In the heart of the Flatiron district, Hill Country BBQ brings the spirit of Texas to NYC as it showcases live Americana music from the beloved elder statesmen of the genre, like Ray Wylie Hubbard and Billy Joe Shaver, to established artists who fly under the radar as well as talented up and comers, one of whom is K Phillips.
Touring on the heels of his March 10th release, Dirty Wonder, the Nashville by way of Texas singer-songwriter has been making music since he was a teen, but his April 22nd stop at Hill Country was his first. While many enjoyed their brisket and beverages, Phillips and his band of three made their way to the stage for an almost hour and a half set of all original music that pulled from Dirty Wonder as well as his 2012 release, American Girls.
As a steady stream of people passed through, more than usual stayed on listening to Phillips' unmistakable vocals convey an intense sensuality on "Hock The Horses" (a tune based partly on Mexican goddess Tlazolteotl ), accept a failed relationship while name-checking Shelley and Browning on "Hadrian" and expose a devilish side on "Dirty Wonder." While the melodies magnetically capture rock, country, and the blues, Phillips is an inspired storyteller, delivering lyrics that are poignant, literate, and witty detailing experiences in an unique and insightful manner.
While Phillips alternated between guitar and keyboards throughout the set, he and his band (who had only been playing out together a few days) brought people to the dance floor (often a rarity) on songs like "To Dance With You" and "Rambler" while an older couple swayed in the corner to "Coalburner." A soft-spoken and engaging frontman, Phillips brings an endearing presence to the stage interspersing stories, anecdotes, and charmingly cheesy jokes (Q: What's a metaphor? A: Cows and Sheep...ba dum dum) between tunes. Ensuring he had enough time before proceeding, he also played "Nobody Does It" and "Had Enough" before closing out with "Kat's Song." With that perfect triad of tunes, musicianship, and presence, make sure you catch Phillips when he's near you.
Read the interview with K HERE
Purchase Dirty Wonder HERE
Photos Courtesy: C. Mitt
Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, but always sure to feel at home in North Carolina, The Black Lillies made a welcome tour stop on December 2nd at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre. They brought their unique brand of soulful, blues infused country to a packed house ready to celebrate the band’s first time headlining the venue.
The night’s opener, Elise Davis packed a punch in her all too short set consisting of several songs from her 2016 release The Token, one of my favorite albums of the year. Small in stature but large in talent, she showcased her prowess as a stirring vocalist, wryly honest lyricist, and engaging performer on songs examining life and relationships including such highlights as “The Token”, “Benefits,” and “Pretty Girl”. Fans of Lucinda Williams and Elizabeth Cook should check out her music and her touring schedule at www.elisedavis.com.
The Black Lillies hit the stage at 10 PM to begin their set which, with the encore, included nineteen songs from their catalog and two extremely well done covers. Cruz, Trisha and the band were on fire from the opening notes of “Two Hearts Down” and kept the high energy going throughout the night. With so many long time fans of the band in attendance, practically every song turned into a group sing-a-long. What was truly a great night of fine music was slightly bittersweet since this run of shows will be the last for stellar vocalist Trisha Gene Brady. No doubt she will be missed. Every time she stepped up to the microphone she was showered with applause. I look forward to seeing what lies ahead for her.
At midnight The Black Lillies took a bow and left the stage to return minutes later to remind everyone why you should never, ever leave before the encore. Hearing their covers of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” and Eddie Rabbitt’s “Drivin’ My Life Away” was well worth the wait.
Check out their bio, music and tour schedule at www.theblacklillies.com
Amid a multi-week tour outside of Texas, Reckless Kelly's Northeast run took them, and their brothers Micky and The Motorcars, from Delaware and Massachusetts to Pennsylvania and Virginia, as well as New York City, Washington D.C., and Maryland in support of their latest album Sunset Motel.
It’s always special when Reckless makes it to the Northeast, which they do about once a year, but this run was doubly so as Micky and The Motorcars, who haven’t been to NYC in a few years, were along for the ride. Rather than playing general admission standing room only venues, this trek found them in restaurant/listening room environments beginning with their show on Tuesday, October 25th at NYC’s City Winery which hosted a sell-out crowd in its cozy quarters. Micky and his Motorcars were up first kicking things off with three tracks from their 2014 album Hearts From Above including the title track, “Long Road To Nowhere” and “Fall Apart.” They dove into the catalog a bit for “Rock Springs to Cheyenne” and covered Merle Haggard’s “The Fugitive” before brother and guitarist Gary took over lead vocals on a song he wrote with Josh Grider, a ballad, “Run Into You.” The five-some finished out their all too brief set (thirty-five minutes – which was just enough time for them and the audience to get into a groove before they had to exit) with “Carolina Morning” and “Tonight We Ride.”
