+ Saturday, 4/29 @ 3:00pm
+ Sunday, 4/30 @ 3:00pm
+ Saturday, 5/6 @ 1:00pm
+ Saturday, 5/6 @ 3:00pm
+ Saturday, 5/13 @ 1:00pm
+ Saturday, 5/13 @ 3:00pm
+ Saturday, 5/20 @ 1:00pm
+ Sunday, 5/21 @ 3:00pm
+ Saturday, 5/27 @ 1:00pm
Steve Krase was born in Brooklyn, NY and has spent time in Ohio, California and Louisiana. Now almost 30 years in Houston, Krase has blended his high-energy style with the soulful vibe that runs through the great city. “The Houston scene is extremely diverse in the different types of music that is available here,” he described. “Houston has a long history and tradition of Blues. In my 30 years here, I have had the opportunity to play and learn from some of the greats.” Not long ago, you could see Blues icons like Joe Guitar Hughes, Texas Johnny Brown, Grady Gaines, Lil Joe Washington, and other perform all in the same night. Krase is completely self-taught, but gained numerous musical mentors during his time in Houston, including Trudy Lynn, the late Pete Mayes, Jerry Lightfoot, and Big Walter the Thunderbird.
Krase began playing harmonica at age 16. “I was frustrated trying to teach myself guitar, but then I heard Neil Young play ‘Heart of Gold.’” he said. “I looked at the harmonica, saw that it only had 10 holes, and figured it couldn’t be that hard.” He picked up the Blues Harp book by Tony Glover and never looked back. Krase has also been known to dabble with the “Frottior” Zydeco Rubboard (pictured here).
He draws his inspiration from several genres – Blues, Pub Rock, Punk, Country, Glam, and Electronica. However, Krase’s main musical influence is The J. Geils Band, the blues-rock band famous for the #1 hit, “Centerfold.” “I believe that band is the epitome of the way that all bands should play – leaving it all on the stage every night,” he explained.
Krase spent 10 years as the harp man for the legendary Houston band Jerry Lightfoot and The Essentials. After the Essentials broke up, Steve spent a few years as a sideman with Matt Leddy & The Meatcutters before forming Steve Krase & The In Crowd. Steve Krase & The In Crowd were winners of the 2004 and 2005 International Blues Challenge (IBC), moving on to the finals in Memphis both years. The Houston Press has nominated Steve Krase Band for Best Blues Band five times, Best Instrumentalist twice, and Best Player in 2016. Most recently, the Steve Krase Band represented Houston in the 2017 IBC in Memphis, finishing in the semi-finals.
“Hailing from Seattle, The Dip is an electrifying seven-piece ensemble that melds vintage rhythm and blues and modern pop with “impeccably crafted, 60’s-steeped soul” (KEXP). The group quickly gained notoriety throughout the Pacific Northwest for their eminently danceable live shows that feature the powerful vocals of frontman Tom Eddy (Beat Connection), bolstered by the deep pocket of their unmistakably detailed rhythm section, and the spirited melodies of “The Honeynut Horns”. Hard-hitting but sensitive, The Dip harkens back to the deep soul roots of the decades past and pays tribute to this history through the grit and grace of their performances. The band’s 2015 self-titled debut, recorded to tape at Avast! Studios, propelled them to notable appearances at prodigious festivals such as Sasquatch! Music Festival, High Sierra Music Fest, Summer Meltdown, and Capitol Hill Block Party as well as built anticipation for their 2016 release, Won’t Be Coming Back (EP). Whether young or old, you can’t help yourself from grinning ear-to-ear when you see these gentlemen hit the stage. I wouldn’t hold back dancing for that matter either! Ladies and gentleman, give it up for The Dip! Hit up the dance floor, and put it in your hip!”
Jessica Guerra is a Houston-based artist and designer who works in watercolor, gouache, ink and printmaking. She hand painted and inked architectural illustrations full time for years before setting up her own studio. She currently does freelance architecture work and designs printed textile art combining her technical skills with her love for experimenting with printmaking and water based mediums. Inspired by vintage florals and velvety paper waiting for color or an inky impression, she is driven every day by her love of creating and expressing beauty. Jessica’s prints have been exhibited locally and internationally.
