ShinyRibs @ Waterloo Records

12/11/18 Austin, TX

Do you struggle to like holiday tunes? Do you feel like Christmas music is stuck in a misogynistic time warp with songs like “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “Santa Baby”? Never fear, ShinyRibs are here!

Re-tooling some old classic (non-holiday) tunes,  the band breathes new holiday life into TLC’s Waterfalls song with the lyrics, Don’t Go Chasing Santa Clause, Please stick to the ribbons and bows that you’re used to. It fits so perfectly you will start to wonder why TLC didn’t write it that way. They played some obscure holiday songs that were not parody and in all, it was not “your fathers holiday music”. It was perfectly shiny and ribby and Kevin Russell may just secretly be Santa Clause.

Go pick up your gift at your favorite music store. (Mine is Waterloo Records, where the band performed.) The ShinyRibs holiday album is available now.

Willie Nelson ACL Taping

11/19/18   Austin, TX

Y’all, Willie is old. He’s 85. He’s ridden this life hard. He’s played that guitar hard. So it wasn’t a big deal when it took him a song or two to warm up. A bit out of tune and a bit out of breath, the legend stood before us and worked his way into a well rehearsed, but never mundane performance, encouraging the audience to sing along. There was more Bob Dylan-like sing-talking than the Willie warble we know and love. Don’t get me wrong, the show was great but time waits for no one. The crowd didn’t seem to notice, and really, I don’t think Willie does half the time he on the stage. It’s his home and I am so grateful to have been able to enjoy the show one more time. We love you Willie!

(Sorry for the delay in posting this. I’ve been slacking on my reviews so I will be posting several this week.)

There’s no excuse to stay in on December 6th (unless you just don’t feel like going out — which is possible)

So initially I was going to start this blog out as a blog about why you should go see Mary Gauthier at the Freight (doors 7/show 8) but then I realized that you can’t really go wrong tomorrow night…


So let’s start with Mary Gauthier because I know that I have wanted to see her perform live since I first heard about her album ‘Rifles and Rosary Beads’ on NPR. According to the interwebs, that was at the beginning of this year; I feel like it’s been significantly longer that I have wanted to see her, so we’ll leave that as a questionable memory. I do know that there have been at least two times that I have wanted to see her at the Freight and I didn’t. I’m not sure about the first time; I know the second time was when my grandmother died and I had to fly east for her funeral in March.

But then all was redeemed as I was able to see Mary in this relatively tiny photography/art studio in East Nashville during Americanafest this year.  Thanks to Brian Miller for sharing that show info with me (as well as lots of other tips and show alerts); Sidebar: Americanafest was awesome if you didn’t read my blogs about it.

Now back to Mary… though I did see her in a really intimate setting, it was also a short set so I look forward to seeing a full show, especially at The Freight; I can’t think of a better place in the Bay Area to see her perform. The best part is that the price is within my show budget at $26 – $30 per ticket including the $4/ticket facility fee.

If you don’t know anything about Mary Gauthier, her most recent album is eleven songs co-written with veterans. These songs are a part of the nearly four hundred songs that highly accomplished songwriters have co-written as part of the five-year-old SongwritingWith:Soldiers program. If you are interested in more about Mary and this album, I suggest starting with her bio on her website. It’s lovely!

Though her performance was relatively short, it really touched me. That entire series of singers were amazing that day and included Jaimee Harris who performed with Mary and also performed a song of her own, Jim White (talking about his own mental illness), Steve Poltz with Lisa Saunders and Brown Sugar (talking about illness and death), and Aaron Lee Tasjin. There were several times during that afternoon that I teared up from the stories and performances. This show may have been a highlight except that the entire week was really all a highlight. I can’t say enough good things about Americanafest. The people there were the kind of people who came to see and hear the musicians and not to talk through the entire show (in contrast to last night at Willie Watson and Charlie Parr at the Great American where I felt like Willie Watson had to compete with the audience to be heard though it was still an excellent show).

