The South Austin Moonlighters (SAM) play an eclectic mix of songs, from heartfelt soul to “sh*t-kickin’ country,” and from funky New Orleans funk to raucous rock-n-roll. Somehow it all comes together; creating a magical essence that has earned the band a loyal following.

Some of The Moonlighters have known each other for longer than others. Lonnie Trevino Jr. (Bass) and Phil Bass (Drums) toured together extensively with Monte Montgomery from 2001 to 2003. Josh Zee (Lead Guitar) was Phil Hurley’s (Lead Guitar) first real Austin guitar hero after discovering the Mother Truckers soon after his arrival in town. Hurley made a strong mental note to try to get to play with Lonnie upon witnessing him perform with Deadman for the first time.

The exceptional musicianship and chemistry the band shares were immediately apparent and they began adding original songs to their repertoire of deep cuts and classic covers. The Moonlighters’ collective musical experience (with artists as diverse as Gatemouth Brown, Stephen Bruton, Bo Diddley, Jimmy LaFave, Fastball, Papa Mali, Mike Zitto, Tracy Bonham, Joe Ely, John Popper, and Lisa Loeb) allows them to segue from Memphis blues, to classic Americana, to straight up rock-and-roll, effortlessly…and it insures that no two Moonlighters’ shows are alike.

Aaron Beavers from Shurman was a big part of bringing this group together. All of their groups–Shurman, Deadman, Mother Truckers and Stonehoney–were performing together at Shilah Morrow’s Sin City SXSW 2011 showcase at Maria’s Taco Express. They were all fans of each other’s bands and a part of a unique community, when Lonnie and Aaron had the idea of putting together a side group (where they could all “moonlight” on their steady gigs-thus the band’s name), just for the pure joy of playing music. Lonnie had the guts and connections to book a series of Tuesday evening happy hour gigs at The Saxon Pub and things took off from there.

The joy of music making the band shares is a tangible and contagious part of Moonlighters’ shows, allowing them to quickly build a solid fan base through their Austin residencies. During SxSW 2012, buyers from as far away as Europe were anxious to catch a bit of the South Austin Moonlighters’ “magic”!

Since The Moonlighters first put this idea into motion, Phil Hurley’s group Stonehoney has called it quits, the Mother Truckers are on hiatus and Lonnie has left Deadman. Phil Bass is still rocking periodically with Monte Montgomery, The Whiskey Sisters and other bands.

The inspiration of SAM stems from the band members’ mutual respect and admiration for each other’s skill and mastery of their instrument. Musicians are always seeking out others who inspire them and challenge them to improve. This group is an amazing example of what can happen when you put a bunch of talented guys in one room with an emphasis on joy and no egos involved.

