Held in Challis, Idaho, the Braun Brothers Reunion is three days of music featuring respected artists from the Texas, Americana and Red Dirt scenes. This year, the BBR will be held from August 11-13th and will feature sixteen plus artists, including esteemed singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo, who was named No Depression's Artist of the Decade in 1998. In our continuing series featuring some of the artists at this year's BBR, Mr. Escovedo very graciously agreed to talk about the festival, his new record and more.
This will be your first time playing at the BBR. What made you want to be a part of it?
I’ve played in Idaho quite a bit, but this will be my first time at the festival. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it and how beautiful the location is. Plus, I'm always happy to see those guys [the Brauns]; they're really nice people. I know they’ve done a few of my songs, and I feel like we’ve always had a connection. I'm looking forward to being a part of it.
Being that you’re playing on the first day, will you be staying the remainder of the time?
We’re hoping that we can spend some time there because we would like to go hiking and hang out, but I’m not sure. It would also be nice to be able to stay and listen to the other people playing. I live in Dallas now, and the community started to host music events at night. I went to see a great band, the Texas Gentleman, and they happened to learn a song of mine. I didn’t know they were going to ask me to play, and it was nice they did, but I declined in order to just listen, which is something I don’t often get the opportunity to do.
That's a sentiment I have heard often lately from artists I have spoken with.
You frequently speak of your musical influences, but you’ve influenced many artists as well. All of the Brauns, who as you mentioned cover your songs, really seem to respect you.
I love their story and how music is familial to them. I admire their perseverance and have a lot of respect for the fact that they worked outside the system to create and build their own thing, which is a wonderful way to approach music.
Q&A: Wes Sharon ~ The Grammy Nominated Producer Discusses His Approach to Making Records, the Importance of Listening Intently & More
For producer Wes Sharon, a lifetime spent working in music is much more than just a job - it’s a passion and a way of life that can be clearly heard, and felt, when he speaks. Based in Oklahoma where he helms his studio 115 Recording, Sharon has been an integral part of critically acclaimed albums from well-respected artists such as Parker Millsap, the Turnpike Troubadours, and newcomer Jared Deck as well as being Grammy nominated for Best Americana album in 2013 for his work on John Fullbright's From The Ground Up. Between mixing, engineering and producing, Sharon graciously took the time to speak about his roots, his approach to producing, the importance of being a good listener and more.
Your journey in music has truly been a lifelong one. What was the progression like from bassist to producer?
I’m originally from Oklahoma, but when I was fourteen we moved to Texas. I really didn’t have a lot of friends, so I started playing music. When we moved back to Oklahoma, I was playing bass and eventually ended up in a couple of bands that were regionally successful. When we did sessions, I wouldn’t use headphones because I thought they sounded bad, so I always ended up in the control room. By default, I became the guy who would be able to critique a take and answer someone’s questions. Eventually, a band we were friends with asked if I would come in the studio with them, which I did, so I was kind of producing and engineering and I didn’t even know I was doing it. That got me deeper into it and I started recording at home using a dual cassette player to do overdubs. I’d do that for hours - and the results were pretty horrible - but it had me, as a senior in high school, playing parties while my friends were washing cars (laughing).
After awhile, I ended up in California where I started working at Prairie Sun, which is where I really learned everything I know. I went out there because that’s where Tom Waits, who is one of my heroes along with Keith Richards and Frank Sinatra, recorded. But when I got out there, I found out they didn’t even record him anymore. Instead, it was metal heaven. Musically it wasn’t my cup of tea, but I worked with these incredibly talented guys and had an invaluable experience that taught me how to deal with drums and other instruments on an engineering level. While I was out there I met and became friends with Remy Zero. They were on Geffen Records and on rare days off, I’d go and record them, which brought me to the attention of the owner of Prairie Sun and got me started working with alternative-rock bands - which was more in line with what I myself would listen to.
So you were in California, working at Prairie Sun on projects that you enjoyed; what spurred the move back to Oklahoma?
It’s always the same old story, I broke up with a girlfriend and came home to get away for a little bit, but then decided to stay. I was flying back to California to do sessions for a little while, but then I began working with my friend, April Tippens who was in a band called Radial Spangle. They had a deal with an English label, Beggars Banquet, so I recorded them in my house which led me to record local bands. The really key moment though was when I met Ryan Engleman and became the bassist in his band, Ryan Engleman Ant the Midnight Marauders. From there, Ryan, who is like the connective tissue in all of this, introduced me to everyone I work with now. He took me to see John play, and later when he joined the Troubadours, they came in to record and from there one thing led to another.