If you have a little more money at your disposal, Roseanne Cash and Ry Cooder: on Johnny Cash at the War Memorial Opera House (7:30 pm). I am not saying that they aren’t worth every penny of the ticket prices, but when there are so many really great options that are cheaper, it’s pretty easy to justify skipping this. I will admit that I had meant to get tickets for tonight’s performance and it completely slipped my mind. It was not on my actual calendar and I now feel way too over-scheduled this week, so I’m just saying no. This is made easier since my quick check shows the cheapest ticket price available for tonight’s show is $85. That said, if a ticket magically fell into my lap, I’d probably find the $ and change my mind about the staying home and working. It’s wrong to not take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, right?

Or maybe you’d like Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds at the Independent (doors 7/show 8) because they are a GOOD time, lots of energy and great soul/funk/rock music. The good time factor is easily worth the $20 – $23 ticket price. Since the first time that we saw them at HSB, I’ve looked forward to seeing them again and yet every time they play in the Bay Area, their show seems to conflict with some other show (or I’m not in town). I don’t get to see this band as often as I’d like and tonight continues that trend. I really can’t recommend this show enough based on my previous experiences with Sister Sparrow! Did I mention that Arleigh’s outfits tend to be quite amazing as well!

If you want a real experience, you should check out KOLARS, opening for Shakey Graves at the Fox (doors 7/show 8). I have to confess that I’m not familiar with Shakey Graves at all. I always mean to check him out, but it just doesn’t happen. I thought this was going to be my chance because I heart KOLARS hard (see previous blog posts, there are many which should give you an indication of the level of our love — you can easily search our site if you are interested in finding them and in hearing more about the winners of the Best of the Jammies, SXSW 2018.) That said… after all that gushing, I’m not sold on the KOLARS experience at the Fox. Not after I’ve seen them in such intimate settings, especially as part of what I love is the expressiveness of Lauren’s face as she drums and dances. I’m also fond of Rob getting down in the audience to dance and this won’t be my experience at the Fox. That said, if you are a Shakey Graves fan, this show is a total two-fer in my opinion, especially at $29.50 per ticket. If you are going, you should be sure to get there early and check out KOLARS. You can thank me later!


But wait… there’s more!

There’s still Postmodern Jukebox at the Warfield (doors 7/show 8). I was really considering this show. I heard an interview with (or a story about) Postmodern Jukebox that piqued my interest. It was probably on NPR because I am geeky and find a good deal of my music on NPR.  Other factors that make the decision to skip this show easier include: 1) it is a completely seated show (and there aren’t many tickets left if you are thinking about going and haven’t purchased tickets yet); and 2) for the kind of seats I would want, the price is $105.  That’s more than a little too rich for my blood.

Mary continues to win this time! Going to see Mary instead of Postmodern Jukebox or Shakey Graves is also in keeping with my ‘Fuck the Patriarchy’ theme that started back in September and was liberally applied to the choosing of shows at HSB 2018 with no harm or significant loss on my opinion (though I still wish I had seen Steve Forbert, but I don’t feel that was a Fuck the Patriarchy decision so much as a logistics decision.)

Lastly on my radar is Dweezil Zappa at the Fillmore (doors 7/show 8). I’ve always wanted to see him and yet somehow never have. I’m not sure if it’s because he’s Frank Zappa’s son and I love Frank Zappa that makes me want to see him. It could also be because of his former relationship with Lisa Loeb (those of you who know me know I have a huge crush on her and they were a couple that made me a little weak in the knees) or if it’s just because I think he’s kinda cute. Whatever the reason, I have wanted to see him for a long time now and it really has nothing to do with his music as I literally have no idea what his music is like. December 6, 2018 won’t be the time that I finally see him. I won’t lie that this one was an easy decision to make since the tickets are $42.50 which is pricey on a night when there are so many choices for music that I don’t know at all.