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Trudy Lynn: International Blues Vocalist
Blues singer Trudy Lynn remembers her parents’ collection of 78 rpm records being both fragile and durable. She recalls their brittle quality: “You got a whupping back in those days if you’d break one of them,” she says. “They were like glass.” Yet the songs that spilled forth from those recordings have remained with her for decades.
Several years ago a friend gave Lynn a collection of songs by women blues singers from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. “That’s where I’ve been the past few years,” Lynn says. “I started listening to what they were singing, and it’s like they knew my life before I even came here.
“Like my mother says, ‘There’s nothing new. It’s just new to you.’ That’s where this baby started.”
This baby is “Royal Oaks Blues Cafe,” the defining recording of Lynn’s career thus far. The Houston native has been performing for more than 50 years, but never before has the dynamic range of her voice been so sympathetically captured and brilliantly projected on record. She purrs, growls, whispers and blares the blues, with exquisite backing, particularly by collaborators Steve Krase on harmonica and John Del Toro Richardson on guitar. Producer Rock Romano expertly bottled their interactions.
Krase, who has shared stages with Lynn for more than 20 years, says he “had no idea she had that range. Some songs she’ll start with a growl and all of the sudden bring it up and hit a high note. I’m sure she’s done that before, but I hadn’t noticed it. I hear some different nuance in her voice on every single song.”
Lynn’s goal for the album was simple: to reinvent those timeless songs and, in doing so, restore the legacy of some performers who had been forgotten during the years as the blues steered toward a format dominated by men with guitars. Lynn and Krase’s song selection was smart and sympathetic to her voice, which updates songs originally made by artists like Clara Smith, Eloise Bennett, Bea Booze and Viviane Greene.
“Women used to rule back in the day,” she says. “A lot of great artists – even guys like Louis Armstrong – they played in these ladies’ bands when they were young, blues bands and minstrel shows. It’s a lot like now, days where you have a lot of great singers who don’t get enough recognition. So many great singers.”
Lynn sometimes treats conversation like a refrain in a song. She strings together a series of thoughts and emphasizes them with a succinct summarizing sentence, which she then repeats a few times, her voice growing quieter with each repetition. She calls this “echoing myself.”
She has put her voice to a lot of different music during the years, having sung soul, R&B and country music. But, she says, “There’s just one of them that you master. I chose the blues. I love the blues. I love the blues. Love the blues.”
Lynn, 66, was born Lee Audrey Nelms in the Fifth Ward. In addition to her parents’ 78s, she had a lot of casual contact with blues and R&B performers because her mother ran a beauty shop by the Club Matinee. Lynn would walk there from school trying to catch a glimpse of acts like Joe Hinton or Bobby “Blue” Bland, who would play the venue. She wasn’t able to get closer to the music than the club’s door. “There wasn’t any going in there,” she says. “The way we were raised, everybody could whup your butt in the neighborhood. The neighborhood raised all the children where I grew up, not just your parents.”
Lynn’s parents didn’t push music on her, nor were they discouraging. She sang in a vocal ensemble at Wheatley High School. Her first break came as a teen when late blues great Albert Collins – playing with Big Tiny and the Thunderbirds – invited her onto the bandstand at Walter’s Lounge on Lockwood. She sang “Night Time Is the Right Time.”
“I was in, baby,” she says. “I said, ‘Oh yes, this is what I want to do. This is what I want to do.’ ”
After high school, Lynn went to visit her aunt in Lufkin, where a club called the Cinderella needed a singer. She decided Lee Audrey Nelms wasn’t going to cut it as a stage name. The club had a bunch of cartoon character names painted on the wall and she noticed “Trudy,” which she quickly paired with Lynn. “Lynn was something in those days,” she says. “Gloria Lynne, Barbara Lynn. I thought, ‘I’m going to be one of those Lynns, too, baby.’ ”
Her repertoire was limited: “Stormy Weather,” an Etta James song called “Tell Mama” and a third song she can’t recall. But Lynn set about expanding her song book.
She found some work singing in big bands that would play military bases around the state and also sang soul music for a time. The great guitarist I.J. Gosey took notice and recommended Lynn to Clarence Green, a blues guitarist and bandleader. Lynn spent five years as vocalist in his band.
Green was a stern mentor, but Lynn credits him with helping her become a professional. “He molded me well,” she says. “He’s still in me because of what he taught me. It takes that. It takes that. It takes that.”
After leaving Green’s band, Lynn began performing on her own. She made a fine single “What a Waste/Long Live the Blues” in the early ’70s, which helped her with some bookings, but Lynn recorded only sporadically. For years she struggled to get recorded in a manner deserving of her talent.
A British fan who moved to Atlanta started an independent label there in the 1980s and provided the best platform for Lynn to that point. Lynn’s time in Ichiban Records likely peaked in 1993 with “I’ll Run Your Hurt Away.”
But often, producers had a strong hand in directing her recordings. With “Royal Oaks Blues Cafe,” Lynn played curator for herself. She wrote two strong tracks – “Every Side of Lonesome” and “Down in Memphis” – that blend nicely with the vintage songs. The record opens vibrantly with “Confessin’ the Blues” and concludes on a bawdy note with “Whip It to a Jelly.”
Between are songs about good times and bad men. “Each one of these songs means something to me,” she says. “I truly understand something about each one of them.”
Lynn says the recording “is just the beginning,” as she plans to continue researching decades-old blues songs for future use.
But prior to returning to a recording studio, Lynn plans to take the record on the road. The market for blues isn’t what it was during the ’60s, but she says many viable places remain for a classic blues singer in the 21st century.
“People say this place or that place ain’t got no blues, well, so go to where the blues is,” she says. “Go to Europe, find the American festivals. You don’t do it because there are places to play. In order to do it, you’ve got to love it.
“Musicians want to work with me, they say, ‘I can play some blues.’ Yes, but are you a blues musician? There’s no jamming. You’ve got to play your part. Play it until it gets monotonous. You’ve got to feel it. You’ve got to feel it. I’m just echoing myself. I do it all the time.
“But you’ve got to feel it.”
—By Andrew Dansby
December 13, 2013


