Tag Archives: drummer Lisa Pankratz

My interview with Cindy Cashdollar posted to Elmore

25 Mar

BESTCindy Cashdollar    Texas Guitar Women toasted some teary goodbyes Feb. 19 while regaling joyous stories of the good old days at the One2One Bar in Austin with five-time Grammy award winner and resonator and steel guitar player Cindy Cashdollar.

Cashdollar’s Austin friends officially gave her the boot — albeit a gold-colored and bejeweled one — as they celebrated on stage in front of a standing-room audience at the first of two such parties scheduled for her through March.

The send off party sold out days in advance as news spread that Cashdollar plans to leave town soon for her hometown of Woodstock, NY.

The Texas Guitar Women members included: bass player Sarah Brown, guitarist and singer/songwriter Shelley King, and drummer Lisa Pankratz, and guitarist/singer Carolyn Wonderland. Special guests included pianist and singer Marcia Ball and guitarist and singer Rosie Flores, who joined up halfway through the show.

Those who missed this party have a second chance when Johnny Nicholas & Hell Bent hold another send off for Cashdollar March 25 at Saxon Pub where Cashdollar has been performing most Wednesday nights with him and his band.

As one of the most famous female resonator and steel guitar players of all time, Cashdollar traverses the genres of blues, bluegrass, Cajun, country, folk, jazz, rock, roots, soul and Western Swing music.

Cashdollar has contributed to dozens of album recordings, three movie sound tracks, four instructional DVDs, and has performed on stage with some of the biggest names in the industry throughout a professional music career that spans nearly 30 years.

In an exclusive interview with Elmore magazine, Cashdollar said she soon plans to record a second album as a follow up to her debut CD, Slide Show.

Guests who performed on Slide Show read like a who’s who list of Americana and roots musicians including: Sonny Landreth, Marcia Ball, Lucky Oceans, Mike Auldridge, Redd Volkaert, Herb Remington, Jorma Kaukonen, and Steve James.

She plans to return to Austin as frequently as she can, she said.

   “There’s no way that I could ever leave Austin and not come back,” Cashdollar said. “There’s too many good things to just shut the door and go.”

She will return to her hometown of Woodstock, NY after living in Austin 23-years to live closer to her family and her significant other, Harvey Citron, of Citron Guitars.

“I’m still going to be working, that’s for sure. When you’re a musician – most musicians any way – you have to keep working. It’s funny because everybody thinks I’m retiring, but no, not at all,” she said.

While in her late 30s, Austin became her home base in 1992, after Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel hired her to go on the road. She spent eight and a half years with ASAW before leaving the band in 2000.

Since then she has performed and or recorded with Ryan Adams, Dave Alvin, Marcia Ball, Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard, Van Morrison, Jorma Kaukonen, Daniel Lanois, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Leon Redbone, Peter Rowan, BeauSolieil, Rod Stewart, and Redd Volkaert to name a few.

Cashdollar became the first woman inducted into the Texas Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 2011 and she also was inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame in 2012.

   “Austin is this incredible pool of so many talented singers, songwriters, musicians and so many great artists in one place. It’s just unbelievable,” she said.

“I’ve had such an amazing time here. I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to work with people in Austin and with people outside of Austin. I just feel lucky to have had the best of both worlds.”

After she settles into her Woodstock digs she will hit the road this summer to tour with British guitar player and Grammy award winner Albert Lee and his band.

Cashdollar is her real name. She has been told that the name originated with the Mohawk tribe and Dutch who settled in Upstate New York.

Her fellow musicians on stage often claim that Cashdollar hits perfect notes consistently and that she often tailors her sound to “follow” fellow band mates instinctively to fit her music into the genre being performed.

“Steel guitar is fretless – it’s a very unforgiving instrument. I mean you’re playing all of these guitars with a slide bar so there’s not very much room for error. You’ve got to be in tune,” she said.

   “I really try to listen to a lot of components that are going on. I try to listen to the lyrics, I try to listen to other musicians that I’m playing with and I try to figure out just where can I best fit where I’m adding something instead of overcrowding something that’s going on. That’s the way my brain, or my ears always work.”

Cashdollar also brings several guitars with her to play wherever she performs or records. She possesses an uncanny ability to change guitars often on stage, a feat that boggles the minds of most musicians, as not all guitars are created equally.

