“Recording in a foreign environment like Berlin, I was inspired to experiment with more cinematic, psychedelic sounds,” says Sam Doores, “but I also wanted to combine that with my love for old school New Orleans R&B and folk music. Recording this album was an opportunity to explore the space between those worlds.”
Written on-and-off over the course of several years, Doores’ captivating self-titled debut is classic and contemporary all at once, blending traditional southern roots with adventurous sonic landscapes as it reckons with heartache and loss, love and gratitude, fresh starts and, ultimately, a whole lotta change. Doores’ timeless ear for songcraft and easygoing delivery combine here to yield a sound that feels instantly familiar, full of comfort and warmth even as it breaks bold new ground. The performances are infectious in their ease, simple on the surface but built on foundations of deep emotional and harmonic complexity that belie their amiable exteriors. It’s a dynamic that Doores is quick to credit to producer Anders ‘Ormen’ Christopherson, whose chance email sparked the entire project.
“Before Hurray for the Riff Raff or The Deslondes took shape, I was in a band called Sundown Songs alongside Kiki Cavazos, Alynda Segarra, Pat Reedy, Jessie Camerdiener, and Ross Hartman,” says Doores, who’s called New Orleans home since 2006. “Anders found our music a few years later and sent me an email saying he was opening a studio in Berlin, and if I ever came through, he’d love to record together.”
As chance would have it, Doores was just about to head to Europe at the time with The Deslondes. Hailed as “burgeoning stars” by The New York Times, the band came together as Doores was transitioning out of Hurray for the Riff Raff, and their singular sound mixed the gritty folk and country of old Alan Lomax field recordings with the electrified soul of early Stax and Sun Records. The group’s 2014 self-titled debut was a breakout hit, praised by NPR as “energized, elegant and new,” and their 2017 follow-up, ‘Hurry Home,’ earned similar acclaim, with Rolling Stone calling it “a gritty, grimy mix of early rock ‘n’ roll and lo-fi R&B.”
“I booked myself an extra week in Berlin at the end of that Deslondes tour so I could meet Anders and check out the studio,” says Doores. “They had just finished it when I got there, which meant I was the very first session. We only did a few songs to start with, but they all felt great, so over the next few years, every time I came back through Europe on tour, I’d visit Anders and we’d record some more.”
For a prolific writer like Doores, Christopherson and his studio were a godsend. At first, he used the recording time to capture songs that didn’t quite fit The Deslondes’ vibe, but when a long-term creative and romantic relationship came to a poignant end, Doores found himself penning an avalanche of personal material that only felt right to record under his own name.
“Writing those songs was my way of moving past it all and embracing the changes happening in my life,” says Doores. “That relationship ended, and then later The Deslondes decided to go on sabbatical. Those big endings were painful, but I knew that no matter how hard it was, the experience would be a positive one in the end.”
Working in Berlin, Doores found himself collaborating with an inspiring cast of characters from all over the world. There was Christopherson, the Danish-born producer; Micah Blaichman, an American guitarist who helped Anders build his studio and ended up co-producing the project; Andres Barlesi, a gifted Argentinean bassist; Carlos Santana (no, not that one), a Spanish keyboard and horn wizard; and Manon Parent, a violinist and string arranger hailing from France.
“Anders’ vision for the studio was to create a space for artists who couldn’t afford formal recording sessions,” explains Doores, “so he only works on projects he really cares about, and that’s attracted a community of musicians who share those same values. Together, they make up this wild international ‘Wrecking Crew’ of sorts.”
Most of the songs on the album began as bare-bones performance by the core band, usually featuring Doores on drums. After capturing the basic tracks on a reel-to-reel tape machine, Doores would move on to vocals next, and from there, he and Christopherson would flesh out the arrangements with a rich palette of colors and textures: sweeping strings, vintage organs, marimbas, ethereal vibraphones, and even an autoharp run through a tremolo amplifier. Once sessions in Berlin had wrapped, Doores brought the songs back to the States for stops in Nashville, where he worked with longtime friend and creative foil Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Benjamin Booker, Phosphorescent), and New Orleans, where he enlisted a slew of friends, neighbors, and bandmates to put their distinctive touches on the recordings.