6 Nominations, Houston Press Music Awards, 2007-09 including “Best Songwriter”, “Best Roots-Rock”, and “Best New Act”./// “Reminiscent of The Bottle Rockets, Uncle Tupelo/Son Volt, and Alejandro Escovedo, Cooper’s not kidding around on lyrics like ‘When the bottle’s your only friend, you’re coughing up the blood, and your lungs will start to flood'” – Chris Gray, Houston Press///

“LL Cooper’s Old Hardin Store Road plays like a sparkling amalgamation or world-weary, road tested genres…Cooper’s balance of humor and heartache make it an engaging expression of lyrical emotion.” – Joey Guerra, Houston Chronicle///


Jeff Black 2014

“His words and voice hold down center stage with a craft so deeply in the artistic pocket that it obscures anything outside”
– No Depression

It’s the truth behind what an artist does and the way they choose to do it that defines their art. And while the ways in which audiences get their music has changed, the reasons why a certain kind of artist makes music have remained the same. Call it an uncompromising commitment, an inspired motivation, or just the need to share with and connect to those who listen. For Jeff Black, it is his life’s work that has driven him to build a career like few other singer/songwriters in the business. Boston’s WUMB listeners voted Jeff Black as one of the top 100 most important Folk artists of the last 25 years.

Black’s songs have earned GRAMMY recognition, radio chart-topping stats and numerous BMI awards. Although flying below the radar as a performer himself, he has been recognized by NPR as a musical pioneer in the digital age and his catalogue of critically acclaimed albums continues to grow. Composing music for film and television, his credits include numerous indie-film soundtracks and a repertoire of songs cut by artists as diverse as Alison Krauss & Union Station, Waylon Jennings, BlackHawk, Dierks Bentley, Jon Randall, John Oates, Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush. Black has forged a reputation as a true folk troubadour entertaining audiences globally for over three decades. A master songwriter and performer in the tradition of the great storytellers, his passionate, soul driven live performances of songs from his vast catalog are not to be missed.

Folklore is the 10th release from the prolific songwriter. Recorded over a 2 day period in Nashville, Tennessee at Arcana Studios, Jeff Black arms himself with a guitar, harmonica and a banjo to traverse the clay-dust roads that trace the cutting edge of pop culture, delivering a collection of modern folk and acoustic classics.

“The tradition of an artist delivering songs that are damn near perfectly crafted and filled with the wisdom of the ages.”

Jedd Beaudoin | PopMatters


Alanna Royale combines the best elements of rock, pop, funk and soul, all executed by their fearless leader and sensual vocalist, Alanna Quinn-Broadus, an unparalleled rhythm section – Jared Colby on guitar, Gabriel Golden on bass and Matt Snow on drums – and a tremendously talented two-piece horn section – Kirk Donovan on trumpet and Diego Vasquez on trombone.

Without a single recorded song, Alanna Royale was able to obtain an impressive fan base and a reputation solely because of their unforgettable live performances. In January of 2013, the band released its debut EP, Bless Her Heart, which led to sold-out shows across Nashville and prompted Mike Grimes, owner of the world famous Grimey’s to declare them, “the next big thing.”

The band’s vivacious and soulful live shows have catapulted Alanna Royale onto the music scene. And now, thanks to their impressive fanbase and reputation, Alanna Royale’s, ACHILLES, is posed to skyrocket them to superstardom.

Recorded at The Bomb Shelter in Nashville, the album was engineered and produced by Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Hurray for the Riff Raff), and features a revolving door of local talent including members of Los Colognes, Fly Golden Eagle and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Alanna Royale shines bright by marrying smooth, retro roots with dirty Rock n’ Roll attitude. Since the release of Bless Her Heart, the band has shared the stage with some of Nashville’s finest, and made appearances at Bonaroo, Austin City Limits, East Nashville Underground and Music City Roots. They’ve been featured in Garden & Gun and Nashville Lifestyles and on NPR.

6 members, 5 beards, 2 horns, 1 lady. get into it.


