Monday, May 23, 2011

Texas Part III

Well my intention was to take 281 from New Braunfels to Stephenville and after asking for directions i was told i had to go to Austin first to get on 281, well some how i missed my exit and ended up taking 29 from the Round Rock area over to Burnet. I arrived at Melody Mountain Ranch in the afternoon and went through the gates and met up with my friend Jeff Mack who has been a sponsor and videographer for the Larry Joe Taylor festival off and on over the years and this year he was in charge of running the video feeds to the jumbotron on either side of the stage. There was not a lot for me to do while he was getting things in order so i just walked around on the grounds before the mayhem started. Tuesday was much of the same throughout the day until people started showing up, i ran into some friends like the crew of Winding Roads Music. Later i helped out Rick Lovett by operating a video camera while we went to Larry Joe Taylor's house and picked him up in a limo and drove him back to the festival site, Rick interviewed Larry along the way. In the afternoon James Lann and Ryan Turner started things off in the City Limits tent and Tuesday night is always a laid back acoustic concert for less than 500 people around a campfire and this year it was kicked of by none other than Radney Foster.
One memorable moment was when Josh Abbott appeared from the side of the stage and passed on his award from the Texas Regional Radio Music Awards to Radney for his song "Angel Flight" written about the soldiers of the Red River 44 and the crew that brought them back home. Radney also performed "Its Already Tomorrow" which is a new song with Bill Lloyd and the two are reunited as again as the duo Foster & Lloyd. Later in the evening Matt Martindale, Dave Perez (Tejas Brothers) Deryl Dodd and Larry Joe himself traded songs well into the evening.
Later i listened to stories traded back and forth between the crew of Winding Road Music and called it a night.
Wednesday is when things start to build momentum at LJT. Things started off with Cody Riley and Jed Zimmerman in the City Limits tent and the main stage kicked off with Six Market Blvd and James Hertless bass player for the Josh Abbott band singing the National Anthem followed by local KHYI battle of the bands winners The Troubaderos. I did not have access for any of the shows on Tuesday until later in the evening so i tried to shoot a few shots from on stage but i wasn't happy with what i got and i would post a few here but they were part of the casualties suffered in a hard drive crash after i returned home.
The rest of the days line up was fantastic with The Turnpike Troubadours, Mark McKinney, Rich O'Toole, Bart Crow, Kevin Fowler, Stoney LaRue and the stellar return of Pat Green who has not played a show at LJT since 2000.
Stoney was sporting a ball cap instead of his trademark bandana and has a new stripped down band sans Steve Littleton who went on to join the Departed and Jeremy Watkins who moved onto Jason Boland & The Stragglers.
Casey Twist was filling in on bass guitar.
Pat Green stole the show singing his familiar anthems of the Lone Star state
with Ben Danaher on guitar and sharing the mic later in the show with Josh Abbott,
Kevin Fowler and Larry Joe Taylor and an appearance by Tommy Alverson on guitar......

...Beer was being slung everywhere and no one cared but i wasn't about to waste good beer so i did what most people do and drank it. I found my way to the Red Se7en entertainment acoustic stage and met a lot of new friends like Matt Wayne and Ryan Turner and i ended up playing percussion with Ryan on a five gallon bucket and someone has that on video so if you do, send me a link. Matt Wayne was around the whole festival and i kept running into him and i was really impressed by his song writing and powerful voice. I don't know what time i went to bed and i am sitting here having to rewrite parts of this because i didn't remember it too well but i think i got it right finally.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Texas Part II

