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.

Thanks.

 Connecticut

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


December 4, 2012

Charlie Robison: Truly the "Life of the Party"


Sitting next to Charlie Robison backstage at the Bowen Classic gave us all we really needed to know about ol’ Charlie.  As he sat there with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, wearing Bermuda shorts and a t-shirt, he conversed with whoever would pass by…and for the most part minded his own business.  He was as cool, calm, and relaxed as a sunset, but still had the aura of someone you can’t help but notice and pay attention to when they show up at the party.  If you looked up “presence’ in the dictionary, a picture of Charlie flipping you off would be there.  It was also those same Bermuda shorts and t-shirt that he later performed in, which just kinda added a little more of a ‘cool factor’ to him.  You have to admire a rock star that doesn’t take himself too seriously.

We have had the fortune of seeing Mr. Robison here, there, and everywhere; playing in Waco at the Bowen Classic doing an acoustic set, tearing down the house at an outdoor stage at a Houston BBQ cook-off, sweating his ass off while celebrating his yearly birthday bash in Gruene Hall, countless performances at Lone Star Jam, and most special of all…recording his long overdue Live at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth.  Point being, catch him in any type of setting and a good time will come knocking at your door momentarily.  The specialty of seeing him record his Live at Billy Bob’s was to see him take his rightful seat at the table with all the other legends of the Texas music scene that have graced the stage before him.  Charlie is a hard touring, possibly hard living, mainstay that has added much more to the music scene than he has taken. 

His music?   You see, this is where it gets difficult to pin Charlie down.  Charlie falls into the same category as Stoney Larue, Whiskey Myers, and before their demise, Cross Canadian Ragweed, among others.  In trying to describe the music to a new fan you can’t quite put your finger on it.

 A little country, a little rock-n-roll, with some blues mixed in could be one way; “not your Dad’s rock-n-roll” might be another.  We’ve just resigned to telling people to come to a show with us and if you don’t like it, we’ll personally pay your door fee.  Haven’t had one person even broach the subject of a refund yet.

  His music runs the gamut of slow and introspective to hard charging rock, third person observational to tug at your heart truths.  He has a way of not sugar coating things and being direct and to the point.  There’s a growing back catalog that has true treasures and gems scattered throughout for any type of fan.

His concerts are littered with sing-a-longs such as “Barlight”, “Life of the Party”, and of course “My Hometown”.  But it is the finely tuned rockers and confessionals such as “Loving County”, “Desperate Times”, “John O’ Reilly”, and sunshine in a bottle “Beautiful Day” that really find Charlie at home.  Tearing away at his axe, letting his backing band the Enablers blaze through solos, and being an overall conductor of a 2 hour party is where he seems at ease.  He never lets it get out of hand and knows exactly how to channel the energy from the crowd (and band) into a stellar performance. 

Charlie, born in Houston and raised in Bandera, literally has music in his veins.  With brother Bruce, sister Robyn Ludwyck, a distinct former relationship with a high profile country artist, and the growing stable of label mates at 36D Management, he is surrounded by talent that has boundless opportunities to see the world and bring their creative forces to the forefront of the music scene.  Mr. Robison gives you the impression he may have already lived out some of his nine lives, but his Cheshire smile lets you know he’ll just come out the other side clean as a whistle.  Growing up along with his music has been a pleasure; it’s been the soundtrack to many different occurrences in our lives.  Live at Billy Bob’s should be released early next year and he even dropped a (not so subtle) hint that it should be followed up quickly with a brand new studio album.  “No divorce songs on this one” he recently said on Twitter, and you could almost hear him grinning ear to ear.






Check out where you can see Charlie in a town near you at:

To see the rest of the images from Charlie's LIVE AT BILLY BOB's show, check out:

Article Written By: Matthew Ricketts ~ Senior Staff Writer, LoneStar Outlaw Review
Photography Rights belong to LoneStar Outlaw Reivew,
courtesy of ©KelleyStroutPhotography

November 17, 2012

Unwritten Law: Playin' Punk Rock Music for the Masses


When we finally get a chance to sit down to sit down with Scott Russo, he obviously hasn’t shaved in a while, he’s frantically trying to figure out something on his phone, and is wearing the same outfit we saw him perform in a few nights earlier in a different city.  He is short and vague with his answers, is not very attentive, and later during the concert professes to have gotten drunk in the bar across the street all day watching football before the concert that night.  He also really, really, really has a bias against one particular Texas city.  (Sorry, Dallas!)  In short, he is everything that we here at LoneStar Outlaw Review would expect from a lead singer in a rock n roll band. 