“The steel guitar I play has two different necks and two different tunings and eight strings,” she said.

“To me that’s fun. I always like a challenge. The more versatile, the better for me. It’s like cooking. I always compare music to cooking. You can’t really over spice anything unless it’s really called for. I always think of musicianship as being like the spices in a recipe. You want to enhance the recipe or dish. You don’t want to overload it.”

Her career expanded over the last 17 years while contributing to three movie soundtracks including: the Horse Whisperer, in 1998; Elf, in 2003; and This is 40 in 2012.

   She also has made guest appearances with the Guy’s All Star Shoe Band on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion radio series that broadcasts every Saturday. The show airs from 5 to 7 p.m. Central Texas time on National Public Radio (NPR,) and also on Sirius XM satellite radio live from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN. Cashdollar admits that the performances kept even her on her toes.

“Being that it’s live radio, things happen at the last minute and you just kind of have to be ready,” she said.

Cashdollar has created four instructional DVDs for Homespun Tapes and she teaches workshops at Fur Peace Ranch in Pomeroy, OH. ResoSummit in Nashville, TN.

Teaching has become an important component of her career, she said.

  “To me to be able to teach and to give people something to take with them is really rewarding,” she said.

“Touring, there generally are a few people at every show that come out and tell me ‘I learned how to play from your instructional DVDs and it is such a wonderful feeling.”

As a teenager, Cashdollar visited a multitude of popular club in Woodstock. She recalls often seeing Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Robbie Robertson in the roots rock group The Band; blues singer and harmonica player Paul Butterfield; Northern Irish musician and singer George Ivan “Van” Morrison; guitarist/auto harpist and front man for Lovin’ Spoonful, John Sebastian; blues singer/songwriter Bonnie Raitt, blues songwriter and record producer William James “Willie” Dixon, and father of Chicago blues musician McKinley “Muddy Waters” Morganfield.

“There was this club there called The Joyous Lake in Woodstock where I saw most of the acts when I was probably 15 or 16 years old,” she said. “Nobody worried about ‘carding’ anyone (for legal identification.) I saw all these great players. I think that’s what really where I got my various interests in all kinds of music.”

While in her late 20s, Cashdollar played locally in various Woodstock bands, before landing her first touring gig on a Dobro with one of New York state’s bluegrass band led by singer, songwriter and guitar player John Herald.

She toured with Herald for five years. Throughout the 1960s, Herald wrote songs performed by legendary folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, Maria Muldaur and Linda Ronstadt. He died in 2005 at age 65.

Then for five years she toured with blues and jazz artist Leon Redbone.

Cashdollar said she feels obligated to pay forward the favors that she received growing up in the idyllic and magical Catskill Mountains surrounded by musicians during an era when music gave life to every moment.

“It was a beautiful place to grow up. I feel really happy to have grown up there,” she said. “It was a very creative place to be. When I was growing up there was a lot of music, a lot of bands moving there and a lot of artists. That was my college – that was my education.”

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Hell Bent promise special surprise guests for Cashdollar’s final send off at the Saxon Pub at the end of March.

 

Please see my story posted to Elmore magazine’s website by following this link: http://www.elmoremagazine.com/2015/03/features/cindy-cashdollar-bids-austin-farewell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My review of Texas Guitar Women posts to Elmore magazine

11 Mar

Elmore Magazine | Texas Guitar WomenIt felt like a hen party with chick pickers at Austin’s One2One Bar Feb. 19 as friends of five-time Grammy award winning steel guitar player Cindy Cashdollar sent her off in style to her hometown of Woodstock, NY. Grand dames Marcia Ball and Rosie Flores formed a sisterhood for one night with the Texas Guitar Women, including Cashdollar, Shelley King, Carolyn Wonderland, Sarah Brown, and Lisa Pankratz.

Fans crowded the length of the bar’s platform stage inside the strip shopping center with little wing room to hear the girls’ stories, songs and tequila toasts.

Flores, eternally youthful with a shock of black hair, stole the show with her playful romp, “Run Chicken Run.”

Ball rocked the house as she wailed out her repertoire of original songs and played keyboards with a Jerry Lee Lewis-like frenzy.

Guitar goddess, Wonderland, sang a series of Janis Joplin-like bluesy rock ballads while fanning her flaming long auburn red hair.