So I hope you are able to get out and support live music. With this many choices, the only reason I can see not to go out is because you want to stay in and as I tried to imply in the title of this blog that sentiment is totally legit!








It’s Black Friday — What could make a better gift than tickets to the Camp Fire Benefit Concert?

I mean really…. it’s a way to support the people of Paradise and the surrounding areas, and you are giving a gift to a music-loving friend and you don’t have to leave your home for this transaction, nor does anyone else! Seems like a win to me!

Plus it looks like some new people have been announced since I last posted.

Current line-up includes:

  •  Alejandro Escovedo
  • Dan Bern
  • Megan Slankard
  • Heather Combs
  • The Sam Chase
  • The New Chambers Brothers featuring Lester Chambers
  • Greg Loiacono (The Mother Hips)
  • Bobby Jo Valentine
  • Josh Brough (Poor Man’s Whiskey)
  • Kate Lardner & The Branson Rock Band
  • DJ Bothsides (spinning between sets)
  • Matt Jaffe
  • Ken Newman (Magician)
  • Jimbo Scott
  • Jesse DeNatale
  • PA Furnace

As a reminder, this is 9 hours of entertainment and 100% of the proceeds are being donated. Check out KC’s website, KC Turner Presents for more information and to buy tickets.

Camp Fire Relief Benefit Concert — Sunday, December 2, 2018

KC Turner is organizing a Camp Fire benefit show at the HopMonk Tavern in Novato. The show is scheduled for Sunday, December 2nd. Doors will open at noon. Music starts at 1 and will continue until 10 pm. 100% of ticket proceeds will be donated to the North Valley Community Foundation.  I’ve included some information about the Camp Fire Relief Fund from NVCF’s website at the bottom of this post.

The following artists have already been announced and there will be more according to the website.

  •  Alejandro Escovedo
  • Dan Bern
  • Megan Slankard
  • Heather Combs
  • The Sam Chase
  • T Sisters
  • Bobby Jo Valentine
  • Josh Brough
  • Kate Lardner & The Branson Rock Band
  • DJ Bothsides (spinning between sets)

Tickets are available at KC Turner Presents. Because this is a benefit, there are different prices for tickets, but the tickets are all the same. It’s a give what you can situation. Minimum cost to attend this event is $50 and I don’t think I need to say this, but the money will go to a good cause.

I don’t really feel like I need to say much about these artists to ‘sell’ this show as that’s not the real reason that most of you will probably attend, but look at that line-up. After seeing Alejandro Escovedo in Nashville, I would possibly consider going just for him and there’s so much more there.

This is what NVCF’s website says about the use of funds.  They will keep 1% to cover their own administrative costs. The remaining 99% will be distributed.

Distributions from the Camp Fire Relief Fund

For short-term immediate financial needs, the North Valley Community Foundation has formed an internal committee of board members and service providers that consider requests and approve grants on a daily basis. However, our more important role will be to work with community leaders to determine needs and best uses of funds once the fire is out and attention turns to recovery efforts. That phase will be evolving over the next few months and will include collaboration with key funders, local and regional agencies, and direct service providers.

Separate from the Camp Fire Relief Benefit, I wanted to mention that the SPCA in SF has gotten an influx of rescued pets from the Camp Fire. The intent is to reunite these pets with their owners, however the SF SPCA needs to make room for all of these furry survivors, so they are currently waiving adoption fees. If you’ve been thinking about getting a pet, you can take the $ you’ll save (I’m just guessing here that you can’t adopt an animal for less than $50) from the adoption fee and use it to go see some live music and further support the Camp Fire victims. It’s like multi-tasking that improves your karma! Just sayin’

Bohemian Rhapsody (the Queen film)

First, watch this video of Freddie Mercury’s performance at LiveAid in 1985.

The movie is fantastic. It captures both the changes of the times and the changes of Queen’s music. There was a time that being gay was scary because not only were you “not normal” but especially if you were a gay man, you had the AIDS virus to fear. Freddie was so ahead of his time and left so tragically. The film is only kinda-sorta accurate in timeline. There are artistic liberties taken for sure.

