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BANDULUS – SATURDAY, 2/25 @ 3:00PM – 5:00PM

The Bandulus are the brainchild of Jeremy Peña, formerly of Los Skarnales and The Trenchtown Texans. After the 2006 break-up of Los Skarnales and leaving Trenchtown Texans in 2010, Jeremy decided to venture out on his own and create the traditional ska, reggae, and soul sensation that is The Bandulus. Their first full-length album, Ska.Reggae.Soul, was released in 2010 featuring a smattering of well-respected musicians such as Vic Ruggiero of Slackers’ fame and Willy Camero, Patrick Kelly, and Jonny Meyers of The Stingers ATX. After the release, Jeremy solidified his live band with musicians from the Austin and San Antonio scenes.

In November of 2012, The Bandulus released their second full-length album called The Times We Had. The record was worth the wait and well received, featured on countless top 10 lists for ska and reggae records. It’s unique with its heavy soul influence and heartfelt lyrics but still keeps you dancing in true Bandulus fashion. While staying genuine to the 60’s style traditional ska, The Times We Had crosses and mixes genres, keeping on your toes.

The Bandulus have already shared the stage with yesterday’s and todays top ska and reggae acts including the originators of ska The Skatalites, The Wailers, The Slackers, Easy Star All Stars, The Aggrolites, and even Grammy award winners Los Lonely Boys.

Plans for 2014 include a southwest tour with The legendary Slackers in April, followed by a trip to Brooklyn to record their third album with Uzimon producer Brett Tubin. Jamaican patois for bandit, The Bandulus will steal your heart and always leave you smiling.

ERIC JOHNSON – SUNDAY, 2/19 @ 12:30PM

Thirty years after his breakthrough solo release Tones brought him national recognition, Texas guitar legend Eric Johnson is releasing his first all-acoustic album. Showcasing nine original compositions and four covers, EJ is easily Johnson’s most intimate album to date. “Ever since I was young, I’ve played piano and acoustic guitar in my private life,” Johnson says. “This type of music has always been a part of me, but I never showcased it on any kind of bigger level, like a full acoustic record. With EJ, I just decided to be more honest with myself and everybody, and show more of my personal side.” EJ brings listeners as close as possible to hearing Johnson in his own living room, performing songs on piano and steel-string and nylon-string acoustic guitars.

Johnson, long known for his painstaking approach to making records, used a much more immediate approach for the self-produced EJ. “Almost all of that material was cut live,” Johnson explains. “Some of the songs I actually sang and played at the same time – just live in the studio. Recording this way gave it more of an honest realism and organic emotion. Especially on the acoustic, you just have to get in there and play.”

DOLLIE BARNES – SATURDAY, 2/18 @ 3:00PM

Dollie Barnes, hailing from Houston, mixes pop sensibilities with dream like vocals into a pot of 60’s and 70’s inspired writing while still maintaining a sound that is all it’s own, grabbing hold of the listener from the first note.

“The Dollie Barnes sound is hard to describe not unlike her signature voice. Singer-songwriter John Evans said it best when he told me that her voice only works for her, and no one else could have her sound. Because I’ve been lucky enough to be around Barnes, I’ve gotten to see that she’s a savvy, intriguing, and multi-layered individual who just happens to be one of the most engaging artists I’ve seen in a good while.”
– David Garrick of Free Press Houston

“Over the past year or so, Dollie Barnes — and front woman Haley Barnes in particular — has begun asserting itself as one of the most promising bands in town. Barnes, the woman (Dollie is a family nickname), was already well-known to Houston audiences from her work in Buxton and Ancient Cat Society; a detour to Baylor University gave her the time and space to develop as a songwriter skilled at mingling mystery and melancholy a la Stevie Nicks. Barnes, the local indie-pop band, also includes two members of Buxton and two guys from Robert Ellis’ band, plus Barnes’ fiance Tom Lynch, whom she and several bandmates join in aesthetically similar Houston outfit Vodi. (Must make putting together shows a lot easier.) Earlier this month, the band — Dollie Barnes, just to keep you on track — released the single “Taking All Day,” a wistful and hummable track that prefaces their forthcoming debut album Caught In a Phase.”
– Chris Gray of Houston Press

BACKWORDZ – THURSDAY, 3/30 @ 5:30PM

Houston band, BackWordz, will be performing an in-store concert on the Cactus stage to promote the release of their Stay Sick Records debut, Veracity.  Veracity doesn’t
come out until Friday, 3/31, but fans will be able to pick up the album at the in-store and have it signed by the artists.  There will be a priority line for fans who purchase the
CD. You’ll receive a wristband for the event when “Veracity” on Equal Vision Records is purchased.

