Texas®

There’s really not much to say or add to what you see below. If you’re not famililar with the site Daytrotter.Com, then you’ve been missing out n some serious (and free) music by some of the biggest names (Death Cab for Cutie, Social D, Bon Iver) and brightest up and comers (Yuck, Portugal the Man, Dawes) that the musical universe has to offer. Big time. But, there’s good news: It doesn’t really matter if you havent clicked onto the site ever before, as there is gold beyond measure awaiting you from years of not visiting it before.

What’s even better is that many Texas-based acts have visited the Daytrotter studios in Rock Island, Ill and laid down tracks to be listened to and downloaded from the site. There’s always a great write-up and whimsical artwork to go along with the 4-5 songs as well.

Well, let’s get to it. Below are but a sampling of Texans that have Daytrotted before. You’d be crazy to not dig deeper, OK??

Matt the Electrician | Fresh Millions | Dale Watson | Dignan | Doug Burr | Old 97′s | Ben Kweller | Black Angels | Centro-matic | Jesse Dayton | Meat Puppets | Asleep at the Wheel | Monahans | Seryn | Robert Ellis

Man, oh man. It must be Spring in Texas. Why so? The bluebonnets sprouting along the interstates? Sure, I guess. The arrival of another Texas Rangers or Houston Astros baseball season? OK, I guess.

Perhaps the most fun sign that Spring is upon us, at least here in North Texas, is the return of Shiner Sunday’s at Love & War in Texas in Plano. This past Sunday was the second week for the series that must be starting it’s 10th or 11th year at this point (we’ve been going for 9 of them, including this year). Each year, the roster of acts seems to be more and more packed with big stars from the world of Texas Country and Red Dirt. This week was absolutely no exception, as Austin’s Reckless Kelly took the patio stage (recently renovated to become a shrine of sorts to the late, great Rusty Wier) in front of what must’vebeen 400-500 rowdy fans, many of which had no problems jumping on-top of their wooden picnic tables and shaking their groove-thing, with little regard for personal safety. That’s what Reckless Kelly’s live show will do.

As the show was being broadcast, live on KHYI 95.3 The Range, Willy Braun and crew took a rather business-like approach to their rocking. Picking a few older cuts from their pre-Yep Roc catalog, such as “Back Around,” “Vancouver,” “Seven Nights In Erie,” “I Still Do,” “Motel Cowboy Show,” and the extremely sing-along worthy, “Wicked Twisted Road,” Reckless Kelly got the crowd, including many toddlers that seemed to be closer to the speakers than we can imagine is safe, going before busting out material from their last two albums, Bulletproof and Somewhere In Time.

While the haze of a late Sunday afternoon can bring-about moods of laid-back ease, such wasn’t the case for the wild throng on-hand. Slower songs – like “Vancouver” and “Wicked Twisted Road” – were amped up and quickened with a pulsing rhythm that was appropriate for each tune, as well as for the overall vibe of the show.

With shows from Jesse Dayton, Charlie Robison, Chris Knight, Darryl Lee Rush and even Swampadelic, on the way, there can be no mistaking that spring-time in Plano will be blooming with good times.

South Austin’s Jesse Dayton might be the biggest country star in the world of Horror movies. His music and performance as fictional Country group Banjo & Sullivan, in Rob Zombie’s 2005 flick, The Devil’s Rejects, is likely the singer’s best selling album, even if many of the film-buffs who bought the record aren’t exactly familiar with his other work. Which, they should be.

While it’s been a while since Dayton’s last studio album, Holdin’ Our Own – an album of duets with Brennen Leigh – but Dayton has stayed busy none the less. Dayton played a large role in helping fellow honky-tonker Mike Stinson become a productive member of the hard core Texas country scene, as he produced Stinson’s superb album from earlier this year. Add to that, his weekly, practically legendary gigs at Austin landmark The Broken Spoke, and his recent work with a campaign to bring greater awareness to the soldiers who suffer from Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), and it’s clear that Dayton is a man with many irons in the dance hall fire.

Speaking of dancehalls, Dayton’s upcoming record, the hardwood-tested One for the Dance Halls, is just that. Available on December 21, this is a new country record for the folks who want to know what happened to the country music of the past. It’s still here, and it’s still vital.

Dayton’s drawl lays itself on top of pedal steel and fiddle in a way that send your toe well beyond simple tapping and into the realm of full-on boot stomping. While some of the harder-charging rockabilly electricity of some of his past works isn’t as prevalent, Dayton’s ability to take time-honored, and in certain cases, slightly stale, sounds that echo from the valleys surrounding Bakersfield, California to the Hill Country of Texas is as uncanny as it is essential to the success of this exemplary ten-song collection.

Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly or daily on his personal music blog, The Gobblers Knob

Man, oh man. There are certain afternoons where I am convinced that I couldnt be experiencing what I am at experiencing at that given moment in any other state. Sure, that’s a bit shallow, perhaps. There are many unique locales that boast myriad opportunities, unique to their perspective areas that we, as Texans, may not be privy to on a regular basis. Regardless, last Sunday afternoon (and many other previous Sunday afternoons, for that matter) was one such moment where I felt especially Texan.

For eight spring and summers running, I have made a point to attend at least a few Shiner Sundays at the Plano, TX location of Love & War in Texas. For a couple of dozen Sunday afternoons each year, the best and biggest names on the Texas Country scene share the stage with the most promising newcomers, while all of it is broadcast live on KHYI 95.3, The Range. Personal highlights from the past, for me, have been due to solid, and perhaps rare parings of talent. In 2004, Jesse Dayton and Dale Watson carried out a marathon set, with Dayton and his band playing for literally hours beyond the two hour broadcast portion of the show. Last year, Darryl Lee Rush and Jason Boland packed the Hill Country-style patio to its absolute capacity and turned the time into their own mini-Red Dirt festival.

As I prepare to head on over for this weeks boffo bill, featuring Charlie Robison and John David Kent as the opener, I cant help but wonder how tough it will be for today’s acts to top the show from last week, featuring a prodigal Texan, Zane Williams, fresh off of his return from writing hits in Nashville and one of the finest writers to ever come out of the heralded tradition on the Brazos, Hal Ketchum.

Looking more grizzled than suave with his glorious mane tamed by father time, Ketchum professionally worked through his catalog of solid, radio hits from the 1990′s. Truthfully, I had forgotten how many great tunes the man has in his considerable portfolio. Few need reminding that the simple-life classic “Small Town Saturday Night” is his, but I’ll be darned if “Sure Love”, “Hearts Are Gonna Roll” and “Stay Forever” werent every bit as enjoyable to hear again. Ketchum brought the reverent crowd to their feet, and to tears (literally, in many cases that I personally witnessed) with an acapella rendtion of “Yesterday’s Gone”, a song that he wrote in honor of and about his Grandfather. Simply beautiful.

It really was an amazingly Texan afternoon. For most Sunday’s, Love & War in Texas is all about the love

Kelly Dearmore is a freelance writer, mean pot of chili maker and opinionated music lover. To read more about what Kelly is listening to, visit him here on The Squawker weekly or daily on his personal music blog, The Gobblers Knob

After 11 years of reigning as the “uncrowned king of the L.A. neo-honky tonkers” (Billboard’s words, not mine),  Virginian turned Angeleno, Mike Stinson decided that it was time for a rather drastic change in scenery. For years, Stinson had been dealing his brand of heartbroken, and often-times drunken, sorrow in the various country and western torch-bearing clubs that reside in and around L.A., such as the venerable Grand Ole Echo, along with other So-Cal country greats David Serby and Dave Gleason, among others. Sensing it was time for a move, Stinson packed up his guitar and headed to Texas this past July.

There’s a good chance that you read the last line and assumed that Stinson chose Austin as the the new home that would play host to his flawless brand of boot shuffling mellow-gold, but you would be wrong, indeed. Stinson decided to hang his hat in a town that he had enjoyed many times before as a visiting artist; Houston. 

With a voice that seems to have been sent directly from the dusty hardwood heavens, Stinson vocally resembles not only Hank Sr., but also fellow Texans Wayne “The Train” Hancock and James Hand. If, after listening to a few of Stinson’s songs on his Myspace page, you feel as though you may have heard some of Stinson’s barroom bliss before; you probably have. Stinson has had songs featured in television shows such as Mad Men, Weeds and Cold Case. To add to those Cali connections, the current king of Bakersfield style country, Dwight Yoakam, even covered Stinson’s excellent tune, “Late Great Golden State”.

As impressive as his Hollywood networking has proved to be, he has already made some pretty impressive friends here in Texas. With lyrics like “Stop the bar, I’m gettin’ off and goin’ home / I’ve been spending all my time here gettin’ stoned“, it’s no wonder that none other than the Lone Star stoner-legend himself, Willie Nelson, now counts himself as a fan of Stinson’s. In fact, the Jesse Dayton (another rather impressive Texas artist who knows how to throw down in the honky-tonks) produced Stinson record, “The Jukebox in Your Heart” was recorded at Nelson’s Perdenales studio and will be available soon. So, next time you are in Houston and see Mike Stisnon’s name on a club marquee, stop in and tell him that you’re glad he finally came to his senses and brought his talents to our hallowed hardwoods.