At times calling to mind everything from Leonard Cohen to Tom Waits, the finished collection shifts effortlessly from brooding noir to joyful celebration. The dreamy “Let It Roll” takes life as it comes, while the tender “Had a Dream” makes peace with letting go, and the soulful “This Ain’t a Sad Song” finds light in the darkness. Heartache is never far from humor in Doores’ writing: he teams up with New Orleans mainstays Tuba Skinny to toast an ex on the swaggering “Wish You Well,” and he alternates verses with his old bandmate Alynda Lee Segarra on the playful “Other Side of Town,” which mixes New Orleans R&B with doo-wop gang vocals in a psychedelic blender.
“I came up with that song during carnival season,” says Doores. “I wanted to write something fun and groovy to cheer my sad, sorry ass up while the world was partying all around me.”
While much of the album works to make sense of hard times (the eerie “Solid Road,” for instance, meditates on bad luck, and the ethereal “Red Leaf Rag” grapples with violence), the collection ultimately emerges stronger and more self-assured for the journey. The slow-burning “Push On” is an ode to community and resilience in the face of adversity, while the stripped-down “Windmills” reflects on fatherhood, alcoholism, and self-worth, and surreal album closer “Nothing Like A Suburb,” originally written for Doores’ sister’s wedding, celebrates the decision to love and commit.
“In the beginning, I thought this project was just going to be a fun way to record some songs that didn’t have a home,” Doores reflects, “but in the end, it became a really important creative outlet for me during a turbulent time in my life.”
The result is an album written as much for himself as for his audience. It’s the sound of heartbreak, of self-discovery, of rebirth. It’s the sound of Sam Doores.
A taste of the tropics mixed with psychedelia
Psych rockers Cosmic Chaos have been a prominent fixture on show rosters around Austin recently. Those lucky enough have seen them live understand the intense energy they bring to the stage. The band is steeped in the local music scene, hosting a series of regularly-scheduled showcases themed The Acid Test. In addition to their live music efforts, Cosmic Chaos has been busy recording their first full-length album, Eye Can See which will see its release February 5 on Secret Soup Records.
The best singers draw from experience. And that’s true for young as well as well-seasoned artists.
Though still in their mid-teens, sisters Kelli and Kayla Iutzwig, a.k.a. Wild Fire, prove this point at show after show, in song after song. Their self-titled, debut EP Wild Fire confirms that their future is bright. Their sophomore EP Been There., released in April, 2019, confirms that this future is now, with a soundtrack that’s infectious, fun and impossible to resist.
More than that, they are already conveying their stories through music in ways that inspire with audiences their age and beyond. Singly and in harmony, they channel the optimism of youth, sprinkle in the spice of early insight into life’s lessons, super-charge it with a jolt of pop and the sass of country.
No wonder Linda Wilson, President of the Texas Country Music Association, describes them as “one of the best up-and-coming young artist duos out there.” And following their live appearance on “Great Day Houston” in March 2019, KHOU-TV proclaimed, “Wild Fire are setting the music world ablaze.”
This fire was kindled in Houston, where their parents spotted Kelli’s and Kayla’s talent when they were barely old enough to sing along to Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Sam Hunt, FGL and other radio favorites. When each girl was 6 years old she began studying with celebrated vocal coach Pamela Moore. Both also learned to play guitar, with Kelli doubling on drums. They took to songwriting quickly and naturally and learned how to transfer their energy and creativity to numerous live theater and dance productions.
After launching Wild Fire in 2016, they’ve wowed audiences at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, NRG Stadium, NRG Arena, Kemah Boardwalk, Firehouse Saloon, Dosey Doe, Liberty Opry, Sugarland Opry and the University of Houston Stadium, among many other venues. They reached the semifinals of Houston Rodeo’s Rodeo Rockstar competition in 2016 — and soared to the finals in ’17. That same year they made the final round of the Huntsville Superstar competition in Huntsville, Texas. Then, in 2018, they took first prize as Female Vocalist of the Year in the Young Adult Category at the Josie Music Awards, held at the Celebrity Theater inside Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park.