Though none of the original members of the band are still present, Unwritten Law has remained a thriving force in and around the California scene for over 20 years.  Led by Russo, the rest of the band is comprised of Derik Envy on bass, Kevin Besignano on guitar, and Mike Land on drums.  The hits have been plentiful, with the likes of “Seeing Red”, “Lonesome”, “Up All Night”, and “Should’ve Known Better”, just to list a few.  Their latest album is Swan, which was released in 2011 and produced videos for “Starships and Apocalypse”, “Swan Song”, and “Superbad”.  Apparently running out of songs titles starting with the letter S, the band is contemplating a concept album for the next go around with the entire record being one continuous story.  Neil Young carved out a similar work in 2004 named Greendale, which garnered great critical acclaim and we would be wildly amused to see what a creative juggernaut like Russo would be able to put together.

Any followers of Unwritten Law know that absolutely nothing is taboo.  With lyrics scattered throughout referring to drug use, Scott’s house burning down, and a quick trip to the abortion clinic…absolutely nothing is sacred.  “I sing about what’s going on.  I don’t try and hide it”, Russo told us.  It is with this authentic touch and stellar guitar riffs that have kept the band around and relevant as the ever evolving musical landscape changes.  “We have to hit the road.  There’s no money in just going in, making an album, and releasing it.  Everything’s changed”.  And the live show is where it’s at!  Having seen them perform on many different stages, they always bring their A game.  The banter between the band and audience has gotten wittier and the music still sounds just as good as always.  Russo has the type the voice that sounds just as good live as on record.  He can hit all the needed notes, knows when to let the crowd do their part, and when it’s time to turn up the heat.  He was born to be on stage and be the leader of men.

Though the carousel surrounding the band can seemingly change at any moment, the heart and soul of the band keeps charging along.  Each album is a small evolution incorporating new sounds and ideas and grows upon the previous one.  When asked about the first few albums Scott cringes, but it was that foundation that gave the fans their basis of what the band was and seeing them continue to grow, both lyrically and artistically.  We went to go see Unwritten Law record their live DVD, Live and Lawless, in L.A. back in 2008 and it still remains a pivotal memory to this day.  We grew up with this band, we are still fans, and we can’t wait to see what the next chapter brings.





Article Written By: Matthew Ricketts ~ Senior Staff Writer, LoneStar Outlaw Review
Photography Rights belong to LoneStar Outlaw Reivew,
courtesy of ©KelleyStroutPhotography

September 11, 2012

Bruce Springsteen ~ 9/11


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

August 23, 2012

A Quick Chat with Stoney LaRue...


Have you ever had a friend that you felt to be as genuine as the Earth?  As relatable as a lifelong companion?  As true as the day is long?  Meet Stoney LaRue for a few minutes and you’ll feel the same way.  Stoney and I are not friends but he has a way of making you feel at ease and comfortable in a matter of seconds.  He is a gracious, humble, gregarious guy who was kind enough to give us some of his time…and it is crystal clear to see why he makes fans by the hundreds, appeals to all audiences around the country, and continues to see his star rise.

So what do a hippy, a frat guy, a Wall Street banker, and a big burly biker have in common?  Not a whole lot that I can think of except you’ll see them all at a Stoney LaRue and the Arsenals concert; and probably singing along to every word as well.  The broad appeal of his music is somewhat puzzling, but makes it that much more authentic.  I don’t want to listen to music that only appeals to a small, catered to demographic.  I want my foot to tap, my head to bob, and my heart to break with the music I pay my hard earned dollar to see and experience.  And that’s what you get with a Stoney LaRue show.  You’ll leave thinking you got away with seeing the main feature at a matinee price.

Between his yearly trips to Mexico and Alaska and, oh by the way, releasing the long awaited album, Velvet, it has been a busy year for Stoney.  I love the trip to Alaska.  It started off with Bleu Edmondson and myself going up there and we try to take new people with us every year.  This year it was the Braun brothers and of course Jason Boland and Brandon Jenkins.  We like to take people who are spiritual and will know how to take it all in.”