I grew up in these times. I remember the AIDS quilt and LiveAid. I was youngish but I remember. It was scary. Starving babies with potbellies. Humans dying from an unknown virus and gay being a “horrendous sin”. We’ve come a long way and then I wonder how far we’ve really come with Mexican border camps and the “Just Grab Her Pussy” Administration.

Anyway, the film captures the times really well and tells a good story. There’s more music in the film than I expected! I wanted to stomp during We Will Rock You and wished that I could have been in the audience. This film made me feel like I was at a Queen show. That’s the best compliment I can give!

Walker Lukens @ Mueller Lake with KUTX

It was cold last night in Austin, TX but that didn’t stop us or the throngs of young children from hitting up the free Friday night show at Mueller Lake featuring Walker Lukens. When I say young, I mean toddler to 8yr olds. They danced on the stage, separated by some orange cones and a string. It was cute, then it was weird. I forget how crass he can be with lyrics like “Baby, let’s make a baby. I’m tired of all this fucking for nothing.” Yeah, that went over most of their heads (and the parents heads too I guess.)

The space was too open and lighting too off to truly appreciate Walker Lukens performance but hey, it was free. There was free Kona Brewery beer too! I’m glad I went. Even in this imperfect place. The band puts on a decent performance.

Utopia Fest 2018

We made it!

We’re currently waiting with all our camping gear. A shuttle should come in the next hour or so to take us to the GA campground. It’s a small cluster but Easy Like Sunday Morning is playing and it’s 70 and sunny outside. We’re going to miss Dawn & Hawks but Patty Griffin and Rubblebucket are playing later. We won’t miss that!

We’re on the bus! Gotta watch out for black cows cause somebody left the gate open. 🙂

Waiting in line was fun. We met John, Leah, and her husband (forgot his name). We’re on our way now! It’s still a total cluster.

Camp is set up and we found Casey’s buddy Bird! Also John from the line is our camp buddy. We’re near the point and the bridge and we’re told it might be a party. We were warned! The kid friendly camp is up the hill and the car camping is across the water.

Kalu and the Electric Joint (Austin)

This band is like a fine wine. Every song they played was better than the last. Groovy, gravely, funky, a little soulful but not too slow.


Lisa LeBlanc (Montreal/ soon to be NOLA)

French Canadian female rocker, with a banjo! I love Canadians and Canadian Bands! This one is Acadian Canadian. 🇨🇦


The Deer (Austin)

Someone said their female lead needs more force behind her voice. I didn’t understand until he leaned over and said, like that at the Wild Child show. Still, their harmonies and performance was worth watching and I have high hopes for the future of this band.


Wild Child

At home, singing songs in the Hill County on a perfect November Saturday. Damn, that was good.


Keller Williams

I didn’t actually watch a lot of this, but I heard it. All Tom Petty and it was great.


I hurt my leg last Sunday on an epic kayaking trip, almost broke it. It’s black and blue so by this part of the night I was pretty beat but needed to hang in there. The great thing about Utopia fest is that stages don’t overlap. When one is done, the other starts and they are close together so even if you don’t migrate, you can still take in the music.

Patty Griffin

Ahh Patty. I love you. Her voice wasn’t as strong as it was at HSB but she carries a strength and wisdom in her performance like a strong Oak tree. She’s seen some shit.

Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real

At one point shortly into the set, the Clarke Kent looking Lukas thanked everyone on his crew, followed by “we may have all just taken mushrooms, at least I think that’s what it was”. (The next morning I heard someone talking about the enormous amount of chocolate shrooms he gave Lukas.) I guess being Willie Nelson’s son, it takes a bit more to shake ’em because the performance was great. He’s at the top of his game right now with A Star Is Born doing so well at the box office. Did you know Bradley Cooper worked with Lukas on the movie to perfect his singing? Haven’t seen it but I hear it’s great! Congrats Lukas!