With over 115,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram, plus many more on other social media, Wild Fire will widen their impact beyond music in 2020 as official ambassadors for the Global Country Music Association (GCMA) and advocate for equality and fairness for the genre’s female artists.
“Some of the rawest funk to come out of Texas in decades” – Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show, BBC-6, UK
“Vibrant, powerful, and highly recommended.” – Midwest Book Review
“Flyjack’s mission is twofold – to resurrect rare groove classics while energizing a new generation of music-lovers.” – Roots & Beats
“Flyjack is a tight band that delivers bright sounds and serious grooves.” – AXS
“Flyack pays homage to underground Funk while embracing new possibilities for the genre — and it makes you wanna dance!” – Funkish
“High octane funk and roll, these cats keep Mother’s Finest as their ace in the hole and give the party the kick start it needs.” – Midwest Record
FLYJACK got its start in 2007 playing a weekly residency at TC’s Lounge on Austin’s deep eastside – a dilapidated but much-loved holdover from Austin’s “chitlin’ circuit” days. In 2008, the band initiated a funk/soul series called “Superfly Soul Party” – featuring other like-minded groups, performing at the Victory Grill and other establishments in and around Austin. In April 2008, FLYJACK moved their residency to Antone’s – Austin’s Home of the Blues – initiating the successful “SuperSoul Mondays.”
In 2008, FLYJACK’s deep-funk single “Black Water Gold” was featured on the tastemaking Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show on the BBC in the UK – gaining the ear of several influential DJs and musicians in the UK deep soul scene, including DJ Snowboy, who introduced the group to Hammondbeat Records. Later that year, the group performed at the ASPEN-SNOWMASS JAZZ FESTIVAL with Widespread Panic and the New Mastersounds. More recently, the group has shared the stage with DJ Numark (of Jurassic 5), Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Stanton Moore, Marc Broussard, The Scabs, Honey Island Swamp Band, New Mastersounds and Brownout.
In 2010, FLYJACK released its second EP “On The One” on Portland, Oregon-based label Hammondbeat Records. The platter features legendary James Brown drummer Jab’o Starks on the tubs; Paolo “Apollo” Negri from Milan, Italy on keyboards; and Austin chanteuse Tameca Jones on vocals.
On March 31, 2017, Flyjack released its third record, “New Day” – a love letter to late 60’s/early 70’s underground soul and funk. The record was painstakingly assembled at guitarist Buck McKinney’s Rocky Coast Studio, and features seven carefully curated underground rare groove classics – including crate digger’s gold “It’s a New Day” – originally recorded by the Skull Snaps and released in 1973 on the tiny GSF label. The remaining five tracks on the album are Flyjack originals, including the propulsive “Motherlode” – featuring the Hellfire Horns, Grupo Fantasma alum Rudy Canales on congas, and a honking, gut-bucket saxophone solo by Topaz McGarrigle (Golden Dawn Arkestra).
Flyjack just released its fourth record “Soul Catcher,” released January, 15 2020. The album features nine originals and two covers with two covers of the rare-groove tracks “Funky to the Bone” by Freddi Henchi and the Soulsetters, and “Damn Right I Am Somebody” by Fred Wesley and James Brown, and promises to be Flyjack’s most fully-realized funk statement to date.
Flyjack’s founding members – guitarist Buck McKinney and bassist Brad Bradburn – hail from the groundbreaking Austin alternative-jazz group Gnappy, which released 3 well-received albums between 2001 and 2006, and was featured in the 2003 book “Jambands” by Dean Budnick. Flyjack’s current line-up is rounded out by David Hunter Thacker (Keyboards), Jose Guitierrez (Drums), John Voss (Percussion), Paulo Santos (Sax), Mike Shields (Trumpet), Wyatt Corder (Trumpet) and Will Wright (Trombone).
