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4 COMICS 5 QUICK READ 6 ALBUM COVER OF THE MONTH 7 JOHN BRAMBLITT: VISUAL ART BY TOUCH 11 ZACK WALTHER BAND: PLAYING IS THEIR BUSINESS 12 SOLDI ER SON G S & VOI C ES DUSTIN WELCH 14 N EW MOVI ES & MUSI C 15 CD REVIEWS
WANNA PLAY BY JOHN BRAMBLITT
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ESSENTIALS J. Michael Dolan Important
continues to disrupt and change everything in our awesome industry with no corner untouched: music, publishing, distribution, management, television, gaming, theater, radio, etc.. Even the old dinosaur gatekeepers have left their post, leaving the rest of us to figure out for ourselves how to break through the invisible barriers to entry. That said, here are a few essentials that will never change, not like a rigid to-do list, more like a constantly evolving watch list: — Revisit, redesign, reimagine and recommit to that which you say must be completed, resolved, manifested or begun. Do some personal soul searching and rediscover or reinvent what it is you really want. Remind yourself what truly matters. Remind yourself what your biggest most important dream/goal is. Then ask yourself, “What am I committed to?” Doing this process is really the very beginning and the most essential part of any successful endeavor. — Review your support team & inner circle (staff, agents, managers, bandmates, sales team, coaches, consultants, techs, partners and toxic people). I know it can be a heavy scene to split with people you work with (and like). However, a heavier scene is continuously putting up with the pettiness and incompetence of others at such an emotional, physical and monetary cost to you and your goals. Don’t flinch or choke on this one. If issues need to be addressed or personnel changes need to be made, don’t be afraid to pull out Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Truth be told, YOU are the CEO of your world. And the goal is to work with the most talented people you can find, who are aligned with your vision and committed to the task at hand, not to wait around for people to change, improve or grow up. — Assess Your Strategy if you continue to repeat the same tactics and schemes over and over, convincing yourself that you’re doing something different, your fans, customers and clients will move on to something new, your numbers will start to drop, your results will continue to decline, and that dream you have of making it will eventually begin to dwindle… just when you were expecting it to
peak. Not budging from your tired old strategy is a lousy strategy. — Practice, Practice, Practice! Our craft is everything. Doesn’t matter if it’s composing, performing, directing, acting, writing, consulting, teaching or running a business. We need to continue to improve and get great at the nuts & bolts of what we do, because the nuts & bolts are changing too! And the only way to get great is to lock ourselves in our studio, penthouse office, or creative space and do the work. The deliberate work, the committed work, the focused work, the repetitious boring work, the work that we resist doing, the work that scares the hell out of us, the work that allows us to maintain the awesome lifestyle of a crazy, genius, independent, artist/trep. Because each day we hunker down and do the work, is another day closer to achieving the personal greatness we so desire. — Don’t Fake It! “TRUTH” is by far the most magnetic and attractive attribute, and we all crave it like a drug. Especially during these crazy “point-the-finger” days when everything is so transparent. If you express the truth in your art, music, business, marketing, writing, life, etc. your fans and customers will follow you, support your mission and join your tribe. If you try to “hype it” they’ll see through the ballyhoo like Superman sees through brick walls. — Give it back! Giving and receiving are different aspects of the same energy. And in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep that energy circulating in our lives. Make sense? Important because: every choice we make, every step we take, and every bond we break triggers a series of extraordinary circumstances that will ultimately determine our destiny.
Fondly known as the “Father of Bluegrass Music,” Bill Monroe from Rosine, Kentucky certainly had a storied career. He came from a large family with little more than the music that passed from generation to generation, and neighbor to neighbor. After paying his dues in the Monroe Brothers band, Bill went on his own and in 1945 recruited the talents of 21 year old Earl Scruggs and bluegrass music was officially on its way. Over 150 musicians would do time with Monroe’s band, the Bluegrass Boys. Some, like Earl, would eventually become legends themselves in the world of acoustic music. But it was Bill Monroe’s mandolin that had always been there since the beginning and until the end. Bill played a 1923 Gibson F-5 mandolin created by Lloyd Loar. After a woman supposedly splintered it with a fire poker, Gibson super luthier, Charlie Darrington pieced it back together and was able to preserve the classic sound of the Loar F-5. Bill Monroe later had a dispute with Gibson and he gouged their logo off the headstock of his mandolin in disgust. The music, along with the cover photo of this 1973
STEAMMAGAZINE.NET MAR 2018
MCA reissue of the original Decca album shows off Bill’s mandolin in all its glory. The songs were studio sessions recorded between 1951 and 1963. This version of the Bluegrass Boys included fiddlers Bobby Hicks, Kenny Baker and Vassar Clements, Jimmy Martin on guitar, and Bill Keith on banjo. Many of Monroe’s hard driving instrumental classics are included here; “Get Up John,” “Big Mon,” Scotland” to name a few. One of my favorite Bill Monroe mandolin tunes has always been “Raw Hide” and that would be a great one to check out.
