June 28 2021

Honky Tonk Angel- Chad Sullins

Chad Sullins and the Last Call Coalition were for a time one of the hottest acts in the Texas and Red Dirt Music Scene. After the band’s breakup- officially announced in October of 2015, citing irreconcilable differences, and different lifestyle paths being taken. The breakup seemed to me, remarkably similar to Cross Canadian Ragweed, who had disbanded only a short few years prior. Cross Canadian Ragweed was another popular group and still happens to be one of my personal favorites. They played the same scenes and venues as Chad and the Coalition.  

After the breakup, Sullins went on to have a successful career as a singer and as a songwriter. Over the years he has shared stages with some of Red Dirt’s very best. Yesterday I read on several of these artists Social Media Pages as they were all giving heartfelt condolences to Chad Sullins. Sullins was highly regarded by his peers in the music industry. He also had a loyal following of fans who stuck with him from his earliest beginnings as an artist.

The Stillwater Oklahoma Based artist, Sullins, began having heart troubles in 2014, yesterday when the cause of death was announced it was due to a torn aortic valve. No arrangements have been made yet at this sad time.

I want to wish each of those affected my sincere condolences in this trying time. Chad Sullins has a great many songs that will forever be treasured by those who loved him. The music shall never grow old.

Rest in Paradise Chad Sullins, Thanks for making the world just a little bit better through your words in song. You’ve reached your destination- Honky Tonk Angel.

Pancho.

June 27 2021

Shelby Lee Lowe knows he’d miss Tennessee

Shelby Lee Lowe was born and raised not too far outta Nashville and hasn’t strayed too far away from his country and honky tonkin’ roots.  He is proud of his roots and ain’t never going to leave. He says it best in one of his newest singles, “Miss Tennessee.”

She’s The Reason I ain’t ever gonna leave

Cause you know I’d miss Miss Tennessee

Miss Tennessee” was written by Shelby Lee Lowe, Matthew Huntley & Andrew Scott Wills.

“I’ll go on record saying that drummers and bass players don’t get enough love.”

Shelby Lee Lowe

I appreciate Shelby’s lyrics and his music. He is humble enough to realize that he is not the star of the spotlight all by himself and that it takes a band to make the man. “I’ll go on record saying that drummers and bass players don’t get enough love. If they are solid most people don’t even notice them, but a good rhythm section is soooo damn important.” Shelby Tweeted last Friday. This Rhythm can be heard in “Miss Tennessee,” as well as throughout all of Shelby Lee Lowe’s songs. He is still ‘ the kind of music that I grew up loving. Good ol’ fashioned rubbing belt buckles dancin’ songs.

Shelby Lowe’s website lists some of his accomplishments as Opening for Charlie Daniels and playing at Nascar events like the Bristol Motor Speedway and Coca-Cola 600. Shelby deserves all the big-time spots that he can get.

In his own unique ways, he is still making country music that sounds country. I like that he has not fallen to the traps of Nashville’s bro country and is not concerned with trying to make his music sound like the song that the last guy just wrote. He writes from his heart and soul and puts his all into his song.

Pancho.

June 26 2021

Evolution- Highwaymen to Highwomen

I am sure you have all seen the trending memes and posts on social media that state, “I was Today years old when I realized…” Just today I made one of these profound discoveries. It was something that I probably should have known, but that I just really did not know.

I was today years old when I realized that the same songwriter who wrote the hit songs, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix“, “Wichita Lineman”, and “Galveston” all made famous by Glen Campbell, also wrote the song “Highwayman.”

I was today years old when I realized that Jimmy Webb had written all of these songs and more.

Another fact about this magnificent songwriter that I did not realize, was that he recorded the song “Highwayman” way back in May of 1977. Webb was first to release the song on his album El Mirage. Shortly after the original version came out, Glen Campbell also cut the song and used the Highwayman name as the title of his 35th album which was released in 1979.

Highwayman was the inspiration behind the name of a supergroup of outlaw country musicians who formed the Highwaymen. Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings. These Highwaymen would score a platinum album. The group took the song to #1 on the Hot Country Songs Billboard chart. The Highwaymen version would win an award for the songwriter, Jimmy Webb, Best Country Song in 1986.

I don’t know how they decided who would take which verse, but having Johnny last was like having God singing your song.”

