Founded in 2009, Austin-based Sour Bridges is a band that has turned into a tight-knit family. Established early on as a mainstay in Austin’s finest venues, the band has branched out in recent years to earn substantial airplay in the region and play roots music festivals UTOPiAfest, CMJ Music Marathon, SXSW, Daytrotter and more.
Self-dubbed browngrass – think bluegrass on steroids – Sour Bridges is inspired by greats like Gram Parsons, The Band and The Byrds. The funky, rock-inspired group’s distinct sound starts with a steady drumbeat, layers on bluegrass instrumentation – banjo, guitar, bass, and fiddle – and tops off with electric guitar, boots, and impressive harmonies.
Hailing from as far away as Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and other parts of Texas, members include Bill Pucci (vocals, banjo, guitar), Matt Pucci (vocals, mandolin, lead guitar), Kat “Mama Kat” Wilkes (fiddle), Dalton Chamblee (drums), and Jack Bridges (vocals, bass guitar).
“We all met on the frets in Austin, Texas,” summed Honesdale, Pennsylvania-native and founding member Bill Pucci, who moved to the music mecca in 2007 along with brother Matt. The two grew up picking bluegrass style with family, including a grandfather who played and built banjos.
Sour Bridges celebrates its third studio release, Sour Bridges (May 12, 2015). Produced at Austin’s Church House Studios, Bridges includes original songs – largely by Bill Pucci – that reflect on heartaches and hard times (“Dirt Poor”), greener pastures (“Fine Life,”) and picking yourself up again (“Carry On”). Previous albums include Catfish Charlie (2013) and the group’s 2010 debut, Workin’ On Leavin’.
In its music and its live shows, Sour Bridges members’ genuine love for playing and singing together comes through loud and clear. A college radio station, KTSW 89.9 compared the band to “your quirkiest, cutest, most musical talented friends showing up on your front porch to play some music.”
When Allen Hill, Houston’s Minister of Fun, enters a room, he brings the party with him — particularly with his world-renowned Allen Oldies Band, which has been covering tunes from the ’60s hit parade since 1996.
Now the unstoppable performer, whose ridiculously fun shows can run upward of five hours, is releasing his dream rock ’n’ roll record, “All Over the Map,” out Friday, September 6.
“I poured so much of myself into these tunes. It’s a radical shift,” says Hill, who sings and plays guitar, bass, piano, and surfboard on his debut solo disc. “Don’t worry, I’m still all about OLDIES FOREVER, but I am also having a blast pursuing a different artistic direction.”
Unlike the ’60s platters of The Allen Oldies Band, the new album’s 13 original tracks reflect a “1970s rock ’n’ roll roadhouse groove.” From the first single, the romping-and-rolling “2 Gigs and a 1 Way Ticket to Amsterdam,” to the dancing shoes-ready “Fanny Pack,” and the heartfelt “Fall Out of Love,” the album offers an eclectic mix honed by decades of exploring diverse styles. Given Hill’s musical history, the turn in direction makes sense.
Early on Allen, a voracious fan of The Who and other rock staples of ’70s FM radio, fronted a “super high-octane classic rock band,” whose setlist included tracks by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“I learned a lot through that band — about how to treat older material,” says Hill. “It was a key part of developing The Allen Oldies Band. When you sing songs that are part of people’s lives you have to mean it.”
Recording his own songs is unfamiliar territory for Hill, who has built his career playing hits popularized by others. “I’ve always loved performing great songs that move hips, heads, and hearts — whoever wrote them,” he says. “It took 30-plus years of pursuing my craft to get to the moment of creation.”
“2 Gigs and 1 Way Ticket to Amsterdam,” the first single, out Friday, August 2, was inspired by his two-month trip to Europe in the summer 2018. “There was nothing on the schedule, other than the gigs and seeing The Rolling Stones in Berlin” he says. “It was a totally magical trip and super necessary.”
He wrote the title and hook first. “Doug Sahm was great about writing tunes about cool locations — such as ‘Mendocino’ and ‘Meet Me in Stockholm’ — so I definitely jumped in with that approach,” he says. “Once I banged out the chorus on the guitar, the rest of the sections fell into place.”
You can’t resist boogying to the exuberant “Fanny Pack,” written in NOLA after a college pal’s days-long birthday bash. “It’s a back-to-school hit!” Hill declares. “It’s preposterous and funny.” And catchy too.
