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Monday, December 25, 2017

The Greatest land of all...BEERLAND!

On one of my many trips through downtown Austin I have never stopped in to check out Beerland (, this time i did.  Although there have been plenty of shows there and I have seen many friends attend events there, I simply had not stopped in.

Beerland is located in the entertainment district of down town Austin, TX. On the corner of Red River and 7th St, surrounded by a tiny little, black, wrought iron fence, Beerland is very unassuming outside. A small patio area for smokers and those wanting to step out of the club in between bands. You enter the door and immediately head down to what feels and looks like a basement level club. The bar is to your left as you enter and to the back left corner are the bathrooms. Dead ahead of you is the small stage with the giant BEERLAND logo on the back wall. This is the epitome of that garage/basement style club. That dark, low slung ceilinged club adds to the vibe and style of music.

Pulling up a quick seat at the bar My wife, her friend, and myself take in the scene. Apparently this evenings entry got you into Beerland and the club next door for two stages of fun and constant music. 

While the ladies started on some adult beverages I hopped next door to quickly catch Lions and Tigers ( onstage. What a great band and surprise. Lions and Tigers are from Austin, TX so you will be able to catch them around town after reading this post. It was a very good set of music. Currently promoting their new EP, Lions and Tigers had an energy filled set with great vocals and guitar work. I believe this evening included a loan in guitarist doing lead while the lead singer did rhythm and some solo work. Although it was an energy filled set it was not an overly energetic type of sound that made the crowd go nuts. Easy enough to move around and see all of the upturned faces watching the band and absorbing their vibe and brand of pop/punk music. Lions and Tigers are definitely on my list to share with you again and hopefully run into again around town to get a bigger, better feel for what they can do.

Back to Beerland, although this was not the band I was there to see and shoot, Forever Starts Today ( was taking the stage. My shock, thrill, and excitement just couldn't be contained. I saw this group a year or so ago at another venue and here is a shining example of my love for the Austin music scene. I was thoroughly impressed when I saw them the first time realizing they were packed full of potential. With the lead vocals and charisma of Christina Murphy, to the amazing guitar work and enthusiastic bass player, Forever Starts Today is positioning themselves, in Austin, to make that leap into the national spotlight. This performance didn't let down either. Having to throw some elbows to keep my spot down in front of the stage and snapping photos, was only intensified with leaving the font of the stage, stepping back and taking in their performance with the rest of the crowd screaming and singing along.  Enjoying it to the extent of making sure I got a CD prior to the bands departure at the urging of my wife. (now to just get a signed tour poster for the wall at Tom-Cruz Studios would be very cool!) Leaving that performance with my wife exclaiming how much she loved Forever Starts Today and enjoyed Christina's voice, pretty much sealed the deal to take my wife to another performance next chance we get. You should too!

If that wasn't enough for the couple of performances I just took in, then how about Thieves ( coming in to steal the rest of the night - SORRY, I had to do it!

At the urging (and ultimately the arrangement) to take in this evenings performance, a neighbor to Tom-Cruz Studios bragged about this band as his cousin was the bass player. Well... he didn't need to brag. The performance of Thieves stood on its own. Had I been lucky enough to purposefully see my friends in the previous band and hang out to see Thieves would have been an epic coup. Instead it was wonderful coincidence to catch my friends opening for Thieves.  The performance was polished and searing. With their VERY familiar brand of Pop/punk alternative rock, Thieves is on par with, and better than, many you hear on the radio today. As for the performance, getting to the stage and stealing the few shots I got from Thieves before being pummeled by an enthusiastic crowd is one thing. The proof of how much these guys are loved was in their performance and was enjoyed more when I couldn't even make it to my seat. The crowd was jumping and screaming through the entire set.