As for the new album, Velvet, I didn’t know what to expect upon first listening with the exception of hearing a few songs getting “road tested” at some shows.  It feels like a strong departure from some of the older music.  The music seemed to find Mr. LaRue in a calmer, more reflective state of being.  It was different, it was easy flowing, and it was easy on the ears.  All in all, a beautifully crafted album that has been well worth the wait.  I could see how that would come across (being calmer, reflective).  It does lend its self to a listening album.  There’s a lot of depth to it.  After being on the road for 14 years I would hope I have some things to look back on.  It is reflective but looking forward at the same time.

The album does in fact lend itself to listening.  Not too many albums out there can you get away with listening to at a loud club, a road trip weekend, and a quiet night at home.  But Stoney is able to pull it off, and judging by looks of it, quite easily.  As previously stated, Stoney really is one of the nicer guys you’ll ever meet…and yet…badass, all at the same time.  All of us here at LoneStar Outlaw Review know that there is absolutely nothing standing in the way of him becoming a household name nationwide.  Catch his current single “Look at Me Fly” out on the radio dial and don’t be too surprised to hear even more great NEW music in the not too distant future.  Seems as though Stoney isn’t quite done reflecting just yet…    

 

To find out when you can catch Stoney LaRue and the Arsenals
in a town near you, check out:


 

 

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Article Written By: Matthew Ricketts ~ Senior Staff Writer, LoneStar Outlaw Review
Photography Rights belong to LoneStar Outlaw Reivew,
courtesy of ©KelleyStroutPhotography

August 2, 2012

Cory Morrow: A Travelin Man


If you were coming of age at any Texas university in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, there were really only a few things you needed to know to survive your studies.  Beer tasted just as good in the morning as it did last night, Taco Cabana is open 24 hours a day, and Pat Green and Cory Morrow’s mothers somehow inexplicably named their children with the same middle name.  Oddities aside, Cory was as close to royalty as you could get at the time.  The Big Ski Trip that happens in Steamboat every year was originally named after Pat and Cory.  Watching the Godfather recently I was reminded of the line by Hyman Roth to Michael Corlione, “Michael, we’re bigger than U.S. Steel.”  Now that may be a little far of a stretch but it gives you a scope of the magnitude that these fellas had.  Everything that was Texas Country revolved around them.


Seeing Cory Morrow (alongside John Carroll) perform an acoustic set in his native Houston at Pub Fiction recently reminded us why he got to his position.  Cory has been a very gifted performer for many years now and he brings his animated style of play with him to all events.  He is easy going with the crowd, accommodating with his set list, and brings such a sense of joy to all those around him.  His enthusiasm is contagious and his playing chops match that of a performer who spends the better part of his life on the road. 


On this particular night he stuck with predominantly the favorite tunes that his fans have come to love for going on two decades with some new material sprinkled in.  Cory has changed a lot over the years and it reflects in his songs.  It would seem the hard charging, party animal has subsided and a fresher, more mature, more spiritual side has morphed.  It has done wonders for his music to say the least.  Many of the “party all night” themes have changed into love for his family, his faith, and most importantly, himself.  I can’t recall ever hearing a bad song from his earlier albums but it is clear that he is more focused now that he has turned over to religion and he doesn’t hide his convictions with an album titled Brand New Me and song titles of “He Carries Me” and “Lord, You Devil”. 


Let me get things straight before we go any further, this is not a prayer meeting popping up a tent in your town.  This is a man (backed by a very solid band) who can bring the rafters down with his good time songs, belt out the National Anthem at a Texans game, and I’m sure still drink you under the table if he felt the need.  But nearly 20 years into his career, he has settled down a bit and we all still like him just the same.  It’s phenomenal to see such a great artist evolve over time and still be able to bring along his fans with him for the ride.  And if he’s able to touch some more fans along the way by sharing his own personal stories through lyrics, then all the better.  I don’t think that it is in Cory Morrow to put on a bad show, he’s just too talented and has too much of a love for his fans and for performing.  Now about that middle name…….. 




Check out when you can see Cory Morrow in a town near you!