If ever a band existed as a proving ground for guitar players, it would have to be The Yardbirds from London, England. This band evolved from a purist blues crew featuring 18 year-old Eric Clapton, into prepsychedelic hit makers with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, and finally into The New Yardbirds with Page, John Bonham, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant. (Wonder what ever became of those guys…) This album was the follow-up to their American debut, “For Your Love,” released earlier in 1965. “Rave Up” was a term used for the band’s live, extended instrumental grooves. Side one contains six studio songs with Jeff Beck record-
ed in Memphis, Chicago and London. Side two lifted four tracks from their 1964 UK debut, “Five Live Yardbirds,” recorded at London’s Marquee Club with Eric Clapton. It spawned two single releases; “Heart Full of Soul” and a raved up version of Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man.” By this time, Jeff Beck was already a master of his ’54 Fender Esquire and fuzz tone. Vocalist Keith Relf could belt out the blues, get hauntingly dark, or just rock out. The rest of the band (Chris Dreja on rhythm guitar, Paul Samwell-Smith on bass, and Jim McCarty on drums) all stood tall with their future legendary band-mates. Keith Relf was fatally electrocuted in his home in 1976 at age 33. Chris Dreja has had serious health issues in recent years. Both Paul Samwell-Smith and Jim McCarty have stayed active in music. Side two of this album is just a teaser. Look for the historically significant” Five Live Yardbirds” to experience the exciting live sound of this pioneering band, not to mention Eric Clapton’s first recordings. The recommended track to seek out on this album is Tiny Bradshaw’s “The Train Kept A-Rollin’.”
By Tamma Hicks, STEAM Magazine
John Bramblitt makes his living as a visual artist. His works have been sold in over twenty different countries, and he's received three Presidential Service Awards for the art workshops he teaches. He's painted portraits of skateboarder Tony Hawk and blues legend Pops Carter. He's given talks about his art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and there has even been a documentary made about him. And… he's blind. When John was declared legally blind 17 years ago due to complications with epilepsy and Lyme’s disease his hopes of becoming a creative writing teacher were shattered and he sunk into a deep depression. He felt disconnected from family and friends, alienated and alone. But then something amazing happened—he discovered painting. He learned to distinguish between different colored paints by feeling their textures with his fingers. He taught himself how to paint using raised lines to help him find his way around the canvas, and through something called haptic visualization, which enables him to "see" his subjects through touch. He now paints amazingly lifelike portraits of people he's never seen, including his wife and son. John is also the author of the award winning book, Shouting in the Dark, and is the current selectee for the Texas Governor’s Disability Employment Awareness poster. Shouting in the Dark is the story of his life, his journey navigating through this new territory of blindness, and how he ultimately rekindled his joy, passion, and relationships through art. He currently works as a consultant for museums in developing programs that are designed to include everyone – no matter their ability or disability. We found you because our daughter, Lindsey, who in the past few years has really delved into art; painting, drawing, and mixed media. She and her husband are homeschooling their three children and have joined a Homeschool Co-op this year where
she's teaching the art classes to all grades k12. She's decided not to just teach about the Masters but also about current artists and you are in her gallery of artists. So, she brought you to our attention and gave me a list of things to ask you and fortunately her list is very similar to mine! Your story is so interesting and inspirational and I have a bunch of questions for you but I want to go back to the beginning of your art career just after you lost your sight because of epilepsy and Lyme’s disease. First, please tell her thank you so much for including me and her curriculum. Yes, I started to lose my eyesight and I was really legally blind a couple years before that, but I didn't realize it because my neurologist was trying to get the Epilepsy under control. We didn't really see it as a vision problem but as a complication that would clear up once we got the Epilepsy under control. I’ve had Epilepsy all my life as well as other health issues and unfortunately the Lyme’s Disease went undiagnosed for years. I do a lot of work with the Epilepsy Foundation and I can tell you that it's really rare to lose your eyesight due