One of my favorite lyrics: “It’s amazing, I came out of a lady hole.” This dance, pop, smart-modern band will make you smile, think and dance it out. They still have the fun moves and great dance party vibe but this band is maturing into a beautiful work of art, like a St Vincent performance.

I hobbled back to camp and passed out. There was live music all night thanks to our neighbors with the fire pit. Again, we were warned. Fortunately it was pretty good with a song I particularly enjoyed at 8am, “I’m Drunk and I’m Drinkin”.

DAY 2 – Saturday

Rob found Shaun so we went to see her camp and meet Chelsea and Austin. Chelsea and Shaun know each other from college. When we went back to our camp, Bird got out of his tent and we discovered that he was also part of this old college crew. Festival magic. Our friends were already old friends.

I ended up hanging at camp for a bit to rest my leg and listened to the show from across the lake which was perfectly delightful.

SA Pipes – bagpipes for breakfast

Progger – Prog Rock?

Trouble in the Streets – NOLA Brass?

Particle Kid – I liked this sound. They got me motivated to move.

Hikes – harder rock than I expected but good female led rock and roll



I really didn’t expect to love this band as much as I did but they were so good! Hailing from Sweden, the three gals sing folk rock, mostly in English but their traditional Swede bar ballad was beautiful and super fun! The female banjo player has a kick drum! Catch them if you can!

Hard Proof – Local Austin Jam Band

Choir!Choir!Choir! – A good idea in concept was too much for a late night stage. Hopefully many festi-goers took this opportunity to batten down the hatches. A lightning storm was on the horizon.

The duo invited Kelsey from wild Child to sing Hallelujah after spending 30min teaching the audience the harmony. It was tedious and the outcome questionable but I love singing harmony and had enough whiskey to make it fun.


Valerie June – I find her kinda kitchey sometimes but really enjoyed this performance. She is a solid musician and has a beautifully weird voice, look, and personality.


Calliope Musicals – Damn. They really nailed this performance. This band is ready for a big festival like Bonnaroo or Coachella. They sounded great, were so much fun to watch and really filled up the space.


I walked home to Medeski Mad Skillet. Stopped and hung with Shaun for a bit as we strategized the coming lightning storm. Went back to camp, battened down the hatches and listened to STS9. The rain started pouring as the last song ended!

Getting out in the morning was a little tricky with the mud. The guys caught a ride from Bird to their cars and then we hiked our stuff out rather than wait for the shuttle. It wasn’t too bad and we got to hang with our friends new and old, one more time.

Thanks for the good times Utopia Fest!

The Reputations @ KUTX Studios

“This band is one you need to see” said Taylor Wallace, the KUTX DJ who introduced the band on the radio. That’s right, they are a sight! We were lucky enough to score a couple of the coveted Concert Club tickets to see this band play in the studio at the 98.9 radio station.

Local Austin band, The Reputations are a sight to see. The lead singer, Rockyanne Bullwinkel’s orange halter top with no bra, red spandex, zipper front bell bottoms and fantastic 80’s glam haircut took center stage with others in the band trying to keep up with her style. They did a decent job but it’s hard to compete with that look! It also feels very reminiscent of Sweet Spirit both in demeanor, sound, and performance. I read somewhere that Seth Gibbs who started the band is Sabrina Ellis’ (Giant Dog / Sweet Spirit) ex-husband. Yep, that seems about right. The lead singers give a very similar in-your-face performance. Unfortunately it appears that Gibbs has had to step out of the picture, being diagnosed a few months ago with a rare form of metastasizing stomach cancer with a 1% chance to live beyond a year and a half. We wish you peace and strength in your fight Seth.

The Replacements are entertaining. They have some room to grow but they played a new song they are working on for their next album and it seems promising. I’ll keep an eye on this Austin band as they grow…even if it feels a little like cheating on Sweet Spirit.

Their new album, Electric Power comes out on November 9th.

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