December 14, 2015

Merry Christmas from The Claes4 - 2015 Edition

Merry Christmas from The Claes4 - 2015 Edition

For the 14th year in a row BoysenClaes Productions brings you our annual Christmas CD. These are bands/songs we’ve heard over the last 12 months that have struck us as something we think you (and the world) should hear. It is our hope each year that you listen to the music, find something you enjoy, and buy some of their music. 

Merry Christmas and enjoy.
- The Claes4 and Towdah

1.    I Heard the Bells - Terri Hendrix (

Jodie: Terri Hendrix is one of the nicest humans and most talented musicians you will ever meet.  She can always say through lyric and melody what I can’t.

2.    Budapest - George Ezra (

Sean: I heard this song on the drive back to Texas from Ohio. Every now and then a song jumps out at you as something special. This one did that for me. Ezra is a 22 year-old singer-songwriter from the UK.

3.    Break Your Heart - Calico The Band (

Jodie: I caught this song on Sun Radio and I love the style of it-swingy, storytelling and great harmonies.

4.    Medicine Man - Blue Water Highway Band (

Sean: I’ve been watching this band grow as a cohesive Americana band for the last few years. I really think this home grown Kyle band has a chance to make it to the next level. They definitely have the talent and songwriting chops.

5.    You Are Able – Cedars (

Marlee: I heard this song in 2015 at church camp at Mount Wesley. They were the musicians during camp. I liked every song they played (Cedars is the praise band at Gruene United Methodist Church) but this was my favorite.

6.    Reasons Why - Nickel Creek (

Jodie: This song is 13 years old but it still sounds fresh.  Chris Thile, Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins have been playing together since the late 80’s…literally they were children when they started to play together. I love their work together but I’m really enjoying their work individually. 

7.    It's The Little Things - Matt The Electrician (

Sean: Matt The Electrician is one of my favorite Austin-based singer-songwriters and performers. He turns simple words into poetry and poetry into music.

8.    AM Radio - Drew Kennedy (

Sean: Drew Kennedy headlined the United Way Flood Benefit show Concerts For A Cause did at Central Texas Speedway in Kyle in July. There were only a handful of people there at that time…and we got treated to one of the most amazing, stripped down shows I’ve ever witnessed. AMAZING musician and beautiful person to boot.

9.    Mean To Me - Brett Eldredge (

Sean: Somewhere in Tennessee this song came on the radio while I was driving through. It made me think of Jodie…thanks to the Shazam App I was able to find out who this guy is. I’m looking forward to hearing more from this Illinois-based musician.

10. Rosa Lee - Northern Quarters (

Sean: This is from the Austin band’s Debut release Transient Times and if this is any indication, they are going to be around for a good time. Hope to see them at a future Old Settler’s.

11. Take Me Away – AirCargo (

Sean: I ran into Randy Collier (1994-2007 OSMF President) at Old Settler’s Music Festival this year and he handed my a copy of Air Cargo’s album Years which was recorded while member Ray Cargo was fighting pancreatic cancer. It was completed to both celebrate and memorialize his music. Cargo passed away in April 2014.

12. Winterlude - Joe Ely (

Jodie: Joe Ely was born in Amarillo, grew up in Lubbock, and has played with everyone from the Clash and Bruce Springsteen, including Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock as the Flatlanders.  Does that sound like a little bit of music history to you?  Well, it should because Joe Ely can play anything with anyone.

13. El Cuchipe - Los Lobos (

Sean: Those who have been getting our Christmas CD know I’m a HUGE Los Lobos fan… and I place at least one song performed in Spanish in every one of these. This is one of my favorites from the band from East LA.

14. Shame on Me - Ty Curtis (

Sean: This CD came across the INsite desk this month. I didn’t give it much thought when I popped it in, but I was pleasantly surprised. This guy has a little Ian Moore and Jonny Lang in him… and he’s a recent transplant from Oregon to Austin.

15. Pretty Penny - Stone Temple Pilots (

Sean: While getting ready to put this CD together we heard the news of Scott Weiland (best known as lead vocalist of STP) passing away. I wish he was able to beat his demons. I wish he’d be there for his children. I wish he’d walked away from performing and walked into sobriety. His talent will be missed.

