Singer, Songwriter slash Mom
31st Aug 2014 Posted in: Blog, shopkeeper 0

Welcome to Day 28 of the Indiegogo Campaign for The Shopkeeper: A Documentary about Mark Hallman and the Congress House. Every day during the campaign I am featuring a few artists who have recorded at the Congress House.

Jimmie Vaughan

As a founding member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmie Vaughan was one of the leading Austin, Texas guitarists of the late ’70s and ’80s, responsible for opening the national market up for gritty roadhouse blues and R&B. Influenced by guitarists like Freddie King, B.B. King, and Albert King, Vaughan developed a tough, lean sound that became one of the most recognizable sounds of ’70s and ’80s blues and blues-rock. For most of his career, Vaughan co-led the Fabulous Thunderbirds with vocalist Kim Wilson. It wasn’t until 1994 that he launched a full-fledged solo career.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Jimmie Vaughan began playing guitar as a child. Initially, Vaughan was influenced by both blues and rock & roll. While he was in his teens, he played in a number of garage rock bands, none of which attained any success. At the age of 19, he left Dallas and moved to Austin. For his first few years in Austin, Vaughan played in a variety of blues bar bands. In 1972, he formed his own group, the Storm, which supported many touring blues musicians.

In 1974, Vaughan met a vocalist and harmonica player named Kim Wilson. Within a year, the pair had formed the Fabulous Thunderbirds along with bassist Keith Furguson and drummer Mike Buck. For four years, the T-Birds played local Texas clubs, gaining a strong fan base. By the end of the decade, the group had signed a major label contract with Chrysalis Records and seemed bound for national stardom. However, none of their albums became hits and they were dropped by Chrysalis at the end of 1982.

At the same time the T-Birds were left without a recording contract, Jimmie’s younger brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan, came storming upon the national scene with his debut album, Texas Flood. For the next few years, Stevie Ray dominated not only the Texan blues scene, but the entire American scene, while Jimmie and the Thunderbirds were struggling to survive. the T-Birds finally received a new major-label contract in 1986 with Epic/Associated and their first album for the label, Tuff Enuff, was a surprise hit, selling over a million copies and spawning the Top Ten hit title track.

the Fabulous Thunderbirds spent the rest of the ’80s trying to replicate the success of Tuff Enuff, often pursuing slicker, more commercially oriented directions. By 1989, Jimmie Vaughan was frustrated by the group’s musical direction and he left the band. Before launching a solo career, he recorded a duet album with his brother, Stevie Ray, Family Style. Following the completion of the record, Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a tragic helicopter crash in August of 1990. Family Style appeared just a few months later, in the fall of 1990.

After Stevie Ray’s death, Jimmie took a couple of years off, in order to grieve and recoup. After a couple of years, he began playing the occasional concert. In 1994, he returned with his first solo album, Strange Pleasures, which received good reviews and sold respectably. Vaughan supported Strange Pleasures with a national tour. Out There followed in 1998. Released in 2010, Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites found Vaughan covering songs by Jimmy Reed, Little Richard, Roy Milton, Roscoe Gordon and others who inspired him when he was first starting out as a musician. The like-minded Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites followed in 2011.

Vallejo

VALLEJO (pronounced Va-lay-ho) has become one of the most popular rock bands to hail from “The Live Music Capital of the World” Austin, Texas with their sonic melting pot of classic album rock mixed with contagious funky rhythms and Latin percussion.

Started by the three Vallejo brothers from El Campo, Texas – vocalist and lead guitarist AJ Vallejo, twin brother Alejandro Vallejo on drums and younger sibling Omar Vallejo on bass – along with high school friend Bruce Castleberry on guitar and percussionist Alex Geismar, Vallejo has toured all over the US and Mexico tearing up stages with their fiery live performances with such acts as Matchbox 20, Stone Temple Pilots, Juanes and Los Lobos. Vallejo has also had many of their songs featured in national television shows NBC’s Roswell, UPN’s America’s Top Model, MTV’s Jersey Shore and HBO’s True Blood.

After over 15 years of being a band, with thousands of shows under their belts, numerous awards and a career spanning 11 album releases, Vallejo has arrived again with their first album in four years entitled “Brothers Brew”. Released on August 21st, the new album written, recorded and produced by the Vallejo Bros. features 13 songs recorded at their own VMG Studios in Austin, Texas.

Featuring the video singles for album opener “Euphoria” and mid-tempo groover “Waiting On You” and the bombastic swagger of “Free” – Vallejo’s new CD Brothers Brew is another strong musical testament to rock ‘n roll proving that blood is thicker than water and that for this band of brothers…the rhythm is definitely in the blood.

