The New Slang Podcast: Episode 027 K. Phillips

by: Thomas D. Mooney

Episode 027 of The New Slang Podcast finds singer-songwriter K. Phillips returning. Recorded about a month back, this 45-minute conversation has Phillips and company with about 10 dates left on his cross-country venture with Counting Crows and Rob Thomas. On the episode, we discuss the ins and outs of being out on tour versus playing weekend shows across Texas during his early years, running into ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Elaina Kay (who rented out Phillips’ Nashville room these past few months), the iconic songs of Counting Crows & Matchbox Twenty, Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville,” Phillips’ iconic “Came 2 Fuck,” and writing songs with Lubbock’s William Clark Green & Ross Cooper. K. Phillips’ upcoming album, Dirty Wonder, is officially due out this Fall.

Song Premiere: Croy and the Boys’ “Leavings The Last Thing”

coreybaum1 by: Thomas D. Mooney

Croy and the Boys is another band in the long line of honky-tonk aficionados hailing from Austin. On Hey Come Back, their debut release,  is a blend of traditional honky-tonk ramblers, cosmic country ballads, and conjunto Tex-Mex that’s both as refreshing as it is a nod to the likes of pioneers Jerry Jeff Walker, Gram Parsons, and the like.

On the closing number, “Leavings The Last Thing,” lead vocalist and chief lyricist Corey Baum channels the classic Gary P. Nunn song “The Last Thing I Needed The First Thing This Morning” (popularized by Willie Nelson) with a smooth, revealing lines while legendary accordion player Joel Guzman adds a punch of Tex-Mex flair on the confessional.

“This song took us the longest to finish because Adrain Quesada (producer) and I were dead set on finding a more traditional conjunto style button accordion player, which can be harder to come by than piano accordion players,” says Baum. “We eventually managed to convince the legendary Joel Guzman to come in and lay it down and it was well worth the wait.”

Listen to “Leavings The Last Thing” below. Hey Come Back is available on iTunes here.

The New Slang Podcast: Episode 026 Mike Harmeier of Mike & The Moonpies

by: Thomas D. Mooney

On Episode 26, we catch up with Mike Harmeier, lead vocalist and chief songwriter in Austin’s honky-tonk revivalists Mike & The Moonpies. With stellar albums like The Real Country, The Hard Way, and their latest, Mockingbird, the six-piece country band has been one of the leading forces in preserving honky-tonk and classic country within Austin and Texas at large. We caught up with Harmeier while in Lubbock a few Fridays back–specifically between playing a spur of the moment tailgate party at Texas Tech University and Blue Light that night. On this episode, we talk about the core of Austin honky-tonk bands, the closing of large dancehalls in Texas, Brooks & Dunn, George Strait, floating Texas rivers, an upcoming live album recorded at WinStar World Casino, and writing for The Moonpies upcoming studio album.

Burning Photographs: A Band of The Times

photo-oct-13-4-59-35-pmby: Thomas D. Mooney

Six Market Blvd. has been on a string of reunion shows where, for all intents and purposes, the term “reunion” is used rather loosely. It’s only been a couple of years since the Stephenville-based band called it quits. When they started playing shows again earlier this year, it didn’t feel as though they were ever even gone.

Nothing stays the same though. Time touches everything.

It was December 2013 when 6MB announced that they would be on an infinite hiatus. Since then, the major cogs in 6MB have gone on to other enterprises. In the three years, they’ve done more individually than they had as a band–or could have together. That’s not a knock; it’s reality.

Now, this isn’t going to be a “If 6MB stayed together, the Texas Music world would be a better place” or a “Here’s 11 reasons why 6MB should have stayed together (You won’t believe in #4) kind of piece.

Could have 6MB gone on to do grand things? Sure. But more than anything, they were a band of a time and place.