King grooved out on the title track from her Building a Fire CD, released last August on the Lemonade Records label.

Brown also delighted fans with a vocal performance reminiscent of her 1996 Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’ solo CD as she completed the rhythm section with Pankratz on drums.

Please follow this link to see my review posted on Elmore magazine’s website: http://www.elmoremagazine.com/2015/03/reviews/shows/texas-guitar-women

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Hand’s ‘Stormclouds in Heaven’ posts to The Alternate Root magazine Oct. 28

28 Oct

Nearly 11 years ago when country/bluegrass singer and songwriter James Hand first sang on stage at the Broken Spoke he launched his music career.

So performing there Sept. 26 felt a bit like a homecoming for the 61-year-old Waco native who promoted his sixth album, Stormclouds in Heaven.

   Hand wrote all the gospel-inspired songs on the 14-track CD released to the public Oct. 14 with a party at Waterloo Records in Austin.

With songs like “Why Oh Why,” “Devil Ain’t No Quitter,” and “No One Ever Dies,” Hand explores ethereal territory as a songwriter who reflects on a hard-won life.

Ameripolitan James Hand 2

Hand’s Austin friends who performed on the album include: Cindy Cashdollar on steel/dobro; keyboardists Floyd Domino and Earl Poole Ball; fiddlers Jason Roberts and Beth Chrisman; with Kevin Smith on stand up bass and bassist Speedy Sparks on the electric; drummers John McGlothlin and Lisa Pankratz; Brennen Leigh on mandolin; and Jerry Mac Cook on lead guitar.

At the Broken Spoke Hand sang “Mighty Lonesome Man,” the title track off his last album released in 2012 and nominated just this month in the country genre for The Independent Music Award.

He first visited the Broken Spoke when he was just 18 years old, but Hand did not perform there until one night in 2003. That night he sat in on stage with Alvin Crow and began his professional career at 52 years old.

Today he remains close friends with Broken Spoke founders James and Annetta White, though Hand has made a name for himself in country music.

“It’s the premiere spot in Austin and I’d had a little success around home, so these people asked me if I wanted to get up and sing. At first I said ‘No,’ because Alvin Crow was playing. I thought ‘man, I can’t get up there with Alvin, because you just don’t do that.’ To this day I can’t believe Alvin did it. Somebody must have twisted his arm or something. The first thing he said to me was ‘Don’t sing somethin’ that everybody don’t know.’”

Hand sang “Fraulien,” a 1957 single by Bobby Helms, also recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis in 1969.

“I started singin’ when I was about 11 or 12. Some of the songs I don’t even remember learnin’ but I did. Then I started writin’ some. It just kind of went from there. But, if it hadn’t been for James and Annetta, the only people who would have heard me was friends,” he said. “It was a great honor. Mr. White just took a chance on me.”

Hand grew up in Waco listening mostly to the classics of country music. Some fans today compare Hand’s voice to the late great Hank Williams.

He returned to the Broken Spoke a little bit later that same year and Dale Watson invited him up on stage to sing, Hand said.

“Then Mr. White asked me if I’d like to play there, I said ‘Of course.’ It just dumb-founded me. There’s no kinder, no more gracious man,” he said.

Spoke James Hand1

Hand also held his 2006 CD release party for The Truth Will Set You Free, as well as his 2009 CD release party for Shadow on the Ground at the Broken Spoke. Asleep at the Wheel bandleader and vocalist Ray Benson and steel player Lloyd Maines co-produced the albums released by Rounder Records featuring 12 of Hand’s original songs.

“Mr. White was very gracious. He opened up early for us, let us set up all the stuff, and he even let us film a music video in there,” Hand said.

“I think the only thing he hasn’t done for me is just to pitch the key to me when he when walks out the door. What he’s done for me he’s done for everybody who plays the Broken Spoke. He’s the most honorable man.”

Hand said Mr. White has never met a stranger. He treats everyone like a celebrity, whether it’s Gov. Rick Perry or any number of famous country entertainers who visit or who perform at the Broken Spoke.

“Mr. and Mrs. White are good friends, truly good friends of mine. Most people who have heard of me, heard me at the Broken Spoke. It was a big honor. Mr. White just took a chance on me, he really did,” he said.