The Rhode Island native may have gotten her start on The Voice, but the roots rock and R&B of Monster proves she has way more depth than any superficial reality-TV show. The title track is an unflinchingly honest and vulnerable look at body shaming – and acceptance – with Potenza wearing her plus-size like a badass badge of honor. “Up on the Third Floor” recalls her character-building years living in a rough Chicago neighborhood with husband and guitarist Ian Crossman. And the homespun “Granddad” is full of redneck platitudes – “always carry your gun” and never buy a car “you can’t sleep in,” which elicited whoops at a recent Opry performance. In the standout “My Turn,” Potenza asks, “When’s it gonna be my turn?” The answer, it seems, is right now. J.H. Rollingstone.com
Those who have seen Carolina girl Nikki Hill sing her ass off agree—this isn’t just another newcomer on the scene, this is a ‘whiplash’ moment. Where did this fireball come from? Why haven’t I heard of her before?
If you haven’t heard of Nikki Hill yet, you soon will, and once you see her perform, you won’t forget her.
Hill and her band have been touring extensively following the independent 2015 release ‘Heavy Hearts Hard Fists’ and debut album ‘Here’s Nikki Hill’, released in 2013. With a no-filter energy, and explosive live show, they deliver a sound that will make you believe in rock ‘n’ roll again! Nikki’s unique voice—with raw rock and soul dynamics mixed with the strength, passion, and honesty of blues shouters of the past—steers the driving guitar and a tight rhythm section to create a breath of fresh air with their fast forward approach to American roots music.
Nikki Hill’s self-titled, independently released EP in June of 2012 created a heavy and sudden international underground buzz that the band has traveled with across America and overseas to Europe and Australia. Those four tunes penned by Hill, combined with memorable live performances, have drawn a wide range of people from every avenue and musical taste to their shows. Her enthusiasm for music is simply contagious. One club advertisement will call Nikki “The Southern Fireball”, “the New Soul Sensation”, “amazing R&B Shouter”, and even “the new Queen of Rock n’ Roll”.
If you haven’t heard of her yet, prepare for your ‘whiplash moment’. You have been warned.
Praise for Nikki Hill:
“Nikki Hill looks back to the most confidently grizzled retro sounds…Hill’s got too much passion to tidy things up, but she knows exactly what she’s doing.” — SPIN
Doyle Bramhall II is one of the most distinctive vocalists, guitarists, composers and producers in contemporary music. Indeed, none other than Eric Clapton, with whom Bramhall has worked with for more than a decade, lauds him as one of the most gifted guitarists he has ever encountered.
As the son of the late Texas music legend Doyle Bramhall, he was raised in a home filled with the blues and rock ’n’ roll styles indigenous to Texas. The elder Bramhall played drums and was also an accomplished songwriter and vocalist, not to mention a lifelong collaborator with childhood friends Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan, who composed such SRV signature tunes as “Change It” and “Life by the Drop.”
But the younger Bramhall—a rare and distinctive guitarist who plays left-handed, but with his instrument strung for a right-hander and flipped backwards–had his own connections with the Vaughan brothers: Early in his career he was befriended and supported by Stevie. When he was 18, Bramhall was recruited by Jimmie to play with the Fabulous Thunderbirds. After Stevie’s tragic death in 1990, Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton formed the Arc Angels with Stevie Ray’s fabled Double Trouble rhythm section of drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon.
The Arc Angels’ self-titled debut album yielded such widely popular songs as “Living in a Dream” and “Sent by Angels” before disbanding. Introducing himself as a solo artist in 1996 with Doyle Bramhall II, he followed with a pair of critically acclaimed albums, Jellycream (1999) and Welcome (2001). It was then that Bramhall’s unparalleled guitar mastery won the attention not only of Clapton but Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, who showcased him on his 1999, 2000 and 2002 In the Flesh concert tours and companion CD and DVD.
