Archive for April, 2011

Live: Flogging Molly, Austin

Posted in Review with tags , , on April 29, 2011 by 30daysout

Flogging Molly played at the new ACL Live venue in Austin.

Editor’s Note: Our Austin correspondent Lily Angelle attended a taping of “Austin City Limits” at the TV show’s new home, a 2,700-person-capacity venue called ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. Irish punk rockers Flogging Molly taped an episode for the venerable TV show’s 37th season on PBS, premiering this fall (exact airdates TBD).

“Austin City Limits” welcomed the energetic Celtic punk band Flogging Molly Tuesday night, who flew all the way from Belgium to perform for an episode of ACL’s 37th season, and to also give a show at Stubb’s the following night.

It was my first time to see the new ACL studio, and I was impressed with the new layout. While still maintaing the intimate setting, the new studio provides much more seating, and has bars on either side of the stage. The signature Austin skyline backdrop, slightly altered, glowed casually behind the stage; the UT tower and State Capitol buildings were nicely illuminated, and the new Frost Bank Tower takes its place now on the famous TV backdrop.

The new Austin skyline as seen on "Austin City Limits."

Flogging Molly shared a few songs off their latest album Speed of Darkness, while also appeasing the crowd with favorites such as “The Worst Day Since Yesterday,” and “If I Ever Leave This World Alive.” Their blend of traditional folk with punk caused much foot stomping, clapping and head bobbing. Frontman Dave King engaged the audience with stories of his father, daughter and life in Ireland and Detroit. Their set was on point and lasted a little over an hour, which proved to be a perfect and satisfying performance.

Last year “Austin City Limits” moved its production from the University of Texas to the new theater downtown. The night before Flogging Molly, Mumford and Sons appeared for a taping of the show and more appearances this summer will include Raphael Saadiq (June 9), Adele (June 13), Florence and the Machine (June 16), Black Joe Lewis and the Relatives (June 20) and Miranda Lambert (July 20).

Austin City Limits official website

Flogging Molly official website

Flogging Molly - catch 'em on tour this summer.

Video Du Jour: Sex Pistols

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29, 2011 by 30daysout

You get up early to watch that royal wedding? Well, then you deserve this: “Anarchy In The UK” by the Sex Pistols.

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Ten Years After

Posted in Lost Classics!, Your Sister's Record Rack with tags , , , , on April 28, 2011 by 30daysout

Spent a few days without a working computer … it was a virus and thankfully not one of those fearful tornadoes. Anyway, we dip back into our own personal collection of “hippie” records and pull out this masterpiece, A Space In Time, the 1971 LP from Ten Years After.

We’ve covered this band once before, when we reviewed Cricklewood Green from 1970. There we posed the theory that by the turn of the decade Alvin Lee and company were looking ahead to take the music forward, along with similarly minded visionaries like Led Zeppelin, Humble Pie and the Rolling Stones. A Space In Time reflects that vision – it’s a combination of the usual blues-rock workouts that Ten Years After was known for (“I’m Going Home” from Woodstock, for example) and acoustic, melodic songs side by side.

The payoff was, of course, “I’d Love To Change The World,” which was actually a hit for TYA.  I remember the first time I heard it on the radio, I thought it was Traffic. Pleasantly surprised, though, I learned it was an Alvin Lee composition like the rest of the album’s 10 tunes – except for the closing “Uncle Jam” which is credited to the entire band.

“One Of These Days,” which opens the LP, is a slow builder that is more typical of Ten Years After’s blues rock style. It’s a showcase for Alvin Lee’s brilliant guitar work, and he even blows some mean harmonica on this one. I’m a sucker for these late ’60s-early ’70s things with guitar, organ fills and harmonica – and it’s a lot more tasteful than, say, Humble Pie of the same era.

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Huey P. Meaux, R.I.P.

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on April 23, 2011 by 30daysout

Huey P. Meaux

Huey P. Meaux, the legendary and controversial Southeast Texas music producer who discovered the Sir Douglas Quintet, Freddy Fender, “Jivin’ Gene” Bourgeois and Barbara Lynn, died Saturday at the age of 82.

Meaux had been in federal prison since 1996, when a police raid of his Sugar Hill studios in Houston uncovered evidence that Meaux participated in child pornography, sex with underage females and drug possession. He skipped bail and ran to Mexico, but he finally gave up and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Meaux was released because of failing health and he lived in Winnie, where he died on Saturday.

Meaux, known as the “Crazy Cajun,” was a barber by trade and a radio DJ in Port Arthur, Texas, in the late 1950s. He would do a radio show on KPAC on Saturday afternoons, playing Cajun music for the transplanted coonasses who came to Texas to work at the oil refineries. One day Meaux got a visit from one of those refinery workers.