Don Walser

Don Walser was born in Brownfield, Texas. A roots musician since he was 11 years old, Walser became an accomplished guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. He started his first band, The Panhandle Playboys, at age 16, and shared bills with another aspiring Texas singer, Buddy Holly.

As rock’n’roll began to skyrocket in popularity, Walser opted to stay in the Texas Panhandle, raise a family and work as a mechanic and later as an auditor for the National Guard, rather than move to Nashville and pursue a recording career. As a result, he had little following outside Texas for the first part of his career. However, he never stopped playing and became widely known in Texas. From 1959-61 Walser had a group called The Texas Plainsmen and a weekly radio program. For the next three decades he was always in bands and played a heavy schedule. He wrote popular original songs such as “Rolling Stone from Texas”, which received a four-star review in 1964 from Billboard magazine.

As time went on, Walser also became known for maintaining a catalog of older, obscure country music and cowboy songs. He keep alive old 1940s and 1950s tunes by country music pioneers such as Bob Wills and Eddie Arnold, and made them his own in a style that blended elements of honky tonk and Western swing. He also was known for his extraordinary yodeling style in the tradition of Slim Whitman and Jimmie Rodgers.

In 1984, the Guard transferred Walser to Austin, a center of the burgeoning alt-country music scene. He put together his Pure Texas Band and developed a strong local following. Walser opened for Johnny Cash in 1996. In 1990, Walser was “discovered” by musician and talent scout TJ McFarland.

In 1994, aged 60, Walser retired from the Guard. Able to devote himself fully to music for the first time in his life, he was immediately signed by Watermelon Records, and released his first LP, Rolling Stone From Texas, produced by Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel. His extraordinary vocal abilities earned him the nickname “the Pavarotti of the Plains” by a reviewer for Playboy magazine. Because of his Austin base, he attracted fans from country music traditionalists, and alternative music and punk fans. His band later became the opening act for the Butthole Surfers.

Don Walser was voted “Best Performing Country Band” at the Austin Music Awards, was voted top country band of the year by the Austin Chronicle in 1996, and received an Association for Independent Music “Indie” Award in 1997. He also received recognition in mainstream country, and played the Grand Ole Opry on October 30, 1999, and again in 2001. In 2000 he received a lifetime “Heritage” award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and he and the Pure Texas Band played at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He also received cameo roles in feature movies with honky-tonk settings, such as The Hi-Lo Country (1998), starring Woody Harrelson.

In September, 2003, Don Walser retired from live performances due to health issues. Three years later, Walser died due to complications from diabetes on September 20, 2006, 6 days after his 72nd birthday.

Dale Watson

A staunch adherent of old-style honky tonk and Bakersfield country, Dale Watson has positioned himself as a tattooed, stubbornly independent outsider only interested in recording authentic country music. As a result, he has never sold many records, but his music has been championed by numerous critics and alternative country fans.

Watson was born in Alabama in 1962 but spent his teenage years near Houston, and he grew to think of Texas as his true home state. His father and brother were both musically inclined, and he began writing his own songs at age 12, making his first recording two years later. After graduating from high school, he spent seven years playing local clubs and honky tonks. He moved to Los Angeles in 1988 on the advice of Rosie Flores and soon joined the house band at North Hollywood’s now-legendary alt-country venue the Palomino Club. He recorded two singles for Curb in 1990, “One Tear at a Time” and “You Pour It On,” and appeared on the third volume of the compilation series A Town South of Bakersfield in 1992. Not long after, he moved to Nashville and spent some time writing songs for the Gary Morris publishing company.

Watson didn’t find commercial country much to his taste, and he relocated to the more progressive-minded scene in Austin, TX, where he formed a backing band called the Lone Stars. He scored a deal with Hightone and released his debut album, Cheatin’ Heart Attack, in 1995. It was greeted with enormous acclaim for the vitality Watson brought to his vintage-style material and performances and also featured a witty dig at mainstream country in “Nashville Rash.” Follow-up Blessed or Damned appeared in 1996 and continued in a similar vein, as did 1997′s I Hate These Songs. His next release, The Truckin’ Sessions, appeared on Koch in 1998 and was devoted entirely to that distinct country subgenre of truck-driving songs.

Unfortunately, it was almost his last. In 2000, Watson’s fiancée was killed in an automobile accident; devastated, he attempted to drown his sorrows in booze and drugs and nearly died of an overdose shortly after Christmas. He wound up checking himself into a mental institution to recover and re-emerged later in 2001 with the deeply sorrowful tribute Every Song I Write Is for You, which appeared on Koch’s new country imprint Audium. A couple of lower-key releases followed, the holiday album Christmas in Texas (2001) and Live in London, England (2002). In 2004, with his heart still on his sleeve, but a thicker skin, Watson released Dreamland. He also prepared himself for the lead role in Zalman King’s forthcoming cowboy drama, Austin Angel.

