“Carolyn Wonderland is the real deal! She’s an amazing guitar player. She whistled a solo. She even played the trumpet! And damn, can she sing.” – Los Angeles Times
￼ “A dollop of Janis Joplin, a slice of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a big load of soulful individuality… that’s Wonderland, a seething-hot Texas singer-guitarist. And she can write, too! Produced by Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson, Miss Understood focuses on tough yet vulnerable blues, but also captures the melodic soul of classic American song… No wonder Dylan is an avowed fan.” – Daniel Gewertz, Boston Herald
￼ “When she blisters the guitar and cocks her head fetchingly to sing her songs like “I’m Innocent” she stands in the good company of Sue Foley, Debbie Davies, and Bonnie Raitt. But when she whistles, as she does with disarming ease on another of her compositions “I’m the Man,” or picks up the trumpet, she’s one of a kind.” – Margaret Moser, Austin Chronicle
￼ “One of the most impressively powerful voices recently heard anywhere, regardless of sex. Able to boon, cajole, promise and growl with equal power, she plays guitar with much the same forcefulness!” – Matt Weitz, Dallas Observer
￼ “Carolyn Wonderland’s live shows are just outright phenomenal. Top notch, five-stars, off the meter – whatever the clich., Carolyn and her band meet it…Her voice can be as beautiful as an angel and as powerful as a Class 5 hurricane all within the drop of a hat…One thing’s for certain, some forces – even those barely five feet tall – cannot be contained.” – Dante Dominick, Rockzillaworld Magazine
“Based in Austin, Texas, (Carolyn’s) unique combination of musical mastery adds to the state’s impressive legacy of sonic genius…Wonderland is also an insightful, gutsy, intelligent songwriter with an extremely versatile talent that spans just about every genre you can name…I am happy to report that at last count my total Carolyn mileage is as follows: 2,304 driving miles and 19,544 flying miles. Trust me – if you ever see them live, you’ll understand!” – Kelley Guiney, HotBands.com
Charles Bryant is a singer-songwriter with a unique Americana style.
A life long battle with panic attacks and agoraphobia has helped shape him as an artist. Charles’ music is thoughtful, introspective, cynical, humorous and most importantly honest. After more than 30 years of performing primarily for family and friends life-altering experience came in 2010 that motivated him to start performing publicly.
Charles is now performing throughout the Greater-Houston area exciting audiences with his thought provoking song lyrics and high energy guitar, banjo and harmonica playing. Charles is not slowing down; his ever evolving style and new songs make every performance better than the last.
Count Vaseline is an alternative rock project founded in 2016 by songwriter, musician and producer ’Stefan Murphy’ during a creative spell in Berlin Germany. Following only a handful of live appearances in Germany, Count Vaseline decamped to the US to begin working on what would quickly become his first album ‘Yo No Soy Marinero’. The narrative of the record is very personal and details a difficult phase in Murphy’s life and creativity as well as a celebration of his trials and tribulations in Berlin.
‘’They almost let me into the Berghain, but then they got wise ‘when I accidentally puked in the Bouncers eyes” – Divebombing
Making the decision to stay in the US was closely followed by a Presidential election that was going to send the universe into something of a tailspin. The rise of Donald Trump as well as a lot of depressing reading about the cyclical patterns in world politics quickly gave birth to The Count’s second album, the very minimal ‘Cascade’.
“No Politics exists that will protect you from the horror of these times” – Cascade
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom ‘Russia’, the forthcoming single, is designed to make the people dance!! The song was inspired by the documentary film ‘Hypernormalization’ and is a personal account of two lovers trying to break free from the constraints of the modern world. The song is deliberately performed at 117 beats per minute, the same BPM as Quincy jones / Michael Jacksons magnum opus ‘Billie Jean’, one of the most danceable tunes in history.
Delightfully depressing / Guitar music
If the sound of Houston’s Ancient Cat Society was simply left at folk, then there would be little to discuss. However, with elements of pop, Americana, and indie rock meshed with notes of doo-wop and occasional electronica.
Here’s what folks have had to say about The Broken Spokes….
