Sunday, April 24, 2016

Strait Return To Stage Sold Out

© Ethan Miller - Getty Images - courtesy EBMedia
After a two year absence from the stage, the King of Country rode back in to town and a record-setting, sold-out crowd of 19'222 people came on April, 22nd to the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to see George Strait in his opening show of his "Strait To Vegas" concert series.

“I’ve missed you guys and I’m looking forward to being here a few more nights this year,” Strait told the crowd early on in the night before performing for over two hours, according to a press release by Essential Broadcast Media. Besides playing a selection of several of his #1 hits, Strait also took a moment to pay tribute to Merle Haggard who was not only an icon for Strait but also a friend. “We’ll never get to hear Merle play live again, but his music will live on forever,” Strait said before performing a medley.

YouTube user vegastrojan posted a decent quality video of George Strait doing the Merle Haggard Tribute during his concert.

Kacey Musgraves who opened for George this last weekend and will for his other 2016 dates, walked into the arena with a pony. (Picture from her Instagram feed @spaceykacey) - you may also want to check out her great version of the Lee Hazlewood penned cover "These Boots Are Made For Walking," orginally made famous by Nancy Sinatra  (look on her twitter feed +Kacey Musgraves.

Strait will be back at the arena in September (9 & 10) and December (2 & 3) of this year and has a weekend planned in February (17 & 18) of 2017. The brand new $ 375 million indoor arena opened this spring and will host a variety of events. Boxing and fighting matches will compete with entertainment events. The Billboard Music Awards, Garth Brooks and the Dixie Chicks are all scheduled to play T-Mobile Arena.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince - The Country Music Artist

I'm not trying to invoke that Prince who passed away yesterday was a country music artist at all, but his genius definitely left a mark even in country music. I remember in the mid to late 80s an editorial board meeting of our "Country Music" publication in Switzerland, when editor Charles "Chuck" Steiner claimed that Prince is annoying his band members by listening to country music on his tour bus. Chuck, who was quite old-school and had met Hank Williams on his European USO tour and still had a strong connection to the "old" Nashville of the 50s and 60s put that bold remark with a big smirk into the room and watched us whipper snappers in our 20s and 30s gasp for air. We couldn't believe it, the Purple One being associated with the rather strict musical environment that Nashville still was. He even mentioned that he wrote songs under a pseudonym for country artists.
It sounded like to much of a tall tale and with emerging artists like Dwight Yoakam, Steve Earle and Randy Travis we never even investigated the "rumor" and enjoyed the reemergence of a more traditional sound that started to flood the airwaves in 1986.

Some years later, I was already living in the States, somebody (my memory fails me here) told me about Joey Coco and a little research without google or the internet at the time revealed that this was really the Purple One, or TAFKAP by then, who wrote these songs. Kenny Rogers had recorded "You're My Love" for his 1986 album "They Don't Make Them Like They Used To", all in all a forgettable LP, if it wouldn't be for the title track, who won a Golden Globe. Deborah Allen tried to do the right thing, but her adaptation of the Coco song "Telepathy" of the album by the same name, pretty much burned her career and relegated her back into songwriting and background vocal singing. Rumor is that he not only wrote but also orchestrated and produced the song in 1987. That song and it's musical arrangement could have been a hit in the early 80s, but the flags were now definitely flying on the traditional breeze and made the whole a single a non-entity.

Some years later I booked and toured Europe with Buck Owens revival act The Derailers and the fathers of the Red Dirt Sound, The Red Dirt Rangers. Sharing more or less the same age within a decade or so with these musicians, we all grew up listening to Prince, so it wasn't really that surprising that "Raspberry Beret" found it's way on Tony and Brian's 1997 album "Reverb Deluxe" (Watermelon) and "1999" was featured by the Okies on their album "Ranger's Command" (SOB) two years later. Both albums were released on small Austin based labels and reflected the openness towards a more inclusive, innovative style Nashville had forgotten by then and turned it's back on, after the rise of megalomaniac Garth Brooks.

Thanks to David Mansfield, the former country music editor for "USA Today" I became aware today that one hit wonder "Just Got Started Loving You" (2007), James Otto actually recorded a decent rendition of "Purple Rain." Several rumors indicate that several people urged Prince to give that song to Kenny Rogers too, as it sounded like a "country music song." Whatever. Instead of playing the just released tribute by Otto, I actually found a live version by him doing this song, recorded almost three years ago, in a live performance at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace in Bakersfield. And according to the belt-buckles being shined the people there didn't mind to hear the Purple One.

