ROCK REPORT: SLOBBERBONE @ THE CONTINENTAL CLUB, HOUSTON, TEXAS

Friday night I had a religious experience. I got to see Slobberbone play live. Let me clearly state that what I saw on Friday night was the best rock show I have seen in recent history, bar none! Brent Best and company could have easily been teaching school on how to put on a rock show. Every piece of the show was fluid between the band members but the music was as raw as rock is supposed to be. I realized just how amazing the night was going to be when the band pulled out “Lumberlung”, the third song of the set, and played it with all the emotion that it deserved and as the audience wailed along with the band there was an energy that even the yuppies trying to booty dance (no I am not kidding) couldn’t manage to fuck up. Brent ended the song with “Thanks for singing along you sensitive bastards” and launched right into the next song. Whiskey flowed freely and even yours truly ponied up for a round for the band and just about everybody standing close by. Over the course of the night, I gave up trying to keep track of the setlist, I felt all of my recent apathy about the scene fading away. This show reminded me of why I started going to shows in the first place and why I love music as much as I do. I honestly felt like was eighteen and seeing music through un-jaded eyes again.

After the show I got to sit outside with Brent and Jess in the moist gulf coast heat that seems ever present in Houston and just shoot the breeze. I didn’t pull out a pad and pen and try to take notes or conduct an interview as I am known to do. Instead, we talked about life, music, and all sorts of random shit. We even talked about getting Engine Joe turned in to a karaoke track at some point. Talking to Brent I got the feeling that crowds and shows like this in small venues with a sea of whiskey is the reason that Slobberbone started making music and I, for one, appreciate that point of view. As far getting to see them any time soon in your town; they’re trying to keep the touring to an absolute minimum for the moment as they work on a new album so you’re unlikely to get to see them in your town in the next little while (BOO!) but the upshot is they are working on a new record (YAY!).

In closing I have to say that while I may have been in a sort of funk regarding music lately and maybe even a little burned out that I am now renewed and it’s thanks to Slobberbone. From the opening riffs of the show to the cover of “I Got Drunk” to the wailing rendition of “Billy Pritchard” to the encore there wasn’t a single moment when I wanted to be anywhere else. And while Brent may threaten to “Dunk You In The River” he truly baptized that crowd on Friday night in pure rock n roll and did so with a smirk on face and guitar in his hands.

(I know the pics aren’t my usual quality but I didn’t grab the camera on my way out the door so that’s all I managed to get that was even visible on my phone.)

Since I don’t have any equipment to record shows you’ll have to make do with these tracks from Slobberbone’s “Last Show” before the recent reunion.

Slobberbone – Lumberlung
Slobberbone – Billy Pritchard
Slobberbone – I’ll Be Damned
Slobberbone – Dunk You In The River

Slobberbone Official Website
Slobberbone on Facebook
Slobberbone on Wikipedia

JAVI GARICA AND THE COLD COLD GROUND – SOUTHERN HORROR

Take one part Texas country, one part southern rock, one part garage band mix them together with a pinch of anger and a dash of fierce independence and what you’ll get is Javi Garica and the Cold Cold Ground. The debut release from these New Braunfels boys is a two disc set, one full length with an EP, titled Southern Horror that landed in the midst of the Texas music scene swinging its fists and taking on all comers. The whole Texas/Red Dirt scene is independent but Javi Garcia takes that a step farther without going over the line into hyperbole. The title smacks of the “southern gothic” genre which I usually avoid but I heard the music first and it’s definitely not anything close to that. What it is pure Texas music and as usual it defies being placed solidly into a genre.

There’s not much out there on the history of Javi Garica and the Cold Cold Ground but the music speaks for itself. Sixteen tracks spread across two discs is a lot of music and the whole shindig starts out with a little murder ballad almost worthy of putting on a Mother’s Day compilation or maybe a Father’s Day compilation depending on your bent and the depths of your daddy issues. There are a few songs out there about disappearing an abusive asshole one way or another but the starkness of the music and the underlying fiddle makes this one of my favorites. “Voodoo Queen” kicks up the reverb a little bit with a rocker that wouldn’t be out of place in a seedy biker bar. The anger still shows through in “God and Country” and Javi almost reminds me of Michael Dean Damron with the way he belts out his anger in this one. A little bitterness at the scene shows through in “Lose Control” but not so much that it comes across as melodramatic. And that’s they way the next twelve tracks go as well. It’s almost as if Javi Garcia just opened up his closet, drug out a skeleton, fired up a bowl or knocked back a fifth with it and then proceeded to exorcise it in song. This is not a happy two discs and there are some dark themes but it’s full of damn good music. Hell you may even find some catharsis of your own in track or two. I recommend taking with whiskey, alone, in the dark and seeing if you can get what Lewis Grizzard refers to as “…crying about your daddy drunk” because this is the right kind of music to use a soundtrack for just that. And yes this is Essential Listening.

