Tag Archives: Chris Gage

Christine Albert’s story posts in The Alternate Root Oct. 25, 2014

14 Oct

Christine AlbertChristine Albert’s serene expression masks a life torn by personal violence and loss. Her spiritual calm on stage seems to transcend memories of surviving rape and also being struck down by a drunk driver along a dark stretch of Texas highway.

The original songs on her first solo album in 20 years, Everything’s Beautiful Now, express messages of hope and renewal.

As a result, her Austin audience attending the CD release party at the Strange Brew Sept. 25 felt lifted up and transported to an ethereal space created without walls or religious dogma.

Albert wrote or co-wrote six of the songs on the new album. Like her “Flower of the Moon” song co-written with her husband, Chris Gage, Albert illuminates the darkest moments in life as a time for growth and for transformation.

     “I believe in the holiness of whatever comes my way/and I’ve learned not to resist the urge to pray…”

“Moon flowers blossom at night. I was going through a period where I was not sleeping well. I had a lot of insomnia and I finally connected it with my own delayed post-traumatic stress disorder,” she said in a recent interview.

Though she prefers that listeners find whatever message speaks to them inside her song lyrics, her personal story enhances them.

Albert band and friends

Albert survived a rape by an intruder in her Santa Fe, New Mexico home in the middle of the night in 1981. She moved to Austin less than a year later.

In 1986, she survived being hit by a car along a highway outside San Antonio while the person standing immediately beside her died instantly.

“My truck had broken down along the highway in San Antonio and a couple of really nice 17-year-old kids stopped to help me. They were best friends, two boys. While we were standing there, a drunk driver going 75 miles an hour and swerving from one lane to another swerved right into us,” she said.

“I was thrown across the highway and the person I was talking to was killed instantly. The other young man was injured, but survived.”

Today Albert forms the other half of a personal and professional musical partnership known as Albert & Gage that in 2009 released the album, Dakota Lullaby, with songs written 35 years ago by South Dakota singer/songwriter Tom Peterson. The 61-year-old Peterson is writing again and Albert included two new songs, “On That Beautiful Day,” and “My Heart’s Prayer,” for her current album.

Her new CD release represents a musical communion with Albert’s, Gage’s and Peterson’s creative muses along with a couple of famous friends and her son, Troupe Gammage.

Gammage joins his mom to sing on the Shake Russell and Dana Cooper song, “Lean My Way,” in a harmonious mother and son duet best explained by common DNA.

Troupe, a keyboardist and singer/songwriter in his own right as a member of the band, SPEAK, will open shows on tour for the popular Indie band, RAC, over the next several weeks and he will also be part of the RAC show as their featured vocalist. He is the son of Ernie Gammage, Albert’s first husband and also a local singer and musician who formerly fronted the band Ernie Sky and the K-Tels.

Her son also sings background vocals on Albert’s version of the Jackson Browne song, “For A Dancer,” along with other SPEAK band members, Nick Hurt and Joey Delahoussaye.

Both songs imbibe a spirit of wisdom shared from one person to another. However, all the songs on the album feel purposefully chosen by Albert.

Local legendary singers and songwriters Jerry Jeff Walker and Eliza Gilkyson joined Albert on “Old New Mexico,” a song she co-wrote with Walker that tells the story of her move from Santa Fe to Austin in 1982. Gilkyson adds her voice to the track appropriately as the two became close friends more than 40 years ago in New Mexico and moved to Austin about the same time.

At 59 years old, Albert has found her spiritual voice. The album’s theme also remarkably exemplifies a mission statement for the nonprofit organization she founded, Swan Songs. The group fulfills musical last wishes for individuals at the end of life.

Albert also chairs the Board of Trustees for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) that recognizes musicians for excellence at the famous GRAMMY awards annually. The Recording Academy, headquartered in Santa Monica, California since 1957, has 12 chapters located all over the country including Texas.

The Recording Academy pays Albert’s expenses for traveling back and forth to L.A. but the job is a volunteer position and demands sacrifice from her since it takes away time spent performing and shared with her husband and son. Her two-year term of office ends next May.

The year 2005 represents a hallmark year for Albert. That’s the year she reinvented herself both by founding Swan Song and by running for a position on the Recording Academy’s Texas Chapter board, which ultimately led to her national leadership position.

Those two decisions followed a traumatic year in 2004 when Gage underwent back surgery and could not work for a while. She and Gage together also own MoonHouse Studio in South Austin and much of their work is interrelated. While her husband recovered from surgery, Albert carried the financial burden as neither of them owned disability insurance.