Clapton, meanwhile, came next. He featured Bramhall songs and guitar as part of his Grammy-winning Riding with the King album with B.B. King, also of 2000. He then recruited him full-time, and they toured together worldwide, thrilling fans with their dramatic guitar interplay and drawing comparisons to past Clapton triumphs such as Derek & the Dominoes. Clapton’s ensuing 2004 albums Me and Mr. Johnson and Sessions for Robert J both showcased stirring Clapton-Bramhall guitar duets recorded in the same Dallas room where Robert Johnson recorded his classic blues songs in 1937. Bramhall’s own songwriting talent was highlighted in Clapton’s Reptile (2001), Back Home (2005) and The Road to Escondido(2006) albums, and he later co-produced Clapton (2010) and Old Sock (2013). In 2013 he again joined Clapton on his 50th anniversary tour and played on his 2014 album The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale.
In addition to his work with Clapton, Bramhall became an in demand composer, guitarist and producer. He enjoyed high profile collaborations producer, with a broad range of other major artists, including T-Bone Burnett, Elton John, Gary Clark, Jr., Gregg Allman, Dr. John, Robert Randolph, Allen Toussaint, Billy Preston, Erykah Badu, Questlove, Meshell Ndegeocello and Sheryl Crow, for whom he contributed songs and produced 100 Miles from Memphis (2011) and performed on her tour supporting it. In 2015 he teamed with ace Allman Brothers Band guitarist Derek Trucks (with whom he was proclaimed “The New Guitar Gods” by Guitar Worldwhen both served in Clapton’s band in the late 2000s) in the Tedeschi Trucks Band, also starring Trucks’ wife Susan Tedeschi. Bramhall’s songs and guitar playing have graced each of the three, critically acclaimed Tedeschi Trucks Band albums issued to date.
With all this outside activity, Bramhall hadn’t made a solo album since Welcome. But besides honing his skills as a producer, he had stockpiled for himself songs apart from those written for others, and when they were selected and sequenced for his fourth solo album, Rich Man, (scheduled for release on September 30, 2016 via Concord Records), they documented an intensive spiritual and musical journey that took him to the other side of the world in search of new sounds, and an inner peace sought following the death of his father in 2011.
In the four years following his father’s death he had extensively explored India and Northern Africa, these trips being manifest on Rich Man’s inclusion of the North Indian classical bowed string instrument sarangi—played by virtuoso Ustad Surjeet Singh—and the bowl-shaped Arabic oud lute, played by Bramhall’s own oud teacher Yuval Ron, the renowned Israeli composer-player-arranger.
Also appearing on Rich Man is Norah Jones, with whom Bramhall had been performing with every six months or so in a concert series. The duet “New Faith” was emblematic of the entire album in its hope that people can look beyond all that divides them and find a new way of thinking that enables peaceful progress through mutual respect and understanding.
Rich Man, then, is a watershed achievement for Bramhall, both in terms of the many music styles in the tracks—which begin and end with his fundamental American blues influences and in between follow his global music explorations and arrangements—and the inner examinations resulting in the spiritual growth expressed in the lyrics.
“I read a quote from Charles Mingus,” Bramhall stated upon the completion of Rich Man. “He felt like he was not playing his music as much as creating the sound of his life and experiences through the medium of his music. I looked at his life and related to that, and tried to capture the same thing on the album.”
Jason Eady’s inspired new album Daylight & Dark embraces multiple styles of die-hard country music to weave together 11 songs about the deep, messy details of love and life.
The disc is sequenced to follow the arc of one man’s journey through the complexities of the heart. But the semi-autobiographical Daylight & Dark is not a concept album. Instead, it’s a powerful study in honesty; a collection of real stories populated by real characters that coalesced around Eady’s title track.
“The moment I came up with the first verse and chorus of ‘Daylight & Dark’ was a breakthrough,” Eady relates. “I understood that what I wanted to convey in the album is that life is not simple. Most songs don’t do that. They’re either happy or sad. But life doesn’t work that way. Most of the time we live somewhere in between. And that place is between the daylight and the dark.”
It took roughly three months for Eady to write and begin recording these songs that he describes as “going beyond the surface and digging into the little cracks in our lives, our dreams and our desires — the things that keep us from connecting, that we all have to deal with, all the time.”
Eady’s sixth release is the follow-up to 2012’s AM Country Heaven, an artistic and commercial breakthrough that cracked the Top 40 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart, boasting an old-school honky-tonk sound and a complete lack of artifice.