They wrapped up this reunion run last night in Lubbock at The Blue Light. They were as top-notch as they’ve ever been. But it’s like a dream. Something’s off and it’s only when you awake when you become aware of the glaring warp, omissions, etc of the dream. The music, it’s the same. It’ll always be the same. The strangeness–it’s you, me, them, and us. The collective whole.

To fully understand why, you have to go back.

There was a stretch of time when 6MB was the biggest damn band in Lubbock. While their two studio albums–Running on Seven and Shake It Down–sound good, their live shows is where you truly became a fan of the band. Always a sellout. Asses to elbows. Every damn time. They’d finish their set with a round of beer being thrown around and being flung off the ceiling fans. Beer soaked floors, backwards cap, long beards, sweat, Apple burns, cigarette smoke (This was back when you could smoke in Blue Light), more Apple burns, Lone Star, another round of Apple burns, rinse, repeat, repeat.

Hot off the adrenaline rush of the show, you’d end up at The Castle House–at a time, the epicenter of Friday & Saturday nights. Never too crazy, but plenty of excess that’d perhaps rival any spot in or around town. The sprawling house had plenty of space to find your conversation/activity of choice without being on top of another. In a way, kind of the antithesis of that night at BL. A nice decompressing zone. Ultimately, you’d smoke away your pack of cigarettes, empty any and all remnants of alcohol on the premises, and sometimes, end up at Jake’s at 8 in the morning for a couple more rounds and healthy conversation. Sometimes, you’d find yourself just sitting on the back porch, pulling out your sunglasses to fight back the rising sun.

Naturally, most talk circled back to music. We’d come up with ridiculous hypotheticals and questions about the music of Jerry Jeff Walker, Kings of Leon, The Band, The Strokes, the underrated Mick Jagger and difficult Keith Richards relationship,  and really, the happenings of Texas music at large.

All of that though, it almost doesn’t even matter. The reason the afterparties were even cool is solely because of the band playing. The bigger and the better show, the better the rest of the night and next morning was going to be.

Fastforward to last night. Walking into the back patio of Blue Light, the first person I see is Ben Hussey. We grab a seat and talk. Danny Cadra is playing on the stage with his cowboy cool croon in full force. Usually, Hussey and I, we just go into music talk, but I guess because of the nature of the night, we just talked about old days–not necessarily the better than present old days, but good nonetheless. You wouldn’t redo them a different way, but you’re not exactly looking to repeat them in the present either.

Now, it’s not all Hank Williams Jr “All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down).” But it’s kind of the Lite version–Topo Chico and coffee took the place of pills and ninety-proof–you get the point.

Old faces show up and it kind of becomes a night of nostalgia .As much as it is a band playing, it’s the people who show up that throw the nostalgia into a higher gear. Newer folks show up and you talk and realize this is their first (and last) time seeing 6MB. That’s not being an elitist either. It’s just an “oh wow, I never thought about that being the case for about half the crowd” kind of enlightenment. Their impressions of the band rest largely on that night’s show.

6MB start playing. It’s finishing their set without a round of beer being thrown around and being flung off the ceiling fans. Beer soaked floors, same backwards cap, longer beards, sweat, Apple burns, no cigarette smoke (Blue Light is a non-smoking facility), maybe another Apple burn, Lone Star, no more Apple burns, rinse, repeat. It’s the singalong to “Silence in Me,” the “is that a Kings of Leon cover?,” the “I ain’t worried about shit like that.”

It’s the show, the song, the conversation. A band of the times.

Enjoy the Salad Days while you still can. You never know when it’ll be the last time you see a band play–even when it’s your first time.