Cory Morrow ~ Live @ Pub Fiction
Ramblin Man
21 Days
Nothing Better
Big City Stripper
The Songwriter’s Lament
Light On The Stage
Texas Time Traveling
My Baby and Me
Love Me (Like You Used To Do)
Beat Of Your Heart
Friend Of The Devil
Always And Forever
Just Along For The Ride (Awesome)
Good Day To Be Alive
Nashville Blues
He Carries Me
Encore
Beer
Take care of you?  (A great song about his son that has previously not been recorded.)




To see the rest of the pictures from Cory's show @ Pub Fiction, become a fan on Facebook!




Article Written By: Matthew Ricketts ~ Senior Staff Writer, LoneStar Outlaw Review
Photography Rights belong to LoneStar Outlaw Reivew,
courtesy of ©KelleyStroutPhotography

July 23, 2012

Randy Rogers: The Truth Is In The Music...


Sitting down with Randy Rogers, it is not hard to see how his life and lyrics get translated into song.  His easy going manner and roll-with-punches attitude seem perfect for the artist that is highly in demand and often gone from the comforts of home for long stretches.  He has a down to earth sense about him that is tied closely to a “been around the block”, observational style.  The songs he writes are his…meaning the lyrics that fill the albums are “from the heart.  I like records that are snapshots of where you’re at (in life).”  When asked about his upcoming release (Trouble, which should be out in the spring), Randy says “It’s my favorite album I’ve written.  If the world came to an end, I would be happy with this recording.  It’s a very sincere record.  All of our lives and problems are displayed for the world to see so we write about them.  There isn’t much smoke and mirrors with this record; it is said exactly as you would if you need to go to therapy.  That’s what this record was for the band.  We needed to be in that studio as a group of young men.”  When asked about how autobiographical his songs are, he says “I try not to write anything that isn’t (autobiographical).  The songs are true because that’s the only way I know how to write.”

You can hear some of the new tracks on display during the full band shows or catch an even deeper glimpse into the passion behind the songs while he performs acoustically on his annual Hold My Beer and Watch This tour with Wade Bowen.  The guys feed off each other with the comfort level of life-long friends; and seeing how this is the 6th annual such tour, it is almost to be expected.  (Not to mention the countless other performances, writing sessions, and golf outings.)  Even with their schedules growing more and more hectic as the years pass by, they say the tour is a priority to both of them.  It is at these acoustic shows that they seem to be a little looser, play a little more to the crowd, and tell the stories where these immensely popular songs originated from.  If you haven’t caught one yet, they’ll be to your town soon, don’t miss it.

And it is in the stories that take place inside the songs that keep the fans singing along and always coming back for more.  “The melody is usually where I start with a song.  I come up with what I like melodically and try and fit the words in.  I’ve never written a poem and put music to it; I make the music first and then write around it.”  Rogers has written a treasure chest full of songs that his throng of followers can sing from memory at the drop of a hat.  He never puts any fillers on his albums and each one contains a plethora of new material that is battle tested and ready for live shows.  As we have stated before, it is almost unfair to be a fan because there is absolutely no way for him to cram all the favorites into one show per night.  But that’s what road trips were made for, right?   


If you are not able to see The Randy Rogers Band anytime soon, always pay attention to your local listings.  You just never know when the guys might pop up on Conan, Leno, or Letterman again.  Whether you’re an avid fan of the band or if you are/were late to the party, his music is there for everyone.  Every song has a personal attachment to it that one can easily reflect upon their life at some time or another.  He can put a silly twist on things (“Buy Myself a Chance”), give you a nice kiss-off (“Too Late for Goodbye”), or tug at the heartstrings (“Steal You Away”).  One way or another he knows how to please his audience, even if the subject matter that fills the air is painful to live through for the artist himself.  There are too many reasons to list why this will be a top tier band for years to come, so please go and find out for yourself.  We promise you will be rewarded with a night you’ll talk about for a very long time.

To find out where and when you can catch 
a show by the Randy Rogers Band check out: 





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Randy Rogers Band
Big Texas South
July 6th, 2012

Too Late For Goodbye
Better Off Wrong
Tonight's Not the Night
Buy Myself A Chance
Damn the Rain
Speak of the Devil (new)
10 Miles Deep
Again
Wicked Ways
Lonely Too Long
One More Goodbye
You Could Change My Mind
Steal You Away
Looking For You For So Long
Last Last Chance
Lost and Found
Somebody Take Me Home
In My Arms Instead
Down and Out
Interstate
Kiss Me In the Dark

Encore

Sit Here and Drink (Merle Haggard)
This Time Aroun

July 6, 2012

The Departed ~ Just a great band, doing what they do best.


