Archive for June, 2012

On The Road Again

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2012 by 30daysout

It may not look like much in the photo, but this is the largest convenience store in the world.

In most places around the country, gasoline prices are dipping. You know what that means – summer’s here and the time is right for piling the kids and/or the dog into the car for a road trip.

We were on the road this past week, and deep in the heart of the Lone Star state we wheeled in to a truly awe-inspiring site: the Buc-ee’s truck stop/convenience store just north of New Braunfels, Texas, between San Antonio and Austin.

Buc-ee’s is a chain of stores found along the highways of Texas. They sell typical convenience store junk food, some hot kolaches and fudge and their own brand of beef jerky, hot peanuts, etc. They also sell a wide variety of knick-knacks, cheap Texas souvenirs and similar crap. We’ll get back to that in a moment.

But this Buc-ee’s we visited, it was friggin’ massive! It was at least the size of a Walmart and sure enough, my research tells me at 68,000 square feet it is truly the largest convenience store in the world (Wikipedia is your friend). It also has 60 gas pumps, about 78 toilets and 250 employees.

The Buc-ee’s beaver mascot.

This is the largest store in the Buc-ee’s chain and I’m told when it opened in May there were cars stretched up and down the frontage road just waiting to get in there. People in Texas love Buc-ee’s for some reason; everywhere, I see people wearing t-shirts with the logo featuring a goofy cartoon beaver. Instead of a Disneyland or Six Flags shirt; like Buc-ee’s is the destination tourists really want to make pilgrimage to.

Anyway, back to the crap they sell in the store. There’s a huge rack of CDs, mostly country music, but because it’s Texas the selection is considerably more choice than your typical roadside truck stop. You got yer George Jones, yer Willie Nelson, some Ray Price and even a disc of Johnny Bush. A Dolly Parton disc and wow, even Robert Earl Keen! Unfortunately, there’s Pat Green too.

There were some copies of the great series from New West Records, Live From Austin TX – glorious audio tracks of performances from the great “Austin City Limits” TV show. Here’s Willie Nelson on the show, Robert Earl Keen, Billy Joe Shaver, Kris Kristofferson, even the Texas Tornados (which IMO is the best of the series). You don’t have to go to Buc-ee’s to find these; your friendly neighborhood record store ought to have a good selection, or you can shop online.

There are also discs from Icehouse Music, a company that rack-jobs music from Texas, Americana and roots artists. That’s the label where you can find the great Johnny Bush (he wrote “Whiskey River” for Willie) and his autobiographical Kashmere Gardens Mud, as well as the incredible two-disc tribute to Guy Clark This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark, which features Robert Earl, Willie, Joe Ely, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris and many more.

Some years ago I picked up a CD at a truck stop, California Jukebox by the Flying Burrito Brothers. Now this isn’t the Gram Parsons-Chris Hillman Burritos, it’s the 21st century version, with John Beland and Gib Guilbeau and featuring guest shots from David Allan Coe, Waylon Jennings, Sonny Landreth and even original Flying Burrito steel guitarist “Sneaky Pete” Kleinow. It came out in 2001 from the last incarnation in a long line of imitation Flying Burrito Brothers. It overcomes low expectations and it was a pleasant surprise for me – dig one up if you can. It’s on Icehouse Records, apparently no relation to Icehouse Music above.

Well, this tirade has arrived at a place far from where we started – that’s a nice summer road trip. So, for your summer road trip, here’s a soundtrack for ya.

MP3: “On The Road Again” (live at Austin City Limits) by Willie Nelson

MP3: “White Line Fever” by Joe Ely

MP3: “Truckstop in La Grange” by the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash

MP3: “Bloody Mary Morning” by Johnny Bush

MP3 ” (Is Anybody Goin’ To) San Antone/Texas Tornado” (live at Austin City Limits) by the Sir Douglas Quintet

MP3: “Endless Highway” by The Band

MP3: “Automobile” by John Prine

MP3: “Truck Stop Girl” by Little Feat

MP3: “Highway Cafe” by Kinky Friedman

MP3: “California Jukebox” by the Flying Burrito Brothers

MP3: “Honkin’ Down The Highway” by the Beach Boys

MP3: “Goin’ Down To Mexico” by ZZ Top

MP3: “Roadhouse Blues” by The Doors w/John Lee Hooker

MP3: “Sweet Hitch-Hiker (live) by John Fogerty

MP3: “Life Is A Highway” by the Tom Cochrane Band

MP3: “I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash

MP3: “Highway Star” by Deep Purple

MP3: “Let Me Drive Your Automobile” (live at Woodstock 40th anniversary) by Canned Heat

MP3: “Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf

MP3: “Call Me The Breeze” (live) by Lynyrd Skynyrd

MP3: “The Road Goes On Forever” (live at Austin City Limits) by Robert Earl Keen

Video Du Jour: The Mastersons

Posted in News with tags , , on June 27, 2012 by 30daysout

We had the privilege of interviewing the Mastersons around SXSW this year – Chris Masterson and his wife Eleanor Whitmore are well-known for touring with Steve Earle, but the duo have recorded a new album, Birds Fly South.