to seizures; there are other things that are much more common. I understand that when you lost your sight you were very depressed? How long did it take you and what was it that made you want to try art? While I was growing up art was always there for me. I think I could draw before I could walk. And for some reason drawing just made sense in my brain. Growing up I was in and out of hospitals quite a bit and so I drew every day. It wasn't something that I thought about it was just something that I did. If I was having a bad day, in the hospital, or just sick I could draw and that would take my mind off of it. But on the other hand if I was having a really good day I would draw and it would make the day even better. So, it was really a great way to celebrate a good day and make a bad day better. You know and there's only one thing that could keep me from drawing which, of course, was losing my eyesight and at that point it never occurred to me that I could still draw. I just had to find a way to do it. And I was just so lucky because I was a student in college when my eyesight went so I had a lot of support and a lot of help. The first year I was so upset, so depressed, and so angry and I didn't have any way of dealing with it so I kept going to my classes. And of course I didn’t pass because I couldn't read so I had to learn how to read, write, use the computers, and how to get around. But I was still going to the classes and telling myself I was doing everything right and on the inside I was still so angry and depressed. It took me about a year to get my cane skills to the point where I could travel independently when it occurred to me if I could travel by using my sense of touch across the city, then surely I could find my way across the canvas. It just seemed like a crazy thing to do so I didn't tell
JOHN BRAMBLITT demonstrating HIS PROCESS AS HE WORKS IN THE STUDIO.
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9 more thin lines. Whereas other programs will convert a painting to sound so you can actually hear it. Honestly at this point only 12% of the blind community read Braille because computers are just so much better.
DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
So, it's almost like a lost art? That’s the way people are treating cursive writing; they teach it in art classes. I know, isn't that just crazy? My son is 10 and he said, “What the heck is cursive writing?” Anyway, I use braille for the paint in my Studio to mark colors and I read it. That really is it for most blind people; they only use braille for little notes or playing cards. Other than that it's the computer. I have a giant 3D printer in my studio so that I can print out a head. I can print out Louie Armstrong and I can see, I can feel, what I need to put into a picture. And I have to say that's my favorite thing in my studio. I can print out a statue of a muse, or the statue of David that is actually in Rome. Or I can print out the Statue of Liberty into something that I can touch and then paint it. I really like the way you explain things and make me understand it because I'm not an artist and I don't always understand things that relate specifically to it. I can look at a picture and say I like it or I don't, but I can't look at the picture and know they used XYZ technique. You know I'm just obsessed with art. I do art all day; I sleep and think about it constantly. I'm really a very boring person now that I think about it, but one of the things I don't like about art is that when you go to a gallery or museum they use these crazy words that no one uses and they try to make things sound much more complex than they really are. I think it's sad and it chases a lot of people away from discovering something new. You said that when you first started painting you didn't want people to know that you were blind. What changed your mind so that you're okay with people knowing you're visually impaired? Well you're right. It changed for me when I was talking to groups of children with epilepsy and I'm thinking one was in Corpus Christi and the other in Indiana. Often these kids come from homes where their parents are super overprotective and don't let them go outside and play on the swing set because they could have a seizure or interact with things because they could have a seizure. And here I was with epilepsy and blind talking to them about art and showing them things that they can do. It was just like a light bulb going off. Life could be so much bigger than they saw it. So, since then it doesn't bug me at all. If they want to say that I'm a “blind drawing artist that has epilepsy” I am perfectly fine with that because every time somebody talks about that it turns on a light and brightens someone else's mindset. And it could change an attitude. Wow, you are such a positive force. Thank you and I really hope this opens some minds.
