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.