The Austin community rallied to create a benefit; MusiCares also helped the couple during the first month of Gage’s recovery from back surgery.

“That experience changed me. I was so moved by what our community and MusiCares did for us and I wanted to give back and make sure that support continued for other musicians,” she said.

Albert and close friend Gaea Logan had informally begun organizing concerts for terminally ill patients in the early 1990s. By 2005 Albert was inspired to formalize the program. She chose the name, filed the paperwork, and it became an official 501c3. Today Swan Songs offers each musician an honorarium to perform private concerts to fulfill the wishes of a recipient. In this way, the organization supports the music community as well as the patients and their families.

Either one of her non-paying roles could suffice as a full-time job.

“I never get up in the morning and say ‘I wonder what I should do today.’ I always have long lists of things that I can’t put off,” she said.

“When they’ve been put on the back burner long enough and finally make it to the front, I say ‘Today’s the day for this.’”

Albert wrote the lyrics for the title track off the album, “Everything’s Beautiful Now,” after caring for Gage’s mom, Darleen Gage, during her final stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The couple moved Darleen from her home in South Dakota to a facility in Buda in 2010. Then at age 87 she died in June of 2012.

Albert first heard the lyrics for her song, “Everything’s Beautiful Now,” in some of the last words Darleen spoke before she slowly slipped away.

“She said ‘I’m ready but I don’t think I can say anymore goodbyes.’ I think that was the thing that was holding her back. Then she said ‘I’ve had to say goodbye to so many people in my life, I just don’t know if I can face saying the goodbye part,’” Albert said. “I was really struck by that.”

The song’s lyrics represent a combination of both Albert’s and her mother-in-law’s perceptions and life and death and grieving.

Albert has said goodbye to several people in her life over the past five years including her dear friend and fellow musician, the late Sarah Elizabeth Campbell. The two performed together every Monday known as “Mystery Mondays” at El Mercado South in Austin for a year before Campbell’s death in December of 2013.

The song’s lyrics represent a combination of both Albert’s and her mother-in-law’s perceptions about life and death and grieving.

“When we started “Mystery Mondays” we didn’t know Sarah was going to be so sick and that we were going to lose her. Then we didn’t know about Steven Fromholz, Larry Monroe, and countless other friends we lost. Every time we went to that gig, we were mourning someone else from the Austin music community,” she said.

“It became a lot more than just a gig; it became a gathering place for our community to be together and to express musically what we were going through. It still is. In the last few weeks we’ve lost even more good friends.”

At weekly shows at El Mercado South, fans seem deeply connected to the musicians on stage, as the room remains uncommonly silent throughout the performances.

Before 2013 Campbell also sang Monday nights at Artz Rib House and before that at La Zona Rosa. Some of Austin’s finest musical citizens including Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Marcia Ball and Toni Price have graced the El Mercado South stage in recent years, reminiscent of the days they performed Wednesdays at Threadgill’s North from the 1970s through the 1990s.

When musicians gather for “Mystery Monday” at El Mercado South, their kinship extends beyond each singular performance. Unscripted and unpretentious, band members baptize listeners in a wash of emotions.

Another tune on her album, Warren Zevon’s song, “Keep Me in Your Heart,” provides a sad goodbye. She never had the chance to meet Zevon before the rock singer/songwriter died in 2003, but she fell in love with his lyrics.

Albert discovered Zevon’s song through their mutual friend and a vocalist with the Greezy Wheels band, Lissa Hattersley, who posted the lyrics on her Facebook page in a gesture of condolence following the death of Albert’s father.

Hattersley also recorded her 2009 solo album How I Spent My Summer Vacation in Albert and Gage’s recording studio and Chris co-produced it.

Another song, “Little One,” Albert wrote about a female friend before the lyrics slowly evolved into a dialogue with her son, Troupe, and later a mantra she had often spoken to herself.

“’Little One’ refers to anyone who is in an embryonic stage of waking up to the world, especially a spiritual world; anyone who needs to find their direction, their strength, and their clarity again,” Albert said.

   “Wake up Little One/feel the warmth of the rising sun/wake up Little One to the one who you can become…”

Albert said she practices Buddhist mindfulness and meditation techniques, but she does not ascribe to any specific religion.

Meditative practices led her to the song, “At Times Like These,” which Albert initially wrote in 2009 for her sister Linda who lost both her husband and a grandson within a few months.

Another song, “Someday Isle,” Albert wrote with Kira Small, a former Austin singer and songwriter, who now lives in Nashville and performs studio session work and sings harmony on Martina McBride’s newest album, Everlasting.

