Monday, March 23, 2009

SXSW Austin and random video finds.

Well while we were running around west Texas playing beer joints trying to scrape a spring break crowd in college ghost towns, there was something rumbling down south. South By Southwest was last week in Austin and thousands flocked to the hundreds of live shows, parties, and magical randomosity that only Austin can provide. Bored as I was, I got on Youtube and the blogosphere to see what all I missed. Here's a few videos I stumbled across that I liked for one reason or another.

Playing For Change

Metallica's "secret show"

Explosions In The Sky

A Guy With A Camera Standing On 6'th St.

Street band called Baskery

Jimmy Lafave

...........and on and on and on and on. I've caught SXSW once and it was a great experience. Hopefully sometime soon I can find myself that way again. For everyone that made it down (or up) to Austin this last week sorry for your hangover, but I don't feel bad for you.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

His Orchestra

Ran across an old friend from back in the day. He's playing bass/guitar/banjo for a great band based in Los Angeles. The band's name is His Orchestra and they have a phenomenal sound. I posted one of their songs here for the listening pleasures of you my random reader. I have an eclectic taste in music so it may not fit your idea of what would be posted here, but hopefully you'll get over it. They're album is available on i-tunes and of course if you happen to be in the L.A. area you could always just drop in on one of their shows.

Stars & Heights

Friday, March 20, 2009

Saturday in San Angelo at Blaine's Pub

Tomorrow we're jumping in the bus and heading to San Angelo to play at Blaine's Pub. We have played at Blaine's maybe three times and it has been a blast every time. The bar layout reminds me of sixth street in Austin. It is a very long narrow bar with a tiny stage. The stage is raised about five feet off the bar floor and pretty cramped. Ronnie, our bass player has to stand right behind me for all of us to fit. It sounds like no fun, but actually it has always made a fun show. We stay much more in sync since we're on top of one another and have always ended up having a ton of fun.

There won't be an opener for us this time around which means we get to have a three hour set instead of two hours. Good and bad. The bad side, my mouth is going to get out of shape somewhere around our break. I play harp with both the lip blocking and tongue blocking techniques. After an hour or two of bends, trills, and plain old playing my mouth gets pretty weak. It feels kind of like when you've laughed too much and your cheeks get sore. When this happens it makes it harder to hone in on single clear notes in a fast paced solo or a good punch note. It gets easier the more you practice and the more you build up your facial muscles for that kind of weird strain. Thankfully we have a break in the set and I think I will survive. The good side of playing a three hour set is that we will probably play every song past and present that I have ever sat in on with the band as well as random covers and fun blues jams. It'll be a bit more off the cuff than the regular cut and dry set list and that gets me pretty excited for tomorrow night.

In other news Cody is heading down to New Braunfels next weekend to play at the first annual friends for friends benefit Saturday March, 28'th at the Mountain Breeze campgrounds. There is going to be a line up of great singer songwriters playing from five to midnight. Cody and Shad Blair are the last to go on in the evening. If you happen to be around the river on the 28'th make sure to drop by.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Paul Aaron Hughes and the Hog Pit yesterday

Paul Aaron Hughes opened up for us last night in Midland. He was a really great guy. It was his cd release party week so he was having a great time. The lead guitar playing in his band came in from Austin. The two local band members were the bass player and drummer. He also had a dobro/steel guitar player who was his producer for his cd. His voice reminded me vaguely of Mark David Manders and the sound of his music was old school country.

We had a fun show and celebrated St.Patty's with the green beer and shots. I might have won six hundred dollars on a scratch off before our show but I also got pink eye somewhere along the way and am getting really tired of my weird luck thing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Blue Light last night

We played last night at The Blue Light in Lubbock. I was really excited to come back to my old college town and play on the same stage I watched so many great bands play on. The ride down was nice, but we had a hard time squeezing the RV into the back alley to unload our gear from the trailer. I forgot how much colder Lubbock is in the winter than the Midland/Odessa area. We got off the RV and it had just started drizzle thin bits of frozen rain and snow. We unpacked and set up stage with little trouble and the sound guy was a friendly one instead of those run around yelling and throwing cables kind that you sometimes get.

