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Saturday, December 31, 2016

The WHOLE band is here

What I like about checking out the music scene in Austin is not just how plentiful it is, but the successes you see for some artists over time. Those success are not necessarily gold albums and world  tours, but in a smaller scale... The release of a video, a new album, or... In the case of Carter Hilltop Band... the addition of members to complete the project into becoming a full band.

I first saw the Carter Hilltop Band as a trio in Kyle, Texas as the opening act for another up and coming Texas country music act. Carter Hilltop Band was front woman Valerie and her brother on guitar and another guitarist who doubled as the bass player. Move forward more than a year and here I sit at the Rattle Inn.

With guitar, bass, and drums the core has been established. Vocals are spot on. With Valerie singing hi and sweet and her brother mellowing things out, it is a sweet trade off. Although their harmonies were pitched differently, it worked with the music. And the crowd loved it. From just me, myself, and I right before stage time to very full house by song #2, it was pleasant to see the support this young group is receiving so early on.

Where there may have been a song or two that would have worked for dancing, this is just good, sit back and relax music. It was country, but with something a bit deeper to it. My impression. The crowd loved it, every single song. I looked around at one point and saw phones up. The standard for how we judge what is liked in the current Internet, social media feed world. So if this is true, Carter Hilltop Band will do very well.

I must throw one bitch and gripping moan out there, it is the sound man. Good bless the band for kicking ass, cause the sound man was terrible. I think we listened to the stage monitors the whole time. Heads up Rattle Inn,... Vet your sound guy and make sure he gives a crap.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

fresh refresh

Probably won't be the last post of the year, but pretty damn close.

This will be a review of some sort. I am going to diverge from my normal chatter about how much fun the audience had and how the band interacted with them. I am just gonna touch on two bands that I have reviewed before, but you will just have to read on.

I didn't do a review of The Warhorses ( when the played recently in Austin at The Rattle Inn. Simply put, it was their last performance in Austin with Guitarist Sonny Bihl. Sad day, but spectacular performance. They just let Sonny call out the songs he wanted to do. It was fun and spontaneous. For now that really doesn't matter. In the (near) future I can hope we will get to see them again with a new line up and maybe some new tunes. I will try to keep up with them and let you know when Austin, Texas will get a first look at the new Warhorses. 'Til then here are some photos from that night. I'll post more to FB.

The other band I recently saw which I have previously spoken about at length is the Cody Bryan Band (

It was another fun night with these guys. They were just coming off of a high note playing for a larger size arena with several other acts. This night was just a small intimate crowd. What was exciting and spectacular is hopefully a lesson for all. They changed up their set! It was fantastic and fun. Just like seeing them for the first time. There were many new songs they did. There were a couple of mainstay's they keep for the fun of it, BUT they threw in and mixed it up with many older tracks we hadn't heard in a while. Once again, made to be very proud of the local boys done good!

As a fan of the local music scene and many different bands, it was just a great feeling to have something new and fresh thrown at me (the crowd). I don't know how hard it is to do a different set list regularly, but as a paying (and sometimes not) member of the crowd (and usually a fan of someone I am going out to see)...I DON'T CARE. The best bands in Austin become lame as shit when it is the same damn set list each time you see them.

For the crowd and and fans of the Cody Bryan Band it was inspiring and refreshing to enjoy a performance for what it was...Live Music! I appreciate and loved the performance for what seemed like a whole new band. I hope some of my other friends and members of bands around town might read this and take heed. We, the crowd and audience, will ONLY love you more for it!


Monday, November 7, 2016

Sunrise on the Wake Up Call

The home of great music and amazing good times on South Lamar...One-2-One ( Located in a humble little strip center with plenty of free parking and easy quick access to and from downtown, the One2One is home to great music pretty much every night of the week. It's always good, the staff is always friend, and the whole live music vibe is to die for in there!

The "to die for" event this particular evening was for The Michael Dillard Band ( release of their debut, full length CD - "Wake Up Call". I reviewed the disc here ( and you can pick it up at their website...or better yet...AT A SHOW! Or here

Putting on a release party can be anywhere from the same old same old to the full blown cake and balloons. Somewhere in-between you have someone who cares so much  about the live reproduction of the new disc you end up with 13 people on stage! Uber Epic! In addition to the normal players for the Michael Dillard Band, there was added an extra guitarist, two percussionist, 4 strings, and brass. I always thought the One2One had an pretty damn nice sized stage until I saw this...
and this...

As for the performance itself, an undertaking of this size is bound to have some hang ups and hitches. For this show it was a solid 30 minute delay. Dude! You're killing me smalls, you're killing me! With that complaint aside, the band took the stage and proceeded to rock the packed and overflowing house. With people standing shoulder to shoulder inside and waiting outside The Michael Dillard Band reproduced their debut CD in what seemed like effortless and glorious fashion.

