Archive | January 2015 RSS feed for this section

My Eagles concert review posted to Elmore

3 Jun

Elmore Magazine | The EaglesFive of the original Eagles took musicianship to the limits at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin. Before a sold-out crowd, they performed hits from 12 albums and a career that spans four-plus decades. For over three hours (and two encores) Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh mesmerized their audience with nostalgic stories and songs synchronized to stunning videos of Southwest landscapes.

Selections from favorite albums, Desperado, Hotel California, and One of These Nights captivated Baby Boomers and Millennials alike, and introduced a new generation to the cross-genres from progressive country to rock. The six-time Grammy winners began their first set with early Eagles’ acoustic songs like “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” and “Tequila Sunrise” sitting on stage. After an intermission, band members stood and rocked the crowd to its feet. A boyish Walsh upstaged the show by inviting audience participation on “Life’s Been Good” and using a talk box to perform “Rocky Mountain Way.” With “Take It to the Limit,” Frey provided a moving tribute to guitarist Randy Meisner, absent from the two-year “History of the Eagles Tour” due to health issues. The final encore song, “Desperado,” closed the show on a magical note, with ethereal harmonies that will forever echo in the canyons of the mind.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Also please see my review on Elmore magazine’s website at:

My story and photos about the Jan. 17 show at Saxon Pub posted to Elmore magazine

30 Jan

Elmore Magazine | Folk Uke, Hector Ward & The Big Time and Guy FFolk Uke, Hector Ward and Guy Forsyth’s band, delivered an eclectic mix of folk, blues, reggae, funk, and bluegrass music in a six-hour show Jan. 17 at Saxon Pub in Austin.

Folk Uke, (the “e” is silent) formed by Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie, the daughters of iconic fathers, Willie Nelson and Arlo Guthrie, perform satirical and somewhat sensational music. Angelic voices often contradict edgy and authentic song lyrics from their self-titled release in 2005 and Reincarnation in 2011. Amy sings lead vocals and plays acoustic guitar while Cathy harmonizes and accompanies on ukulele. Favorites were “Sh*t makes the Flowers Grow,” “Knock Me Up,” and “Mother F***er.”

Hector Ward, delighted fans with a reggae-infused “Simplify,” “Whiskey Pants,” and “Taking Lightening Home,” about blues singer Sam John “Lightnin’” Hopkins. Ward fronts the Big Time band, a nine-piece Latin funk group complete with a horn section. Members included: Mark Wilson, baritone saxophone and flute player; drummer and co-songwriter Mike McGurk; and lead and rhythm guitarist Rain Cross, the son of Grammy award winning songwriter Christopher Cross. Others included cornet player Micah Shalom, trombone player, Ben Taylor, and bass player Kai Roach. Ward sang songs he co-wrote with Phil Roach: “Azucar,” “Freightline Funk,” “Nuevo Laredo” “Time Will Tell,” and “Vibro.” Newcomers included: tenor saxophone player Jennifer Nailos and percussionist David Farris. The band’s two albums include: Freightline Funk released in 2009 and Sum of All in 2011. Ward also sang the single, “Heart Full of Soul,” off the All ATX 2014: British Invasion compilation CD. An American-Cuban, Ward grew up in the little town of Damon, southwest of Houston playing football in high school and then in college at Midwestern State University and Texas State University before suffering partial paralysis in a one-car accident just outside of Houston at 19 years old.

Guy Forsyth has an unmistakable onstage energy that has fueled 25 years of touring internationally while recording 14 albums. He performed a multitude of instruments including a “singing saw,” or modified farming tool used with a violin bow to create a hauntingly instrumental version of “Over the Rainbow.” He first worked as a street musician, later as a studio session player, and then as a comic stunt man at Renaissance fairs Kansas City, MO before moving to Austin in 1990. Band members included: drummer Nina Botta, and her husband, bassist Jeff Botta, who also played on Forsyth’s 2012 The Freedom to Fail album, on the Blue Corn Music label; guitarist George Rarey, who also performs on The Pleaser, Forsyth’s new blues album to be released this April on the Lizard Disc label. The best songs of the night included “Sink ‘em Low (the Holler),” which the band sang acapella amid hand clapping and foot stomping. He also sang, “She’s Crazy Now,” an as yet unrecorded love song that features a unique third person protagonist. Lizard Discs first released his debut solo album High Temperature, CD in Hengelo, Netherlands in 1993 establishing Forsyth throughout Europe. He signed with Antone’s Records to release three more albums: Steak, Needlegun and Can You Live Without before Texas Music Group bought it and declared bankruptcy in 2010. Forsyth released Voices Inside in 2002 on his independent Small and Nimble Records followed by Love Songs For and Against in 2005, Unrepentant Schizophrenic Americana, a double live album in 2006, Calico Girl in 2008, Live at Gruene Hall in 2009 and the DVD, 300 Miles from There to Here in 2011.

