Gasoline Guitar Gate 2017

I remarked yesterday that, “scene drama fuels my blood.” I wasn’t lying. For those that don’t know me, I have an educational background in Public Relations and I fully believe in the idiom, “all publicity is good publicity.” So it’s pretty easy for me to make the emotional connection that whatever gets people talking is good for the goose and its subsequent gander. I love people talking about our scene because it means people are listening to our scene and that gives me lots of endorphins like exercise and Elle Woods.

An physical and emotional connection that I cannot explain is the love I have for Sam Riggs’ song, “Hold on and Let Go.” I do know if it’s the fact that every Friday night during my senior year of high school was spent spinning on the hardwood at Neon Moon. Or rooted in the nights in my twenties that were spent in a drunken stupor shutting down every bar on the North side. I simply can’t explain it, but I’ve probably spun that song 500 times since I downloaded it last year. Even more inexplicable is the love I have for every single one of Sam Riggs’ songs. There is literally not one I do not like on the EP or either record. By all accounts he is the embodiment of everything I do not like about the TCU douche bags running around my Panther City. Ruggedly handsome, perfect pearly whites and no fucking manners…but I love him. Maybe it’s my bad girl phase (shout out to Miss Sunny), but everything about Sam Riggs and his tunes is enthralling to me.

I don’t get it.

So, when the news broke over the weekend that ole Riggsy had pissed off Papa Bear, Larry Joe Taylor, at his namesake’s festival (and arguably the single biggest Texas music festival in existence) my ears immediately perked up. I first heard the story straight from the horse’s mouth on Texas Red Dirt Roads:

Sam Riggs on TXRDR 4/30/17 (fast-forward to about the 8 minute mark)

Upon first listen from Sam I was on his side. Okay, so he burned some shit, big deal, but in the last two days more and more information has emerged about Gasoline Guitar Gate 2017. Apparently, Mr. Taylor was asked his permission before this incident and the Riggs camp was told in no uncertain terms, “absolutely not.” With brass balls and the bravado of a second grader with his name already written under “DETENTION” on the blackboard, Riggs did it anyway…that is where the problem lies for many industry professionals whose opinions I’ve read on various social medias this week and myself.

Plain and simple, Sam should not have done it. This “scandal” all boils down to respect. You don’t spit in Waylon Jennings’ face at the Waylon Jennings’ festival, you don’t smoke Willie’s stash without permission and you don’t ignore a no from Larry Joe. I liken this to last year’s LJT fest when William Clark Green brought a full circus on stage. Larry was less than happy about his antics, in particular his fire breather. Armed with this information alone Sam should’ve known better.

I must admit, I can see both sides, as the old people basically think music should be pure without a stage spectacle and while I don’t completely agree with that, I get their point. Furthermore, Taylor’s name is ON the festival and he is responsible for thousands of people’s safety (which the masses do a great job of making difficult enough on their own accord.) I’d be losing my shit about fire too.

This morning, roughly 72 hours after the original incident, both camps (Riggs and Taylor) came together and released a formal statement. You can read it here:

Sam Riggs/Larry Joe Taylor Formal Release

What a bunch of bullshit. I guess, I’m glad they hugged it out, but damn it Sam, learn some fucking manners. To me this statement reads about as well as when Wade Bowen and Granger Smith made up after Granger shit all over Texas music.

ICYMI, the original story: http://www.wideopencountry.com/granger-smith-calls-texas-country-minor-leagues-wade-bowen-responds/

And Wade’s follow-up: http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/wade-bowen-clears-the-air-about-granger-smith-comments/

No one buys it, Wade was not sorry and neither is Sam. And you know what? I’m still not even mad at Sam. My love is unwavering and I do not understand these feelings inside of my body in the slightest. I think most of his fans feel the exact same way.

Sam, you are an enigma of love, music and arrow forearm tattoos, but after almost four days of he said, she said and one formal release I would not expect to see Sam Riggs on a Larry Joe Taylor stage ever again. Like, never ever ever.

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Listening to:

  • “Can’t Say No to Larry Joe”Deryl Dodd

 

  • “Bad Girl Phase”Sunny Sweeny

 

  • “Gravity”Sam Riggs

 

  • “Secondhand Smoke”Sam Riggs

Yeah, I guess that’s my church

Passion is a funny thing. As we’ve seen lately, with the tiny hands Cheeto man officially being sworn in, people are not afraid to fight for what they’re passionate about…even if it makes them look supremely insane. In my thinking about passion today it stuck out to me how hard it is to carry over that passion to your fellow man if they too are not passionate about the same ideas. That’s why these vagina hatted idiots marching on Capitol Hill look like, well, idiots, but to them women’s reproductive rights are worth the shame, I guess.

If you’ll follow me down this winding passion path I want to delve in to probably the world’s biggest topic of passion, religion. This particular passion has lead to literal life and death over hundreds of years. In our current era of neo-Christianity that is not always the case (discounting extremes) but it is obviously a topic many have tried to impart upon others that don’t or don’t want to understand that Jesus is the reason for the season. In fact, that is the basis of the entire religion, sharing the gospel. I’m here today to say I get it. While I definitely do not believe in an imaginary man in the sky, my faith in music is something I share with many.