It is very difficult to describe how amazing this perform was in whole. The subtleties of the strings and keys with the percussion just rolled together with the stunning vocals of Michael Dillard himself. The crowd was proof of this. Very few words in the house, all eyes up, and mouths open. At the end of the first, song the split second silence was followed with the stunned crowds collective roar and applause. It was over, it was done, the ice was broken. Putting all of that bad ass stage talent to use seemed easy with the great songs behind it. The crowd stayed fixated until the end. I know this because it was a MASSIVE Pain In The Ass trying to move around and take photos. It was a  performance to be proud to say you were there.

The rest of the night just poured out of the speakers, into our ears, and warmed us all at joy for Michael Dillard and his band. The overall, collective effort for the song writing, story telling, and performance will not be reproduced again. If you weren't there take a moment, buy the album, look the band up and make amends.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

It was a Midnight Drive

Lucky Lounge ( on a Thursday night in Austin, Texas. Like I have said and will continue to preach...there is always something to do, music to experience, and fun to be had in Austin ANY day of the week. Tourist or local, come join the fun in our great city.

Located on 5th St just off of Congress, the Lucky Lounge is just that...a lounge. A long shotgun style venue. You walk in the front door with a small seating area in the front and then a long hallway that leads to the main body of the club. As you walk down the hallway the bathrooms are on the right and a area for merch on the left. When you enter the main room it is a little over double the width of the hallway with a long bar on the right, a raised VIP seating area up, behind the bar on the far right. To the left are some small two seat, hi-top tables lining the left wall to the stage, which is at the very end of the long room. Right in front of the stage is a small area to stand/dance for a show, with a sofa and some more seating to the left. It is a lounge.

As I walked in I was hearing a very sweet voice and an acoustic guitar. Kayla Way
 ( was onstage doing her thing. Kayla had a few folks in the crowd for an early Thursday evening, even a local guitar celebrity was taking in and enjoying her sound. Kayla's sound is ALMOST what you would expect from that singer/songwriter sound, BUT there was something a little different about her. A wonderful smile, a good stage presence and the interaction with the crowd. Kayla Way's originals are perfect and fun for an early evening and when she did a cover, she owned it she did'nt karaoke it! The crowd grew towards the end of her set and this is where her sound changed ever so slightly...more edgy. It seemed like she was ready to drop the current sound and timid girl demeanor for a just rock out moment on us with one of her newer songs. 

I did speak with her briefly after her set and am happy to say she has an EP coming out very soon (possible beginning of the new year). Kayla proudly told me that everyone can expect this to be a little more rock and roll then her previous venture. I look forward to it and you should look forward to seeing Kayla Way around town.

Next up was Todd Pate 
( Nothing like traveling with your own fan club. There were definitely a few more people here than with the prior performer and they were all cheering on Todd and his pretty cool guitar skills. This was another singer/songwriter performance. It was not that Todd was unique with his voice, his songs were original and his singing voice was strong. The crowd loved what he was doing. The previously mentioned local guitar hero and I where really stunned at what Todd did with his guitar. Not just playing acoustic, but using a whole damn peddle board for effcts. It sounded great, but different enough to garner our collective attention. I cant's say if this is just big balls doing this, or just genius, but it was impressive enough. Although I am not sure if Todd is local, look him up anyway.

Leather Leaf ( was the dramatic turn for the evening. Jumping from acoustic singer/songwriter to a metal band was pretty harsh. It was also pretty damn fun. Leather Leaf does the rock/metal thing with a female lead, Melissa Madnezz ( This woman barks out the songs like a champ, commanding every single song brilliantly. It's as if Ozzy and Grace Slick had a love child and lucky for us, she is the singer of Leather Leaf! Leather Leaf's performance was half and half covers and originals. Doing their originals like they were platinum hits and doing the covers like they were their own, it was definitely a pleasure to be in the crowd for this performance. Even more so watching some of the younger folks in the crowd taking it in, singing the choruses, and moving to the beats. It was definitely smile inducing.

The Midnight Drive  ( was up for the headline spot of the evening. This is where my invitation came from for this night of new music.

I have always told folks about the great thing about Austin music. The bands go out to see and support each other. You never know who you will see on stage, and you NEVER know who you are going to be sitting with and talking to in the crowd. More than once I have experienced and heard the story of others hanging out in a venue, talking with someone, and then they interrupt the conversation by saying "Hey! It was nice talking to you, but I have to go. My band is up next." Leaving me/you/the unsuspecting tourist to think "WTF!!! Who was I just sitting with and talking to?" Yes, I knew I was sitting with the absolutely beautiful, smiling, and newly married wife of The Midnight Drive's drummer, BUT I had NO idea who the dark, beautiful, mysteriously silent and shy young lady was that kept coming to our table. It was moments before show time when the drummer brought her to the table and introduced her as the lead singer of The Midnight Drive....palm to the forehead moment for me. 

