November 2021 VOL.10 # 106 ON THE COVER...
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A ROCKPORT KIND OF GUY BY STEVE RUSSELL
4 COMICS 5 QUICK READ; ARTIST WINDOW 6 ALBUM COVER OF THE MONTH 7 CD REVIEWS 8 STEVE RUSSELL: ROCKPORT’S ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE 11 N EW RELEASES : MOVI E S ART & MOVIES; STEAM SPOTLIGHT: A STEAK IN OUR FUTURE 12 KEN N Y G RI MES: T HE LI G HT OF DAY WITH HAL KETCHUM 14 JO HN REY REED: SONGWRITER, SINGER, GUITARIST
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Eyes on the prize is not enough
The crack in our head J. Michael Dolan Somewhere, between the urgent disruptions, the thought-robbing distractions, our screaming to-do list, and the continuous lure of breaking news, there are openings where we can slow down, slip through the cracks, and actually find enough peace of mind to get some creative work done. Some days, the openings are so wide we can spend long hours catching up on our most important projects and goals. Other times the days are jammed with a boatload of responsibilities or unexpected urgencies and there are no openings to be found anywhere. However, what I’ve come to learn is that manipulating our busy schedule is easy, because most of us artists & treps have our own favorite software, or builtin time-management system that helps us triage the storms of the day. But finding that time to contemplate, create and manifest our imaginative ideas, can be illusive.
J. Michael Dolan While it’s true that a boatload of advertising and a blitzkrieg of promotion on social media will certainly put a lot of eyes on your work, it is also nevertheless true that once the hoopla wears off and the true essence of your hard effort is revealed, the only thing that matters is: Did your fans love it enough to share it? Did your reps love it enough to pitch it? Did your customers love it enough to buy it? Did your clients love it enough to return for more? Did your subscribers love it enough to re-up? If not, then your strategic media blitz bombed! Important because I think it’s crucial to get “eyes on the prize.” However, it’s even more crucial to create a worthy enough prize.
Important because the cracks we
need to slip through, are the ones between our busy thoughts, where pure creativity lives, not the ones between our busy schedules, where timemanagement lives. And the only way I know to slow down my frantic thoughts, just long enough to slip through the cracks and experience that illusive, creative peace of mind, is to sit in a private space, for 10-20 minutes, close my eyes, and allow the cracks between my thoughts to open up effortlessly, so that I can slowly slip into the deep end of the pool. And for over 30-years, the balance I’ve found in my life between the hoopla of showbiz and the silence of my soul is astounding. I’m not sure who I would be without this one simple, daily practice in my life. As Leonard Cohen would say, “that’s where the light gets in.”
Tweak your antenna J. Michael Dolan More often than not pro artists and treps commit to projects that leave them stuck and trapped, and finding the door out ain’t always easy! That’s why it’s important to keep your antenna tweaked, and to remain conscious, aware and vigilant of those signs, intuitions and fleeting coincidences that tell us when it’s time to change direction, alter our course or toss in the towel. Important because while “never quit” may be our mantra, there are times when moving on and letting go is the only real intelligent thing to do—so we can recover, regroup, reorganize and reinvent a new game. STEAMMAGAZINE.NET NOVEMBER 2021 STEAM MAGAZINE
Bob Dylan was already highly regarded among the folk community by the time he first appeared at George Wein's annual folk festival in Newport, Rhode Island in 1963. Everyone eagerly anticipated the elusive folk singer's first appearance at the annual event. Wein had established The Newport Folk Festival to showcase folk, blues and country talent, just as he'd done with his celebrated Newport Jazz Festival. Besides Dylan, the 1963 Folk Festival included Bill Monroe, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Doc Watson, Theodore Bikel, Maybelle Carter, John Lee Hooker, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins and so many more. This album is a collection of evening concert performances from the multi-talented Sam Hinton who kicks things off with the wonderfully cute “Barnyard Song,” newly rediscovered blues legend Mississippi John Hurt, classic cowboy folk from Ramblin' Jack Elliott, The Rooftop Singers with a snappy version of their “Walk Right In” and Canadian folkies, Ian and Sylvia. Joan Baez is absolutely vibrant on three tracks, especially the humanist, “Oh, Freedom.” Likewise, The Freedom Singers were a quartet of civil rights activists that special-
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ized in the spiritual “freedom songs” that served as a soundtrack to the era, including a captivating version of “We Shall Overcome” that ends the record. Young Bob Dylan singing live, joined by Baez and others, on a heartfelt rendition of his “Blowin' In The Wind” remains as relevant ever. Dylan appeared at the festival two more times, culminating in his infamous plugged-in set in 1965. Vanguard Records boasted “Recordings For The Connoisseur” on their album covers. The live ambiance and energetic performances are a snapshot of a very important time in American music.
