January 30, 2010

Ray Wylie Hubbard Feature from INsite - January 2010

The January 2010 cover story I wrote on Ray Wylie Hubbard is now up online at the INsite Magazine homepage. You may read it online there... or download the PDF here.

Or.. simply click on the image below.

January 28, 2010

Week 21 - Ratarue - Odd Augmentation, Inc

 (This is Week 21 of my 52 Austin CD Reviews in 52 Weeks. See the first 20 here.)

“Does life imitate art / or art imitate life / why are we like this / caught up in this strife.”
- “Voyeuristic”

Odd Augmentation, Inc.

This freshman effort from seasoned emcee Ratarue (former member of Austin’s Spin Alley) is a solid throwback hip-hop effort. I say throwback because his sound doesn’t subscribe to the current trend in the rap/hip hop scene. He doesn’t swear every three words. He doesn’t form tracks around objectifying women or spit meaningless self-masturbatory lyrics. It’s not mindless repetition backed by a heavy bassline. More A Tribe Called Quest and less Lil Wayne. More Del The Funky Homosapien and less Soulja Boy.

The 18 song album (15 + 3 bonus tracks) is chock full of great tracks. He tips his hat to Jimi Hedrix in “Jimi’s Warning,” talks about lost love in “Time Heals A Broken Heart,” and calls out someone with a girl who has “stink breath like Frodo Baggins” in the battle-rap “Opiates and Flatbeds.”

Yes, there are songs about making money (“Maintain Scrilla”), sex (“Mad Eps”), and fame (“Radio”) but they are done with complex lyrics layered with some impressive scratches, mostly by Austin’s DJ Trouble. Ratarue seems set on elevating hip-hop and Odd Augmentation, Inc is his calling card.

“800 Pound Gorilla” is a standout. It’s got a really nice acoustic guitar loop overlaid by drums and scratches. But, the lyrics are the most impressive. “Invigorating, elaborate, conscious is my approach / To put him in denial is to get your body broke.”

I also really dug “One Bite At A Time,” a track about making it in life. “The ego is an ugly troll that lives under a bridge between your heart and your mind. A rabbit’s foot is a sad substitute for horse’s sense. How to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Odd Augmentation, Inc. was released on January 25 at an INsite Night in Austin. It can be found at Waterloo Records. If you’re a fan of hip-hop with meaning, you should pick this one up. For more information about Ratarue, visit his MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/ratarue), follow him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/ratarue) or subscribe to his blog (http://ratarue.blogspot.com).

Interesting trivia bit - Ratarue’s real name is Corey Powell. The moniker is a something his younger brother made up to use as a battle cry while they were growing up.

January 26, 2010

1/30 @ Ruta Maya - Reggae 4 Haiti Benefit (2-8p)

The band Root Dimensions Reggae has organized a "Reggae 4 Haiti
Benefit" at Ruta Maya International Headquarters on Saturday afternoon,
January 30th from 2 PM to 8 PM.

This event will feature live
Reggae music and a silent auction. Ruta Maya is an all ages venue
located in south Austin in the Penn Field Business Park and the event
will be family friendly.

The suggested donation at the door
to attend the event will be $5. All funds raised including those from
the silent auction are going to the American Red Cross International
Response Fund for Haiti.

The line up includes:
7:15pm - 7:45pm Barrington Spence w/DJ Remedios (Houston)
6:00pm - 6:45pm Irie Jane
4:45pm - 5:30pm Root Dimension
4:15pm - 4:45pm Cuban Jamaican Freedom Drumming
3:30pm - 4:15pm Herby Augustine and Frenezi (from Haiti)
2:15pm - 3:00pm Crucial Mystic
2:00pm - 8:00pm DJ Jah Ray (spinning beginning, end & in-between sets)

Donations for the silent auction will be accepted up until the start of the event.

Ruta Maya International Headquarters
3601 South Congress Avenue, Suite D-200
Austin, Texas 78704
(512) 707-9637

January 21, 2010

Week 20 - Tom Gillam - Had Enough?

 (This is Week 20 of my 52 Austin CD Reviews in 52 Weeks. See the first 19 here.)

Check your number / check your card / check to see if you know who you are.
Pay the piper / pay the bills / pay attention to those aches and those ills.

- “Had Enough”

Tom Gillam
Had Enough?
Smith Entertainment

The first time I saw Tom Gillam live, it was at Gruene Hall in the summer of 2006. He had just died. Really. In March 2006 he died on the operating table of a heart attack. Of course, the doctors were able to bring him back and he resumed his music career… eventually moving to Austin in 2009.