Website: Bramblitt.com Book: Shouting in the Dark: My Journey Back to the Light by John Bramblitt, Lindsey Tate, Katherine Latshaw MAR 2018
HAPTIC VISUALIZATION “THE PERCEPTION AND MANIPULATION OF OBJECTS USING THE SENSES OF TOUCH TO FORM A MENTAL IMAGE OF SOMETHING”
WANNA PLAY STRENGTH & WISDOM ECHO
The Zack Walther Band is an Americana roots rock power trio from New Braunfels, Texas. As versatile as the Texas landscape, the Zack Walther Band can rock the house with high energy, or slow it down with story songs from their life experiences. Zack Walther on lead guitar, vocals and harmonica combined with Matthew Briggs on drums, glockenspiel, tambourine and vocals; and Shawn Hart on bass and vocals -- they make more music than many five-piece bands. They’ve recorded several studio and live records over the years, their music is currently being used on two cable television outdoor shows, and they tour around Texas where their fans never seem to get enough. We saw you guys at the Pelican Lounge in Corpus Christi and I know you'll be back on March 23rd. Yeah when we come do Corpus Christi we are a power trio consisting of me, Matt Briggs, and Shawn Hart. Matt and I have been doing this for a long time; we started this when we were 18 or 19 years old and when we were in college. Playing music became our job and our business. Shawn's been with us for about 3 years minus 6months for another project. Are you always a trio? No, depending on the gig we might bring in a keyboard player and maybe even a horn player. It's always nice to do bigger venues and shows when you can. And how long have you and Matt been playing music together? Well, Matt and I have been working together for about 17 years and we both do this for a living. We've been able to make a pretty good living at what we do and for the most part we've stayed within three or four hours of New Braunfels; not to say we haven’t been in other bands and done other projects. We grew up together, learned how play music together, and learned how to work a band as a business together, because that was the smartest business plan and that's really how we look at being a band; we are a business. Honestly, the quicker you learn that rule, the better off you'll be. There are a lot of guys that aren't great musicians but they have a good business sense and they are doing really well. On the other hand there are a lot of great musicians that have no business sense and they aren't doing very well. That's really good advice. So, how many albums have you put out? I think we put out about seven albums.
By Tamma Hicks, STEAM Magazine
Three studio albums, three live albums, and most recently an EP, “Get Out Of Your Head”. We're currently working in the studio now with plans to release a full album before the end of spring. That's great and are you recording at Matt’s studio? Yeah, Matt bought a house and turned it into a recording studio and a teaching studio because he teaches music lessons to all ages. Actually it's kind of funny because Matt went to school to be a teacher and I went to school for Sound Engineering at Texas Southern University. We've both been very productive Studio musicians. Our first attempt recording was with “Shake Off The Fuzz”. We did that entirely on an Inbox, which is a record that has only two tracks, so kind of going back to old school recording. Matt and I are producing much better quality records than we ever did while we were paying other people, but the business of recording has changed. It's more accessible to Musicians than it was when you had to have an engineer and you had to have a record label behind you. So, we’ve really got the luxury of being able to record a highquality record for an in-expensive amount. Who wrote the songs for the upcoming album? Really there are only about three writers on the album. I have written a couple of them. Matt and I co-wrote a few. We have a new keyboard player, Mike Atkins, and he and I have been doing some co-writing too. We're going to incorporate some of the songs off of the EP into the new album as well. So, the album should be completed in the next month or so then really pushed out and promoted to the radio stations. I have to ask… How do you like having a suitcase in the band?
Well, really part of that came out of our business plan, where we work smarter not harder and we streamline everything. When you're young and you see all the big bands that tour around with massive equipment you think that's what you need but we've come to the decision that we could just streamline everything. I myself play with a small Fender amp. And Matt had a drum set for a while, but then we saw a guy from North Carolina and he had a Samsonite suitcase as his kick drum. So, Matt went out, bought a $2 suitcase at a thrift store, drilled a hole on one side, and started using that. Then I found him a wooden suitcase which, come to find out, has a much better sound. It's a novelty thing really and if you can have a novelty item in your act that people will remember it's a plus. If your novelty also sounds really good, it's a really big plus. The EP was just released in January. Can you tell us a little about the title track? Yeah, you're talking about “Get Out Of Your Head”. That's the song that I wrote after my wife and I lost our third daughter. She was diagnosed at 6 weeks old with leukemia and so we spent the rest of her life, which was a little over a month, in The Children's Hospital of San Antonio. That song is just basically about dealing with the pain of that. I had written a verse and the chorus and thought it was a good start so I asked a friend to take a crack at it for another verse. You know if somebody's never been through that sort of tragedy it's very hard to put yourself there. His name is Matt Hood and he did just a great job. At that point in my opinion it was done, finished. My wife and I will occasionally go up to Nashville to work with Rodney Crowell , where we’ll just write and work on songs and that was one we worked on, so it definitely has the fingerprint of all three on it. It's one of my finer moments for sure!
