Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Roger Creager & The Randy Rogers Band @ Joe's

Since we have so many photos of Roger and Randy already and my girlfriend had to cancel her plans to fly up from Austin i wasn't sure if i was going to attend this show until a few friends here in Michigan said they were going and had room for me to ride along. We didn't make all of the opening set by The Dirt Drifters but from the few songs i heard i really liked their sound.
Roger Creager is one of my favorite Texas country songwriters and singers who has a rich sounding voice and songs that range from deeply personal childhood stories and lonely feelings on the road to good ole college drinking songs. I have seen Roger every time he has come to Chicago since 2008 and this was the first time that he has shared the stage with his dad Bill Creager. If you have Roger's "Live Across Texas" CD then you know what i am talking about as a version of "Rancho Grande" just isn't the same without him. Roger kicked the show off with "I Got the Guns" which is about inheriting his grandfathers hunting rifles. He did a cover of "Cocaine Blues" by Johnny Cash and my favorite song of his "Late Night Case of the Blues" that he puts everything into.While Roger was on stage i also had a chance to talk with Brady Black, fiddle player extraordinaire and harmony singer for Randy Rogers. My friend Brett from the band Ninth Street Bridge gave me a fiddle that he didn't need, i have to replace the bridge and bow but i asked Brady if he would sign the back of it for me and he did. I also talked with Roger Creager a bit after his set, he is working on a new album and i told him how i met my girlfriend because of his music and since she couldn't make the show i asked him to sign a T shirt for her.
Randy Rogers played every song off the new "Burning the Day" CD except for two, "Missing You is More Than I Can Do" and "Don't Tell Me the Truth" that was written with Dean Dillon. I have been wearing out the new CD, its one of my favorites, i think it sounds great, Randy's voice sounds better than ever, the harmony vocals really sound sweet and Geoff's guitar solos are really taste full on this one. I wasn't working this show, i just wanted to see these guys again and have a good time so i didn't try too hard taking pictures. I feel lost without my camera at any concert but i managed to have fun despite my girlfriend not being there by spending some time talking with some good friends i haven't seen in a while. Glad my friend Mike didn't end up with a shiner (not the beer, that's a good thing) after that fight broke out in the middle of the floor, he didn't start it but if you know Mike, he could finish it!The last Cross Canadian Ragweed show October 24th is also my last show working at Joe's, i am moving to a place outside Austin on lake Travis with my girlfriend, finally after talking about it for years its going to happen and i have some great projects in the works so stay tuned!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Jason Boland & The Stragglers in Chicago.

Here in Kalamazoo Michigan we don't have many local bands that have even heard of Red Dirt music or even know what Americana music is let alone playing it live. Ninth Street Bridge is one such band that we have here and having passed on information in the form of a CD and a press kit to the owner of Joe's Bar i was thrilled to find out they were chosen to be the opening act for Jason Boland & The Stragglers on August 26th.
The Robbie Jay band from Youngstown Ohio started the night off with their hard driving Red Dirt influenced rock and country with good harmonies and guitar shredding. Ninth Street Bridge was ready to play next, its a bit of work to get five guys who play twelve different instruments situated and there is a lot of tuning going on between songs but they pulled it off perfectly. Lead singer Brett Riggins handled the time between songs very well and the band sounded better than ever especially with local drummer Tommy Ufkes and his amazing rhythm skills. It was only a half hour set but it went over really well with everyone and Roger Ray, Brad Rice and Grant Tracy were hanging out listening and said they really liked the music.
Jason and the Stragglers were next, Noah, the Stragglers fiddle and mandolin player had to take a few weeks off so the very capable Chris Whitten filled in for him on the tour. Chris is an imposing figure, i am 6' 1" and Chris towers over me but he's one heck of a nice guy and has a great resume of experience with all sorts of musical genres. Jason started out with a great Waylon Jennings song that i had heard them rehearse in a space in Austin a while back and "Outlaw Bit" was a great starter. They played all the fan favorites and came back for an encore that ended the show with a cover of Billy Joe Shaver's song "Thunderbird Wine" that blew me away, Roger Ray was shredding away on that song like i've never seen him do, i know he can but that was amazing. I filmed the entire set from Ninth Street Bridge in full HD and you can watch it by clicking here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Great American Taxi with Todd Snider @ Hoxeyville.