Watson was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame one year later. He took a break from music for the majority of that year, moving to Maryland in order to spend more time with his daughters. He was back playing gigs in Austin by 2006, and a documentary on Watson, Crazy Again, premiered at SXSW that year. Directed by Zalman King, the film charted Watson’s mental breakdown following the death of his fiancée. A new full-length, From the Cradle to the Grave, came out in 2007, along with a second album, The Little Darlin’ Sessions. The Truckin’ Sessions, Vol. 2 appeared in 2009 from Hyena Records. The following year saw the release of Carryin’ On, which featured session players active in the ’50s and ’60s, the era so beloved by Watson. In 2012 he released El Rancho Azul on Red House, with his road band, the Lonestars.

 


31st Aug 2014 Posted in: Blog, shopkeeper 0

Welcome to Day 27 of the Indiegogo Campaign for The Shopkeeper: A Documentary about Mark Hallman and the Congress House. Two and a half days left! Every day during the campaign I am featuring a few artists who have recorded at the Congress House.

Robbi Sherwin

Cantor Robbi Sherwin is a busy musician based Austin (TX). After years of intensive study, she became certified as a cantor in 2003.  Robbi not only serves as the spiritual leader of B’nai Butte Congregation in Crested Butte(CO); but also regularly serves congregations in San Antonio and El Paso (TX). Robbi earned her BFA at the University of Texas in Austin in Musical Theater, Playwriting and Vocal Performance.  Robbi brings her spirited Jewish songcrafting, vast knowledge and intense love of Judaism to communities around the world and is in high demand to do special musical programming for Jewish camps.

Her first two albums of original Jewish pop, rock, funk and blues, Todah LaChem (Thanks, Y’all) and Aish HaKodesh (the Holy Fire) have won numerous awards and critical accolades.  Touring with her folk/rock band, “Sababa“, teamed with the acclaimed talent of Scott Leader and Steve Brodsky, she seeks to ignite spiritual connections through Jewish music.  “Sababa‘s” popular first release, Pray for the Peace, introduces her rendition of Robin’s Sim Shalom.  Robbi’s music has been featured in worship services at both synagogues and churches, Jewish Community Centers, summer camps and concert halls throughout the United States, England, Australia and Israel.  Her compositions have been recorded by many other artists.

Aubrey Slackey

The past is gone and is just a fuzzy memory, the future is nothing but a fantasy, and yes, all we are now is what is in the present moment. Really though, who knows anyone? To know the real Aubrey Slackey today you must first know his past. Aubrey Slackey started working with Eric McConnell at his new studio on his first solo project. At the time, little did they know they were recording and mixing tracks for the debut project known as “Slackey Says” with the soon to be Grammy winning Eric McConnell, now full-time based out of Nashville TN. McConnell mixed and recorded and played slide guitar, bass and guitar on this project under the alias John E McConnell. In mixonline.com magazine Eric’s contemporaries wrote: “McConnell’s a fine musician and people come to his home studio because they like the way he records music. McConnell likes his 1-inch 8-track analog Otari machine and a Sound Workshop Series 30-X console, and so does White Stripes’ Jack White, producer Loretta Lynn’s, Van Lear Rose” For the full article on Eric McConnell go to: http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_nashville_skyline_66/ Fast forward to the present and you will find Slackey residing and working in Austin, TX and promoting his new EP and sophomore release Grand Ole Aubrey mixed and mastered by Mark Hallman and Ned Stewart at the Congress House in Austin, TX with Austin Americana musicians Elana James (Hot Club of Cowtown), Dave Biller, and Beau Sample, to be released October 23, 2008 at the Waterloo Ice House in Austin TX with special guest members of the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash as his back up band. To be followed up with another party saturday October 25th at the Waterloo Ice on 38th St. with his regular bluegrass outfit Alan Roy (mando) and Hannah Baker (fiddle). For more info on Slackey’s CD release party go to www.myspace.com/slackeyfamilyband About the Slackey Family: “There was a whole bunch of people out there, all kinds of people, different types of music fans…they were all diggin’ it…the cool thing about this music is, it’s not just bluegrass, it’s not blues, it’s not early rock, but it’s all that together.” -creative loafing podcast- Aubrey Dokka is known to many in the Atlanta music scene in the early 1990’s, as one of the ones who is still around to be remembered and appreciated for his great voice. He was the front man and co-founder with David Railey in the obscure local Atlanta pop punk art party band Soul Brother Sacred. Their first gig was at the White Dot in ’89, an old hole in the wall punk music venue on Ponce De Leon that no longer exists. The guys were introduced to the crowd by the now deceased Deacon Lunchbox as the “Indigo boys”. From there they rented an apartment on North Highland Avenue below Panorama Ray (legendary Atlanta photographer and artist now deceased) and went on to release their self titled debut in ’91 at Ed Burdell’s Furies Studios (Nov 91 Pulse Magazine) on their own indy label Dark Music. They opened for national acts from Atlanta like Insane Jane, Holly Faith, and Michelle Malone, toured with Bad Egg Salad and corrupted many amongst others in venues like, The Roxy, Center Stage, The Variety Playhouse, the forgotten Little 5 Points Pub and The Point and Cotton Club (Peachtree Location).