“When Kira and I started writing it, we were inspired by the common phrase, ‘Someday I’ll do this,’ and ‘Someday I’ll do that.’ When we realized by saying that, you’re always keeping yourself at a distance from what you want to do or from what your dreams are and there’s an isolation to it,” she said.

“So we used the play on words, ‘Someday Isle.’ It’s that place ‘over there’ when we say ‘I’ll do it — later.’”

Albert experienced some of the darkest times of her life all within a span of five years from 1981 until 1986. In 1995, she met the love of her life, Chris Gage, after seeing him perform with Gilmore on stage at Bass Concert Hall as part of “The Broken Spoke Concert Series,” offered by the University of Texas at Austin’ Performing Arts Center. The couple later married on May 10, 2003.

She recorded her last solo singer/songwriter album Underneath the Lone Texas Sky in 1995 although she continued releasing the bilingual French/English TexaFrance series as well as six Albert and Gage collaborations. Everything’s Beautiful is her 12th release.

“This album had more of a theme for me. When choosing the songs, there was something about it that was almost spiritual – what I was trying to say, why I was recording it, and the process was so personal,” she said.

“I wanted to hold these songs in a little sacred space for myself and to help others find that through the music.”

Albert hopes the album “makes a statement” as a whole and is interested in performing the songs live in churches and other places of worship.

“I think these songs fit in a more contemplative thoughtful environment and they could be helpful to people in that regard,” she said.

“It’s also a way to spread the word about Swan Songs’ mission. I didn’t consciously set out to do that, but this album really does express what Swan Songs’ mission is all about.”

Please see this story posted on The Alternate Root magazine at: http://thealternateroot.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2756:christinea-ebn&catid=208:what-s-trending&Itemid=268

Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Flatlanders to reunite Sept. 20 at The Paramount

12 Sep

    Gilmore1 Hancock,Glasse,Albert,GilmoreCountry singer, songwriter, actor, recording artist and producer Jimmie Dale Gilmore, plans to reunite with the other original band members from Americana roots band, The Flatlanders, including Butch Hancock and Joe Ely.

    The Flatlanders will present a special concert at 8 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Paramount Theater in Austin.

    It’s been nearly 40 years since Gilmore, Hancock and Ely, began jamming with Steve Wesson who played Autoharp and musical saw, Tony Pearson on mandolin and bassist Syl Rice, to become The Flatlanders.

    In 1972 the band made their musical debut at the Kerrville Folk Festival and won the New Folk Singer/Songwriter Competition. That same year, the Armadillo Beer Garden opened in Austin and The Flatlanders performed during its entire first week.

   “There were six of us originally in the Flatlanders, but only three of us continued with musical careers,” Gilmore said.

     In 1974, Hancock and Ely began their solo careers before Gilmore participated in a spiritual group that was learning the art of meditation from Prem Rawat at his headquarters in Denver.

    “I actually first became connected with one of his disciples in Austin. Then I went and lived in New Orleans for a short while before I went to Denver. I went to Denver because there was a large community of people who were studying with him (Rawat) there,” he said.

    “It (Denver) was the place to study and practice meditation with that group. Early in my music career I had studied Eastern Philosophy. I first became interested in it in the ‘60s and from there, that was the spiritual journey that led me to Denver.”

    He left that community in 1980 and returned to Austin. For a long time, he performed often at the Broken Spoke with his band. Success came to Gilmore slowly. He also had a steady gig every Wednesday night at Threadgill’s on South Lamar.

    “That’s where I got to know a lot of Austin musicians,” Gilmore said. “I did it every week and we had different people sit in to play. Just like we did last night; it was a very similar thing. We had a big following. So that’s why this thing at El Mercado is nostalgic.”

    Throughout the 1990s, the original members of The Flatlanders remained the best of friends in Austin, but they seldom performed together.

    Ely enjoyed success in his solo career while Hancock and Gilmore toured together as a duet. Separately, Gilmore and Hancock also headlined their own bands.

     “There’s this intertwining of many people; there’s so much history. I’ve been playing for such a long time and I’ve done a lot of different things,” Gilmore said.

    From January through April of this year, Gilmore teamed up most Monday nights to perform with Christine Albert and David Carroll at El Mercado South in Austin for weekly nostalgic and musical trips down memory lane.

    Newcomers luckily stumbled upon the unofficial Austin venue during the South-by-Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival, (SXSW) March 7-16.