An impressive crop of heavy hitters came together to support Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) with five nights of benefit concerts at New York's Madison Square Gardens on September 1923, 1979. The filmed concerts and album came together mainly through the efforts of Graham Nash, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, and future U.S. Congressman, John Hall. Their aim was to use music to help bring awareness to the dangerous pitfalls of nuclear energy, nuclear waste and viable alternatives. Proceeds from the concert, film and album were donated to pro-solar energy activist groups. Even though some of the artists
wouldn't give clearance for certain songs, this 3 LP set and 16-page insert features some shining examples from the star-studded cast. The Doobie Brothers kick things off with a slick version of their hit “Dependin' On You” and are featured on several other tracks. Bonnie Raitt rocks out on a couple of her classics and James Taylor is given several spots, including one with his then wife, Carly Simon. A standout track is Bob Dylan's “The Times They Are A-Changin'” with Taylor, Simon, Nash and Hall coming together in beautiful harmony. Two energized tracks by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band marks their first live appearance on vinyl. Crosby, Stills and Nash are in epic form and are given the majority of side 6. Tracks by Nicolette Larson, Ry Cooder, Gil Scott-Heron, Raydio, Poco, Chaka Khan, Sweet Honey In The Rock and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers doing proper justice to Bert Berns's classic”Cry To Me” all help to round out the wide scope of talent who all collaborated to make this event a reality for a cause they believed in.
PRETTY RECKLESS DEATH BY ROCK AND ROLL (FEARLESS RECORDS) BY KEITH “MUZIKMAN” HANNALECK I have all the albums released by The Pretty Reckless and have always enjoyed their gritty rockin’ sound. If you think the cover is revealing, wait until you open the gatefold sleeves. It is a classic centerfold ala, Marilyn Monroe. Well, she is blonde and beautiful and so is her voice. The first track comes on all guns blazing with the rockin’ title track “Death By Rock And Roll.” Oh my, what a way to go! If I have to die by rock and roll, I want Taylor Momsen (vocals, guitar) singing to me. Taylor has been the heart and soul of this band and the musicianship is jacked up another level on this recording thanks to Ben Phillips (guitar, vocals, bass, keyboards, piano), Jamie Perkins (drums, percussion), Duncan Watt (orchestration, piano, organ, and keyboards) and Jonathan Wyman (guitar, bass, drum programming, keyboards). As you can see, a multitude of talent is present here and Taylor makes the most of the music with her eclectic vocal style. “Only Love Can Save Me Now” is heartfelt with impactive lyrics like the dark passage “Waves of sadness swallow me.” That is heavy, and Taylor sings it as if she lives it. There are some great guitar lines towards the finish line and some great supporting bottom end. “And So It Went” starts with something that would be in a creepy horror movie then launches straight ahead into some rockin’ guitar. The track shifts back and forth from slower to faster and back again. This is a very dark track about children. Taylor sings in a softer way to embellish the lyrics then an entire chorus of children joins her to sing. “25” is an emotive track with more shifting of the pace back and forth to an apex of sound to a lower tone. That kind of approach helps to punch the lyrics home to the listener. And it turns into an entirely different pop tune towards the end then back to the tick-tock beat of the band to close out the first side. “My Bones” opens up side B. Taylor sings “Bury Me Down With My Soul.” Her apocalyptic prophecy is accompanied by some catchy hooks just a bit slower, then it cuts loose to get back on the fast track again. This is the norm for most of their songs, so there is never a dull moment to be had. “Got So High” shows the softer side of this rocking outfit. Taylor sings it like a true power ballad and lets us know about it all with some nice acoustic guitar laid down for sweeter vocals to match. “Broomsticks” is a short ditty that you would hear on Halloween at the cool house that decorates every year and scares the hell out of you, but you get great candy. But what is in that candy? Evil lurks on Hallows Eve. Then fittingly, they launch into the rocker and my favorite track “Witches Burn.” And indeed, they do when they spit on your grave and do what they want at night disobeying their men masters that set all the rules. Taylor sings about the truth and knows she will be burned, but does it all anyway because it feels so good. Stinging guitar leads are featured here to make her vocals even more poignant. “Standing At The Wall” is a slow burner that opens side C, with some orchestration and very meaningful lyrics. Once again, they dig down