“One of the things that Kevin Welch” — who produced both discs — “taught me is that believability is number one,” Eady declares. “The things I’m writing about have to seem true and the words being said need to sound like they’d really come out of my mouth.”
Daylight & Dark’s high-powered barroom ballads ‘OK Whiskey’ and ‘We Might Just Miss Each Other’ offer a direct connection to the honky-tonk spirit of AM Country Heaven. But tunes like ‘Other Side of Abilene’ have gentler, textured arrangements, crafted by carefully layered fiddle and electric, acoustic and pedal steel guitars that are more reflective of the album’s overall sound. Also, ‘Late Night Diner’ and the title cut echo the narrative style of great singers like Vern Gosdin and Don Williams, whose recordings, like Eady’s, blend a novelist’s eye for detail with the welcoming voice of a natural storyteller.
“Their approach and the roadhouse style of artists like Merle Haggard and Buck Owens are both part of my DNA,” Eady relates. “I hope that really comes across on Daylight & Dark and makes it a deeper country music album overall.”
The new disc is Eady’s third collaboration with Welch. Their first was 2009’s When the Money’s All Gone.
“Kevin is more on the same page with me than anybody else,” Eady says of his songwriting, performing and Americana Music Association award-winning Texas compatriot. “He is fantastic at getting the songs into the best shape before we record them and choosing the right band for the studio, so that by the time we start recording 90-percent of the important work is done.”
When Eady and Welch were making AM Country Heaven, it was initially intended as a side project that wouldn’t be released under Eady’s name. But the sterling results dictated otherwise, and made the album a game-changer. The disc’s swaggering palette and adult approach to timeless topics like love, loss and yearning helped Eady find a new, larger audience whose members now welcome him wherever he travels.
Daylight & Dark was cut just outside of Nashville at engineer George Bradfute’s Tone Chaparral studio with a superb team of players. They included Americana award winning multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplin on pedal steel and fiddle, guitarist Richard Bennett (who’s worked with a diverse array of artists from Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris to Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond), drummer John Gardner (Jim Lauderdale, Don Williams, Dixie Chicks) and bassist Steve Mackey (Dolly Parton, Delbert McClinton).
Although country music was Eady’s first love, he was exposed to the musical stew of the lower Delta — blues, soul, R&B and primal swamp rock — while growing up in Jackson, Mississippi. Eady was performing in local bars by the time he was 14, singing and playing guitar. He began writing his own songs, but the live music culture in the Magnolia State was geared to hits and classics rather than original music.
Eady moved to Nashville to seek a record deal, but he became disillusioned and headed back to Mississippi, joining the Air Force on the way home. “Becoming a translator in the Air Force helped me be a better songwriter,” Eady says. “I got a much broader view of the world and of other cultures, which helped me see things from a better perspective.” After the military Eady got a job in a Fort Worth bank’s IT department, and he began attending open mic nights to blow off steam. Soon he developed a following.
“I was surprised to learn that Texas was exactly the opposite of Mississippi,” he says. “If you played too many cover songs the audience would get restless. They wanted original music.” That encouraged Eady to step up his songwriting and step away from his day job, never to return.
Eady says his first two albums, 2005’s From Underneath the Old and 2007’s Wild Eyed Serenade, “were about trying to zero in on what I wanted to do. They had singer-songwriter, country, southern rock and other kinds of songs. I had no idea about production or how to work in the studio. I was all over the map. Things really clicked when I started working with Kevin. He helped me focus on the music I heard growing up in Mississippi, but as a way of discovering more about who I was as an artist.
“With AM County Heaven and now Daylight & Dark, I’ve learned to stop second guessing,” Eady declares. “Now I understand that I’m a country artist. That’s the music I love, and that’s what I always want to be.”
Lean in to Mandolin Orange’s new album, Blindfaller, and it’s bound to happen. You’ll suddenly pick up on the power and devastation lurking in its quietude, the doom hiding beneath its unvarnished beauty. You’ll hear the way it magnifies the intimacy at the heart of the North Carolina duo’s music, as if they created their own musical language as they recorded it.
