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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What's Her Face - an EP review

Not my normal comfort zone, but I was asked. Even harder is knowing these guys that hand that EP off to you and ask for an honest review....well...here ya go.

From the opening piano chords of this EP to the surprising crunch of the guitar moments later, I felt it was nothing compared to the voice of the piano playing lead singer, Jeff Norby. 'Naive' is probably the best way to describe your impression of this EP by the first song.


Rolling into the second track it took all of 45 seconds to flash back to a time of musical genius that was the 70's. Unquestionably, the guys that make up The Soap Boxers (http://www.thesoapboxersmusic.com/) are lost souls from that era whom have found each other here.

The Piano and voice of Jeff are the pure essence of Neil Diamond. With a modern guitar and solid back line, it makes there song 'Maryanne' a comfortable classic. If you're not old enough to remember, you've still experienced this sound in the movies and tv shows around you all your life.


The 3rd track 'Monster' seemed more aggressive with the guitar work, but here again is Jeff's voice and piano work settling you right back into that groove.


Pretty hard to deny the theme of broken hearts, scandolous love, and many women running throughout the EP, but DAMMITT, by the time 'Julie' fired up, I felt like Mary Tyler Moore or Laverne and Shirley were going to bust in the door and start dancing.




Listening to the final track 'Alice' only solidified my belief of these guys being reincarnated musical souls from the 1970's right to our doorstep in 2017!

overall, the chords, mixes, and guitar work make 'What's her face' a memorable EP.

Check them out online and get the EP at a live performance!





Laters

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Rebellion lives


Dozen Street (https://www.facebook.com/DozenStreet/) is located on...Well...12th St. On the corner of 12th and Chicon in Austin, Texas. As a tourist I don't believe you would wander in here unless it was purposeful.


Dozen Street Bar is located in a row between a couple of other businesses and is a Shotgun style bar. As you walk into the narrow room, heading towards the back, you pass a couple pool tables and the restrooms on the right. The wall on your left is an interesting collection of 12x12 tiles of all different sorts which have to see in person to appreciate it. As you progress farther into the club, the bar is also on your right past the bathrooms and the stage is to your left in the back corner with a seating /lounge area directly in front of it next to the bar. The is also an out door area for smoking or relaxing away from the music of you so choose.



This night's musical selection was a two piece out of New York, SIRSY (http://www.sirsy.com/). Comprised of Melanie on Drums and vocals, as well as backing herself up on bass and flute... Yes! You read that correctly. The band is rounded out with guitarist Rich Libotti, who does bass as well. They tour constantly and traverse the U.S. like champs.

















The first thing I noticed about SIRSY is Melanie's beautiful smile! It is absolutely infectious and fantastic. Smiling and laughing throughout the entire performance. She just makes you happy you are there.





SIRSY's music is pop/rock based. Libboti's grooves and guitar work is uncompromising! Mixing his pedal work with his rhythm and lead solos are solid. The frightening thing is how great Libboti's work is and it takes back seat to Melanie and her performance work. By the way, the title of this blog is a nod to Libboti's guitar itself - go see them perform and you might get the back story! 












Although it was a small intimate crowd, SIRSY'S performance was even more stellar than the first time I saw them on a short set and large crowd. Every single person in the house tonight laughed with the band, cheered, clapped, and danced in their seats or across the small space in front of the stage. Although they did play a cover or two, the crowds enjoyment came directly in response to their amazing originals. It was an exciting performance to behold and for just two people to pour their hearts, souls and sweat out for this crowd like they did, I can't imagine you having a better time than a SIRSY performance!


























Oh my God... And that smile!













Laters




Wednesday, April 5, 2017

in the garden of good music


The Oak Garden at Guero's Taco Bar (http://gueros.com/) on South Congress is a must do on any one's list. On a nice Saturday in downtown Austin, Texas you will always find some great local music starting at around noon. The Oak Garden is located right next door to the restaurant. With plenty of parking street side or in the parking garage behind the garden, there are only good times to be had. Under the beautiful oaks with plenty of seating, people watching with a nice cold beverage and great music is the back drop to a perfect Austin weekend and life!