I have good friends who have an Americana band here in Kalamazoo called Ninth Street Bridge and they told me a while back that they were confirmed to play the Hoxeyville music festival up in Wellston Michigan Saturday August 21st. At first i wasn't too interested in going and only would consider it if i could line up a photo pass and after sending the request too late i could not get one. Then on Friday i found out that i could still bring a camera and get pretty close to the stage without a pass and the line up on Saturday was interesting enough so Brett was able to get me in at the last minute and i got a ride up with their new part time drummer Tommy Ufkes. Ninth Street Bridge played for about an hour on the smaller third stage to a small crowd but they sounded great.
After the show we walked around and checked out the other stages. Todd Snider was on stage when we arrived so i missed his show on the main stage and i also missed Kalamazoo's own Greensky Bluegrass while Ninth Street was playing but i knew we would catch up with some of the Greensky guys later that night to do some pickin at Dave Bruzza's campsite.
Colorado's Great American Taxi was on the second stage and i was able to catch that whole show with Todd Snider sharing the stage with them. Great American Taxi is a name i knew because i saw them at the Musicfest in Steamboat Springs Colorado last January and i knew they often act as Todd's backing band. I was able to walk right up to the front of the stage and also backstage near the end of the show to talk to Todd.
Great American Taxi is a very talented group of musicians led by vocalist and mandolin player Vince Herman who is one of the founding members of the Colorado jam band Leftover Salmon and they have a sound that reminds me of the Grateful Dead but with more of a bluegrass based sound that can adapt to almost any genre within the wide open space of Americana music and with Todd Snider sitting in you are guaranteed a great time. Great American Taxi released a critically acclaimed album called "Reckless Habits" a few months back and its been well received in Americana music circles and Todd Snider has had his album "The Excitement Plan" out for about a year now and he has such a huge catalog of music to dig into and his anecdotes between songs are almost as entertaining as his songs. Later in the set Paul Hoffman and Dave Bruzza (who was wearing a gorilla suit) of Greensky Bluegrass joined in on mandolin and Dobro. Click here to view more photos from part of Saturdays shows. Click here for more photos i shot in black & white. (C) copyright Jeff Dykhuis.

Jamey Johnson @ Joe's

I haven't spent much time keeping up with current Nashville country music but that's no reason to miss going to see Jamey Johnson at anytime. His music never sounds dated whether he's playing a new song i haven't heard yet or the songs off his last two albums and you know you are going to hear authentic country music. Jamey has been known to play long shows at Joe's, this one clocked in at about two solid hours of hardcore country music, new songs, some hits and some covers. Jamey is set to release a double album called "The Guitar Song" on September 14th, and like the "That Lonesome Song" it will also be released on vinyl. I was allowed by Jamey's management to only shoot the first three songs, its a standard rule for concert photographers but it makes it hard to get a wide variety of shots but it leaves me free to enjoy the show and talk with everyone.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Randy Wells Red Dirt Festival @ Joe's