THE LEMON TWIGS – WEDNESDAY, 2/15 @ 4:30PM

With their debut album for 4AD, Do Hollywood, The Lemon Twigs have fused tightly constructed pop, modern psych, and British invasion melodies into a ten-song masterpiece. The D’Addario brothers—Brian (19) and Michael (17)—are whipping fans and critics alike into an utter frenzy. NPR hailed them as “fabulously weird,” Brooklyn Vegan raved that “they need to be seen to be believed,” and The Line Of Best Fit dubbed their music “near perfect…the best lo-fi rock & roll anthem you’ll hear this decade.” The Guardian, meanwhile, crowned the album “a triumph of detailed richness and sumptuous melody.” Not bad for a couple kids from Long Island. Born into a musical family, Brian and Michael grew up on The Beach Boys and The Beatles, whose albums and films played constantly in their house. As toddlers, they were already harmonizing on “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and soon they were playing drums and mastering whatever instruments they could get their hands on. Ask about their childhood dreams and they’ll tell you that they never aspired to do anything but make music together, and it shows.

BUZZ CASON with ROBERT CLINE JR. – WEDNESDAY, 2/15 @ 7:00PM

 

Buzz has been called the Father of Nashville Rock and was honored by the Country Music Hall of Fame as part of their Poets & Prophets series in 2014. Buzz Cason formed The Casuals, one of the first rock bands in Nashville. Over the next four decades, he worked successfully as a performer, songwriter, producer, actor and recording studio pioneer. He wrote the hit song “Everlasting Love,” published the award-winning songs “Honey” and “Little Green Apples,” sang with Roy Orbison, Kenny Rogers, Brenda Lee and Jimmy Buffet, and recorded with such artists as Olivia Newton-John, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard and The Gatlin Brothers.

 

Robert Cline Jr. is a Troubadour and owner of Mockingbird Records, LLC, and founding member of Heart Strings and Highways, a coop of musicians and venues

Robert Cline Jr. has rambled across the country, from the farmlands to the main streets of middle-America, creating a love for the open road and the experiences of the heartland. His inspiration is pulled from a diverse array of people and places,.. as he searched for his song…

Robert Cline Jr.’s career began as a collaboration with members of The Subdudes, including John Magnie and Steve Amedee, both in the studio and on the stage,” and continued his career playing and writing with members of the Swappers from Muscle Shoals.

CHARLIE and THE REGRETS – SATURDAY, 2/25 @ 1:00PM

 

Houston-based country/Americana band, Charlie & The Regrets will release their new album “Rivers In The Streets” on February 25th via Sony RED Distribution. Under the creative and technical direction of producer Derek Hames and engineer John Shelton, the album features a robust and eclectic collection of bohemian-infused honky-tonk that’ll make you stomp your feet, but also make you stop and think. The first single “Time Moves Slow” sets the perfect tone for a collection of tunes about real life in real-time rural America.

In 2017, country music is besieged with drum loops and layers of synths on infinite songs about girls in trucks on the way to the lake. It doesn’t have much to do with real life in the South, but it sells. Going against the grain requires conviction and authenticity. Charlie Harrison, the band’s namesake and primary songwriter, writes socially conscious music that speaks to the not-always-glamorous life he has seen, and his part in it. In an era of fluff, Charlie & The Regrets have chosen to write country music about the imbalance of justice, the federal tax code, and the plight of the fatherless. Although the album’s biology boasts a somewhat irreverent sense of style, Charlie admits that he is not the buttoned up guy you might suspect, but rather a seasoned songwriter who harnesses his creativity with a “hindsight is 20/20” sense of humor. “Everything I say is with a smirk and a wink.” The entire album swims with the nostalgia of iconic songwriters of old whose lyrical prose leaves a sticky residue on rebellious hearts.

