Social media is a wonderful tool, and lots of this weekend’s ACL acts posted photos of their sets to Instagram. Read on to see what Zilker Park looked like from the stage for Foster the People, Mondo Cozmo, R.LUM.R and more.
We even speculated ourselves: “There’s been rampant speculation about whether or not Beyoncé would make an appearance at ACL Fest. Queen Bey has not played Austin since the early aughts, when Destiny’s Child played the Star of Texas Rodeo (then called Rodeo Austin). We at Team 360 have been conservative on the ‘Yoncé/ACL odds…Beyoncé is no ordinary human being, but she’s a rigorous perfectionist who wouldn’t hit a stage unless she felt 300% ready.”
But on social media Friday, the first day of ACL Fest 2017, fest-goers were sharing safety tips, promoting love over hate and paying tribute to the Las Vegas victims. One attendee even marched to Zilker Park from Austin City Hall holding a sign that said “End Mass Shootings.” There was even a marriage proposal. Several of Day One’s acts spoke up about the shooting, too. Read on to see what people had to say.
Foster the People closed with a cover of Love by John Lennon in honor of the events in Las Vegas. #ACLFest
Listening to Shovels & Rope’s latest album “Little Seeds,” one wonders how the duo can pull off its sound live. The rollicking folk-rock Americana of the married couple from South Carolina skews closer to the White Stripes than it does The Civil Wars. Drums, bass, keys, guitars, harmonica, a mandolin and more lined the stage before the couple’s set at Emo’s Thursday night, right next to two empty chairs. Any doubts as to whether two people could make much of a racket with just a few instruments were quickly cast aside after a few songs.
Moving effortlessly between instruments as well as their song catalog, Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst gleefully seemed to conjure a full-band roots rock concert out of thin air. At one point, Trent was playing the bass drum, the keyboard and the harmonica while Hearst furiously strummed a guitar and sang about how “the rich is rich and the poor is poor and the money you had ain’t good no more.”
Even without knowing the words to some of the songs, it wasn’t hard to get swept up in the sheer Do-It-Yourself joy the two felt on stage. Trent and Hearst swapped seats and instruments at least five times throughout the show. One feels like the decisions on which instrument to play were made organically — either one could have sat down at the keyboard or strapped on a guitar at a moment’s notice. The end result was a show that was a little rough around the edges but was all the better for it because of how much fun Trent and Hearst seemed to be having.
The songs, however, weren’t all fun and games. Mixed in with the raucous “I Know,” the witty “Buffalo Nickel” and the scuzzy Chuck Berry tribute “Hail, Hail” were songs that dealt with the aforementioned class woes (“Gasoline”), the over-medication of children (“Johnny, Won’t You Come Outside”) and the worries that come when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (“Mourning Song”).
That thought-provoking subject matter combined with Shovels & Rope’s DIY ethos to create a listening experience that is best experienced live. Trent and Hearst made all the tone switches and instrument changes look so effortless that one almost thinks they too could start a rollicking folk duo if only they had the right partner. (I left Emo’s with a plan to go start a garage band with my friends, my lack of musical talent be damned). But, as with all partnerships (marital or musical), this one is impossible to duplicate.
Plans to build a new state music museum have sparked emotional commentary from Austin and Houston lawmakers and musicians alike, according to the Houston Chronicle. A bill filed in the Senate would lay the groundwork for such a museum to be built in Austin, the Live Music Capital of the World.
Senate Bill 1147, authored by state Sens. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, and Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, would establish a Texas State Music Museum and Texas Music Foundation in downtown Austin just across the street from the Bullock State History Museum and the Blanton Museum of Art. Proponents of the bill say it would create a cultural destination for tourists in Austin; detractors say other cities should get to compete for the location of the museum.
Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson appeared before the Senate Business and Commerce Committee Tuesday to argue for the Austin location. Benson said the museum should be “in the state capital where people come, where it should be,” according to the Houston Chronicle.
However, Houston-based Texas Music Library and Research Center president Jim O’Cherry disagreed, saying that to pick one Texas city over others is unfair:
“It’s unfair to the people who have been involved in making this history, and unfair to the people of Texas who don’t live in Austin,” O’Cherry said, according to the Chronicle.
Complicating the issue is that the Houston-based Museum of American Music History received state designation for a similar project years ago, but the state never coughed up the $10 million in federal funding needed to get the project going.
From the Chronicle:
“This is about the state reneging on its promise to Houston. This is about the state competing against private museums,” MAMH founding member Stephen Williams said. “This is about Austin wanting to get something through a law that it couldn’t get through a statewide competition.”
Under SB1147, no state money would be allocated for the new museum. Instead, it would be privately operated by the State Preservation Board, which also oversees the state capitol building and the Bullock. Money would instead be raised by private donations.
The Senate Business and Commerce Committee left the bill pending Tuesday afternoon.