ROCKPORT KIND OF GUY A TRIBUTE TO GUY CLARK IN ART AND MUSIC (COASTAL BEND MUSIC) BY STEVE GOLDSTEIN
deep to pull out all the emotional struggles one can go through and use the wall as a symbol of how powerful it is, and how small we are in comparison to the height and power it has over us. “Turning Gold” was another one of my favorites. The music builds to a crescendo and at one point it sounds like the guitar is talking, a very cool effect. I know that kind of thing is not uncommon I just thought it was different and well done. “Rock And Roll Heaven” is about the 27 club, Jimi, Janis, and Morrison. This one is a country-flavored acoustic that takes you to that great gig in the sky with all of those musical legends that left us all too soon. More towards the end of the track some meaty keyboards are added for another layer of sound to complete the track. The album closes out with the blues-country “Harley Darling.” This is about a bike that took away the person’s lover and now she is all alone again. The harmonica intro sets the bleak tone of what is to become Taylor’s reality. She makes it all believable as always. I think they could make a fine country-rock album if they wanted to. This is a tribute to their great talents and diversity. Every album seems to get better and better from The Pretty Reckless and Death By Rock And Roll is a high watermark and a must-have for their fan base or anyone that likes to rock. They have become a polished and perfected cohesive unit that delivers the goods. It is well worth getting on vinyl ! DEATHBYROCKANDROLL.COM KEITH “MUZIKMAN” HANNALECK: THEFINALONVINYL.COM
The little city of Rockport on the Texas Gulf Coast is known for sprawling beaches, vast boating, fishing and birding opportunities, and their thriving arts community. The historic town is also known for being home to teenager, Guy Clark. Guy left to follow his Muse that eventually led to Nashville and beyond, but Rockport always remained in his heart and soul. He frequently returned to play at local festivals and gatherings throughout his career. Now, as what would've been his 80th birthday approaches, the Rockport Center For The Arts is celebrating the man's legacy with their ROCKPORT KIND OF GUY: A TRIBUTE TO GUY CLARK IN ART & MUSIC art and film festival. This marvelous CD featuring 16 Texas friends and artists covering his music only touches on just how deep Guy Clark's influence runs. Performances by Lyle Lovett, Verlon Thompson, Terri Hendrix, Bob Livingston, Shawn Camp, Willis Alan Ramsey, Michael Martin Murphy and Steve Earle are just a sample of the talent compiled here. Some of the tunes, like “L.A. Freeway,” by Gary P. Nunn, and John Inman on “Desperados Waiting On A Train” are recognizable staples,
while others, like “Queenie's Song” sung by Terry Allen and Ray Benson dishing out some “Texas Cooking” may only be more known by the die-hards. Sarah Pierce delivers proper justice on the supernatural “The Guitar,” a personal favorite. All the tracks are acoustic and sparse with little, or no accompaniment. Guy Clark's impact on these artists is unmistakable. They all sound happy to pay respect to their friend and mentor with these heartfelt interpretations of his music. The celebration includes a book of artwork inspired by this album by longtime friend, Steve Russell, whose incredible work graces the CD cover. Proceeds from ROCKPORT KIND OF GUY: A TRIBUTE TO GUY CLARK IN ART & MUSIC will benefit the Rockport Center For The Arts. COASTALBENDMUSIC.COM STEVE GOLDSTEIN: STEAMMAGAZINE.NET
STEAMMAGAZINE.NET NOVEMBER 2021 STEAM MAGAZINE 7
Continued from page 9 to work out all the technicalities before I paint a bigger version. Occasionally that small painting is what I’m looking for and bigger one would not advance the cause.
How did you decide what image repre-
sented each song? I, like a lot of people, have listened to Guy’s songs for years. Some paintings were quickly inspired by the song title, such as ‘Desperados Waiting for a Train’ (John Inmon). However, you have to listen to the words in other songs to find the image, such as the bluebird in ‘Don’t Let The sunshine Fool You’ (Steve Earle).
Why did you decide to make this a fund-
raiser for the Rockport Center Of The Arts? You know John has been splitting his time between Denver and Rockport; however he is spending a lot more time down here. We had been talking about how much he liked the community and would like to be involved with giving back to the locals. Since music is what he does for a living we thought we'd turn the Guy Clark Tribute into a benefit and we knew that the RCA is fundraising for the funding and operations of the new building. John and I thought it was a good idea to make them the beneficiary and it’s worked out nicely.
