The new Austin trio Nobody’s Girl grew partly from the roots of the Kerrville Folk Festival, where Betty Soo, Grace Pettis and Rebecca Loebe had been past winners of the fest’s New Folk Competition. Earlier this year, they teamed up to perform a set there together, after spending the winter writing and recording material for a debut record.
That disc, a seven-song EP titled “Waterline,” comes out Friday, Sept. 28, supplementing original tunes with fellow Austin singer-songwriter Raina Rose’s “Bluebonnets” and a cover of Blondie’s “Call Me.” Recording with renowned producer/keyboardist Michael Ramos for the new label Lucky Hound, they worked with a major-league backing crew: guitarist David Grissom, bassist Glenn Fukunaga, drummer J.J. Johnson and pedal steel player Ricky Ray Jackson.
The result isn’t as folk-oriented as you might suspect from those Kerrville connections. “Waterline” probably fits under the broad Americana umbrella, but this feels like pop music at its core, with electric instrumentation prominent in the arrangements.
The opening track “What’ll I Do” (which gets an acoustic reprise at the end of the disc) got an early release a few months ago. It exemplifies the trio’s exuberant sound built around soaring three-part harmonies. The same is true for the EP’s title track, which features a video that we’re premiering on Austin360. Here’s “Waterline”:
Making the media rounds to promote the new Blaze Foley biopic “Blaze,” director Ethan Hawke joined stars Ben Dickey and Charlie Sexton on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” on Tuesday night to talk about the film. But not before engaging in a little musical-comedy hijinks.
Fallon joined his three guests in a send-up of classic country supergroup the Highwaymen, with Hawke and Fallon leading the way in the roles of Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, respectively. Nelson’s classic “On the Road Again” is recast as a musical argument between Nelson and Cash, who’d really rather “just stay here,” Fallon sings. Eventually they drag Sexton (as Kris Kristofferson) and Dickey (as Waylon Jennings) into the debate. Here’s the video clip:
“Blaze” continues to screen at several theaters in Austin this week, including the Violet Crown downtown, Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar, Barton Creek Square 14 and the Regal Arbor 8 in Great Hills.
Dickey’s new EP of his own material, produced by Sexton, was released this week on the new Dualtone Records imprint SexHawkeBlack (a partnership between Sexton, Hawke, and former Austin Chronicle editor Louis Black, a producer of “Blaze”).
Austin band Western Youth has been picking up steam over the past year as they prepare for next month’s release of a self-titled album, their first in five years. Taylor Williams has fronted the band since the start, but there’s a new secret weapon in their lineup with the addition of Graham Weber, a longtime presence in Austin as a solo acoustic act and with the band So Long, Problems.
The band’s video for “Hangin’ On,” which we’re premiering on Austin360 today, gives an idea of what the new record will sound like. The performance is full of energy and passion, with Williams and Weber trading verses back and forth before the hard-hitting chorus speaks to the desperation of “Hangin’ on, just by a thread.” The video intersplices slow-motion live footage with topical news clips and photos both recent and decades old; viewers will recognize most of them.
The group’s next live show is Aug. 17 at Hard Luck Lounge. Here’s “Hangin’ On”:
Our Austin360 Artist of the Month for August is Kevin Galloway, the former Uncle Lucius leader whose first solo album, “The Change,” came out last week. He celebrated with record-release events on Friday at Waterloo Records and the Continental Club, playing both events with his band that features guitarist Doug Strahan and his Good Neighbors rhythm section plus Jonathan Grossman from the old Uncle Lucius lineup. Check out highlights from each show in our video above.
Galloway, a Texas Gulf Coast native who moved to Austin in 2002 after stints at a couple of junior colleges in East Texas, talked with us a bit about his early days in Austin. It was a long haul to get to where he is today.
“I almost went home quite a few times, because I couldn’t pay my rent,” he says, “I had so many jobs: I waited tables, sold oriental rugs, I delivered transmission parts, I’ve been a taxi driver, some I’m even forgetting. Just to be able to, on the weekends, play the open mics. So it was hard. But I got some lucky breaks. At a couple of those open mics, they were like, ‘We kind of like what you’re doing, do you want to have your own show?’
“I gave myself 10 years when I moved here: I said, ‘You have 10 years to mess with this, and if after that, you don’t do anything, THEN you think about going back.’ So that was in my mind. I pawned many guitars, I sold a truck I had… anything I could do to keep the ball rolling. And, you know, ate a lot of ramen, did that thing. But also was free to do that as a single man, and it didn’t really bother me that much.”