After 2011’s all covers album, This Is Indian Land, got them off and running trying to keep as many fans as possible from their previous band stints, the boys in The Departed seem amped up to start on a new chapter and steamroll their way through any nah-sayers.   The gentlemen that make up The Departed; Steve Littleton, Seth James, Dave Bowen, Jeremy Plato, and Cody Canada, have “been there and done that” with making beautifully crafted music on several different levels and with many different talented artists.  However, they are approaching uncharted waters as far as doing this tight rope act as a collective whole for the first time.  Always ones to stretch the limits on any boundaries set before them, the songs they have unleashed on us so far are looking pretty promising.
 
The main songs released on a live audience so far from their to-be-released second album have included “Midnight Train to Memphis” (by the Steeldrivers),” Hard to Find”, “Worth the Fight”, “Prayer for the Lonely”,” Mary”, “Flagpole”, and the Seth James penned “ Calling all Demons”.  One could not see why any of these fine tunes will not make the next record.  The rest of their set list from The Firehouse Saloon includes several takes from the This is Indian Land album as well as a few Cross Canadian Ragweed songs to keep the masses happy.  “Rosalie”, “Long Where to Nowhere”, “Skyline Radio”, “Face on Mars”, “Water Your Own Yard”, and “Home Sweet Oklahoma” round out the live mainstays from their latest effort.  They have also stayed pretty consistent with CCR covers of “Dimebag”, “Alabama”, “Time to Move On”, and “Anywhere but Here”.
 
At the show we saw at the Firehouse Saloon, Cody even mixed in “Bluebonnets”.    One would have to imagine a day when those particular Ragweed covers won’t be necessary but we think that’s still another album or two further down the road and it makes for a pretty great back catalogue to have in times of need.   It seems hard to imagine…but the band sounds that much sharper every time they pass through and we have to think their rehearsals must be some pretty smooth sailing (and a whole lotta fun as well).  All in all, they mix in the old with the new, the tributes with originals, and the heartfelt with pure adrenaline rush seamlessly; and we can’t wait to see what lies in store for this band of brothers as they keep blazing their own trail.





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June 29, 2012

Lone Star Jam 2012


Lone Star Jam 2012
On-Campus @ The University of Texas
Opening Festival of the Season



Springtime has come and gone, and now we’re in the midst of another brutal Texas summer.  Summer means many things to many people; no school, travel plans, staying cool (somehow), and most importantly to us here at LoneStar Outlaw Review…Festival SeasonTexas is home to a plethora of Music Festivals throughout the year; from  ACL, to SXSW, to Cajun and Crawfish festivals, and even Far Out West (to name a few).  Lone Star Jam has wisely cemented itself at the end of spring, just as people are getting excited to gear up for summer and the weather hasn’t turned ugly just yet.  They have always put forth a good product and really outdid themselves this year.  Here’s how we saw things…

To be the opening band of a festival is a daunting task as concert goers aren’t always known for punctuality.  Upon arrival, they just want to get acclimated with their surroundings, find that perfect spot and grab a drink, and before they know it…the opening band is wrapping up their set.  No Justice was handed the reins to open the festival this year, and they did great.  They played the familiar hits that casual fans might recognize, used some good banter to intermingle with the arriving fans, dropped the info on a new album coming out in August, and passed the baton to the next band.  Not being as familiar with their music (and being one of the before mentioned non-punctual types), we didn’t get to see and hear as much as we would have liked to but at the same time…we really look forward to grabbing some of their music and becoming more attuned.  They have a great sound that is uniquely theirs.

Micky and the Motorcars were up next in what we figured could be a rough spot for them.  The festival occurred very shortly after the passing of former member Mark “Gus” McCoy, and you never know how a band (or anyone for that matter) will react.  But Micky and the boys showed why they are professionals and certainly did not phone it in.  In fact they looked and sounded awesome and it would seem that being on the stage is their solace place…and where they feel the most comfortable.  They tore through crowd favorites “Amber”, “Carolina Morning”, and “Nobody’s Baby” while introducing a new track they recorded with Kevin Welch, “How Far I’ll Go”.  Having met and interviewed these guys before we know what they are capable of and can’t wait to see them headline this same festival someday. 