The New Slang Podcast: Episode 025 John Baumann

by: Thomas D. Mooney

Episode 025 finds us speaking with singer-songwriter John Baumann after a weekend run with stops in Alpine, San Angelo, and Lubbock. After the release of last year’s Vices and collaborations and co-writes with the likes of Wade Bowen, Cory Morrow, and Pat Green in the works, Baumann is steadily becoming one of Texas’ finest and most sought out songwriters of the day. Baumann’s Texan drawl and storyteller mentality often finds himself compared to the likes of Texas mainstays like Jerry Jeff Walker, Robert Earl Keen, and Jack Ingram. With a new album with a late Winter/early Spring release date in the works, the up and comer seems poised to break out of the pack. On this episode, we discuss the current political climate and its’ impact on social media, baseball, Spurs vs. Mavericks, the NBA at large, the problems with football in the modern age, our mutual love for the southern gothic and West Texas epic No Country for Old Men–and Cormac McCarthy in general–as well as music from Jack Ingram, Billy Joel, and Wilco.

Video Premiere: Natalie Schlabs’ “Drowning In The Wave”

schlabs2by: Thomas D. Mooney

Last Friday, Nashville singer-songwriter Natalie Schlabs released her first full-length album, Midnight With No Stars.

Midnight finds the West Texas native traversing the ups and downs of your late 20s–immense moves in location, relationships, and family roles. It’s a maturation and growth that we typically gloss over as being for the better and an easy transition.  Schlabs doesn’t necessarily turn that notion upside down, but she does show how it’s not that black and white or simple.

The candid intimacy she reveals on tracks such as “Every Word” and “Where Am I Gonna Go” shows a rugged truthfulness we often save for conversations with ourselves. Schlabs soothing vocals echo the refreshing  and honest notion. Songs like “Throw a Spark,” “The House is Burning,” and “Midnight With No Stars” has Schlabs pulling back the layers of being in relationships. She spends time showing both sides of a relationship and how that not only affects you, but how it affects the other involved.

For the first single, “Drowning  In The Wave,” Schlabs and company drove down to Atlanta and worked with music video director Ben Rollins.

“We were playing in front of these huge projectors. While we were playing, they were showing pieces and pictures of my family,” says Schlabs. “It was kind of a weird emotional thing for me–being surrounded by these memories in this dreamy state of the music video.”

We caught up with Schlabs last week to discuss the making of Midnight With No Stars. Find it on iTunes here. Watch the music video premiere for “Drowning In The Wave” below.

New Slang: Midnight With No Stars was released this past week. Take me back to when you first started writing for the album. How long ago were the first songs started?

Natalie Schlabs: I started writing this record last summer. I had written a few songs that ended up on the album the year before or something, but most of the album was written last summer. It was basically started by me reaching out to some songwriters in Nashville. I was really scared to [laughs]. But asking them to co-write. I ended up asking Neilson Hubbard if he’d produce the album. We started writing every week. Basically, Neilson suggested we start tracking the songs. That’s really how it came about.

NS: There’s a real crispness to the album–a very cool, calm, and refreshing vibe. Was that something you intentionally wanted these songs to be?

Schlabs: I think it was the desire to have the album centered around my voice. Neilson thought it’d be important to center everything around my singing. When we started out recording, it was myself, Neilson, and the guitar player. It wasn’t until later that we added everyone else in–even the drums didn’t come in until towards the end. We didn’t want to set the record in a certain direction too quickly. I think as we started adding other instruments on, we saw what really enhanced my voice and didn’t muddy it up too much. We wanted to keep it open.

NS: This collection of songs, it feels like they’re very personal. What on the album do you feel was the most personal and intimate when written?

Schlabs: I think “Every Word” was probably the most personal. It was probably the one I needed to write the most. I wrote that almost as soon as I got to Nashville. The chorus goes “Every word I say, every note I sing sends an echoing from my head to my brain.” The thought behind that was how when you hear yourself speaking in a recording, it doesn’t sound like how you think you’d sound. There’s some weird science stuff that happens there, but that’s basically how moving to Nashville was for me. I thought I was this person, I thought I sounded like this, but then moving here, I was looking at myself questioning it. I was asking myself if that’s who I really was. It’s pretty jarring.