“We talked about the feel of each song and pointed out loosely who was going to be taking solos, but it was mostly a lot of fresh takes, a lot of eye contact, and a lot of nods and weird winks,” says Andrew Marlin, who anchors the band with fellow multi-instrumentalist and singer Emily Frantz.
Due Sept. 30 on Yep Roc Records, Blindfaller builds on the acclaim of Mandolin Orange’s breakthrough debut on the label, 2013’s This Side of Jordan, and its follow-up, last year’s Such Jubilee.
Since then they’ve steadily picked up speed and fans they’ve earned from long stretches on the road, including appearances at Austin City Limits, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Newport Folk Festival, and Pickathon. It’s been an auspicious journey for a pair who casually met at a bluegrass jam session in 2009.
As the duo’s songwriter, Marlin sharpens his lyrical prowess here, touching on broad themes of growing older and feeling helpless in a world torn by injustice. Sure, the album sounds classic, but it is rooted in the here and now of our daily headlines.
Take “Gospel Shoes,” a gimlet-eyed critique of how politicians have used faith as a weapon. “Freedom was a simple word, so reverent and true/ A long time ago, it meant the right to choose/ Who you love and how to live, but now it’s so misused/ And twisted by the politics of men in gospel shoes,” Marlin sings.
“When we finished ‘Such Jubilee,’ I started writing these songs with a different goal in mind. I thought about how I would write songs for somebody else to record,” Marlin explains. “I ended up with a bunch of songs like that, but we chose ones that I still felt personally connected to.”
“We really chose everybody who played on the record, because we trusted them,” he adds.
They found kindred spirits in Clint Mullican on bass, Kyle Keegan on drums, Allyn Love on pedal steel, and previous collaborator, Josh Oliver, on guitar, keys and vocals.
“We’ve always liked to record fairly live,” Frantz says, “and it’s pretty easy to do that when it’s just Andrew and me. So it was fun to hone in on the guys who played on this record.“We really jelled as soon as we got into the studio, and everyone’s playing was driven by intuition instead of details orchestrated in advance.”
Holed up at the Rubber Room studio in Chapel Hill, N.C., they laid down the tracks in a week between touring. They’ve always been keen on the notion that drawn-out recording sessions don’t necessarily yield better results. A good song, and just one good take, will always shine through any studio sorcery.
For Frantz, Blindfaller, which Mandolin Orange produced, was something of a turning point.
“Now that we’ve put out quite a few records and toured so much, I think a standard has been set and people expect a certain thing,” she says. “But you don’t want to get into a place where you’re just making the music you’re expected to make. You have to push yourself a little bit.”
The passage of time, and the regret that often accompanies it, courses through these songs. “When did all the good times turn to hard lines on my face/ And lead me so far from my place right by your side?” Marlin ruminates on “My Blinded Heart.”
In fact, there’s heartache by the numbers on Blindfaller. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear “Picking Up Pieces” is a tearjerker George Jones or Willie Nelson sang back in the early 1970s. It’s a Mandolin Orange original, of course, and also a poignant reminder of the economy and grace with which Marlin imbues his songs – say what’s important and scrap the rest.
A country dirge with soulful washes of pedal steel and mandolin, “Wildfire” details the the lingering, present-day devastation of slavery and the Civil War, with Marlin’s voice locking into close harmonies with Frantz on the chorus. “Take This Heart of Gold” opens with perhaps the best classic-country line you’ll hear all year: “Take this heart of gold and melt it down.” (Marlin admits it was inspired by a Tom Waits lyric he misheard.)
But there’s also room for detours. Straight out of a honky tonk, “Hard Travelin’” lets the band shift into overdrive. A freewheeling ode to life on the road, it had been kicking around for a while but never fit on previous releases.
As for the album title, it’s meant to evoke a sense of wonder, of contemplation. A “faller” is someone who fells trees, and in this case that person is blind to his/her own actions and those of the world. The spectral cover photo, by Scott McCormick, is open to interpretation, too: Either those trees are engulfed in flames or sunlight is pouring through them. It’s up to you.
“We wanted different vibes and different intuitions on these tracks,” Marlin says, “and I feel like we really captured that.”