    However, members of the three-piece combo had performed acoustic folk music and familiar ballads every week for a year and a half, billed as “Mystery Monday.” The name stems from their tradition of inviting surprise musical guests to sit in on stage.

    The show during SXSW didn’t disappoint patrons, either new nor regular, while they munched tostada chips dipped in spicy homemade-style salsa, ate their fill of Mexican combination plates, and drank foreign ale fermented south of the border or top shelf margaritas.

    Albert and Carroll regularly perform only two sets on stage every week. Occasionally, guitarist/harmonica player and singer/songwriter Butch Hancock hosts the show with guest appearances that change week-to-week.

   “We had a good thing there every week,” Gilmore said. “It’s been really great – consistently amazing.”

     March 10, the mystery guests included Austin’s acoustic and electric mandolinist/composer Paul Glasse and legendary rockabilly guitarist Bill Kirchen, aka: “the Titan of the Telecaster.” Kirchen served as a member of the musical outlaw group, Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen from 1967 through the 1970s.

     Albert closes her show with a moving rendition of the Southern Gospel song, “I’ll Fly Away,” written in 1929 by Albert E. Brumley.  She sings it as a tribute to friend and former band mate, the late Austin guitarist, singer and songwriter, Sarah Elizabeth Campbell.

    The duo performed it at their final show together last December just before cancer took Campbell’s life.

     Gilmore and his wife, Janet, used to show up regularly at El Mercado South as fans of the Albert and Campbell show. Often Gilmore sat in to play a few tunes with the two who have been his good friends for years.

     In January, Albert asked Gilmore to join her on stage once a week, to keep the show going at El Mercado South. Their combined circle of friends remained otherwise unbroken and has intertwined with multiple members of local bands.

     Albert used to sing in Gilmore’s band in the 1980s with her husband, Chris Gage, and both toured with him. Later, Albert and Gage also produced albums of their own.

    Gilmore has enjoyed at least two musical careers – one as a member of The Flatlanders in the early 1970s and another as a headliner act from the 1990s through the 2000s.

    The Amarillo native grew up in Lubbock and attended Texas Tech University for a short time. Gilmore has known Hancock since they both attended Atkins Junior High and Monterrey High School together in Lubbock.

    In 1964 Gilmore met guitarist and singer/songwriter Joe Ely who also was born in Amarillo and they share musical connections that cemented their life-long bond.

       “Buddy Holly’s father, L.O., financed a demo recording (tape) for me and so I put a band together. The place we hung out and practiced at, was owned by Tommy Nickel and so was band came to be called the ‘T. Nickel House Band.’ We hung out at T. Nickel’s house, so as a joke we called it that. It sounded like a nightclub or something,” Gilmore said. “Some people thought the name was a drug reference, but it wasn’t.”

      That band never did become famous. The T Nickel House Band included: guitarists Gilmore, Ely, John X. Reed, and Jesse “Guitar” Taylor, as well as drummer T.J. McFarland.

     “John X. Reed and I came to Austin together,” Gilmore said. “We didn’t move here, but we visited and played in town. The very first place John and I ever played together in Austin was at Threadgill’s.”

     Gilmore also played in Angela Strehli’s band, Sunnyland Special, in the late 1960s long before her name became associated with Marcia Ball, Lou Ann Barton, Sue Foley and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Strehli’s Sunnyland Special included Gilmore, Lewis Cowdrey, Taylor and McFarland.

     Opening night Aug. 7, 1970, Gilmore performed with his band, The Hub City Movers, at the Armadillo World Headquarters, once located at 525 and 1/2 Barton Springs Road.  His band had been the last house band to perform during that same summer at The Vulcan Gas Company, then located at 316 Congress Avenue.

    “I was involved in folk music, with folk musicians and rock musicians, and also blues musicians and country musicians. I was connected with so many different groups of people,” Gilmore said.

     Ely and Gilmore have stayed connected throughout the years since meeting in Lubbock.

     “We were actually fans of each other; we used to go hear each other play,” Gilmore said. “We met playing at little dives and coffee houses and boot leg joints in Lubbock. Lubbock was dry, so any place that had any kind of night life was usually illegal.”

    In Lubbock, Gilmore and Ely found a group of creative friends who shared similar interests.

     “He’s (Ely) been one of the treasures of my life,” Gilmore said. “There were plenty of other Bohemian, creative people from Lubbock who kind of banded together in that period.”

     Gilmore and his friends shared common interests including philosophy.

     “For me, philosophy and spirituality have always intermingled. That’s always been part of my deep interests. I was never ever what you might call ‘religious.’”