On two separate occasions I have had the joy of taking in amazing local music with family and friends. Nothing but love and joy in my heart because this is what it should be like all the time.


At one point in the recent past I caught The Brew (http://www.brewmusic.com/) here at the Oak Garden. Nothing but masters at their craft, The Brew can do nothing but inspire your feet to move with their Latin infused rhythms and sounds. Whether it is acoustic, unplugged, a jazz set, or with guest singers, The Brew never cease to amaze and put smiles on the faces in the crowd. This particular Saturday afternoon was no different as it was again the stellar guitar work of Michael Rodriguez making pulses pound and feet move. Young and old, The Brew will always be a must see. Whether you are an Austin resident or visiting from out of town, with their many residencies around the city your are sure to find The Brew... and have a great time!




Yet on another occasion, I found myself purposefully and willfully at the Oak Garden on a gorgeous Saturday for Jelly (http://www.jellyellington.com/). Fronted by rock guitar virtuoso and vocalist Jonathan Ellington and backed with a stellar crew, Jelly always knocks it out of the park with his brand of bad boy blues and rock! Having seen many Jelly performances, it never gets old. Taking your father to a Jelly performance and watching the excitement grow on his face as Jelly just owns every piece of every song. Covers and originals, watching someone else enjoy this young rockstar is even better than seeing him a dozen times. Here is another faithful and wonderful performer you can gaze upon, evenings in Austin, just about anywhere. Look Jelly up and enjoy the jams!



Laters

Friday, March 31, 2017

Let's talk about love



Back at my close to home hangout, Moontower (http://www.moontowersaloon.com/). 21 and up, ID upon driving in - and the bartenders will still card you if they want - Crazy amount of parking, and loads of space to play and have fun. With the tiny little house that represents the bar, a pool table, bathrooms, a couple of TVs, and some tables. Step outside onto the deck with another outside bar, a large TV, and more seating. Attached is also a smaller deck that acts as the stage. Out into the insanely huge yard that has tables, fire pits, food trucks, washer pits, more bathrooms, sand volleyball, another deck, and loads of fun.

But this particular nite hosted not the normal 1 band from 8 - 11, but 3 bands. NICE!


Opening the evening was Austin's darlings, and multi- award winning U-18 band, the          Tiarra Girls  (http://www.tiarragirls.com/). With their personal stamp and flair for the latin/rock genre, the Tiarra Girls completely rocked the yard, taking to school the two bands that followed, and that - I promise you - is not easy. I have had the pleasure of hearing them for the last 3 years and watch them grow as talented musicians and band. Crisp, confident guitar licks and solid vocals to a super tight back line (with one of the best and only female drummer in the Austin Music Awards top 10) is how these young women do it. So I really don't know how to say this any other way, but anyone that has the confidence to bust out bells and a clarinet during a rock show performance is worthy of your time and money. Enjoy the Tiarra Girls here in Austin now because they are on a trajectory that is soon to take them beyond us!




The second set was Evening Optimist (https://www.facebook.com/eveningoptimist/). Brand new to my ears and well placed in this set. Follow up the previous could have proved daunting to many other bands, but these Austin rock veterans had no trouble moving the night on. The crowd swelled in front of the stage, hips were moving, and drinks were flowing. Evening Optimist had that rock/pop/punk sound that was super enjoyable on this cool evening. The four piece which comprises Evening Optimist entertained us with the blazing lead guitarist and cool as ice lead singer, but the eyes seemed to be on the exciting bass player as he was the wild man! It was all fun and with a solid performance, you would definitely be happy you took the time on any night out and run into these guys on a stage here in Austin!
























And on to the headline performance. I have talked about them before, they were the headliners for a reason, and they are a band EVERY SINGLE other band should take performance notes from. Yes! Vallejo (http://www.vallejomusic.com/) rocked our faces off. With the massive amount of talent in front of them, Vallejo only had one way to finish out the night, and that was like every other other performance they have done...like EVERY SONG WAS A FINALE AND IT WAS THE END OF THE WORLD. Brothers AJ, Alex, and Omar, along with Alex and Bruce comprise the ultimate Latin/Rock musical experience of fun that can be had! To top it off they were joined onstage by the Amazing Kelly Green of the Texas K.G.B. (https://www.thetexaskgb.com/), just goes to prove you can't miss a show because you never know what will happen!