As Meaux told it, “He walked in with blue jeans and bare feet and these big thick glasses like Clark Kent. He wanted me to record his rock and roll band … I told him I didn’t know what the hell I was doing but if he was OK with that, then let’s get down to it.”

Huey Meaux's letterhead

The guy was Gene Bourgeois, soon to be known as “Jivin’ Gene.” In the old KPAC studio those days they had a Magnecord mono reel-to-reel, and Huey hung a ribbon mike from a boom. The drums, he put way back to keep them from overpowering everything and he put Bourgeois in the toilet to get the proper echo on his voice.

“Yeah, I really did sing in the shitter,” Bourgeois told me once. “But it was because I was so shy, I didn’t want anyone looking at me when I sang.” Anyway, the song was “Going Out With The Tide,” and after Huey sent it to Jin Records owner Floyd Soileau it became a regional hit. Jivin’ Gene’s next tune was produced by Meaux in Crowley (at J.D. Miller’s studio): “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” which is not the Neil Sedaka hit.

This song got more radio airplay, and eventually it was leased to Mercury Records, which put it out nationally. “Breakin’ Up” went to No. 69 on the pop charts in 1959, and Huey Meaux was on his way.

In 1962 Meaux produced a Beaumont singer, Barbara Lynn, and the song “You’ll Lose A Good Thing,” which rose to No. 8 in the Billboard charts. Meaux also signed Big Sambo, whose “The Rains Came” was a modest hit and Sunny and the Sunliners, who got a nice chart ride with “Talk To Me.”

In 1965, Meaux heard a bunch of kids from San Antonio who played a weird mix of rock and roll and Mexican music; he noticed first that it was a lot like Cajun music and then that it kinda had the same beat that stuff like the Beatles and the other British Invasion groups were doing. So he told the boys, “Grow some hair and let’s go cut some of this shit,” and the Sir Douglas Quintet cut their very first hit, “She’s About A Mover,” in Houston. Meaux produced their hits until the band got freaky and moved to San Francisco in the late 1960s.

Huey Meaux, with unidentified artist (or secretary) sitting on his lap in the 1980s.

Meaux also revived the career of Freddy Fender, who was an ex-con with a mechanic’s job when he cut “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” in 1975. Also cut in Houston, the song was first released on Meaux’s Crazy Cajun label before being leased to Dot, and then it went all the way to No. 1 on the pop charts. “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights,” the followup, was also a Top 10 hit.

After Fender, Huey Meaux was content to cut regional artists in Texas and Louisiana. In 1984, Cajun/zydeco artist Rockin’ Sidney created “My Toot Toot” which got some airplay in the region and Meaux stepped in to get it signed to Epic Records, on which it rode into the country Top 40. It was the first zydeco record to get airplay on major rock, pop and country radio stations of the day.

Meaux always was loyal to his artists, and he never failed to offer a colorful story or two about working with them. His conviction and imprisonment was, like Phil Spector’s, a sad and pathetic end to a legendary music career.

MP3: “Going Out With The Tide” by Jivin’ Gene

MP3: “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” by Jivin’ Gene

MP3: “The Rains Came” by Big Sambo

MP3: “She’s About A Mover” by the Sir Douglas Quintet

Joe Nick Patoski article in Texas Monthly about Huey Meaux

YouTube: Huey Meaux on KPFT-FM, Houston, in 1974

Celebrate Earth Day with Pete Seeger

Posted in News with tags on April 21, 2011 by 30daysout

"This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender." (Photo by Karl Rabe, Poughkeepsie Journal)

Tomorrow is Earth Day, intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the environment of planet Earth. Celebrate how you wish, or not, but remember that this is our home and the things we do to it, good and bad, will affect the lives of our children and the generations that come after them.

Here’s a story and video from our friends at the Poughkeepsie Journal about folksinger Pete Seeger, who is still waddling around causing trouble at age 91. Long an icon for the environmental movement, Seeger will perform for some kind of Earth Day benefit in New York state. Here is a link to the newspaper’s story about him, and to some truly gorgeous photos from Karl Rabe.

And we’ve included a video of Seeger talking about life and genes and Jesus. It’s here merely as a reminder that there are many Americans who are strong and smart enough to fight for what’s right, without any of the b.s. that politicians and TV pundits wallow in every minute. Pete Seeger is going to keep swingin’ until his last breath, and that is part of what makes him an American legend.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

MP3: “Throw Away That Shad Net (How Are We Gonna Save Tomorrow?)” by Pete Seeger

MP3: “It’s A Long Haul” by Pete Seeger

MP3: “From Way Up Here” by Pete Seeger

MP3: “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by Pete Seeger

MP3: “Oh Mary, Don’t You Weep” by Pete Seeger

MP3: “Living In The Country” by Pete Seeger

MP3: “To My Old Brown Earth” by Pete Seeger

Video Du Jour: Willie Nelson & Snoop Dogg

Posted in News with tags , , on April 20, 2011 by 30daysout

Today is the unofficial holiday of weed smokers everywhere and to celebrate we offer “Superman,” written by Nelson. The funniest part is hearing Snoop singin’ like Sinatra … not bad!