If you are a fan of Red Dirt music and baseball then maybe you have heard of Randy Wells, the Chicago Cubs pitcher who has become an advocate for spreading the word around about all the musicians he likes in the Texas and Oklahoma music scene. Randy has helped get a few voices out there that many people up this way might never have heard of through word of mouth and even through having a few artists sing the National Anthem in Wrigley field like Stoney LaRue has done and just this past Tuesday Randy Rogers did.
Randy is also very active organizing charity events through his foundation dedicated to helping those with childhood illness and Joe's bar in Chicago was the scene for combining the two. Musicians Brandon Jenkins, Randy Rogers with fiddle player Brady Black and Stoney LaRue with his band the Arsenals provided the music while a silent auction was held up front and special events like a dinner date with Randy were auctioned off on stage between sets.
Brandon Jenkins took the stage first playing his brand of authentic Red Dirt music ingrained in him from his days around the Stillwater Oklahoma music scene with guys like Bob Childers, Mike McClure and Jimmy LaFave and even though he calls Austin home now his music still carry's that influence in songs like "The Whole World's Gone Crazy" and "Faster Than a Stone" and a few from his latest release "Brothers of the Dirt" like "Blood for Oil" and he ended the set with one of the many songs that have been covered by other fellow musicians "Finger on the Trigger" which was also done by Bleu Edmondson.Randy Rogers was on next with his acoustic guitar and accompaniment by fiddle player and harmony vocalist Brady Black. The Randy Rogers band is gearing up for the release of its next CD "Burning the Day" out on August 24th and its sure to be a huge hit with songs like "Interstate" and "Too Late for Goodbye" showing up in their set list more than six months ago all worked out and sounding great. Look for the video for "Interstate" and come see them as a band again at Joe's on October first with Roger Creager.

Stoney LaRue and the Arsenals were on next, Stoney is also a musician with roots in Oklahoma with a penchant for jamming classic grooves by the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd during his set of original songs like "One Chord Song" and "Solid Gone" too the funky "Oklahoma Breakdown" written by Mike Hosty. Stoney and Brandon often write with each other and collaborate musically as well.
Randy Wells even came out on stage to join Stoney to sing and even though Randy does write and plays some guitar its probably better for him to stick with Baseball. Everyone got together on stage to jam during the last song and All in all its was a successful fun filled night for a great cause benefiting the Childrens Memorial Hospital and probably also showed quite a few people what the Brotherhood of the Dirt is all about.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chris Knight, Cody Canada and Charlie Robison @ Joe's. The acoustic tour.

After playing the KNBT 92.1 annual Americana Music Jam in New Braunfels Texas, Chris, Charlie & Cody came up to Chicago for one of the last stops on their acoustic tour. The crowd at Joe's were ready to see and hear what some of us got a larger dose of at the Musicfest in Steamboat back in January and the guys were glad to be back in Chicago. Chairs and tables were set up again and each person or group was escorted one by one to their reserved seats. Cody said they sang "Chicago Is" by Frank Sinatra all the way on the plane because Charlie said he gave him a pill for flying. Cody was still singing it after the show not because of those pills but because he's also a Sinatra fan and loves being in Chicago. Charlie started the show off with "Feelin Good" off of "Beautiful Day" from his latest release. After that Charlie said "Cody was nice enough to leave a copy of the Courtyard Hounds CD on my pillow the other day, i hadn't read any of the lyrics yet but i know my divorce songs are way better than her's." It was Cody's turn next and he said "well here's the song that got me out of a divorce, and my lovely wife is sitting right there in the corner" and he played " Flowers" for Shannon.

Chris Knight was next after Cody introduced him and he started right in on "Rural Route" off his "Enough Rope" CD and Cody took most of the guitar solos for the whole night. Charlie talked about how he and Chris didn't get along, i think he was joking but then Cody said they actually loved each other and Chris jumped in and said well "not LOVE love each other, we just get along" about then my little digital tape recorder quit that i use to remember things like this so i lost any other details of the show. Charlie played songs like "Loving County" and "My Hometown" and rattled off some great one liners like "the toughest guys wear the gayest shirts". Cody played "Bluebonnets" and "Dimebag" and even "51 Pieces" which were cool to hear acoustic and Chris and Charlie joked about how Cody was lacking in having as many murder ballads to sing as they had. Chris sang "The River" and "If I Were You" and even "Love and a .45" and it was great to see Chris in a good mood and smiling, even trading insults with the audience after someone yelled out and said "just play the song, you dumb redneck!" which Chris responded by saying "I know what i am, i know what you are too!" After the show Chris even came out to sign autographs and pose for pictures. Out by the bus Cody took a photo of my KNBT t-shirt and sent it to the station's owner Mattson Rainer, then he called him and handed me the phone, i didn't really know what to say and i just rambled on about how much i listen too and like the station. We hung out a while, Charlie and Chris were sleeping by then and we left Chicago around 2 am for the drive home.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Roger Creager and Luke Bryan @ Joe's.

