Happy Holidays Everyone! I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving with friends and family finding good reason to celebrate for coming out ahead, balancing the ledger book of life. Moreover, a special shout out to all you good readers out there who brought comfort to those in need… Hear, hear !!!
DESTINY & FATE – We checked out the Black Friday dinner crowd at T-Bone’s in November and sure enough, happened upon a full house enjoying a dinner concert and an attitude adjustment fix from the Kelly McGuire Band. Kelly has a way of making everybody feel at home wherever he plays which these days is pretty much a full year across the continent of North America. A big treat was scoring a copy of his 6th CD, Destiny & Fate, now available at www.redfishisland.com in time for the holidays. When I chatted with Kelly about this project back in February, he described it as a totally different sound unlike any of his prior projects and about a different parts of his life. The first surprise I got was gandering at the da Vinci style cover artwork. The second surprise was my MP3 player telling me I was listening to Country & Folk and so we played on….
In Daniel Levinson’s book, “The Seasons of a Man’s Life”, it’s written that history has an abundance of examples from those in their Young-Old phase of life, integrating their life’s experiences into masterful presentations only possible from having accomplished a full set of life’s experiences – Destiny’s Fate seems to serve as such an example. In a quick run down of this 10 song compilation: A McGuire album would not be complete without a testament that life is good, of the refuge found on the islands near the water and opening song “Any Better Than This” along with “Barnacles” provides that baseline. “Barnacles” is a pleasant musical surprise with a splash of big air horn playing that hinted of a Gerry Referty, Baker’s Street – A mix that goes well with coastal breezes. Further into the album, “Seventeen” on the ever so important wonder years of life when one the certainty of uncertainties awaiting ahead. “Coming Home” has a fun upbeat swing complete with a wailing saxophone that had me thinking Clarence of the E-Street Band might have sat in and a sure addition to the party song playlist. The title track, “Destiny & Fate,” is a surprising country ballad which I’m going to guess must be from McGuire’s roots prior to his total coastal baptism. Shifting gears and in a matter-of-fact way, “The Flood” provides listeners insight into what makes Kelly tick as a person in nothing less than an “aha” moment, the content of which could make for an entire movie – It’s that vast of a song.
No album is complete without songs addressing relationships and McGuire offers three works: “You Drive Me Crazy,” “Broken Pieces” and “Where Love Goes.” I suspect that after listening to these musical arrangements, fans will soon be specifying for the entire band at future house concerts. How does he do all this? The song about “The Song” pretty much sums everything up as the final cut on this fine album. I guess my only disappointment is not knowing where I can get a chance to catch Kelly perform the songs on this album live, with the full complement of instruments tastefully arranged, I want to be there, it should be a burner of a show.
CONGRATS – To the folks at Cabo on their 5th Anniversary! This place pulls one of the area’s stronger late-night crowds that often don’t leave the house until after many others’ bed time. To borrow the mantra from the F-117 squadrons, “We Own the Night” would seem appropriate to these vibrant young people. We caught two events at Cabo in November, the Anniversary Bash with The Slags on stage and the Monday evening open mic hosted this particular week by Angie & Cisco. Everybody around these parts knows about the Slags. In my opinion, their best show of the year came at Cafe Adobe after the dinner crowd and kids cleared the room with Randy Wall sitting in on keyboard and the band cranking up and showcasing a brilliant performance of “The Wall” in the cavernous acoustic hall. The Slags presented nearly an entire set of new songs not often heard, a sign of never giving up, never growing stale.
At Cabo’s Monday Open Mic, Cisco and Angie pulled a surprise bringing in Daphne Lee Martin and Francis Lombardi (from Connecticut and New Jersey) on their eight-week cross country tour. Times have changed considerably over the decades when in the past, two musicians would travel across the U.S. living out of a Volkswagen bus playing for tips. These days, the young traveling musicians are often packed with CDs and self-promote through social media. The albums I scored from Daphne and Francis, titled Fall On Your Sword and Whiskey & The Mourning After.
Martin is clearly a complex composer/arranger with Fall On Your Sword, her fourth full-length album and first self-produced effort. Making its way onto the College Music charts Martin appears to craft her songs similarly to methods used by Alan Parsons and Led Zeppelin, composing a song about situations found from “stories we heard as children” encompassing memories of fables, fairy tales, Bible stories, mythology, poetry, cautionary tales, traditional folk songs, and American popular culture of the 20th century. Fall On Your Sword was recorded with 25 of the finest musicians Daphne has met on her extensive US tours with elements of hot jazz, indie folk, latin, opera, hip-hop, and cinematic pop. Pretty impressive and possibly a standard.
My comments from researching Lombardi’s, Whiskey & The Mourning After spurs me not to write about the songs but rather the vast network of people it took, coming together to produce this album. We all know the demise of the megalabel and the proliferation of the DIYers in the music industry. Lombardi’s network are all Indie and interesting was how as a collective, all support each other’s works which makes a lot of sense community wise and something we like to see even in our own local music industry. Moreover, what is interesting is seeing how well the music holds up when presented to those beyond the sphere where acceptance is often guaranteed. That a composition is capable of stirring thoughts or causing the listener to move — no doubt, something aspiring writers ponder at times.