Cherished songs from the band’s self-produced 2014 EP such as “Baytown” and “New Night” are reimagined. New fan favorites like “The Gavel” and “What Can I Do” are refined. And more intimate acoustic tracks “Houston Rain” and “Ain’t No Good News” are introduced. The result is breakout work that defines who and what Charlie & The Regrets are. You’ll hear influences from Jerry Jeff Walker, Hayes Carll and Todd Snider with each train beat, strummed chord and twanged vocal. “Now, after broken bands, relationships, day jobs, and records – now we really have something to write about.”

The band is already laying track and burning coals towards a tour in support of the new album release that will deliver them into new markets throughout the Midwest this winter, and into some priceless supporting gigs with artists that include Hayes Carll and The Blasters. Charlie & The Regrets are Charlie Harrison (lead singer, rhythm guitar), Willie Golden (lap steel, backup vocals), Mark Riddell (bass, backup vocals), Isaias Gil (drums) and John Shelton (lead guitar). http://www.countryschatter.com/

SARA WATKINS – SATURDAY, 2/11 @ 6:00PM

Sara Watkins
Young in All the Wrong Ways
New West Records

“This is a breakup album with myself…” says Sara Watkins of her third solo record, Young in All the Wrong Ways. Writing and recording these ten intensely soul-baring songs was a means for her to process and mark the last couple years, which have been transformative. “I looked around and realized that in many ways I wasn’t who or where I wanted to be. It’s been a process of letting go and leaving behind patterns and relationships and in some cases how I’ve considered myself. What these songs are documenting is the turmoil you feel when you know something has to change and you’re grappling with what that means. It means you’re losing something and moving forward into the unknown.”

That sense of possibility infuses the songs on Young in All the Wrong Ways with a fierce and flinty resolve, which makes this her most powerful and revealing album to date. In some ways it’s a vivid distillation of the omnivorous folk-pop-bluegrass-indie-everything-else Watkins made with Nickel Creek, yet she makes audacious jumps that push against expectations in unexpected ways. These songs contain some of the heaviest moments of her career, with eruptions of thrumming B3 organ and jagged electric guitar. But it’s also quiet, vulnerable, tenderhearted. In other words, bold in all the right ways.

Recently Watkins found herself without a manager at the same time she was leaving the label that released her first two solo albums. For many artists that might be the worst possible time to enter the studio, but working without a net invigorated Watkins. It was important for her to document this time in her life when she was between professional contracts: free from the weight of obligation to anyone but herself. In that regard the tumultuous title track sounds like the first song of the rest of her life. Her backing band create a violent clamor, with Jon Brion’s sharp stabs of electric guitar punctuating the din and Jay Bellerose’s explosive drumming ripping at the seams of the song. In the chaos, however, Watkins finds clarity: “I’ve got no time to look back, so I’m going to leave you here,” she sings, with new grit and fire in her voice. “I’m going out to see about my own frontier.”

Fittingly, Watkins wrote or co-wrote every song on Young in All the Wrong ways—a first for her. Her previous albums have featured well-chosen covers that compliment her own songs and showcase her interpretive abilities. “I love singing other people’s songs, and originally I did plan to have a couple of covers on the album. But as we were recording and getting a picture of how everything fit together, it became apparent that the covers really stood apart from the story that was taking shape. I felt like I just had a little bit more to say. Everything is coming from me, so there’s a unified perspective on this album that’s different from what I’ve done before.”

Some are lonely and quiet: “Like New Year’s Day” describes in careful detail a trip out to the desert, and the low-key arrangement echoes the reassuring isolation of the southwestern landscape. Other songs are more extroverted, their volume and energy a means to reach out to friends and colleagues. “Move Me” opens as a loping pop song, but soon explodes into a walloping rocker as Watkins demands, in a voice that strains against composure, “I want you to move me!” It’s a time-stopping performance: Janis Joplin by way of Fleetwood Mac.

“That song is about relationships that have gone stagnant, how sometimes we just go about the process of making small talk in order not to stir anything up,” she says. “But it’s sad when you can’t have a meaningful conversation with people after a while. Even if they hurt you, you just want to feel something from them. You don’t relate to each other the same way as you once did, so you have to decide if you’re going to invite this person further into your life or just move on.”