Paintings… El Coyote, Noel McKay School Bus, Jimmy Stewart Boats To Build, Verlon Thompson
Photos: Guy Clark & Verlon Thompson Preforming at a Concert Allene Hicks with painting: Desperados Waiting for a Train
You have a big connection to the RCA
as you're one of the founding members from 1969, correct? Yes, back then there were several of us artists that were friends and we'd sit around the coffee table dreaming dreams and expressing wishes. However, our small group of friends never dreamed we would coalesce into something that had dues, a president, and all that.
The program you helped build is won-
derful and I'm excited waiting for the new building. As a founding member do you have input on what's happening with the building? Well over the years I have made considerable contributions to the organization for their fundraising. I have seen it go through a lot of changes and they have evolved in different directions to become what it is today. The Mandate is to educate youngsters, be a showcase for artists to show their work, and introduce the community to all types of art.
That's really wonderful and thanks for
doing that. I honestly think art is something communities need to grow and improve. You know when we started Rockport was a very small place, however they got behind their artists; something many other areas in Texas did not do at the time. And Rockport had a lot of attractive features to artists such as the waterfront, the boats and ships, and wildlife.
Is there going to be a Steve Russell wing or hall in the new RCA? No, I kiddingly say that they should have a statue commemorating me, but they haven't gotten around to it yet. Maybe I’ll just make one myself and put it in storage until they're ready for it.
That’s a great idea, I like that! Before we go do you have a quick story about or
remembrance about Guy Clark that you'd like to share? Well, I’ll put it this way. Guy was kind of like a big brother to me; he’s about 3 or 4 years older than I was. When we go on camping trips, Scout trips, and such he was a leader of men as you might say. Guy was always kinder to the younger kids then most of the guys his age, who like to roughhouse us kids. Hot darn! John just got a big fish! I haven't been fishing in a few years so this is a treat but I'm going to go now so we can haul this in. STEVERUSSELL.COM GUYCLARKFESTIVAL.COM ROCKPORTARTCENTER.COM Oct.15- Nov. 14 Rockport Kind of Guy Exhibition Rockport Center for the Arts, 401 S. Austin Street, Rockport Nov. 7 & 8 @ 7pm An Evening with Verlon Thompson & Shawn Camp: A Musical Performance The Rialto Theater, 327 S Commercial St, Aransas Pass Nov. 12 @ 7pm Film Screening: Without Getting Killed or Caught Movies Inc, 1277 Hwy 35 N Bypass, Aransas Pass, TX
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STEAK IN OUR FUTURE! We are thrilled to announce that the Chefs of the Coastal Bend, American Culinary Federation, and the Texas Chef Association (CCB, ACF, TCA) scholarship fundraising event is back! You may remember the first Steak In Our Future was held in May 2019 and featured over 300 pounds of beef served in nine courses that were prepared by three of Texas’ Top Chefs. We are excited to tell you that CCB, AFC, and TCA are hosting their second Beefsteak Dinner! A Steak In Our Future is going to be nine courses of beef prepared by three award winning Texas chefs! This is being held at Nueces Brewing Company in downtown Corpus Christi TX. Your ticket will include an all you can eat beefsteak style dinner and select brews. However! You do need to act fast as there is a limited number of seats available and tickets are $75 per person. This event is a fundraiser for the Chefs of the Coastal Bend’s Michael Stephans Educational Fund. The Fund started in May 2019 and has sent students and professional chefs to the State Conference for Continuing Education and Competition. It has also helped student chefs with membership scholarships, assisted with books and tuition, assisted professional chefs with continuing education and certification as well as given hardship funds to several chefs in the community and state through the TCA Chefs Relief fund. The CCB chapter has continues to grow and is the third largest in the state! Although the CCB is for chefs there is an “Enthusiast” Membership that's just $25/year and applications will be at the event. STEAK IN OUR FUTURE! SUNDAY NOVEMBER 14TH @ 4PM NUECES BREWING CO. 401 S WATER ST CC TX GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!!