AMERICAN SIN IS THE LATEST ALBUM FROM COUNTRY-ROCKER LUBA DVORAK (PRONOUNCED DVOR-ZHACK). IN BLACK ATTIRE AND ARMED WITH AN ACOUSTIC GUITAR LUBA HAS BEEN CALLED A SPRINGSTEEN-DYLAN-CASH COMBO. THE TEN SONG RELEASE TAKES INFLUENCE FROM ARTISTS LIKE GARY STEWART AND DWIGHT YOAKAM, WITH BRIGHT, RAW GUITAR HOOKS AND HONEST SONGWRITING. THE RESULT IS AN EASILY-ACCESSIBLE GUITAR ALBUM THAT PROVIDES A CLASSIC COUNTRY FEEL WITH A HINT OF THE ICONIC BAKERSFIELD SOUND MIXED WITH TEXAS HONKY-TONK AND MARINATED IN SOME NEW YORK SWAGGER. A STYLE THAT LUBA DEFINES AS “BROOKLYN TWANG.”
“I WANTED TO CREATE A COMFORTABLE CLASSIC COUNTRY ALBUM THAT HAS THE FEEL OF A WELL-WORN PAIR OF BOOTS OR PAWN SHOP GUITAR.”
HIS HEART-ON-YOUR-SLEEVE SONGWRITING STYLE RESONATES THROUGH RAW, HEART-WRENCHING VOCALS DELIVERED IN A RELATABLE LIVE OFF-THE-FLOOR STYLE. THE ALBUM WAS RECORDED IN JUST ONE DAY AT ATOMIC SOUND IN BROOKLYN, NEW YORK.
LUBA DVORAK HAS HAD A PASSION FOR MUSIC HIS WHOLE LIFE AND HAILS FROM A LONG FAMILY LINEAGE OF MUSICIANS, INCLUDING WORLD RENOWNED COMPOSER ANTONIN DVORAK. ORIGINALLY BORN IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA, AT AGE SIX HIS FAMILY EMIGRATED TO VANCOUVER, CANADA AND IT WAS THERE, DURING HIGH-SCHOOL THAT HE FORMED HIS FIRST BAND TERROR OF TINY TOWN. THE BAND PLAYED THE BAR-CIRCUIT WHILE STILL IN THEIR TEENS AND WENT ON TO RELEASE THREE INDIE CD’S AND TOUR THE US, EUROPE AND JAPAN. A BRIEF WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH PRODUCER BILL BOTTRELL (SHERYL CROW, SHELBY LYNNE, TOM PETTY) WOULD SOLIDIFY LUBA’S ADDICTION TO MAKING MUSIC.
HE WOULD GO ON TO FRONT HIS OWN BAND BIG RIG SWEETIES FOR A FEW YEARS, BEFORE EVENTUALLY MOVING TO NEW YORK CITY IN 2005 AFTER THE SUDDEN PASSING OF HIS FATHER. WHILE IN NEW YORK, LUBA SPENT TWELVE YEARS WORKING IN VARIOUS ROLES THROUGHOUT THE MUSIC INDUSTRY INCLUDING SESSION MUSICIAN, SIDE-MAN, PRODUCER AND AUDIO-ENGINEER. HE RELEASED FOUR STUDIO ALBUMS AND PRODUCED RECORDS FOR OTHER NEW YORK ARTISTS OUT OF HIS STARR STREET STUDIO.
THE DAILY GRIND AND HUSTLE OF THE BIG APPLE EVENTUALLY STARTED TO HAVE AN IMPACT ON HIS CREATIVE SIDE AND HE WAS FACING A BAD CASE OF WRITERS BLOCK. NEEDING A CHANGE OF SCENERY HE AND HIS WIFE RELOCATED TO HOUSTON TX IN 2017. SHORTLY AFTER THE MOVE LUBA WON A SCHOLARSHIP TO STEVE EARLE’S SONGWRITING RETREAT CAMP COPPERHEAD WITH HIS SONG QUEEN OF THE RODEO. THE NEW INSPIRATION AND THE SOUTHERN STATE-OF-MIND STARTED TO RE-SHAPE HIS SONGWRITING STYLE AND IN THE FALL OF 2018 HE HEADED INTO THE STUDIO WITH HIS LONG TIME NEW YORK BAND.
