Music

Storytelling and reviews about the artists and trends that define the sounds of the Lone Star State

Music |
March 1, 1998

Toad Warriors

Is there a black cloud hanging over Fort Worth’s Toadies? You might think so based on the alt-rock band’s recent history. Their major-label debut for Interscope, 1994’s Rubberneck—a painfully angst-ridden record—went platinum after two years of incessant touring, but some strange stuff happened during all that time on the road:…

Music |
March 1, 1998

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs San Antonio’s Monte Montgomery is a guitarist’s guitarist, but he doesn’t let that get in the way of the music on 1st and Repair (Heart Music). He brings taste, precision, economy, and a playful sense of timing to poppish songs with sturdy hooks and sings in a voice…

Music |
March 1, 1998

The Entertainer

How has Jacksonville native Neal McCoy, a self-described “easy-listenin’ kinda guy,” managed to sell five million country CDs and cassettes? It has little to do with his singing.

Music |
January 1, 1998

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs Talk about a “solo artist”: On You Coulda Walked Around the World (rainlight records), Butch Hancock is record label boss, co-producer, photographer, singer, songwriter, and lone musician. The Lubbock-born Hancock left Austin for Big Bend about a year ago, and the result is a casually haunted album that’s…

Music |
November 1, 1997

Horn Free

After years in New York’s jazz trenches, trumpeter Hannibal Lokumbe has come home to Smithville in search of the simple life.

Music |
September 30, 1997

Rare Byrd

Beaumont’s Tracy Byrd may be a hunky, hitmaking hat act, but if it’s all the same, he’d rather be singing an old Bob Wills tune.

Music |
August 31, 1997

Jimmie Rodgers

What respiratory ailment afflicted Jimmie Rodgers, prompting fans to shout “Spit ’er up and sing some more”?…

Music |
August 31, 1997

Yule Love It

The holiday season comes early for Asleep at the Wheel, who’ve just wrapped Merry Texas Christmas, Y’all (High Street/Windham Hill Records) at Austin’s Bismeaux studios. Highlights include Tish Hinojosa singing “Feliz Navidad” and Willie Nelson and Don Walser on “Silent Night.” Too homey for you? Wheel front man Ray Benson’s…

Music |
July 31, 1997

Royal Blue

For decades, Bobby Bland has personified the definitive post–T-Bone Walker Texas R&B style. Even at 67, no one can dethrone him.

Books |
July 31, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs West Texas bluesman Long John Hunter plays even more guitar than usual on Swinging From the Rafters (Alligator), and that’s a lot of guitar. Hunter represents the party-down end of the blues spectrum; he’s gotta poke fun at himself even when he’s ostensibly down-and-out, as on “I’m Broke.”…

Music |
July 31, 1997

Terrence McNally

One day when I was in the seventh grade at Christ the King School in Dallas, the Ursuline nun who taught our class dragged in a phonograph with 78 rpm records from the convent. She put on an album of Puccini love duets sung by Licia Albanese and James Milton.

Music |
June 30, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs The real pleasure in Toni Price’s Sol Power (Antone’s/Discovery/Sire) is trying to peg her as country, blues, or folk. Whether she’s singing something silly and simple, such as “Cats and Dogs,” or taking the sultry and sublime route, as when she covers Allen Toussaint’s “Funky,” the Austinite offers…

Music |
May 31, 1997

Punkytonk

The state prison name game; Dallas alternative-country band the Old 97’s is feeling no depression.

Music |
April 30, 1997

Jaci Velasquez

“Sure, I miss having a locker and going to the prom,” says gospel-singing sensation Jaci Velasquez. True enough, the seventeen-year-old Houston native has not had what you would call a normal adolescence. At age ten she began traveling around the U.S. and Latin America with her family’s music ministry. Four…

Music |
April 30, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs Abra Moore’s wispy, quivering voice works hard to be heard among the loud, rude guitars of Strangest Places (Arista/Austin). It’s a far cry from her earlier, softer work with Poi Dog Pondering and as a solo artist. Even when she falters, the Austinite’s transformation into a rocker adds…

Music |
April 1, 1997

Milligan’s Island

With his resounding voice and striking appearance, Austin’s Malford Milligan stands out in a sea of Texas soul singers.

Music |
April 1, 1997

Roy Orbison

What did Roy Orbison drink compulsively, and who called him the world’s greatest singer?…

Music |
March 1, 1997

Tenor of the Times

Dallas sax player Marchel Ivery has impressed jazz greats like Red Garland and Art Blakey. So why isn’t he more famous? For one thing, he won’t blow his own horn.

Music |
March 1, 1997

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs Thanks to her auspicious debut, Baduizm (Universal), 25-year-old Erykah Badu is being billed as the hip-hop Billie Holliday, which may be a bit—how do you say?—premature. But working with jazz and hip-hop all-stars and singing originals that are definitely more intimate than gritty, the silky-voiced South Dallas native…

Music |
March 1, 1997

A Star Is Reborn

A year after Kris Kristofferson’s standout role in Lone Star, Hollywood is still marveling over his comeback. He is too. by Gary Cartwright…

Music |
February 1, 1997

True Believer

Few Austin musicians have been as close to stardom, and unable to reach it, as Alejandro Escovedo. But for him, fame has never really been the point.

Music |
January 1, 1997

What a Hall!

Rock, don’t run, to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, where Texas greats from T-Bone Walker to Sly Stone get their due.