STEAMMAGAZINE.NET NOVEMBER 2021 STEAM MAGAZINE 11
By Tamma Hicks & Rusty Hicks, STEAM Magazine
uitarist Kenny Grimes has been playing country music out of the Austin area since 1984. He has played and toured with many greats - Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lee Roy Parnell, The Flatlanders, Hank Thompson, Shelly West, Stonewall Jackson, Thomas Michael Riley, Gary P. Nunn, and Hal Ketchum (Kenny co-wrote many of the songs on Hal’s last album, I’m The Troubadour). Kenny’s musical talent has graced many renowned stages such as Austin City Limits-Austin TX, Infinity Hall-Norfolk VA, The Grand Ole Opry-Nashville TN, The Coach HouseSan Juan Capistrano CA, Ventura Theater-Ventura CA to name a few. He has played Canada, Mexico, and all over the US. He has played all around the world making several trips throughout Europe and even going to Jamaica. His work takes him from the stage to the studio. Kenny’s long list of studio recordings is as impressive as his list of live stages. Kenny began playing professionally at the age of 14 and his love for music took him from Wichita Falls, TX to The University of Colorado where he received his Bachelors in Music. Kenny is an accomplished jazz guitarist, classical guitarist, and skillful at playing virtually all musical styles. His talent makes him a well-rounded music teacher, teaching guitar and bass. With a career like this, you would think Kenny has done it all, but he hadn’t until now! Back in 2013 Kenny and Hal Ketchum went into the Wimberley Recording Studio and recorded 10 songs. What happened after that is why we’re here today… A brand new album, Light of Day! We caught up with Kenny at the
Back Porch Bar in Port Aransas with Thomas Michael Riley, who he’s been playing with since 2011.
Wow, you just jumped into a whole new territory! That is just the strangest thing to say to a man who's got such an impressive career like yours. Well you know, I've played on a lot of people's recordings but I've never really been on the production side of it, so here I am and it's fine, it's cool.
And a little hair pulling? Well yeah, it most definitely can be, but I've been so fortunate on this!
Tell me how The Light Of Day came to
be. Hal and I had recorded this back in 2013 at the Wimberley Recording Studio with Chuck Pennington and the floods of 2015 washed away the studio, so really we just thought everything was gone and didn’t think much more about it. Then a year or so ago I was talking to Chuck and he told me he’d had those files backed up on another hard drive and to do whatever I want with them. When he emailed the tracks to me, so I could take a listen, he pointed out that he could split or add tracks just like we had when we recorded it. “We” as in you and Hal Ketchum wrote and recorded these songs together? Yes, most of these songs. Hal had MS and for years he'd suffered through it. When he'd got ill the second time again in 2009 he stopped playing. In 2011 I got a call from his daughter Sarah who said ‘Dad wants to start playing again, but he only wants you to play. He doesn't want to deal with Nashville, he just wants to sit down and play.’ I said sure and it was so much fun because he would
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so it was a live session. We'd record somecall and leave lines of songs and poems on thing and Hal would look at me and say, my voicemail and then he'd say ‘What do you ‘What do you think of that?’ If I had any think we can do with it?’ That’s how we just doubts about it he’d say ‘Let's do it again’ started putting songs together; we got them and we did. And it went like that until I said all copyrighted and such back in 2013. Then that I think I got it that time. Then he’d tell as we were sitting at the studio with Chuck Chuck to open up another track and I’d step there were a few songs that Hal just loved, out of the he didn't write them but he room so he wanted record them too, and would sing that’s how we ended up with LIGHT OF DAY harmony with 10 songs. We wanted to Kenny Grimes & Hal Ketchum himself. He'd release them back then but be done and nobody bit. At one point Hal I'd stepped had signed with a record label, that is no longer in existence, and they had recorded a few of our songs but not all of them.
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recordings were of you, Hal, and an acoustic guitar, right? Yes and it was so funny the way we had recorded these tracks. We were in the same room
You aren't “just a guitar player” by any means, but I think there is a good story behind the bass you used. Yeah, there’s a lesson to be learned story behind the bass. I played acoustic and electric guitar on this guy's record years ago. I won't mention his name but after a week recording we finished recording he said, ‘I'm waiting on some investors, so I‘ll have to pay you later.’ I knew the guy and I knew better than to leave empty-handed, so he had just bought a brand new a beautiful 5-string Schachner Bass at Guitar Center and used it to record this record. Since he couldn't pay me he gave me that bass and I said, ‘I've been here for a week, what else you got?’ He said, ‘the bass ain't enough? Well do you golf?’ I don't golf but I got out of there with a set of golf clubs and bag and a brand-new 5 -string Bass.