ANNIKA CHAMBERS, like so many powerful vocal artists, can trace her love of music back to early childhood. “I grew up singing in the church,” she says. Not that she had to tell us. Citing the gospel influences of Yolanda Adams, Shirley Caesar, Dottie Peoples and Whitney Houston, you can’t help but feel the Spirit moving through the entire room when Annika throws herself into the heart of a song.
But it was during her two tours of duty in the US Army that Chambers realized the gift she had. “One of my colonels heard me singing, and he said, ‘Why don’t you sing the Anthem for one of our ceremonies?’” She was an immediate hit and became their first choice for all their music events, joining the gospel choir and even winning the talent show on her base. From there, Chambers became part of a touring band making the rounds through Kosovo and Iraq, providing a welcome lift for the troops’ morale. She also planned special events, concerts, dances and karaoke nights, always doing her part to infuse the good time music into their lives.
Returning to Houston in 2011 brought the creation of Annika Chambers and The House Rules Band. Audiences loved their combination of blues and soul and started paying attention to that powerhouse voice behind the microphone. Among her admirers was bassist Larry Fulcher (2012 inductee to the Blues Hall of Fame) and producer/musician Richard Cagle of Montrose Records. By the end of 2014, Chambers’ debut album, “Making My Mark”, was climbing blues charts across the US and Europe. Her meteoric success and rising attention brought Annika Chambers the coveted nomination for 2015 BMA (Blues Music Award) “Best New Artist 2015”.
Her sophomore release, “Wild & Free”, did not disappoint, with a debut at #7 on the Billboard Blues chart! Building on her success, Chambers used this opportunity to showcase her ever-improving abilities to sing across multiple musical genres. The word continues to spread on this rising star as festivals from South America, Europe and right in her own backyard (Minnesota Bayfront Blues Festival, Las Vegas Blues Bender, Gloucester Blues Festival, Mississippi Delta Blues Festival)race to feature Annika Chambers in their lineup.
A full-time music career can keep a person busy and yet Annika Chambers always finds time to give back to her community. Chambers has a deep passion for supporting and inspiring the next generation of musicians. When performing, she’ll often shift the spotlight to local youth musicians and she also donates time speaking in classrooms about the legacy that is the blues.
Based in Houston, TX, Velveteen Echo draws equally from indie rock and bedroom pop to create a sound that is reminiscent of bands like The Sundays and The Cranberries. The band deftly combines catchy vocal melodies, jangly guitar, precise bass lines, and endearing lyrics to offer something lovely and hard to dismiss.
Drawing inspiration from the Texas psychedelic music scene past & present, Cactus Flowers formed in 2016 and began gigging locally in 2017.
In 2018 Cactus Flowers Live at Steamboat Ampworks, was recorded and released independently. With a full arsenal of rock, dream pop, shoegaze, and psych, Cactus Flowers delivers the hypnotic sounds of ecstasy in slow motion.
Incantations – Cactus Flower’s first full-length release, was recorded and mixed by John Griffin (Wild Moccasins, The Ton Tons, Flower Graves) and mastered by Chris Longwood (Sugarhill Studios). Set for September 2019 release, Cactus Flowers wants to take you on a journey into the mystic and spiritual world, outside & within.
Keeper of Atlantis is a simple repository of solo recordings from Ramon LP4 Medina of The Linus Pauling Quartet and The Cryptographers. While there may be a few limited releases over time, the point is never to draw away attention from the bands but just to find a home for some songs. Think of it as Pete Townsend’s “Who Came First” except with a guy who can’t sing or play guitar that well.