Jimmy Webb

In 1984, Glen Campbell first pitched “Highwayman” to Johnny Cash. Years earlier, he had played the song to Waylon, who later said, “I just couldn’t see it then.” The quartet who soon became known as the Highwaymen had decided that they wanted to do a project together and were already recording for their first album and Marty Stuart again played the song for Cash, saying that it would be perfect for them. “Four verses, four souls, and four of them,” explained Marty Stuart. Glen Campbell found an opportunity and was able to play the song to all four of them. This performance was the turning point and the Highwaymen were born. The group chose the name the Highwaymen as they were always on the road at that time of their careers and the name fit each of their own outlaw image. Webb Later remarked on the Highwaymen’s version, “I don’t know how they decided who would take which verse, but having Johnny last was like having God singing your song.”

Jimmy Webb composed the song, “Highwayman” after a night of hard drinking in London and waking up from a bad dream of himself wearing pistols in his belt and being terrified as the police were closing in on him. Upon awakening, he sat at his piano and had the first verse in only a few hours.

In recent years, a new supergroup, The Highwomen has evolved. This time the group of Highway bandits is of the female gender. In 2019, Brandi Carlile and Amanda Shires along with Jimmy Webb reworked the iconic song. In the Highwomen version, the singers are Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, along with additional vocals provided by Yola, and Natalie Hemby.

I’ll be back again and again and again….

Pancho.

June 25 2021

Vincent Neil Emerson- Releases Self Titled Album

I just ordered the new Vinyl by Vincent Neil Emerson. This much anticipated self-titled album released in its entirety today. I wrote about VNE back in May, after hearing his single, “Learnin’ to Drown.” I have been a fan ever since. “Learnin’ to Drown” is a very intimate song by this young Van Zandt County, Texas native. Through the writing of the song, VNE was able to release some of the emotions that he has held onto since his father’s suicide.

Vincent Neil Emerson Track List:

1. Texas Moon

2. Debtor’s Blues

3. High On The Mountain

4. Learnin’ To Drown

5. Ripplin’ And Wild

6. Durango

7. The Ballad Of The Choctaw-Apache

8. White Horse Saloon

9. High On Gettin’ By

10. Saddled Up And Tamed

This new album was produced by Rodney Crowell. It released today on La Honda records. The album was recorded in Nashville at Sound Emporium Studios. The track listing of songs on this album were written by Vincent Neil Emerson. Backing up VNE on this album is Rodney Crowell’s back up band. These are musicians that have played in and around Nashville for many years, seasoned musicians who have played the big venues like the Grand Old Opry.

“To me, it’s in that Texas folk-singer tradition of Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Ray Wylie Hubbard, myself and Steve Earle.”

Rodney Crowell

“To me, it’s in that Texas folk-singer tradition of Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Ray Wylie Hubbard, myself and Steve Earle.” Said Rodney Crowell of the album.

Vincent Neil Emerson has only been making a career out of his music for a little over a decade, but his music sounds as if has been around since the beginnings of Country and Western. I have previously thought myself that his skill and sound reminded me of Townes Van Zandt or Guy Clark. This morning as I was driving to work, I was streaming Spotify and VNE’s song “High on The Mountain” came on. I took a double take as the sound of the lyrics and the fiddle and swing sound reminded me of an early Willie Nelson recording. I really loved the tune and the reminder it gave me that today was the release day of this new album.

Pancho.

June 24 2021

Tanner Usrey- Medicine Man

Prosper, Texas is located in the Dallas Ft Worth metropolitan area, was founded as a farming community in the early 1900’s the name Prosper comes from the prosperous crops that the area was once known for.

Tanner Usrey is an independent musician from Prosper, Texas. His heartfelt lyrics and big voice have gained quite a following since he released his debut album in 2017. Tanner has a large following on social media and on streaming platforms such as Spotify. As of today, Tanner Usrey’s Twitter account has 7,878 followers. His Spotify account receives over 223,000 monthly listeners.

Today I have been streaming songs from Usrey’s 2019 EP, Medicine Man. I love the way the lyrics drag me into every song. I really dig this upbeat music. Sometimes, Tanner’s lyrics seem chilling or even haunting. I can feel the emotions in each and every song on this album.

Tomorrow night, Tanner is playing in my old hometown of Midland at the Rusty Bucket. If you are in the area, I really think this show is going to be worth the watch.

Tanner Usrey is working on new music and traveling Texas as we speak. Check him out.

6/25 – Rusty Bucket – Midland, TX

6/26 – Alpo’s Barn – Farwell, TX

Pancho.

June 23 2021

Cotton Farmin’ Blues

There’s a red dirt road off the beaten path. Off an old farm to market road, where the cotton used to grow. The fields are all grown up now with wheat grass and overgrown with stickers and careless weeds that suck the last drops of water from the soil that hasn’t been turned since the tractor broke a few years back. The government calls it CRP but mostly the men who used to farm that land just think it’s crap since the market fell out and the price is cheap.