Meeting the bass player after the show was nice. Telling him how much I enjoyed the show and like their sound was great. Even better was to tell him my daughter will be thrilled to see them the next time Thieves does another show here in Austin. He grinned, and as I took a disc he told me "You should give that to your daughter!" uhhm...NO! Daddy's keeping this one for himself. She can get her own when I take her to see Thieves live for herself. See you there!


Thursday, November 23, 2017


Since I live down in South Austin, Texas and  Moontower Saloon  ( is a couple of minutes away. This allows me the joy of hanging out at Austins original, bad ass, outdoor venue. With a 21 and up policy, it allows for a great time to be had by all. With a ton of parking, there is o need to fret, and if you have had to many, don't worry, they are cool with you leaving your car to make it safe for everyone out there on the road.

The facility consists of a small house that is the main bar and building, a huge outdoor covered deck with another bar and a large TV for your sports viewing pleasures. Another small deck attached to the back of the house which works as the stage. Tons of table seating, fire pits, washer pits, cornhole, sand volleyball courts in the distance. There is another satellite deck that works as a VIP area. 

To enjoy music pick your Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday and go. Be surprised and be entertained, always.

Knocking down a tic mark on my Austin music bucket list this night was the  Chris Castaneda Project   ( What an outstanding group. Even better than just the CCP electrifying the crowd with his wicked guitar skills, super tight band, and great singing voice, but a special guest, Rojas - El Guitarrista,  stunning us all on the acoustic. This performance simply proved what I always preach - go out and catch some live music in Austin. You will NEVER know who you will see and what performances you will experience. 

The Chris Castaneda Project mixes originals with classic and iconic covers. The crowd stayed tuned and drawn in while Chris played, sang, and the band performed. The sound was a little bit rock and a heavy Latin influence, it is a group you have to catch. An evening performance, and afternoon festival or fair, it doesn't matter, you will be thrilled and enjoy the performance like every person in the crowd did during this set.

Joining Chris and the CCP on stage was  Rojas - El Guitarrista ( This is was the special, unexpected, joy of this performance. Something new and freaking bad ass. Rojas was a stunning fill with his abilities and talent on the guitar. Although I had never seen the Chris Castaneda Project before this evening, it was stellar to take in the whole performance with this special guest. I was not aware of how lucky all of us in the crowd were until my dad saw Chris the next night. He was blown away by the performance, but was surprised when I asked him about the acoustic prodigy of Rojas. My dad indicated the performance was sans Rojas talents. 

Lucky for all of you Rojas performs regularly all over the place as does Chris Castaneda Project
Go out support live and local, and tell both Chris and Rojas I sent ya!

Post Script - I Saw The Castaneda Project one more time at Moontower as a trio. It is frigthening how bad ass these guys are. I had to look twice to believe there was not another guitarist on stage with Chris. There sound is full and exciting....and just wait, maybe Chris will do the National Anthem - Hendrix style for you!


Goodbye Nick

I am pretty sure this is my top place to sneak up to and see local music. One of 3 places in Austin you could catch me at whenever.

One 2 One ( remains my top pick for small venue in Austin. For the sound, stage, and bar service.

Quick rundown of the walk in to the large rectangle shaped room. Bar to your right running half the length of the club. Stage directly in front of you and impressively large and gorgeous for the small venue. Bathrooms are to the left and right of the stage for men and women....and let me tell you, it is ALWAYS a hoot to watch women constantly trying to go to the mens room cause the cant find the women's room!

This performance review is gonna be really off as it was pretty much a one time performance. Although I hope not, and would expect and believe from the packed house and reaction of the crowd, Jonathan Ellington ( would make this happen again. It was a Led Zeppelin tribute show! And what a tribute it was.

The place was sold out. The players onstage, could not have been any better if Plant and Paige had walked in themselves. The core group was J. Ellington on guitar - paying much respect to Jimmy Paige, by being flawless. Vocals was Josh Ross ( Robert plant had to be turning over in his grave - and I know the dude ain't dead. Aric Garcia ( just blistered on the drums all night. My friend Nick Casillo was epic with his bass lines and smile all night long.