Held in Challis, Idaho in August, the Braun Brothers Reunion is three days of music featuring esteemed artists from the Texas, Americana and Red Dirt scenes. This year, the BBR will be held from August 11-13th and will feature sixteen plus artists, including Cody Canada and The Departed, performing on an outdoor stage in a truly breathtaking setting. In our continuing series featuring some of the artists at this year's festival, Cody Canada very graciously agreed to talk about the festival, his friendship with the Brauns and more.
The BBR has been going on for quite some time, how many years have you been a part of it?
We were trying to figure that out. I want to say this is ten, nine or ten.
In addition to being extremely good friends with the Brauns, what keeps you coming back and makes the BBR special to you?
A long time ago, I went to see Robert Earl Keen’s Texas Uprising with Robert Earl, Reckless and Steve Earle. I went to see Steve because I had never seen him before, but then I saw Reckless and thought, “Holy shit, we’re not alone.” Until then, I thought we were all alone playing this music that we were playing, but when we saw Reckless we saw another band doing the same thing we were. I started following them around, going to all of their shows and got to be good buddies with them. When we did a show in Idaho, they invited us to their house on our day off, we met their folks and the next thing you know, we got a gig. Outside of my blood family and my road family, they are family. They treat us like gold and I’d do anything for them.
Someone recently mentioned to me that in this business you can’t be friends with everyone and when you make these close friendships, you really cherish them. It seems like that’s what you have with them.
In this business, actually in anything unfortunately, there are people that use other people and you have to watch your back. We learned from the get go that these guys support you no matter what and they have your back no matter what. I love their love for music and their etiquette. They don’t pick up a guitar and play somewhere just because they know somebody, they work their asses off. They do it the way that I always thought that it should be done and I think that’s how we clicked.
Held in Challis, Idaho in August, the Braun Brothers Reunion is three days of music featuring esteemed artists from the Texas, Americana and Red Dirt scenes. This year, the BBR will be held from August 11-13th and will feature sixteen plus artists, including Jonathan Tyler who last year released the critically acclaimed Holy Smokes. Tyler kindly took the time to call from the road to talk about playing the BBR, what's ahead, and more.
This will be your first time playing the at BBR. What made you want to be a part of the festival?
Well over the years, I’ve seen photos and heard stories from friends about how beautiful and how nice this festival is, so when I was invited to play, I was definitely interested in being a part of it. I’ve played in Idaho a few times, but have never played in Challis. I’m really glad they invited me and have given me the opportunity to be a part of it.
Many of the artists are Texas based or tour throughout Texas. Do you know them all and is there anyone you want to see?
I’m sure it’s the usual suspects, so I probably know them all. Corb [Lund] is awesome. I'm looking forward to seeing American Aquarium, and Turnpike Troubadours and I’m really excited to see Reckless Kelly.
Besides it being a really good time, have you heard anything about what to expect?
Friends told me that it is one of the most beautiful settings for a festival out there, and personally, I am really into nature, so I’m looking forward to that. I’ve also heard that the people who come to the festival are really welcoming and big fans of what we all do, so I’m very excited about that as well.
Dolly Shine's latest release, Walkabout, is a wanderer’s diary of nine well-crafted, unique tales dealing with relationships, desolation, and lonesomeness. It also showcases the band's - Zack McGinn, Wesley Hall, Johnny Goodson, Jerrod Flusche, and Ben Hussey - own journey, both professionally and personally, over the past six years. A few days prior to its release, McGinn kindly took the time to talk about the record, the stories behind songs and more.
Congratulations on the release of Walkabout. The album was successfully funded via a Pledge campaign which really speaks to the fan base. Had you done anything like that previously?
This was actually the first time we did something like that and we were pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The fans have always been the reason we have a career and allow us to keep going; without them, this record would not have been possible.
Ben [Hussey] and Josh [Serrato] once again produced the record. Did you do anything differently this time around?
I think sonically some of what we did with the guitars in certain songs was different, but the biggest change was that we were able to spend more time on this record to achieve the sound we were really going for.
Walkabout is a concept album of a drifter’s diary. What made you approach it that way?
Not a lot of people do concept records in country music anymore, so we thought it would be a really cool idea to take storylines from several different folks and put them into a record. We wanted each song to take the listener to a different place and I feel like we achieved that.