Spoon

With a heady blend of precision punk and serpentine classic rock (the band has drawn comparisons to everyone from the Pixies and Sonic Youth to Elvis Costello and Tom Petty), enigmatic, Texas-based indie pop outfit Spoon went from underground press darlings to one of the genre’s premier commercially and critically acclaimed alternative rock acts. Formed in Austin by singer/guitarist Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno, Spoon released its debut EP, Nefarious, on the small Texas imprint Fluffer Records in 1994, eventually re-recording three of the songs for its 1996 full-length debut, Telephono, for Matador. The album was noisy, hook-filled, and generally well-received, but it wasn’t until 1997′s Soft Effects EP that the group began to hone in on the tight, minimalist pop that would become its forte. A brief and tumultuous affair with Elektra Records began in 1998 with the release of A Series of Sneaks, and quickly ended after the band was dropped in the midst of an internal company shake-up (the record was reissued in 2002 on Merge with two bonus tracks that chronicled the group’s disappointment with major-label politics).

It was with prominent indie label Merge that the band would go on to carve out its niche in the increasingly widening modern rock mainstream, specifically with Girls Can Tell (2001) and Kill the Moonlight (2002) (the latter spawned the single “The Way We Get By,” which appeared on the popular teen drama The O.C.), both of which found the group taking a more adventurous approach with its sound. Released in 2005, Gimme Fiction soared even higher, debuting at number 44 on the Billboard charts and selling over 160,000 copies, while 2007′s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga made it to number ten and sold over 300,000 copies in the U.S., topping nearly every major critic’s year-end list. Spoon, who by this time had become a fixture on soundtracks, television programs, and late-night talk shows, released its seventh full-length album, Transference, on January 18, 2010. It debuted at number four on the Billboard 200. After touring in support of the album, the band took a few years off. Daniel formed Divine Fits with Handsome Furs’ Dan Boeckner, and the band released its debut album, A Thing Called Divine Fits, in 2012. Meanwhile, Eno concentrated on production work, collaborating with artists including the Strange Boys, Alejandro Escovedo, and the Heartless Bastards. Spoon resurfaced in 2014 with the announcement of their eighth album, They Want My Soul. Recorded for the first time with an outside producer in the shape of Dave Fridmann, the album was hailed by the band as its “loudest and gnarliest” to date. It was released in August 2014 through Loma Vista Recordings in the U.S. and Anti in Europe.

Timbuk 3

Timbuk3 was an American post-punk band which released six original studio albums between 1986 and 1995. They are most well known for their Top 20 single “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”. The band’s music has been featured on more than 20 compilation and soundtrack albums.

Their name is a reference to the Malian city of Timbuktu.

Timbuk3 was formed in 1984 in Madison, Wisconsin by the husband and wife team of Pat MacDonald (acoustic, electric, bass and MIDI guitars, harmonica, vocals, drum programming) and Barbara K. MacDonald (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin, violin, rhythm programming, vocals).

Timbuk3 was signed by I.R.S. Records after appearing on an episode of MTV’s The Cutting Edge in 1986. Soon after, they released their first album, Greetings from Timbuk3, which included their only single to chart, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”. That song has had numerous movie and television appearances over the years since its release, and been included in numerous compilation CDs. Also from the same album, the song “Shame On You” was played during the opening scene of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, released in 1986. The band was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1987. They appeared onscreen as the house band in a bar in the 1988 film, D.O.A.

After their successful debut, Timbuk3 receded from the spotlight but went on to record five more critically acclaimed albums.


29th Aug 2014 Posted in: Blog, shopkeeper 0

Six Days to Go!

Welcome to Day 26 of the Indiegogo Campaign for The Shopkeeper: A Documentary about Mark Hallman and the Congress House. Every day during the campaign I am featuring a few artists who have recorded at the Congress House.