Well, it’s very touching; hits you in the heart and I'm really sorry for your loss. I can't imagine going through that personally. You know it's one of those things that you never think it's going to happen to you. From that tragedy, my wife and I have started a foundation called Lennon-Aid. What we do and our mission statement is that we raise money through benefits and donations throughout the year to help families who are going through the same or similar situations that we had gone through. You know when you have a really sick kid in the hospital you really have no choice to go back to work until they get out and it's very hard to. So, our goal is to help them out with the day-to-day things like paying their mortgage or rent or bills that they need to pay. We try to help out as many families as we can. And if there are families out there that are in this situation or people that know of families in this situation, please have them apply online to see if we can help them. Although most of the money is raised in Texas it is not exclusive to Texas; we have followers all over the country and the world. We're doing this in her name and in her honor and it's a very beautiful thing.
See The Zack Walther Band 3/23 @ Pelican Lounge in Corpus Christi Every Wednesday @ Freiheit Country Store in New Braunfels ZackWaltherBand.com Lennon-Aid.org
By Tamma Hicks, STEAM Magazine
Welch grew up in Nashville where his father, Kevin Welch, was a songwriter for a publishing company for about 20 years. So needless to say he grew up around some of the finest songwriters in the industry and all his friends parents were in the business somehow. Dustin began playing in bands at the age of 12 with a bunch of neighborhood kids and then after college music really started to take hold of his future. There was a bluegrass string band with Cory Younts (Old Crow Medicine Show), then a stint with the Scotch Greens, a cow-punk/Americana group out of San Diego CA to play banjo, mandolin, and slide guitar. They had two days of practice before piling into a van and driving straight to their first gig in Madison WI. From there they gained speed and toured for 3 months strait opening for the likes of the Reverend Horton heat and Flogging Molly as well as joining the Warp Tour and touring Europe. The band had started performing some of Dustin’s songs before it ran out of gas. At that point he’d been writing songs mostly for other people and that’s about when Dustin headed to Austin for himself. He’d never fronted a band before, but thought he’d give it a try. House Band and Sam Hill both had good runs but, like with so many musicians, everyone had other projects they were committed to. Since 2009 Dustin has been committed to helping improve the lives of veterans and in 2011 started the non-profit organization Soldier Songs & Voices. Between the organization, writing songs, MAR 2018
performing, and touring, Dustin partners with Kevin Welch at songwriting clinics all over North America. He also has a new album, Amateur Theater, coming out this spring. (Kevin also has one too, Kevin Welch: The Dead Reckoning Years, due out also this spring.) I’m just going to jump straight in here, so how did you get involved with Soldier Songs and Voices and working with veterans? I believe it was about 2008 or 9 when the Welcome Home Project asked to use a song I had written about a returned Vietnam vet to put on the compilation disc Voices of a Grateful Nation. And so subsequently we would go out and support that record at their events. I always performed that song at my gigs as well so I'd talk about the song and the project. And it seems like I always have somebody come up to me after a show and they tell me how they always wanted to write a song or learn to play an instrument or both. And finally after hearing this so many times my dad and I saw that we could make this happen. So, we talked to the people from the Welcome Home Project and they brought me on as a board member. We approached Kent Finley at Cheatham Street Warehouse, because of anybody I could think of, he was such a huge advocate of songwriting; he's just the main guy and he would promote it throughout the community. At the time I wasn't aware that they had the Cheatham Street Foundation, so we kind of fit together. I was still living in Austin and I would come up here every Monday, as long as I wasn't out on tour, and we put the word out that if any veterans wanted to come in and learn guitar learn to write a song. After a couple of years, the folks from a Welcome Home Project had less and less time to dedicate towards this project and honestly it was rising so fast. So, at that point we applied to be a non-profit and started other chapters around Texas. There was one at Saxon Pub in Austin, at Sam's Burger Joint in San Antonio, and others. The
one at Bugle Boy in LaGrange is still running. At this time we've got chapters in Fort Worth, Santa Fe NM, Florida, Arkansas and a couple chapters in Portland OR. We’re just getting ready to start one in Columbus Ohio. They're all over quite honestly. It sounds like chapters come and go. Yeah, it kind of depends on the volunteers and how much time they've got available as well as the venue they're in. Sometimes it's because the musician that's leading the group has gotten too busy or gone out on
We didn't start doing this because we could see the therapeutic benefits; we started this because playing music is fun and maybe this is something that would help them feel better and have a good time while they try to figure out the next step in their lives. Dustin Welch tour and wasn’t able to have someone else take over. My father and I went to Australia and helped a different group, who took on our ideas, and started up a program there for their veterans. Because it's in another country and we're a nonprofit, it couldn’t be the same program as ours. But really music is a universal thing and there are trauma victims from war everywhere. So the program is run by volunteers and meetings are at venues?