With just a dimming of the lights, Willy Braun began Reckless’ set with a solo acoustic performance of “Alberta” which segued into “Detroit or Buffalo” as the remaining members of the band entered the small stage to cheers and applause. For over an hour and a half they pulled from older tunes like “Mirage” and “Black and White” (with its humorous back-story) to new ones from Sunset Motel including “The Champ,” “Moment In The Sun,” “Volcano,” and their recent multi-week number one “How Can You Love Him (If You Don’t Even Like Him)”. In a nod to the upcoming election, they did the song Braun commented was one, “You’ll be humming in the shower tomorrow” - “Pennsylvania Avenue.” Mid-set saw drummer Jay Nazz’s father Tom join the band onstage to sing “Kansas City” which was greeted warmly not only by the audience, but by Reckless themselves who beamed as he sang and played guitar. They rounded out the night with fan favorites “Ragged As The Road,” “Crazy Eddie's Last Hurrah,” “Nobody’s Girl” and “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” – all of which proved incredibly difficult to remain seated for – before bringing the Motorcars out for a familial sing-along and sending everyone off for the night.
As summer is winding down and festival season is coming to a close, you might want to start making plans for next year...and visiting Challis, Idaho, the home of the Braun Brothers Reunion.
Many times after a music festival, sites will regale us with lists of “10 of the Best Things We Saw At...” Well, at this year’s Braun Brothers Reunion, that number would total sixteen, the number of artists who played the Reunion, as every single one of them (and their bands) brought something special to the outdoor stage, performing standout sets for a record number of attendees at what could be argued was the best BBR yet.
Having a reputation for providing an environment that attracts not only well-respected artists, but a music loving audience as well, the family owned and operated Festival took place in the beautiful town of Challis, Idaho from August 11-13th. Over the course of three gorgeous days, the BBR hosted beloved Americana artists beginning with Sunny Sweeney who had the audience wrapped around her fierce, sassy (and incredibly humorous) finger as she played songs including “Bad Girl Phase,” and “Drink Myself Single" as well as a few covers. William Clark Green and his crew were up next, performing such favorites as “Sticks and Stones,” and “She Likes The Beatles” before closing with “Ringling Road” while clearly enjoying the welcoming reception from the crowd for their first BBR. Oklahoma’s Jason Boland and The Stragglers brought a huge crowd front and center where they enjoyed a set that included “Dark and Dirty Mile,” “Holy Relic Sale” and “Electric Bill.” Following Boland was esteemed singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo who, with his full band, performed a simply dynamic set. On stage, Escovedo exudes a seasoned professionalism while simultaneously being engaging and energetic, giving a “can’t take your eyes off of him” electrifying performance. While following Escovedo might appear to be daunting, Micky and The Motorcars, who traditionally close out Thursday night, were more than up to the task. Utterly defining the phrase “killed it," the performed songs including “Tonight We Ride,” “Hurt Again” and “Lost and Found", building an enthralling, energetic and exhilarating set. Before closing out the night with “Bloodshot,” they brought Escovedo back to the stage to perform his song “Sister Lost Soul” which is found on their latest album, Hearts From Above.
American Aquarium’s frontman, BJ Barham brought the band and the fans to a sold out show at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre August 20th. The night was the kickoff for the tour in support of his solo album Rockingham, released on August 19th.
To be sure, Barham enjoys huge support in Raleigh since American Aquarium cut its teeth playing the small bars and clubs in the area. Though the crowd was eager for the headliner, they were treated to a fabulous opener in Justin Osborne from SUSTO. The talented singer- songwriter held everyone’s attention with just a mic, a guitar, cleverly written songs and his witty stage banter.
Barham and the band took the stage around 10pm for an hour and a half set which began with the outstanding eight songs from Rockingham. The material in the collection is a weighty, reflective body of work that looks at life in rural, small town American with none of the romanticized clichés we so often hear. Tales of dreams unfulfilled, economic struggles and the promise of the American Dream largely broken are featured. The driving rock influences of an American Aquarium record are appropriately replaced with heavy emphasis on Whit Wright’s steel guitar and Barham’s affecting vocal delivery which allows the audience to feel the full impact of the lyrics. Especially moving are some of the songs written from the perspective of a father (“Madeline”), a grandfather and war veteran (“American Tobacco Company”) and a grieving yet grateful spouse (“Unfortunate Kind”).