There’s an old farm boy who never grew up who still hangs onto the land that his daddy owned, and he hopes that someday it will all come back and he kicks the tires and dreams of the good ol’ days when he used to drive into Lubbock. He would take his guitar to some college bar and sing his songs and people would dance and he would drink his beer and he had no fear and life was good and he thought that he would do things that nobody else ever could.

Oh how he wished he was more like his daddy was, how he worked hard all his life with just his strong back and little sleep.

Out there on that fallen farm where the sky is as big as Texas is wide he thinks hard about starting again.

And out of nowhere here comes the wind and there’s a trickle of water from and old windmill and the dirt fills his eyes and ears and he steps inside of an old metal barn. A big hoot owl takes a dive to catch a mouse with big wide eyes and the feathers fly.

He sucks in a big breath of air and life is good again if only for a time.

In his pocket he finds a dime and he pulls it out and heads or tails and he makes his wish and son of a bitch and its back to farmin’ again.

He knew that there was a lot to do and he’d never catch up and the sun was high.

Next year things will go his way and there’s groceries and bills to pay and he works hard to get where he is and he keeps on dreamin’ of his next big thing and life is good out on that land that his daddy owned and never owed a soul.

And on this farm that’s where he’d stay.

Life is hard out on the road when you go away and you never come home and when you do there’s plenty to take care of that you forget while you were away.

There’s time to work and time to play and don’t ever forget to pray.

Pancho.

June 22 2021

Travis Roberts- Add him to My List of Cap-Rock Country.

Mason & the Gin Line says it best when they call their style of music “Cap-Rock.”

I believe that “Cap-Rock” should become a sub- genre of Country Music- Most especially music that is classified as Texas Country and or Red Dirt. The Caprock region of Texas has been producing world class singer/songwriters for as long as anyone can remember. Waylon Jennings from Littlefield, Mac Davis who once sang about leaving Lubbock, Texas in My rearview, and Bury me in Lubbock, Texas in my Jeans… Delbert McClinton was born on these windswept plains as was Buddy Holly.

More recently Texas musicians like Jason Boland, William Clark Green, and Cleto Cordero who is the front man for Flatland Cavalry all have called the caprock country their home.

Terry Allen was born in Kansas but got to the Caprock as quick as he could. Many of his songs are stories about the region such as his, “Hard Amarillo Highway,” which has been covered by artists such as Sturgill Simpson, Bobby Bare and Robert Earl Keen. Terry lived in Lubbock and attended Monterey High School there. Other Monterey alumni include Texas musician Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock, thus adding to this grand list of “Cap-Rock” to honor the singer/songwriters of the Caprock of Texas.

Texas country legends Gary P. Nunn began his musical career in a garage in Brownfield, Texas shortly before Pat Green and Cory Morrow were both spending their college days at Texas Tech in nearby Lubbock, Texas.

I recently posted about Travis Roberts, one of the newest singer/songwriters from this long line of Texas musicians who calls the Panhandle region of Texas home. Today I took a look at Roberts’ newest single “This Too Shall Pass,” available for streaming now on platforms like Spotify and YouTube.

Ken Fisbeck of Spur Radio had this to say of the new tune, “This Too Shall Pass” is a story of self-sabotage in relationships and the realization that the common adage “This Too Shall Pass” applies to the best of times not just the worst of them.”

This Too Shall Pass” is a story of self-sabotage in relationships and the realization that the common adage “This Too Shall Pass” applies to the best of times not just the worst of them.”

Ken Fisbeck

I have yet to mention, the pedal steel guitarist Lloyd Maines, who also once called the Panhandle home. Travis Roberts newest single wails out with steel strings. From the songs opening lyrics of Wish I could find the words to tell you.” I thoroughly enjoyed this tune. The steel country sound crashes into a rhythm of rock-n-roll guitars. Roberts proves his place as a lyricist when he turns the song into one of those repetitive bad dreams. Roberts lines cry out to us, Dreamin’ The Same Damn Dream two cars crashin’ out on the street.” As the storyteller, Roberts is able to reel us back in by his promise, This Too Shall Pass.”

Travis Roberts promises a full album real soon. If the rest of the album is as good as “This Too Shall Pass,” and his previous release, “Cabin Fever,” I am hooked. Two songs in, and I am already a Travis Roberts fan for life. I shall add him to my growing list of great “Cap-Rock” artists.

I’m not sure how long I am willing to wait for more Travis Roberts. I am certain that whatever is coming next will be worth the wait. I shall take the latest songs advice and try to maintain my patience. For I know, “This Too Shall Pass.”

Pancho.