LP Tracks:
Javi Garcia and the Cold Cold Ground – Voodoo Queen
Javi Garcia and the Cold Cold Ground – As Wicked As You
Javi Garcia and the Cold Cold Ground – Flood

EP Tracks:
Javi Garcia and the Cold Cold Ground – The Pills
Javi Garcia and the Cold Cold Ground – Needles & Thread

Javi Garcia and the Cold Cold Ground official website
Javi Garcia and the Cold Cold Ground on Twitter
Javi Garcia and the Cold Cold Ground on Myspace
Javi Garcia and the Cold Cold Ground on Facebook

WADE BOWEN – LIVE AT BILLY BOB'S, TEXAS

Wade Bowen is one of my favorite Texas/Red Dirt boys and he has finally dropped a Live at Billy Bob’s Texas album on us as a CD/DVD combo. If you know anything about the scene you know that everyone has to do one of these at some point and that they are always good. You can look through the careers of Jason Boland, Cross Canadian Ragweed, and just about any other Texas artist and you’ll find one of these discs in their releases. It’s not limited to Texas boys either with the likes of David Allen Coe, Merle Haggard and other legends having a Live at Billy Bobs Texas release to their name. Wade joins the club with the one and it’s everything one would expect from both him and Billy Bob’s without a disappointing moment on either disc.

This album and the atmosphere it conveys is the reason I got into the Texas/Red Dirt Scene. Originally a member of West 84 which, in 1991, re-aligned with Wade as the front man and started releasing albums as Wade Bowen & West 84 and eventually as just Wade Bowen he has over a decade playing music and recording albums and still leaves it all on stage. This is something you can really feel on this album. It isn’t like being there but it’s as close as you can get with your headphones on. There just isn’t a bad track on this one and the quality of the live performance puts it close to the top of the stack as far as live albums so far this year. If you have never heard Wade Bowen before this album is as good as any to start with but I’d wager if you started with you wouldn’t be stopping with it. It’s rare for me to think a live album is Essential Listening but just about any Live At Billy Bob’s Texas is good enough to make the list and this one is no exception.

Wade Bowen – Please Come to Boston
Wade Bowen – Daddy and the Devil
Wade Bowen – Ghost in this Town

Wade Bowen official website
Wade Bowen on Myspace
Wade Bowen’s artist page on Last.fm

BLAZE FOLEY: THE MUSIC YOU MIGHTA MADE

“There’s kind of two Blazes. A lot of people saw one or the other. There was the wild one. . . . And then there was the gentle, loving, caring one. I got to know both.” ~ Townes Van Zandt

Over the years of doing ninebullets, I’ve had the occasional emailer ask me if I’d ever heard of Blaze Foley. One was even so kind as to email me a collection of Blaze’s songs. These emails were the first I’d ever heard of the man, but it’s been in the back of my mind to write about him ever since I got those songs.

Blaze Foley was born in Arkansas but grew up in Texas settling on Austin as his home in his adult life. Even for a city known for it’s characters, Blaze seems to have been in a class all his own. Once, in an effort to mock the “Urban Cowboy” fad and their silver-tipped cowboy boots, he started putting duct tape on the tips of his boots. This obsession kept growing until he’d made a complete suit from duct tape that he would wear around. When they buried him, his friends even covered his entire casket with duct tape.

At the age of 39, Foley was murdered while attempting to help his friend Concho January defend himself from his violent son, Carey. Despite having written hundreds of songs and recorded numerous albums at the time of his death, none of Blaze’s music had ever been released. One album’s masters were seized by the DEA when the executive producer was caught in a drug bust. Another album’s masters were stolen when the station wagon Blaze was living in was broken into, and another album, “Wanted More Dead Than Alive”, was believed lost until an old friend found some master tapes while cleaning out his car some years after Blaze’s death.  Despite having a small but rabid fanbase that included such luminaries as Gurf Morlix and Townes Van Zandt, it would take some 10 years after his death before a Blaze album would see the light of day. The late nineties/naughts have given us a small Blaze Foley revival of sorts, with 4 albums being released (with a fifth on the way), an equal amount of tribute albums, and two documentaries about the man who never saw his music leave the bars he played in. A number of his songs have become hits for other artists, including Merle Haggard’s cover of “If I Could Fly”, Lyle Lovette’s cover of “Election Day”, and John Prine’s cover of “Clay Pigeons” off his 2005 Grammy Award winning album, Fair and Square.