16. T (Track 9) - '68 (

Sean: I photographed the Van’s Warped Tour last year and all of my photographer friends said I needed to check out ’68. They are a 2 piece (guitar & drums) metal/rock band. This song gives a glimpse into them. My favorite song on their debut album is the first one… but that was a bit too hard for this Christmas CD.

17. Red White And Blue - Brad Dunn Band (

Sean: Another artist that donated his time to Concerts For A Cause this year. I dig the tongue in cheek humor of this track… and the entire album is good rock’n Country.

18. Maybe If I Might - The Longbox (

Sean: “Your hair is longer now.”
Marlee: “I know right? It’s really growing!”
Sean: “It’s the main thing that reminds me I haven’t seen you in awhile.”
Marlee: “Huh?”
Cue first line of the song.
Marlee: “You’re a horrible person, dad.”
Sean: “hee hee hee”

19. Born Is The King (It's Christmas) – Hillsong United (

Jodie: Hillsong is a large Christian band that has a sound like no one else.  Maybe their sound is so distinct because of their rotating line-up. From this multi-layered Christmas song to “Oceans,” one of my favorite songs of the last few years, I always know when Hillsong is the on the radio.

20. When There's No One Around / Will The Circle Be Unbroken - Tim O'Brien w/ Darrell Scott (

Sean: Darrell Scott is my favorite singer-songwriter…hands down. This 2-song track is a live duet with his sometimes singing partner (and equally accomplished musician) Tim O’Brien. Gives me the chills that that much talent can come from one person.

You may download this album for a small window of time at

August 21, 2015

10 Albums That Have Stood The Test of Time

10 Albums That Have Stood The Test Of Time.
(In no particular order..except for #1)

By Sean Claes

I've been listening to music most of my life. I have been a CD reviewer for about the last 20 years. In that time I've listened to thousands of CDs by just as many artists. So, while I'm not an "authority" on all things music, I do have a leg up on a lot of folks when talking tunes.

There are very few discs that I have listened to for more than a year. Most I listen to, review (or not), and file. And now that I'm in my 40s and have kids of my own, I'm finding myself reaching back into the catalog of my music and pulling out certain CDs, tapes and records that I want to share with my kids. These are typically the CDs I tend to grab when wanting to listen to something in my collection.

This is a list of 10 musical offerings that seem as relevant and fantastic today as the first time I listened... and ones I actually pull out and still give a listen. Some I'm sharing with my kids... some  they are not old enough quite yet... you'll know those when you see the list.

So... without further discussion, here they are:

1. Los Lobos 
Just Another Band From East LA: A Collection
Release date: August 3, 1993

Producers: Los Lobos

Label: Warner Bros. Records
This one is actually my favorite album of all time. It's my desert island music. You know "If you were stranded on a desert island and only had one album to listen to..." This would be it. It's a 2 disc compilation and represents several genres of music. You've got the bluesy "Kiko and the Lavender Moon," the conjunto of "Sabor A Mi" and "Volver Volver,"  cumbia of "El Cuchipe," rock of "Shakin Shakin Shakes" and "Don't Worry Baby," and even a little movie music with "I Wanna Be Like You" (Jungle Book) and "La Bamba" (La Bamba). There's not a bad track on the 41 track offering.

Here's my favorite cut off Just Another Band From East LA: A Collection: "One Time One Night." It reminds me of growing up in Laredo, Texas... and a good friend that I hung out with a lot in my 20s.

2. Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman
Release date: April 15, 1988

Producer:  David Kershenbaum
Label:  Elektra

From "Across the Lines" to "Talkin' Bout A Revolution" to "If Not Now" this album captures a moment in time. A moment Chapman lived in and opened up an entire different world to me as a middle class Anglo kid.

Listening to it in 2015 and in the wake of all of the recent goings on in the world, it is as relevant as it was 27 years ago. I recommend this album to anyone who wants to get a honest and raw perspective.

Of course, the mega hit off this release is "Fast Car" and it still holds up today. I still sing it loud every time I hear it on the radio.