Early in the morning i woke up and continued the drive toward home from Lucky Maggies in Missouri hoping to make it in time to catch the Roger Creager & Luke Bryan show at Joe's May 7th.
I didn't get much sleep the night before closing down Lucky Maggies and then getting on the road around 5am so i had to pull over a few times and take short half hour naps to be able to keep going. After waiting in traffic and checking into my hotel i made the show just in time as Roger was already on stage. His band was crowded in by all of Luke's gear already on stage but they seemed like they were having fun. I don't think Roger played any new material but i think he won over some new fans that without Luke would otherwise miss the chance to hear him.Luke always pulls in a great crowd at Joe's so you can always count on it being standing room only like the other times i have seen him there and so since there is no photo pit i usually have to wait near the front of the stage early to get any good shots. Running late i wasn't able to do that so i had to shoot from the outside areas plus i was so tired i didn't feel like trying to get into that crowd.
Luke put on another great show, sang a few good classic rock cover songs and poured a few beers for people in the audience and one guy even snuck in a guitar somehow that was passed up to Luke to sign. I was tired, watched a lot of the show from the TV screens upstairs but the redbull's weren't working so i didn't hang around too long after the show.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sean McConnell & Cory Morrow @ Lucky Maggies.

So it was time for me to leave Texas and head back home but it didn't mean that i had to refrain from seeing some good shows along the way. Unfortunately i didn't have the time to stop in Oklahoma City to visit the Wormy Dog Saloon or to stop in Tulsa and check out Cains Ballroom, two of the most famous venues in the state but i did have a plan to stop almost halfway home at a little place a talented photographer friend of mine named Kandi Mefford (I wish i could take photos as good as hers) started with her husband almost a year ago called Lucky Maggies located in Diamond Missouri near Joplin. Lucky Maggies is a roadhouse style of bar that is also a diner in one half during the day and a live music venue mostly on weekends. I was looking forward to seeing Kandi again and a few other friends that were going to be there and a couple of them i didn't even realize were sitting one table over but i was wearing my hat and they didn't recognize me right away. The world of Red Dirt music is small so its not hard to run into people you know or have seen at other shows and this venue has been booking the best. Sean McConnell and his band casually walked in through the back door where their gear was loaded in from and took the stage without anyone announcing who he was. Sean's music has yet to catch on nearly everywhere but parts of Texas and those who know about him know just how powerful his voice and his songs are and that power wouldn't be that mesmerizing without the great lyrics Sean writes. Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers and even Tim McGraw can attest to that, and Wade and Randy are not shy about promoting his talents and if there is a better male singer out there i don't know of him. Sean was on the road with Cory Morrow promoting his current "Saints. Thieves. Liars." Cd and i was also looking forward to seeing Cory Morrow again since i haven't seen him since his last show at Joe's and since he has gone through some changes with his band lately. Cory had virtuoso Rodney Pyeatt on lead guitar for a few months before current and past guitarist John Caroll returned. John certainly is no slouch on the guitar either and he plays the songs like he never left. Plus with Clint Litton rocking on the drums with long time bassist Steve Cargill and Jeff Bryant on keyboards Cory's band is as good as it ever was. Cory has a new EP out right now called "Ramblin Man" which is also the first single. I think Sean left a good impression on everyone and some of us were joking and wondering if it would hurt Cory's feelings if we asked Sean for an encore but it didn't take long before Sean was out talking to fans and selling copies of his CD and Cory and his band did the job of taking the good times up a notch.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Austin to Fort Worth Texas.