There are plenty of other sites out there that can offer you a much more complete and better written account of Blaze’s life. I was only hoping to introduce you to / raise some interest in this lost gem. When I listen to his music, I can’t help but to think how appropriately titled Gurf Morlix’s tribute to Blaze from his 2009 album Last Exit To Happyland was with “Music You Mighta Made.”

Blaze Foley – Cold, Cold World
Blaze Foley – Big Cheeseburgers & Good French Fries
Blaze Foley – Darlin’
Blaze Foley – Officer Norris
Blaze Foley – Gettin’ Over You

Gurf Morlix – Music You Might Have Made

Lyle Lovette – Election Day
Merle Haggard – If I Could Fly
John Prine – Clay Pigeons

JOSH GRIDER TRIO – SWEET ROAD TO RIDE


The Josh Grider Trio has departed from the traditional country album with Sweet Road to Ride. While there are some songs that would be immediately identified as country the band has added a groove to their sound that defies the purist sound that runs through the Red Dirt Music scene and it works. In Josh’s own words “Everybody knows who Merle Haggard is, everybody knows who Dave Matthews is, so if you say we meet in the middle, that’s kind of what’s goin’ on. It’s got the boogie in it”. While I am not sure about the Dave Matthews reference Josh is right about this music having the boogie in it. While You Were Sleeping is a catchy little number about leaving in the middle of the night that makes you tap your feet and want to get up and dance and on some level that’s just wrong. A leaving song shouldn’t boogie but damn it does and does it right. Follow that up with Halfway There’s admonition of “It’s too late to go back now” and it’s harmonies and you’ll think you’ve got a feel for where Josh is going but then he takes a turn and hits you Again which is pure cryin’ in your beer music.

Josh has been around the Red Dirt scene for a while and has earned the right to do whatever the hell he wants with his music and he does a fine job of it on this album. JG3 is amazing live but this offering is almost as fun as a live show. There is energy here that isn’t found in a lot of studio releases. I can see why Texas Red Dirt Roads described it as the group playing like a child plays with a new toy. It’s definitely a must have for Red Dirt fans.

Josh Grider Trio – While You Were Sleeping
Josh Grider Trio – Sometimes
Josh Grider Trio – Watch Me Now

Josh Grider Trio Official Site

THE ROCK REPORT: JEREMY STEDING AND THE BAND OF BASTARDS @ GOODE'S ARMADILLO PALACE – HOUSTON, TEXAS 12-03-09

Some days things just work together. While I was writing up the review of A Damn Good Ride I dropped by Jeremy Steding’s website to look for his bio and such and found out he was playing in town that night. I grabbed a phone number off the site, made a call, and set up some time with him before the show. As luck would have it and one thing leading to another I wasn’t as early as I wanted to be but since it was a Thursday night show there wasn’t an opening act and there was still plenty of time to meet The Band of Bastards and get to know them before the show. And a damn fine show it was…

Jeremy Steding
(In case you’re wondering that is a Jason Isbell shirt on the Eric.)

What I learned is a that Jeremy is originally from Florida and came west to Austin in 2007 with an unmastered, unreleased “Whiskey Songs and Prison Songs” to pursue music in the Red Dirt scene. Having been inspired by old Pat Green (before he went Nashville), Cory Morrow, Robert Earl Keen and the like he figure Austin was the place to be if he wanted to play his kind of music.
I know our gracious host would disagree, being a huge fan of the Florida music scene and rightfully so, but Jeremy made his trek and is now making his mark on Red Dirt Music. One of the highlights of the night was finding out that Jeremy is fan and friend of Pete and Larry from Truckstop Coffee. Those boys are perennial 9B favourites and it’s always nice to find other fans.