 Here’s the link to my story and my photos that posted to Elmore magazine:

Here’s a gallery of my photos that I took Jan. 17 at Saxon Pub:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My review of Annie Lennox’s new CD, Nostalgia, posts to Elmore magazine

27 Jan

Elmore Magazine | Annie Lennox – NostalgiaSweet dreams must sound a lot like pop icon Annie Lennox singing a collection of favorite soul, jazz and blues songs, on Nostalgia, her newest album released by Blue Note Records.

Lennox interprets romantically poetic lyrics that feel both personal and intuitive even if Hoagy Carmichael and Billie Holiday introduced them to the world 50 years ago.

She wields that same distinctive voice that helped to make the Eurythmics famous in the 1980s and earned her four Grammy awards to reinterpret the standards of years past.

Lennox soulfully sings the provocative “God Bless the Child,” which carries even more resonance with her work as a dedicated political activist, philanthropist and international humanitarian.

With the beautifully painful “Strange Fruit,” she vocally languishes over the descriptions of dark and bloody images of violent hate crimes that have marked a nation’s history of racism, bigotry, and social inequalities.

At 60 years old, the visually androgynous Lennox remains as timeless as the music she so tenderly resurrects.

“I Put A Spell on You,” serves as an emotional Lennox anthem sung in communion with a stunning tribute album spanning a 75-year-old legacy of jazz music that adds perfect complement to her already extraordinary canon.

Please see my post on Elmore magazine’s website:

My Paul Thorn story posted to The Alternate Root magazine online

20 Jan

Paul Thorn 2

For Paul Thorn, the lyrics he wrote together with Billy Maddox for his 10th album, Too Blessed to Be Stressed, stem from deep personal life lessons, professional musical influences and growing up a preacher’s son in the Deep South.

He wrote songs like “Don’t Let Nobody Rob You of Your Joy,” for his record released last August while seeking personal happiness in his day-to-day life.

“You may have a circle of friends and some of those friends are hard to be around and some of them make you wonder why they are your friends. You keep hanging around them, but they’re poison,” he said.

“They don’t lift you up; every opportunity they get they try to put you down. It’s not healthy to hang around people like that. That’s why that song is important. It’s just the truth. Life is short; you only get to live one time and while you’re here you don’t let nobody steal your joy.”

The Tupelo, Mississippi artist has chosen to take the high road in the known music universe, one somewhat beset with negativity, to deliver authentic “feel-good lyrics.” His songs promise to uplift even the most downtrodden concertgoers or mp3 fans.

Thorn, who performs over 150 shows a year, last performed in concert at The Roost in North Austin Nov. 23. He next performs in Austin April 11 when appears as part of the “In the Round” program at The Paramount Theater with Ruthie Foster and Joe Ely. They call themselves the Southern Troubadours.

His career blossomed after performing along with some musical heavyweights on a tribute album to Jackson Browne, entitled Looking into You, released last April. Thorn said he always liked Browne’s music, but had never met him before recording the song, “Doctor My Eyes.” Other contributing artists included Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, David Lindley, and Bob Schneider, to name just a few.

In September Thorn met Browne backstage before presenting his song at the Americana Music Honors & Awards at the Ryman Auditorium in Tennessee.

Thorn admits that growing up in the same hometown as the iconic Elvis Presley had a huge impact on him musically as a kid. Yet over the years his career expanded to include several genres that explore all types of angles in the human experience.

“There are all kinds of records for different times in life. There are sad songs on some records about pain and all that kind of stuff, but I just wanted to make a record that made people feel better when they listen to it,” he said.

His father still preaches in the Church of God of Prophecy in Tupelo. The church’s followers provide the gifts of faith healing, prophecy and speaking in foreign tongues.

The song “Get a Healing” feels reminiscent of an evangelical tent revival service in the Deep South, complete with plenty of rhythmic clapping and catchy song lyrics.

The lyrics “you’ve got to get you a healing from the bottom of your heart/get you a healing that’s the only place to start/forgive all the people who have ever brought you harm/get yourself a healing with lovin’ from now on…”

Thorns fans will likely form emotional attachments to his music and lyrics without the benefit of any Pentecostal worship service.

“That song I think does heal somebody when they hear it,” he said.

“That’s what I believe. When I sing that song live I’ve noticed that the crowd really sinks their teeth into it. They’re all out there and they all want to be healed of something; everybody’s ailing from something. They want to feel better whether it’s physically or emotionally. Everybody needs to get fixed. That’s what that song’s talkin’ about.”

Paul’s parents married when his mother, Earlene, was just 15 and his father, Wayne, was 17.

“It was a different time back then,” Thorn said. “They’ll put you in jail for that now.”

His parents for most of their lives have lived in a parsonage on church grounds. Thorn, born in 1964, has older twin sisters, Charlotte Kay and Deborah Faye.

“We were never rich, but we were never poor,” he said. “We never went without anything. We always had what we needed.”

As Paul recalls, the family lived a religious life — 24/seven. Somehow he never felt a burden growing up in a house surrounded by women while his father often sacrificed hours every day to parishioners.

When he advises fans to “Get You a Healing,” for both their bodies and their souls, he prescribes one simple rule with the lyrics “just let your lovin’ show.”

Though Thorn does not ascribe to any single dogma or religious theology; his spiritual message comes through loud and clear nonetheless.

