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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.