Utne Reader and the Americana Music Association present
KEEP YOUR SOUL: A TRIBUTE TO DOUG SAHM
Thursday, March 19 at historic Antone's on Sixth Street
8 p.m. sharp
Curated by Vanguard Records and featuring Shawn Sahm with the Texas Tornados, Augie Meyers, Flaco Jimenez and the West Side Horns
With special guests Jimmie Vaughan, Dave Alvin, Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles, and the Gourds
“It’s gotta be a groove, man.” That was Doug Sahm’s credo for both music and life. It all had to be in that certain sweet spot where it just naturally flows at the rhythm and with the vibe of life and music at its best. He succeeded in doing just that for all of his much-too-short 58 years on the planet, leaving behind some of the most indelible Texas-style American roots music that was ever created.
"Why Why Why" performed by Jimmie Vaughan
Justin Townes Earle: Justin Townes Earle's age belies his experience. Growing up in Nashville, he misspent his youth playing in the bluegrass/ragtime combo the Swindlers and the louder, more rocking Distributors and developing some very bad habits. During tours as guitarist and keyboardist (“and not a very good one,” laughs Earle) in his father Steve Earle's band, his problems became untenable and he was fired. Ultimately he cleaned up his act, dropped his self-destructive habits, and began to focus on songcraft. “You don’t have to be fucked up or torture yourself to write songs,” explains Earle. “I used to write a lot, a whole lot, and half those songs I don’t even remember. Now I sit there and I write it and I finish it and I keep it.”
With inspirations as diverse as Townes Van Zandt (he was named in honor of the elder Earle’s hero), Jimmy Reed, Kurt Cobain, the Replacements, Ray Charles and the Pogues, Justin forged his own brand of American roots music. Going through life with a namesake of Van Zandt’s stature cannot be easy for a young songwriter, but Earle takes it in stride, saying, “Anyone who tries to live up to Van Zandt is a fool. I’m honored to carry the name, but if I spent my life trying to live up to it, I’d have a pretty miserable life.”
Carrie Rodriguez: Rodriguez studied at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where she found no shortage of resources for transforming “violin” into “fiddle. “Casey Driessen is now one of the greatest American fiddle players on the scene (plays with Bela Fleck, Tim O’Brien), and he was my roommate,” Rodriguez recalls. “He taught me one of the first fiddle tunes I ever learned.”
Berklee also set the table for a love of collaboration, which led to three duet records (and many touring miles) with singer-songwriter Chip Taylor, who was instrumental in helping Carrie to realize her debut album, Seven Angels on a Bicycle. The Associated Press wrote that “her voice has a character few achieve. Rather than a support player taking a minor turn, she uses her first solo album to mark her ground as a singular talent.” For She Ain't Me, Rodriguez knew it was time to form new collaborations, and she ended up with an impressive list of co-writers, including Gary Louris (Jayhawks), Dan Wilson (Semisonic), Jim Boquist (Son Volt), and Mary Gauthier. “I feel the most comfortable when I have someone to react to,” Rodriguez says. “The process was completely different with each person I wrote with. For example, with Mary Gauthier we sat down one rainy afternoon in New York City and wrote the entire song, more or less. With Dan Wilson we just came up with a little melody and a few snippets of words while we were in the same room. Later, I wrote the verses, he came up with a great chorus, and we put the song together via e-mail and a few phone calls.”
Raul Malo: On Lucky One, his first album of original material in seven years, Raul Malo has shed his musical shackles. “I have been fighting my whole life against people who want to pigeonhole music. We fought that in the Mavericks. I feel like I’ve got no restrictions anymore,” the Grammy winner says. “I’m not really writing for any specific genre. I feel like I can do whatever I want.”Clearly, followers of Malo’s eclectic career—both with the Mavericks and after—know he’s always chafed at placing any confines on music. Or, as he laughingly confesses, “If most people do what I’ve done in my career, they’d be driving a taxi by now.” However, a talent as mighty as Malo’s simply can’t be denied. His glorious voice has been rapturously described by the New York Times as “exceptional” and the Wall Street Journal as “exquisite.” Its crystal purity is simply unmatched by any other singer’s today. And a voice like his deserves a loving, sturdy melody to wrap itself around. Although completely contemporary, the music on Lucky One recalls the great tunes of the '50s, '60s and '70s, made famous by Malo’s musical heroes like Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Merle Haggard, and Buck Owens.
"Lucky One" by Raul Malo
Band of Heathens: The immensely popular Austin-based quintet Band of Heathens have made quite a national debut this year with the release of their first studio album, The Band of Heathens. A relentless breakout performance at the 2008 Austin City Limits Festival, hitting No. 1 on the Americana radio chart, and lauded appearances on Mountain Stage, Woodsongs Radio Hour, and XM Radio are just a few indicators of what the Heathens’ rabid fan-base has been going on about since the band’s “accidental” formation a couple years ago. The Band of Heathens have drawn comparisons to Little Feat, the Band, Gram Parsons, and the Black Crowes, and are considered by some to be the ambassadors of Austin’s thriving music scene. They don’t bring a set list and they don’t have a frontman, but they bring their country-hued roots rock 'n' soul revival to 240-plus shows and festivals a year, from Austin to New York City to Chicago, Atlanta, Denver and beyond.
"Jackson Station" by the Band of Heathens