All of the chapters are run by professional or semiprofessional musicians who volunteer their time, there's no paid staff. And a veteran coordinator in that area helps get the word out. And we set them up with a whole bunch of guitars that have been donated. We hold the meetings in social settings, so people aren't quite so isolated. Venues seem to be more than happy to give us time and space in their club. The venue has to be a neutral ground, so it can't be at VFW's or Legion Halls or clubs like that because it's too easy for a veteran to fall into an isolated comfort zone and what we want is to create a comfort zone without isolation. That's one of the big issues with PTSD is that you isolate yourself until you're just cocooned in your own room and you have no interaction with anyone else. So, we keep the door always open. Is this something participants have to attend weekly or regularly? Most chapters meet every other week, occasionally it's once a month. The one that I run here in San Marcos meets every Monday and has for the past seven or eight years now. It’s not one of those groups where you’re required to attend or have three versus done by the next meeting. It’s an open group and so the numbers and dynamics are always changing. Do people who attend your meetings have to be veterans? Can other people who suffer from PTSD attend? We specifically work with veterans. We can't call this “music therapy”; because I'm not a therapist, I'm not licensed. But this is what we do and we know through science that music heals. This type of program can help anyone with any type of brain trauma or brain injury. You see it in Alzheimer's patients and with all types of different disabilities. Anybody who's been through any kind of traumatic experience from a bull rider to a football player, what we've seen is astounding! People get their cognitive memories back and they suddenly start remembering
what they were doing yesterday or last week. We've had people that have had chronic seizures that have started to go away because what happens when you learn an instrument is that you have to rewrite your somatic pathways. And by writing about the initial traumatic event, you're confronting it. They called that cognitive behavioral therapy. But the difference is you're writing and putting that traumatic event into a song, so you are capturing it and it's now on a piece of paper in front of you, not bouncing around your head anymore. You can bring it to your family, your spouse, your friends and you can say this is what's been going on, because when you write a song you can put so much in and it's much easier than sitting down and explaining to someone. Now a lot of these folks are getting up in front of a crowd of people and singing about their traumatic event or whatever the song they've written and that's just a terrifying thing. Even for these people who have been in full on war, they're fine with that but put them in front of someone, singing their own song? That’s tough. Do you teach them a process to write a song? Because I can't sit down and write a song; words just don't come out like that for me. So, first of all, a song can do anything. There are really no rules. Rather than having the person tell their stories and me trying to write about it, we're actually giving them the tools and the ability to do it so it's more sustainable and we're offering them a safe-space type of relief. They know they can always come and work something out. There's always a group of people that you can come in and see every week and we get new people all the time, so really there's a family already there ready to accept them. We do teach some song form, because there's always somebody who has no ex-
perience with that. And for those with no songwriting experience whatsoever we’ll give them a free writing exercise where you write down every word that's on your mind; no grammar, no punctuation, no worries, just get the thoughts down. And then I can go back over it with them and say. Well, you keep coming back to this one phrase so, that could be our chorus. Then we can arrange how the other lines go together and now you've got a verse. If you start in the wrong frame of mind and the wrong point of your song it makes it much more difficult to express yourself. Honestly we don't actually encourage them to write about their military experience, but that is a very effective thing because really they can look right into just about anything in their life. And not everybody wants to be a songwriter either. Some people are here just learning how to play an instrument and learn their favorite cover songs which is enough for them. So, you teach them the basics of playing music and writing songs. Yes, we teach them the fundamentals but give them the encouragement to take that and make it their own. Meaning we don't make them do it in one specific way only and that way they have their own individuality to it. A lot of these songs are very raw which allows the audience to connect to that vulnerability and see how brave a person is to do this. When we put on benefit concerts we give our veterans a chance to perform and when we get the opportunity to we take them to recording studios as well. Although we haven't released anything, it's more of a request that they've made to get that experience. You said that you distribute guitars that have been donated. Yeah, we have people that want to donate guitars because they've heard about us and they have a guitar that's been sitting in their closet for years that nobody's played or someone has inherited one. And they'll just donate these guitars. Of course we also get other instruments donated too like bass guitars, pianos, harmonicas, and so on. So, you take any instruments that are donated? Well, actually they just need to be portable. It doesn't have to be guitars, but guitars it seems like are available and portable. So, we're getting hundreds of instru-
