Pepa were not onstage with them tonight and that “you don’t wanna hear us rap,” Ellis provided an introduction for the group’s smart, contemporary arrangement of the beloved single “Whatta Man,” which had the audience dancing, swaying and more than once shouting declarations of love toward the stage.

That evening, the savvy performers of En Vogue brought a celebratory experience to Auditorium Shores, sharing in the joy of the audience as they belted out one of the greatest soul, disco and R&B medleys of all time. From Diana Ross, Cheryl Lynn and Donna Summers to the Emotions, Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin, Ellis, Heron and Bennett held a crackling time-traveling party through some of the best of music history. The kids of Soul Tree Collective, stationed right up front, grooved along with as much passion as audience members from older generations.

Finishing with smash hit “Hold On,” En Vogue took their leave with an elegant choreographed bow and some final dance moves as they left the stage, closing out the night with one final reminder of what music can do for all of us.

(Urban Music Fest continues Saturday, with gates at noon and music starting at 3 p.m. Saturday’s headliners: Zapp, Dave Hollister and Johnny Gill. Soul Tree Collective is scheduled to play at 5:15 p.m. followed by a tribute to Draylen Mason at 5:45 p.m.)

• PHOTOS: See more from Friday at Urban Music Fest (including that newly engaged couple)

Dierks Bentley to play Austin this fall

Country artist Dierks Bentley announced the dates for his 2018 Mountain High Tour on Friday and the roster includes a stop at the Austin360 Amphitheater on September 20. Support artists for the tour are Brothers Osborne and Lanco.

Singer Dierks Bentley performs onstage during the 2017 iHeartCountry Festival, A Music Experience by AT&T at The Frank Erwin Center on May 6, 2017 in Austin, Texas. Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman

Tickets to the show run $25-$89.50 and go on sale Friday, April 6 at 10 a.m. More info. 

Austin360 On The Record: Holy Wave’s ‘Adult Fear’

Holy Wave. Contributed/James Oswald

OUT THIS WEEK

Holy Wave, “Adult Fear” (Reverb Appreciation Society). The Black Angels may be the standard-bearers of Austin’s contemporary psychedelic music scene, but we’re kind of partial to El Paso transplants Holy Wave, who record for the Angels’ influential indie label Reverb Appreciation Society. On their third full-length (and sixth release overall), the band sometimes sounds more tapped into other elements of 1960s music than psychedelia, drawing upon elements of classic rock and pop but updating them to create a sound that’s reverential of those roots, yet not really retro. They’re still fully capable of stretching things out into extended, trippy explorations, as on the dreamlike eight-minute track “Habibi.” But much of “Adult Fear” consists of three-and-four-minute songs that are more focused, including the leadoff cut “Nation in Regress” and the bathed-in-melodic-bliss “David’s Flower.” Here’s the video for the title track:

COMING SOON

  • APRIL 6: Lagoons, “Escape” EP.
  • APRIL 12: Sideshow Tragedy, “The View From Nowhere” (Hand Drawn), release show April 12 at Continental Club.
  • APRIL 13: Wood & Wire, “North of Despair” (Blue Corn), release show April 28 at Scoot Inn.
  • APRIL 13: Greyhounds, “Cheyenne Valley Drive,” release show April 13 at Continental Club.
  • APRIL 13: Josh T. Pearson, “The Straight Hits!” (Mute).
  • APRIL 14: Andy Macintyre, “Melomania” EP, release show April 14 at Antone’s.
  • APRIL 20: Marcia Ball, “Shine Bright” (Alligator), in-store April 24 at Waterloo Records.
  • APRIL 20: Ty Richards, “Welcome to Flat Earth.”
  • APRIL 20: Arkansas Dave, self-titled (Big Indie).
  • APRIL 27: Willie Nelson, “Last Man Standing” (Legacy), playing July 4 at Circuit of the Americas.
  • APRIL 27: Mobley, “Fresh Lies, Vol. 1.”
  • APRIL 27: Christy Hays, “River Swimmer” (Nine Mile), release show April 21 at C-Boy’s.
  • MAY 4: Shakey Graves, “Can’t Wake Up” (Dualtone).
  • MAY 4: Jeff Plankenhorn, title TBA.
  • MAY 11: Marmalakes, “Please Don’t Stop” (Austin Town Hall).
  • MAY 18: Kelly Willis, “Back Being Blue” (Thirty Tigers).
  • MAY 25: Patricia Vonne, “Top of the Mountain,” release show May 26 at Continental Club.
  • JUNE 15: Tish Hinojosa, “West.”