When it comes to teachers, Hill counts Sahm, Tommy Roe and The Who’s John Entwistle among them, even though he never worked with any of them. “You can have people whom you don’t know as your mentors,” he says. “John was a huge influence on my playing bass. Roe sparked a love for sparkly pop songs.”
“Sahm’s influence was his spirit,” says Hill, who does an annual tribute to Doug Sahm with his musical cohort David Beebe. “He played anything — jazz, tejano music, rock and roll. He was a musician’s musician.”
Hill has worked with many of the artists he admires as a back-up band. “I’ve learned so much about songwriting as part of The Allen Oldies Band and working with greats, like Chuck Berry, Archie Bell, Andre Williams, Wanda Jackson, Barbara Lynn and Roy Head, that I was finally ready to make the leap as an original artist” says Hill. Bell makes a guest appearance on the track, “Soul Travels.” “When he was in the studio, I couldn’t believe it.”
He didn’t have to leave his own Houston neighborhood to record “All Over the Map” — his friend and David Beebe’s brother, Paul Beebe owns Beebe Gunn Studio, nearby. “It was a blast bringing in great buddies and players like Pete Gordon, aka Polish Pete, on piano, and Jason Barker from Banana Blender Surprise on lead guitar to make it a celebration of the friendships we’ve all made through rock and roll,” says Hill. Banana Blender Surprise was a post-college, food-obsessed, original rock, blues, funk band that became a Texas cult fave. Other great buddies who play on the album include Eric C. Hughes, Landis Armstrong, and Jim Henkel from The Allen Oldies Band, vocal wizard Tomas Escalante, Felipe Galvan from Los Skarnales, and Matt Graham from Swimwear Department.
For more than two decades, The Allen Oldies Band has become a South by Southwest must-see. Since 2000, it’s opened Mojo Nixon’s annual daytime fest at the Continental Club, performing as fans scarfed down jalapeño pancakes at 9:30 a.m. In 2005, The Allen Oldies Band played a 5½-hour set at Maxwell’s in Hoboken. “Allen Hill…a dervish in constant motion, working the crowd and testifying to the power of old-time rock ’n’ roll to soothe your soul,” wrote The New York Times.
For the last seven years, Hill’s tooted the tuba with Polish Pete’s Polka Band, which, during World Series fever in 2017, released the “The Altuve Polka,” to honor the Houston Astros’ MVP second baseman Jose Altuve. After the Astros won the championship, more than one million polka-loving fans partied — and polka’d — to the song as the band played it from a float in the victory parade.
Hill isn’t just flipping the switch in music. After decades of playing surf tunes, he’s actually taken up surfing, as referenced in “Surfer’s Sunset,” taking lessons in Galveston, Texas.
“What’s the feeling of surfing and catching the last wave out?” he asks. “If you do it right, you get to ride on top of the world and how awesome is that?”
~ Mary Huhn ~
There’s something uniquely fun about Amy LaVere, even when she’s breaking your heart. She is well known among songwriters and critics alike. NPR’s Robert Siegel says she “specializes in lyrics that are more barbed than her sweet soprano prepares you for.” Her growing catalogue of material and steady critical acclaim suggest a first-tier presence on the Americana and indie-folk/punk circuits. Her latest album Painting Blue’ comes out August 16th on Nine Mile Records (Glorietta, David Wax Museum, Carson McHone, Patrick Sweany, Greyhounds).
Amy’s live performances are anything but predictable. She might appear on stage with a full band, sporting a mask and pink wig, or simply be a natural in blue jeans and sandals, but her upright bass and clever song delivery are constants. Her voice is at once the bully and the victim. She’s performed in venues as wide-ranging as St. Andrew’s Hall in London and Memphis’ famed dive bar Earnestine and Hazel’s. There’s no room she can’t find an audience in and charm it to pieces.
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, this future bard moved continuously throughout childhood due to her father’s job. She spent notable parts of her life in Canada, Texas, Maryland, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan. Outside of Detroit and only just entering high school, Amy formed her first band and began writing and performing. Music fans first discovered this “sweet soprano” on This World is Not My Home in 2005, but it was her Jim Dickinson-produced breakout album Anchors & Anvils two years later that put Amy LaVere on the map. Stranger Me, the 2011 release on Archer Records, was called “the break-up album of the year” by Spin. Paste said it was “among the year’s best,” and it earned a first listen feature from NPR’s All Things Considered. She followed it in 2014 with another critical smash: Runaway’s Diary, a concept album based on her own experience as a teenage runaway, produced by Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars). American Songwriter called it “boundary pushing… heartfelt, reflective, challenging and consistently compelling.” NPR Music’s Robert Christgau said it was her best yet. Of Hallelujah I’m A Dreamer (Archer Records, 2015) No Depression said simply: “pure bliss.”