You know I’ve done gigs where the club said ‘Oh you'll have to come back for a check,’ so the guys I with played that were like ‘No, but what's that chair worth? What's that table worth?’ and start taking them outside. It was amazing how then suddenly they’d come up with the money right then. Oh yes, it kind of reminded me of The Blues Brothers movie. And you know this guy waited until after it was all done to tell me
back to play a lead on there with just the acoustic guitar. So really that's what I went to listen to at Chuck’s and I took a bass guitar with me.
We only met Hal a couple times, so our perception is limited, but we can picture him being like that. Was Chuck able to rebuild the studio and did he master the album? Well after the studio literally got washed away Chuck got new equipment and set the studio up in his house. Now, he had recorded some local people before us but he had never recorded someone of Hal Ketchum's stature, so when he found our recordings he was as excited as I am! It was Jerry Tubbs and Terra Nova Mastering that finalized the album.
Boy that name sounds familiar. what an awesome coincidence Yeah, he mastered ‘A Rockport Kind of Guy: A Tribute to Guy Clark in Art & Music’ album just before he got mine. When he said it was kind of a hodgepodge because it was recorded in all these different studios and his job was to make it all match. So when he got to mine he said it was going to be a piece of cake.
tell us about the songs on this album. Well, the first song is by Mickie Merkens ‘Cayamo Mi Cayamo’ and it's beautiful. Then comes one he and I wrote ‘Days Like This’, followed by ‘Devil Moon’ and ‘Father's Day’ which Hal had recorded before but it was with full band. Next I put music behind a story he was telling about his uncle Blackjack Ketchum who was a train robber. Then we recorded a song Rich Minus wrote and the Texas Tornados had recorded ‘Laredo Rose’. I know Rich personally as I had played for him on a record back in the
early 90s and Hal it brought the song in because he had heard it and thought it would be perfect for us to do, and it was. Then is another one we wrote ‘Midnight Works For Me’. ‘New Mexican Rain’ I put some crazier chords on this one because Hal had one idea going and I had another but it turned out just beautiful. The last song on the record is ‘Invisible Man’ and it talks about a homeless guy who has saved up enough money to go into a liquor store and he's in line to buy his wine as a young person in front of him is robbing the liquor store. That one is just one of my favorite songs and Hal had never recorded or released it before, so as I said some of them you may recognize because they are songs by other artists. There are 10 songs on the record, so I know I'm leaving one out. However, none of these recordings have ever been released and that is really why I'm so adamant about doing this project, because those songs would never be heard if I don't release them. And besides I had a whole lot of fun putting that bass guitar on there. I'm not a bass player by any means but I had a lot of fun.
LIGHT OF DAY
that he was “waiting on investors.” You know at that point all the tracks were down and what am I going to do? I can't take it back.
And you aren't going to delete all that work and you have the good sense not say “give me a call when your investors get in touch.” Exactly, because I'd still be waiting and this is like 15 years ago. Anyway, I had never played the bass, it's just been sitting in the closet. When I pulled up the MP3’s that Chuck sent me I took the bass out and worked up bass lines for our songs. Now I'm listening to it and saying ‘Wow, this is good!’
When is it coming out and where can we
get it? Well, The Light of Day comes out Black Friday November 26th on my website. You can get it in CD with a booklet of pictures of Hal and me through the years because we’d just had so much fun together and I wanted to share that. I’ll also have vinyl records, because I love the sound of a phonograph! Finally we’ll have it available through streaming, but you won’t get the pictures with it.
Kenny Grimes & Hal Ketchum
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STEAMMAGAZINE.NET NOVEMBER 2021 STEAM MAGAZINE 13
We met John Rey Reed at the Ar-
madillo World Headquarters’ Last Hurrah in 2019. Like many of the musicians that had performed there over the years, John had come down to say good-by and, fortunately, Rusty and Woody Lawson also attended. Woody introduced the two and a friendship was born. John is a singer/songwriter/guitarist who very generously allowed me to pick his brain. I learned a lot and I hope you do to.
You recently returned from a wonderful vacation and one of the legs of your trip was to see your grandson, who very coincidentally, is in Moses Lake Washington which is where our family is from. Yes how coincidental is that? Usually when I tell people we have family in Moses Lake they look at me dumbfounded because it’s a small town in Eastern WA. The other weird thing is I have two cousins that have lived in the Seattle area most of their lives and another who lives in Soap Lake.
By Tamma Hicks, STEAM Magazine
We know those areas very well!