White and Hand also share a love of horses. As a young man, Hand had trained horses.

“One time White called the house and talked to Daddy. He asked ‘Where’s Slim?’ Then Daddy said ‘He’s down at the barn.’ So Mr. White asked: ‘What’s the number down at the barn?’ Daddy said: ‘We ain’t got no number down at the barn.’ Daddy hollered out the door to me and then he said to Mr. White: ‘that’s the number.’”

When Hand had the chance to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, White offered to loan him his father’s vintage Nudie suit. Today that same suit sits inside a glass case on display in the dining room of the Broken Spoke.

“He was going to let me take it. He said ‘I don’t care what that thing’s worth. Wear it.’ As it turned out, we didn’t go, but that showed me something about his character,” Hand said.

“When they offered me that suit to wear, I felt like that really elevated me to a special spot.”

Hand finally performed at the Grand Ole Opry, but he did not have a chance to ask White about his offer to loan the Nudie suit again.

Still, Hand feels indebted to White for all he’s done for him over the years.

“He’s invited me to his house on his birthday. I told him once, ‘Mr. White if you need your car washed at 2:30 in the morning, just call me, and I would,” Hand said.

“I still think my claim to fame in Austin is Mrs. White will kiss me on the cheek.”

When Hand performs at the Broken Spoke, he fills the place to capacity. White gets up on stage to sing a couple of Gene Autry songs with Hand and to deliver his world famous Broken Spoke speech.

“He’s a showman. When Mr. White has someone roll that wheel across the floor, it’s his show. It’s his show and rightfully so,” Hand said.

Now that Hand has performed around the country at other venues, he has never forgotten where his career began.

Hand has given White a few of his own favorite records to play on the vintage jukebox at the Broken Spoke including one by William Orville “Lefty” Frizzell and another by Hank Snow.

“I gave him those records because I was always late,” Hand said. “Or I was late sometimes.”

Hand has not performed at the Broken Spoke since 2013.

“Then I started going to other places and festivals and things like that,” Hand said.

“Mr. White has had certain people who play on Friday and Saturday nights who have been with him forever. It’s like somebody trying to steal Rip Van Winkle’s pillow. It’s been there so long, you can’t mess with it, you know? But if he asked me right now to be there tomorrow morning to mow the grass, I would and I don’t say that about everybody.”

Hand said that White helped him out of some tough spots in the early days of his career.

“There were a couple of times that I didn’t have enough money to really pay the band. Mr. White just put it in my hand. You can’t beat that,” Hand said.

Hand said people began to hear his music thanks to performances at the Broken Spoke. He treasures his memories of playing there over the last 10 years.

“Whenever you look up to the front and see Mr. White in that red shirt with that yellow tie and a couple hundred people dancin’ that’s just about the pinnacle. Everybody having a good time, you know. No trouble. Really, anybody who hasn’t worked there should be there very adamant about trying to work there,” Hand said. “If nothin’ else, just walk through there to say hello.”

Hand respects the fact that the Broken Spoke has survived nearly 50 years in Austin and the encroachment of other businesses along South Lamar.

“When you see what’s happened now, it tells you somethin’ about what people think about him, about his manner. The fact that the Broken Spoke is like an island surrounded (on South Lamar) should tell you somethin’ about Mr. White’s manner, his integrity. I can’t think of another place around it that would still be standing. It’s only because of his magnitude with people.”

Hand always knew he always wanted to sing, but he never dreamed of becoming a country star.

“I never dreamed of becoming whatever a star is. I never think much of that. I think everyone is pretty much equal. It don’t matter who you are, or if you’re out there trying to make a living in the country music business. That’s all it is. Some people are more accessible than others. That’s a fact of life. I’m grateful for it and I’m glad that I got the chance to do what I got to do,” he said.

“The difference is, I’m 61 now and I didn’t get started until I was about 54. So I’m about the same as I’ve always been.”

Hand said he doesn’t feel that he reinvented himself in his 50’s.

“I don’t know about that. It would kind of be like Dr. Frankenstein drunk trying to put someone back together,” he said. “Though, I guess it’s going well.”

He said years ago when the Whites sponsored Blue Christmas at the Broken Spoke and Hand played Santa Claus, he handed out donated toys to needy children. Hand slept in his van out front of the Broken Spoke all night long just so that he wouldn’t miss getting up on time the next morning.