“Sit With Me” was very personal as well. It hits me in a different way. I’m getting close to 30. My parents are still in great health and doing well, but I’m realizing as I’m getting older, seeing some older friends who’ve had family pass away, you realize how that’s inevitable. There’s this switch that happens when the kids become the strong ones for their parents. It’s kind of looking into the future.

NS: You’re from out here in West Texas. When did you move up to Nashville?

Schlabs: It’s been exactly three years since I moved up to Nashville.

NS: There are some hints about the move on this album. You mentioned it just now with “Every Word.” How much of the album was influenced by the move?

Schlabs: I would say a good chunk of it was. I don’t think it’s all about it, but I think it’s the thread throughout a lot of the songs. Really, it’s about this massive change. Some of that change isn’t just about location. In that time, I got married, moved, and changed career paths. There was a lot of jarring changes. Some of them are good, some have been not that great. I think a lot of the album has that perspective.

NS: What song did you have most trouble getting down on paper? Was there anything you felt was a great idea, but then had trouble actually writing into song form?

Schlabs: That was definitely “Sandra’s Song.” That song was written from the perspective of my grandfather towards my grandmother. He passed away five or six years ago. I had that idea and kept writing it down and ultimately erasing it. Then, writing it down and erasing it. It’s difficult to encompass someone’s life and their relationship. I felt everything I was writing was coming off trite or wasn’t really encompassing who my grandpa was. There was so much there–just the way my grandpa looked at my grandma, I always knew there was something really special there. It’s kind of offset by the demons that my grandpa fought–whether it was drinking or the difficulties he had in his family. There were issues there that he brought into other parts of his life. I didn’t know how to write how great of a man he was with the darkness that he struggled with.

I kind of trashed and threw away the parts I had been writing and started with a whole new melody and chorus. I think I had the thought for it, but just had to start all over. I had written half of it or so when I showed it to Neilson. He sort of stepped into what I was trying to say. I think he wrote all of the second verse. I felt it was just perfect. He didn’t know my grandfather, but it felt like he did with the way he was writing about him.

The New Slang Podcast: Episode 024 Ryan Bingham

by: Thomas D. Mooney

On this week’s episode, we sit down with American singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham. Bingham has easily been one of this past decade’s driving forces in Americana and country music. Beginning with Mescalito, his proper debut, he’s always set out to discover new territory in both his writing and in the musical landscape in which those lyrics live in. Time and again, he’s explored various interests–the honky-tonk meets Rolling Stones roadhouse of Roadhouse Sun, the Depression-era storyteller and balladeer of Junky Star, the garage rock and social commentator of Tomorrowland, or most recently, the maturation of an evolving artist who’s still holding on to his deep roots on Fear & Saturday Night–Bingham’s never settled for mediocrity. We caught up with Bingham this past Thursday afternoon down in Midland, Texas before a show to discuss his early roots in Eastern New Mexico and West Texas, his relationship and admiration for the likes of Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, & Terry Allen, being on extended cross-country tours, and working with producers like T-Bone Burnett, Mark Ford, Jim Stanley, and Jim Scott.

The New Slang Podcast: Episode 023 Bonus Fall 2016 Singer-Songwriter Week I

by: Thomas D. Mooney

This past Monday (Sept 12) was the first preliminary round in Fall 2016 Singer-Songwriter Competition at The Blue Light. With a total of 60 songwriters signed up overall, this is easily the largest group of songwriters to participate in the competition. With 12 performing each week (each Monday at Blue Light), three will move on to The Finals (Monday, Oct. 17). As an extra bonus series on The New Slang Podcast, we’ll be recording each night and streaming the songs performed by those who moved on. On this episode, Drew Cypert (Abernathy, Texas), Ben Mckenzie (Stillwater, Okla.), and Mike Stanley (Ft. Worth, Texas) perform the six songs that moved them onto The Finals.