While you were on vacation did you do any gigs? Well no, however I did my first gig in about 2 years last June. A Nashville group The Loose Hinges (Kris McCarthy-Houser and Eliot Houser) are really from Texas and I played a couple of solo gigs warming up for their shows. It was really nice to be out again, you know in front of people. About half the audience wore masks, I think, and it was nice to see more than just people’s eyes.
How long have you been in the music industry? I grew up in Oklahoma City and the first band I was in was The Chosen Few. I was in 10th Grade and we were doing all the cover music of the era like Grass Roots, the Stones, the Doors, some James Brown. You know, the popular stuff and that was how we hooked up with Ronnie K, a DJ from WKY Radio in Oklahoma City. Back then the DJs would sponsor a band to go around the state in support of their show by playing at sock hops, proms, and dances. There we were, 15 years old and touring the state; that's what got me started.
I can only imagine how hooked on music you were! When did you come to Texas? I moved to Austin in 71 to go to UT and I immediately got into a band that was real freeform. They had this ego-tripper guitar player who played really fast and wrote really bad lyrics. my dad worked for Texaco and about halfway through my sophomore year at UT my parents were transferred to Tripoli Libya, so my brother and I got to go over there for Christmas and I stayed for about 6 months in Tripoli and then for another 6 months I hitchhiked around Europe and North Africa. It was exciting! I got to do the Running Of The Bulls, I
slept at Stonehenge, and I had my guitar the whole time and just played around everywhere I could. Then I came back to the States and formed the band Hand-To-Mouth in Austin with a guy I played in high school with, Joe Eddie Hines (who went on to play with Alejandro Escovedo for 15 years, Buick McCain), and Jimmy Pettit (who still plays bass with Joe Ely). Anyway, we were a Fusion band and we played at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin and places like that. And when that band started to fade away the 3 of us moved to a new band called Shoes; it was much the same Fusion, weird time signature stuff, and riffs that lasted for days. When we called it quits I went back to playing folk.
Woody Lawson on bass, singer Paula Fang, and Phil Anstrom on guitar. We played a lot in the Port Aransas-Corpus Christi area and I'm telling you we met a lot of really fun people and always had such a great time!
We’ve been here for 11 years and the club
names have all changed, but the people and fun haven’t! Good to know! After the Octave Doctors Jimmy, Eddie, and I formed the Skeletones with drummer Paul Pierce (who played for Jerry Jeff Walker, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sara Hickman, and even the (Dixie) Chicks). We finally split because we’d have 10 gigs booked and have to cancel 8 because one or more of them would be on the road. So I joined American Jukebox and went on the road for about 4 years. We were a 4 Popular rock to fusion to folk? That’s an -piece rock band with 3 singers and 5 dancers, interesting series. so from 87 to 91 I toured the US visiting each Yeah, I was in the Kerrville Folk Festival songcity for about 6 months at a time. I'd been playwriters contest in 78 and ing since I was 22 79. I didn't win either and for 16 years I was Fame has eluded me for years now; I'm still in bands on the road, year, but a couple years later I hosted a friend of here and I'm playing for fun. I still write songs so it was really the mine at KFF, showed best job I ever had. I because that's what I do and who I am. him the ropes of the had to join the Amerfestival and the songwritican Guild of variety ing contest, and he later got a record deal. His Artists Union which meant I got a per diem and name was Lyle Lovett. a regular salary. Then I met my lovely wife April and got married, I adopted her daughter Well, all I can say for that is thank you for Jasmine, and I got a publishing deal. showing him around! Sure, any time. It was after that when I started Is that what convinced you to move to The Octave Doctors with our mutual friend Nashville?
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Yeah. Long story short I was at the Kerrville Folk Festival, it was about 2 in the morning as I was heading back to my tent half-drunk when I came across the campsite of Jimmie Del Gilmore (The Flatlanders). He said ‘We've known each other for years, but I've never heard your music. Do you want to sit down and play a couple of songs?’ I had just put out a cassette, so of course I did. I played 3 or 4 songs and he said his manager, Mike Crawley (and Ali Pierce), was starting a publishing company called Bee Cave Music in Nashville and he’d pass on one of my tapes. Mike called me and asked to meet him at Butch Hancock’s store, Lubbock Or Leave It, and I signed a contract on his big roll top desk. I was really excited I had a new family, I didn't really want to be on the road any more, and here we were going off to Nashville to write songs! The publishing company only lasted for about 2.5 years and we didn't get any cuts. You know when you move to Nashville they say they have a Five-Year Plan and I worked as an interiorexterior painter, which is what got me through college.