Watkins knew just the right people to bring these tough-minded songs to life. She corralled longtime friend and fellow fiddler Gabe Witcher to produce, then put together a band that includes two of Witcher’s fellow Punch Brothers: guitarist Chris Eldridge and bass player Paul Kowert. Providing harmonies on the title track are Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan, Watkins’ bandmates in I’m With Her, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket provides a vocal foil on “One Last Time.” “I’ve known these guys for a long time, so there’s a personal trust as well as a musical trust. I was able to put my heart and soul into these performances, in a way that I don’t think I would be able to if I was in a room full of strangers. It allowed me to give myself over to some of these very personal thoughts that are in the lyrics.”

To say these are personal lyrics might be an understatement. They’re beyond personal, whether she’s confessing some long-held regret or gently consoling a friend. Young in All the Wrong Ways ends with “Tenderhearted,” a quietly assured song that Watkins wrote about a few of her heroes: women like her Grandmother Nordstrom who have weathered hard times with grace and have provided Watkins with examples of how to live her life. “They’re women who have endured so much yet emerged with love, strength and kindness. I remember someone saying, It’s so sad how much she’s had to go through. And I remember thinking, That’s why she’s such an incredible person. She faced all those trials and came out the other side.”

Watkins would never be so bold as to count herself in their company; instead, she aspires to follow their example. But Young in All the Wrong Ways does reveal an artist who has managed to transform her own turmoil into music that is beautiful and deeply moving: “God bless the tenderhearted,” she sings, “who let life overflow.”

BAND OF HEATHENS – FRIDAY, 2/24 @ 5:30PM

ESTABLISHED IN 2006

duende – [duen-de] (noun) 1. a quality of inspiration and passion 2. A heightened sense of emotion, expression and authenticity 3. a spirit

Duende, the title of The Band of Heathens’ fifth studio album (and eighth overall), marks their tenth anniversary as a group, and it certainly applies to its overall theme about the collective search for connection and communion in a technology-fueled world increasingly splintered, distracted and lonely. As band co-founder Ed Jurdi, who first learned of the term, explains, “It’s the essence of the artist,” or as partner Gordy Quist says, “It’s a word we don’t have an equivalent for in English, Artistically, that’s where we tried to set the bar, to do what this band does best.”

Indeed, Duende lives up to those high ideals, a stylistically diverse effort that takes a leap beyond their last, more acoustic, introspective effort, 2013’s Sunday Morning Record, with an eclectic batch of material that shows where The Band of Heathens has been, but more importantly, where they are going.

There are high-energy rockers like the Keith Richards-Chuck Berry guitars and barrelhouse piano in “Trouble Came Early” as well as the Grateful Dead-by-way-of J.J. Cale Oklahoma boogie in “Keys to the Kingdom,” The Band-meets-New Orleans honky-tonk blues of “Sugar Queen,” the British Invasion harmonies laced through “Deep Is Love,” the south-of-the-border flavor of “Road Dust Wheels” and the New Riders pedal steel country twang of “Green Grass of California,” an ode to the more potent strains of sensimilla on the dispensary shelf and a fervent plea to “legalize it.” Duende also touches on some of The Band of Heathens’ favorite topics, from the sacrifices of a life lived on the road (“All I’m Asking”) to the limits of materialism (“Keys to the Kingdom”), social media absorption (“Cracking the Code”), and a moving depiction of Mexican immigration in an age of increased discrimination (“Road Dust Wheels”).

“Road Dust Wheels” is particular timely, dealing specifically with the migration of workers from Mexico and Latin America. “It’s not about the politics of the situation,” explains Jurdi, “but a meditation on people trying to get together to find their own slice of the American Dream, which has been our greatest export to the outside world. Unfortunately, we’ve got leaders trying to divide us, spitting venom and vitriol, trying to get elected by pitting us against each other rather than realizing, almost without exception, we create the same felling of community and connection, regardless of religion, race or immigration status.”

Similarly, according to Quist, “Keys to the Kingdom” is a portrait of someone who falls prey to the consumer culture of more, unable to enjoy the present because she’s obsessed with wanting more in the future… and it doesn’t end well. “Sugar Queen” is its sequel, the same character as a newly divorced cougar looking for love in a younger man, told from the perspective of that younger man, another song about the thirst for real connection.

Thematically, Quist’s “Cracking the Code” comes closest to reiterating the album’s desire to reconsider the value of relationships and priorities in a world of virtual reality and social media.

“While modern technology has certainly allowed us to stay in touch over vast distances – something a band that lives on the road certainly appreciates – it doesn’t really provide the authentic connection we crave,” says Gordy. “We’ve created a portal through which we lose ourselves and miss what’s really going on right in front of us, hiding the fact our supposed connected culture can be a really lonely place.”