With special guest Cole Gramling on on the keys to bring in that full Zeppelin sound was superb. Guest vocalist Michael Dillard ( and Curtis Lee ( both respectively shocked the audience with the renditions of the songs they performed. Michael Dillard being expectedly bad ass for his song and performance and Curtis Lee choking up some in the crowd with his performance. Let me stop and take a moment to say that even though Curtis Lee knew of Led Zeppelin, this is not his bag. TO be on stage at a rock show, outside of his normal, soulful, R&B self and do the job he did, damn!

In all, With everyones participation, it was an event I am super excited to have gone to and proud to have these guys here in Austin and part of the music scene. Please, look ALL of them up. Go see them on any of their respective projects as they are all amazing performers, entertainers, and have great band.


Goodbye Nick. Congratulations on the Family. I love you sir, will miss your smiling face onstage, your handshakes and the respect you have always given me as a fan of the Austin music scene!


XIII on 13

Walking in the doors of Texas Mist ( for the first time... is like this... remember that hall... You know the one your dad or grand dad used to go to... the VFW Hall... yeah that one. It's like that, kind of, but the music is wayyyy better and the bartender doesn't smell like coffee and Vicks Vapor Rub.... and yes, I tried to sniff him and he wasn't haven't none of that shit.

Texas Mist for the most part is just a big open room. You walk in the door and the bar is immediately in front of you to the left. The bathrooms are farther back as well as an exit to go out back for smoking or hanging out. To your right is the open area and the stage, which faces the bar. Lots of tables scattered around with a mix of seating.

There were several bands on the bill this evening. I caught the last few songs of one band and the entire set of the next band. Both were good, but there was little love from the crowd for there respective performances. So little, in fact, That I am done with blogging about their performances.

Now, Before I get into the review of the headliners performance let me talk another paragraph about the sound. As a fan of Austin music I am all about the performance, the impact, and the venue. The venue plays a large portion of any show, because if the club sucks or something about it, that will taint your night and impact your impression of the band(s). The sound here was pretty terrible. There was a blown speaker that kept making a popping noise all night...annoying. The sound person that evening acted like she could have given two shits less than nothing for being there or the bands on stage, super annoying. There was no urgency or hustle in anything she was doing. Worse than that to me, is a great that seems to be a great disrespect to the bands who are performing and the crowd that is paying, FUCK NO! 

On with the show.

XII ( was having this grand party for the release of their new album. I do not have a copy so can't and won't comment on it here. Follow there link ( and get a copy though...I will. This band is such a great surprise for being local. I saw this band a mere week earlier opening for a large national touring band and was so impressed by the performance, I decided to do it again to see a full headlining set. I was not let down nor were those in attendance with me. From the presentation of their merch - super important if you want to 'brand your band' to their stage presence, this band is acting and thinking big time and it shows in their performance. The lead singer does an eerily great job of being, not just the center of attention, but the front man down on the ground and in with the crowd. The audience loved the entire performance. Those that were sitting outside were drawn in. Those inside that were sitting were standing, and all of us were pushing up to the stage. 

I can tell you for a local metal band, the lead singer has a vision what he wants to perform and how. He nearly carries this off perfectly. With a touch more of rehearsals and coordination of an actual stage show - these guys stand to take the place of the reigning Gods of performance metal in Austin, The Dirty Wormz and take us another decade into bad ass, fun rock shows here in Austin!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mushroomhead 2017

with special guests Slop Musket, XIII, Ventana, and Unsaid Fate.

I have been to this venue a couple of times already. I actually went there a few times before it was this particular incarnation. But this night was the first time I walked through the door with the brand on the outside, proudly displayed for all to see...Come and Take It Live! (

There is plenty of parking all around the building. As you walk up to the entrance there is a large fenced in area for smoking and enjoying some grub from the food trailer to the right. As you walk in there is the ticket counter immediately in front of you and the large main bar to the right of that. This is where it gets interesting. As you face the bar from the entrance, the large stage is to the far back left of the bar, bathrooms are to the right behind the bar and there are some steps to your left that lead up to a second level viewing area and a merch sales area behind that. As you walk up the steps, to your left and almost behind you is a flight of stairs that goes up to the next level.