After the final song from the new album, Barham humbly and sincerely thanked the fans who came out on a Saturday night to hear “a bunch of sad songs.” He and the band then performed some American Aquarium fan favorites such as “Wolves,” “Losing Side of Twenty-Five,” “St Mary’s” and “Casualties.”
I hope you get the chance to catch one of the shows on the tour. For lovers of well written songs delivered with a listening room vibe, it’s not to be missed. You can find information on the tour and purchase the album at www.bjbarham.com
All the way from Australia, Alt-Country/Americana singer-songwriter Ruby Boots (Bes Chilcott) played a short set Monday night in NYC at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 1. Boots, whose album Solitude was released in Australia in 2015 is currently on tour in the U.S. with The Waifs and decided to take advantage of her night off and play a solo show.
Kicking things off with "Cola and Wine" she played for around forty-five minutes for an attentive and appreciative crowd of about forty (decent for a Monday night in NYC). Armed only with her acoustic guitar, her passionate vocals and a skilled guitarist by her side, Boots bantered with the crowd in between songs such as "Wrap Me in A Fever," "Middle of Nowhere" and "Walk Away." Only a few songs into her set it was clear that Boots has the goods, not only musically, but with a stage presence - energetic, enthusiastic and incredibly funny - big enough to fill a stadium as well.
Ruby Boots was just announced to play AmericanaFest 2016 in September in Nashville, so if you're headed that way I cannot encourage you enough to catch her show.
NYC (thankfully) sees it's fair share of Texas artists, but March has been one for the books, with particularly heavy traffic. Roger Creager, Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen, Casey Donahew Band and Pat Green already passed through the city with Cory Morrow rounding things out on the 19th.
Add to that list, William Clark Green who rolled into town this past Friday for a return visit as part of an east coast run that included Philly, Boston and Washington D.C. Before a crowd of about one hundred, Green played songs from all four of the albums in his catalog kicking things off with "Next Big Thing" from his critically lauded 2015 release Ringling Road (an album where Green's gift for storytelling with wit, depth, frankness and utterly perceptive observations has never been stronger). A little "I Won't Back Down" cushioned in "Hangin' Around" as well as some Beatles ("With A Little Help From My Friends) and the Stones ("Start Me Up") prior to "She Likes The Beatles" were well received by the crowd who were on their feet dancing in between the tables to "Creek Don't Rise" and air drumming to "Sticks and Stones."
The energy kept up throughout the little over an hour set until Green's weighty solo acoustic performance which showcased a more serious side. As his band left the stage, Green told the story of his best friend's one-night stand that resulted in pregnancy - and how proud he was of his friend for deciding to take responsibility for the child - before launching into Chris Knight's tale of the same, "Enough Rope."
Things lightened back up again when his band of brothers (Cameron Moreland, Josh Serrato, Sawyer McGee, Steven Marcus) returned for a few more before closing out the night (to the delight of the guy requesting it early on) with "Ringling Road."
Next Big Thing
It's About Time
Dead or In Jail
Creek Don't Rise
Sticks and Stones
Fool Me Once
She Likes The Beatles
Green's latest project, a live album recorded at Gruene Hall, will be released May 13th.
Texas Comes to NYC at the 8th Annual Salute to Texas Independence Day at Terminal 5 feat. Wade Bowen, Casey Donahew Band, Randy Rogers Band and Pat Green
“There’s a lot of displaced Texans in New York.” Pat Green got that right as Texas exes, music lovers and locals seeing four of Texas’ best for the first time piled into Terminal 5 for the largest crowd yet at the 8th Annual Salute to Texas Independence show.
“Thanks for coming out early” said Wade Bowen as he charged through a short set of songs including “Trouble,” “Songs About Trucks,” “Sun Shines On A Dreamer,” and “When I Woke Up Today” before closing (appropriately enough) with “Saturday Night,” which he reminded the crowd was his only charting single at #39. Incredibly animated, it was undeniable that Bowen was having a blast on stage with an energy that seeped into the crowd and could be felt in the air.
Casey Donahew Band was up next and as always, delivered a fun, high-energy set. Donahew reaffirmed his love of country, the military, and 2A with the best statement of the night, “Guns don’t kill people, pencils don’t misspell words and trucks don’t drive drunk” before launching into “12 Gauge.” He and his band of five (immensely talented like Bowen’s) played over half an hour set which included “Fallen,” “Crazy”, and a tune from their upcoming EP that was just quintessential CDB: fun, up-tempo and nailing country life. Donahew closed out with fan favorite “Stockyards” which had the crowd singing along.