Tom Russell

BTW, I will be stopping in El Paso on my way to Austin in October to interview Tom. I cannot WAIT, because he’s going to have a lot to say about the music business.

Tom Russell songs have been recorded by such icons as Johnny Cash, Dave Van Ronk, Jerry Jeff Walker, Doug Sahm, Joe Ely, Nanci Griffith, Iris Dement, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, among others. No less than Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the legendary poet, has said that he shares “a great affinity with Tom Russell’s songs, for he is writing out of the wounded heart of America.”

For Mesabi, Russell invited along several prominent friends to assist him in bringing to fruition his newest compositions, among them Lucinda Williams, Van Dyke Parks, Sir Douglas Quintet keyboardist Augie Meyers and Calexico, the band with which Russell previously collaborated on Blood and Candle Smoke. The result is a collection that may be Russell’s most cinematic and global to date, a work that instantly grips the listener and holds on as its vivid scenarios unfold from tune to tune. The consummate renegade, Tom Russell makes the music he wants to make, without intervention, and he does so without a care for trends and expectations.

“My career seems to have gone in the opposite direction from a lot of people whose notoriety came over their first half dozen records,” says Russell. “Mine didn’t. My career built very slowly, and then I moved to El Paso in ’97, further outside than anybody could imagine. By not plugging into the machine, the records I’ve made in the past 10 years have been my strongest and most outside records, especially the past two. It seems that the older I get, the more I’ve been able to keep on the outside.”

Tom Russell has appeared on the David Letterman TV show five times in the last few years, and his songs have appeared in a dozen movies and television series including: The new Monte Hellman movie The Road To Nowhere, Tremors, Songcatcher and Northern Exposure.

Tom Russell has published three books: a detective novel (in Scandinavia), a compendium of songwriting quotes with Sylvia Tyson (And Then I Wrote – Arsenal Press), and a book of letters with Charles Bukowski: (Tough Company: Mystery Island Press).

Russell is also an established painter represented by Yard Dog Folk Art in Austin(www.yarddog.com) and Rainbow Man in Santa Fe (www.rainbowman.com)

A book of Tom Russell`s art: Blue Horse/Red Desert was published by Bangtail Press in September 2011.
 

Charlie Sexton

Although a youngster compared to most of his Austin friends, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Charlie Sexton has already had several phases to his career. Sexton, raised in Austin, TX, made his debut with Pictures for Pleasure in 1985 at age 16. He followed that up with a self-titled second album when he was 20. Because word of his reputation as a prodigy guitar player spread far and wide, he found himself an in-demand session player while still in his late teens, and he had the opportunity to record with Ron Wood, Keith Richards, and Bob Dylan.

Born to a mother who was just 16, Sexton and his mother moved to Austin when he was just four. His mother would get him out to clubs like the Armadillo World Headquarters and the Soap Creek Saloon. Places like the Split Rail and Antone’s blues club became his classrooms. After living outside of Austin for a while, he moved back to Austin on his own when he was 12, and the musicians around Austin, his heroes, people like Jimmie Vaughan and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Ely, and others, took him in and put him up until he could earn more of a living on his own.

From 1992 to 1994, he was a member of Austin’s Arc Angels, along with Doyle Bramhall II, Tommy Shannon, and Chris “Whipper” Layton. That group recorded one self-titled album, released in 1992 on Geffen Records. By the time the Arc Angels decided to disband, Sexton was 24 years old and already pegged as a blues musician. Not only did Sexton play gutsy, fluid blues guitar, he also played a spirited rock & roll guitar.

In 1994 and 1995, he formed and recorded with his new group, the Charlie Sexton Sextet, and his debut for MCA Records, Under The Wishing Tree, was released in 1995. Sexton’s album was well-received by the critics. Under The Wishing Tree presents Sexton in an array of musical genres, touching on Celtic-flavored rock, folk-rock, and blues. There is a lot of interplay between guitars, violins, cellos, Dobros, and mandolins on the recording, and Sexton’s vocals ride high on top of the melodies. On his 1995 tour to support the album, he was accompanied by Susan Boelz (violin), Michael Ramos (organ), George Reiff (bass), and Rafael Gayol (drums).

As a songwriter, Sexton writes about what he knows, so Texas themes permeate his songs. He considers Bob Dylan his strongest songwriting influence, while he counts Austin legends Jimmie Vaughan and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan among his prime influences for guitar playing. His lyrics mix autobiographical experiences with images that are open to interpretation. More great things are in the offing for this young guitarist, singer, and songwriter.