Up here is another bar to you left, in front of you, as you reach the top of the stairs. There is a VIP lounge area back behind you that has sofas and some additional seating and overlooks the stage. Where the bar is has a long halfwall that allows you to look down on the stage and the crowd below. There are also a couple of very nice Jack Daniels pool tables. There is also a hidden room that is called the 'Skybox'. This sweet little retreat is actually over the top of the stage on the side. This  allows for some pretty good views of the onstage antics. The skybox can seat about 5 people comfortably, and more if you are comfortable with the crowd.

In all, for its quirky, different levels and areas, Come and Take It Live allows for a great view from just about anywhere in the house.

On the bill for this night of music were two Austin bands opening for three road bands. Slop Musket ( was up first to open the night. Of course it always has to be a tough spot to be the very first. Not everyone has arrived. The crowd is just starting to get their drink on, it's just generally tough. There was about 25 or 30 people down on the floor when Slop Musket took the stage. With their different style of rap and rock, Slop Musket powered through their short set. As entertaining as they were, it was super difficult to get a grasp on their set in general...and there was just not a whole lot of feedback from the crowd. I am sure I will run into them again and hopefully be able to give a proper review for their set.

XIII ( was up next. Tell you what, the crowd had swelled enough to pay attention. And it took all of 35 seconds from the start of XIII's set for the small, growing crowd to react with cheers. Although they opened with a cover song, it was still a pretty fucking epic and ballsy jump off. The great thing is their sound and set didn't change much. Rolling into there originals XIII kept it high energy and exciting for the crowd and myself. Credit to the band for doing a great job of hyping themselves and their upcoming CD release show. It was musically bad ass enough and interesting enough that I made plans to attend their event.

Ventana ( was the first of the three road bands to hit the stage. Costumed and on point, Ventana laid into the now warmed up crowed. Here was another band with an energetic front man and dueling lead vocals to make the crowd start to break into a sweat and start a circle pit. The little snippets of sound intros to a couple of their songs where quite charming as I caught myself laughing at some in the crowd who didn't know it was a recording or didn't get the joke and poke at politics. Of course if you have not seen Ventana live you wouldn't know. The solution...go see Ventana, for the love that is All-American, Apple Pie, and all that other fucking shit.

Unsaid Fate ( came out onto the stage with a pretty much packed house and ran with the set. With the vocals by the show stopping Jackie LaPonza, Unsaid Fate just blistered the crowd. even greater than the musical part of the show was how great Jackie was in being completely interactive with the crowd down in front. At one point she even snagged a fans phone who was filming and ran around the stage capturing the magic from the stage perspective. All in good fun of course as she handed the fan back his phone when she was done. There is a souvenir that goes down as once in a lifetime. Unsaid Fate charged through their set, barely giving the fans time to rest or catch their breath. It was just perfect. To build on what had come before, and prepare the crowd for what was about to happen, Unsaid Fate definitely has a new fan here!

Mushroomhead (! YES! This is my fourth time seeing them. It is absolutely worth it EVERY SINGLE TIME. The stage production is always different. The set list changes and stays fresh, but keeps some of the great tunes in a different order than the last time you saw them. In all, Mushroomhead puts on the show of all Muthafuckin' shows! It's loud, it's bright and flashy, and completely non stop energy. Even when the did a little homage to Prince by doing a super clean and tight opening of 'When Doves Cry' the crowd never stopped screaming. Mushroomhead pounded us with the sound and presence for over an hour and when they were done....they were done. No need for an encore if you kick it to the crowd like Mushroomhead does!