With over 2 decades of performing and hit songs there is absolutely no question Vallejo remains top of the food chain when comes to The Austin Live Music Capitol of the World and MUST see bands!









Laters



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Smash this



So I received a message there was going to be a CD release party at Elysium. What the fuck, I must attend. Not really knowing or caring who was on the bill, I had to go and give my respect to Austin music.























Elysium (http://www.elysiumonline.net/) is located on Red River between 7th and 8th St in the downtown entertainment district of Austin, Tx. Painted all black on the outside with an outdoor patio/smoking area, the club seems very ominous. As you step into the narrow opening and pass to the right, the club opens up it to a fairly large room. Divided in half with the left half representing the dance floor, DJ booth, and stage and the right half representing the lounge with a large, long bar running against the right wall. The bathrooms are located to the far back right with a pool table. Yes, the bartender has been there for 15 plus years, knows his shit, doesn't take any shit, and is super fucking cool.


For this evening there was a nice gathering of juggalos, as well as other fans of the Austin rap scene. Initially, like on any given night, it started out kind of quiet and the opening act delayed their start by almost 30 minutes. At that point, Pyskodynamix took the stage and kicked the evening off with there style of rap. The 3 guys on stage were in the right frame of mind. Putting on a show with the performance for the early crowd. It didn't take long before Psykodynamix had all of the early risers in front of the stage and enjoying their set.





Next up was Dubb Sicks (https://www.facebook.com/DubbSicksMusic/), and this performance was sick! The man rolled up into the club minutes before the first performance, set up his merch table just in time to take the stage. Dubb Sicks was captivating. This muthafucka took complete control of the crowd. He was drawing everyone in and using the crowd to drop his flow. I was inspired by how bad ass he was and how much fun he had just simply fucking around with the crowd. Off the stage he jumped, into the crowd he crept, soliciting info from one of the females, and back onto the stage for the next song. Fan of rap or not, if it is about the show and the performance Dubb Sicks is the Odessa, Kung-Fu, Lone Ranger champion!










On deck next was SHSM (https://www.facebook.com/shsm2/). They rolled up to the mics with their brand of hatchet music. With that Juggalo love, it was pretty easy to enjoy this duo. I can say this as I go way back to some of the origins of what a juggalo is. SHSM handled the theme and style like champions. It was a fun set and they were super intense. For the show bill with the other bands, there was not a better band to have in this spot.






















I never, expected, swear I didn't see him on this list, and was stunned when he took the stage. Austin Hip Icon Smackola (http://dirtywormz.net/) took control of the crowd, took control of our minds and proceeded to raise us up. Smackola was fresh on the stage with material from his new album "The Thomas Brookz Project" and handled the crowd and his performance like the lifetime showman he is.  Although I can't swear there were many in the house in tune with his level of rhymes and story telling, he still elevated us to the top of the Glass Sky. You can't leave a Smackola performance without questioning the world, the media, and your beliefs. It is beyond entertainment, it is deprogramming with heavy beat and rhymes to match!

















Ahhhh and then SSB - Super Smash Bros 512 (https://www.facebook.com/supersmashbros512/) commanded the stage. This was their show and they came out with every intention and the mad skills to show us why they owned the night.  I had the opportunity to catch SSB WAYYY back in the beginning, several years ago. This was not that band. This was years of experience, confidence, and hustling their trade and craft. This was a tight performance that flowed. They worked off each other like a well oiled machine. It was flawless and at the same time loose and fluid. The album "More Stories To Tell" (https://play.google.com/store/music/album/SSB_More_Stories_to_Tell?id=Biw37762kzjrpqxhqfwl7v54sai&hl=en) is out and available for purchase. Find Aray and Hack on the web, but don't just pick up a copy of their new disc ... check these two men out at a show, listen to the underground, and don't be surprised when Austin, Texas produces the next big thing in Rap and it is out own SSB!