TAPERS – Was the term used to describe those recording live music performances before the day of modern cell phones. Ricky Pitts along with Hot Rod Rodrigues and The Sharks let me tape their shows at The Sandbar almost a decade ago, so when I heard they were playing in the same neighborhood, at Aspens, I knew this was a show worth checking out. This band sounds a bit different each show as frontman, Hot Rod, is always trying out some new axe or amp. The Sharks play what is known as “Blues with a Bite” veering to the edgy side of cover rock center that meshes well at neighborhood bars such as Outriggers and Aspen’s. Speaking of neighborhood bars…
NEW STOP ON THE BEAT – Which would be the neighborhood bar, Easy Street Lounge. This nifty little hangout located near the corner of Highway 3 and 518 has the perfect cozy acoustics and ambience for small bands and solo artists. On the first night we stopped in, we caught Mickey Satterwhite on the solo stage. In my write up last month, I passed along Andy Upchurch’s comment on checking out musical duets being good cuz with only two players, it’s hard to cover anybody’s mistakes. In that sense, soloists take it to the limit and have we got some good ones in our area (Cisco, Hardy, Wolfe, Shannon, Bradshaw, Michaels, Anicira to name a few). Satterwhite, a Clear Lake area graduate has studied vocals since age 15 including time in Austin and Concordia College. When I asked why he returned here, he mentioned several reasons: One of the more enlightening was that this area was more laid-back than life in Austin. Go figure… And if you’re in the neighborhood needing a neighborhood bar with live music to hang out at, check out Easy Street Lounge. Got it?
PIZAZZ – It’s been over a year since we last caught some Kaos and their new vocalist “M.” I like how they list their genre as “Everything.” I knew this was going to be a good show when I saw they also added Dale Lance – Sound engineer and Eric Wolfe – Stage Lighting… Smart band. Things have been changing a bit in the region with first aerospace getting the whammy and now oil & gas weathering present lows.
The region has diversified a fair amount so like many, curious on how things will play out. Throughout all of this, one thing I do know is that over the years, whatever is happening at Jackie’s Brickhouse tends to be a leading indicator for the region. Also with that, aside from seeing great shows, awesome fundraisers, fun tournaments, and such I think that seeing more and more people partake of the awesome eats at the Brickhouse and the fact that they now accept reservations has “got” to be the clue. To be continued….
Scout Bar – Over the years, Scout Bar has been the place for many hard metal touring bands. It was a pleasant treat seeing two local heavy metal groups take the stage of the Thanksgiving holidays to show their chops. Where is A.D. when you need him? We’ve got a couple good ones here. The first group we caught goes by the name of ORR and includes Jason West (Vocals). Mike Haseman (Guitar). Brent McMahon (Bass). Gonzo Merino (Drums). Josh Dryer (Guitar/Synth). We caught this local group for the first time at the Will Play for Food show this past summer, was impressed with them and interested in a followup this second time around. Aside from being a tight knit precision decibel production machine, I was very impressed on how well the band sounded. Each instrument came through cleanly within overall sonic spectrum versus the traditional heap of stacked volumes piled on top of each other. It was actually close to ‘70s-quality clarity. Gold star to the band and definitely for Scout Bar soundman Reuben for getting the sound through the board and into the house.
The second heavy metal group we took in goes by the name of Their Name Was Treason including Hunter Story – Vocals Patrick Gamble -Vocals Jordan Castillo – Guitar/Vocals Tom Striker – Guitar Elijah Santucci – Drums Oscar Gonzales – Bass. I tried to research these guys and ended up with a Site Not Found from their Facebook link, so they’re likely a fun young group that spends lots of time rehearsing. I say that because they feature dual lead vocalists that reminds me of Gilmour and Waters in Run, but these guys do it up a level and for the entire show. I’m not sure if my predecessor, the late Jim Shortt ever went to Scout Bar much, but if he were around these days, I would convince him to catch a Treason show, and I’m pretty sure he would’ve declared the show that night worthy of a “Bravo!”
IT’S A WRAP – Folks, I really had a great month getting out and visiting with you in November. The hometown pro football team sucked it up refusing the title of doormat and the season is still young for our hometown pro basketball team.
I’m looking forward to mingling with many of you this holiday season, that special time for the kids, both young and old. This is a time where I never mind turning life’s speed dial to SLOW IT DOWN. If you find it within your abilities, passing along cheer to those in need is always a good thing and best when done personally.
As 2015 draws to an end, we’ve seen lots of things happening in the area that may have been uncomfortable for a few, an opportunity for others and an experience for the rest. However your year turned out, we hope to find you in good health, honest prosperity and ready for the year ahead. We hope you find a friendly place to hoist up a mug of Auld Lang Syne – If not at home, than with us out and about on The SCENE where good things are always happening.
Snowbird season is upon us as we will soon be hosting visitors across North America in our little friendly world we like to call Clear Lake so if you see one looking a bit lost, do the Texas friendly thing by telling them “Howdy! Have you seen what’s happening in The SCENE yet?” Do that and you’ll make an instant new friend for sure.