         Fans in the audience at El Mercado South span years of Gilmore’s, Hancock’s and Albert’s careers.

     “There are so many good friends in my background. The really wonderful thing about this ‘Mystery Monday’ gig is I’ve been able to play with a lot of people that I used to play with regularly. It’s a reunion kind of thing – really beautiful.”

     In the break between the band’s two song sets, two of Gilmore’s friends, a San Francisco-based and country folk duo, known as Wildwood, performed. The duo consists of Desiree Wattis, a Virginia coal miner’s granddaughter, and Avery Hellman, the grand-daughter of the late Warren Hellman, founder of the famous Hardly Strictly Blue Grass Festival of San Francisco — a festival that drew 650,000 people last year.

    “Warren Hellman and I actually made a record together, but that’s a whole and completely different story in itself,” Gilmore said. “It was a totally unexpected thing that happened. We had become personal friends ten years ago in the course of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. We shared a love of bluegrass and old-time music.”

    Gilmore joined Hellman’s seven-piece old-time music group that called themselves The Wronglers and recorded a 2011 album, “Heirloom Music.” They toured one season all over the country, fulfilling one of Hellman’s life-long dreams during the last year of his life.

    As part of the show March 10, Gilmore performed one of the songs that The Wronglers used to play, a country standard made famous by the Carter Family, “I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes.”

    Heidi Clare, the original vocalist/fiddle player for the Wrongler’s. She acted as tour manager for Wildwood all during SXSW and at El Mercado South that Monday night during the girls’ performance.

    “I’ve become acquainted with the whole (Hellman) family and we had done a couple of songs together at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festivals, so that’s how I invited them to the show that night,” Gilmore said.

    Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel also scheduled the Wildwood girls to open their show at the Rattle Inn March 11.

    For three months ever Monday night, several threads of Gilmore’s past often came together at El Mercado South to connect him to multiple people all in one place at the same time.

   Glasse performed on the first album Gilmore ever recorded as a solo artist, “Fair and Square,” released in 1988. A number of local musicians performed on that album produced by Ely and released by High Tone Records. Gilmore enjoyed success with the album’s hit single, “White Freight Liner Blues.”

   Gage toured with Gilmore nationwide beginning in 1993 and continuing throughout the mid-1990s.

   In 1991 Gilmore released “After Awhile” on Nonesuch Records, produced by Stephen Bruton, who had played guitar with Kris Kristofferson and then Bonnie Raitt. Kristofferson recently released Bruton’s “The Road To Austin,” 73-minute documentary, that screened during the SXSW Film Festival March 10. Bruton died in 2009. Gilmore does not appear in Bruton’s documentary because the late musician and filmmaker scheduled filming the same day that Gilmore attended his son Colin’s wedding.

      Emory Gordy, Elvis’ former bass player produced Gilmore’s hit solo album, Spinning Around the Sun, in 1993.  Three years later, Gilmore recorded Braver Newer World, released on the Elektra label and produced by legendary Grammy winner, T Bone Burnett. Gilmore has been nominated three times for Grammys, but has never won.

   “During that time, I got lots and lots of publicity,” Gilmore said. “I also did lots of touring. That was the time in my career that I was the most visible.”

      In 2000, Gilmore released One Endless Night on the Rounder Records label and returned to High Tone Records to release Don’t Look for a Heartache in 2004. He released Come On Back on Rounder Records in 2005.

     Gilmore also appeared as a bit actor in films: The Thing Called Love in 1993 and The Big Lebowski in 1996. He has also appeared on late night television shows hosted by Jay Leno and David Letterman as well as Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.  His song “Brave New World” graces the film soundtrack for 1995’s Kicking and Screaming.

    He enjoyed his regular weekly gig at El Mercado South that ended in April. Now occasionally he will sit in with the band on stage as part of “Mystery Mondays.”

     “It’s different every week. We do a lot of the same songs every week, because they’re the songs that we know, but the sound is different because we have different instrumentation,” Gilmore said. “David (Carroll) contacts the people to play with us and he has a lot of friends and really good taste.”

     Along with their son, Colin, Gilmore and his wife Janet, have two daughters, Elyse Yates and Amanda Garber.  Her husband, Scott Garber, sometimes plays bass with Gilmore. The Gilmores also have several grandchildren who he refers to as “the most important part of our lives.”

     “I’ve enjoyed two basically different personas – one under my name and one under The Flatlanders, but I’ve done a lot of different things with both of those,” Gilmore said.

     “I never have really thought much of career and that kind of stuff. I just do what I like for however long it lasts.”

http://www.theflatlanders.com

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