The full photo album is located here https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1411083015609884.1073741835.239625756088955&type=1&l=d8bce89e57











































Laters





 and how do you end your party....










Saturday, March 25, 2017

DaveFest2


Extensively put...I have known Dave Prewitt for longer than I have known Dave Prewitt. I have been in Austin and was watching public access television since the mid to late 80's. I remember this cool ass show that always featured all sorts of rock music. 20 years later, I am working with this same motherfucker I was watching on tv. 10 years later I am shooting photo and writing reviews of bands at the same shows he is. And now I go to a Festival in his name, donate at the door, spend my time and energy shooting the bands, and sit behind the computer screen to tell you all about it.



Doesn't matter about awards (although he was recently recognized as one of the top 10 live music photographers in the city), but there should be one in his name for his support of the live music, rock, punk scene in Austin for damn close to 40 years now.  You should keep your eyes and ears open for Dave Prewitt and www.davetv.org . Nope, not getting paid for this, it's all my opinion - as it always is, so listen, donate, support Austin music.


DaveFest II was held at Kick-Butt Coffee (http://kickbuttcoffee.com/). A little more than your regular coffee shop. Along with a variety of coffees, they have food, beer, and music. Walking in the door reveals a pretty open space with different seating levels to your left, right, and to the back. The coffee bar is immediately in front of you on the left hand wall and the stage is immediately to your right. As I stepped in, the music was already going and the place was pretty damn packed. I found my way to Dave, said hello, unpacked my gear and enjoyed the first band.



Chasing After Alice (https://chasingafteralice.com/) is comprised of female vocals, dual guitars, bass, and drums. Along the vein of modern rock/metal this young group of players opened up fast, loud and belted out their set to the joy of the crowd standing around. Chasing After Alice had some family and friends in the house, but they were new to me and I loved them like everyone else in the space. It was a high energy set with one of the lead guitarist and bass player having such a good time interacting with each it made it great fun to be a part of the set in the crowd. The vocals were really good and fit the set and band perfectly. I can't say how long these kids have been together doing it, but I look forward to them hanging out on the scene for a while and making an impressive impact after many more live shows.


Izzy Cox and The Ghosts (https://www.facebook.com/Izzycoxandtheghosts/) mounted the stage next. It was both a moving performance and a moving performance. If you don't know, lead singer Izzy Cox is in her battle with cancer, The proof of the love for this woman, her battle, and her music, is tattooed on the inside of Dave Prewitt's wrist..."Fuck Cancer"! Illness be damned, Izzy and her band knocked out her brand of Rock-A-Billy out of the park. It was funky and fun. Izzy's voice is high pitched and shaky, whether this is from her battle or her normal style, it worked fantastic with the music. The crowd on hand adored her and rocked out to her set. I, myself, was tickled to death to see such a powerful set from such a small and frail looking woman, putting on such a big sound and set! Much love and well wishes to Izzy Cox.




Scorpio Rising (https://www.facebook.com/scorpiorising/). Ohhhhh shit! Madame Scorpio, Wonderbred, and Armando were at it again. With their brand of electronic dance/rock music, the Kick Butt Coffee space got funky real quick. Playing their exciting brand of music and having a dance contest during the middle of their set, during DaveFest, was not truly unexpected, but met with overwhelming crowd response. Scorpio Rising is absolutely one of those bands you can't believe what anybody (myself included) states about the band, you just have to make the opportunity to see and experience them for yourself!


The Beaumonts (http://www.thebeaumontstx.com/) were the absolutely mind blowing, jaw dropping moment of the evening for me. It was definitely a different swing in the musical direction from the previous bands. More Hony Tonk music stylings, than anything else, The Beaumonts were not refreshing, they were just Fresh! Tongue in cheek, dirty stories within in their songs, girls giggling and blushing, dudes laughing out loud (myself included) dirty, filthy, brilliant music! The crowd swelled and made it supper difficult for me to get my up close shots, but I did. Then I got out of there, stepped back, and enjoyed one helluva fun set. I even called my wife and swore to hear I would take her to see The  Beaumonts perform the first opportunity we could get! People, this set was that fun. I challenge you to go and not catch yourself smiling, clapping, and enjoying this band!