Following MMC, Brandon Ryder took his place on stage.  Now, Ryder is an interesting artist to be a fan of.  Most of us are fans of these guys for different reasons.  For some it’s the looks, the spoken word, or the way certain songs make you feel.  To us, seeing Brandon Ryder perform is like seeing a truly gifted artist at work.  Absolutely no offense to any other performer out there, but Brandon seems to be one of  the most vocally talented guys of the bunch—and it is wonderful to hear him unleash his vocal pipes on an unsuspecting crowd.  He belted his way through “Lord, I Hope this Day is Good”, “Rock Angel”, “In the Country”, and the last single off his latest effort, Live at Billy Bob’s, “Shine”.  It’s is always great to hear artists speak about where their inspiration comes from—and seeing Brandon perform “Freeze Frame Time” while holding his sleepy child shows where most of Mr. Ryder’s thoughts are based.  If you aren’t familiar with him yet, do it soon.

We’re still really not sure what to make of Whiskey Myers.  One part Southern rockers, one part hippy, one part jam band.  But put it all together and you have one hell of a fusion going on that is that going to continue picking up speed, which is all they have done since their 2007 inception.  These East Texas boys bring it all to the table and any listener out there who is only listening in for one particular type of music, just keep listening because eventually they will get to it.  Our only request would be for them to cut back slightly on the jamming out when there is such a time constraint that festivals inevitably leave you with.  And we only say that because we want for the rest of the audience to hear what we already know and for them to hear more selections from you.  That being said, they debuted a new single, “Anna Marie” off their latest album Firewater.  Other selections included “Broken Window Serenade”, “Ballad of a Southern man”, and an absolutely scorching version of CCR’s (not that one) “Green River”.  Keep showing the world why you took home the “Emerging Artist of the Year” award fellas, we will certainly be seeing you next time you come around.

There’s something strange that happens at nearly every festival and it’s hard to explain.  It’s like when you were a kid playing with your friends and your big brother came out (who was much bigger than you) and you knew the energy was about to shift in his favor.  Enter Charlie Robison; who may not be any of these guys’ big brother, but you kinda get the feeling he could find a way to turn the amps up to 11 if he wanted.  Mr. Robison has the looks of a seasoned veteran, the sounds of a polished and well-traveled band, and the song catalogue to accommodate every fan.  Whether it be the slower “My Hometown”, or “El Cerrito Place” to the more up tempo “John O’Reilly’ and “Barlight”…the way Charlie commands the stage so effortlessly is a lesson to other ‘would-be’ musicians out there.  The music and storytelling is what matters and the way Charlie draws you in with other crowd favorites like “Down Again”, “New Year’s Day”, and “Angry All the Time” is great to see.  One minute you are sitting down in the shade and the next you find yourself front and center at the stage swaying along and wondering how you got there.  It’s the music folks, he’ll be in your town soon.

That brings us to Cody Canada and The Departed and after reading our interview with him a few months back, you know that we were psyched to see this occur.  Cody and his band mates are of course no strangers to how these festivals work.  Plug in, let ‘em rip, and leave them wanting more.  Unfortunately there were some technical difficulties that shaved around 10-15 off their set time but it still gave them enough time to crank it out.  Their lone album, This is Indian Land, was represented by “Skyline Radio” and “Face on Mars” while their next release will feature “Calling All Demons” and “Flagpole”, both featured at the show.  It is a shame about the technical difficulties because we know how feverishly they have been working on the next album and you got the impression they were eager to test out some of it live.  They even included a few Ragweed songs such as “Alabama”, “Anywhere but Here”, and “Dimebag” which they play pretty regularly at their shows.  The chants for CCR have seemed to subside which is great.  There is a time and a place for everything party people, and while that era has moved along…take notice of what’s rocking your face off right in front of you.  The Departed are here to stay and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jason Boland and the Stragglers have a quiet way of sneaking up on you.  Jason’s aw-shucks demeanor is only a coy detractor to letting you know he’s there with the big boys.  From the rocking out covers of “Thunderbird Wine” and “Outlaw Band” to the slower, more thought provoking “Electric Bill” and “False Accuser’s Lament”, Jason sets the stage for where he wants to take you musically.  He will play the crowd pleasers, “Pearl Snaps” and “Somewhere Down in Texas” but also the sentimental “Mary Ellen’s Greenhouse” all mixed together with ease.  Mr. Boland sits high on the mantle of artists with substance over style and carries forth a proud legacy of storytelling and craftsmanship.  He and the Stragglers have already begun work on the follow up to last year’s highly acclaimed Rancho Alto.