I set up my mic, pedal board, and amp up on stage and turned everything on. The second the light went on in my amp all you could hear was a nasty buzzing. After some troubleshooting I found the junk was coming from my mic cable. The bad news was that I play with a vintage Shure 545 microphone which is out of production now. It's so old it uses the ancient four pin XLR connection rather than the modern day three pin. Idiot that I was I never got around to ordering a back up cord since the one I had was a little shaky. It finally decided to die and at least it did so before we had started the show. Troy who runs sound and roadies for us grabbed an Audix instrument mic for a fill in for the night. I had some trouble playing on a new mic because each different mic reacts differently to an amp. Some feedback like crazy to the smallest hint of gain or overdrive. Others are bulletproof and can handle full ten gain and volume. Then there are the thousand possibilites in between.

We sounded in got monitor levels set and then loaded back on the RV for some food and time killing before the bar officially opened. The show was great all around. There were more than a hundred people there at one time and it was pretty full for the size of the venue. Lots of people danced and I even saw a few singing along with our songs knowing the words, which is always good to see. I let the mic issue get in my head and kind of phoned in the first set, but I was able to shake off some nerves in the break and had a great second set.

Good show and a fun trip. I didn't see any cameras set up so I doubt I'll have a video to link here from the Blue Light's website, but maybe next time. The staff liked our show and were promising a return gig in the future.

Tonight we're playing at the Hog Pit on comfortable ground. It's going to be the St. Patty's day celebration with a bunch of drink specials so it should be a fun full crowd. We slept in the RV behind the bar last night giving our hotel room up to Cody's mom who had recently fractured her hip. There were seven of us and we all had a bed, but six snoring guys in one place makes for light sleeping. So I think I'm going to try and squeeze in a nap before sound check.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

random videos

This is what happens when you surf youtube too long looking for something entertaining. I ended up on Stephanie Briggs and The Oso's youtube feed and found these.

This video is hard to define. There are a few notable musicians in here dominating the rap game, suckas. Try to figure out where Cody Canada and Wade Bowen are in the video. They're sneaky.

Stephanie Briggs and The Oso have a tour blog that she puts up on youtube. This one is from when she came and played up in Midland and then hung around and caught our show. Things to note are Matt Briggs (The Oso) jumping up and playing with us on stage with his corn cob pipe. There's a couple golden seconds of me blowing some smoke rings before I grew a man beard. Also there's a creepy guy at the end who stole their camera and proclaimed his love for Matt Briggs.

This one is another from her tour blog when she dropped back in on Midland and played for the Dottie Hill Memorial Cancer Benefit. The line up made for a great concert. We played along with The Band Of Heathens, Stephanie Briggs, Tyson Kerby, Keith Davis, and a few more great acts. This video is a take on The Hills from MTV. Cody Davidson takes a cameo role as well as other great seasoned actors.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Small world for such a big state.

I am originally from Houston. That's where I was born, where I went to high school, and for the most part grew up. If you happen to be reading this from another country and have just a vague sense of the place it's a big city in south Texas. It is a very big city, fourth largest in the United States big. After I moved away for college I visited for holidays and the random eight hour road trip with friends, but for the most part kind of stopped hanging around that town. I still have great friends living down south and thanks to the internet have been able to keep a semblance of connection with them. Recently I was poking around my facebook profile deleting friends I couldn't for the life of me remember, and saying hi to those I did. I ran across a great high school friend of mine who's got his own good things going on.

James Bobal even back in high school was a dominant guitar player and I remember hanging out at his house listening to him mindlessly riff along with phish, the dead, and anything else that had free solos and open tempos rambling on for days. I was happy to see not much has changed over time. After serving our country for a few years and safely coming home he settled down College Station home of Texas A&M (boo hiss) and is playing with two great bands. The first is called Strawberry Jam that has a heavy jam band sound to it following reggae, funk, rock, and anything else you can smash into a blender that comes out hippie happy. I can appreciate the music they're turning out, but must be honest and say it is not my scene nor music I have enough knowledge of to chat up too long about here without sounding stupid. Another band he more recently joined is on the other side of the spectrum called The Grady Skelton Band. This band I can talk about. This band has the lead singer's name in the title which I've discussed before is usually a sign that i'll at least enjoy their sound. This band has the Texas Country in them. The recordings on their myspace site are really clean and I can see them turning up some good momentum live once the amps are brought in. There's a lot of acoustic going on in the myspace tunes but knowing James the live show like most bands in this scene, including the one I'm in, is most likely turned up a few more notches. I enjoyed the opening guitar in the first song "Bad Luck" as well as many of the song's lyrics. There isn't that too often found meter trip up that a lot of younger song writers go through when they're putting out new stuff and that is very commendable. My humble opinion is that this band is at the base musically good and will most likely evolve, with constant whoring themselves out to every bar up and down the road, and make a good name for themselves in the Texas Country scene. Who knows they may be further on that path than I know. I don't live anywhere near College Station.

