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.
Houston’s queer synth-pop duo Space Kiddettes are proud to present their brand new compilation DEADSPACE. This release was mixed and mastered by Houston artist and producer John Allen Stephens (J. Balvin, The Suffers, Rose Ette, The Ton Tons) at Third Coast Recording Studio. The first collaborative single from this release was P.S.A. featuring STOO in spring 2019. By the end of 2019, Space Kiddettes have released 3 more singles including Square (Kirrrby Remix), Scary Boy, and the upcoming final single “Shine a Light” featuring Kam Franklin of The Suffers (available now!) DEADSPACE is a full-length musical release featuring collaborations with local, regional, and national artists, new original tracks, and remix/remasters of previously released tracks. The tracklist of collaborations include Kam Franklin of The Suffers, Tee Vee, Hank Honey, and STOO. This release sees Space Kiddettes working in the realm of the synth-pop/new wave sound heard on their last project “DOMESTIC ADVENTURES,” but the buzzy synthesizers, beat switches, and collaborative tracks expand on that sound and explore new territory and textures in their sonic universe.