Let’s talk about songwriting and what your experience has been with co-writing in Nashville. Sure. Since I've been here I've written 60-70, maybe 80, songs. Many in the first 6 years and they were with a lot of different people, but at some point I came to the conclusion that I wasn't that great of a co-writer. I don't think a
John Rey Reed
The Chosen Few 1968-69 Mark Bridges/JRR/Rob Philhower/Lloyd Young/ Dales Kaul/Kenny Phillips
Hand To Mouth 1975-76 Jimmy Pettit/Tom Koeing/Andy Schreckenhost/ John Klein/Harry Peterson/JRR
John Rey Reed 1978 Promo Photo
Octave Doctors 1980-85 Phil Anstrom/JRR/Bob Sadley/Paula Helene/ Woody Lawson
Skeletones 1985-90 JRR/Joe Eddie Hines/Jimmy Petit/Paul Pearcy Photo by Jimmy Carey
ABC. True, but some chord progressions are just generic. After a couple of weird experiences I just decided to write for myself. Although, I have to say that I learned to be a much better song writer What’s a session like? after moving here. In a typical session you meet your “partner” and My song Learnin’ To Drive The Truck. Is a good start by sharing your example. After my publishing inner thoughts and hear deal went south a guy at BMI You know when you move to Nashville theirs, each of us plays a started getting me some writing couple songs, we mash they say they have a Five-Year Plan and I appointments. For this one I some words together worked as an interior-exterior painter. went to a publishing company and throw out a title, owned by Kin Vassy (Kenny and usually some music. I found it very hard to Rogers & The First Edition) and met with Doug, be brilliant on the spot like that. a friend of mine from Boston and a writer there. Anyway, I got to the second verse of my song I don't think I would be very good at it myand I had written, “Grandpa sat in the shotgun self; I don't like sharing my stuff. seat, looked at ease as he could be, handed me Well, I found this out after I'd been here for a the keys without a word, and watch me start up while, but back in the day when Harlan Howard that old Ford” and Doug said ‘Stop the tape right and all those guys were writing they’d get togeththere. That wouldn't happen.’ and I said ‘yeah, er about 10AM, they’d put together a melody, a that's what happened. My Grandpa took me out chord progression and jot some words down, in his ‘48 Ford and that's how I learned to drive and go have lunch. When they came back they at 12. ’ He said ‘That may have happened, but he would take the same chord progression, the same would not have handed you the key. They would melody, and write another set of lyrics. By the have already been in the truck, because all farmend of the day they have three songs with the ers leave the keys in the truck like that; especially same music and melody ready to throw against a back then.’ And I thought that's really picky. But wall and see what sticks. he was right. So, that really woke me up about lyrically making everything work and being auThat's very interesting and it makes sense thentic. that when you're listening to the radio and lot of people realize how hard it is to sit down and write a song with someone you don't know. For me it was very hard to meet somebody for the first time and be creative.
song ABC plays and a few minutes later song XYZ comes on and it sounds so much like
I really appreciate you explaining your expe-
riences because when I’ve talked to songwriters I often hear “oh, we sat down. We wrote the song. It was all good.” How do you prefer to write songs? You know it might be easier for other people and, at least here, there are lyric writers, music writers, and some that do both. The way I write is pretty natural, at least for me. I'll be driving down the road with a pad of paper next to me for jotting down notes, and I’ll be weaving in and out of traffic trying to write down a lyric. Fame has eluded me for years now; I'm still here and I'm playing for fun. I still write songs because that's what I do and who I am. Honestly, the best thing that music gave me was my life! From meeting my wife and our daughter to all the incredible people that I've met through music, and not everyone's in the music business. I've just met so many artistic and incredible people in my time and that's why we took this trip… to visit friends and family we’ve been missing.
I think that is exactly what we all look forward to in life. I really appreciate the information you've given us about songwriting and cowriting, so I'm going to give you the same question I ask all other songwriters… What is your advice to singer/songwriters/performers who are just starting? My advice is to start an IRA as soon as possible and I'm not kidding. All the young kids I talk to, no matter how talented, I tell them to put $50 a week in an IRA because music may or may not work out for you. And if you do this, when you hit 65, you could be a millionaire because you invested wisely.
I think that's the best advice I have heard and I wish I had done that when I was a kid. Well, I kind of got that from an Albert Einstein quote. A smartass reporter asked him what the most important equation in the universe was expecting to hear E=M32 but Einstein’s answer was “compound interest.”
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