“Deep Is Love” is another song about loneliness on the road, according to Quist. “At the time, I felt like I had all these tools to stay in touch with my family – from Facetime to Skype – but all the while we were missing the deeper connection that comes from being physically present in one another’s lives.”

Likewise, Jurdi describes “All I’m Asking” as a song about “missing his wife… lost opportunities, second chances and getting back to the place where it’s just about two people in the same room having a special moment together without outside interference.”

Armed with almost 40 songs all together, the group recorded in a variety of different locations, the majority in the Texas Treefort, a studio in their own Austin backyard, where they took advantage of the vintage broadcast tube equipment to create the album’s warm, inviting sound. All the tracks were initially laid down live in the studio by the full band, making an effort to keep the music infused with its “analog” elements as well as the communal feel.

“I feel the album brings together all our influences, everything we’ve done over the years as a band,” explains Jurdi. “We’ve touched on every part of our career… our roots, some singer/songwriter contemplative stuff, some high-energy rock ‘n’ roll. It’s all us, the record we were supposed to make. Ten years later, that’s what keeps us coming back.”

“We really opened ourselves up to the collaborative process this time,” adds Gordy. “The trust we have between us enabled us to chase down our individual ideas wherever they take us. That’s the beauty of being in a band.”

Engineer/co-producer Jim Vollentine (Spoon, White Rabbits, …And You’ll Know Us by the Trail of Dead) helped the album’s diversity sound coherent, adding unique touches such as mellotron and drum machines to the loping rockabilly of tracks like “All I’m Asking.”

“It’s amazing how getting the right sounds just brought the songs to life,” adds Ed. “Hearing it come back at us through the speakers was really inspiring.”

Gordy explains: “We based the album’s eclecticism on our live shows, where texturally, we go through peaks and valleys. We have this library of music in our heads and at our fingers, and when we go into the studio, the challenge is how to go from that into making something new.”

The term “Americana” was practically invented to describe The Band of Heathens’ approach, which has mutated almost as much as the genre to which they’re identified. And while the Rolling Stones and The Beatles remain touchstones on songs like “Sugar Queen” and “Deep Is Love,” respectively, influences as diverse as Sly and the Family Stone (in the psychedelic fuzz-tones of “Daddy Long Legs”) and Latin music (“Road Dust Wheels”) also rear their heads. Literary inspirations also come into play, ranging from a character in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar depicted in as a strutting cougar in “Sugar Queen” (“She even talks dirty/When she’s on her knees to pray”) to Tom Standage’s A History of the World in Six Glasses, which recounts how beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and Coca-Cola have shaped culture and civilization to modern times (“Trouble Came Early”). “Green Grass of California” – with its praise of today’s strong strains of bud and a fervent plea for legalization — was recorded in Nashville and supposed to include harmonies by Tim Easton, who ate a marijuana cookie and inadvertently lived out the song’s lyrics (“When your eyes are red/Spinning in your head/Remember it’s only in your mind)”), unable to continue.

Duende is The Band of Heathens playing to their strengths, unapologetically constructed as an old-school 10-track, two-sided vinyl album (which it will be released as, with a second disc encompassing four songs from their Green Grass EP released earlier this year).

For co-founders Jurdi and Quist, the album represents a new beginning.

“Our goal is always to make the best record we could make,” says Jurdi. “We’re taking our influences and pushing them into different sonic territory. I feel the band is in a great place to take that next step. More than ever, people need to feel connected. Just like Paul Revere or the town crier, we’re messengers trying to spread the good word and tap into the communal spirit that is created in the wake of music and song. To make your way through the world via inspiration and ultimately, creation, is truly a gift; it’s something we never take for granted. The singular purpose is always to bring our best stuff to the table, whether making a record or playing a show. The hope is that it both resonates with our long-time fans and strikes a chord with people who are just being introduced to the music.”

“We just try to keep writing songs that mean something to ourselves and others,” concludes Gordy. “The challenge for us as artists, in these disturbing times, is how can we change things? Music is fun and an excuse to get out with other human in a room together, but you also hope the songs will mean something when someone is all alone in their room listening to the record. This band is better than it’s ever been.”

With Duende, the proof is in the results. Let them change your mind.

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