“Happy Texas Independence Day” shouted Randy Rogers said as he proceeded to roll call Texas universities to which the crowd responded with hoots and hollers (Aggies and Longhorns shouted the loudest in case you were wondering). Incredibly chatty, funny and in all around great spirits, he and his band simply brought it, bringing the crowd into a frenzy with chants of “Randy F--- Rogers.” Old favorites, as well as songs from their terrific January album, Nothing Shines Like Neon, made an approximately fifteen song playlist that included “Flash Flood,” “Fuzzy,” “Trouble,” and “Neon Blues.” While notes of “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas” (“With TWO F-- fiddles”) fired the crowd up, Bowen returned to sing “Standards” with buddy Rogers while Pat Green pelted the band with ice chips from above. Songs for the lonely, single women and couples found the theme of love (old and new) pulsing through Rogers set with him telling the crowd that “Better than any dating app, or dating website…..is a concert” (he’s probably right). “Speak of the Devil,” “Buy Myself A Chance,” and “This Time Around” rounded out a set that left everyone wanting more.
Without any fanfare (even the typically dimmed lights), Pat Green walked onto the stage to chants of “Pat F-- Green” (causing him to comment that he thinks Bowen should also have the expletive as his middle name) from an audience who was enthusiastic and more than ready. Fan favorite Green, who also headlined last year, entertained the crowd from the first minute of the first song to the last second of the final. Besides the music, Green is quite a funny entertainer whose gestures and mannerisms kept your eyes glued to him. Like Rogers, he too had love on the mind telling the crowd he wants “10-15 Texas babies made in NYC tonight.” Green’s dynamic set included “Carry On” “Galleywinter”, “Girls From Texas”, “All Just To Get To You,” “Three Days” and “While I Was Away” before concluding well after 11pm (the show began at 7pm) with “Wave on Wave.”
“It was a Saturday night”…..filled with incredibly memorable music from four artists whose great tunes, terrific musicianship, and good time attitude were embraced by everyone in the room; we hope they felt the love.
God Bless Texas!
Premiering songs from his universally praised February release, Meridian Rising, Paul Burch graced the stage at Sid Gold's Request Room in NYC this past Thursday evening for a brief show of tunes showcasing the life of musical pioneer Jimmie Rodgers.
The overall feel of the room - a throwback to a lounge from earlier times - from the small stage and the baby grand to the booths and lighting, transported you back to the 1930's for an intimate performance for the forty or so people in attendance. As he played, it was easy to imagine Burch as Jimmie, taking us through his short life via song; from his hometown ("Meridian") to his time in the TB ward ("Rte 49") and along life's highway ("Cadillacin'"). After a few minutes, Burch's friend, singer Laura Cantrell (joined on piano by Franklin Bruno), came to the stage to sing a few - including "Prairie Lullaby" and "Waiting For A Train" - while also relaying additional background on Rodgers. Burch then closed out the hour with additional songs, including "Gunter Hotel," "To Paris (with regrets)" and "Back to the Honky Tonks" giving end to an evening of great music and insight. Rodgers may not have been there in person, but his presence was most definitely felt.
As Josh Abbott himself tweeted, “That.Was.Legit.” Friday night brought the Texas mainstay back to NYC where he headlined the Gramercy Theatre which, sans for a few spots in the bleacher seating, was packed. College kids, displaced Texans, young and older came out to enjoy themselves for a full night of music.
With only her voice and acoustic guitar, Carly Pearce opened the show. She held the crowd’s attention with her engaging and funny personality as well as her lovely voice on a short set of songs including “Black Sheep” and “Blame The Whiskey” which was heard all 2015 on The Highway. Tucker Beathard and his band (who are going out on Dierks Bentley’s summer tour) followed, and brought a very rock heavy edge to the night.
Then, around 930pm, Abbott and his band took the stage and played until almost 1130pm. They began the night with “Live It While You Got It” from their new album, Front Row Seat, and the crowd definitely took that to heart, as did Abbott who was eager, excited and full of energy. Outgoing, chatting, pointing and interacting with what seemed like everyone in the room, Abbott made you feel a part of the night whether you were in the back or right up front.
While they played songs from the new album including “Amnesia” and “Wasn’t That Drunk,” it was the older songs that had the energy of the Gramercy crowd going through the roof…..and Abbott felt it and fed off of it. From “My Texas” to “Hangin’ Around,” “Brushy Creek,” “All of A Sudden” and “I’ll Sing About Mine” he and his stellar band [Preston Wait, Edward Villanueva, James Hertless, Caleb Keeter, Austin Davis and newcomer Dave] were consistently on point up until the very end when they left everyone tired, happy and hoping they make it back to the city sooner than later.