What was really weird was that while I was checking out James' new band gig I started to recognize the lead singer. I am really terrible at remembering specifics outside a few years unless that someone is still around me stirring up memories. The lead singer, Grady Skelton, was actually another buddy of mine from my high school days back in Houston. The group of friends I ran around with James were never hanging out with my church side. I think that's pretty cool to see two sides of my past hanging out and making good music.

Even further down the small world trail James is now friends with another old church buddy from back in Houston who has apparently also got himself into the musician life. His name is Carter Beckworth and he is the songwriter and singer for Baker Hotel which has apparently got themselves moving up in the Austin live music scene. Their music is great and the lyrics are very well done. I'm starting to wonder how exactly so many of my friends through the years have just magically picked up the knack for dominating a stage? I guess musicians tend to make friendly with other musicians, even if it's before we all realize that is something that's in us.
Best of luck to the Grady Skelton Band, Baker Hotel and to all my old friends who have found themselves running for the stage.

Another notable time I found an old friend in my new place was when I was watching the Josh Abbott Band playing live in Midland. They are becoming a strong force in the Texas Music scene with an evergrowing fan base. They are damn catchy and heavily touring Texas so if you get a chance go see them. I was watching their electric banjo player go into a crazy pedal induced funk solo and then slapped myself in the forehead. He was yet another friend of mine from high school and college. I had completely lost touch with him a few years into college (I'm guessing when he decided to be a rock star) and then there he was on stage touring with the Josh Abbott Band.....Jerk. He jumped off stage in their break and instantly recognized me and we got to catching up. I love how small the world is.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Band News

News with the Cody Hughes Davidson Band is always good to share. We have a new old drummer. Darren Harris was the drummer with the band when I first started, but had to quit because he got stuck in Washington state. Long story. Well he has returned and is now back to smashing the drums with us once again. We decided to part ways with our current drummer amicably and wish him the best. It feels good to play with Darren again he's a really nice guy and a very natural drum player. I learned the band's songs with his drumming and it feels much more natural with his fills and tempo back on stage with us.

I missed a great gig in Dallas yesterday because my job hates me. The band was booked to play in Dallas for a private party and got great pay while I got marginal pay for logging in way more hours of sweat. It's never fair.

We're playing this coming Friday at the Blue Light in Lubbock. It's a great venue and a place I'm really excited to play. Check out their website in the above link they seem to tape previous shows so maybe I'll have something to share later. I remember back when I was going to Texas Tech in Lubbock a lot of great bands traveled through and played that same stage. Actually Cody Canada from Cross Canadian Ragweed did an acoustic set there with Stephanie Briggs a year or so back. Also it's one of the bars that helped push The Josh Abbott Band into their current rise of popularity. It's a fairly small bar which gives the shows a good personal feeling to them. If the show goes right and the crowd is feeling good it should be an awesome night.

Saturday we are back in Midland playing at The Hog Pit. Opening up for us is Paul Aaron Hughes who is coming out with his first CD titled "I've Got To Have You". It should be a fun weekend and hopefully I won't almost swallow a reed like last time out. I just noticed that we have a new myspace thing to visit. This is the Cody Hughes Davidson Band fan page on myspace. Check it out. I'm not sure if this is going to be the myspace site to visit instead of the other one from now on or this is just another link for the bookmarks tab. I'll let you know.

In other random band news Cody is looking into purchasing a more accomodating tour bus soon, hopefully, maybe. Right now we take our long road trips in an RV, which is a good size and was a great deal when bought. Cody recently has stumbled upon another deal. It's an old tour bus from a traveling choir that bunks ten, full kitchen, bathroom no shower, and a large living room setup. It sounds pretty fun and the price is right. Now we just have to sell the RV to someone for the right price, keep Cody and famiy interested in the idea, and have the bus still available once the timing hits. So here's to the RV cause I can probably put a proper tour bus in my wish pile along with my thousand dollar in ear monitors.

Flipping some pages

I took a sabbatical from the internet the last few days mostly because my day job was trying to steal all my free time. It was one of those weeks where everybody was calling in or off of work for some reason or another. Luckily I was there to fill in the holes and almost loose my mind in the process. The icing on the cake was my last ultra busy day where I showed up for work at six a.m. and didn't leave until five that afternoon all without sleeping the night before. Boo Hiss. Well things have quieted down at work and I'm back again yammering on to no one in particular.