Also check out our Facebook Live acoustic session with Galloway at the American-Statesman studios:
There it was at the end, a crazy only-at-Willie’s-Picnic moment you had to see to believe: Beto O’Rourke, the charismatic Texas congressman seeking to oust Ted Cruz from the Senate this fall, was playing guitar with Willie Nelson onstage at Circuit of the Americas.
Alongside him, Willie and his Family band, joined on this night by Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson, churned out their traditional closing medley of gospel favorites “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and “I’ll Fly Away.” Margo Price came out to sing along. So did members of the Head and the Heart, Ryan Bingham’s band, Folk Uke and others who’d had their moment in the sun — and rain — during this long Independence Day’s journey into night.
Beto’s cameo served as a fitting finale to a 13-hour bash that was anything but your standard Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic. The plot line kept changing throughout the course of the day. First, why had 11:30 a.m. opener David Allan Coe not shown up? (Never did get an answer for that.) Next, boy is it hot out here: Early-afternoon temperatures were in the low-90s, but stifling humidity made it feel about 30 degrees beyond that.
Yellow Feather, featuring Casey Kristofferson (daughter of longtime Picnic participant Kris), kicked things off on the Plaza Stage, using Coe’s no-show as an opportunity to play a slightly longer set. Then it was straight into the Nelson family stretch, with granddaughter Raelyn Nelson followed by Folk Uke, featuring daughter Amy, and then Particle Kid, featuring youngest son Micah. All braved the heat with entertaining short sets well-received by the early, smallish and sweltering crowd.
Then came the game-changer. Forecasts had called for midafternoon rain, and at about 2:30 p.m., the call went out across the grounds: Performances were suspended, storms were imminent, everyone take shelter in their cars. The couple thousand early-arriving Picnic-heads departed to wait out the rain in the parking lot.
The warning-call came just early enough to allow for an orderly evacuation. By 3 p.m. or so, Circuit of the Americas was socked-in with gray on all sides, thunder echoing and lightning occasionally flashing as rain came down in sheets. The weather was never particularly dangerous, but you sure didn’t want to be out in it.
After 4 p.m., things slowed to more of a drizzle, and soon came word via the venue’s Twitter page that music would resume at 5:25 p.m. with Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real on the Amphitheater Stage. The bad news: Sets from Gene Watson, Johnny Bush, Jamestown Revival, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Wild Feathers, Billy Joe Shaver and Asleep at the Wheel were all washed away by the three-hour delay.
That was a tough blow for Picnic traditionalism, as four of those seven acts — Bush, Hubbard, Shaver, the Wheel — play the event almost every year. Still, sets from seven more acts remained in place, including the biggest names on the bill as the evening wore on toward a 10:15 p.m. fireworks display.
As fate would have it, music resumed right where it had left off, in Nelson-family mid-stream. This was a big week for Lukas Nelson, the most promising musical talent among Willie’s kids: He and his band taped “Austin City Limits” for the first time on Monday. They touched on some of the same highlights in Wednesday’s abbreviated set, including the location-perfect ballad “Just Outside of Austin” and the epic “Forget About Georgia” plus a splendid cover of Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.”
What followed was a six-pack of headliners that mixed acts right in the strike zone of the Picnic demographic with a couple of curveballs that mostly fared well. Of the latter, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians’ set was marvelous and long-overdue. Aside from a brief appearance at last fall’s Erwin Center benefit for Hurricane Harvey relief, the hitmaking Texas band hadn’t played Austin in almost two decades.
Yes, they played “What I Am” and “Circle,” the two best-known songs on their 1988 breakthrough album; but the revelation was how good all the newer stuff sounded. A fresh record may be out before the end of the year, and it’s pretty much a local affair: Though Brickell lives in the New York area with husband Paul Simon, most of the New Bohemians now call Austin home, and the album was made here at Arlyn Studios.
The other wild-card was indie-folk group the Head and the Heart, closing out a run of several shows with Nelson. They seemed genuinely thrilled to be making their Picnic debut, even if die-hards who attend for Texas-steeped roots-country-rock might not have related to the Pacific Northwesterners’ vibe. But they clearly had fans in the crowd, and they may have won some more when they brought out Mickey Raphael, Willie’s harmonica ace, to join them for “10,000 Weight in Gold.”