 

Will Sexton

Will Sexton, whose writing credits range from work with Waylon Jennings and Stephen Stills to Joe Ely and Bill Carter, is shaped by the unique diversity of the Austin music scene. Fate and his own sheer talent placed him on stage with local legends before he’d lived out his first decade. Will and his big brother, Charlie, started playing together at the Continental Club when Will was 9 and Charlie was 11. Many of the sounds of his childhood still resonate in his current work. Will received early success in Austin and was signed by MCA at age 16. He has survived in the tough Austin music scene by playing gigs with a variety of notable artists. It is never unusual to go out to catch a show featuring an Austin singer/songwriter and see Will onstage.

Will’s credits as producer and songwriter range from collaborations with Waylon Jennings to psychedelic pioneer Roky Erikson to Steve Earle and punk legend Johnny Thunders. Will has written for MCA and Almo Irving and recorded for MCA, A&M, and Zoo Entertainment. Will was in the New Folk Underground with David Baerwald, which resulted in the co-produced (w/ David Kitay) Lost Highway release Here Comes the New Folk Underground. Will names Terry Allen and Sheryl Crow hitmaker David Baerwald among his favorite writing partners. 2009 marked the completion of new production credits, including Randy Weeks’ Going My Way, and Ruby James’ CD, Happy Now, co-produced with his brother Charlie Sexton. Will also enjoys performing with Charlie Faye, Sahara Smith, and Shannon McNally.

Will has amassed an impressive collection of songs over the years, releasing his first independent album, Scenes From Nowhere, in 2001, which received a four-star review and was honored in the Top 5 Releases of 2001 by the Austin American-Statesman. Bus Stop Gossip, a previously unreleased recording from 2004, was unearthed and released in 2009 and was followed up by Move the Balance in 2010.

Things came to a temporary halt in December 2009 when Will suffered a mild stroke. Though he had a remarkable recovery, he was unable to remember much of the music he had written and played almost daily as a working musician. For him to be unable to connect with those songs mentally since the stroke was a setback few musicians could even imagine. The Austin music community has always been known for taking care of its own and came out in full force for a music benefit in honor of one of Austin’s golden sons to raise money for Will’s living expenses and medical bills.

While Will was working through the recovery process, Move The Balance was released two months later without much notice and to very little fanfare. This is an album not to be overlooked. It includes eleven new songs recorded by Mark Hallman and Andre Moran in twenty-two hours at Congress House studios in South Austin. Musicians on the CD include Will Sexton on vocals, guitar and bass, Mike Thompson on piano, guitar and trombone, Bukka Allen on B3 and accordion, Dony Wynn on drums and percussion, Ray Bonneville on harmonica, and Bill Carter on additional bass. Additional guest vocals were provided by Mark Hallman, Ruby “Red” James, Charlie Faye and Nöelle Hampton.

Danny Schmidt

Named to the Chicago Tribune’s 50 Most Significant Songwriters in the Last 50 Years, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter Danny Schmidt has been rapidly ascending from underground cult hero to being widely recognized as an artist of generational significance. With lyrical depth drawing comparisons to Leonard Cohen, Townes Van Zandt, and Dave Carter, Danny is considered a preeminent writer, an artist whose earthy poetry manages to somehow conjure magic from the mundane, leading Sing Out Magazine to tag him “Perhaps the best new songwriter we’ve heard in the last 15 years.”

Performing solo almost exclusively, armed with just his voice, his words, and his acoustic guitar, Danny’s an authentic timeless troubadour, one man sharing his truth in the form of songs, unadorned and intimate. The uderstated effect can be startlingly powerful. As songwriter Jeffrey Foucault put it: “Everything about the man is gentle, except for his capacity for insight, which is crushing.”

After garnering unanimous critical praise for his self-released Parables & Primes album in 2005, Danny’s follow up release, Little Grey Sheep in 2007 began an unbroken streak of albums that have charted at #1 on the Folk Radio Charts, internationally. After also winning the prestigeous Kerrville New Folk award in 2007, Danny won the notice of venerable Americana roots label, Red House Records, who began releasing his albums in 2009, starting with the critically acclaimed album, Instead The Forest Rose To Sing, thus exposing a much broader audience to Danny’s music, alongside such notable artists as Greg Brown, Eliza Gilkyson, Jorma Kaukonen, and John Gorka.

 

 


28th Aug 2014 Posted in: Blog, shopkeeper 0

Six Days to Go!

Welcome to Day 25 of the Indiegogo Campaign for The Shopkeeper: A Documentary about Mark Hallman and the Congress House. Every day during the campaign I am featuring a few artists who have recorded at the Congress House.

Rain Perry

My turn! Let me talk about myself in the third person!

Rain Perry’s “Beautiful Tree” is the theme for the CW Network’s “Life Unexpected,” where she also had the surreal pleasure of appearing as herself in a music festival episode alongside Sarah McLachlan and Ben Lee. Rain is a Grand Prize winner of both the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the ROCKRGRL Discoveries Competition, as well as a Telluride Troubadour finalist.