 

Sarah Jarosz’ bluegrass supergroup I’m With Her plays NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert

I’m With Her is a new indie folk supergroup that combines the talents of  Wimberley native Sarah Jarosz, Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins  and Aoife O’Donovan of Crooked Still.

They stopped by National Public Radio’s headquarters to record a Tiny Desk Concert recently.  It was thoroughly lovely.

RELATED: What does Old Settler’s Festival’s new site look like?  

If you like what you hear, the group will be in Central Texas next month for Old Settler’s Festival, which moves to a new remote countryside location southeast of Lockhart. More info.

Courtesy of the Billions Corporation.

Weekend music picks: Urban Music Fest brings funky divas, old school soul

OUR TOP PICKS

En Vogue performs at the H-E-B Center in Cedar Park on July 22, 2016. Photo by Robert Hein/For the American-Statesman
Photo by Robert Hein/For the American-Statesman

Friday-Saturday: Urban Music Festival at Auditorium Shores. Now in its 13th year, the two-day celebration of gospel, jazz, R&B and soul is a family-friendly alternative to the party atmosphere downtown during Texas Relays Weekend. Friday’s bill is headlined by the “Funky Divas” of ’90s R&B, En Vogue, led by two original members, Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron. Also on the Friday bill are neo-soul vocalist Vivian Green and the Texas Jazz Explosion featuring flutist Althea Rene with special guests Kyle Turner and Michael Ward. On Saturday, Johnny Gill of the pop/R&B juggernaut New Edition headlines, with Dave Hollister of Blackstreet and old-school funk band Zapp supporting. NOTE: For security reasons, the festival has a clear bag only policy this year. $40.99 Friday, $45.99 Saturday, $77.99 2-day. Gates at 3 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday. 900 W. Riverside Drive. urbanmusicfest.com. — D.S.S.

Friday: Khruangbin at Mohawk outdoor. The Houston trio forged their name with their debut full length, “The Universe Smiles Upon You,” a sweeping 2015 collection of mostly instrumental tracks heavily influenced by the dusty Thai funk albums of the ’60s and ’70s they were obsessed with at the time. The follow-up, “Con Todo El Mundo,” takes a broader global approach, folding in strains of Middle Eastern melodies, proto-Zouk from the Antilles region of France and old-school soul. They layer the sounds into a slow-moving psychedelic dreamscape occasionally augmented by fragments of vocals or a hip-hop breakbeat. (Technically sold out.) 8 p.m. doors. 912 Red River St. mohawkaustin.com. — D.S.S.

Saturday: Nils Lofgren at One World Theatre. You know him as a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member for his 30-plus years with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Before that, you knew him as Neil Young’s guitarist during years that included landmark albums such as “After the Gold Rush” and “Tonight’s the Night.” And if you’ve tuned in closely enough, you heard his 1970s solo records and his early work with the band Grin. At 66, Lofgren seems like he’s already lived a century’s worth of musical experiences. Hear him draw on all of it in this solo performance. $30-$103. 7 p.m. 7701 Bee Cave Road. oneworldtheatre.org. — P.B.

ALSO PLAYING

Friday-Saturday

Original Pinettes Brass Band, Betty Harris at Antone’s

Friday

Kool & the Gang, Brownout at ACL Live

Cut Copy at Stubb’s outdoor

Brian Fallon & the Howling Weather at Emo’s

Anders Osborne at the Scoot Inn

Maxo Kream, Cuz Lightyear at Come & Take It Live

Rosette at Barracuda

Random Rab at Empire Control Room

The Next Waltz Live with Bruce Robison and John Baumann at Cactus Cafe

Electric Six at Stubb’s indoor

Kupira, Atash, Seu Jacinto at Sahara Lounge

Johnny Nicholas & Hell Bent, Denny Freeman at Saxon Pub

Altamesa, JD Clark, Jesse Ebaugh, Tender Things at Hotel Vegas

Red Young Quintet, Sharon Bourbonnais at Elephant Room

1964 the Tribute at One World Theatre

Will Taylor & Strings Attached play Billy Joel at Townsend

Queue Queue, Magnifico (Queen tribute) at Continental Club

Deadeye (Grateful Dead tribute) at ABGB

Saturday

Rebirth Brass Band, Mighty Professor at Mohawk outdoor

Chrome Sparks, Machinedrum at Empire Control Room

Texas Whiskey Festival with Asleep at the Wheel at Bullock Museum

Rock Star Beer & Music Festival with White Label Analog at Stubb’s outdoor

Mat Zo at Kingdom

Chris Smither at Cactus Cafe

Tomar & the FCs at ABGB

Henry + the Invisibles, Donnie Dee at North Door

Wicked Celtic, Ballerino at Barracuda

Lovebomb: Queerbomb fundraiser with Chulita Vinyl Club, Mom Jeans at Cheer Up Charlie’s

Sanco Loop, Guy Forsyth, Bobby Whitlock & CoCo Carmel at Saxon Pub

Mike Flanigin Trio with Jimmie Vaughan & George Rains, Miss Lavelle & the L-Men at C-Boy’s

Superfónicos, Cilantro Boombox, La Frenetika at Mohawk indoor

Grimy Styles at Flamingo Cantina

Prophets & Outlaws at Stubb’s indoor

Nikki Hill, Donovan Keith at Continental Club

Emily Gimble, Lost Counts at Continental Gallery

Sunday

Dale Watson, Hilary York at C-Boy’s

Timberos Del Norte at One-2-One Bar

Willie Pipkin, Heybale, Marshall Hood at Continental Club

Dave Biller, LoJinx Orchestra at Continental Gallery

Chris Brown tour with 6lack, H.E.R. coming to Austin this summer

On Tuesday, R&B singer Chris Brown announced his “Heartbreak on a Full Moon Tour” supporting his 2017 album of the same name.

Chris Brown performs at Drai’s Beachclub – Nightclub at the Cromwell Las Vegas in 2016. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Drai’s Beachclub-Nightclub)

The tour kicks off on June 19 in Seattle and arrives at the Austin360 Amphitheater on June 29. Along for the ride are Atlanta rapper 6lack and pop singer-songwriter H.E.R.

Tickets to the show will set you back $25-$149 and go on sale Friday, March 30 at 10 a.m. More info. 

ACL Fest 2018 Speculation: Will we get Janelle Monae, Garbage, Chvrches or Lauryn Hill?

UPDATE, 5/4/18: Paul McCartney is coming, and he’s bringing friends. ACL Fest pulls off its biggest-name headliner in years. Here’s the lineup.

UPDATE: We aren’t likely to see the official lineup for Austin City Limits Festival until next month, but as fall tours are starting to take shape, we’re getting a sense of which artists will be kicking around our part of the world with open tour dates during the festival. Here are a few artists on our ACL-watch radar.

CHVRCHES performs at the Radio Day Stage during South by Southwest on Friday March 18, 2016. (JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Scottish electro-pop act Chvrches announced a string of fall tour dates that find our favorite synthesizer pixies moving from Milwaukee on Oct. 4 to Birmingham on Oct. 8, leaving them wide open and in the South during weekend one of the festival (Oct. 5-7).  Then they have a NOLA gig on Oct. 11 followed by a Nashville gig on Oct. 15, an itinerary which seems well-suited to an Austin stop-over during weekend two (Oct 12-14).

RELATED: Does the epic Bey-chella performance mean Bey-CL fest could happen?

Speaking of Scottish bands that might play ACL Fest, ’90s rockers Garbage also announced a set of new tour dates on Monday. The band is doing a limited tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their 1998 album “Version 2.0” in October. The dates don’t line up quite as well, but they’ll be in Las Vegas on Oct. 5 and Tempe, Ariz. on Oct. 7 with a free Saturday on weekend one. On weekend two they move from Dallas and Houston to Tulsa with a free date on Sunday, Oct. 14. Not sure if we’ll see them on the full bill, but a late night show seems likely.

Oh, and since we’re on the subject of 20th anniversary tours, the most important album released in America in 1998 was Lauryn Hill’s monumental “Miseducation.” She embarks on a tour to support the album this fall that includes dates in Houston and Dallas, but not Austin. Her tour wraps on Oct. 5 in St. Louis, giving her plenty of time to dip back into Texas for our benefit. And before you grouse about how Lauryn Hill couldn’t make it to a fest on time, just remember that time in 2015 when she triumphantly delivered the final closing set of Fun Fun Fun Fest. She hit the stage five minutes early.

RELATED: ‘What is meant to be will be’ Lauryn Hill at Fun Fun Fun Fest

Singer/actor Janelle Monae at the Los Angeles World Premiere of Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER at Dolby Theatre on January 29, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Disney)

Finally, since this has turned into us rattling off a list of amazing female artists that we want to see at ACL Fest, let’s not forget that Janelle Monae, who’s been steady breaking the internet for the last couple months with a string of fantastic singles from her new album “Dirty Computer.” The album drops on Friday with an accompanying 45-minute “emotion picture” premiering on MTV and BET on Thursday.

EARLIER, MARCH 26: The lineup for Austin City Limits Festival generally doesn’t come out until early May, but now that lineups for the big three spring/summer festivals, Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza have been released, we can begin making educated guesses about who might show up in Zilker Park in October.

Eminem performs at the 2014 ACL Fest. Ashley Landis for American-Statesman

Let’s start at the top. Last year, Jay-Z was the big ACL Fest headliner. Could we the other Carter, Beyoncé, who headlines Coachella, this go round? It would be a bold move, one that would shut down naysayers who panned last year’s ACL lineup as underwhelming. It would also sell the fest out instantly. The Carters’ joint “On the Run II” tour plays Houston and Arlington, but not San Antonio or Austin and it wraps on October 4, the day before ACL Fest weekend one kicks off. But Bey’s elaborate performance set up is difficult to recreate in a festival setting and do we really believe ACL organizers are going to shell out the massive amounts of cash it would require to convince Mrs. Carter not to go home and chill with her kids after a grueling tour? Not really.

Bonnaroo and Coachella headliner Eminem, who drew one of the largest crowds we’ve ever seen at ACL when he played the fest in 2014, seems like a much surer bet. Tickets are still available for Lollapalooza headliner Jack White’s May 2 show at the Austin360 Amphitheater, but he still seems like a likely candidate for the ACL 2018 lineup. At first glance it would seem like the Weeknd,  who headlines Coachella and Lollapalooza, would be out because he headlined ACL in 2015, but he played Lollapalooza that year too, so a reprise of  Abel Tesfaye’s brilliant, but somewhat creepy, seems very possible.

The Weeknd performs at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park on Sunday October 4, 2015. (JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The lovely indie rock of Bon Iver, who hasn’t played the fest since 2009, will likely serenade Zilker Park, and perennial ACL faves the National and Vampire Weekend are both available in October and would be solid, but safe, choices. After playing Coachella, St. Vincent fests her way across Europe, but she’ll be back in time for ACL and the first lady of Top Dawg Entertainment, Sza, plays the amphitheater with her crew (including Kendrick Lamar) in May, but could easily return  in October to make her ACL debut. After the fest came under fire for a lack of Latinx artist representation last year, booking Miguel, who did a surprise pop-in at South by Southwest last week and has a sold out show at Stubb’s in April, would be a big draw and a good look.

PHOTOS: Miguel plays the Mohawk during SXSW 2018  

David Byrne, who plays Coachella, has a tour that hits Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, but skips Austin. He seems like an obvious choice for one of this year’s legacy artists. Miranda Lambert doesn’t show up on any of the other big festival lineups, but over the past several years ACL has booked at least one mainstream country artist and Lambert’s summer tour hits Houston and Dallas, but not Austin, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see her on the lineup.

Billie Ellish performs at the VEVO House during South by Southwest on March 14, 2018. (Photo by Erika Rich)

Because the ACL lineup keeps getting younger, we also wouldn’t be surprised to see America’s favorite new boy band Brockhampton, 16-year-old SXSW breakout Billie Eilish and El Paso pop superstar Khalid in the mix.

This week’s music picks: Shawn Mullins, Robert Ellis, Shelby Lynne, more

Tuesday-Wednesday: Shawn Mullins at Cactus Cafe and Robert Ellis at Mohawk indoor. It’s uncommon to have two midweek two-night stands at local venues, but both of these singer-songwriters warrant the extra stay, and it’s nice that they’re keeping the shows in quality intimate rooms. Mullins, from Georgia, remains best-known for his 1998 smash “Lullaby”; Ellis, from Houston, has released four albums in the past decade, including two on influential indie label New West Records. Mix-and-match your Tuesday-Wednesday schedule and catch one on each night. Mullins: $25-$28, 8:30 p.m., 2247 Guadalupe St., cactuscafe.org. Ellis: $15, 9 p.m. (Adriel Denae opens), 912 Red River St., mohawkaustin.com.

Thursday: Shelby Lynne at One World Theatre. Lynne was in town last year for a show with her sister, Allison Moorer, in support of their recent collaborative album. But she’s plenty capable of carrying a night on her own, with more than a dozen solo albums to her credit including 1999’s Grammy-winning landmark “I Am Shelby Lynne.” Equal parts soul, country, blues, pop and jazz, Lynne has never fit neatly into any genre slot, much to her music’s credit. $25-$98. 8 p.m. 7701 Bee Caves Road. oneworldtheatre.org.

Argentine ensemble Che Malambo combines traditional South American percussion and dance at Bass Concert Hall on Tuesday. Contributed

ALSO PLAYING

Monday

  • Sorority Noise, Remo Drive, Jelani Sei at Barracuda
  • Lonelyland, Damn Torpedoes at Saxon Pub
  • Blue Monday with Gary Nicholson at Antone’s
  • Curtis Lee, Apostles of Manchaca, Beat Root Revival at One-2-One Bar
  • Dale Watson, Peterson Brothers at Continental Club
  • Church on Monday Band at Continental Gallery
  • Mystery Monday with Rosie Flores at El Mercado Backstage
  • Nichole Wagner at Geraldine’s

 

Tuesday

  • Che Malambo at Bass Concert Hall
  • Durawa, Los Jazz Vatos at El Mercado Backstage
  • Mike Stinson, Whitney Rose at Continental Club
  • Gil Del Bosque, Sarah Sharp at Elephant Room
  • Tje Austin at Geraldine’s
  • Donut Musik at Townsend
  • Night of the Cadillacs, Dylan Bishop at C-Boy’s

Wednesday

  • Why Don’t We at Emo’s
  • Eve Monsees Band with Don Leady, Tommy Shannon Blues Band, Bill Carter at Antone’s
  • Jon Dee Graham, William Harries Graham at Continental Club
  • Walt Wilkins, Wagoneers at Saxon Pub
  • John Inmon at Threadgill’s North
  • Warren Hood at ABGB

Thursday

  • K. Flay, Yungblud at Mohawk outdoor (sold out)
  • Viatones, Sabra & the Get Rights, Harvest Thieves, Brooke & Dawn at Cheer Up Charlie’s
  • Max Gomez at Cactus Cafe
  • Red Young & His Hot Horns at Antone’s
  • Bonnie Whitmore, Monte Warden & the Dangerous Few at Continental Gallery

Tribute album, shows honor late Austin musician Izzy Cox

Izzy Cox performing at Hole in the Wall in 2014. James Gregg/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Two nights of record-release shows this weekend will feature the songs of Izzy Cox, a young Austin indie musician who died a year ago this week of pancreatic cancer. (The local community had rallied in support with benefit shows in 2016 after her condition was diagnosed.)

“Songs of Life and Death, Vol. 1” is a new tribute album featuring two dozen local acts playing songs Cox wrote. Many of the contributing artists will gather for release shows Friday at Nomad Bar and Saturday at Hole in the Wall, with proceeds going to the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. Here are the full lineups:

9 p.m Friday, March 23, at Nomad:
That Damned Band
Sabbath Crow
Corinne Rose
Moose’s Last Stand
Bruce Salmon & Katy Rose Cox

8 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at Hole in the Wall:
Front Stage:
Robert Allan Caldwell
Esmerelda Strange
Folk Rock Punk
Texicano
Mary Panjoma
Back Stage:
Izzy’s Ghosts with Dustin Bolf
Whiskey Orphans
Nathan’s Stupid Drama
Mike Dubose & the Dissidents

More details on the record will be posted at izzycoxrocks.com, a recently launched website. A second volume is tentatively set for release in March 2019.

Hear Jerry Jeff Walker like you’ve never heard him before on these recordings

This week’s American-Statesman feature story on Jerry Jeff Walker noted that the Wittliff Collections in San Marcos recently acquired some early live and demo recordings Walker made in 1964 and 1965, before any of his music got released on a label. Those songs can be heard at the Wittliff’s “Viva Jerry Jeff” exhibit through July 8, but the archival museum also has made a few of them available for streaming online.

Jerry Jeff Walker at his home in West Austin in March 2018. Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The best is one Walker referred to in our story as “Until Then I’ll Keep Bummin’, Better Days Are Comin’.” Introducing the song on the December 1965 recording, he calls it “I Look for That Day Today,” but by either name, it’s an intriguing look into what Walker was thinking about when it was recorded.

Walker takes some cues from Bob Dylan here, but it’s also very much in his own voice. Verses about a range of social injustices give way to a chorus that expresses hope for the future: “I look for that morning today, but I guess that it’s still on the way. Until then I’ll keep bummin’, ’cause the better days are comin’. And I hope as I go, that tomorrow won’t be as slow.”

Here’s the song in full:

The Wittliff also has posted a couple of tracks from the summer 1964 live recording made in New Orleans. “Talkin’ New Orleans Destruction Blues” and “The Quorum Raid” are more directly derivative of Dylan and Woody Guthrie, respectively, but they’re worth hearing, even with the slight variance in speed on the restored audio that miraculously survived for more than a half-century.

Walker’s annual Texas Bash celebration of his birthday (he turned 76 last week) is Saturday at the Paramount Theatre. (A second show on Sunday at Gruene Hall is sold out.)