Live: Robert Earl Keen, Austin

Posted in Review with tags , , on April 19, 2011 by 30daysout

Robert Earl Keen is always a favorite in Austin. (Photo by Lily Angelle)

Editor’s Note: Our Austin correspondent Lily Angelle has been busy with classes and writing for her, ahem, new blog … so we’re grateful she wrote us a short review of a visit by Texas singer/songwriter Robert Earl Keen to Stubb’s in Austin.

Every now and then, it can be quite refreshing to check out popular local acts in the Austin area. The sold-out rock show gets tiring after a while, and sometimes you just need to change things up a bit. I am in no way an avid country music fan, so I did not know what to expect when I went to Stubb’s last week to see the Texas singer/songwriter Robert Earl Keen.

I noticed from the get-go that the scene was much different from what I’m used to – there were no lines wrapped around the venue, anxiously waiting to stampede toward the stage once the gates opened. In fact, much of the crowd did not even arrive until after the opening act.

When Keen and his band appeared onstage, opening with “What I Really Mean,” I immediately sensed a very chilled-out, personable aura about their music and demeanor. They made eye contact with the audience, smiling as people sang along to songs and clapped with the beats. I would describe the show in its entirety as quite humble and friendly. Even though I knew none of his music, I could not help but nod my head along with the soothing acoustic guitar melodies.

The crowd consisted of young and old fans, and was rather relaxed, giving each other respectable amounts of space. However, there are always a few drunk trouble-makers, and halfway through their set a small fight broke out in the middle of the crowd. Security was quick to step in, and soon peace was reestablished and the crowd continued singing along.

Obviously, the crowd went wild when Keen closed with the popular favorite, “The Road Goes On Forever.” They reappeared onstage for an encore to play “Dreadful Selfish Crime” and “I Know You Rider.”

As a Texas A&M graduate and former Austin resident, Robert Earl Keen is a cherished local act among many fans in the area. Austin’s local music scene is always growing, and besides Keen, artists such as Bob Schneider, Alejandro Escovedo, and Spoon have established a strong fan base here in Austin. When long lines and sold-out shows get you down, it may be a nice change of pace to check out your area’s local music scene.

Robert Earl Keen always turns in a relaxed, accomplished show. (Photo by Lily Angelle)

Robert Earl Keen official website

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Nancy Sinatra

Posted in Your Sister's Record Rack with tags , , on April 19, 2011 by 30daysout

Saturday was Record Store Day – I hope you got what you were looking for. Part of the fun, of course, to get what you aren’t looking for … in my case, along with all the new and exclusive vinyl I snapped up a gently used copy of Sugar, the 1967 LP by Nancy Sinatra.

Nancy is, of course, the daughter of you-know-who and she exploded onto the music scene in 1966 with the smash hit “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.” That tune was written and produced by Lee Hazlewood, who would be Nancy’s svengali throughout her peak period. In those days pop (or, more accurately, non-rock) singers put out records as though they came off an assembly line; often an album from a singer like this would consist of one or two hits and a bucketload of filler with little or nothing to tie the songs together.

Hazlewood, to his credit, produced not only hit singles but albums for Nancy Sinatra, so she had a little in common with the popular rock artists of the era. Of course, the “concept” behind Sugar was lame – the liner notes say the album contains “sweet, soulful serenades from the old timey years” and that meant a lot of old Depression-era tunes with Hollywood orchestration. Lame, right? Well, consider “When I’m 64” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and “Honey Pie” from the Beatles’ White Album are cut from the same cloth – so there may have been a bit of a mini-nostalgia craze for that era during the mid-1960s.

“Hard Hearted Hannah,” “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Let’s Fall In Love” are so familiar they’re corny. “My Buddy” slows it down with a cornet straight out of Little Rascals feature, and “Limehouse Blues” offers a bit of phony Orientalism. Things pick up considerably, though, with the two originals Hazlewood penned for this album: “Coastin'” is a lazy lope with a bit of a summer vibe, but the big payoff comes with “Sugar Town,” a song in same vein that was a big hit. Actually, “Sugar Town” pre-existed before the Sugar album – it was a Top Five smash in late 1966 (with the B-side “Summer Wine,” a duet with Hazlewood that was re-released to also become a hit).