She has released four albums on her own Precipitous Records, as well as writing and touring a solo play about her hippie childhood called Cinderblock Bookshelves: A Guide For Children of Fame-Obsessed Bohemian Nomads.

A high point: hearing Nanci Griffith’s sweet voice on Tom Russell’s version of her song “Yosemite.” A not-so-high point: when it made the radio EP but not the album.

In addition to her career as a singer-songwriter, Rain also promotes concerts in Ojai and teaches songwriting, specializing in classes for people who harbor a secret desire to write songs but need encouragement and tools.

She has recently begun production on a documentary film called The Shopkeeper, which traces the arc of the music business through the story of her music producer Mark Hallman and his studio the Congress House in Austin, TX.

Pushmonkey

Pushmonkey is an American rock band from Austin, Texas. Originally known as Billy Pilgrim, they first changed their name to Mad Hatter and later to just Hatter. The band experienced minor radio success with the song “Handslide” from their self-titled album. They appeared on Ozzfest in 1999 in support of the album, as well as Woodstock ’99. In 2007, the band won the first FameCast.com Battle of the Bands contest.

 

Ruben Ramos

Ruben Ramos, also known as El Gato Negro, is an American Tejano music performer. Beginning his music career in the late 1960s, Ruben’s fame as has grown throughout the years as he formed his own distinct sound of music.[1] In March 1998, Ruben was inducted into the Tejano Music Awards Hall of Fame and later won Best Male Vocalist in 1999.[2] His band, The Mexican Revolution, also won album of the year in 2008. In January 2009 at the 51st annual Grammy awards, Ramos & the Revolution won the 2009 Grammy for “Best Tejano album of the Year.”[3][4][5]

Elizabeth Rice

I can’t find much about Elizabeth Rice except that she made an album in 2002 called The Wishing Tree, that you can find here!

 

 


27th Aug 2014 Posted in: Blog, shopkeeper 0

Welcome to Day 24 of the Indiegogo Campaign for The Shopkeeper: A Documentary about Mark Hallman and the Congress House. Every day during the campaign I am featuring a few artists who have recorded at the Congress House.

Oasis

Wonderwall.

Oh, there’s more? Ok:

Oasis shot from obscurity to stardom in 1994, becoming one of Britain’s most popular and critically acclaimed bands of the decade in the process. Along with Blur and Suede, they were responsible for returning British guitar pop to the top of the charts. Led by guitarist/songwriter Noel Gallagher, the Manchester quintet adopted the rough, thuggish image of the Stones and the Who, crossed it with “Beatlesque” melodies and hooks, injected distinctly British lyrical themes and song structures like the Jam and the Kinks, and tied it all together with a massive guitar roar, as well as a defiant sneer that drew equally from the Sex Pistols’ rebelliousness and the Stone Roses’ cocksure arrogance. Gallagher’s songs frequently reworked previous hits from T. Rex (“Cigarettes and Alcohol” borrows the riff from “Bang a Gong”) to Wham! (“Fade Away” takes the melody from “Freedom”), yet the group always put the hooks in different settings, updating past hits for a new era.

Omar and the Howlers

The European blues fans all adore Austin, TX-based guitarist and singer/songwriter Omar Kent Dykes. That’s because he fits the stereotypical image many of them have of the American musician: he’s tall, wears cowboy boots and has a deep voice with a Southern accent. However, Dykes does not carry a gun, and though he looks rough and tough, he’s actually an incredibly peaceful and intelligent musician, and a veteran at working a crowd in a blues club or a festival. While Dykes still has a sizeable American audience owing to his albums for Columbia Records, he still spends a good portion of his touring year at festivals and clubs around Europe. Omar Kent Dykes was born in 1950, in McComb, MS, the same town from which Bo Diddley hails. He first set foot into neighborhood juke joints at age 12 and after he’d been playing guitar for a while, he went back into the juke joint. After graduating from high school, Dykes lived in Hattiesburg and Jackson, MS, for a few years before relocating to Austin in 1976. He’d heard the blues scene in Texas was heating up. At that time, Stevie Ray Vaughan was still playing with Paul Ray & the Cobras. By the early ’80s, Omar & the Howlers had gained a solid reputation for their invigorating live shows. They also released two albums on independent labels, Big Leg Beat (1980), followed four years later by I Told You So. Among white blues musicians, Dykes is truly one of a kind, a fact Columbia Records recognized in the mid-’80s when they signed Omar & the Howlers. Unfortunately, it was a fleeting relationship at best. After releasing Hard Times in the Land of Plenty (1987) and Wall of Pride (1988) the band was dropped when the company was bought by Sony. While it was inconvenient, it didn’t stop Dykes. His post-1990 output has been nothing short of extraordinary. Starting in 1991, Omar & the Howlers recorded three discs for Rounder/Bullseye Blues: Live at Paradiso (1991), followed by Blues Bag and Courts of Lulu (both in 1992). In 1995, they switched to the Austin, TX-based Watermelon Records and released Muddy Springs Road (1995), World Wide Open (1996), and Southern Style (1997). After 15 years of dealing with record contracts, Dykes needed a break from being tied down to one particular label for any length of time. Since then, he and the Howlers have released excellent discs on Discovery (Monkey Land) (1997) Black Top (Swing Land) (1999), Blind Pig (Big Delta) (2002), and Ruf Records (Boogie Man) (2004). A live set recorded in Germany, Bamboozled, appeared from Ruf Records in 2006.