It takes a very delicate balance to keep hipsters, bikers, frat boys, and the casual fan all interested at the same time.  Stoney Larue and the Arsenals do this somehow.   And though we can’t quite put our finger on exactly how, we’re happy to be a part of it.  And so are a whole hell of a lot of others.   Both studio albums were well represented with his latest effort, Velvet, getting slightly more attention, which is to be expected.  The highly anticipated new record transfers greatly into live form and he masterfully transitions from slower songs like “Velvet” and “Te Amo Mas Que La Vida” to faster tunes such as “Sharecropper” and “Wiregrass”.  His previous effort, The Red Dirt Album, produced more sing-a-long up-tempo songs like “Oklahoma Breakdown” and “One Chord Song” but, as with the mixing of his audience, he mixes all these different sounds together greatly.  I hope you guys are getting your fill of Mr. Larue because the secret is already getting out on his talents and he’s gonna have to spend more time outside the friendly confines of Texas to appease all his fans.

If you had told Josh Abbott and his band five years ago that they would be the second to last band to play at a major festival, I’m pretty sure there would be a “get outta here”, probably with an expletive mixed in.   Then again Josh has always seemed to have the self-confidence to obtain any dream laid in front of him.  His meteoric rise to the top of the Texas Country scene has been nothing but astonishing and has garnered him some prime time attention on the national stage as well.  The She’s Like Texas album shed a light onto a bright and up and coming star both gifted in verbiage and showmanship.   “She’s Like Texas” is an obvious choice for songs to put atop the highlight reel but mix in “Ain’t Met my Texas Yet”, “All of a Sudden”, and “I Just Wanna Love You” and you start to round out a great mix of songs.  Mixing in the band Fun’s version of “We Are Young” into your own smash hit “Oh, Tonight” is a genius stroke of always staying current.  Rounding it out with “Good Night for Dancing” and a dedication for the road trippers that keep these bands employed, “Road Tripping” is a great way to cap off a great show for the band and its fans.

Closing out the day of music was Mr. Randy Rogers.  To see a Randy Rogers show is to know why he’s headlining this shindig.  Every single song is a sing-a-long, every fan has a smile, and every song conveys what RRB is trying to get across.   Randy and the guys could play for hours and hours and not hit every great song of theirs.  Each album is its own greatest hits compilation and condensing those down to a 1 ½ to 2 hour set list is almost unfair to the fans.  There is just such a plethora of great material and he constantly is working on new stuff.  As for the show, I now will get off my soapbox.  Randy just knows what he’s doing.  He holds the crowd in the palm of his hands and takes them on a ride.  Whether it’s “Wicked ways”, “Buy Myself a Chance”, or the brand new “Speak of the Devil”, the band knows how to appease all comers.  All of the music feels genuine and still has a down home feel to it.  The light show of outdoor events is also another reason for going.  They seem to almost be going haywire during “Too Late for Goodbye” among others but turns out to be perfectly timed with the beat.  Guess it’s just hard to keep up with a bad ass fiddle player.  Randy Rogers has could headline every festival across this State and I don’t think you would find too many displeased spectators.  He stays true to the simple formula of making good music people can dance to, sing to, and feel good about.  We as Texans should be proud to call him our own. 

All in all, the day was a huge success (at least from a fan’s perspective).  Prices were fair, plenty of port-a-pots to go around, and nothing seemed to run out till the end of the night.  A little more variety would have been nice seeing how there was only one food choice but what do we know?  Lone Star Jam really outdid themselves this time with a phenomenal lineup that would be tough to match or exceed;  and the setting could not have been nicer.  We as fans don’t need much reason to head to Austin but thanks for giving us yet another reason.  This is one website that will happily be back for years to come!


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