The Midnight Drive is a band that does some amazingly fun music. Danceable, catchy songs, great melodic drifts with some interesting guitar work going on underneath it all. The crowd was totally on their feet for the entire performance. Having a good time and cheering along, even if they didn't know the words, like myself. Although I stay away from comparisons as a personal decision. I would rather you go and catch it and make up your own mind, but I am happy to give you a genre for a band. The Midnight Drive has done an amazing job of creating something all their own...PopPunk goes Surfer

The Midnight Drive does their sound well, the crowd is in on the secret, you should be too.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dia de Los Muertos 2016

Attending such a fun annual event, for a great cause is fulfilling. Doing it with a loved one and sharing the experience is nothing short of exhilarating. Put the fun and festive Dia de Los Muertos vibe on a beautiful day, with great food, fun themed shopping, and great you have my attention.

Easter Seals of Central Texas ( sponsored the 4th Annual Dia de los Muertos, this year at Fiesta Gardens in downtown Austin, Texas. With the sun shining and a fun line up of bands this should have been a festival with more than a thousand in attendance.

There was great food. From food on a stick, fried, wrapped in tortillas, it was mouthwatering. The chicken quesadilla was the hands down favorite in my opinion. Plenty of drinks were flowing as well. from the traditional juice drinks to some ice cold adult beverages on the rocks.

The shopping was themed for the Dia de los Muertos "sugar skulls". There was clothing, collectibles, and jewelry. We spent a pretty penny at a couple of the booths for our selves and for gifts. Face painting was a big hit this year with a really large tent and plenty of people lined up for some art expression of the festival on their face. There was even a pinata party for the kids as well.

Then there was the music. 3 bands, the drums, and the dancers. It was colorful, it was loud, and it was all full of smiles...for everyone in attendance and performing.

The Austin Samba School ( thrilled us with there moves and the beat of the drums. Las Monas danced and made us remember what the festival is about. It excited the crowd and had people on their feet dancing in rhythm to the beat.

On the main stage for the evening was opening act, and local favorite of the festival the Tiarra Girls ( Quickly becoming an Austin treasure and in the not to distant future, a Texas treasure. These three, teenage sisters rocked the crowd. With a great mix of covers and originals the Tiarra Girls are super surprising. Not really for me, but watching the faces of those around, it was great stuff. Doing an amazing version of Selena's "Como la Flor" and Linda Ronstadt's "You're no Good" these girls prove they have the musical chops to hang with any band on the bill.

I was lucky enough to see the Tiarra Girls two years ago at a previous festival. I can say in the two years the guitar work is rock solid and the lead singers voice has found its groove, smooth and unfaltering, no longer that little girls voice. The bass and drums are fun and on point. This is not an under 18 band, this is not a girl band, this is simply put, a damn good band!

After Tiarra Girls exited, my anticipation mounted. Up next was a band I have been yearning to see live for a couple of years now. I was not let down, I was not disappointed, and neither was the crowd.

Metalachi ( came out on the stage with a cheer of the crowd. From there the noise only grew. Being the worlds only heavy metal mariachi band, they are not a joke. Although it was easy to find many in the crowd laughing and smiling, it was because of the sheer, un adulterated awesomeness that was Metalachi. I had no doubt the set was stepped down due to the fact this was a family event, it still pushed the limits to the enjoyment of the crowd. I did not watch a few people sing along, I watched EVERY SINGLE person in the house with their hands up, jumping, and singing at the top of their lungs. Playing just about every metal favorite you could think of, Metalachi electrified us all.

If there was ever a warm up band to a headliner to be afraid of, I just saw this happen. Metalachi left the stage any great band should...with the crowd screaming encore and wanting more!

As I looked around, I realized with much seriousness, all the fun the previous band may have been, Ozomatli ( was who everybody came to see. There was not a body on the bleachers, warmed up and all, everyone was on the floor as the band took the stage. Ozomatli came out and then owned the crowd to the last note. Performing every single song with the excitement and energy of a finale, Ozomatli was such a fantastic cap to the night and the event. Watching everyone dance and move with the beat was fine. Watching the band come off stage for their final number, right into the heart of the crowd was the best moment of all. The band had become the party, Ozomatli and the crowd were one!