Here's a live shot of her performing "Across The Lines" at Nelson Mandela's 70th Birthday Tribute Concert... about a month before this album released.

3. Metallica
Kill 'Em All
Release date: July 25, 1983
Producer:  Paul Curcio

Label:  Megaforce
The slow build at the beginning of the first track, "Hit The Lights," was like nothing I'd ever heard before. I was 15 when I first heard this album.... they'd just released ...And Justice For All and I was hanging around with the "headbanger" crowd in high school. I remember the moment I heard this. A car full of kids cruising in Kim N.'s crusty old Camero when she flipped the tape into the player. And that day a love affair with metal/thrash/hardcore music was born.

This album is STILL better than about 75% of the metal that comes out today and is required listening for anyone who wants to play music. The genius of Cliff Burton on the bass solo "(Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth," the lyrics mostly penned by vocalis James Hetfield (and some by Dave Mustaine) are a mixture of punishingly brutal and epic, albeit simplistic, storytelling... and the guitarwork of Kirk Hammett and drums of Lars Ulrich are both inspiring. If anyone ever wonders what Thrash Metal is... hand them this album.

"Jump In the Fire," "Whiplash," "Seek & Destroy," and "Metal Militia" were all like anthems to a generation of young kids who weren't hearing themselves in the likes of New Order, Talking Heads and Duran Duran... who preferred ripped jeans and a black t-shirt to polo shirts and shiny shoes. And even though the album title was changed so to be less vulgar to the eye... the original title Metal Up Your Ass does nicely state what this album brought to the table.

Here's the Hetfield/Ulrich penned "No Remorse."

4. Darrell Scott
Aloha From Nashville
Release date: April 22, 1997

Label:  Sugar Hill
You may have never heard of Darrell Scott, but you have heard his music as recorded by other folks. Like.. if you've ever heard the Dixie Chicks sing "Long Time Gone," Darryl Worley do "Family Tree," or Travis Tritt  perform "Great Day To Be Alive" you've heard Darrell Scott's genius.

He's what is known as a "songwriter's songwriter" but he is an amazing performer and singer as well. in 2010 Robert Plant tapped him to be in his Bells Of Joy. He has written songs that have been recorded by Keb Mo, Cory Morrow, Faith Hill, Guy Clark and Johnsmith. He has written with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Sam Bush, John Cowan, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Steve Earle.

This 1997 release was his first full-length. I found this one in the box of things to review that came into the office when I was reviewing CDs in college at Southwest Texas State University for the official entertainment magazine at the school: Galaxy Magazine. Instantly fell in love with his smooth Americana style and fantastic storytelling...

Epic and sad; "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" is an amazing  inclusion on this album. It's actually been covered by Brad Paisley recently (2010) in the TV show Justified. "Heartbreak Town" is equally tear jerking.

My favorite tracks on the album are "The Ballad of Martha White" that depicts a kid discovering the truth about his first love - the Martha White Flour girl and a track called "It's the Whiskey That Eases The Pain."

The quirky and funny "Spelling Bee Romance" and "Title of the Song" wrap the album up nicely with a chuckle... showing a comical side that balances things out.... and the later song is a fantastic blueprint for a boy-band song.

BUT.. the song I want to share with you off this ablum is "It's the Whiskey That Eases the Pain."

5. Terri Hendrix
Wilory Farm
Release date: June 1998
Producer: Lloyd Maines
Label:  Wilory Records
Terri Hendrix is a true treasure. I have been blessed to watch her rise up from open mic nights at San Marcos, Texas' Triple Crown in the mid 1990s to her joining forces with the legendary Lloyd Maines and launching forward to create her own DIY empire that has taken her through almost 30 years of her fantastic and heart-on-her-sleeve musical journey.

She is a member of the infamous Cheatham Street Warehouse Songwriter's Circle "Class of 1987" that also includes Todd Snider, Hal Ketcham, John Arthur Martinez, Bruce Robison and Tish Hinojosa.