This ^^^ is my gospel. I get goosebumps when this man’s songs enter my ear holes 100% of the time. Sean McConnell is the holy trinity for me. Father, singer and holy song swap host. My personal savior.

When I hear a song that hits my soul the first thing I want to do is share it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve desperately tried to get my mom or my peers to like something I like simply because I like it so much. I think try is actually kind of a futile word here. I have begged and pleaded and nearly jumped out of my skin trying to get people around me to feel the same way I feel about a song or an artist. Thus, I get it. Passion is an easy thing to express, but not an easy thing to usher someone else to embody.

This is most certainly not a new feeling for me. In my adult years people have always been shocked that Texas Country is not the only genre I’m insanely passionate about.

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https://maeband.bandcamp.com/album/destination-beautiful

This ^^^ is my bible. This is my stranded on a desert island with only one record for the rest of forever and infinity choice. I can listen to every song on this album and recall exactly how I felt when I heard it in my teens, twenties and now my 30s. It has completely different implications for each decade of my life. Much like a specific bible verse you hang on to through life’s storms and celebrations, the lyrics on this album have been my anchor through days that are both full of hurricanes and sunny with a high of 75.

For many years during the early Sara era Deep Ellum was my church. Trees, Gypsy Tea Room (R.I.P.), The Door Dallas all held service for me and my friends to hear sermon from Andrew McMahon, Jesse Lacey, Mae, Straylight Run, The Ataris and every band that ever existed on the now defunct Drive Thru Records. I could go on and on listing the preachers I’ve heard in those hallowed, smoke stained, whiskey soaked halls, but I think you get the picture. Hell, my first concerts were Blink 182, Jimmy Eat World, Green Day and Dave Matthews Band (separately, that would be a weird mashup). Travis Barker is the reason I love music and I am not ashamed of that fact. I still believe he is an insanely charismatic drummer. While he may not be the most technical or most talented it all circles back around to Travis (we’re on a first name basis) possessing an intense passion for the kit. In identifying and experiencing all of this, I have become a better person.

Isn’t that the goal in all of this? To create better people with our passions. Stacking those better people in to a better society and eventually a better world. If your intentions are pure, that is undoubtedly the pinnacle of sharing Christ with those around you. Samesies over here. If even one band, one song, one lyrics I share with you make you view the world a little more rose colored I have done my job as a disciple.

My roots grow in many different directions. If you know me in real life, you undoubtedly know this to be true. I comfortably rest my laurels on being a paradox. You need to know this to make the next sentence land effectively. When I talk about Taylor Swift, you will hear me say she is my “spirit animal” repetitively. I guess that makes her my Buddha and I have no problem with this. T. Swizzle brings out a child like passion in me that no other artist can. Speaking of failed relationships (too soon?) John Mayer as an apostle may sound like a cliche choice to many, but that man can play a damn geetar. His music also shaped me from an early age. Well, not only his music, but his persona, his songwriting, his charisma. These are two people that I have always been drawn to because of who they are as people in addition to their scripture. I will end this jaunt in to pop music with a quote from my favorite movie of all time (yes, it’s a movie about music);

“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” (John Cusack as Rob in High Fidelity or if you want to get technical, Nick Hornby actually wrote the book.) In case you’d like some more totally bad ass quotes from the movie here ya go: High Fidelity is the fucking best (Plus I just really like the title of the article.)

I feel like we’re digging grooves in the tread of this trail, so I’m gonna come to the summit of talking about the passion and the Christ. Whether it’s your church or mine I hope somehow you’re using your powers for good. If nothing I said resonated with you in this post here’s my girl Maren to tell you exactly what I fucking meant.

“I’ve cussed on a Sunday
I’ve cheated and I’ve lied
I’ve fallen down from grace
A few too many times
But I find holy redemption
When I put this car in drive
Roll the windows down and turn up the dial
Can I get a hallelujah
Can I get an amen
Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that’s my church”

Listening to:

  • “Things To Do” -Grady Spencer
  • “My Church” -Maren Morris
  • “Summertime” -Mae
  • “Sunny With a High of 75” -Reliant K

P.S. If you thought I was going to let you escape this without talking about Grady Spencer…SIKE! You were wrong. I have not had passion for an artist like I have Grady in quite some time. The warmth I feel on my face when I watch this video and listen to this Sandlot glasses wearing, mustachioed crooner no matter the weather is I believe what it feels like to have God’s love in your heart…but I would not know.

This Ain’t a Fairytale

I sat listening to the radio as another song waxed poetic about the broken girl holding it together because she’s got “me” (it was Mark McKinney “Sunshine” which is one of his best FYI) my mind wandered off and this time I didn’t rein it back in. I started thinking about music and songwriting and how it’s shaped my life. In particular my love life.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I still believe in fairytales. I still believe in forever love like Johnny and June. I still believe my prince with a white van as his steed is out there somewhere. What I had never pondered was how much growing up with music as such a huge part of every fiber of my being would affect me as I started to fall in and out and in and out of love.