After Baton Rouge i really wanted to head back down to New Braunfels for a few more days but going up to Fort Worth was a better idea since it was also heading North towards home. I also wanted to check out Fort Worth anyway since it was one of the places in my mind that i thought about moving to. So after one more night in Austin i left for Cowtown and Merel had some recording to do and i had to stop by the Capitol services building and claim my lost iPod Touch that someone thankfully turned in after i had lost it during the Lonestar State Jam.
I slowly headed up I-35 making a few stops here and there like in Carl's Corner to check out Willie's Place which is a truck stop souvenir store and small museum complete with live music venue that i guess Willie plays in once and a while. Kept on going and made it to the little town of Crandall Texas around 3pm. Crandall is known as an area where the infamous Bonnie & Clyde hungout for a short time and i guess Bonnie worked in the bank but never robbed it. In fact some of the 1967 film "Bonnie & Clyde" was filmed in Crandall.
"A little known fact about the movie. Several of the movie's
scenes were shot in the small town of Crandall.
Crandall is a city located in Kaufman County, Texas
about 23 miles from Dallas on Hwy 175.
The reason i stopped in Crandall was not for historical significance but because one of the Texas music photographers that inspired me recently opened his studio there in a one hundred year old building on Main street. Todd Purifoy refurbished what is now his photography studio with the help of friends and family and the store front and interior walls are decorated with Todd's work. After having lunch at the Cotton Gin which is an old cotton gin turned restaurant (which is located in a dry, meaning no alcohol county, which they have a way of getting around) and music venue i just hung out and caught up on some photo editing and talked with Todd trying to learn what i could.
The next day i got on I-20 and headed to Fort Worth which is still close to sixty miles from Crandall. I really didn't know where i was going or what to do so i drove straight to the North side of town going directly to the famed Fort Worth Stockyards. The Stockyards is a historic area of Fort Worth which was one of the last places of rest along the Chisholm Trail during Longhorn Cattle drives. Nowadays it is part museum tourist attraction and nightlife hotspot. Besides the world famous Billy Bob's Texas there are many more and much more historic Honky Tonks in the area. My favorite (which we visited later the next night) was a building that was once a brothel started by Buffalo Bill Cody, Pearls Dance hall is an authentic virtually untouched Honky Tonk and i was told the upstairs floors still have the original room layout. Well on this first time visit i went to the White Elephant Saloon and looked around at all the hats on the walls and ceiling, went to Billy Bob's and paid the dollar to get in and look around at the site where so many live recordings have been made in the "Live at Billy Bob's" series with the most recent one being released by Wade Bowen. I also walked through a few western clothing stores before leaving to go meet up with my friend Rob and his wife Julie. Rob is also a Texas music photographer although not professionally for a living he still has some photos on CD covers and web sites he can lay claim too. Rob works for an affiliate of a national television station and he and his wife Julie share a passion for the classic sounds of Texas music and can often be spotted around town supporting local music and musicians like Tommy Alverson, Sunny Sweeney, Chad Rueffer and Randy Brown or Johnny Bush. I already was a fan of Sunny's and i had heard some of Tommy's music but the others were new to me. After looking to see what our choices were for the evenings entertainment we decided on going to the Overtime Sportsbar in Burleson to see Tommy Alverson. I was thinking ok, a sportbar, why would Tommy play a sports bar but it turned out to be a venue that is just as much about sports as it is music except that they could do a little work on the sound system (too gymnasium like) but other than that i enjoyed the place, they get a great steady line up of great music and i liked our server sporting a Steve Rice autographed No Justice T-shirt which is just one of the bands that passes through.
I had a great time hearing Tommy and his very talented band and could have stayed all night but Rob had to work in the morning and later i found out we missed a surprise appearance by Mike Mancy too. The next day Julie, her daughter and i went to a cool little Mexican restaurant called Fuzzy's which was started in the area where they live and has expanded to other areas and then we decided on Pearls and Filthy McNasty's for my last night in Texas. Chad and Randy were scheduled to play and when we walked in i expected to see them on stage. Instead they were sitting at a table with just their acoustic guitars trading songs back and forth performing everything from Marty Robbins to the Band. Chad has a classic country voice that booms out into the room doing justice to many of the old classic Honky Tonk songs of the 60's and 70's and Randy can sing a good harmony and take lead on guitar. After that wound down we stopped into Filthy McNasty's a block down where the Cody Robbins Band was having a CD release party. I was much more into Pearls than Filthy's, they are two different types of places and i was really feeling the old school vibe of Fort Worth that night. I need to spend more time in Fort Worth before i decide where i want to live, i can be busy there or in the New Braunfels area and both have a completely different style to them i like. New Braunfels is all about the outdoors and Americana music and Fort Worth is laid back old school honky tonk but both have a real appreciation for their respective histories.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Baton Rouge Fest For All, The Second Day.