Wilory Farm is her second album, created in 1998. It marks the first time working with Lloyd Maines as a producer and these songs are gems... and they show an astounding maturity from her quirky and fun first release (which I'm also a fan of) Two Dollar Shoes.

Now, not all of the quirkiness is thrown aside... her funny ditty "Albert, The Perfect Friend" about a not so nice guy is an entertaining inclusion and speaks to her ability to deal with the lighter side while also including some heavy matter ("Walk on Me" and "Gravity"). There's also the jam-friendly tracks like "Wind Me Up" and "Sister's Apartment."

The thing about Terri Hendrix is, her perspective is so entertaining and her actual live performance is inspiring every time. My wife and I make it a point to see her every so often in order to reset our life perspective. The fact is... you can't leave a Terri show in a bad mood. he simply won't allow it. It's a dancing, singing, jamming high-fiving good time with hundreds of strangers who become friends by the end of the night.

Her live show was captured in her 2001 album Live In San Marcos, but this album is the one that laid the foundation for who she is as a performer today.

The song that I find myself singing on a weekly basis from Wilory Farm is "Hole In My Pocket" which was also covered by Ruthie Foster (who didn't make this top 10 because her landmark album, Runaway Soul came out in 2002). Here's Terri & Lloyd performing it at at Piney Woods Performances (house concert) in Conroe, Texas, on March 26, 2011.

Rounding out the top 10 are the following:

6. Styx
Kilroy Was Here
Release date: February 22, 1983
Producer: Styx
Label:  A&M Records

7. N.W.A.
Straight Outta Compton
Release date: August 8, 1988
Producers: Dr. Dre, DJ Yella
Label:  Priority Records / Ruthless Records


8. KISS 
Creatures of the Night
Release date: October 13, 1982
Producers: Michael James Jackson, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons 
--> Label:  Casablanca


9. AC/DC
Back in Black
Release date: July 25, 1980
Producers: Robert John "Mutt" Lange 
Label:  Albert / Atlantic



10. John Prine
Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings
Release date: April 4, 1995
Producer: Howie Epstein
Label:  Oh Boy

 Bonus (because this one should go to eleven)
11. Kenny Rogers
20 Great Years
Release date: November 12, 1991
Label:  Reprise

These are the albums that formed me... and that I think are still relevant and amazing. The only caveat to this list is... every one of these albums was recorded before 2000. 15 years is about the right amount of "stand the test of time" time. I had to cut a few of my choices because they aren't old enough (like Living Colour's Vivid,  Johnny Cash American IV, Eminem The Marshall Mathers EP).

May 28, 2015

Hays County Flood Information & Reflections


Howdy, all. I hope this message finds you safe, secure and dry. Please take a moment to pray for all of those affected by the flooding this past weekend.
There is a lot of information flying out there, so I thought I'd come up with a blog to steer people in the right direction if you’re interested in volunteering or donating to Flood Relief. I’m going to place some information up top… then I wrote a little update from what’s been going on in my head the last few days… thanks for indulging me with that…
Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteer Centers are open San Marcos and Wimberley,
Wimberley Volunteer Reception Service,
Cypress Creek Church , 211 Stillwater, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.
SM Volunteer Center (512.753.2320)
San Marcos Plaza Park, 206 C.M.Allen Parkway, 8 a.m. - 5 pm
Coordinated by City of San Marcos, Hays County, and AmeriCorps
If you have large equipment and supplies to volunteer, e-mail

Donation Opportunities

Hays County:
United Way of Hays County - link
Hays County Food Bank:
Locations accepting donations:
Barton Middle School located at 4950 Jack C. Hays Trail in Buda
Wallace Middle School located at 1500 West Center in Kyle
Chapa Middle School located at 3311 Dacy Lane in Kyle
Cabela's located at 15570 S. IH-35 in Buda
Katherine Anne Porter School located at 515 FM 2325 in Wimberley

Some Websites to visit:

Hays County:
Hays County Emergency Response -
San Marcos:
Flood Resources/Updates via the City of San Marcos:

Updates via the City of Wimberley:

May 27, 2015

I had a chance to talk with an individual (I didn’t catch his name) who was helping clean things from a friend’s father’s home in San Marcos and he said something that really stuck to my core. He said “It's amazing how something we rely on to provide and sustain life can also be the thing that can destroy all in its path."