Singer-songwriter, modern day poet, storyteller, and keen picker, Ray Wylie Hubbard returns to the New York area on July 13th when he will bring his grit and groove to Hill Country NYC. Easily capturing the attention of his audiences with not only those dirty grooves and weathered vocals, but with his wit, wisdom and banter as well, the self-described "old cat" graciously took some time to talk about his recent memoir A Life...Well, Lived, the meaning of being a prosperous songwriter, what's ahead and more.
We last spoke about a year ago when you were preparing to play Brooklyn and you're returning onJuly 13th, this time at Hill Country in NYC. With so much travel and touring, do you ever get to stop and enjoy where you are or is it always just going from one place to another?
Well, it really kind of depends. I don’t do long tours like I used to. This time, we fly into Washington D.C. then play in Sellersville and New York and so we don’t have a lot of time. When we first came to New York we’d try to get there early to hang out and enjoy it but now it’s like a whirlwind playing a gig and heading to the next one. When we played Flagstaff, I got to see the Grand Canyon though, so sometimes we get to enjoy the places we play.
You recently did a short run with Jonathan Tyler and Aaron Lee Tasjan, both of whom seem like kindred spirits to you.
I found these young rock n' rollers under a rock (laughing) and we went out and played Cain’s and a few other places. I just love hanging with them and the gigs were so much fun. I brought them both up on stage with me, so it turned into a free for all train wreck (laughing).
But really, I just love those guys. There are certain cats you run into who are stand up guys and doing it for the right reasons – well, maybe they started off doing it for beer and girls (laughing) - but they’re rockers whose hearts are in the right place. They have this great rock n’ roll vibe and it’s important to them to write songs with great lyrics, depth and weight - which they do. They’re not posers.
Did you get to do any writing with them?
Jonathan and I have another one we’re working on and are going to go into the studio together and try to record it when we find time. I have an idea I want to throw at Aaron too, so we’ll see. They keep me on my toes.
Originally from New Mexico, but now residing in Nashville, Alex Stern released her new EP Midnight Bandits earlier this month. The collection of four original songs, all co-written by Stern, were inspired by personal moments and showcase her dynamic vocals and relatable songwriting. Stern kindly took the time to call and chat about her roots, the stories behind the songs and much more.
Many people say they have wanted to be a singer since they were young, but you truly knew it from a very young age.
Growing up, my Dad was an international pilot and my Mom was a high school teacher. When I was in school they taught you to pick one thing you wanted to be when you grew up, like a ballerina, a firefighter or a doctor. In my mind I compartmentalized things and knew that I really sucked at sports - I broke my toe doing a cartwheel once – and I was bad at math, so I often wondered about exactly what I was good at. One year when I was around nine, I was watching an E! Hollywood Story or something like that on television about Destiny’s Child. The show had said Beyoncé asked her parents for voice lessons at nine and I was like, “Wait a second that’s what I want, I want to be a singer.” So I just went to my parents and told them that I wanted to take voice lessons and they were like, “Okay.” The only songs I knew were from the Disney songbook, but it was so much fun and I loved being able to express myself in a way that didn’t have to be graded or timed. It felt natural to me and feel in love with it.
Throughout school, I participated in every musical and then in my junior year of high school everything changed when I got accepted to Grammy Camp, which is a young music industry professional camp hosted in all of the big cities in the US. I don’t remember how I heard about it, but I auditioned - even though I never thought I would get in. I did get in though and got to spend ten days in LA where we would wake up at 5am and go to bed at midnight – it was intense! But there was something about the industry in LA - I didn’t know if I could survive it because it was really different from what I expected. It’s not to say LA was bad, it just wasn’t the fit for me. So I went home wondering if I wanted to do music, which I did, so I tried again, but this time for Nashville and I got in. And I went to Nashville and just fell in love with the city. I learned what songwriting was and wrote my first song there in senior year. After Grammy Camp, I went back home and ended up not getting into my dream school, USC, which made me doubt my journey. So I went to the University of New Mexico, lived five minutes from home, joined a sorority, and took a job at a local PR firm. I loved my job, my school, and my sorority and wanted to do my best to live a happy and fulfilled life.