“I’ve been up a lot of mornings, but I haven’t got up. I knew that if I wasn’t already there, I knew that if I went somewhere else I wouldn’t make it up,” Hand said. “I was glad to do it. It was an honor to do it for the kids and for Mr. and Mrs. White.”

At the first Ameripolitan Music Awards held in Austin last fall, Hand was nominated for the “Best Honky Tonk Male” award.

The Broken Spoke won the award for the “Best Venue” in the United States. The awards show sponsored by Dale Watson, recognized genres of roots music including: honky tonk, rockabilly, outlaw, and Western Swing.

“I was just thrilled that the Broken Spoke won Best Venue,” Hand said.

He said that the Broken Spoke remains one of the best places in the world that supports live country music.

To paraphrase a James White analogy, Hand compared the Broken Spoke to America’s favorite sandwich.

“The reason I think it’s so important to keep the Broken Spoke alive, is because it’s like a hamburger. A hamburger has got lettuce, tomato, pickles, and a hamburger patty and mayonnaise and mustard. The more you try to frill it up, or put somethin’ on it, or add this or take somethin’ away, it destroys the integrity of it,” Hand said.

At the same time, the Broken Spoke remains a one-of-a-kind place, Hand said. It draws people from all walks of life and creates a single-minded focus group intent on enjoying the Texas dance hall tradition.

“The thing about couples dancin’, you don’t see that hardly anywhere. Because first of all, people know when they go in there that’s what it is. They dress nice and they talk nice and they act nice. They’re respectable. There are places that you don’t hardly get to see that much. You do but they are few and far between,” he said.

“The gist of is, people want to be part of something good. That’s what they want to do. They want to go where they’re happy and to be around happy people. If it wasn’t that way, it (the Broken Spoke) wouldn’t be there. That’s all there is to it.”

The dancers dance so close to the stage at times that they say “hi” to the musicians, he said.

“Any musician will tell you. If they’re dancin’ they’re listening. That’s what you’re there for, to give people something to dance to and to have a good time and not play some kind of crazy songs that there is no way for anybody to keep a step to.”

Hand doesn’t dance, but he does enjoy watching people who do. Actually, he has tried to learn how to dance – once.

“People who dance there really know how,” Hand said. “I can’t dance at all. Not a lick. I tried to get Annetta’s daughter, Terri, to show me how. She took about two steps with me and she said ‘That’s it. Impossible.’ I told her the reason I slipped around on the floor so much is that I had linoleum on the bottom of my boots to keep ‘em slidin’ like that,” Hand said.

“Terri’s a good teacher. She recognized that I couldn’t do it pretty quick. It’s just like trainin’ a horse; some can, some of ‘em can’t.”

Country music at the Broken Spoke remains the common denominator. Broken Spoke musicians who perform there understand that concept.

“Mr. White isn’t going to let anyone in there to play who doesn’t play mainstream country, sort to speak. I’ve never seen anybody play in there who didn’t play country music. I’ve never seen Mr. White not give somebody a chance – maybe in the front room, maybe in the side room or whatever, but he always gives everybody the chance,” he said.

“You don’t get that very often. You don’t, especially around here. There are so many people singin’ and playin’ as it is.”

The food at the Broken Spoke tastes like comfort food for country folks, he said. His favorite thing on the menu is the chicken fried steak.

“They have the world’s best chicken fried steak. It’s been in Texas Monthly everywhere that you can read about it. I’m sure Mr. White has got a secret recipe that he won’t give out,” he said.

“It’s big and it’s good and it’s not flavored up. I don’t eat much before I sing because I get full, but I’d make sure to eat fair amount of it before I left, for sure.”

There isn’t much that White could ask of Hand that he wouldn’t do for his friend, he said.

“If Mr. White called and asked me to stand outside selling popcorn with a red apron on, with a pair of cymbals on my knees, jumpin’ up and down, that’s what I’m gonna do,” Hand said.

“Not ‘cause I’m tryin’ to impress somebody, but because that’s just the kind of friend that he is. Like I said, when I didn’t have any money to pay the band, he did. He wanted to give me his Nudie suit to wear to the Grand Ole Opry; Mr. White has been kind to me the whole time, just wonderful.”

Hand said that the Broken Spoke feels like home; performing there always feels like a homecoming.

“The hardest thing for me to do when I quit playin’ at the Broken Spoke is to quit tappin’ my foot. That’s what I like about it, everything — The Tourist Trap and everything. You don’t know how that makes me feel when I go in there and I see a picture of me with Mr. White,” he said.

“And of course I need to go by there to see that picture of Roy Rogers,” he said.

Hand said life is good these days. It’s been two years since he released his critically acclaimed album, Mighty Lonesome Man. Since then, Hand has been in high demand at venues that cater to country music fans.

“Life is good enough that I don’t want it over. It’s good enough that I’m thinkin’ I’ve got better things in front of me than behind me,” he said. “It’s like this, it’s my honor and my privilege to be here with y’all. I’m not trying to be somethin’ I’m not. It means more to me that I’m here with y’all, more than you know,” he said.

Please see the posting at The Alternate Root by following this link: http://www.thealternateroot.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2762:jamesh-sih&catid=198:heavy-rotation&Itemid=253

 

 

Shelley King’s interview appears in The Alternate Root magazine online

27 Aug

ShelleyKing

When Shelley King sings, her large almond-shaped eyes seem to look directly at members of her audience, delivering words that feel personal. She creates a spiritual-like connection that speaks volumes about the ways in which people live, love and relate to their environments.

Drawing on her rural Arkansas gospel, Americana and blues roots, King writes deeply felt song lyrics about relationships and personal experiences.

King’s new album, Building A Fire, recorded in Fort Collins, CO, Austin, TX and Muscle Shoals, AL, releases to stores on August 26. A blend of Texas and Louisiana musicians perform on the album with her.

The band that originated in New Orleans’, the Subdudes, returns to accompany her once again, following the success of their last collaboration in 2009, on King’s Welcome Home album.

Growing up in rural Arkansas, King began her musical education while singing in a little one-room church in Caddo Gap. After her parents divorced, King lived with her grandmother and attended church regularly.

“I joined the church and got baptized, full immersion, in the river. It was all real country, old rural,” she said.

“I was about 12 or 13 at the time and the church was a peaceful place. It was a place where I could sing and explore and develop my talent. It was where my friends were. We weren’t old enough to drive and there was no social scene in Caddo Gap. If you wanted to see your friends outside of school, you went to church. It was a good reason to get out of the house.”

King and her mother moved many times between Texas and Arkansas before King became a teenager. Stability wasn’t something they knew.

SK_Building_A_Fire_Cover

“We moved around a bunch. She had several relationship breakups. It was pretty rocky,” she said.

King’s singing career not only changed her life, but it brought her parents back together again. Twelve years ago, her parents met up again at one of King’s gigs. She and her mother had remained close for years, but at the time, King’s father had only recently re-entered her life.

“He had been coming into my life more and more. Often he would show up at my shows in different places around the country. Finally, he told me one time ‘I’m going to come to one of your shows in Austin tonight.’ I just said ‘Ok.’ He didn’t live here at the time and I forgot my mother was going to be there,” King said.

“I decided not to tell her or she might not come. So he was here and she was here and I literally re-introduced them to each other. They started dating again and now they’re married again. They’ve been married for about eight years.”

After graduating high school in 1984, as one in a class of 38 students, King felt she had to leave home.

“As much as I loved Arkansas, because I grew up there, I really felt stifled. There was no opportunity for anything. All my friends were just graduating high school and having babies,” she said.

“I wanted to go somewhere and do something. I couldn’t see staying there. I knew I was going to have to go to college to get out of town; that was my big excuse. I wanted to go as far away as I could afford.”

She attended Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas and studied English and speech communications as part of a pre-law curriculum. She worked to pay for her tuition and books. After college she moved to Houston and took a job in outside sales while she began her music career.

“This is all I ever really wanted to do. I realized I didn’t want to be a lawyer. I didn’t care about that stuff, so I started thinking about more about my music,” she said.

While singing and playing music with different bands, King worked a day job as an outside sales person to pay her bills. Someone told her that she should move to Austin, so she packed up her bags and arrived here early in 1992.

“It just all started for me here. Although I had been singing my whole life and I had been writing songs and I had been playing in a band for a couple of years, I didn’t have a clue until I moved to Austin,” she said.

“When I got here I met all these great singer/songwriters and performers and musicians.”

King’s first night in town, she met Marcia Ball, who to this day remains a good friend and collaborator. At the time, Ball owned La Zona Rosa at 612 W. 4th Street. The intimate bar featured blues and jazz performances by local and touring musicians for several years before closing in 2012.

“One night, at Sarah Elizabeth Campbell’s weekly show at La Zona Rosa, I met everyone. Marcia Ball, Jimmie Dale Gilmore was there, Jimmy LaFave was there, David Rodriguez — Carrie Rodriguez’s dad, was there. Sharon Ely was there – I don’t think Joe was there, but Sharon was there. It was really a ‘who’s who of cool’ Austin, you know?” she said.

“I had no idea. A friend of mine had said ‘Hey, you should come out to this show with me tonight’ and I ended up sitting at a table with all these Austin icons. I was blown away. I thought ‘Oh my gosh; I found it, I found it.’”

King said it took a while for her to settle down in Austin.

“It took a while for me to get it together. I started playing little gigs around town. I was still developing my style, so I was playing some rock, jam band kind of thing. I was playing gigs on Sixth Street like the Black Cat Lounge and Steamboat,” she said. “Both of which are gone now.”

“I played the Austin Outhouse up on 38th (Street.) It was a different kind of thing that I was doing then, but I got really frustrated with the whole band thing and trying to keep a band together. When one person would quit and I’d feel like we needed to change our band name and write all new songs. It was just getting weird,” she said.

Tired of the drama often associated with playing in a band and their power struggles, King decided to focus on her songwriting.

“So I just took time off away from gigs and just tried to write songs. I wrote and wrote. I decided to get it together. I said ‘You know, I’m going to get a job, go to church, and buy a house. I’m gonna grow up.’ So, I went to church. They found out I could sing. They put me in the church band,” she said.

“The bass player of the church band said ‘Hey, let’s get together and jam outside of church.’ Before I knew it, I had another band and I wasn’t even planning on it. I was just like ‘What just happened?’”

King and her newly formed band began performing again in 1996 at coffee houses and small venues around town.

“You know, you can run, but you can’t hide,” she said. “They said ‘We’re going to play a gig, so book a gig.’ To just get started I played this open mic at a place on Congress called Shaggy’s.”

South Congress Café now stands at the former Shaggy’s location.

“I played the open mic and then the manager came up to me and said ‘Come here.’ He opened up his calendar and said ‘Let’s get you in here.’ At that point, I hadn’t even put out my first CD,” she said.

After a year and a half of playing various gigs around town and creating a following, King released her first CD in 1998. She recorded Call of My Heart, at Bismeaux Studios, owned by Ray Benson, bandleader for Asleep at the Wheel.

“It just became very evident that we needed to get that recording out to the public, because we became very popular,” King said.

She quit her job working as a rep for a flooring distributor June 1, 1998.

“It finally got to me at the last sales meeting when I realized I didn’t care. There were all those issues that everyone was bringing up about the work place and I kept thinking, ‘Man, I don’t care. I need to get back into the studio and finish this record.’ So on Monday morning, June 1, 1998 at 7 a.m., I got up my nerve and I quit. Or should I say, ‘I began’. It took a lot of courage because I wasn’t making a lot from my music yet. After I quit my job, I got into the studio and finished the CD and from there it all started taking off.”

King said that she has continued to write songs, to record them and to release them on her own label. Meanwhile, several other artists, including Price, have covered her songs, allowing King to earn additional sales royalties.

“When I was thinking about quitting my day job to sing and to write full time,” she said. “Toni was very encouraging. So just to thank her, I gave her my CD and she ended up covering two songs off that CD. That really helped because she’s super popular and it really helped a lot of people notice me and come to know me as a songwriter.”

One day in 2004 while driving through the Southwest, Lee Hazlewood heard King’s single, “Texas Blue Moon,” off her second album, The Highway, broadcast on the radio airwaves. Hazlewood thought the song would make a nice duet for an album he was recording with Nancy Sinatra. The two recorded it that same year and released it as a track off their Nancy & Lee 3 album.