Every time I see a photo of the devastation in Wimberley, San Marcos, and Austin I think of those words. I wonder how can we see God amidst all of the destruction? Perhaps the answer lies within the first responders. The people who put their lives on the line to help those in need. The  individuals who have donated to Flood Relief in the form of volunteering, monetary donations, clothing, cleaning supplies, or prayers and hugs. The outpouring of support that this community has received from those who are able to help. The hands and feet of Christ. I look at the faces of those who are giving selflessly to support those who need it most. It’s then that I am certain that God is good, all the time… and all the time God is Good.

Remembering the Beauty. San Marcos River at the San Marcos Mill Tract (2011)

I cannot fathom what people who lost their loved ones, homes, and cherished memories are going through right now, but I do know they are loved and they have felt that love through the actions of people like you and I who are doing what we can to assist.

It’s amazing how the love of God can turn something that has destroyed all in its path into something that we can rely on to sustain our lives.

At Randall Vetter Park (2013). Photo by Marlee Claes


NOTE The logo at the top of this page is a modified version of the logo that Tour San Marcos made for the flood victims of San Marcos. Original Design credit goes to them... I just took the "SMTX" out and placed "Hays County" in its place. See the original version via their Facebook Page - here.

January 15, 2015

5 Steps To Becoming A Successful Commercial Country Singer

5 Steps To Becoming
A Successful Commercial Country Singer

By Sean Claes
If you follow the following 5 steps, you too can become another of those pretty-boy country singing stars that would make Hank Williams, Sr. want to come back from the dead and punch you in the chin.

Step 1:
You need something bold that stands out. Incorporate an acoustic guitar, highway sign, Texas flag, Star or filigree… or all of the above. Don’t worry.. this is just an attention getter before the label throws all that out and uses that “Bleeding Cowboy” font and renames you something that has more universal appeal.

Step 2:
Dress Code:
$150 jeans and $100 plaid shirt, or classic rock & roll shirts, or Southern Thread apparel…if you feel really bold… why not an Affliction shirt. Add a handkerchief sticking out of back pocket and a wallet chain… basically try and look like a more douche-y version of 1990s grunge and add a cowboy hat or John Deere-themed baseball cap. Facial hair is not recommended, but it doesn’t hurt early on… when you’re looking hungry. It’ll give the record company something to stick a feather in their hat saying they “improved upon your look” when they sent you to the stylist and they shave you.

Step 3:
Write your songs about trucks, Saturday night, Dirt Roads, Drinking too much and driving, yesteryear, fields, tractors, barns, blondes and tailgates. Make sure you have a chorus that is easy to remember and is repeated often… Don’t worry… your stuff will never actually make it on the radio… if you have a decent voice and look good you’ll get “label support” which means a team of writers will be penning the song everyone will assume is about your youth.


Step 4:
Oh.. Just hire some session musicians to play on the album… it’ll save you from firing your best friend when the record company decides they are only interested in “carrying” one person.
Anyways…all you need is your acoustic guitar to play the radio stations and tour until the record company buys you a backing band.

Step 5:
 Oh.. I guess I should have mentioned that before… you need the deep pockets of a record company to make it… you know.. so your amazingly polished sound (that has the same sound as 4 other bands with songs in the top 10 this week)  can make its way to corporate radio (cha-ching) and begin a serious rotation (palm greased). Or maybe you can go on some music-based reality TV show. That might work.. if you can get on there... Oooh... or just marry a music exec’s daughter.

So there you have it. Follow these easy steps and you too might just get yourself a duet with the next American Idol winner. All it takes is style, money, a little talent, and a total lack of self-worth.

(Note: If you’re a commercial country singer and you read this… don’t worry, I’m talking about the other ones.. not you. You got it honestly… we can all see that. Love you… have all of your albums).

Good luck out there.

Sean Claes has been a music journalist for about 20 years and he doesn't actually believe the above story to be true… but writing it made him chuckle. I hope it does for you as well. It's humor...OK? Breathe. 