“Some of the leading lights of Texas retro-country have split or faded, and the enduring diehards (Eleven Hundred Springs, Dale Watson, Two Tons of Steel, etc.) are hitting the point where their tributes to generations past are at least a generation old themselves. As long as there are bar bands the torch never really drops, but if it ever does, Houston’s The Broken Spokes would be solid candidates to pick it up and run with it. There’s something transcendent about frontman Brent McLennan’s clear tenor twang and off-handedly detailed songwriting approach riding atop the timeless honky-tonk chops of his bandmates (Willy Golden on steel guitar and Josh Artall on lead guitar/piano particularly jump out of the mix): it’s a bit like if Bruce Robison borrowed Wayne “The Train” Hancock’s band to rub some pilsner-soaked sawdust on his studied songcraft” – Mike Ethan Messick, Lone Star Music Magazine
“It might be hard to believe, but there was a time when country music was actually palatable. Growing up in the seventies, when a tug of war began between traditional country music, and the beginning of this new flashy crap we’re stuck with today; my favorite memories were catching small time country acts play honky-tonk with my parents. For the longest time, it’s felt like those traditional country tunes and the style in which they were crafted would never return. Then, I listened to the new album from Houston’s The Broken Spokes and realized—-it’s back and this five piece is bringing it back in a big way. Throughout eight tracks, “The Broken Spokes” brings back traditional country music like it was meant to be played without copying anyone in the process.” – David Garrick, Free Press Houston
“Named after the South Austin dance hall that has drawn two-steppers like flies for a half-century — and successfully fought back hungry developers for the past decade — the Broken Spokes could have easily been plucked straight off that hallowed honky-tonk’s hardwood dance floor. These Spokes have been bringing their hardcore trad-country — served with generous sides of Texas swing and savory steel guitar — to local joints like Rudz and the Big Top for a couple of years, but have only recently released their first recording, a nifty little eight-song self-titled debut. It’s all worth a spin around the floor, but best of all are tunes like “Moved Into a Bottle,” where the wordplay is as sharp as the guitar licks.” Chris Gray, Houston Press
“Now, if you know me, you’ve probably heard me rant about my general dislike of country music. As with anything like that, though, there’s always exceptions to the rule, and in this case, the rule is less “I hate all country music and want it to die” and more “I hate all crappy, meat-headed pop-country music and want that to die”. I dearly love old-school country; Flatt and Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, and Hank Williams, those guys, I like. Most of the big hit makers of the past three decades, not so much. With that said, The Broken Spokes fall on the non-crappy side of the line, at least for me. They’ve got a nice warmth to their sound and a genuine, heartfelt vibe that makes it clear they’re no dilettantes jumping on the roots-country bandwagon. It helps, too, that their songwriting is smart and well-honed, bringing to mind both Cory Branan and Steve Earle. (Oh, and I love the sight of a country band front man wearing a Sub Pop t-shirt.)” Space City Rock, Houston, Tx
“The Broken Spokes play “REAL” Country Music at Lynn’s Longbranch Saloon! It’s been a LONG…..time since I’ve heard the “old school” style of Country Music. The Broken Spokes proved to perform country as it was intended. These guys are good! I am a fan of country with a little bit of rock added myself, but I enjoy genuine Country music when I can get it.” – Houston Music News
On the seventh day of a ten-day retreat at a Vipassana meditation center outside the historic Indian city of Kolhapur, Phoebe Hunt intrinsically felt the life leave her namesake’s body on the other side of the world.
The story of how she came to be known as Phoebe — a tale woven subtly into the whimsical threads and spiritual contradictions of Shanti’s Shadow, her new record — has the humor and richness of a Vedic myth. Her parents met at a yoga ashram in the Lower West Side of Manhattan in the Seventies, where they spent seven years as disciples of Guru Swami Satchidananda, famous in America for having been the opening speaker at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Years later, near the end of her pregnancy with Phoebe, her mother felt a strong compulsion to name her child Shanti, a Hindi word meaning peace. There was only one minor complication — she had already promised the child’s paternal grandmother, Phoebe, that she would be named after her. In a compromise, Hunt’s parents named their child Shanti Phoebe Hunt, but out of deference to the grandmother, she would grow up being called Phoebe.
Years later, on the 2016 trip that would inspire the creation of Shanti’s Shadow, Hunt and her husband (and mandolin-playing bandmate) Dominick Leslie entered the meditation retreat in India, surrendered their possessions, and, with only a wool blanket given to them upon arrival, committed to a sequestered ten-day vow of silence. It was during that stint at the retreat that Grandma Phoebe passed away. Hunt remained in India with Leslie and a team of musicians who had joined the couple to study with master violinist and vocalist Kala Ramnath at an ashram outside the city of Pune. While there they found themselves spending as many as ten hours a day honing ragas, melodic structures that, in the Indian classical tradition, are believed to have the capacity to color the mind of an audience. The entire experience, ripe with creative efflorescence, formed the core of a bittersweet irony for Hunt. While in pursuit of her spiritual namesake — the shanti of peace, tranquility, creativity, and bliss — her familial namesake passed away.
