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Music Life

Yo, check this out, Austin Chronicle critic Raoul Hernandez picked Shane Bartell's CD Too Soon to Say ( on Lilywhite)
as number 8 on his year-end top ten list for 2004. Critic Melanie Haupt picked it at number 7 on her list. And then
critic Christopher Gray put it number 2 on his list. To top things off the Chronicle lists its suggestions for voters in
the annual Austin Music Poll and nods at Shane for "Musician of the Year"! Congrats, Shane.

Meanwhile Lyle is getting good reviews for his Sound Stage DVD (which i'm thankful that at least there's now a DVD
of any persuasion available. Robert's Austin City Limits DVD is getting great press also. I'll try to get some links posted
soon on these two projects.

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Review of a Scott Rotge/Myles Smith live acoustic performance

Here's the spin on Scott Rotge's CD from
"Scott Rotge has assembled a more-than-able group of pickers and formed The Scott Rotge Band.  It naturally follows that there would be a CD.  Yes, there is one.  So many times this is where the magic ends, but in Rotge’s case, it’s just beginning.  Their self-titled CD is full of great Texas stories told through solid country music and great songwriting.  It’s as if Scott Rotge is singing directly to the listener, humbly and modestly becoming a friend rather than forcing his music upon you.  While Rotge could take his own place in the plethora of ‘ball-cap cowboys’ to emerge lately, he likely won’t.  Instead, he’ll leave them all saying, “I should have thought of that.”  His innovation in music might well be the next wave in Texas music.  Rotge’s songs are well structured, but he uses perfectly placed minor keys and time signature changes to meld his early influences into a refreshing new sound.  This is what Texas music is all about.  Rotge emits a traditional country sound when needed, using classic instrumentation to remind you that this is occasionally country, part-time alternative, but always Texan.  The Scott Rotge Band is one of those acts that fans will follow from bars to festivals to arenas to coliseums.  Texas radio take notice, Scott Rotge is deserving of any spin you can spare."

Scott Rotge had a party to release his new CD at
Chili's on the River, Kerrville, Texas, 25 May 2003
photos by tony gallucci

Schreiner University Coffehouse of April 2nd!

All photos by tony gallucci ©  2003

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Ghandaia plays the Schreiner Coffehouse now and again, and features Pablo Larios, a former Schreiner Soccer player. Well, the Austin American-Statesman did a fine article on them, and well, it tells the rest of the story. Since it's no longer on the AAS website i've reprinted it below:

No state of confusion in Ghandaia's Latin beat

Alex Marrero's parents were Cuban exiles who moved to the United States in 1962, and then in the '70s settled in Mexico City, where he was born and raised. Nine years ago, in his late teens, he relocated to Austin. So what does he consider himself? Cuban? Mexican? American? "Confusion," he offers. Well, sure, that adjective is ripe for re-purposing as a nationality. Many days it seems like plenty of folks live in the United States of Confusion. Maybe we should just spell it with an "a" and get our own line on the census: Confusian. In fact, Marrero's suggestion is so wise it seems downright, er, Confucian. Ghandaia, the name of the band he co-leads, is a similar marriage of differences. It's a synthesis of the Portuguese word for party, Mahatma Ghandi's last name and a Mexican slang word that will go unmentioned here. Equally hard to pigeonhole is the music to be found on the nine-piece band's self-released debut album, "Uno" (Xochipilli Entertainment). Don't let that title fool you: This is a record of multitudes. Afro-Cuban tracks dominate, but there's room for Brazilian funk and reggae, too. That catholicity of tastes isn't just a result of Marrero's jumbled roots. The rest of the core of the band, his childhood friends Frederico Geib and Pablo Larios, are similarly mixed up. Geib has a German dad and Brazilian mom; he was raised in Brazil, went to a private high school in Mexico City with Marrero and Larios and lives in Austin. Larios' parents are Spanish, but he was raised in Mexico City and came to Kerrville on a soccer scholarship. Perhaps it's that effortless sense of internationalism that got the attention of Volkswagen, which recently turned Ghandaia's song, "A Cr do Som," into the soundtrack to a Spanish-language commercial for the new Beetle convertible. Though Marrero works as an audiovisual engineer at local ad agency GSD&M, he makes clear that the connection had nothing to do with the plum gig. "We're trying to break into the Latin market, so I'm constantly looking at trade magazines," Marrero explains. He saw that Volkswagen's agency was looking for songs, sent in a sampler from the album the band was finishing up, and got the gig -- after rearranging "A Cr do Som" to give it an "edgier" feel. Larios says that hearing Ghandaia in the commercial, which has been airing on Telemundo and Univision since February, "is weird and comical at the same time." But the money they got for the one-time rights (they won't reveal how much) helped defray the costs of recording and manufacturing their CD. And, of course, a Volkswagen ad is also an excellent ad for any band lucky enough to get the call. Recently, an English- language Beetle convertible spot pulled off the miracle of making the Electric Light Orchestra cool again (again?) by reminding us what a great song "Mr. Blue Sky" is. Geib, in particular, seems to work himself into knots over entering the world of commerce. The band sings about issues of global unity and justice, and his first reaction when Volkswagen expressed interest was, "No!" "That preoccupation not to seem hypocritical and not say one thing and then sell a song to the first bidder -- that is a preoccupation that we will continue to have as this band evolves, as we try to keep true to ourselves and what we believe and what's going on around the world," Geib says. At the same time, the band is trying to make a living. (Right now, everyone has a day job: Besides Marrero's GSD&M gig, Geib does video production and teaches at a private school, while Lario works for the city, distributing pharmaceuticals to the poor). And anyway, the guys love commercial music. Marrero's first high-school band played metal; Lario and Geib's was a bunch of "Cure wannabes." The trio's first Austin bands, Los Huaraches Sucios and Elipse, played pop and rock, respectively. Right now, their challenge is to find an audience that isn't turned off by their pan- Latinism. Sometimes a salsa crowd or samba fans will show up to their gigs and pull the set list in one direction or another. "Salsa No! Brazil! Brazil!" shouts Geib, imitating his fellow countrymen. Opening for Bob Schneider on a muggy Tuesday night is perhaps an even more thankless task than fending off a Latin civil war, but Ghandaia brought plenty of energy to the Antone's stage this week. Frederico, dreads flying about, jumped from foot to foot during a reggae number that interpolated Burning Spear's classic "Slavery Days" and Sade's "Smooth Operator." Marrero moved nimbly for a stocky guy, swiveling his hips in a subtle salsa rhythm as he hunched over his acoustic guitar. The audience of what seemed to be mostly Schneider fans -- 20 or so people early in Ghandaia's set, twice as many by the time they finished up at 10 -- was as receptive as anyone usually is for an opening act. People were dancing at the bar, clapping at the end of songs, chatting less than you might expect. The one thing they didn't look was confused.