Patrice Pike

Austin, Texas is known for its laid back, bohemian yet ultra committed music scene–something Austin native Patrice Pike immediately conveys. She’s been a professional musician and songwriter since she was sixteen, but has maintained such a raw, down-to-earth quality and irrepressible talent that Billboard magazine proclaimed her “one of the finest up and coming contemporary rock singers in America”. On the surface you may hear about these things but there’s more than meets the eye and the music biz spins…
Pike is known to many as the electric front woman for the seminal Austin jam band Sister Seven which she co-founded when she was barely out of The High School for the performing and visual arts at Booker T. Washington in Dallas Texas. Their first major label album was a rare and unique live recording which at that time was unheard of in the music industry for a new breaking band. Patrice wrote and sang Sister Seven’s top 10 Billboard hit “Know What You Mean’. She was the USA Songwriting Competition Grand Prize Winner overall for the song “My Three Wishes”, co-written with her Sister Seven band members. In this contest she also garnered top prize for Pop category for “Nobody Knows” written with famed songwriter/producer John Shanks. And then, before stardom ever fully materialized, it evaporated. The band lost its label affiliation in the much publicized Arista shakeup that culminated in the firing of music industry legend Clive Davis. Patrice’s band mates needed to be with their families after being on the road incessantly for 9 years. They disbanded in 2000.  Even as the band was flaming out, Pike was already in the process of being reenergized as a songwriter.
Her solo material has taken an increasingly narrative turn. Over the past decade, she has independently released four acclaimed solo records, showcasing her socially astute, literate lyrics alongside her powerful vocals. She has toured relentlessly, both in the U.S. and overseas, building an impressive grassroots fan base. She has co-created numerous records and musical groups, toured all over the United States and Western Europe and just plain impressed those who’ve seen, heard and watched her. The resilient Pike has been able to adapt repeatedly to a rapidly changing music landscape that bears no resemblance to the one she entered as a 16 year old. Patrice was the youngest musician inducted into the Austin/Texas Music Hall of Fame. Along with that honor she was also named Musician of the Year, Best Female Vocalist, and Song of the year in Austin for her song Beautiful Thing, which she debuted on CBS in the Summer of 2006
She has continued to grow and evolve as both a songwriter and a performer, and is currently producing arguably the finest work of her music career even as she confronts the uncertainty of an industry in steep decline. She has performed in every possible live scenario from shed tours of traveling festivals like Lilith and HORDE tour to music festival institutions like Austin City Limit’s, High Sierra, Strawberry, and Kerrville festivals as well as community theaters, clubs and house concerts. She is known to her dedicated fans from diverse communities as a phenomenal and sincere live performer who is willing and grateful to play for them wherever they need and want her to be. Long a respected social and environmental activist, she is also the co-founder and now executive director of the Grace Foundation of Texas, an organization that provides services for young adult survivors of homelessness. An accomplished snowboarder and avid runner and surfer, she continues to travel the globe extensively. She has a disciplined meditation and Yoga practice.
In short, she leads a rich, full, varied life that looks absolutely nothing like what she was aiming for when she embarked on her journey in music at 16. If you listen well, you will hear it in her voice and her music. She is as passionate as they come and in one of her own fans words, “Patrice is truly unforgettable. I listen to her as much as I can. I love the love she sings. I know it’s real.”

 

Plainsong

Plainsong was originally a British country rock/folk rock band, formed in early 1972 by Ian (later Iain) Matthews, formerly of Fairport Convention; Andy Roberts, previously of The Liverpool Scene; Dave Richards; and Bob Ronga. The original group split up before the end of 1972 but, since the early 1990s, Matthews and Roberts intermittently performed and recorded together, with other musicians, as Plainsong.