In addition to her solo records and a tireless touring schedule, Amy enjoys working with other artists. In 2012 she joined an all-star collaboration called The Wandering, composed of Amy, Luther Dickinson, Shannon McNally, Sharde Thomas and Valerie June. They released Go On Now, You Can’t Stay Here (Songs Of The South, 2012) to critical acclaim and sold-out shows.
In the afterglow of The Wandering, Amy and Shannon McNally hit the road together and released an EP titled Chasing the Ghost, The Rehearsal Sessions (Archer Records, 2012), featuring songs from both artists recorded live during rehearsals for the tour. Amy next paired up with noted Memphis rocker John Paul Keith to create Motel Mirrors. Their styles clearly complemented one another, which made for magic on stage and in the recording studio. Their eponymous vinyl EP release was named one of the “10 Essential Albums of 2013” by No Depression. In 2017 Motel Mirrors released a full length effort, In the Meantime; this record had the addition of some Will Sexton co-writes and his powerful guitar work throughout. Motel Mirrors later released a live recording, Gotta Lotta Rhythm, on the Italian label Wild Honey.
Painting Blue, produced by her husband Will Sexton, captures perfectly the moment that Amy is in. Will Sexton’s masterful production and Amy’s soft, clarinet-like vocal pour over you, pushing and pulling, stirring and calming. As we’ve come to expect, this record is honest, revealing and sounds uniquely like no one else.
Tutone is a passionate storyteller, songwriter, and poet whose creative energy has evolved beyond his rock star status. Capturing the reality of living in the moment, his songs are individual collages of his perception of his surroundings. Merging elements of rock and roll, country, rockabilly, and soul, Tutone offers a memorable album of what could very well be his finest work. The album features the single “Beautiful Ending”, as well as Tutone’s interpretation of the classic Jim Croce song, “Operator”.
“I feel in this album I have captured more of the real me and my alternate view of the world.
I can’t wait to see what people think of them.” Tommy Tutone
One of the most unique voices in music, Tutone rose to international prominence with the release of his 1982 album Tutoneg 2. Featuring the timeless classic Top Ten hit, “8675309 (Jenny)” Tutone solidified his standing as one of decade’s most recognizable artist’s. Tutone has gone onto sell millions of records worldwide while enjoying a career that continues to thrive.
“I don’t sing like anybody else; I sure don’t think like most people I know, and I hide out a lot, but at this point, I’m (finally) ready to go out and sing my stories to the whole world and show them the real Tommy Tutone.”
From July 24th-September 9th, Joe Medina (who performs and records under the moniker MERCH) will be traveling to record stores throughout the United States in support of MERCH’s current album ‘Amour Bohemian’. ‘Amour Bohemian’ has been out on vinyl through MERCH’s own imprint Sassafras Records for about a year and the cassette version of the release will be put out through record label Earth Libraries during the tour.
‘Amour Bohemian’ is a startling album in its scope and features contributions from upwards of 65 people in order to bring to life Medina’s vision. Those contributors include the Prague FILMharmonic Orchestra (known for working with people like Quentin Tarantino, Werner Herzog, Adele, and The Arcade Fire–Medina even went to Prague to work with them), members of The Growlers, Oh Sees, and Blank Tapes, a full Latin jazz band, opera singers, and so many more.
For this record store tour, Medina will be making this a solo outing–doing vocals and guitar while the orchestral tracks from the album are triggered from an analog reel to reel. Fans of the time-honored sounds of folks like Lee Hazlewood, Scott Walker, Leonard Cohen, Ennio Morricone, Burt Bacharach, psych-rock, classic crooners, ELO, Magnetic Fields, Spiritualized, Procol Harum, and Love will find plenty to latch onto in the sounds of ‘Amour Bohemian’ as will fans of more recent luminaries like Weyes Blood, Ariel Pink, Drugdealer, and Tame Impala.
Press for ‘Amour Bohemian’ has been rapturous and it has received over-the-top notice in everything from Popmatters to PASTE. Even before its release, John Dwyer of Oh Sees renown said “Amour Bohemian is a ren-rock masterpiece. Pretty much all you could want from a deep album.” Upon its release to the public, The Vinyl District gave it a rare A- rating saying “A whole lot of new music is getting pressed onto vinyl these days, but little of it radiates like a nugget from the heyday of the long-playing record quite like this specimen, while still connecting as contemporary. Anyone interested in the possibilities of symphonic pop and classically-minded songwriting shouldn’t sleep on Amour Bohemian.”