Neither did we growing up. Prince was an all-round musician and creative mind who left this planet way too early.

Kenny Rogers - You're My Love

Deborah Allen - Telepathy 1987

Red Dirt Rangers - 1999

Derailers - Raspberry Beret

James Otto - Live Crystal Palace, Bakersfield - Purple Rain - 8/21/14

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Lookin' In

RIP Purple One - We will party like it's 1999 in a little while

As with other legends, there will be a ton of obituaries celebrating the creative workload and the life of Prince. For me it's somehow ironic that in the first four months of this year, we lost three legends, and I'd would rather use that terminology very strict. But what Bowie, Merle and Prince created can only be explained with the passing of Bach (1685 - 1750), Mozart (1756 - 1791) and Beethoven (1770 - 1827) in the time span of four months, instead of roughly 1 1/2 centuries.

This is how Billboard Magazine reported on their website

That's how the Recording Academy president Neil Portnow commented on the passing of Prince

The videos below show the true musical genius, that Prince was - first in his official video for his fantastic groovy song "Cream" and a full live concert from 1982

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sturgill Simpson & Stephen Colbert - Unofficial "Waffle House" Etiquette Song

It took me 25 years of living in the States to finally make it to a Waffle House on a recent trip (March) to Atlanta. I was simply ignorant and unaware, as there are only two in all of Central Texas and Mexican breakfast and/or Tacos are everywhere and cheap.

So on Monday night, country artist Sturgill Simpson, who just released "A Sailor's Guide to Earth" some days ago, visited the "Late Show with Stephen Colbert," to perform a raucous swamp-rock, including full horn-section version of "Brace For Impact (Live a Little)."

Yet before Simpson was able to literally blow us away, he was invited and asked by host Stephen Colbert to do a "commercial" for "Waffle House." As Stephen mentioned, "Waffle House" has it's own songs on its jukeboxes, well according to, "the all-day breakfast chain that has become a Southern institution, actually has its own music label, which has produced songs such as “There Are Raisins in My Toast” for its restaurants since the mid-’80s."
As the tables were almost turned over faster than we could eat, I was never able to check out their own jukeboxes and am simply wondering what would rhyme with sausage and hash-browns.
Stephen and Sturgill's take on the unofficial song is hilarious and quite right deals with a lot of good manners missing of the late night crowds I have seen in IHOPs and other early morning breakfast places. Yes it may as Sturgill sings "You're killin' your hangover, but you're killin' my mood."

Next time I'm gonna go to a Waffle House, I'm gonna search for the jukebox. Watch the two performances below and comeback here, I will review "A Sailor's Guide To Earth" in a couple of days.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ted Russell Kamp - Soaring In The Musical Skies

Ted Russell Kamp at Giddy Ups in Austin - March 2016        (© A. Michael Uhlmann)
Wikipedia defines Aerobatics as a portmanteau of aerial-acrobatics, simply the practice of flying maneuvers involving aircraft attitudes that are not used in normal flight. The loops, the spins, the rolls or the Immelmann turns are most often flown by a single pilot, therefore "Flying Solo."

This is also the title of LA based Americana singer/songwriter Ted Russell Kamp's new album, which he released in March. After an extensive tour through Texas, including the music fair, SXSW, he now introduces his new 12 song Epos to part of his European fans in Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Often touring by himself, he wanted to offer a solo album reflecting his dynamic shows when not accompanied by a band.
Half of the songs are favorites from previous albums, three of them recorded live during radio shows in the US, three from a concert in Finland. The other half dozen are new songs recorded at his home studio "The Den" especially for "Flying Solo."

The analogies of an acrobat pilot and a prolific singer/songwriter don't end here - pilots often have a solid flight education through military training, may be flight instructors, or develop new acrobatic routines with other pilots. This simply translates into the music world of TRK as a day job, not sitting at a desk, but playing bass for Shooter Jennings; recording and producing at his own studio for friends like AJ Hobbs, 29 Mules, Nate Smith or Funkyjenn among others; or co-writing with a variety of performers and songwriters from across the United States.

An original record release party right before the trip to Texas was held in California together with alt-country trio Calico, whose member Kirsten Proffit helped co-write the opener and one of the new tracks "Life On The River" where the watery stream symbolizes not only life but also the continuing love of the narrator to his sweetheart.