Singer-songwriter Hudson Moore’s songs are firmly rooted in country though they’re equally influenced by other genres, like rock, pop and the blues. In 2012 his single "Fireworks" climbed atop the Texas charts where it remained for two weeks. Now, multi-instrumentalist Moore returns with new music on Getaway, his first album in almost six years. In advance of its release on June 17th, Moore kindly took the time to talk about the process of making the album, the stories behind the songs and more.
Congrats on Getaway which will be released June 17th. With fourteen songs, it’s a collection which is a bit larger than what we typically see being released. Did you have many songs to pull from for the album and was it difficult narrowing them down?
I wrote about fifty to sixty songs over the past couple of years and it was tough to narrow it down. I narrowed it down to my twenty favorites, we recorded a total of nineteen and we ended up with fourteen. It may be a bit more than people are used to, but I just wanted to give the listener a lot of different flavors so they would get to see the diversity of my musical personality. We have a little bit of everything from ballads to fun songs and there are even a few that may surprise people.
The songs definitely display that musical diversity, but they also seem unified around the theme of relationships.
Yeah, most of the songs are based on the highs and lows of relationships, which are the types of songs have become my favorites over the years because they are the things I can relate having been through. There are some heartbreakers in there, but overall I wanted to make a record that made people feel good.
Held in Challis, Idaho in August, the Braun Brothers Reunion is three days of music featuring esteemed artists from the Texas, Americana and Red Dirt scenes. This year, the BBR will be held from August 11-13th and will feature sixteen plus artists, including Sunny Sweeney, performing on an outdoor stage in an idyllic setting.
In 2015, Sweeney made history becoming the first female with two consecutive #1 hits on the Texas charts with “Bad Girl Phase” and “My Bed,” her duet with Will Hoge. She brings her always truthful, often funny and perceptive songs to the Braun Brothers Reunion Festival which she will be opening on Thursday, August 11th. As part of our series featuring the artists performing at this year's BBR, Sunny graciously agreed to talk about playing the festival, going to Europe and lots more.
So this is your first time heading to Idaho for the BBR. With so many festivals, particularly in Texas alone, what made you want to be a part of this one?
This is my first time at the BBR and I am so excited! I have always wanted to play it, so now to finally get the chance to do that is fantastic. I am really looking forward to it, plus, it’s never a bad thing to get out of the Texas heat in August (laughing).
Cody [Braun of Reckless Kelly] asked me if it was something I would be interested in and I was like, “Duh.” (laughing) It’s going to be such a good time. We are doing a full band show there and after the BBR, I was given the opportunity to go to Montana and other surrounding states to play some shows, which I am really excited about.
Has anyone told you what to expect?
I know I should expect a good time and I would hope that Cody’s Bloody Marys that he made at Steamboat will be there. They’re the most amazing Bloody Marys I’ve ever had.
You have the prime position of opening the BBR. Will you be staying all three days to catch the other artists?
We’re the very first act which is great, but since we are playing other shows in the area, we can really only be there for one day. I have seen all of the other artists before though and can tell you it’s an incredibly cool line-up.
Goldfeather is a Brooklyn-based folk meets contemporary classical ensemble led by native Minnesotan singer and violinist Sarah Goldfeather. Their music, described as "poignant...striking and laudable" (The Deli Magazine), with "a lush, dynamic collective of sound" and "striking intensity" (Elmore Magazine) explores unusual melodies accented with three-part harmonies against a rich indie-folk-pop backdrop. Sarah and her conservatory-trained five-piece band - Dylan McKinstry (mandolin/voice), Katie Martucci (guitar/voice), Nathan Koci (accordion/banjo/voice) and Pat Swoboda (double bass) - will release their new album, Patchwork Quilt, later this year. In advance of the release, Sarah graciously agreed to talk about her background, the album and more.
You’re originally from Minnesota and are now based in Brooklyn. How did you come to make the move to New York?
I went to Vassar where I received an undergraduate degree in music and on a whim after graduation, I decided to move to NYC...and have been here for almost six years now. I have played the violin since I was seven, but never really thought it was possible to actually become a musician until I moved to New York City. I joined a bluegrass band, started freelancing, and became involved with the contemporary classical community, and finally realized that it was something I could actually do! When I attended the Bang On A Can Summer Music Festival in North Adams, Massachusetts, I became part of such a rich music community that I was really able to find my musical footing. I got the idea to start my own band, Goldfeather, in 2012 (originally the Sarah Goldfeather Band), which began sort of casually, but after we released an EP [in 2014] and began recording our first LP this summer, it got more serious and satisfying.