On one of the songs on the album, “Old Stray Dogs & Jesus,” Thorn identifies with one of the lowest denominators in society. The song tells the story about a drug addict who finally seeks help and rehabilitation after his life bottoms out.

“That’s what makes it a positive song. I’m not perfect by any means. I’ve never been a drug addict, but I’ve known a lot of people who have been. I sort of combined stories to make that song,” he said.

“I surely don’t believe that when somebody’s in the clutches of addiction that they can quit by themselves. It’s really rare that they quit by themselves. The test really comes when they surrender and go to rehab. Those are the only ones that I’ve ever seen get better.”

   The song’s lyrics “Why’s everybody judging me when the good book says judge not/old stray dogs and Jesus are all the friends I’ve got/I’ve never felt so lonely, I’ve never felt so blue/my world keeps getting smaller, it’s down to a chosen few” channels the thoughts of someone less fortunate.

“You can surrender to whatever you want to, but I chose Jesus because that’s the culture that I grew up in,” he said.

“I don’t think anybody knows for sure who God is because every culture just kind of provides their own design of what God is and they all believe they have it right. There’s nothing wrong with that. As humans we are really kind of arrogant to think that because it’s a big ‘ol world with a lot of people in it. None of us know too much.”

On stage, Thorn often expresses humility through words that soon sound and feel infectious.

“I pray to a higher power, but I don’t get up and proclaim to know what that higher power is,” he said.

Though he admits that his songwriting has been at times divinely inspired, he has borrowed professional insights from some fairly impressive musical peers.

A turning point in Thorn’s songwriting career followed his first cover performance of the 1981 hit song, “Don’t Let me Down Again,” written by Lindsey Buckingham, for Fleetwood Mack’s Live album. That’s when Thorn discovered the importance of creating “hooks” in songs.

“I like songs that you can hear the first time and remember them. That’s what a hook is – it hooks you and it keeps you singin’ along,” he said.

     “I like to make my hooks be things that are helpful to people – things that can give them a little courage to move forward, like the title track ‘Too Blessed to be Stressed.’ We all need to realize that because if you weigh out your life in the balance, there’s probably more good than bad in it, though sometimes we dwell on the negative.”

He combines country and rhythm and blues in a seemingly new genre that speaks volumes of truth and self-awareness through the song, “I Backslide on Friday.” The “backslider” term represents for Christians someone who practices being good, but who lapses into bad habits for a brief period of time.

“One thing we humans consistently do is procrastinate. Whether it’s a new year’s resolution to quit eatin’ a honey bun late at night, or whether it’s a resolution to quit cheatin’ on your wife, or to quit drinkin’. Whatever we struggle with, we all seem to have a hard time followin’ through with our plans,” he said.

“I think every human does it.”

The song “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” mesmerizes with the familiar and soothing words of promise as they transport the listener visually to a new ethereal place — on the back of a dragonfly.

Thorn also took a long hard look at consumerism and it’s impact on people when he wrote the song “Mediocrity is King.”

Mediocrity is “not good for you, but it’s easy, it doesn’t require much effort and it doesn’t require much expense,” he said.

He said the business world caters to the weakest link in the human population — a community of passive listeners, viewers and readers.

Thorn shares those views with his friend and filmmaker Mike Judge, who wrote and directed the 2005 movie, Idiocracy, staring Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph. Wilson plays the part of a man of average intelligence who after being transported 500 years into the future becomes the smartest human being on Earth.

Judge, of late, has been developing the hit HBO television series, Silicon Valley. Season two premieres April 10.

However, even Thorn admits to liking disco, though he doesn’t write in that genre.

He began writing the song, “This is a Real Goodbye,” after listening to Gloria Gaynor’s song, “I Will Survive.” Gaynor’s double platinum song released in 1978, but has since become an anthem for society’s underdogs.

   “I always liked that song because it’s a song about being strong after a breakup and moving forward after your former relationship, so I wanted to write something that had the same sentiment,” he said.

   “I made up a shuffle song that talks about finding happiness once someone’s gone. A lot of people have poisoned relationships. They may love them, but they’re getting treated like dirt. After a while you need to get enough of that and move on start fresh.”

The song, “What Kind of Roof do you Live Under?” makes listeners think about the relationships they share with the people with whom they choose to live.

“I know married people who are living their house together for one reason and that’s because their kids are still there,” he said.

“Instead of looking at your neighbors and pointin’ at them, we all need to examine our own lives and ask ourselves about the relationships going on inside the dwelling.”

The song, “No Place I’d Rather Be,” focuses on Thorn’s domestic life that he shares with his wife, Heather, and daughters Kit, 21, and Bella, 10.

“I enjoy my work, but nothing can compete with the enjoyment of being home,” he said. “Leaving them is a heavy price that I unfortunately have to pay.”

Meanwhile, bookings through June keep him far from home; recently Thorn entertained fans on the Sandy Beaches Cruise until Jan. 17.

Please see my story posted to the website for The Alternate Root at:

To order Paul Thorn’s music on his official website at:




%d bloggers like this: