February 9, 2015

We Take Care Of Our Own: An LSO Interview with our Lead Writer

Matthew Ricketts has been our lead writer since the inception of this website.  Not only does he have a great feel for how to approach artists and get the solid answers he seeks, but his knowledge and love of music comes through in his glowing reviews of the bands’ albums and stage shows.  We recently put him on the other side of the microphone to get the scoop on his upcoming book release filled with poetry, song lyrics, and short stories.

LoneStar Outlaw Review: How have you gone from not many people knowing of this hidden passion that you have to publishing a book?
Matthew Ricketts: It’s been an open secret for many years now.  Whoever I was dating would stumble across things I wrote.  It surely came in handy around Valentine’s Day and birthdays as well.  But there is really only a core group of people that I have continuously shared pieces with over the years.  It’s a hard thing to open yourself up and show your vulnerabilities in that fashion.

LSO:  So why now?
MR: To go back to the previously mentioned girlfriends, they all have pushed me in this direction for years and I finally got the extreme push I needed.  My girlfriend at the time didn’t give me an option but to put this out and I’m grateful every day for that.  It also goes back to the old philosophy of “looking back on life and regretting the things you haven’t done”.  There’s a thing or two that’s embarrassing for me in the book but they are still part of who I am.  I never hold back on my thoughts and it’s the best therapy I have ever found for being able to release things.

LSO: What can the readers expect from this book?
MR: Everything goes back to poetry.  I was never a shy child but I often kept a lot of things to myself and somehow stumbled upon poetry to be able to get my thoughts out.  While I was in college I was introduced to a new form of music referred to as “Texas Country”.  These guys were the same age as me and I loved every single one of them because they had such passion and they were living life on their terms.  I slowly started to see that my poetry could lend itself to possibly being recreated in song lyrics and that’s kinda where my thought process has stayed ever since then.  So you’ll read poetry, potential song lyrics, stories to explain where I was in my life at that time, and even a quasi-obituary I wrote about a great man.

LSO:  Who/what are your main inspirations?
MR:  Life in general really.  About 99% of what I write is from my point of view.  It’s my life so it’s the easiest to write about and I sometimes have trouble writing from others’ points of view.  The only time that comes naturally is when there is a national tragedy like 9/11 or the shootings in Connecticut, which were both included in this book.  But mostly it’s about love, being on the winning and losing side of it.  One particular piece is called “Cuts Like a Knife”.  Now when most people read that they automatically think of the Bryan Adams song but my inspiration for that actually came from watching Shawshank Redemption where the line gets used during one of Morgan Freeman’s monologues.  It carried a much heavier weight when he used it in that context and I turned off the TV right then and wrote that piece.  I love it when that happens.

LSO: What is a typical writing process like for you?
MR:  I can literally go months without writing anything and then something happens and I’m able to write 10-20 pieces in a week.  I never push too hard to make it happen because I’m not trying to make a career out of this.  At the end of the day, it all goes back to me just funneling my outlet.  Typically when I get an idea I go over it a few times in my head and if I feel that it is going in a good direction then I stop whatever I’m doing and focus on that.  After that it’s usually only a matter of minutes until completion.  Often I’ll hear a song on the radio and get the melody or the beat stuck in my head and I’ll write alternative words for the chorus and verse. 

LSO:  So what’s next on the horizon?
MR:  Keep working 9-5 obviously, but going through this process has really geared me towards other ideas I’ve had sitting around forever.  I already have enough poetry to fill another book but also have started putting together my thoughts on corporate America which if you know me then you know how I feel on that topic.  I also think a relationship book would be fun to write.  I’ve certainly screwed up enough that I know how to tell you what not to do.  Getting this one done and used as my “beta sample” was a great experience and will make the rest a lot easier.

Matthew Ricketts is having a book release/happy hour @ Mezzanine Lounge (2200 Southwest Freeway Suite 150, HoustonTX) from 7:00-8:30 this coming Friday night (2/13/15).  
Come out and show your support!                 
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Photos courtesy of © KelleyStroutPhotography

September 11, 2013

Remember the Heroes...

September 11, 2001 is a day that will forever live in infamy.  It showed the world that monsters truly do exist and that your worst fears can find their way to our front doorstep.  I hope everyone takes a moment today to think, to reflect, and put their lives in perspective about the events in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC, on that date.  Though that day is an abomination on our pride, I know that for others, it sprung them into action to do the jobs that the rest of us are too scared to perform. 

The following is a piece that we have been sitting on for a while because we couldn't find the proper way to do the Pustejovsky family justice in expressing how honored we were to meet them and spend the afternoon with them.  Today felt like the right time.  Thank you again to the Pustejovsky family, all those who attended the Bowen classic and to Wade Bowen himself for always remembering where he came from and for supporting his neighbors.

We here at LoneStar Outlaw Review get to do some amazing things, meet amazing people, and hear some of the best music this fine nation has to offer.  But every once in a while even we are taken aback.  While attending the 15th annual Bowen classic we had a chance to put a face with the horrifying devastation that took place in West, TX.  In hanging around backstage with other attendees we had the privilege of meeting the Pustejovsky family.  Joey Pustejovsky was a first responder from the West Volunteer Fire Department and according to his father and brother, Joe and Brad, respectively, they knew exactly where to find him when the sirens went off.  “He was a secretary for the city and always ready to jump into action when needed” his father said.  Joey unfortunately did not make it out of the blaze, and also leaves behind his wife, Kelly, mother, Carolyn, and sister-in-law Dolores.  It is the brave actions of people like Joey Pustejovsky that we should all pray to have as friends, neighbors, and guardians in our life.  Thank you Joey and to the other victims for making the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe.   You shall never be forgotten.  

God Bless the Fallen.  

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Article written by:
Matthew R. Ricketts
Senior Journalist @ LoneStar Outlaw Review

Photos courtesy of © KelleyStroutPhotography

Bruce Springsteen ~ The Voice of a Tattered Nation

Every generation has its moment.  That moment that you remember what you were doing, what you were feeling, and where you were when your world was forever changed.  Pearl Harbor, JFK’s assassination, and for younger adults; September 11th, 2001.  It is a day that is synonymous with hatred, unabashed  loyalty, revenge, and destruction.   It is a day that will live in infamy forever and proved to the greatest Nation on earth that we are not above being attacked.  The hate that spewed forth towards us was brought to our footsteps.  And we didn’t know what to do.  We as citizens were powerless to do anything.  We didn’t know whom to trust, whom to blame, or what to do next.  We slowly did what America does best and that is recoup, rediscover ourselves, and rebuild.  There was a great component that we were missing though; we needed a voice.  Not a politician, not another puppet on a string to tell us what to believe in or whom to hate.  We needed a common man.  One that could take our words and turn them into anthems to reinvigorate us.  One that could live through us to describe our pain.  One that could settle our fragile nerves and truly let us know that we will be alright.  Someone to lead us and let us know that we will live to fight another day and put back all the pieces together that had been shattered right before our eyes.  We were searching for that man, much like Gotham always turned to Batman.  We needed him, begged for him, and he didn’t let us down.  That man was Bruce Springsteen.

Bruce Springsteen released The Rising in July 2002.  He is, of course, a Jersey guy with deep ties to the New York area.  Being a great wordsmith and having an innate ability to tap into people’s thoughts and feelings, he was able to unleash a 15 song diatribe to live out the experiences that so many citizens went through.  From the opening “Lonesome Day” that puts a smile on being able to hold onto nothing but our own private lonesome day to “Into The Fire” with the opening lines of The sky was falling, into the street with blood, it was clear this was not a regular album release.  It was a declaration of strength and perseverance spoken for the people that braved these horrible actions.  The songs lend themselves to people who didn’t feel as though they had a voice and were faceless.  Bruce put a face to their fears and concerns and put it out there for the world to see.  “Mary’s Place” finds the world settled, if only for a second.  A place for neighbors to get together to put the outside world behind them and feel as though life will get back to some place of normalcy, at some point.  And finally, “The Rising”.  The ultimate anthem for New Yorkers to rally around.   Bruce is telling his friends, his neighbors, and strangers to come together.  Though the biggest black eye in America’s history happened on our watch, we will show the world why we are the greatest force to be reckoned with and though we are down, we are not out.  We will come together stronger than ever and fight as one.  We will all be part of America’s next Rising!
Somehow Bruce Springsteen was able to channel every single thought, hope, and prayer of America and pin it to words.  They were songs expressing our hopes and fears moving forward knowing our lives would never be the same.  He put to rest our minds and left us feeling that we will be put back together again.  Not in the same fashion so as to remember what happened.   His expressions and monikers guided us to relevance again after being blindsided.  He gave us our voice that we so desperately needed.  A way to remember that we are not invincible and the actions of others can cripple us.  But they will not tear us down.  They will not tear us apart.  They will only make this divided Nation whole again and remind us we are all brothers under the same sun.  We are proud.  We are whole again.  We are Americans!

Article written by: Matthew Ricketts,
Senior Staff Writer for LoneStar Outlaw Review

Picture Artwork by: Marc Lacourciere 

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April 17, 2013

The Departed: A One Song Assult

There are many artists out there that are happy to be a flash in the pan and seemingly laugh all the way to the bank.  They care not about being the punch line of industry jokes and are happy to have their few fleeting minutes of fame.  They write a catchy tune and maybe create a dance to coincide with whatever craze happens to be passing through the nation at that time.  These, if you hadn’t already guessed, are not our type of artist.  We love passion, creativity, and a “this is the music I’m going to make and you’re going to like it attitude”.   We like whole albums that can be listened to front to back and on repeat.  In short, we like artists who bare their soul. 

Often times an album is just a collection of songs that don’t generally coincide with a theme.  It’s a great opportunity for the artist to express many different facets of their emotions, abilities, and skill sets.  When an artist tells you there is a concept to the album, it is often hard to follow the whole concept throughout the record.  This is not the case with The Departed’s new album Adventus.  It is their first album of new material since the bands inception a few years ago.  When we had the chance to interview Cody Canada during the making of the album we asked him “what do you think the new sound of the band is going to be?”  He responded “I’m hoping to put together this first album and be able to slide it across the table and say here’s our new sound.”  So far, so good, sir.

The album serves many purposes; the before mentioned a new sound of a collection of fine musicians first and foremost.  Secondly, seeing what direction the band was gonna take when you gather these likeminded kindred spirits.  Third, adding even more fresh material to a set list that could go on for hours if supplemented by prior recordings from each member’s earlier stops.  But the reason we found the album so important to the growth of this traveling band is a fine tune snuck into the middle of the album.  We think there are no ironies being pulled on us by having the main song that delivered the greatest message is a quiet 5 and a half minute gem that sounds as if it could have been recorded with just a guitar, a harmonica, and probably in two takes.  It’s a great, fitting song to base an entire album around and it’s called “Cold Hard Fact’.
“And that’s a cold hard fact
Won’t be coming back

Rolled the last credit
Played the last act
And that’s a cold hard fact”

Taking the ‘less is more’ approach with his songwriting, Cody Canada delivered the 1-2 punch we think he has been long trying to politely hint at.  Any nay-sayers and wishful thinkers take notice…because many of the lines that Mr. Canada (along with his other writing partners) put out generally have a reason behind them.  Since the demise of Cross Canadian Ragweed, fans have been clamoring for more; a new album, a reunion, anything.  The boys of The Departed have been gracious enough to sprinkle a few Ragweed songs into the set list while also wisely turning to some Seth James back catalogue gems as well.  But this song has officially and emphatically closed that chapter and each member’s past is just a precursor to the ever evolving sound that The Departed will continue to morph into.  Thank you Cody for giving us another from-the-heart, straight shot, song that should quell any further questioning.  This is a band that is still a work a progress, but they have a fine first album under their belts and we can’t wait to see what the future will bring with these guys. 

Find out when and where you can see The Departed  in a town near you:

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Article written by:
Matthew R. Ricketts
Senior Journalist @ LoneStar Outlaw Review

Photos courtesy of © KelleyStroutPhotography

January 18, 2013

Pat Green: Doing What He Was Born To Do.

There are polarizing figures in every facet of life; Athletes, Politicians, Actors, even Teachers.  There has not been a more polarizing figure in the landscape of Texas Country over the past 20 years than Pat Green.  A skyrocketed ticket to the front and center of a musical shift of a state will do that.  And he seems just fine with that, because it could be argued no other artist has brought as much attention to the scene as he has.

In case you can’t tell which side of the argument we fall on here at Lonestar Outlaw… it’s the side for the entertainer that gives us the best escape for a couple of hours, looks like a kid on Christmas morning while on stage, and still gives us his all after nearly 2 decades into his career.

Pat Green does not only sing about getting drunk in a bar anymore.  Every other song doesn’t revolve around taking a road trip.  And no, he can’t play some of the same honkey tonks that helped him propel to stardom.  If all these were the case, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.  Instead, he evolved.  Does he still go out and have a good time?  Probably so.  Is the distance of time between shows greater now in your hometown than they used to be?  More than likely.  Has he grown up right before our eyes, surely making a mistake or two along the way?  Name one person that wouldn’t have a mishap along the way while living under a microscope.  The point is Pat is still doing what he loves and what many, many, many of his fans want him to do; and that is entertaining the masses, one hit song after another.

We as music fans want to keep things the way they are, we don’t like change.   We want to be able to go to a local dive bar and see our favorite artist perform an acoustic set every Friday night.  We want to remember those times and act destroyed when that artist has the audacity to spread his wings and see what else is out there.  Yet we never equate it to our own lives.  Some people are quite content being at an entry level position their entire career, however most aspire for greater things.  But we never equate one with the other.  Artists are just like us, they want the brass ring and all the glory that comes with it.  We personally don’t want to see our favorite artist playing the same acoustic set every Friday, we want another fan to be captivated.  We want someone new to hear that artist for the first time tonight and become instantly hooked.  We want the bartenders to look forward to that artist coming to town because they know it’s going to be a packed show and a good time will be had by all.  And Pat Green embodies everything we just described.

Now off of our soapbox.  Having not seen Pat since the Stockyard Music Festival  this past September, we were more than delighted to see him at the World Famous Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth in what would be his final show of the year.  And how were we rewarded?  Three guitarists absolutely playing their hearts out, 22 songs ranging from deep in the catalog to the most recent, and even a rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.   The band even played “Girls From Texas”, a duet with Lyle Lovett from Pat’s upcoming album due out in the spring.  A Pat Green show isn’t just paying an entrance fee and seeing someone ho hum their way through a show.  It’s about being able to forget your troubles and letting yourself go.  There are still songs about Texas, but a powerful ballad with deeper meaning gets mixed in as well.  There are radio hits, but there is also the cryptic, slower, more spiritual version of “Galleywinter” that was the magical moment of the night for us.  He mixes it up so there is never a lull in the performance; even the break before the encore is condensed. 

Pat playing at Billy Bob’s around the Holidays has become a yearly tradition, one we can easily add to our growing list.  Every year the crowds get a little more diverse in age and you do start to get the feeling maybe the music has passed you by.  Then you hear the opening chords of “Southbound 35” or “Don’t Break My Heart Again” and realize your right where you should be. He doesn’t play songs that only appeal to one segment of the audience, it’s a broad, sweeping feeling that takes over the place.   So next time, let that college kid stand in front of you and scream and shout.  That was all of us not too long ago and consider it your chance of to pay it forward to a new generation.  Pat Green is always going to be around, his roots are embedded here in the Lone Star State.  And the next time your find yourself chasing a life-long dream, make sure to tell a guy like Pat Green about it. We’re sure he’ll have nothing but kind words of encouragement for you.  

Billy bob’s Texas: 12.08.12

All Just to get to you
Carry on
Don't break my heart again
Texas on my mind.
Footsteps of our fathers
Rudolph the red nosed reindeer
Three days
Who's to say
Feels just like it should
Southbound 35
Baby doll
Galley winter
Somewhere between Texas and Mexico
Let me

New album in the spring
First time to perform "girls from Texas" duet with Lyle Lovett

If I had a boat
$50 and a flask of crown
Take me out to the dancehall
I like Texas

Wave on wave

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Article written by:
Matthew R. Ricketts
Senior Journalist @ LoneStar Outlaw Review

Photos courtesy of © KelleyStroutPhotography

January 4, 2013

An evening with Boland, Canada, & Knight

As if this time of year wasn’t enough to put you in a good mood, sometimes a little treat comes to town and reminds you why you love music.  You see, musicians celebrate the holidays just like the rest of us, only in a slightly different fashion.  While we turn to them for excitement and a release and to gather with our friends, they are the ones that still have to hit the pavement in order to sustain their livelihood.  But in keeping with the holiday spirit, they often break out in small groups and do scaled back tours revolving around the key ingredient, music.  In this particular instance; three men, three guitars, and a wealth of good times to share with all in attendance. 

Sitting from (stage left to right) it was Jason Blond, Cody Canada, and Chris “the ornery jubilee” Knight.  The show was set up in your traditional snake format (1,2,3, repeat) but the true delight in these shows is to have the guys almost trying to one up each other throughout the night.  “Oh, you have a song about drinking?  Well so do I”.  It is all in good spirit and the crowd is always the winner.  It almost borders on the amazing side that these gentlemen are able to retain such a catalog of knowledge when all they do is add to it year after year.  The hits were plentiful, some rarities unearthed, and a small preview of upcoming works to be released. 

Jason Boland used his usual deep baritone to inspire a two step or two while playing some favorites such as “Somewhere Down in Texas” and “False Accuser’s Lament”.  He also revealed that the next studio album will be entitled The Dark and Dirty Mile and will be released next year.  Cody Canada used his nasally growl to burn through a few CCR hits such as “Dead Man” and “51 pieces” as well as some new cuts from the Departed’s brand new album, Adventus.  Those cuts included “Worth the Fight” and “Cold Hard Fact” and were rounded out by Neil Young’s classic, “Rockin’ In The Free World”.  It is an excellent listen and if any CCR fans are still crying for a return to form after this album, then they are missing out on some amazing new stuff.  Get over it people.  This was a slight coming out party for Chris Knight.  Many people know the songs, know the man, but don’t put the two together.  If he were a baseball player, he would be referred to as the “the crafty veteran”.  He is a timeless story teller and a force to be reckoned with on stage.  Note to crowd: Mr. Knight would like your attention when he’s on stage and he damn well deserves it.  His songs translate excellently to an acoustic format and tonight was no different, playing “Down the River” and “Enough Rope”, among others.

These acoustic shows are great as we get to see the guys in their rawest element, playing the songs they love and wrote and delivering them in a much more intimate style for their fans to gain a different take on a song they may love.  Also the stories behind the songs are a great listen and often exceed the folklore that preceded them.  The Love, Conspiracy, and a .45 tour has wrapped but keep your eyes open for 10 man jams, holiday prize pack shows, and even Randy Rogers hitting the road with Sean McConnell.  One or all of these are bound to be in a city near you.  Do yourself a favor and go and remember why we all fell in love in music in the first place.   

Article by: 
Matthew R. Ricketts
Senior Journalists @ LoneStar Outlaw Review

Photos courtesy of © Kelley Strout Photography

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December 20, 2012

Writer's Corner ~ Connecticut

Pain and suffering, grief, and tragedies.  These are all emotions every single human will have to endure at some point in their lifetime, there is simply no way of avoiding it.  How we react to these perils in our life is what makes us all unique.  We here at Lonestar Outlaw are blessed to have writers on staff that are able to channel the emotions of those around them and put them into word, whether it be a story, a poem, a thought, or a song.  This particular writing was handed in just days after the events in Connecticut and we thought they should be shared with whoever might need it.  

Please take a moment to stop looking for a scapegoat and figuring out who is to blame and simply reflect on the precious moments of life lying ahead of you.  Remember there are several others out there who’s lives’ will never be the same and they need our hopes, dreams, and prayers to help and try to bring back order to their life again.



I've got my God and peace of mind
And an understanding of the evil kind
That's what bothers me the most

A child screams, a mother dies
A nation ripped apart from the inside
Tears falling from coast to coast

Madmen kill the innocence
Destruction made that makes no sense
Everyone watching without a clue

Blame the NRA, blame the media
But all the blame won't save anyone
If you don't take responsibility for you

Tonight I'll watch over my family
With a gun and cheap glass of wine
And I'll protect them to the bitter end
And lose some sleep tonight

When the nation bleeds, we wipe our nose
Look for the next wolf in sheep clothes
Never knowing where the next one comes

A sucker punch, a black eye
No remorse, no goodbyes
Stricken by grief you can't overcome

But there's one thing I'm telling you
We as a nation will pull through
And brighter days will lie ahead

So say a prayer to who you choose
Whatever you need to get you through
Give peace a chance and lay to rest your weary head.

Lyrics by:
Matthew R. Ricketts