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Toni Price on Champ Hood

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Sean Kendrick           

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Other local boys done good

my old friends

Lyle Lovett:
Here's where you can find more information on my friend Lyle Lovett and his music (including some rather off the wall stuff):
Lyle's Page

Robert Earl Keen:
check out my old bud Robert at these links:

Robert Earl

Launch page

Eric Taylor:
is, in my opinion, one of the greatest songwriters of all time. If you don't know him, check this out:


More opinions

Nanci Griffith
has been prolific and her fame has spread to many a foreign isle. Here's her site:

Nanci's site

If you're interested in Texas Music there's a couple of places you must know about. First is the Texas Heritage Music Foundation at Kerrville run by the eclectic and phenomenal music historian Kathleen Hudson. She's produced an annual living history day in Kerrville, sponsored concerts and coffeehouses, and run the Jimmy Rodgers Tribute. Check it out here:


The other place you should know about is the brand new Institute for the History of Texas Music at Texas State University. Under the direction of Dr. Gary Hartman, it has already initiated graduate level courses, teacher workshops, and plans CDs of historic Texas music. The first issue of a scholarly journal is expected out any day now. Here's where to check them out.


Musician, producer, and author Greg Forest not only knows the music business, but has a Texas music history all his own. Now he operates The Music Office here in Kerrville. Find out more at:

The Music

Opinions for a dime

The bar-none Best Texas songwriters of our time: Lyle Lovett, Eric Taylor, Robert Earl Keen, Townes Van Zandt, Jimmy LaFave, Lucinda Williams (well, she lived here a while), Butch Hancock, James McMurtry, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, Nanci Griffith, and Dwight Yoakum (okay, not a Texan, but he ought to be)

Best new Texas band: Los Lonely Boys (period)

These folks still lack a truly national following, but deserve one: Jimmy LaFave, Monte Montgomery, Terri Hendrix, Tish Hinojosa, Pat MacDonald, Mike Blakely, Floyd Domino, and Tommy Elskes

The best ever bands/performers with a "real" Kerrville connection: Jimmie Rodgers, 13th Floor Elevators, J.T. Van Zandt, Johnny and Edgar Winter, Guy Forsyth, George Strait, Doug Stone, Larry, Ghandaia, Harris & Ryden,  Tommy Tune, Scott Rotge & Myles Smith

Here are some young songwriters i believe you're going to be hearing about: Candace Kunz, Sean Kendrick, Cody Schrank, Rob Shane, Charles Lawrence, Michael Hawkins, The Boy Scout Cookies (Patrick Berger, Garrett Capps, Joe Carlson), Chase Gorman, Myles Smith and John Baumann

These great Kerrville area musicians missed the above roundup only because they're a bit long in the tooth: Dan Groat, Dime A Dozen, Kinky Friedman, Part of the Problem, Ridge Floyd, Don Hedgpeth, Gary Jones, Dusty Britches and Reuben Darnell

Dan Groat and Candace Kunz (above) play a Schreiner University Coffeehouse. (Below) Ryan Shave and Chad Laxson make their SU debut.

Gary P. Nunn at the YO Social, September 2000; Carolyn Hester and David Bloom at Schreiner University.

All photos by tony gallucci