Right down the middle of the plate, playing just before Brickell’s band, was Margo Price, whose 30-minute set lived up to and exceeded expectations. Price is the most promising new face in country music today, with the possible exception of Jason Isbell. A fireball singer with a strong backing crew, she’s become a favorite of Nelson since her 2016 Picnic debut. A blazing cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” kicked things up a notch mid-set, before a one-two-punch closer of originals: “Four Years of Chances,” a highlight from her debut album, and the moving title track to last year’s “All American Made.”
Troubadour Ryan Bingham also is a fine fit for the Picnic, though he hadn’t played the event since its Fort Worth run many years back. Boasting a band that included not only guitar hero Jesse Dayton but powerhouse fiddler Richard Bowden, Bingham delivered arguably the finest set of the night. A class act, he brought out members of Nashville band Wild Feathers, whose set got canceled by the rain, to sing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” with him.
And he leveled the crowd with a brand new song, perfectly fitted for the occasion, apparently titled “America.” It began: “America, America, where have we gone/ Can’t we see what we’ve become,” before proceeding to a verse about gun violence and, finally, a requiem for the American dream: “It was a dream you gave us once/ Is it not for everyone?”
Not long thereafter, the backstage was abuzz with Beto, who sat for a brief interview with Jeremy Tepper and Dallas Wayne of SiriusXM, which broadcast all of the post-rain-delay sets on its Willie’s Roadhouse channel. After the Head and the Heart’s set came the fireworks, which were given a rousing introduction by O’Rourke. The last bang of skyward pyrotechnics coincided with the first blast of guitar from Sturgill Simpson, whose hard-rockin’ outlaw-country style — plus a voice eerily reminiscent of Waylon Jennings — provided a perfect lead-in to the long-awaited Willie finale.
A couple hundred lucky fans had been treated to an intimate, invite-only Willie show the night before at downtown nightclub 3Ten, with Lukas and Micah opening. Wednesday’s set proceeded in similar fashion, with the usual opening volley of “Whiskey River” and “Still Is Still Moving” but a left-turn away from the Willie-classics medley (“Night Life,” “Crazy,” etc.) in favor of a Hank Williams montage that segued from “Jambalaya” to ” Hey Good Lookin'” to “Move It on Over.”
Inviting Ray Benson to play guitar was a nice touch given that Asleep at the Wheel’s set got rained out, and he contributed some fine solos, trading off with Bobbie Nelson’s piano runs, Raphael’s harmonica turns and more guitar leads from Willie and Lukas, who got his own vocal spotlight on the blues classic “Texas Flood.” A mid-set stretch featured some of Nelson’s finest and best-known songs, including “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” and “On the Road Again.”
Soon enough it was time for the weed-themed double-shot of “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” and “It’s All Going to Pot.” Suddenly, there was Beto, strumming an acoustic guitar and singing along as Willie led the crowd through “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” Can O’Rourke beat Cruz in November? Time will tell, but on July Fourth, Willie made his choice clear.
Individually, and as a duo, rappers Zeale and Phranchyze have been making noise on the Austin underground scene for well over a decade. Early this year, they upped the ante for ATX hip-hop, debuting a blistering new project Blackillac, that features their old homie, and fellow Austin High School alum, Gary Clark Jr., on production and vocals.
Now Blackillac has teamed up with Zeale’s revolution rap project Blastfamous USA, to supercharge your summer night cruising soundtrack.
WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE
Instead of Clark, this track features the Blastfamous production duo Nght Hcklrs on the beat.
The song appears on the new Blastfamous USA EP, “BUSA Flock” set to drop on Friday, July 6. The band will be celebrating the release at the BUSA Block Party, the following night at Empire. The party kicks off at 9 p.m. and Zeale and crew are bringing a stellar cast of friends and collaborators along for the ride. Expressive pop artist Mobley, protest punks Blxpltn and electro-soul trio Fort Never fill out the bill. ($8-$10. 606 E. Seventh St. empireatx.com)
You can catch Blackillac later this month at Float Fest in San Marcos. They’ll be playing an afternoon set on Sunday, July 22, the same day Snoop Dogg, Glass Animals and Tame Impala perform.
Here’s a Throwback Thursday for ya. Let’s travel in time to the spring of 1992, when Austin environmental activists launched the Save Our Springs Alliance to address concerns about the future of Barton Springs.
Among the activists were many Austin musicians. Over a couple of days in April 1992 at Cedar Creek studio, they recorded an anthem for their cause: “Barton Springs Eternal,” written by Bill Oliver.
Apparently the song is eternal too. The video above, which recently surfaced on YouTube, captures the spirit of that recording session. It features some of Austin’s top musicians of the era, mostly from the country-folk-rock realm, including Jerry Jeff Walker, Marcia Ball, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Christine Albert, Mitch Watkins and Bob Livingston.
A few radio luminaries of the era also appear, including Cecilia Nasti, Kevin Connor, Bryan Beck and Jim Ellinger, as well as “Greater Tuna” comic actors Joe Sears and Jaston Williams. And there are glimpses of two musicians no longer with us: Steven Fromholz and Sarah Elizabeth Campbell.
To celebrate the summer solstice, songwriter Oliver and ace musician Livingston are co-hosting a “Barton Springs Eternal” Reunion Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Threadgill’s South. Oliver and Livingston will perform and will welcome any special guests to the stage to join in, and the Save Our Springs Alliance and the Save Barton Creek Association will provide updates on current Barton Springs issues.
Culminating a busy week of hometown performances before she spends most of the summer on tour, Austin360 Artist of the Month Jaimee Harris brought her band to Antone’s on Thursday night for a showcase performance that included many songs on her upcoming album “Red Rescue” plus quite a few new songs she’s written in the interim.
Harris also worked in a couple of curveballs, notably a solo acoustic version of “Get Out” by Frightened Rabbit, the Scottish band whose leader, Scott Hutchison, was found dead last month. She also played a song by fellow Austin singer-songwriter Bonnie Whitmore, who initially planned to tour with Harris in July before an opportunity to tour with James McMurtry arose. Austin’s Christina Cavazos, a recent high school graduate who’s released three EPs in the past couple of years, is now on board for that tour.
Along with performances on Sun Radio’s “Texas Radio Live” at Guero’s on Wednesday and a Mood Media showcase at Opal Divine’s Austin Grill on Tuesday, Harris also stopped by our American-Statesman studio on Monday for a live session and interview. Here’s the title track to “Red Rescue” from that session:
Harris has one more local appearance this week. She’ll joine the Laureattes, a band from Madison, Wis., participating in an exchange program between Austin and Madison artists, Friday at 6:45 p.m. at the Townsend.
A Houston native who called Austin home for a decade, singer-songwriter Kat Edmonson moved to New York after her 2009 debut “Take to the Sky” and last month released her fourth album, “Old Fashioned Gal.” She returns this week for a marquee concert Saturday at ACL Live, plus a sneak-peek free in-store on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Waterloo Records.
In our review of “Old Fashioned Gal” in last week’s Austin360 On The Record roundup, we noted that the album “features 11 new original songs written with (true to the title) old-fashioned flair.” One of the best is “Sparkle and Shine,” and the video Edmonson made for it perfectly accompanies and enhances the music. We give “Sparkle and Shine” its video premiere today on Austin360:
Envisioned by Edmonson and choreographer Derek Roland, the video begins in black and white but soon shifts to color as Edmonson playfully strolls and dances through cityscapes in Manhattan. Directors Ethan Segal and Jason Jones worked with cinematographer Matt Clements on the three-and-a-half-minute clip.
“Living in New York City now, I’m constantly inspired by the amazing places and structures around me — places that I knew before ever visiting the city from watching classic movies like ‘On the Town’ or ‘Top Hat,'” Edmonson said when asked about her inspiration for the video. “I often feel as though I am walking around in a musical, and it’s all I can do not to break into a dance in the middle of Bryant Park, for example.”
Austin singer Sarah Sharp spent many years singing with the Jitterbug Vipers, an offbeat Austin jazz-folk-swing ensemble whose beloved and charismatic ringleader, Slim Richey, died in 2015. Now she’s playing and recording under her own name, for the first time in about a decade.
The song is intriguingly spare, with just cellist Yaniel Matos accompanying Sharp’s vocals. The video, shot locally at the Austin School of Film, matches that minimalist approach, featuring just Sharp and Dorian Colbert, an Austin musician who teaches at Huston-Tillotson University.
Sharp is performing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the Elephant Room, part of an ongoing weekly residency at the historic local jazz club. Other upcoming performances include May 9 at the new Parker Jazz Club downtown, and May 23 on Sun Radio’s Texas Radio Live broadcast from Guero’s Oak Garden on South Congress.