King had the opportunity to meet Nancy and Lee when she was invited to attend Hazlewood’s 78th birthday party held in Las Vegas. He died of renal cancer six weeks later in Henderson, Nev. Aug. 4, 2007. Hazlewood had gained notoriety after writing Nancy Sinatra’s breakout hit, “These Boots are Made for Walkin’” among other songs for her and her famous father, Frank Sinatra, as well as for Duane Eddy and Dean Martin.

“I feel like I have really developed my style, my writing and everything in Austin. The bar is set high in Austin. You cannot be a lame songwriter and get away with it,” King said.

“I have traveled around and seen people in other places that people hold up as pretty good and I’m thinkin’ ‘Girl, you’d never make it Austin.’ You know? I think that it’s so wonderful that the talent is so good here because it makes us all so much better.”

Austin, known as “the live music capital of the world,” draws musicians who can sit-in to play a two-hour show with anybody, anytime, anywhere, and any genre.

“That’s just an awesome thing. Everybody can play a good live show,” she said. “We play so much that we hardly ever practice as a band — it’s a different thing here. When people come here who are not used to the way we roll, it’s pretty funny,” she said.

“I know Paul Oscher, Muddy Water’s harmonica player, who recently moved to town and who plays here in town now. He was saying recently how it’s so amazing that Austin musicians can just jump in and play with you even though they’ve never played with you before. Everybody does it and everybody can do it. He said, ‘I’m not like that.’ It’s a different thing here.”

For example, King’s bass player, Sarah Brown, scheduled six gigs over four days with six different bands before performing with her at Threadgill’s South along Riverside Drive July 23.

The live show at Threadgill’s also included King’s drummer/percussionist Perry Drake, together with lead guitarist Marvin Dykhuis. Everyone sang as well.

The band opened the double-billed show at 8 p.m., followed by Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps at 9 p.m.

Several members in the audience raised their hands when King asked if any of them had followed her and James to Austin after seeing them perform together on-board the Delbert McClinton and Friends’ Sandy Beaches Cruise recently.

Other fans had seen King perform together with rhythm and blues singer/piano player Marcia Ball at the Broken Spoke four months earlier. Monte Warden, the singer/songwriter and bandleader for The Wagoneers, had hosted the “Behind the Songs” program recorded live at the Broken Spoke on March 31 with Ball and King, as well as Wonderland.

“Behind the Songs,” airs regularly on Austin’s alternative country radio station KOKE-FM, broadcast on channels 98.5, 99.3 or 105.3.

Over the years, King has regularly visited the Broken Spoke to eat chicken fried steak and to enjoy the music, but this spring’s event marked her first ever performance at the Broken Spoke.

“I loved it,” she said. “I never actually pursued a show there because my music leans more towards blues and sometimes I rock out. The Spoke’s much more the traditional country thing. I didn’t want to be something that I’m not, so I didn’t take my show there, but what a huge honor to play there and to play a songwriter’s show,” she said.

King particularly enjoyed Ball’s performance of the song, “Cowboy’s Sweetheart.” Broken Spoke owners, the much beloved James and Annetta White, danced a solo dance while Ball sang. The moment moved King to tears, she said.

“I was crying on stage,” she said, “it was so sentimental and sweet to see those two in each others arms swaying to Marcia’s yodels. I felt like I was witnessing a part of Austin music history as it happened. Very inspiring and powerful, the life we have all built around this music. The Broken Spoke is home to a lot of music and memories for many people. It’s a part of our lives here in Austin. As the city continues to grow and evolve, we are lucky to have this gem still hosting live music five nights a week.”

King and her band have several tours planned throughout the remaining months of the summer and through fall performing in Texas and Colorado and as far away as the East Coast. She will shoot a music video in Fort Collins, Colorado in September as well.

A consortium of female musicians, known as Texas Guitar Women, arose out of a friendship among King, Wonderland, Cashdollar, Brown, and drummer Lisa Pankratz. Occasionally, Ball joins the group as well, and together the six women have played numerous gigs nationwide including the acclaimed Rhythm & Roots Music Festival in Rhode Island and the “Women’s Night” showcase shows at Austin’s now, sadly defunct, Antone’s blues club.

The Alternate Root magazine online ran my story in their August 2014 issue at http://thealternateroot.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2592:sk-baf&catid=208:what-s-trending&Itemid=268

Listen to songs off her new album and read more about Shelly King at www.shelleyking.com

 

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