01) “Roses” Mike Stanley (5:40)
02) “Came Here to Drown” Mike Stanley (10:05)
03) “Sold Off the Harvest” Drew Cypert (14:40)
04) “The Creature” Drew Cypert (17:55)
05) “Dishwasher’s Waltz” Ben Mckenzie (21:40)
06) “The Bust” Ben Mckenzie (25:50)

Special Thanks and Notes: Sound Engineer Michael Vann, Host Jerry Serrano, Judges Jon Taylor and Rode Morrow of Hogg Maulies, and everyone at The Blue Light.

The New Slang Podcast: Episode 022 Lubbock Does Buddy Holly

by: Thomas D. Mooney

This past Wednesday, September 07 was Lubbock native and modern music pioneer Buddy Holly’s 80th Birthday. Though he tragically passed away some 57 years ago, the 22-year-old musician left a legacy that rivals any of his contemporaries, successors, and disciples. Holly wasn’t just a rock & roll performer, pioneer, or budding pop star. He’d established a sound that perfectly captured the essence of the times while also transcended it. There’s a timelessness aura throughout the Holly catalog. Along with producer Norman Petty and The Crickets, Holly discovered and experimented with recoding techniques. As a songwriter, along with the likes of Sonny West, Bob Montgomery, Sonny Curtis, a very young Waylon Jennings, and many others, Holly helped establish and popularize the “Lubbock Songwriter.” Those first songwriting circles and radio shows would go on to influence generations to come in Lubbock and West Texas. This past Monday, 17 songwriters from modern-day Lubbock recorded 17 Holly tracks–a mix of Top 40 Chart toppers, elegant love ballads, and hidden gems within the Holly discography.

Tracklist: 01. “Maybe Baby” Wade Parks, 02. “True Love Ways” Jerry Serrano, 03. “Heartbeat” Tanner Castle, 04. “Slippin’ & Slidin’” Randall King, 05. “I’m Gonna Love You Too” Stephen St. Clair  , 06. “Dearest” Jeff Dennis, 07. “Peggy Sue” Jordan McEwen, 08. “Oh Boy” Eddy Weir, 09. “Rave On” Aaron Smith, 10. “Blue Days, Black Nights” Colton Clarkson, 11. “Well All Right” Bryan Wheeler, 12. “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” Dylan Price, 13. “Think It Over” Grant Gilbert, 14. “Raining In My Heart” Derek Bohl, 15. “Words of Love” Jerry Slater, 16. “Not Fade Away” Bristen Phillips, 17. “Learning The Game” Charlie Stout.

New NS Podcast introduction music is provided by Bristen Phillips–an instrumental track titled “Black Horses” recorded with Lubbock musicians Phillips, Justin Lentz, and Will Boreing.

The New Slang Podcast: Episode 021: Drew Kennedy & Josh Grider

by: Thomas D. Mooney

Episode 21 of The New Slang Podcast features singer-songwriters Drew Kennedy and Josh Grider. Though both are Texas transplants–Pennsylvania and New Mexico–the two have captured the beauty, isolation, ruggedness, warmth, and grace within the state as well as anyone has in the last decade. Though they’ve carved out notable solo careers, the two often come together as long-time writing buddies and companions on the road–much like the run of shows that lead them to Lubbock this past week. After playing a rained in acoustic and unplugged set at The Buddy Holly Center, the two made their way down the street for another swap of stories and songs at The Blue Light. In between, they sat down and recorded this hour-long conversation that touches on the Olympics, music intake and consumption, Kennedy’s Saturday Night Live story, Smashing Pumpkins, Terry Allen and his artistic contemporaries, Texas music in the last decade, Kennedy and Grider’s time in Nashville, small town sports and mascots, the genius (and complexity) of Townes Van Zandt, Beach Boys, and Leonard Cohen, and our favorite three consecutive nights of music.

Note: At one point, I point out that Lubbock singer-songwriter Charlie Stout thinks Las Cruces, New Mexico is a horrible looking and ugly town. He doesn’t. He thinks Carlsbad, New Mexico is a horrible looking and ugly town.

Locating the Lubbock Sound

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