The final band I saw this evening was Killa MAUL (https://www.facebook.com/KillaMaul/). A Metallica tribute band fronted by none other than Austin rock Demi-God Jason McMaster, lead vocalist and guitar. Of course I loved this set, metal is in my blood and will always be my first love of any music or live show. Seeing Jason McMaster and friends destroy the room with a much loved and iconic set of music, was ecstasy! Well, that might be a little over the top, but the blood pumping, fist in the air, singing the lyrics at the top of my lungs with everyone else in the Kick Butt Coffee space was electric. Felt like I was riding the lightning...and it was great! I can only say if you are a fan of just plain, old fashioned, metal done well, find Killa MAUL doing a set near you and go. Let out your rage, your frustrations, and breathe a sigh of relief at one of the most energizing local, live sets you will ever experience from a tribute band!

My words, my opinions, and it was my fun and pleasure. Support live and local. Support DaveTV.

The photo album for the event can be found here https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1342494295802090.1073741834.239625756088955&type=1&l=2cd5ae4110

Laters

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How do you HipHop

This is not just a post about a performance, but a little sneak peek behind the scenes of the Austin Hip Hop Awards (AHHA). I am very proud to have been behind the scenes and part of it as a contributor.



So here is a quick insight to the process. The decision was made on what dates were to be included for the award nominations from the prior year to current. The link was then opened up to nominations for each of the categories. Once the nominations were closed the next step was to sort through the nominations for what was legit, and what was shit. Some clowns out there just made up stuff as a nomination - not a real group, performer, or even part of hip hop or Austin. Once all the bogus stuff was tossed out this is where the committee I was on came in.

We had the task of setting up what would go out to the web for voting. For example, did the nomination qualify in that category? There were a lot of one off nominations to be sorted through for validity and worthiness. The committee was diverse with some having video production skills, writing and lyrical skills, performance skills, and media skills. We also had to kick around the fact there was talent in Austin that didn't get a nomination, but deserved the respect of being on the ballot. Any of those nominations had to be vetted by all of the committee and agreed upon to be added. There were websites, videos, and songs to sort through....and we all did our part. This was a massive pain in the ass. This was a labor of love as the committee was not compensated for our time, effort, or knowledge.

After all of our final deliberations were done and turned in the voting lists were created and went live.




Moving forward a few weeks to the awards is were it all came down and this is my specialty. Helping unpack the awards and get things set up was when I had a sneak peek at the winners. NOPE! I did not see them all, but I did see some. That was some pretty exciting shit.

NOW, let me talk about the night of the awards itself and the 11 performances. From solo performers to group performances. There was spoken word, a rap battle, and a DJ battle. It was pretty damn much everything you would want and expect, and EVERYONE was dressed to impress!

This was also my first time at The Vulcan Gas Company (https://www.facebook.com/VulcanATX/) which is located on 6th St. I loved the Steampunk theme of The Vulcan Gas Company. There was a great stage with a riser, a large dance floor, and a DJ booth tucked away in the corner. There was also a very large bar that provided service 360 degrees as you entered the venue. The service was good, but would have been better if the one female bartender with the stick up her ass wasn't having a bad night, otherwise it was great bar service. The upstairs area provides nice seating, another bar, and a great view of the stage and riser downstairs. I would really like to check out The Vulcan Gas Company again...either with a live band or just to grab a couple of drinks at in the future.

As for the entertainment of the evening, it rolled very smooth. I will litter this post with my criticism, as well as my suggestions (same thing I guess). But this is what I want to do for the success of something that is good for Austin and the Austin music scene. First bitch and gripe about the AHHA, it started to damn late...like doors at 9ish and first performance around 9:30. Damn son...not all of us are young cats with no job on Monday morning!