Gillam wasted no time in getting friendly with the locals when he arrived in town. Guest musicians on Had Enough? include the likes of Guy Forsyth, Ed Jurdi (Band of Heathens), and Micky Braun. His backing band, Tractor Pull, is nothing to sneeze at either. Regular member include producer Joe Carroll (guitars), Alejandro Escovedo alum Al Durham (guitar), Tim McMaster (bass), Craig Simon, and Dave Latimer.

That said, Had Enough? continues the progression of Gillam's sound, which is decidedly roots-rock with an Americana twang to it.  It’s got that Eagles feel to it with Gillam’s vocals sounding like a cross between Tom Petty, Todd Snider and Ian Moore.

On Had Enough? Gillam is able to easily jump from rocking roadhouse jams like “Had Enough” or “Ride” to ballads like “Million Miles Away” and “Tear In The Rain.”

How do you choose standouts on an album with 11 really well crafted songs? How about I choose a rocker and a ballad? (I'll assume you say.. "sure Sean.. why don't you do that."

“She Was A Dancer…” is a toe-tapping jam seemingly about a stripper  that includes the line “I’d spend a fortune just to get her to turn around."

On the flip side “Ready To Begin” is probably the song I took most to heart. Everyone deserves a second chance (in Gillam’s case he literally got one) and this track is about making the change in your life to become…well... who you actually are. “Time to be allright in my own skin. “The road behind has finally led me here / The road ahead you never know / I was blind once now I see things oh so clear / I think I know the way to go.”

Gillam has lived in Austin for about a year now and we’re glad he’s here. But, as he said when I saw him on stage in 2006, I’ll bet he’s just happy to be anywhere.

I may have to go check him out again on Sunday (1/24) as he’s playing Adobe Verde in New Braunfels If you can’t make that show, he’s playing all over Austin in the next few months, check him out at http://www.tomgillam.com.


Take a listen to the entire album:

Band website templateQuantcast

January 18, 2010

Collecting for Haiti

I recently found out that the husband of Rev. Suzanne Field Rabb, the pastor who married my wife and I in San Marcos in 2001, died from injuries he sustained in Haiti. The Rev. Clinton Rabb (pictured here) was a Mission Executive for UMCOR in Haiti. Please keep the Rabb family and everyone who has been effected by the earthquake in your thoughts and prayers.

The church I now belong to, the Kyle United Methodist Church, is collecting donations to send to those devastated in Haiti through United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

This past Sunday KUMC raised $1,400 and will be collecting through next Sunday. It is requested that those who would like to donate make checks out out to Kyle UMC, and place UMCOR-Haiti in the message line.

Checks can be donated during business hours at 408 W. Lockhart in Kyle, Texas or during the 9:00 or 11:00 service this Sunday.

January 14, 2010

Week 19 - George Palmer Macias - Firefly

 (This is Week 19 of my 52 Austin CD Reviews in 52 Weeks. See the first 18 here.

George Palmer Macias

“Funny how most beauty goes unnoticed.” – from “
Who Paints Upon The Wind”

I’d never heard of George Palmer Macias when I this CD arrived a few months back. Then I got busy and it got lost in the shuffle of life. I was looking for a new CD to review for this 52 CD reviews in 52 weeks project and I came across Firefly in a stack of other CDs. I decided to pop it into my player.

I don’t know what I expected to hear, but Macias’ smooth Americana tone was a nice surprise - his voice has a very soothing Roy Orbison feel to it. Much more than this, the lyrics, all penned by Macias (save for 2 sentences in “Ringtail”) are inspired.

The musical journey that is Firefly takes a path down several different musical genres. Songs like “Break This Bottle” and “The Way The River Flows” could have been recorded by Orbison himself. “Don’t Touch The Money” has a Latin Texas Tornados flair to it. “Where in the World” is a Do-Wop Carmen Sandiego treat that tests your geography knowledge. Firefly even has a biographical song about Texas founding father Martin Parmer in “Ringtail.”

Musically, my favorite track on Firefly is “Take This Town.” It’s an up-tempo Los Lobos-meets-Neil Young jam.  Lyrically, “Milky Way” holds top billing for me. “Slow down this planet is spinning to fast. / I reach for the stars but they slip my grasp. / Just some matter, some blood, some clay. / Ball of dust in the cosmic fray. / Spinning around in the Milky Way.”

And to think… I almost didn’t give this one a chance. Make sure you don’t make that mistake. If you’re a fan of the Roy Orbison rock-meets-country sound, you’ll like Firefly.

Although this is his first solo album, Macias was a member of The Regulars, which was a group who played a weekly happy hour slot at The Saxon Pub for about five years.

In fact, The Regulars will be having a reunion happy hour show at The Saxon Pub this Friday (1/15) at 6:30. Macias will be playing a solo show at Botticelli’s (1321 S. Congress) with Bill Starrett next Wednesday (1/20) at 7:30. Both shows are free.