The generative idea at the heart of Shanti’s Shadow lies in the double sense of its title — it refers, on the one hand, to the obverse of peace and tranquility, to the entangled ego at play in a world of knotty contradictions and selfish desires. In that sense, Shanti’s Shadow refers quite literally to the ego and the inescapable necessity of confronting it and claiming it as one’s own.
It is also, in a literal sense, a reference to Shanti Phoebe Hunt the artist, to her music’s quest to transcend creative limitations and give flight to her innermost voice.
“Each of us, no matter who we are, has a shadow side, a realm of our being associated in many traditions with the ego or the self,” Phoebe says. “Though what I create may have its roots in my soul, it first has to pass through the filter of my body and ego before it finds a place in the world. Knowing that, my goal for this album was to be as vulnerable and raw as possible in order to share my shadow.”
That vulnerability is apparent throughout the record on tracks like “Pink and Blue,” a song Hunt wrote while traveling through India. During the daily ten-hour meditations at the Vipassana center outside Kolhapur, the song’s mystical celestial images and lyrics continually sought refuge in her mind, when she was supposed to be clearing it of all thoughts. At the end of the retreat, after meeting up with her friends and fellow musicians to learn about Indian classical music under the tutelage of Kala Ramnath, she wrote the instrumental part of the song and incorporated her lyrics with the rhythmic and melodic concepts she was studying. “I like to pick at my wounds until they bleed / Take in the moon on a bended knee” she sings in the song’s opening verse, a tender declaration of purpose for the album. On “Just for Tonight,” an elegiac waltz about the nature of forgiveness, Hunt’s luminous vocals melt away the song’s carapace of doubt and regret: “Let the stillness in you / Clear the shadows in me / Let me look through your eyes / And see nothing but peace.” Written beside a river at RockyGrass Festival in Lyons, CO the song sprang from a painful personal experience, a wound that the song’s creation helped to heal.
On “Frolic of the Bees,” the album’s shimmering lead track, the notion of vulnerability is reimagined as a blissed-out invitation to community. The song begins with the hypnotically enticing mandolin of Dominick Leslie, followed by Hunt’s crystalline call to whomever has ears to hear: “Come, all the wild ones / Come, all the thieves / Come, all you furry feathered friends / Where we are headed, no one can harm you / Anyone can stay until the end.” Depicting an ethereal gathering in the woods where all are welcome, the song is an uncanny love letter to inclusion and openness, to the wonder and spontaneous joy that are possible when we allow ourselves to encounter each other lovingly, free from shame or judgment. “To me,” Hunt says of the song, “it’s an expression of transformation and dynamic change, a kind of ceremony or transcendent event that’s only possible when people are free to be together authentically.” Hunt’s gorgeous fiddling entwines itself with Leslie’s virtuosic mandolin in a sublime encounter that amplifies the song’s central premise of communion. “You in the flames there / Burn through the night now,” Hunt sings, sounding out a shamanic command to the music, imploring it to sustain the joy.
On an album that opens with the joyous incantation of “Frolic of the Bees,” it’s only fitting that the final track is a kind of quiet exhalation and reflective summation of the record’s major ideas. “I Really Love” opens with just that – Hunt’s soft exhalation – and proceeds as a slow recitation of a few concrete joys that make life worth living: “I really love putting the phone down and spacing out for an hour / Feeling the water touching my brow in the shower / Hearing the sound of piano downstairs / Watching the smoke disappear into the air / And singing…” The song is heartbreakingly beautiful in its specificity, and, rather than coming off like a hyper-personalized update of “My Favorite Things”, “I Really Love” sounds like a confession of the most profound sort. The song is so evocative because of the pathos inherent in Hunt’s voice, which she uses to sublimate the most everyday experiences into deeply personal, spiritual rites. That process, the sanctification of Hunt’s most private self, is what Shanti’s Shadow seeks to articulate.
Comprised of four members: lead singer David Kapsner; lead guitarist Michael Jekot; bass player Tyler Rush; and percussionist Tim Durand, The Mammoths have found their sweet spot in blending elements of blues, rock and psych into their songwriting. With face-melting guitar licks, hard-hitting drum beats and soulful vocals, this motley crew has found their home in Austin, Texas. Kapsner, Rush and Jekot started their collective musical journey at the young age of 13. The trio was dispersed across Texas before reconnecting as a group in the Live Music Capitol of the World. There they stumbled upon Durand, a seasoned percussionist with eighteen years of experience. After a jam session at SXSW, the four never looked back – and The Mammoths were born.