I was flipping through a free magazine circulated throughout Midland/Odessa called "Good Times". I'm sure most cities have at least one of these rags that survive completely on ad space crammed to the margins. They tell the readers what is going on this month with music and other forms of entertainment. Usually they'll have a feature one page article interviewing a big name band passing through or the theater department putting on a new run of "Les Miserable". The rest is full of the already mentioned advertisements, a blurb about some new "hot spot", a calendar of events at the local bars and venues, and some more ads. The one in Lubbock was titled "Study Breaks" and I have to say a better read, especially when I was bored waiting for class to start or sometimes bored waiting for class to end. Study Breaks had a chart of the local bars and their drink specials they offered every night so you could plan your night accordingly and know where the deals were. Sad to say the one in this town doesn't offer the same help.

As i was flipping through the glossy pages getting an idea of what bands were playing around town I noticed something really funny. There's a band in the local scene maybe even larger scene called AIDS Wolf. What? So I flipped on looking more closely at some other band names around town. Apparently Midland/Odessa is full of band name gold. there's one guy playing around town called Roland Z. Not too bad I guess but it looks like he puts on an acoustic show so why not just name the one man band after the only member? Other solid gold acts around town this month are straitjacket, Dingo Sanctuary ( I have a friend in Houston who plays in Save The Manatees), Stinky Johnson, Glove Box, Cirebrook?, Mister Happy, Wolf 359 (AIDS free), Coldwater Country Band, and Pushrod to name a few. Is it really that hard to come up with a name for your band? For these guys apparently not. I'm not saying these groups don't have talent. I couldn't say because I probably wouldn't be heading out to give Glove Box a listen.
"Hey mom I got hired to play drums for a band. Ya we're called AIDS Wolf. I can't wait for you to hear us we really rock!" Really? It is cheating to go on too long about this though since I play for yet another Texas Country band titled after the lead singer's name. I could probably rattle off a list twice as long for all the bands just in this area following that formula, but it does simplify things. We have never sat around and thought maybe we should change the name back to Herpes Wolf. I think it had such a better resonance to the fans.

While writing this I googled AIDS Wolf and they are apparently pretty big to the terminally alienated types. They're a four piece band that's been playing for some time and started out in Montreal. Not my kind of tunes, but not just guitar riffs double bass pedal screaming junk. More of an acid art creepy tunes kind of feel. Good for them for becoming popular while standing out so sorely with a name like that. Reminds me of a clip from Wayne's World, which I can't for the life of me find on youtube. Wayne walks up to the club and asks the bouncer, "who's playing?" He says, "the shitty beatles". Wayne asks, "how are they". The bouncer says, "shitty". Wayne says, "ahh so it's not just a clever name". No idea why I remember that with such clarity, but whatever.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A few fine video finds ( lazy post day, but still important things)

This one is a great cover of Merle Haggard's Silver Wings. He was and still is a great pioneer in Texas music. The people covering his song are popular Texas musicians in their own right, Cody Canada, Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen, and Stephanie Briggs at the House Of Blues in Houston Texas last November. Bad quality but a great song and it looked like a great time.

This is a song and music video obviously, by Stephanie Briggs and The Oso who I spoke of in my last post. The song is a favorite and one that makes me happy no matter where I'm standing in life. This is a significant song to me that for some reason always stops me cold for just a moment.

This video wouldn't let me embed it. Boo hiss, but just click here to go see it. The song is titled "It Ain't Easy Being Me" by Chris Knight. This is a song I heard in college and was instantly attracted to. I've heard a myriad of bands cover it over time and still love hearing it from whomever can play it right on stage. There is something so terribly haunting in those lyrics that I think resonates with any man who has realized too late, that he has gone too far.

A video from my harmonica playing side. I know a great deal of harp players look down on the works of John Popper, but it is obvious that at the least he has brought a new perspective and crowd of listeners to the instrument. I have always enjoyed this song and when I found this excerpt of John Popper playing along side it, I loved how a song so familiar made room for a harp that I never thought would fit.

I'll end with this funny colored gem. It's from the great Ray Wylie Hubbard playing in Dallas. You might know his song "Redneck Mother" famous from Jerry Jeff Walker playing it. I had the great pleasure of playing with him a few months back at the Hog Pit in Midland. He was a really great guy. I had never heard a cleaner band at sound check. (This video's mix has the vocals way too high for my taste.) His show was way too fun as you could guess. He worked the crowd with his great stories of back before so and so, and he played the good ones 'til it was time to go home.