For more information about Macias or to hear a few tracks off Firefly visit his website - http://www.texisscafe.com/artist/georgepalmermacias or check him out on Facebook - www.facebook.com/gpmacias

January 7, 2010

Week 18 - Adrian and the Sickness - B.F.D.

(This is Week 18 of my 52 Austin CD Reviews in 52 Weeks. See the first 17 here.)

Adrian and the Sickness
Fantom Records

From second one of “Modern Freedom,” the first track of B.F.D., by Austin’s Adrian and the Sickness, they musically kick down the door and throw you up against the wall.

Led by the dreadlocked Adrian Conner, this all-female power trio has been trudging through the muck and the mire of the Austin scene for a half a decade. Somewhere along the line the band caught the ear of a member of one of the most famous all-female bands - Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s. Valentine produced B.F.D. and it does not disappoint.

On this release the band easily walks the line from an in-your-face punk sound with shredding guitars (“Rice and Beans,” “Not Sure”) to a friendly and fun pop feel (“Listening,” “Talk To Me”). The Valentine influence is very apparent in the latter.

I like the Adrian-A-Go-Go’s sound of the lighter stuff, but I’ve got to say, they shine the brightest when Conner’s guitar work is able to be at the forefront. Songs like “What Ya Do To Me” and “Turn It Up” should be played at high volume. Preferably in a residential area (Yes.. that’s a Dr. Dre line. It just fit here). And if you can’t get into their cover of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” you should just turn the radio to the talk station and give up on music altogether.

My favorite track on B.F.D. is the Led Zeppelin-esque “Loser.” Musically it’s a great jam and lyrically it’s the classic tell-off song. “Did I tell you that I really don't give a care? / Your game is old / come and yell at me if you dare. / You will it’s your way / I cannot wait / until I never ever see your face.”

Obviously I’m digging B.F.D. The vocal harmonies rock, the musicianship is great, and the songs meld well together. I’m actually kicking myself for not catching them live yet. I hear their show is amazing. If it’s half as enjoyable at this CD, it’ll totally be worth the cover.

Adrian and the Sickness is Conner (Vocals/Guitar), Heather Webb (Bass), and  Melodie Zapata (Drums). They play Ruta Maya this Friday with Darling New Neighbors. Can’t make that show? Check out their website to find out more about them and see where they play next - http://www.adrianrocks.com/.

January 5, 2010

Reggae (Tin Can Phone), Rap (Ratarue), and Roots (Jerry Jeff Walker) INsite Nights

Here's the first three shows in 2010 sponsored by INsite. Click the images to visit the do512.com page with more information.

1/15 - Tin Can Phone, Indofin, Ashes of Babylon @ Ruta Maya
Tin Can Phone, Indofin, Ashes of Babylon

1/23 - Ratarue, Higher Than Why, Beterplayer, Diasporic, and DJ Digg @ The Independent

INsite Night - Ratarue, Higher Than Why, Beterplayer, Diasporic, DJ Digg

February 2010:

2/5 - Jerry Jeff Walker @ One World Theatre
Jerry Jeff Walker @ One World Theatre

January 2, 2010

My Top 20 Texas CD Releases of the Decade (2000-2009)

I was asked by Texas Music Magazine to submit what my favorite Texas CD releases were in the last decade. It's not easy to pick 20 CDs over the last 10 years. The bulk of my choices reflect my personal passion, Austin bands.

So...here's my top 20. I believe the request will be incorporated somehow into the Winter 2010 issue.

Sean Claes’ Top 20 Texas Albums of the Decade

1. Walt Wilkins – Mustang Island (2005)
2. Dixie Chicks – Home (2002)
3. Blue October – Foiled (2006)
4. The Derailers – Here Come The Derailers (2001)
5. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)
6. Ruthie Foster – The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster (2007)
7. Grupo Fantasma - Movimiento Popular (2004)
8. Guy Forsyth – Love Songs For and Against (2005)
9. Driver F – Chase The White Whale (2008)
10. Terri Hendrix – Places In Between (2000)
11. Drowning Pool – Sinner (2001)
12. Full Service – The Dig (2008)
13. Pat Green – Three Days (2001)
14. Matt The Electrician – Made For Working (2003)
15. The Banner Year – Straight On Till Breakfast
16. George Strait - The Road Less Traveled (2001)
17. Scott H. Biram – Lo-Fi Mojo (2003)
18. Okkervil River– The Stage Names (2007)
19. Powderburn – Echoed In Red (2007)
20. Burden Brothers – Mercy (2006)

So.... if you had the same question poised to you... what would you say?