ments and we make sure that if you come to our meetings and you want to learn an instrument and you want write songs we will help you with it. You’ve already said that you limit yourselves to working with veterans. So, does a person have to be from a specific conflict or military service? No, it's open across-the-board. This is a neat thing, because you get a room or a table full of people from all sorts of different conflicts and branches of the military. It's a cross-section of race and gender and family members can also come. Tell me about the Reveille Songwriting Retreat For the past two years we’ve hosted a week-long songwriting retreat in partnership with the Fuel Our Fire organization. We approached Tom McDaniel at TR Ranch in Hallettsville and he thought this was just a great idea. We’ve had two retreats with about 15 attendees from all over the week before Veterans Day. We bring in a group of guest instructors and musicians such as Susan Gibson, Phoebe and Stephanie Hunt, Libby Koch, Chuck Hawthorne, John Martinez, Sam Beckler and many more. We also put together a small mobile recording studio and last year we came out with 15 or 20 songs and at the end of the week we do a performance that's open to the public. This year were looking at doing 2 week-long sessions. And how much does it cost to attend? Attendees are asked to make a small contribution towards the program but if they can't of course we cover it and I believe last year the cost was all covered by the donations we had raised. A week costs about $250 and includes sleeping accommodations, food, recording and instruction. And how do you raise donations. One, we put on a couple benefit concerts each year. Second, we put out the word to people who would like to sponsor either a week at the retreat, help with instruments,
or help with other needs. Mostly it's in kind donations. Wow that is so neat! So what needs to be done to start a new chapter? You know it's such an easy thing and there's hardly any overhead. All the money we raise goes towards buying instruments and is structured around the community level. We can have a chapter anywhere as long as we have a venue that willing let us come in and a musician that is willing to volunteer some hours each week. Really, every musician I’ve ever suggested this to has been all for it. If someone is really interested in getting a chapter in their area they just need to checkout our website and send an email or give me a call. We'll talk and see if it's something we can do.
Look for Dustin Welch Austin Indie Orchestra & Choir March 4th @ Fair Market in Austin with the Austin Indie Orchestra & Choir. Dustin assisted in the song arrangements, which “was a dream come true.” Austin Veterans Arts Festival 2019 October 18th through November 17th, 2019. This will be a city wide festival with events happening in museums, theatres, and venues throughout the area. SoldierSongsAndVoices.com DustinWelch.com KevinWelch.com
SLIM BAWB & THE FABULOUS STUMPGRINDERS ROOSTER (SWAMPGRASS RECORDS) BY STEVE GOLDSTEIN It’s a safe bet to say that Swamp Rock is alive and doing mighty fine on Slim Bawb and the Fabulous Stumpgrinders’ latest, ROOSTER. Bob Pearce, aka Slim Bawb, has been offering his own California take on foot stompin’ rock from the bayou in and around New Braunfels, including a long residency at Gruene Hall for well over ten years. Here he’s joined once again with his Fabulous Stumpgrinders, multi-instrumentalist Lil’ Howard Yeargan, Ron Sherrod on drums, and Bawb’s two feet, Lefty and Stinky on boot bass. And they all live up to their fabulous name. The sound is a little Delbert McClinton meets Buckwheat Zydeco at a shrimp boil at the Neville Brothers’ ranch. But it’s much more when you add in the mandolin, banjo, pedal
ANDREA HARSELL & LUNA ROJA SOMETHING FOR THE (SELF-RELEASE) BY RICK J BOWEN Missoula Montana based singer songwriter Andrea Harsell peened twelve new songs for her new album Something For the Pain, released in September of 2017, that reflect the character of her home town. Missoula is at a crossroads between the mountains and the great plains: a college town in ranch and reservation land that harbors a mix of progressive intellectualism and traditional ideals. Harsell and her backing trio Luna Roja, featuring drummer Antonio Alvarez, guitarist Nick Hamburg, and bassist Michael Rhead, nimbly bridge the musical landscape from jazzy blues to country, rock, R&B and folk with a western edge and a rough and ready spirit.