True to the one-or-two-hits-and-the-rest-filler standard, Sugar had no other big hits. Not to say that Nancy didn’t reach the top of the charts again in 1967 – her second No. 1 hit came that year, in the form of “Somethin’ Stupid,” a duet with her father and the only father-daughter song to ever top the U.S. pop charts. Sugar was a hit album but Sinatra’s followup, an album of country songs, wouldn’t do as well.

Sugar was also notable for its risque (at the time) cover photo of Nancy Sinatra in a bikini, which caused the LP to be banned in some cities. Wow – the very next year John Lennon and Yoko Ono would show the world how to do a truly controversial album cover, with their fully nude photo on Two Virgins.

Nancy Sinatra continues to perform today, occasionally recording a new song. She currently appears on “To Ardent,” from Black Devil Disco Club (free download here). Her recordings continue to appear in movie soundtracks and TV commercials, all recalling that glittery late-1960s era.

MP3: “Sweet Georgia Brown”

MP3: “Let’s Fall In Love”

MP3: “Sugar Town”

MP3: “My Buddy”

Bonus MP3: “Summer Wine” w/Lee Hazlewood

Video Du Jour: Mumford & Sons

Posted in News with tags , on April 19, 2011 by 30daysout

Lots of Mumford & Sons activity recently … they collaborated with singer/songwriter Laura Marling and musicians in India for The Dharohar Project, an EP that was released last year in the United Kingdom but was a featured vinyl in the United States for Saturday’s Record Store Day. They also pop up on Ray Davies’ See My Friends project of old Kinks re-recordings, also just seeing U.S. release.

They are slated for a short train tour next week, and during their stop in Austin Mumford & Sons will tape an episode of “Austin City Limits” on April 25. Here’s the group performing this past weekend at Coachella:

Mumford & Sons official website

Record Store Day: The Aftermath

Posted in News with tags , , on April 16, 2011 by 30daysout

Don’t know about you, but we had a nice day in Houston for Record Store Day – temps in the 60s, low humidity and not a cloud in the sky. We lined up two hours early outside Cactus Music and by the time the doors opened a little before 10 a.m. there were about 150 die-hards in line to snap up copies of about 200 exclusive vinyl items. (There were more than 200 copies, there were many copies of about … never mind.)

We talked to the guy in front of us in line, his name was Sonny.  He

Record Store Day line outside Cactus Music in Houston - that Kenny Rogers shirt worn ironically, I hope.

brought a Bible to read while waiting, and after we bothered him from that activity he told us he was getting married tonight! Sonny was worried he wouldn’t make a planned lunch with his groomsmen and even though he didn’t get the My Morning Jacket items on his list (Cactus didn’t get ’em) Sonny did walk away happy with Kings of Leon, Mumford & Sons, Bruce Springsteen and some Regina Spektor for his fiancée. He told us he bought tickets for his entire bridal party to see the Avett Brothers in Houston – but that show was scratched due to Scott Avett’s wife possibly giving birth ahead of schedule. That’s life – it gives a little, and it causes your rock show to get rescheduled.

As for us, we came away with the Foo Fighters covers LP Medium Rare, highlights include “Band On The Run,” “Darling Nikki,” “Life Of Illusion” and a scorching live version of the Who warhorse “Young Man Blues.”  We also got some choice 7″ singles including the new Wild Flag song “Glass Tambourine” and the Rolling Stones doing some vintage stuff from Sticky Fingers and a live “Let It Rock.”

It was kinda pricey – the copy of Big Star’s Third, considered to be the band’s “lost” album, went for 40 bucks and the Foo Fighters item was about 20. The 7″ singles cost anywhere from seven to 10 bucks apiece, so you had purchase wisely. Cactus Music personnel helped that process by distributing a list of everything they had, along with the price, so you could make a plan before you got to the counter. Some of these vinyl items were limited edition, but I got pretty much everything on my list.

Yes, even though there was a bit of sticker shock and I wound up spending money I shouldn’t have, it felt good to support my favorite record store. Cactus has been there for me since the 1970s, and even though I don’t buy as much music as I used to I still regularly attend their in-stores. In recent months you’ve read about awesome Cactus performances from the likes of Everest, Anders Osborne, Los Lonely Boys, Girl In A Coma and Rodney Crowell; they have someone playing pretty much every weekend and on May 3 they welcome Steve Earle for his third in-store!

And you know what – right now, as I’m writing this, my 17-year-old son is in the next room playing vinyl records for the very first time in his life. As Ken Shane so aptly put it – that’s like a VISA commercial … Big Star: $40, sharing music with a kid: Priceless.

First time in 20 years I spent 100 bucks on vinyl records - and it felt good.