Thanks for reading. 

If you're ACTAULLY looking for advice on being a successful musician... I did a 52-week series of advice for DIY musicians here - link

January 2, 2015

Design Samples - Sean Claes

Thank you for taking the time to look at my resume. I invite you to visit me on LinkedIn - here. Some examples of my design skills can be found via the Web. I’d like to point you to a few of my favorite links.

I was the volunteer Communications Chair of my neighborhood HOA from 2003 - 2007. I completely redesigned the newsletter (from a Microsoft Word product to an InDesign product).
An example of this newsletter from 2005 is here - link

I designed these ads and they ran in different publications.
I used Adobe Photoshop and InDesign to create these pieces.

Concerts For A Cause flier (print & web) - 2015

Pumpkin Patch Ad  (Web) - 2015

Newspaper / Magazine flier (Print) 2007

I did the complete design for the following publications.
I am able to bring these in as part of my portfolio is chosen to interview.
They are not available via Web.
NIDRR Success Stories 2002 (link to PDF) 2003

Experience Austin (Official ACVB Publication) - 2000

Explore Magazine (Laredo, TX) - 1995

January 1, 2015

Writing Samples - Sean Claes

Where Have You Been, Sean Claes?

Thank you for taking the time to look at my resume. I invite you to visit me on LinkedIn - here. Some examples of my writing can be found via the Web and my blog. I’d like to point you to a few of my favorite links.

Sean Claes – Examples

Marketing campaigns
While at Dell, I was in charge of Global Communications for a Learning and Development group. This entailed writing communications and campaigns for a variety of audiences including Executives, Managers, Stakeholders and Staff. Unfortunately, the work I did is confidential and because of this, I cannot share samples of my campaign work.

While a Communications Specialist for a Federal Grant by the name of National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research I penned some articles, presented at conferences, and designed products. All were to help market the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).
a.    Here is one of the articles I wrote about Website Accessibility. It was published by the World Institute on Disability in 2004. - link
b.    This is an example of the three posters we produced to promote different grants under NIDRR. These are for the Model Spinal Cord Injury Systems (MSCIS) Projects, Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) Projects and Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTC) - link
c.     I also conceptualized, collected content, created and edited a publication in 2002 called “Success Stories” that captured “wins” that NIDRR Grantees produced. link

I served as the Communications Chair for my church, the Kyle United Methodist Church for 7 years. During that time I wrote, laid out and edited the monthly church newsletter and produced marketing materials (banners, logos, mailers). I also ran the church Pumpkin Patch.
a.    This is an example a promotional mailer (with a little edge) - front / back
b.    This is an example of the Church Newsletter (from 2014) - link
c.     This is an advertisement I produced to both promote the church and the pumpkin patch. It ran in a Val Pak Advertising mailer -  link

Written communications

During my time as Marketing Manager for Equipment Locator Service (2010) I wrote a number of targeted e-mail campaigns for the business. This was reaching out to Agricultural Equipment Companies to offer web services
a.    Here is an example of what an e-mail looked like. link

I am a founder and the president of a soon-to-be non profit in Kyle, Texas called Concerts For A Cause. We host a monthly concert series to increase awareness of and raise money for area non-profits. We’ve raised over $15k in our first two years.
a.    Here is an example a couple of promotional fliers (I wrote & designed) – Year 1 - link, Year 2 - link
b.    Here is our Website where I’ve written all of the content - link

Other items

In recent months, I’ve been writing a series of Small Business advice columns to help owners of small businesses better understand how to capture customers. One of my blogs was picked up by Austin’s Launch Marketing - link
See the entire series thus far here - link

While working at Roy H. Williams Marketing, I came up with an idea to produce a cookbook, “Gems To Enjoy”  to promote a jewelry store. Seems odd, but people in the community contributed alongside celebrities and the $$ earned from selling the product went to charity. It was a big win for Alter’s. - link

  For the 2008 Buda Lions Club Weiner Dog Races, I wrote this commercial and voiced it as well. The theme of the year was "Nacho Weiner," a play off of the Jack Black movie Nacho Libre. See YouTube video below