I loved the event in it's entirety. The sights to see, things to enjoy, and the music to support it. What was dis heartening was the crowd. I referenced this in the opening. It should have been more than a thousand in attendance. It seemed like only a few hundred at best. My criticism is this; it is billed as a family event, but at $30 a ticket, that is a hard bite to swallow. Depending mainly on volunteers and donations this only shows that Austin needs to seriously re set it's priorities. Lets fund the Easter Seals Foundation. Lets make this festival happen and grow, but it will only do it with a massive push from press and media. This years Dia de Los Muertos festival had no where near the media hype it should have. No flyers around town, no radio airplay on multiple radio stations of different genres. And lastly a re alignment of the crowd you are going for and the ticket prices. Get the backing of the media, $30 x 300 tickets = $9000 raised or $15 x1000 = $15000...

I hope to see you all there next year and I can't wait for the big reveal of the headliner 2017!


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Is this your 'Wake Up Call'

I have only done a couple of album reviews. Primarily because I don't do album reviews. But when it is something exciting and the album turns out to be beyond expectations and greater than the sum of all its parts...yes I will tell you about it.

Michael Dillard Band's - Wake Up Call  ( could be referred to as a breakthrough album. It's luscious melodies, powerful riffs, and haunting melodies, make it a beautiful walk on air.

I won't break down the entire album, that is for you to do and enjoy, but there were some things that struck me in which I have to share. My highlights that I want you to know about. Piece together the story and movie in your head when you listen to it, but let some of what I say guide you.

The whole album plays like a movie. Some lost soul little boy, young and trying to find his way. His innocence shattered and the reality of adulthood brings the light. Not necessarily happiness, but enlightenment.

Unexpected! The greatest way to describe the opening track - Blind lead the blind. Never, ever would I have expected the sounds that came from my speakers. The string arrangement was as I described - luscious. Then voice of Michael Dillard has progressed and as you hear it on this first track, it provides just a little growl with his passion. Then the chorus vocals kick in - haunting. Definitely an impressive opening to the album.

This theme and sound runs into the second track - Sunrise. An instrumental of sorts. As interesting as it is, I can see where the band may have had difficulty deciding which track to the open with, Ultimately after listening and re listening, they did good.

By no small margin, the third track (and title track) - Wake up call, is explosive. It is a powerful piece, that ebbs and flows through you mind. Take your your time and ponder what the lyrics of Wake up call means to you.

The fun and technically brilliance continues with the masterful drum tracks, a ukulele, stings, and keyboard arrangements. The next couple of tracks hold their own with unique sounds and catchy riffs. Post productions with the vocals is just mind blowing.

The whole album does move like the tides sweetly from the slower darker tracks in the middle of the album to the bright and shiny Desert Rose and finally ending with the crescendo of The Beast. With its echoing and strange story telling with the lone trumpet....fade to black.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Happy for the tears

Of most any place for someone to choose to have a show in Austin, the One2One should be top of the list. To have a goodbye show...definitely. Unfortunately I have been to two to many.

As usual I will start with a description of the venue. It is all about the stage and the sound at the One2One ( You walk in the door and BAM there it your face. The sound is amazing, bar service is great, bathrooms, seating, and good times. Look, for sound this is one of only a very few places in Austin that cater to the local musicians and the local crowds with a top of the line sound system.  Go to their page and check it out for yourself. Pick a night and a band and GO!

Although this was a BonVoyage/Farewell show for one Jack Burton Trio (, it is not a pointless review. No, this is to tell you of the joys of good music, and the inevitable return of the white James Brown! Jack and his family are going off on a sabbatical to connect and enjoy his family, experience something new, and see the world. Something we should all look up to and aspire to want to do for ourselves. 

But the music. It is here to stay forever. It lives in our ears, in our souls, our memories, and not soon enough...on DVD. The Jack Burton Trio does funk link few others. Their spin on funk, Motown, and R&B is smile inducing, and feet moving. The band proved it, not just on this evening, but the last time I saw them. The show was changed up a bit and this is what made seeing it again great. Beyond this, I had the pleasure of sharing the event with my daughter, Angelina. We have not shot a show together in way to many years. To see her smiling and grooving to The Jack Burton Trio's music was uplifting. Music does heal the soul!

The crowd was thrilled at the performance, Jack did not ham it up, he played for the crowd, he played for the joy of the music, and  played for the love of it all. THIS is what you can expect and will get at a Jack Burton Trio show. Let the world have him on borrowed time, we know he will come home and he will entertain greater than what I write about now.

In the end, Jack sad his good byes to the crowd and took time for every single person that wanted to say goodbye. He and his wife greated and hugged everyone. It was such a joy to see so many people crying and saying their temporary goodbyes. This simply means that the Jack Burton, his beautiful wife, and amazing family will be missed. They made an impact. 

And that, my friends, is a reason to be happy for the tears.

Jack....we will see you soon.