Opening track, “Don’t Do It,” is a honky tonk rocker with tongue twisting a lyric about being in love with a bad boy. The dance floor remains full for the snappy Northern Soul bopper “Oh Boy,’ with Harsell deftly shifting her vocal from alluring coquette to blistering rocker. The grooving continues with the heavy R&B track “Singles,” that features great riffing from Hamburg. Harsell then leads on acoustic guitar for the island tinged lament “Singing Angel,” and the straight ahead rocking title track. Producer/engineer Ryan “Shmed,” Maynes adds some oldtime tack piano to the robust blues shuffle “Hush Little Baby.” Foot stomping blues rocker “Teenage Girl,” draws comparisons to Janis Joplin and Melisa Etheridge. The high lonesome blues “Hard Times,” gives Harsell plenty of room to stretch out vocally
BILLY STRINGS TURMOIL & TINFOIL (APOSTOL RECORDING COMPANY) BY ROB DICKENS
steel, dobro, along with the aforementioned Lefty and Stinky, all hotly played by Slim. The band covers a wide range, starting with the blues and boogie opener “Second Line Fever,” the slide resonator blues of “Proper Thing To Do,” and the rocking “Promises Written In Wine.” They blend well with Cajun train beat and French singing on “Comment Ca Va,” a Louisiana barnburner titled “Hotel Mini Bar,” a rousing gospel that ends in a NOLA street dirge, “Build The Foundation,” and the autobiographical “K-No Bawb Today,” a sad tale explaining why Slim Bawb isn’t played on American radio. There’s even a bluegrass with a touch of the swamp banjo breakdown aptly titled, “Earl.” Slim Bawb and the Fabulous Stumpgrinders certainly cover a lot of ground here, but there’s not a dull moment on anywhere on ROOSTER. Each of the 14 tracks is a good time taste of hot Cajun spice with a rocking twist that’ll get you moving .
SLIMBAWB.COM STEVE GOLDSTEIN: STEAMMAGAZINE.NET
and emotionally. The crew get as close to traditional country as they dare on the rousing “Hearts Were Made To Mend,” followed by the sweet torch and twang love song “Like We Used To Do.” She then faces her demons head on for the anthem of selfempowerment “Medicine and Chains.” The sweet swinging album closer “Born In The Valley, “feels like a bonus track with Harsell crooning alongside the upright bass of Carla Green on a long lost French cabaret number. ANDREAHARSELL.COM RICK J BOWEN: WABLUES.ORG
Originally from Kentucky and then Michigan, Billy Strings had so much talent as a child, his fate was sealed. A fourth-generation prodigy who was practically born into bluegrass, started to play with his father and uncle from the age of four. In 2016 at the age of twenty-four he (real name Apostol) was awarded the highly prestigious Instrumentalist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Now a resident of hip East Nashville, Strings has provided us with a debut, full-length release. Reportedly, his live show is something spectacular with a reputation on stage that is soaring. The challenge in making the record was getting some of that excitement trapped in the studio. Returning to Michigan, Strings enlisted acoustic roots wizard Glenn Brown (Greensky Bluegrass) as producer, and centered the music around his new band, featuring Drew Matulich on mandolin with banjo prodigy Billy Failing and Nashville bassist
Brad Tucker. Special guests of calibre were assembled – Miss Tess, Molly Tuttle, John Mailander, Shad Cobb (recently on tour with Robbie Fulks) and Peter Madcat Ruth. It hits you part way through track 2 – ”Meet Me At The Creek” – over nine minutes of intense, frantic and sparkling playing. If I’ve heard something this good and unsullied, well I don’t remember it. Add to that a masterful duet between Strings and one of the great bluegrass guitarists of a generation Bryan Sutton (on the visceral “Salty Sheep”) that captures the bold craft, speed and accuracy of the finest and clearly original bluegrass music. Throw in the hypnotic, almost Middle Eastern picking of the title track and you have your reward for the price of admission already. Not only is there bluegrass lineage, but throw in the Grateful Dead and other psychedelic influences – take note
R E V I E W S
of the other worldly, ‘multiversal’ ”Spinning” and the courageous inclusion of a nontrack, ”107”. Plenty of hiss and hum as knobs are manipulated to provide a counterpoint and relief from the audacity of much of its length. His vocals show a maturity, in timbre and content, way beyond his years. Turmoil & Tinfoil is a find, one of best of the year, refreshing and mesmerizing. Billy Strings is as exciting an artist that has come onto any scene for a while .
BILLYSTRINGS.COM ROB DICKENS: LISTENINGTTHROUGHTHELENS.COM
STEAM Magazine - South Texas Entertainment Art Music, March 2018 features Zack Walther - New CD, Featured Painter John Bramblitt - Blind Art...
Published on Mar 5, 2018
STEAM Magazine - South Texas Entertainment Art Music, March 2018 features Zack Walther - New CD, Featured Painter John Bramblitt - Blind Art...