Jeremy is at a point in his career that he says many never make it past. He’s playing decent venues and getting decent turnouts but intimates it’s fairly easy to get stuck there for a good long while and some folks can’t handle what seems like being in a rut. He handles most of his own booking, all of his merch, all of the publicity pretty much managing himself and the Band of Bastards. He uses all of the standard methods today such as twitter, myspace, facebook, and so on to get the word out about his music and his shows all while giving away his recorded music on his website. He and the band have a sponorship from Budweiser and they are touring hard. He says he loves the work and doesn’t mind all the time it takes to self manage. I did ask him specifically about giving away the albums on the website and he explained that while they sell a good number of CDs at shows that he wanted more people to discover his music. He thinks that people don’t buy as many CDs as they used to because of worrying about the investment. What if the CD sucks? So he put both albums for free, gives out business cards everywhere he goes that tell people where to go to download it, has a donate button if you want to toss a couple bucks his way, and still sells just as many plastic shiny discs at shows. And it’s working. More and more people are hearing his music and coming to shows. And that’s where Jeremy Steding and the Band of Bastards really shine…

Jeremy Steding And let me tell you: These boys can tear up a stage. I liked the album and that’s pretty clear from my review but seeing them live is just damn good. It’s not as big a difference as Cory Branan’s live vs. his studio work but it is something that has to be seen to be believed. Jeremy is a showman for sure and he pulls in the audience without even trying. He’s still young so the show isn’t as polished as some of the old timers but whether it’s belting out his original songs are having a little fun with classic covers like You Never Call Be By My Name whilst claiming it was written by “…a friend of a friend of a friend of my dad’s” on Canadian bacon in eyeliner you can tell that Jeremy is doing what he loves and the Band of Bastards is having as much fun as he is. And when I say he gets the audience involved I mean the isn’t above calling out the drunk birthday girl to help out with The Boys From Oklahoma.

They're too damn skinny and way too long...
…they’re too damn skinny and way too long…

In closing you shouldn’t miss the chance to see this Florida boy turned Texan play a live show. With a band that cites influences ranging from Truckstop Coffee to Jason Isbell you certainly could do worse. And as far as the more country and western shows go I am not sure you could do better these days.

The Band of Bastards is:

  • Matt Winegardner – Drums
  • Eric Smith – Bass
  • Steve James – Lead Guitar

You can see the full gallery from the show over at romeosidvicious.com .

Here’s some tracks off of Jemery’s first album since I don’t have any live tracks (except the one from this album) from him just yet:

Jeremy Steding – Bonnie Blue
Jeremy Steding – Auburn
Jeremy Steding – The Day to Day, Today (Live)

And the Boys From Oklahoma…

Jason Boland – The Boys From Oklahoma

Jeremy Steding Official Site
Jeremy Steding on MySpace
Jeremy Steding on Facebook
Jeremy Steding on Twitter
Jeremy Steding on YouTube

JEREMY STEDING – A DAMN GOOD RIDE

A Damn Good Ride

I like free music and I think that’s a given for most folks here but the caveat is that music is not like sex or pizza. When music is bad it’s not still good whether it’s free or not. Jeremy Steding’s music is not bad. In fact it’s damn good and both his albums are available for free on his website. He’s pretty new to the Red Dirt scene. I discovered him listening to Radio Free Texas and was intrigued. So I dropped his website and was even impressed to find both of his albums available fro free. The best part is that the boy is good at what he does.

The title track of this Red Dirt Music album starts with a salute to The Old Crow Medicine show and has a zydeco groove that’ll make you want to swing your baby ’round the dance floor if you are so inclined. That’s not the only hat tip on the album. Let the Boys Drink Whiskey is a nod to the deep Irish roots in country music and the chorus is reminiscent, in spirit, of Cory Branan’s Sour Mash. Not afraid of showing his honky tonk roots The Sand Panther Medicine Show takes us back to a better time musically while the lyrics keep us right here today with all the ills modern life has to give and offers us a cure for our ills. Closing the album is a country ballad that could have followed Eddie Rabbit’s classic Drivin’ My Life Away on the radio so many years ago and let me assure you this a complete album all the way around.

Overall this is a solid country album that you might have missed is you weren’t looking for it. I would say get off your ass and buy it but since you can surf on over to his website and download it you have no excuse. So I’ll simply end this with a quote from my favorite song on the album and a nod to AIV’s home state…

Just let the band play dixie, let the boys drink whiskey, lay me in the ground and hoist the Bonnie Blue…

(The Bonnie Blue, for those that don’t know, flew over the short lived Republic of Florida and inspired the Burnet Flag which flew over the Republic of Texas.)

Jeremy Steding – A Damn Good Ride
Jeremy Steding – Let The Boys Drink Whiskey
Jeremy Steding – The Day Today

ROBERT EARL KEEN – THE ROSE HOTEL


The first time I ever heard anything referred to as Texas Country it was a song from Robert Earl Keen. That song, unlike many people’s first REK exposure (The Road Goes on Forever), was Corpus Christi Bay. My younger brother played it for me one evening and I was hooked. I speedily acquired REK’s catalog and branched out into other Texas Country artists like Cory Morrow, Pat Green, Jason Boland & The Stragglers just to name a few. I love the Texas Country scene and especially The Firehouse Saloon here in Houston. When I finally got into the music REK was too big a name to be playing the dives I tend to hang out in so I rarely see him play and yet he his music holds a special place in my heart. It may be that he was the first artist in a new genre that I heard but it is more likely that he is just an amazing singer/songwriter.