Music |
January 1, 1997

Saintly Bernard

Spring’s Crystal Bernard is already a top dog in the sitcom world. Will her new country CD separate her from the pack?…

Music |
January 1, 1997

War Stories

Mexico’s recent political unrest is the subject of a new CD-ROM from the University of Texas at Austin’s Advanced Communications Technology Laboratory, or ACTlab. The Revolution Will Be Digitized uses video, animation, art, and music to dress up an academic analysis of the Zapatista rebel movement. Due out this spring,…

Music |
December 1, 1996

He Writes the Songs

Though Jerry Lynn Williams is practically unheard of outside the industry, stars like Eric Clapton know him as one of the best tunesmiths anywhere.

Music |
December 1, 1996

Susan Graham

“I play a lot of boys,” reports Susan Graham, a svelte but buxom mezzo-soprano. Schooled for opera’s mischievous “trouser” roles by climbing trees and toilet-papering houses while she grew up in Midland, the 36-year-old earned a master’s degree in music at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and went on to…

Music |
November 1, 1996

Golden Oldie

After playing for years in relative obscurity, 57-year-old Ronnie Dawson is the latest cult hero in the cultish world of rockabilly.

Music |
November 1, 1996

Antsy Griffith

Antsy Griffith Austin’s Nanci Griffith is holed up in Nashville recording Blue Roses From the Moon(s) (Elektra), which should be in stores this spring. The album’s release coincides with the tenth anniversary of Griffith’s first collaboration with her band, the Blue Moon Orchestra, and features guest appearances by Buddy…

Music |
September 30, 1996

Radish

BEN KWELLER WON’T BE SEEING THE INSIDE of a high school classroom this year, though he could have penned a pretty nifty “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay. The fifteen-year-old is the singer, songwriter, guitarist, and pianist for Radish, an astonishingly tuneful alternative-rock trio that has spent the…

Music |
September 30, 1996

Will Lee

My parents were jazzers. In 1954 my father was appointed chairman of the music department at Sam Houston State Teachers College in Huntsville; my mother sang live on the radio. My first memory of any sound at all was of Miles Davis’ muted trumpet; I came out in my pajamas…

Music |
September 30, 1996

CD and Book Reviews

Hot CDs Salt? Fat? Excess? You’ll get none of that from the women of Pork. On their second album, Slop (Emperor Jones/Trance Syndicate), the Austin trio gets maximum results from a minimalist approach. Like a modern-day Modern Lovers, the band has a simple, timeless garage-rock sound that thrives on a…

Music |
September 30, 1996

Quick-Change Artist

So what if consistency is the hallmark of the record business? As the chameleonlike career of Darden Smith suggests, you can go your own way.

Music |
September 30, 1996

Jennifer Pena

ON MAY 29, 1995, TWO MONTHS AFTER THE TRAGIC death of tejano star Selena, a tribute was staged in her honor at Houston’s Astrodome. Although many well-known acts performed that day, including hometown superstars La Mafia and Selena’s former bandmate Pete Astudillo, it was an unknown eleven-year-old dynamo named Jennifer…

Music |
September 30, 1996

Dale Evans

LIKE COWBOYS AND INDIANS or steak and eggs, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans are a classic Western duo. Roy was raised in Duck Run, Ohio, but Dale is Texas’ own, born in Uvalde and raised in tiny Italy. From childhood she was determined to become an entertainer, and after false…

Music |
September 30, 1996

Quindon

TEN DAYS AFTER HE CELEBRATED HIS FOURTEENTH birthday by downing a seafood dinner and playing a concert in Milwaukee, Quindon Tarver is on top of the world. Actually, he’s on top of Reunion Tower in Dallas, sucking down a virgin piña colada at the Antares restaurant and talking about his…

Music |
August 31, 1996

The Music Man

Most businesses in the West Texas town of Alpine cater to locals, but one attracts Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Junior Brown, and other musical greats. It’s the modest building where Michael Stevens, luthier to the stars, produces electric guitars—fewer than two dozen a year, at $2,700 to $10,000 plus. “We…

Music |
July 31, 1996

Magic Johnson

From the Paris Bastille to a duet with Pavarotti to a PBS documentary: Amarillo’s resident opera star, Mary Jane Johnson, has had a career full of high notes, and she has savored every one of them.

Music |
July 31, 1996

Stephen Stills

WHEN WE LIVED IN RIVER OAKS, three or four boys and I would go down to the creek when it was hot, when the dragonflies were louder than the wind and the air was so still that it felt like it weighed a ton—but you’re seven years old and you…

Music |
June 30, 1996

Ball Player

AUSTINITE MARCIA BALL’s File Under Blues (Rounder), which she is co-producing with guitarist Derek O’Brien and saxophonist Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff, is in production at Austin’s Arlyn studios. The hardest-tinkling pianist in show business is recording songs like “The Right Tool for the Job” between her more than fifty touring dates…

Music |
June 30, 1996

Her Little Secret

Those whispers about Melissa Etheridge are true: She will play Port Arthur–born Janis Joplin in a forthcoming feature film. Director Mark Rocco (Murder in the First) has secured the rights to Myra Friedman’s 1973 Joplin bio, Buried Alive, and the rights to Joplin’s songs, and he’s talking to Etheridge’s label,…

Music |
May 31, 1996

The Hole Story

Austin’s Butthole Surfers have always been very strange. But these days, the strangest thing about them is their mainstream respectability.

Music |
May 31, 1996

Junior Achievement

Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker—and now Junior Brown? The former community college teacher is the latest outlaw to hijack Texas country music, and he may be the greatest.