Houston’s Songwriter Assoc.’s songwriter of the year, Leslie Krafka has been called an excellent songstress with an outstanding voice.
As I watched Leslie Krafka perform her original songs from the café table of a coffee house she frequently plays, I sensed she might come from a long line of story tellers. Listening to the assenting “All The Luck”, a ballad about bad breaks in life, and “Wandering Troubadour”, an expression of ephemeral love, from her debut CD The White Cat Sessions, I concluded her passion for her art must be in her blood.
As I later discovered, indeed Leslie inherited her love for storytelling. “My grandfather told the best stories”, she recalls. “They were better than anything on television. I admired the way he could keep all us grandkids spellbound for hours. I really wanted to have the gift.” Yet she took that gift one step further and putting her words to music. “I also had a grandmother who was a marvelous singer. She was a high soprano and I remember her favorite song was Ave Maria.” Those influences, along with a household vinyl collection that ranged from Donny Osmond to Charlie Parker gave Leslie an appreciation for a multitude of music. “My brother introduced alt-country to our family, but I listened to Top 40 for the most part, and my little sister loved 80’s glam rock. Looking back there was always a weird mix of albums stashed around the stereo in the family room.”
However, being a music lover didn’t translate right away to becoming a music maker. “I always thought writing songs, playing out, or recording…that’s what other people did, you know, famous people. It was a long time before I actually embarked into the world of songwriting, and even longer for me to envision myself as a performer.”
Call it destiny or call it luck, Leslie did find that passion at a songwriter’s workshop hosted by Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines, who also co-produced Leslie’s sophomore CD due out in May 2014. “Looking back on that first workshop, I was so naïve. I was taking it all in and something clicked, and I knew this songwriting thing was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” Coincidentally that workshop was the first time Leslie ever performed in front of a live audience. “It was one of those moments in life where you say ‘yes’ and it changes everything. I mean I stood in front of 100 people and sang a song I’d written only days before with Lloyd playing guitar. Can you believe? It all seems so surreal now.”
Since that first workshop Leslie has worked hard at her craft. In 2010 she was rewarded by the Houston Songwriter’s Association who named her Songwriter of the Year, as well as naming her song “Wondering Troubadour” Song of the Year. Other recognitions followed, being named a Regional Finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival; as well as having her CD The White Cat Sessions nominated by the Academy of Texas Music for the Academy Award of Distinction. “Awards are fine’ Leslie reflected, “but the best reward is knowing that my music connects with someone. That’s satisfying.”
With the release of a new record on the horizon, Leslie lit up when the topic was broached. “I’m very excited about the new record. I’m working with my dream team and my songs are sounding so amazing, I can’t wait to get it finished.” After hearing some of the new material, like the energetic Wine, Women and Song, or Stay with Me, a love song with a dash of angst, it’s clear Leslie has continued in her quest to craft ever better songs. With this recording Leslie Krafka is primed to venture outside of Texas and take her music into other parts of the country.
Battleme is the inner psyche and stage moniker of songwriter Matt Drenik. He is also a contributing member to LA’s The Forest Rangers featuring Katey Sagal and Bob Thiele.
On his debut EP, the predominately lo-fi folk record Big Score, Drenik played, recorded and produced everything on his own. The record’s success allowed him to share the stage with the likes of Joe Ely and Joe Pug as a solo artist, in addition to having songs included on FX’s Sons of Anarchy.
For his debut LP, Drenik signed to Austin, TX label Trashy Moped Recordings. The label was mostly known for putting out the works of Austin’s Ghostland Observatory, an electro duo. Drenik worked with Ghostland’s Thomas Turner who produced and mixed the 11 track record. On its release in early 2012, the record was received to positive reviews, with Battleme sharing the stage with Walk the Moon, Neon Trees and landing slots at Seattle’s Capitol Hill Block Party and SXSW 2013. The record was a departure from the initial lo-fi material, with Drenik and Turner combining elements of concrete folk, garage, sludge and electro to create a record combing through a wide variety of musical landscapes.
In the winter of 2012, Drenik started writing songs for what would become his 2nd full length album under the Battleme moniker, Future Runs Magnetic. He signed with LA’s El Camino and enlisted producer Doug Boehm (Girls, Guided by Voices) to capture a bigger, broader sound that developed with the band that Drenik had put together to support the last release. Portland’s Zach Richards and Eric Johnston joined Drenik in the studio to form a bombastic rhythm section that lead the newly written songs into a more sustained, thrashy, organic sound. It was tracked mostly live in the spring of 2012 in Portland, OR and LA, CA.
On Oct 8, 2013 Battleme released a 4 song EP titled “Weight on the Brain” via El Camino that comprised of tracks from the upcoming full length, Future Runs Magnetic, due out March 11, 2014.
Come by and have a listen to the new PIXIES’ release “Indie Candy” and register to win a vinyl test press and t-shirt from the band!
2014 will be the year that PIXIES indelibly stamp their musical footprint on rock history. On April 29, the Alternative Rock legends release their first studio album since 1991s Trompe Le Monde . Needless to say, with two million catalogue album sales to their credit, and the recent press announcement for the new record creating huge waves of anticipation, a lot of people are very, very excited.
Bagheera began as the alias of 21-year-old Houston producer Aidan Kennedy, who released a house-and-chillwave-blendi
The artist was selected by Red Bull Sound Select to appear on their first ever 7″ which features four new artists (others include Denitia, Sene and Thurz) and will be available at 500 independent record stores around the country.
Popular Houston DJ Clint Broussard has brought his program Blues in Hi-Fi back to the city’s music fans. Renown for his knowledge of the thoroughly American cultural expression, Broussard weaves music and narrative into a dynamic hour of the blues.
Blues in Hi-Fi airs every Monday evening from 6-7 PM CST In Houston, TX On 90.1 FM KPFT.
Wally Farkas is the former guitarist for Galactic Cowboys and currently owns/operates independent label, Molken Music. In addition, he’s been a veteran in the record distribution industry for over 20 years. Farkas also owns over 10,000 LP’s in his 40+ years of collecting. (He’s also been a Cactus Music customer since 1980.)
Made up of young Portland couple Timothy Heller and Jared Ryan Maldonado, Dresses offer up a sticky sweet, meticulously polished set of squeaky clean indie rock on their debut album Sun Shy, dabbling with electronics and party-starting beats only as often as they veer away from themes of love and romance to investigate darker ideas. Heller’s immaculate, somewhat smoky voice commands the best songs here, starting with the trifecta of the band’s strongest material which opens the album. The early morning, acoustic indie folk of “Back to Life,” the eerie catchiness of “Blew My Mind,” and the jaunty indie-dance bounce of “Sun Shy” are easily the “hits” of the record, offering the best looks at the duo’s stylistic range as well as their hookiest melodies and instrumentation. Allmusic.com