After a four year hiatus we finally have a new release from Robert Earl Keen. The Rose Hotel may be standard Robert Earl Keen but that doesn’t mean there is anything standard about the album. You see standard Robert Earl Keen is a cut above the rest even when it comes to Texas Country. I have been listening to this thing for two days now and haven’t found a single song I didn’t like. From the opening strokes of The Rose Hotel to the closing chords of Wireless in Heaven this is a solid album. Toss in some a Townes Van Zandt cover Flying Shoes and Billy Bob Thorton doing vocals on 10,000 Chinese Walk Into A Bar and you end up with something great. Fifteen albums into his career Robert Earl Keen proves once again that there is no mold that fits him and that suits us just fine.

If you aren’t already a Robert Earl Keen fan you should be. Give the 9b selections a listen and go get yourself REK’d…

Robert Earl Keen – The Rose Hotel
Robert Earl Keen – Throwin’ Rocks
Robert Earl Keen – The Man Behind The Drums

Robert Earl Keen’s Official Website, Robert Earl Keen on myspace, Buy The Rose Hotel

AN ELDER STATESMAN…

Hailed in the press as the elder statesman of Texas music Ray Wylie Hubbard has been pickin’ guitars and writin’ songs for longer than I have been alive. Most of you probably know his work through Jerry Jeff Walker who made Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother famous back in 1973. With fourteen albums under his belt and almost forty years in country music industry Ray Wylie is the real deal. He has lived his music and was a sodden drunk until sometime in 1987 when he credits another Texas great: Stevie Ray Vaughan with convincing him to stop drinking.

I have to admit his first albums have not grown on me even over the years but what could one expect when one of the was named Ray Wylie & The Cowboy Twinkies? In fact almost two decades of his career is mostly lost on me. 1992 marked the release of Lost Train of Thought and that is where I believe Ray Wylie came into his own. Seventeen years and nine albums later Ray still has the stuff he couldn’t find in the 70’s and 80’s. Now I don’t know if he really is an elder statesman of the Texas music scene but I do know that he still tours, still picks his guitar, and still writes amazing music. He just finished an album that’s slated to be released in January as well as having co-written a screenplay that’s said to worthy of Sam Peckinpah. The movie is called The Last Rites of Ransom Pride and stars Dwight Yoakum along with Cote de Pablo of NCIS fame. Along with the soundtrack he wrote all of the music for the movie. For a man his age he’s a busy son of a bitch.

If you ever have the chance to see him live I would highly recommend that you don’t miss it. It won’t be a rowdy show that leaves you draggin’ ass home and it won’t be a sing-along but it will be a show that you won’t likely forget. In case you need a teaser here are some Ray Wylie tracks for your listening pleasure:

Ray Wylie Hubbard – Choctaw Bingo
Ray Wylie Hubbard – Dust of the Chase
Ray Wylie Hubbard – Dallas After Midnight

Ray Wylie Hubbard – Official Site, Ray Wylie Hubbard – MySpace, The Last Rites of Ransom Pride

WAYNE "THE TRAIN" HANCOCK – VIPER OF MELODY

I figured there would be no better segue from Dale Watson than the new Wayne “the train” Hancock album. Now, to be honest, most of my Hancock knowledge has been gleaned from the Hank III fan base and up until Viper of Melody I’d never owned any of his cds. That’s due to change.

Much like Watson, Wayne makes no effort to intermingle genres, he just pens Texas juke-joint country swing music and he does a damned good job of it.

Now sometimes with ninebullets I find myself feeling the need to put more words in a post. More description. More back story. Sometimes though, in hindsight, I feel as if I muddied the waters more than anything and I *will not* do that to this album. I’m gonna post three songs and they’ll describe and define this album better than words ever could. So, check out this ex-Marine outta Austin, Texas.

Readers: What album should I buy next?

Wayne Hancock – Jump Blues
Wayne Hancock – Throwin’ Away My Money
Wayne Hancock – Working at Working

Wayne Hancock’s Official Site, Wayne Hancock on myspace, Buy Viper of Melody

EDIT: Turns out today in Wayne’s birthday. Happy Birthday!