None the less, Dante Maurice  (https://www.facebook.com/TheDanteMaurice) was a last minute addition to start the awards show and he was perfect. His voice and flow was just right to set off the evening. It was worthy of mention and worthy for the awards.


The next two artists up were Big Tree and Bigg John of East 35  (https://www.facebook.com/Bigg-John-Of-East-35-113463072100418/). The both performed seperately and were very stylistically. Bigg John was different enough form Big Tree it felt like almost a duel as they were back to back performances. The crowd cheered and stayed in the moment.

There were several awards given out and here is where another piece of criticism lands. I was hoping and thinking (and looking back, I agree with myself) there should have been presenters. The distribution and announcement of the awards was handled by the President of the Austin Hip Hop Awards himself, George Corbin. I am just thinking I wanted a little diversity  - either the artists giving out awards to other artists - or even special guests. My suggestion for the next upcoming awards show.

G-Flame performed at this point. I can't comment on the performance aspect because I simply do not remember the performance. Sorry, BUT Anya with the Cake Project stormed the stage and lit up the crowd. It was a stellar performance by all of these women. What I do know here is the stunner performance of all of these women was Lady Shacklin (https://www.facebook.com/LadyShacklin/) DAMN! Her rhymes and flow was electric. The overall performance of all was outstanding and flowed mercilessly through our ears.




After a few more awards we had Krypol Haze (https://www.facebook.com/krypolh/) get onstage. Here was another performance that was so bad ass..it was just mesmerizing. With an almost hypnotic video projection going on behind him, Krypol Haze just rolled us up the crowd and lit the fire. With all of the performances of the evening, here is the one which absolutely stood out to me the most. I really look forward to seeing him again soon and doing a whole set.



NOW after the previous artist did his thing, here was the halftime show PERFORMANCE. I did not have any idea of what was happening and had no forward knowledge of this performance. George Vondoom   (https://www.facebook.com/jeanyus.corbin) came out and did a stunning performance piece. Wheelchair, sledgehammer, costume, and all the theatrics. Even though the mask muffled some of the vocals, it was not about that. It was about the whole crowd taking a step back and giving out a collective"WOW!" Good job G, this was worth the whole night right there, to me! AND THE NIGHT WASN'T EVEN OVER!




Ndeo The Blindsider (https://www.facebook.com/NdeoTheBlindSider/) hit the stage next. Although this may have been a tough spot to be in, following the previous electric performance, Ndeo hit the crowd hard, like a heavyweight champ, with what he had...and what he had was great. Here is another artist I look forward to seeing around Austin again!

Another piece of criticsm for the performances of the night. The musical performances overall, could have been kept to two songs only. This would have allowed for more time to celebrate the achievements of the winners and what they won for!


SpokenWord AB  (https://www.facebook.com/SpokenWordArtistAB) came on stage, and before a hushed crowd, opened our minds, peeked inside, and collectively blew our minds all at once. A stellar spoke word performance indeed!




One of the two battles of the night happened next. With no microphones, two minutes each x 3 rounds - David Coleman (https://www.facebook.com/david.coleman.39501) and  Foolish Karlito went toe to toe. As thrilling as the rap battle was between these two men...it was only the smallest of things that made one man stand out. David Coleman dished out some verbal hits in the first round, taking the won like a bull. But he stumbled at the end of round two when he repeated the same lyric to close out the two minute round - oops, giving it to Foolish Karlito. With what would seem like a tie battle going into 3... the most shocking thing happened during David Colemans two minute finale...someone in the crowd was repeating his battle rhymes in the same time and tempo as he...WHA WHA WHAT the fuck! Apparently this was more rehearsed, used up old lines, than it was a battle responding to the opponents verbal jabs ... Match ... Set ... Point ... Foolish Karlito takes the win!



And finally...to end the night an EPIC!!!! The DJ Battle between DJ Crash  (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009971946550) and DJ Dbest  (https://www.facebook.com/Dabest1out). This was as exciting, ripping, spinning, cutting, and crazy as you would expect...until DJ HellaYella cut in and BAM! it was all done then.



I leave these words and sentiments. It was a great evening. It is something the city of Austin should be proud of and embrace.


Laters