Other California country-rock or Americana co-writes include acoustic live version of "Let Love Do The Rest" (w/David Serby from "Poor Man's Paradise"), and a deliciously raucous electric guitar lead by Finnish Roots musician Tommi Viksten on "If I Had A Dollar" (w/Nicole Gordon from "Get Back To The Land") keeping it very close to it's original Bakersfield-sounding original and the new Bobby Joyner collaboration "The Closer I Get" with it's beautiful melancholy lines "The closer I get / I will not forget / it's not over yet / it's a sadness deep in my soul / it's a tiger by the tail I know / the closer I get / it's not over yet."
Nashville based writers Wayne Buckner and Chris Tompkins helped on "The Way Love Burns" (new) and "Poor Man's Paradise" (from the same album) respectively.
Austin based Fastball member Tony Scalzo helped pen the new "Nothing To Lose" and Gordy Quist from the Band of Heathens contributed on the also new track "Hold On", which shines with its lovely Dobro instrumentation. Beautifully helped on background vocals by Bliss Bowen, "When She Flies" is a new composition by TRK himself, as are the live versions of his older self-penned favorites "Lookin' For Someone" (from "Divisadero"), "Steady At The Wheel" (from "NorthSouth") and "Old Folks Blues" ("Poor Man's Paradise"), the last two, superbly spare, just performed with a mandolin.

Labels won't categorize Ted Russell Kamp's music, there are too many nuances to hear, somewhere between Rock and Country, between West Coast and Tulsa, Soul & Blues influenced, even with some hints at jazzy percussive feels to it. You just have to go and discover TRK for yourself, I'm just he will soar with his songabatics!

Steady At The Wheel

Let Love Do The Rest

Below find his touring schedule, on all his Swedish shows, Ted Russell Kamp will be accompanied by Thomas Ponten. Besides finding his new release "Flying Solo" at his shows, the disc and/or download is also available on CD Baby and itunes. For more info on TRK, check out his website Ted Russell Kamp.

European Tour Dates

APR 20 WED - Kulturhaus Schlachthof, Soest (G)
APR 22 FRI - Carty Bar, Gaildorf (G)
APR 23 SAT - Pier 99, Nordhorn (G)
APR 24 SUN - Sijf, Rotterdam (NL)
APR 25 MON - KOFA, Vlaardingen (NL)
APR 26 TUE - Cultuurhuis, Heerlen (NL)
APR 27 WED - Paddy's, Leeuwarden (NL)
APR 28 THU - Autoprobaat, Tilburg (NL)
APR 29 FRI - Podium Peter en Leni, Steendam (NL)
APR 30 SAT - Zur Scharfen Ecke, Sande (G)
MAY 01 SUN - July's, Wilhelmshaven (G)
MAY 04 WED - KoM Bar, Göteborg (S)
MAY 05 THU - The Tea Room, Orsjo (S)
MAY 06 FRI - Kontoret, Uddevalla (S)
MAY 07 SAT - Kulturhuset, Jönköping (S)
MAY 08 SUN - Soulstore, Göteborg (S)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Old Fashioned Easter Eggs

My Swiss grandma told me how to paint, well color is the better word, Easter Eggs. After some searching in the back-40 I found the little grasses and flower petals I wanted to use to “enhance” my eggs.

With some elbow grease these little nature fragments easily adapt to the egg. When I asked my girlfriend if I could have an old pair of pantyhose I got quite the stare. Explaining her, that I now have to wrap the grasses and eggs into an old piece of women’s garment and tie it up, trash bag twists work perfectly to hold the pantyhose in place, her eyes softened a bit. I was off the hook.

Now I had to come up with some sort of natural magic potion to dye the eggs. A mixture of balsamic vinegar, red and yellow onion shells, coffee grounds and a bit of turmeric did the trick and gave me the subtle sand-like color I was looking for. Every egg will look differently, not in color, but in shape and texture.

So the raw, but decorated eggs were boiled for about 10 minutes in the tincture, cooled down and then freed from the pantyhose pieces. (Some may wanna wear gloves doing this, as the color-dye will stick around your fingernails for a couple a days.) They will look awesome in any Easter basket.

The whole thing is a bit labor intensive but if you involve your kids this will leave a memory and maybe in 40 years they will be posting a similar post about Old Fashioned Easter eggs.