After the Lone Star State Jam Heather and i walked around on 6th street in downtown Austin for a while and then i went back to Merel's place and the next day i worked on the photos i took. Monday night i went out to the Flying Saucer Drought Emporium because i wanted to try 512 brewing company's Pecan Porter, very cool place with a great beer list and Monday seems to be the best night to get good specials on beer. Tuesday morning i went outside to find that my Jeep was broken into right in front of the house, they smashed the passenger side window out and must have been in a hurry because they only grabbed my GPS which was in a plain unmarked black bag that isn't made for a GPS. It was laying between the seat and console because i used it to find the Flying Saucer and they left the cord and mount but later i found out they stole my travel humidor i was storing some pretty good cigars in too. I was just glad that my camera gear and my new laptop were still in the house from the night before and that they didn't take anything else i had in there like my camping gear or my mountain bike.
I filed a police report, had the window replaced and drove to all the pawn shops in the area, mostly to find another GPS but also to see if anyone tried to sell mine, bought some beer and wen't back to Merel's. Wednesday i went out toward Dripping Springs because i wanted to see Hamilton Pool which was an amazing place.
It was late in the day and there weren't many people there and the water was pretty warm but i'm used to the cold of Lake Michigan so most water is warm to me. Perch nibble at your feet and the water is clear enough to see them, you can swim across and under the waterfalls and explore the trails that lead to the Pedernales river. Only 75 vehicles are allowed in per day until 5:30 pm, check the website for more info and call ahead to make sure you are not number 76. Later that night i went down the street and checked out a little honky tonk called Ginny's Little Longhorn (website seems to be down so here is a Google search that came up) which is a mom & pop beer stop that hosts a lot of great local honky tonk bands, Robert Banta was there and i talked to his bass player Josh outside during a set break. A few weeks later i ran into him in east Texas and found out that he is also Brandon Rhyder's Merchandise manager and plays bass for a few other musicians as well.
Thursday i packed up and left Merel's place for New Braunfels to spend the weekend on the Guadalupe river and do some camping. I stayed at Mountain Breeze campground where every campground seems to be, on River Road. After picking out a spot that wasn't reserved i set up camp and jumped in the river and waded in with my camera to shoot some sunset photos. New Braunfels Texas is one of my favorite beautiful places in the state with its high rock cliffs on the river banks, clean flowing water, tubing, friends and great music venue's like the world famous Gruene Hall in the Gruene historic district. Friday night i could either go see Micky & the Motorcars at Gruene Hall or skip the big crowd and go down the street to Tavern on the Gruene where Stoney LaRue's brother Bo Phillips was playing and that turned out to be a pretty good time, Bo is a very funny guy with some good tunes and he even did a few of his brothers songs and i think he does a better Willie Nelson impersonation. I made the long winding five mile long 20mph drive back down River Road in the dark and the camp ground was pretty quiet and dark so i had a few more beers and called it a night.
Saturday i woke up sometime and made some French Press coffee with organic beans from some rain forest somewhere roasted by some place in Norfolk Virginia i bought before the trip and went swimming again. Heather drove from San
Antonio again to meet me and we had a few beers before going back to Gruene and Gruene Hall to see
Cody Canada & The Departed. I left the camera at the campsite because i wanted to pay attention to the Departed since it was my first time seeing them and because taking a professional camera into Gruene Hall sometimes isn't welcome and i didn't want to take the chance. It was a sold out show and after the opening band, the Statesboro Review ended their set Cody Canada & the Departed took the stage. The Departed in case you have been living off the grid is Cody Canada, former lead guitarist and vocalist of Cross Canadian Ragweed, bass player and former Ragweed member Jeremy Plato with longtime friend Seth James also sharing duties on guitar and vocals with Cody and Jeremy and Steve Littleton formerly of Stoney LaRue's band playing keyboards with David Bowen on drums. David is an amazing drummer who has played with Bleu Edmondson and even Wynton Marsalis, he is a true artist on the drums and all together the Departed is a super group of a band that is getting tighter every show. The Departed have their debut album coming out soon and are taking pre orders now on Lone Star Music, get your autographed copy now. The album consists of songs from Oklahoma singers and songwriters they were influenced by like Tom Skinner, Bob Childers and Jimmy LaFave and iTunes will have an exclusive track called "Stand Up" which is originally a song by the late fellow Okie Mel McDaniels up soon that they rocked up and made their own. I ended up camping one more night before heading up to Stephenville to meet up with my friend Jeff Mack to work the Larry Joe Taylor festival for the first time.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I was not held against my will......Texas Part I

This year just like last year i made plans to spend some time in Texas starting with shooting photos at the Lone Star State Jam which is held on a Saturday each year in Waterloo
park in downtown Austin Texas. Then my friend Merel told me that if i could get down there by 2pm Friday that i could ride along with him and his wife's band, the Sarah Pierce band to Luckenbach because they were playing a show in the dance hall later that night.
Well i made it with a few hours to spare and i got to experience what Waylon and Willie and the boys sang about for the first time. Luckenbach is really a piece of land off FM (Farm to Market) 1376 near Fredericksburg in the heart of the Hill country that is really just a small group of old buildings like a post office and general store operating since 1849 and an authentic original dance hall complete with wooden shutters that prop open large windows and another staple of Texas dance halls, the Christmas lights that are strung out in the rafters. I got to talk with Abbey who is in charge of planning events and really manages all aspects of Luckenbach's day to day operations about the history of the place and take it all in. Sarah Pierce and her husband Merel Bregante are working on a new record and while staying with them in Austin i was able to hear Merel mix the songs which feature RecklessKelly members David Abeyta and Cody and Willy Braun plus Cindy Cashdollar and George Ensle and i can say that this is shaping up to be her best effort yet and it's also more my style with it's rocked up edgier sound.

i met up with my
friend Heather from
San Antonio
and made our way to Waterloo park for the Lone Star State Jam.
By the time we arrived the
crowd already seemed larger than last year and it actually turned out to be a record crowd for the day long festival. I missed current "The Voice" contestant Curtis Grimes and the Turnpike Troubadours were on so i began shooting photos right away. This is always a well run festival and when one band is done the next stage on the other end of the park starts
up and it's back and forth all day without a hitch. This was my first time seeing the
Turnpike Troubadours, Josh Abbott and Kevin Fowler and it was great to see them in Texas playing to such an enthusiastic home crowd.
Josh Abbott is fast becoming
one of
the top
drawing bands in Texas
and when
few notes of "She's Like Texas" get played the crowd goes wild.

Brandon Rhyder sounded great with Matt Powell on guitar, Casey Donahew introduced a few new songs and Roger Creager got everyone going with an energetic performance on a beautiful perfect day in Austin. Roger played a few songs that will be on his next album and the Eli Young band played a few too including a great cover of the Will Hoge song "Even If It Breaks Your Heart" that is on their latest EP "Crazy Girl" available on iTunes. Kevin Fowler was an experience, he's a great entertainer who knows how to work the crowd with his revved up redneck persona and honky tonk party songs and was a great way to end another very successful festival.