Masterson, who is from Houston, acknowledges a lot of influences in his music; one is certainly the Jayhawks. You can hear that influence and much more in “One Word More.”

The Mastersons official website

Video Du Jour: Michael Des Barres

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , on June 26, 2012 by 30daysout

Don’t ask me why, but we like Michael Des Barres. We met him a few years ago at SXSW in Austin and ran into him on the streets of SXSW in subsequent years. He played and sang with former Sex Pistol Steve Jones in 2009 and had some band gigs on his own in 2010 and (maybe) 2011. We forget.

Anyhow, the former Silverhead/Detective/Power Station singer has a new album, Carnaby Street, which comes out July 9. “You’re My Pain Killer” is the album’s first track.

Michael Des Barres official website

Live: Van Halen, Houston

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on June 25, 2012 by 30daysout

Three quarters of Van Halen: from left, Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth.

There’s a slight buzz in my ears this morning, from last night’s Van Halen concert in Houston’s Toyota Center. The 1970s rock juggernaut, reformed with original lead singer David Lee Roth and touring the United States this summer, cranked it loud enough to leave a ringing in the ears but a very pleasant post concert buzz on the morning after.

The show Sunday night in Houston was Van Halen’s second to last on this tour; they play New Orleans then go on an indefinite hiatus. About a month ago they scrapped about 30 dates after this, citing “fatigue” and “biting off more than we could chew.” Nevertheless, everyone seemed in fine spirits Sunday night.

Eddie Van Halen.

If you’ve been around a while, or have listened to any amount of classic rock radio, you can pretty much assemble a Van Halen setlist. Toss in a couple ringers from the new album A Different Kind of Truth and a few choice cuts (“Romeo Delight” wasn’t a hit? Unbelievable.) and you have Van Halen 2012.

Frontman David Lee Roth has lost none of his stagemanship, chatting up the crowd with pre-programmed banter (To a woman in the front row: “Is that a video camera? Do you want to make a sex tape?”) and sliding around on his parquet island at center stage.

His singing is another matter, though: Diamond Dave’s vocal range seems to have slipped a bit, although he howled and growled in all the right places. “Oh, Pretty Woman” and “Runnin’ With The Devil” got his best singing, and he kind of talked his way through a couple other numbers. He started out pretty strong but later in the show, Dave seemed to be on a totally different page than the rest of the band.

Eddie Van Halen was his usual virtuoso self, so was drummer Alex Van Halen and even Eddie’s 21-year-old son Wolfgang on bass was fine. Wolfie’s mom, actress/pitchwoman Valerie Bertinelli, roamed the backstage area and crossed under the stage toward Wolfie’s side, presumably to meet up during his offstage breaks.

Aside from Wolfgang, each of the other three band members got their own spotlight: Alex rocked a ferocious drum solo under a monstrous video screen and Eddie wailed solo on guitar for about eight or nine  minutes.

Roth, for his part, played some nice acoustic guitar all by himself leading into a cover of the blues song “Ice Cream Man” but before we got to that he launched into this WTF? monologue about his ranch and his sheepdogs, complete with endless video footage of them chasing sheep around some field.

The concert roared into the homestretch with “Panama,” “Ain’t Talkin’ About Love” and the set closer “Jump.” Not a bad night of rock and roll – rest up boys, we’d love to see you back on the road soon.

Van Halen official web site

That’s one ginormous video screen.

Diamond Dave – it’s like he never left.

Hey, that’s George Lopez!

Sign posted outside of Toyota Center – “Strobe” became a verb around 1977, same time “party” became a verb.

Eddie Van Halen’s guitar skills are larger than life.

David Lee Roth wraps it with “Jump” and a victory lap.

Video Du Jour: The Beach Boys

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , on June 24, 2012 by 30daysout

Summer’s started officially, and pretty much everybody is sweating out some hot weather (sorry, Australia). Hopefully this will help, no matter where you are.

It’s “That’s Why God Made The Radio,” the first single from the Beach Boys’ new album of the same name. The Boys have reunited for a 50th anniversary tour, and in mid-July they’ll wrap up the U.S. leg of the tour and head to Spain, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom. Will they come back in October for another run through the United States? Not quite sure yet.

The Beach Boys official website

Video Du Jour: The Band

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , on June 23, 2012 by 30daysout

This is an awesome video clip – Garth Hudson, Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm of The Band desconstruct the classic “Up On Cripple Creek.”

 

Video Du Jour: Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons

Posted in News with tags , , on June 21, 2012 by 30daysout

We caught Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons this spring in Austin at the Gram Parsons Foundation Party and we loved the band’s roots rock with country and soul flavoring. Chisel, from Wisconsin, is an engaging singer and songwriter but the support from bandmate Adriel Denae on backing vocals and keyboards is vital.

Brendan Benson produces and plays on Chisel’s new album:¬†Old Believers, out next Tuesday, and here’s “Times Won’t Change.”

Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons official website