“The Mammoths are an up-and-coming Austin band to watch fueled by their fiery unapologetic live shows reminiscent of a young Led Zeppelin. In meeting with these guys at AMF on their future plans, this band is clearly driven on playing hard and using the old school work ethic of making fans one sweaty show at a time.”
-Alex Vallejo (Vallejo Music Group/Austin Music Foundation).
“Crisp and catchy songwriting and performances make The Mammoths new recordings jump through the speakers.”
– Kevin Wommack (Los Lonely Boys Manager)
Max Flinn was born and raised in Houston, TX. Other than a short year spent in East Texas pursuing his college football dreams that were cut short by injury, he has spent his entire life in the big city. He began teaching himself to play the guitar at the age of 10 after he became bored playing air guitar with his mother’s broomsticks. His love for Texas country music started in Junior High and was heavily influenced by Pat Green, Robert Earl Keen, Cory Morrow, Roger Creager, and other local greats. Nonetheless, from his late teens to early twenties, music took a backseat to drugs and alcohol. He can recall at least two years of his life where his favorite guitars were living in local pawn shops so that he could finance his habit. Those years were characterized by run-ins with law enforcement, countless attempts to sober up, lost relationships, hopelessness and despair. He finally threw in the towel in December of 2012 and turned his life around. He has been sober since that day and is enjoying life in ways he could have never imagined. He fulfilled his goal of graduating from the University of Houston and took a job as a financial analyst for a leading midstream energy company. He credits God, a loving family, supportive friends and playing music to his recovery. Aside from music, one of his biggest passions is utilizing his story to help others recover from the disease of addiction.
Having found new freedom, he made the leap into pursuing his passion for music professionally in the summer of 2015. He made his start by attending a weekly Western Swing jam session at Rudyard’s that he found advertised in the Houston Press. It was there he met some great local musicians that openly welcomed him on stage and would ultimately back his first recorded demo in November of 2015. With CDs in hand, he began distributing them to almost every live music venue in the Houston area. Before he knew it, he was getting asked to play around town and never turned down a gig. While still balancing his 8 to 5 job in the energy industry, he is out performing 2 to 3 nights per week and is working on his first EP at Stormy Cooper Media in Houston, TX. Max has been fortunate to land some great venues in Houston in just a year’s time including House of Blues, Redneck Country Club, Dosey Doe, Armadillo Palace, Rockefellers, Discovery Green and the Rodeo Houston Championship Wine Garden.
While still partial to the Texas Country he grew up on, he has found his greatest affinity for the classic country legends such as Merle Haggard, George Jones, Jonny Paycheck, Ernest Tubb and others alike. “I really identify with the raw vulnerability and grit of the classic country folks. They delivered honest lyrics in the most simplest of ways,” says Max. In addition to his original material, he always sprinkles in a variety of cover tunes ranging from Bob Wills to Alan Jackson during his sets and rarely hits the stage without fiddle and steel guitar accompaniment.
Employed full-time by the desire to create good music, Hayden Jones is an up-and-coming artist from Sugar Land, Texas. For the last seven years Jones’ has been playing between bars and on the streets of Houston, TX, to the small hill country towns throughout central Texas. Complemented by his girlfriend and a fluctuating entourage of musicians, Hayden plays a strange and charming blend of gypsy jazz, blues, western swing, folk ballads, and even waltzes.
Driving a cream and wood panel ’85 LTD Station Wagon, Hayden strides to perform anywhere he can. “I mean, I know what I want to do and so I do it,” Hayden said. “I’m always promoting my CD’s and putting myself out there. Persistent action is what it’s about.” His mindset compels him to spend almost all of his waking hours writing, practicing, and performing his music. He refuses the idea of working a ‘conventional’ job for the sake of financial security, saying simply that it’s not what he wants to do – he wants to do music.
“Any feeling can be profound, even just sitting outside – you can take that for granted or really capture it,” Hayden said, talking about what motivates his songwriting. “Music captures the essence and beauty that you miss in life’s every day hustle and bustle. We try and bring that to the audience.”
Hayden released his first album in February of 2016, consisting of twenty-one original songs and one cover. “The Back Room”, being an exceptional listen, was recorded over the course of three years most of which by Jones’ himself. His second album, “The Roosevelt House”, will soon be released in late April of 2017. “These are by far my best recordings yet” says Jones’.