June 21 2021

O’Toole Nominated at Deep In The Heart

Deep in The Heart of Texas Film Festival is returning to the Waco Hippodrome, Waco, Texas, July 22-25, 2021.

The festival is an event that brings film makers and the Waco Community together to experience movies, educational sessions, and networking parties. One of the slogans of the festival states “We bring quality, artistic film to Waco.”

Besides Film, the festival also has a competition for Best Music Video. 18 videos have been nominated for 2021 of these nominees, 3 of the videos will be selected at the festival as the absolute best.

I am beyond honored to be nominated for “Best Music Video” at Deep In The Heart Film Festival…

Rich O’Toole via Twitter

Rich O’Toole’s newest video from his single, “17 Wild Horses” has been nominated for this event.              

O’Toole Tweeted today: “I am beyond honored to be nominated for “Best Music Video” at Deep In The Heart Film Festival I had the privilege to work with Playlist Films on this bad boy. Great work guys!”

I am beyond excited for Rich O’Toole. I love the song and this video is amazing. The video was shot at CK Reid’s ranch in Fort Worth, Texas. The Reid Ranch is responsible for all of rough stock used for the bucking arena at Billy Bob’s Texas. For sure there are some wild horses on that range. The video also provides the most picturesque views sharing some of the beauty of this great State of Texas. The “17 Wild Horses,” video was directed by Kasey James and Ted Borel of Playlist Films.  

I want to congratulate Rich O’Toole for this nomination and although I have not seen all of the other videos, I believe that Rich and his team from Playlist did the very best on this one of a kind video and I will be rooting for it to take the win in Waco.

Pancho.

June 20 2021

Ray Wylie Hubbard- Elder Statesman

Yesterday, I traveled to Lubbock once again, along with my wife. At the conclusion of this road trip on Saturday night, I have successfully checked off another item from my Bucket List. My Wife, Brother and Sister-in-Law also attended Ray Wylie Hubbard’s acoustic performance with me at the historic Cactus Theater.

Ray Wylie is considered to many, present company included, as an “Elder Statesman” of the Texas Music Scene. At last nights show, as well as this “Elder.” A younger Hubbard version, Ray Wylie’s own son, Lucas Hubbard shared the spotlight with him.

Lucas Hubbard amazed the crowd throughout the show. His mad skills on the guitar did not go unnoticed. He displayed intricate finger plucking as well as huge guitar riffs that equaled some of the best blues musicians I have ever heard. Now in his mid-twenties, Lucas Hubbard has been perfecting this craft since he was barely able to pick up a guitar. He was able to keep up with Ray’s setlist which included old favorites such as “Snake Farm,” “Redneck Mother,” and “Screw You We’re from Texas.”

The set also included some newer songs like his cowrite with Hayes Carll, “Drunken Poets Dream.” Ray also played songs from his most recent album, Co-Starring.

Yesterday was a perfect performance by one of the greats. I am glad I got to witness it with my own two eyes and hear Ray Wylie Hubbard’s music live with my own two ears. It is a night I shall not ever forget.

Pancho.

June 18 2021

Guy Forsyth- Conspirators

I recently read in a Facebook group that I follow, “Texas Singer Songwriters Place,” that Guy Forsyth did close to 200 free internet shows during the pandemic.

Guy Forsyth isn’t new to the Texas music scene, he has been based out of Austin since packing up all his belongings and moving from Colorado in 1990. Since then, Guy has recorded at least 20 albums and has played his mix of country, folk and blues music across the globe.

“I learned yoga in the park, the community can take care of itself”

Guy Forsyth

“I learned yoga in the park, the community can take care of itself,” Guy Forsyth says on his website. Forsyth feels at home on a stage as easy as he does by helping others. He is a firm believer in community projects and that working together brings about happier times. When Guy is in Austin, he often works with veterans. He is a Thai Chi instructor and has been giving free lessons to anyone who wants to learn for the past 10 years. Forsyth goes into schools to teach music -anything from how to play music to writing lyrics. He teaches children that to play, that they must first understand that the magic begins inside of them.

Guy Forsyth has won awards for his music including, Austin Male Vocalist of the Year Award in 2005 and the Austin Chronicles has voted him the best blues band for several years running.

This craftsman of song, also finds the time to stay a family man. Forsyth is the proud father of 2 daughters.

Guy Forsyth has now begun to pick and sing once again at live venues in and around Texas and deserves some love from his fans. We can give something back to this guy named Guy just as freely as he shares love with others.

Guy Forsyth along with Jeska Bailey have a new album out on Amazon Music, Conspirators. Here is a link to order now https://www.theconnextion.com/guyforsyth/guyforsyth_index.cfm

Pancho.