CD and Book Reviews
Hot CDs and Hot Books
Storytelling and reviews about the artists and trends that define the sounds of the Lone Star State
Hot CDs and Hot Books
The Bass Performance Hall is open for business, and the acoustical expectations are high (Fort Worth). Plus: Readers and writers celebrate literary Texas (Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and elsewhere); the nation’s top golfers get in the swing (Dallas and San Antonio); Texas Czechs bounce to the strains of primo
The Red Headed Stranger is about to be eligible for Medicare? Ain’t it funny how time slips away.
For music fans in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Round Rock, and San Antonio, these are the fest of times. Plus: An oilman’s artistic vision is realized in San Antonio; a Dallas photography show honors lensmen from Mexico and Houston; Houston Grand Opera stages Arabella; and many of the nation’s swiftest athletes
Hot CDsThis month Texas music shines on the silver screen. The soundtrack for The Horse Whisperer (MCA) not only features cuts from Don Walser, George Strait, and Steve Earle but also a Butch Hancock—Joe Ely— Jimmie Dale Gilmore reunion (long removed from Lubbock, they are now called the Hill Country
Ain’t it funny how time slips away? Before you know it, you’ve made two hundred albums, thirty movies, and had one amazing career. What follows is the Compleat Willie: a discography—including every U.S. album release as well as his early 45 rpm singles (before he signed with RCA in
Austin’s major-label bands-of-the-moment
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.
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:
Hot CDsSan 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 that’s
More than a year after his death, he’s still being remembered as the best Texas songwriter of his time. This month’s star-studded Austin City Limits tribute shows why.
Around the State Gary P. Nunn and other singer-songwriters tour the state in celebration of Texas history. Plus: A collection of powerful photos are on display in Corpus Christi; a top Russian ballerina tiptoes into Houston; Golden Gloves boxers are a hit in Fort Worth; and guitar buffs come together
A three-museum Robert Rauschenberg retrospective in Houston. Plus: Garth Brooks plays Dallas and Fort Worth; mountain bikers converge on Big Bend; Goya’s prints on display in Dallas; and Ellen Burstyn onstage in Houston. Edited by Quita McMath, Erin Gromen, and Katy Vine THE MAIN EVENT The Rauschenbergs Are Coming! The
Hot CDsTalk 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 suffused
A Western photographer’s retrospective in Fort Worth will leave you thinking, Holy Cowboy! Plus: Lounging around in Houston; listening to the tenor of the times in Corpus Christi; staging something Wilde in Dallas; and grooving to the joy of sax in Houston.THE MAIN EVENTRange InterludeErwin E. Smith’s artistic vision had
Hot CDsSure, you can waltz across Texas to the Cornell Hurd Band’s Texas Fruit Shack (Behemoth), but you can also shuffle, two-step, boogie, and maybe even jitterbug. Joined by guest stars like Johnny Bush, Austinite Hurd fronts a versatile group that puts an authoritative stamp on the full run of
After years in New York’s jazz trenches, trumpeter Hannibal Lokumbe has come home to Smithville in search of the simple life.
Hot CDsThe 33 selections on My Time: A Boz Scaggs Anthology (1969— 1997) (Columbia/Legacy) are as sleek and as shiny as a Highland Park Mercedes. Despite the ex-Dallasite’s irresistible sense of flow-as-melody, several tracks on the two-CD set are also vapid enough to reconfirm that all that glitters is not
Hot CDsFew voices evoke the pathos of country and western tragedy as genuinely as the rich, honeyed timbre of George Jones. By 1962, the year Jones signed with the United Artists label, the East Texan had been divorced, jailed, and was already as legendary for his hard drinking as his
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.
The heavenly hits of God’s Property.
What respiratory ailment afflicted Jimmie Rodgers, prompting fans to shout “Spit ’er up and sing some more”?
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
Hot CDsRunning on equal parts inspiration and gumption, Austin’s Damnations are the alternative to alternative country, going way back for tunes like “Copper Kettle,” forward for a romp through Lucinda Williams’ “Happy Woman Blues,” and their own way with impressively traditional-progressive originals. The mostly acoustic Live Set (Damnations), pressed in
Little miss hits.
For decades, Bobby Bland has personified the definitive post–T-Bone Walker Texas R&B style. Even at 67, no one can dethrone him.
Hot CDsWest 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.” With
Hot CDsThe 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 an
The state prison name game; Dallas alternative-country band the Old 97’s is feeling no depression.
That’s what Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall got on their recent trip to West Texas. West Texas retailers got it too.
After five years ex-Austinite Lucinda Williams’ follow-up to her 1992 CD Sweet Old World is finally kicking up dust. The album’s title, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (American Recordings), refers not to the sound of the Grammy award winner’s voice but to the cross-country travels that inspired such
Hot CDsThe Horsies are an extremely unusual outfit, so it figures that the perverse, polymorphously percussive Austin combo’s second record, Touch Me Columbus, is only available on the relatively obscure Japanese label Benten (though some Texas record stores will be carrying it). A giddy three-man, three-woman band with five often
Hot CDsAbra 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 resonance
“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
What did Roy Orbison drink compulsively, and who called him the world’s greatest singer?
Hot CDsSing, Cowboy, Sing: The Gene Autry Collection (Rhino) is a three-CD set featuring 84 favorites by the singing cowboy from Tioga. But these aren’t always the best-known versions; many are previously unreleased transcriptions from his Melody Ranch radio show that measure up well and thus add to the Autry
With his resounding voice and striking appearance, Austin’s Malford Milligan stands out in a sea of Texas soul singers.
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.
Hot CDsThanks 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 does
A year after Kris Kristofferson’s standout role in Lone Star, Hollywood is still marveling over his comeback. He is too. by Gary Cartwright
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.
Hot CDsMiss Lavelle White’s It Haven’t Been Easy (Antone’s/Discovery) is essentially a primer on modern blues. Houston-bred and currently Austin-based, White is equally comfortable with a soul ballad like the title song, an up-tempo scorcher like “Can’t Take It (I Don’t Give a Damn),” the self-explanatory “Wootie Boogie,” or a
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.
Spring’s Crystal Bernard is already a top dog in the sitcom world. Will her new country CD separate her from the pack?
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,
Hot CDsIn the sixties, Mayo Thompson’s The Red Krayola was a Houston psychedelic band with a writer—Frederick Barthelme—for a drummer. Thirty years later, the amorphous experimental outfit has a new lineup that makes music with the help of such guests as Minutemen alumnus George Hurley, but time has not tarnished
Though Jerry Lynn Williams is practically unheard of outside the industry, stars like Eric Clapton know him as one of the best tunesmiths anywhere.
Hot CDsAlong with Nat “King” Cole, Texas City native Charles Brown became the father of late-night “cocktail blues” in Los Angeles in the forties. Half a century later, Honey Dripper (Verve/Gitanes) vividly conjures up Brown’s suave, stylish world. His voice is sweet and smoky like a rich cigar and as
Around the State Edited by Quita McMath, Josh Daniel, Erin Gromen, and Cheri Ballew summary: The Smithsonian Institution takes its show on the road (Houston). Plus: Yuletide celebrations that hold a candle (San Antonio); the Tokyo String Quartet gets caught in the fiddle (Fort Worth and Houston); where to meet
After playing for years in relative obscurity, 57-year-old Ronnie Dawson is the latest cult hero in the cultish world of rockabilly.