The iHeartCountry Festival returns to the Frank Erwin Center May 6, but before the big act featuring headliners like Dierks Bentley and Jason Aldean, fans will get to see country stars Jon Pardi, Lindsay Ell, Kip Moore, Chris Janson, Tucker Beathard and Kane Brown perform for free at the iHeartCountry Festival Daytime Village show.
The lineup was announced Monday morning in a news release.
The Daytime Village was added as a free outdoor event at the North Box Office Plaza at the Frank Erwin Center for the festival two years ago. Last year’s Daytime Village featured Maren Morris and Chris Lane, among others.
As for the iHeartCountry Festival, which is more of a marathon concert than a festival, it will be hosted by Austin/Nashville radio personality Bobby Bones and will feature Moore, Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, Dierks Bentley, Brantley Gilbert, Rascal Flatts, Old Dominion, Jake Owen, Darius Rucker, Lady Antebellum, Kelsea Ballerini and Bones’ band The Raging Idiots.
For those keeping track at home, that’s 12 acts, only two less than last year’s behemoth set. And like last year, it will only feature one solo female performance.
The event is sponsored by iHeartMedia, the parent company of iHeartCountry, which operates nearly 150 country radio stations across the nation— all of which will broadcast the concert live. It also will be streamed online; those details will be announced soon at iHeartRadio.com/countryfestival.Tickets are on sale at TexasBoxOffice.com and by phone at 512-477-6060. The iHeartCountry Fest is one of many concert events that iHeartMedia presents during the year.
The wait is over, country fans. The new duet from Faith Hill and Tim McGraw is now available to stream.
“Speak To A Girl,” the first single from McGraw and Hill’s recently announced duet album, moved to country radio and Spotify at 4 p.m. Thursday.
The song, abut the proper way men should speak to women, seems to be a commentary on the state of modern country music’s “Hey, girl” fascination. It’s also a blend of the two country star’s stylings as of late; McGraw’s quiet, “Damn Country Music” laid-back acoustic sound meshes well with Hill’s pop sensibilities and soaring vocals in the back half of the song.
“When songs can be timely and really move you and really have a message, then you know that you have something special,” McGraw told Nash Country Daily. I think that this song really is a special song. It’s special for us, having three daughters—me being a husband and Faith being a mom of three daughters and growing up in a world of all women like I did, I think it’s just a really special song.”
Hill added in the same interview: “It kind of gives you a landscape of how to speak to a girl, and what the important parts of language are when it comes to communicating with one another—with a woman. It’s about truth and honesty and respect. The biggest one being respect.”
“Speak To a Girl” was written by Shy Carter, Dave Gibson and Joe Sparger and co-produced by Byron Gallimore, along with McGraw and Hill. Thursday is the song’s release date, but the couple plans to perform it at the ACM Awards on April 2.
Earlier this year, the couple wrote and recorded a new duet for the Christian film “The Shack” called “Keep your Eyes on Me” that now sounds like a precursor to the sound they have now.
The couple will also once again go on tour with one another in April. Their “Soul2Soul World Tour” kicks off in New Orleans April 7, and they both just left their respective labels to sign record deals with Arista Nashville in February. McGraw was previously at Big Machine Records (after leaving a whole career at Curb before that), while Hill was at Warner Bros. The contracts are separate, and include separate solo albums as well as the duet album, but this decision by one of the best-selling duos of modern country was clearly good business.
McGraw is currently in the middle of a late-career renaissance thanks to “Humble and Kind,” “How I’ll Always Be” and “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” (which was also a duet with Hill). Hill’s last hit was “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” and hasn’t had a solo hit since 2005’s “Sunshine and Summertime.
The decision to tour together, sign on the same record label and release a whole duet album together is great for McGraw’s and Hill’s fans, but it’s also a sad indication of the state of the country music business for women. Faith Hill has sold more than 40 million records worldwide in her career, and she’s also scored five Grammy wins and earned 18 Top 10 songs on the Billboard country charts (eight of which went to No. 1). But the only way she can get any sort of press these days is by touring with her husband (or by being interviewed by Fox News about “aging gracefully.”)
But maybe they wanted it that way; McGraw and Hill have three daughters, and the youngest one is almost done with high school, so maybe they didn’t want to have both parents trying to tour and release albums while raising three kids.
Either way, it’s sad that Hill’s solo work has gotten less attention over the years.
At any rate, “Speak To A Girl” is wholesome country that actually has something to say in a time when the genre desperately needs it. Take a listen on Spotify below.
Gone Country aims to thoughtfully explore the country music genre and where it’s headed, with a focus on national trends and buzzworthy news of the week. Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Garth Brooks doesn’t officially take the stage at Auditorium Shores until Saturday, but he capped a day that included a South by Southwest keynote and the reveal of his new single with a surprise acoustic show at the Broken Spoke Friday night.
Strolling on the stage promptly at 11 p.m. wearing a Lone Star Beer T-Shirt with a flannel and a Garth Brooks hat, the country superstar immediately launched into “Friends in Low Places.”
After the standard terms and condition language about ID verification and re-entry into the venue, there’s a sentence about downloading and showing the Amazon Music App on your phone.