My first boyfriend at 15 was the artistic type. He was older than me and he was constantly writing me songs or poems or drawing me pictures. I ate it up. That’s the way to pull on my heart strings to this day; homemade, heartfelt or genuine and I’m yours. So I became accustomed to this certain level of open expression when it came to love and I don’t think I ever let that go.

I’ve always been one to insert myself in to songs and empathetically feel what either the writer or the subject is going through. In particular when the song hits close to home I will hold on to the lyrics for many, many years. Lyrics and songs have always been my bible. I turn to for salvation and scripture in good times and in bad. As I grew and eventually became heavily involved with a touring musician I found that salvation in his music. The same wide-eyed gaze over a one-chord song I had at 15 and almost 10 years later, I was hooked from day one.

 
We eventually split up and now years later I’ve had another epiphany. We live in a world of right here and now, computers, texts, cellphones, Facebook; no one can dispute that fact. That type of genuine artistic romance is hard to come by. Just like the movies, the glass slipper and the white horse, music isn’t real life. It’s ABOUT real life and it can connect you to people in a way like nothing else ever could, but it’s not YOUR life.

It takes a special individual to write and play and expose their raw heart and head like many of my favorite artists do. That’s something to be celebrated and applauded. Something to be thankful for in our hyper-cyber world. It may have broken me romantically, but it lifts me up emotionally and that is something I will never forget to appreciate.

Bobby and the Story

The third and final piece to the Live Oak trio last week:

Bobby Duncan has more than payed his dues in this Scene over his lengthy songwriting and music career. Honestly, he’s pretty lucky he has two cents to rub together with brand new baby twins at home that came shortly after marrying his wife. I’ve seen Mrs. Duncan firsthand watching many of his shows awestruck and still in love with her husband like starcrossed teenagers. What seems like a basic girl meets boy, they fall in love, create a family and live happily ever after story, was not always the case for Bobby and you can hear it in his library of songs.

It’s obvious the boy didn’t get the girl many times over before he settled down with the love of his life. Pain, anguish, depression, faith and then finally forever, are covered well in Bobby’s catalogue. His storytelling has always and continues to remain my favorite part about watching him play.

It’s hard to miss that Walt Wilkins and Bobby have become close friends, writing partners and music makers together if you’re paying attention. With a guy like Walt in your corner you can’t really go wrong. Bobby waxes poetic about their love for one another within his sung stories and you can’t miss the respect and admiration he has for his friend and idol. That ingenuity is what makes Bobby who he is and gives his music a soul.

What began as tales of heartbreak and forlorn love has now evolved in to melodic tales about his single friends and happiness in his new found forever. I am excited to see how these life changes translate in to a musical revolution for this artist. Clear talent isn’t fast and furious, it’s a slow burn and Bobby is everready to set The Scene on fire.

Genre: Authenticity

 

I spent last Sunday with Grady Spencer signing me what I can only akin to lullabies. The Live Oak Music Hall was quiet, dark, candle lit and the ambience of his melodies could be heard over the silence, so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Grady’s lessons on life and love feel more like an old friend than the dynamic of musician and audience. When he sings about going from fore lorn, lost sailor in a sea of broken hearts to the thrill of meeting his wife and child it is truly some of the most genuinely authentic music I have heard in quite some time. Check out “Best That I Can” to see exactly what I mean.

 

“What makes Texas music any different than the Nashville crooners?” is something I get asked a lot. Authenticity is my answer. It is a word I’ve thrown around more than once about this genre of music I’ve come to fall head-over-heels in love with and the musicians I write love stories with. The music starts as a life lesson then to pen and paper, chords, before it evolves in to lyrics, then a song and a performance. 

Texas “country” is changing. The age old fight about Texas vs. Red Dirt (yes, undeniably there is a difference,) Americana, folk…So much time has been spent on asking what do we label each musician and band? What becomes less important than genre and labels, in my eyes, is the single label that can’t be denied; authenticity. Their music is authentic and this genre is creating a place in the world for authenticity to matter. Someone asked me today if a guy like Leon Bridges has a place in this music world and I answered with a resounding, “yes!” I believe fans are looking for good music again after years and years of being fed pop bullshit with a fiddle and a Nashville zip code and this genre is wholly responsible for that. 

Erick Willis played last week at Live Oak with Grady as well. If you haven’t heard “Please” yet, you’ve every seriously fucked up a relationship or are living an unfortunately unrequited love story, stop whatever it is your doing and go download it. I said last week he was “a poet for the broken hearted” and I still cannot come up with a better description. With the idea of Sunday Coming Down on many of his songs, he lives on a wing and a prayer without a doubt. I can’t wait to see what he does in the future with all of that pent up angst and story writing talent.

Authenticity; we have it, other genres don’t. Things are evolving, Texas music is changing and The Scene is becoming a platform for both the musician and the fan to share their true feelings together. Genres, labels, bullshit not necessary, this is a place for everyone. 

What I’m listening to:

Grady Spencer and the Work

  1. Best I can
  2. Things to Do
  3. Never Be Found

Erick Willis

  1. Please
  2. That Makes Two of Us
  3. She Already Knows