After a smooth well run first day we celebrated a little with some of Merel's good friends at one of their houses, a small old plantation house (not the kind you envision from movies but just a common type found around Baton Rouge) that they were restoring. Rob (a talented and multi faceted artist) and his wife invited us in, it was hot and humid, old classic Cajun music was coming out over some beautiful handmade speakers and the smell of fresh cooked crawfish, shrimp and boudin balls wafted through the air. Now living up here in Michigan and this being my first trip to Louisiana, i wasn't given the tourist treatment, instead i was immersed in it like anyone who lives there. Pounds of shrimp and crawfish were plentiful and were not talking about seafood how it is prepared restaurant style up here, here in Cajun country you have to know how to eat it like a local. Sunday the second and last day of the Fest For All 2010 started out with a forecast calling for an 80 percent probability for rain and thunderstorms and although we only experienced 10 minutes of light rain the whole weekend we were prepared for more. The threat of bad weather did not keep the people away or dampen their spirits and the day started off with members of the LSU Jazz Ensemble assembled as a Sextet. Louisiana State University has a great music program teaching a variety of genre's of music on its beautiful campus.
If you are someone who lives in another part of the country as i do, and have ever listened to Cajun music, then when you think Cajun music the music of BeauSoleil may come to mind. I used to listen to a huge variety of music and i went through a Cajun (world music) phase so i knew who these guys were, plus i had seen them live when i lived in Denver in the mid nineties at the Taste of Colorado in Larimer Square.BeauSoleil Avec Michael Doucet as they are known now are known as the best Cajun band in the world and just like Terrance Simien they have Grammy Awards to prove it. Based in the mecca for Cajun music Lafayette Louisiana (maybe you thought i was going to say New Orleans?) BeauSoleil play mostly Cajun music whereas Terrance is primarily known as a Zydeco artist.
Next on stage was the piano based Chicago blues music via Louisiana born and bred veteran bluesman Henry Gray with his band Henry Gray & The Cats Henry Gray is a National treasure as far as Blues artists are concerned, he has played with the greats such as Howlin Wolf and Muddy Waters and is the man behind the piano on countless recordings by greats such as Jimmy Reed and Bo Diddley He recorded on the legendary Chess Records label for a while and was a key figure in establishing the Chicago Blues style eventually returning to his Louisiana roots. Henry Gray also received a Grammy nomination, recorded with the Rolling Stones and played for Mick Jagger during his 55th birthday celebration in Paris. Henry was joined on stage later by Carol Fran who also has quite a legacy in the world wide Blues scene.

Rounding out the festival as the last act was the funk music of Big Sam's Funky Nation based out of New Orleans. Big Sam Williams is a trombone player formerly in the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and is one of the best in the business garnering a big Easy Award as the best funk group of 2008.
In between slide trombone notes he "Second-Lines" which is a New Orleans style of street dancing he does with his fellow horn player Andrew Baham who are backed by a solid band. They have shared the stage with Dave Matthews, Widespread Panic and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe and have been featured on VH-1, Regis & Kelly and the Travel Channel as well as having played Bonnaroo, SXSW and more. Its impossible to sit still while these guys entertain you with all they've got.
So foregoing Fort Worth that weekend and going to Baton Rouge turned out to be a welcome change from the Texas music i usually surround myself with, i got to meet some good people, experience a different culture, one rich in culinary and musical heritage and expand my horizons of the great American South. View more photos here. Copyright Jeff Dykhuis.