“Also, be ready to show your favorite Garth Brooks album via the Amazon Music App on your mobile device upon entry to the show.”
Brooks, who famously shunned streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music in the past in favor of his own service, ghosttunes.com, discussed his months-old partnership with the streaming service today during his SXSW keynote speech.
Brooks chose Amazon because of its reputation for catering to the customer, he said in the speech. He also liked that Amazon also still deals in CDs: “Anyone who tells you the physical world is done is probably someone who isn’t dealing with physical” product, he said.
But simply downloading the app doesn’t guarantee access to its services. To do that, you have to buy a subscription from Amazon to link with your Amazon account— $7.99 a month or $79 a year for Amazon Prime members, and $9.99 a month for non-Prime members. Every one of Brooks’ albums is currently streaming on the service. Wal-Mart and Target have previously exclusively sold his albums upon release.
And what if you want a ticket for the show, but missed the noon release time? If you have $1,000, you might be able to snag a ticket or two.
Grady Spencer & the Work are about to play the Saxon Pub for the fourth time in less than a year. For an Austin band, that’s pretty routine. But for a Fort Worth band, it’s pretty unusual. And for this four-piece from Cowtown, that first gig at Saxon almost didn’t happen.
“I think one of the bands had a cancellation for the show that we did, and we got like a week’s notice to come down and play,” Spencer said. “But Saxon is such a legendary place that we had to jump out at it.”
The group, comprised of lead singer and guitarist Spencer, bassist Johnny Hatcher, guitarist Trevor Powell and drummer Blake Sager, specializes in a Texas sound that’s rooted in Americana, blues and dirty roots rock. Texicana, if you will.* Their name comes from their own blue collar backgrounds; Spencer works as an HVAC construction worker for TDIndustries in Fort Worth, Hatcher repairs espresso machines and Powell works at a logistics company.
“The music we make has a kind of rough, dirty, gritty vibe, which fits,” Spencer said.
“As a kid, I wanted to be a rock star, but now as an adult, I’m like, ‘Yeah, just being able to pay my bills would be nice,'” Hatcher said. “People expect us to be like, rock stars, and we tell them we still have day jobs and they’re like,’Whaaat?!'”
In their home city, they’re pretty close to becoming rock stars. A re-cut version of “Things To Do,” a song off of their 2013 album “Sleep,” was recently commissioned by Visit Fort Worth to be the soundtrack to a tourist video for the city. Spencer says the song, which features the line “Bless my soul and take me back to Fort Worth” in the chorus, was never meant to be a single.
“I always tell people I thought that song was going to be a filler, like I was just trying to get the album count to double digits, and I guess we just really underestimated how stoked people get to hear their city in a song,” Spencer said.
As of this writing, the song has been streamed on Spotify more than 800,000 times.
The group got started when Spencer moved to Fort Worth about 6 years ago and quickly met Sager and Powell through the at Paradox Church in downtown Fort Worth. He had started doing some solo work here and some open mic stuff there, but was looking for a band.
“So I played with those guys at church a few times, called em up, and then it just grew from there. Johnny was a friend who we met through another band, and he just kind of jumped in and fit right in.”
Since then, the band has released two albums, “Sleep” and 2016’s “The Line Between.” The Work’s songwriting deals with the illusion of fame and money (“Things to Do”) the importance of prioritizing the right relationships in life (“Winning Wrong”) and even a fable about bringing a knife to a gunfight (“Guns and Knives”). There’s also an undercurrent of the group’s shared church background that’s right under the surface in songs like “Anatomy of a Sinner” and in the album title “The Line Between.”
“My inspiration for songwriting is my life, my relationship with my wife, things like that. But [“The Line Between”]’s album title is kind of a reference to Jesus, but I wanted to do it where it was just right under the surface to where you don’t have to dig that deep to see that theme, but it’s not so in your face that we couldn’t play it to a room full of drunk people,” Spencer said. “So hopefully the lyrics will resonate with people on a different level.”
Powell adds that their routine of playing in a church Sunday after playing in places like Saxon on a Saturday leads to some fun interactions.
“What’s cool is you tell them that you have to be at church the next morning after playing Saturday night, and that opens up some conversations that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.”
The group is putting together a third album, which Spencer said he is “maybe halfway done with” writing. But for now, they’re busy touring all over Texas putting on a great live show.
“The underlying goal for all of us is to do music for a living, whether that’s touring or recording or something like that, where we’re not going on construction sites or fiddling with Starbucks machines every day,” Spencer said.
No matter what happens, you can count on this band to put in the work, on and off stage.
Grady Spencer & the Work take the stage at the Saxon Pub tonight at 10:30. Show is 21 and over and tickets for $10 can be bought online or at the door.
*This term was originally coined by my buddy Drew Curd, who first introduced me to Grady Spencer & the Work’s music.
Gone Country aims to thoughtfully explore the country music genre and where it’s headed, with a focus on national trends and buzzworthy news of the week.
Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or through email at email@example.com.