Killer horns, smoking guitars, tight grooving bass and drums, gritty passionate vocals, lyrically strong, bluesy, funky and soulful. With a strong catalog of original songs, The No Refund band is just flat out rocking. Do you really need to read any more? Listen to The No Refund Band and you will get taste of contemporary blues mixed into a genre all their own. The No Refund Band was formed by Mike Crownover in 2007 whose passion for music was the catalyst for NRB’s continuing maturation as unit. While rolling over one of the bumps in the road in the bands evolution, Crownover met Ricky Jackson and Rik Robertson who he hired to fill in for a gig in Ft. Worth, Texas. It didn’t take long for the partnership to gel into something more permanent as the trio found common ground in their musical interests. Jackson would become the front man, with a soulful voice and penetrating guitar licks. Robertson, a studio musician provided the anchor to the band with his innovative bass lines. Both compliment the rock solid rhythms from Crownover. With a horn section featuring Anthony Terry and Jim Brady, the result is a versatile band that can deliver everything from hard driving blues to melodic acoustic tunes that leave you wanting more.


A group of three friends who made music in a house in Lubbock, Texas, recorded an album that wasn’t released and went their separate ways into solo careers. That group became a legend and then—twenty years later—a band. The Flatlanders—Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock—are icons in American music, with songs blending country, folk, and rock that have influenced a long list of performers, including Robert Earl Keen, the Cowboy Junkies, Ryan Bingham, Terry Allen, John Hiatt, Hayes Carll, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, and Lyle Lovett.
In The Flatlanders: Now It’s Now Again, Austin author and music journalist John T. Davis traces the band’s musical journey from the house on 14th Street in Lubbock to their 2013 sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall. He explores why music was, and is, so important in Lubbock and how earlier West Texas musicians such as Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison, as well as a touring Elvis Presley, inspired the young Ely, Gilmore, and Hancock. Davis vividly recreates the Lubbock countercultural scene that brought the Flatlanders together and recounts their first year (1972–1973) as a band, during which they recorded the songs that, decades later, were released as the albums More a Legend Than a Band and The Odessa Tapes. He follows the three musicians through their solo careers and into their first decade as a (re)united band, in which they cowrote songs for the first time on the albums Now Again and Hills and Valleys and recovered their extraordinary original demo tape, lost for forty years. Many roads later, the Flatlanders are finally both a legend and a band.


Paul Thorn’s new album Too Blessed To Be Stressed stakes out new territory for the popular roots-rock songwriter and performer. “In the past, I’ve told stories that were mostly inspired by my own life,” the former prizefighter and literal son of a preacher man offers. “This time, I’ve written 10 songs that express more universal truths, and I’ve done it with a purpose: to make people feel good.”

Which explains numbers like the acoustic-electric charmer Don’t Let Nobody Rob You Of Your Joy, where Thorn’s warm peaches-and-molasses singing dispenses advice on avoiding the pitfalls of life. The title track borrows its tag from a familiar saying among the members of the African-American Baptist churches Thorn frequented in his childhood. “I’d ask, ‘How you doin’, sister?’ And what I’d often hear back was, ‘I’m too blessed to be stressed.’ ” In the hands of Thorn and his faithful band, who’ve been together 20 years, the tune applies its own funky balm, interlacing a percolating drum and keyboard rhythm with the slinky guitar lines beneath his playful banter.

Thorn’s trademark humor is abundant throughout the album. I Backslide On Friday is a warm-spirited poke at personal foibles. “I promised myself not to write about me, but I did on ‘Backslide,’ ” Thorn relates. The chipper pop tune is a confession about procrastination, sweetened by Bill Hinds’ slide guitar and Thorn’s gently arching melody. “But,” Thorn protests, “I know I’m not the only one who says he’s gonna diet and just eat Blue Bell vanilla ice cream on Sundays, and then ends up eating it every day!”

Mediocrity Is King takes a wider swipe, aiming at our culture’s hyper-drive addiction to celebrity artifice and rampant consumerism. But like Everything Is Gonna Be All Right, a rocking celebration of the simple joys of life, it’s done with Thorn’s unflagging belief in the inherent goodness of the human heart.


Frank Critelli writes songs. He dabbles in haiku and other short poetry. Sometimes he writes other stuff too. Like postcards. His songs are available on compact disc and for download at Independisc Music Club and other places like CD Baby. You can read more about his music at his website or MySpace page.

Frank Critelli often performs live. Sometimes he performs solo, and sometimes he is accompanied by one or more musical co-conspirators. Over the years he’s played in streets and subways, coffeehouses, classrooms, barrooms, clubs, colleges, festivals, theaters, and (most recently) in his kitchen.

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