After the completion of all performance and press obligations around this U.S. record store tour, Medina will be taking the songs of ‘Amour Bohemian’ for a tour of stores in the U.K/Europe. He will then work on the writing of a follow-up EP in Budapest and then, ultimately, get to work rehearsing with a full band to bring MERCH’s cinematic, grand-scale sounds to festival audiences next year.
Tee Vee is the musical guise of Teresa Vicinanza, a singer-songwriter operating from her home base of Houston, Texas. Writing, recording, and producing the project herself, Vicinanza uses Tee Vee as an outlet for processing life’s more mercurial themes, from highs of blissful memory to lows of lapses in mental health. Drawn from synth-, art-, and dream-pop, the sound of Tee Vee is at once delicate and danceable, with latticed synth squeals and cooing vocal loops weaving through the BOOM CLAP of vintage kick and snare samples. Melding this sonic palette with introspective song writing, Tee Vee offers music both singular and singable, like the daydream echo of a long-forgotten tune.
Wherever the Folk Family Revival plays, the ground underneath seems more a sanctuary than a stage. Sure enough, the Lankford family, Mason, Barrett and Lincoln, once filled a pew at a Magnolia, Texas church where the brothers became fast friends with their soon to be brother and lead guitarist Caleb Pace. They played rock’n’roll in church for a time until the congregation found them a little too wild for their flock. So the family dug up their roots from that place and headed home to the little shed next to their parents’ house, the blue house, where the brothers honed their craft.
Beneath many hours of cosmic contemplation, tempered through many hours more of pressure and concentration, the boys fashioned a sound; clear and righteous, bold and forceful, complex and simple at the same time. Mason’s lyrics ride the narrow edge of paradox and preaching, while the rumble of the band pulses with a fury of sacred rage. They’ve come to shake the windows and rattle the walls. They will go down fighting.
With their record releases thus far, 2011’s “Unfolding” and 2015’s “Water Walker”, the band of brothers’ music has evolved and left fans guessing with each rendition of their ever-changing sound. With their new record, “Electric Darlin”, released June 2019, one can appreciate the multi-genre direction they’ll take with their new sound.
Over the years, Folk Family Revival has opened for legends such as Willie Nelson, Lucas Nelson, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Hayes Carll, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eddie Money, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Merle Haggard, George Jones, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Suffers and Jon Foreman.
Today it is arguably the centerpiece of the summers music schedule, a zoot-suit riot of hot rods, hair grease, sharp threads and vintage tunes.
Established in 2000 by DJ Big E, this annual rockabilly festival brings in bands and fans from across Texas and beyond to see contemporary and legendary rockabilly, psychobilly, and old school country music played live. DJs, dance contests, burlesque, bbq, and custom cars round out the show.
Rock Baby Rock It Preview includes DJ Black Slacks and Tom Cat Y El Rock And Roll Combo.
Rock Baby Rock It #19!
Texas’ longest running Rockabilly Weekender
FRIDAY July 26th & SATURDAY July 27th
The Return of The Jungle Rockers
Matt Hole and The Hot Rod Gang
Rockin’ Lloyd Tripp
Tomcat y el Rock N Roll Combo
The Luxurious Panthers
Shame On Me MTSP
Giddy Up Go
DJs and more!!!
Presented by Big Kat’s/Kat’s Meow Houston
Advance tickets will be availabel at Sig’s Lagoon
Houston favorite, Matt Harlan is a troubadour of the first degree, bringing his handcrafted songs to stages across his home state of Texas, the USA and Europe.
Harlan is a winner of multiple songwriting accolades, from outfits like American Songwriter, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Billboard. He was named Singer-Songwriter of the Year in the 2013 Texas Music Awards and was featured alongside a stellar cast of characters (Lyle Lovett, Guy Clark) in the documentary, “For the Sake of the Song.”
His first two studio albums were well received by national and international Americana radio, both earning the #1 spot on the Euro Americana Chart. “Raven Hotel” his third – and possibly best – record also hit the top spot on the Euro charts after its release in 2014. As with each collection, the newest one features a musical roux that showcases Harlan’s literary grit with a variety of moods to fit the many themes on the record.
In his recent travels, Matt has shared stages with Americana greats such as Guy Clark, James McMurtry and up-and-comers like John Fullbright.