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Interview and Post Concert Stuff Coming

I had one of the best interviews of my life on Friday when we hosted William Fitzsimmons and Jake Phillips at Flyboy Studios. It wasn’t the best because of anything I did. It was the combination of the setup and professionalism of Elliott and Jeremy with Flyboy Studios, but also the experience of having these two amazing musicians share their stories and music with me. Add to it that my wife made some incredible coffee and cake and a few other unique things in the night, and it was just the best way to spend a Friday night.

Tonight is the show and I’ll have a review of it later. And I should have some other insights to offer as we head into the start of the week.

Have a great weekend.


Blues, TX Artists and Those Passing Through

Joe Bonamassa

Showcasing emerging artists and emerging styles to new audiences is part of the mission of The Appetizer. Last week, I started a series that featured only emerging and unknown musicians from around the country. That series continues this weekend with an hour of music from several emerging individuals.

Joe Bonamassa is a seasoned bluesman. His parents owned and operated a guitar shop and he started playing at age 4. As he grew, he learned several styles of guitar work, keying in on styles of blues from England and Ireland. Being such a seasoned player in various styles, his albums combine the flavors of rock, blues, jazz, alternative and more. His latest album is titled Dust Bowl and I’ll present 2 flavorful tunes from this album this weekend.

Danny Malone

Also, a fiercely independent artist named Jim Bianco will be featured. His latest release is titled Loudmouth and combines humor with the “reckless explorations of a troublemaker with a broken heart.” Our friend Matt Dyson introduced to me a few great indie acts premiering on the show this weekend including Vanaprasta and Alaskan Summer. And we have Texas artists like Danny Malone and Ben Kweller, as well as The Civil Wars who will be touring through Texas starting next week. All this and more coming up this weekend.

Stories In Music

Singer-songwriters build an audience by captivating people with their stories. Add a good melody or even a sweet sounding guitar line in there and the story gets even better. Stories about loss draw people in deeper since we all have experiences that involve loss. Or stories about overcoming traumatic or difficult situations draws us in. It’s common experiences that tie us together that make indie music the most growing category of music on earth. When we can share something with a performer other than the fact that we’re in the same venue at the same time, or that we’re both into Gibson guitars or both influenced or inspired by a Springsteen song, then we have something to talk about.

I just had a very intriguing and amazing conversation with a relatively unknown, emerging songwriter named Kelley McRae. Kelley grew up in a place that is very familiar to me, where my parents went to college: Starkville, Mississippi. She went to college in Texas and then spent some time in Baltimore and then in New York. It was the time in Baltimore and New York that transformed her from being an actress into writing songs and pursuing music. She’s since recorded an amazing album called Highrises in Brooklyn, which you have to hear. You can listen to the whole album as well as read her tour blog at her website. Speaking of her tour, when she decided to really take a chance on music, her and her husband sold what they had, bought a van and started a nation-wide tour, which she’s on now. That kind of adventurous risk is worth taking note of, and another thing that draws audiences to her. Then you hear her music and you experience songs like “Tomorrow,” which is a song about loss and depression where the city becomes a character. Her voice and the melody draws you in and the last piece of the track is this beautiful blues guitar riff that mirrors the emotion of the lyrics. It’s incredible.

Another songwriter captivating audiences with his stories is William Fitzsimmons. William gets into Abilene tomorrow and we’ll have a nice sit down conversation at Flyboy Studios as well as an acoustic track that will only be heard on The Appetizer. William is a guy who uses songs about pain and loss to not only console himself, but others. His story is unique in that he was a professional therapist before he got into songwriting. He started writing music to cope with his parent’s divorce, and later his own. But his music has taken another turn recently, and when he releases his new album later this month, audiences will notice a new side of the storytelling, a more hopeful side. His upcoming release Gold In the Shadow does what his other albums have in giving the name of the album a character to play. The Shadow is the low feeling, the torment and the pain. The Gold is what we all have in us if we search for it, the hope that the low isn’t the other side of the story but that there’s something to desire to lift us out of the mire. Audiences this weekend will be made privy to tracks that no one else has heard yet, which is a big reason to attend the show. If you want tickets to the show at the Paramount Theater Saturday night in Abilene, Like us on Facebook. Names will be drawn today and tomorrow for free tickets.

And stay plugged in right here for more info on that interview with William and Kelley, podcasts with both artists, and giveaways for tickets and other fun stuff. You can join The Appetizer Fan Club and get access to stuff no one else has, like interview clips not featured on the show or the podcast. Pick up Appetizer t-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, and items autographed by Appetizer artists. Click the link above.

Eddie Money’s Dream-Come-True

My wife and I were watching TV tonight and we saw this movie trailer for a new film starring Topher Grace and Anna Ferris called “Take Me Home Tonight.” There’s also a girl in the trailer that looks identical to Anna Kendrick from Twilight, but apparently is a different person (according to IMDB). Aside from sharing the title to an old Eddie Money song, the trailer also features the tune. From what I can tell by the 30 second preview on TV, the movie is pretty lame. Something about Topher fooling an old crush into liking him at a party that involves a stolen car and a lot of lies. Yeah that’s not a film guaranteed to sell.

Hey ladies, remember when this was the face of a rock star?

But when the commercial was over, we both looked at each other and frowned. Obviously we’re not the target audience. I’m not really sure who that target audience is, but that’s not what went through my head. I thought, “Did Eddie Money in his wildest dreams in the 1980s ever hope that he would write a song that would either be the basis for a movie, be the theme for a movie, or share the title with a movie in 2011?” Probably not.

Aside from that, did the producers ever consider another ’80s hit to base a movie on? What about that. Did the producers/director lose a bet and the consequences were that they had to make a movie that involved a random old rock star and it couldn’t be Axl Rose? I mention Rose because I can assume that the video for November Rain has more drama and a better story than this up-coming film. If I end up being wrong, please let me know. I say that to people who might see Take Me Home Tonight because I won’t. Sorry.

Did producers ever consider any (and I mean any) track from the king of pop Michael Jackson? I can imagine a compelling and gritty drama that would leave audiences in tears based on and named after Billie Jean. Yes, he’ll claim the girl that sleeps around and is a bit crazy, but the kid he won’t claim as his own. That would make a pretty great drama. What about Smooth Criminal? Everyone’s seen the video from Moonwalker for Smooth Criminal. The dance moves alone sell it for me. But the story in the song is so compelling. Listen to it and see what you think.

A modern day Meat Loaf, who stranglely resembles Rush Limbaugh

But everyone is familiar with the icon of Michael Jackson. What about a lesser known rocker, like Meat Loaf? Bat Outta Hell wasn’t the most compelling album, but I’ll Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) was the basis for a McDonald’s ad campaign. He will be a contestant in the upcoming Celebrity Apprentice, so maybe that was the consolation prize.

It’s got me thinking about other 80’s rock stars who were really famous 20-something years ago that most people don’t know anything about or don’t remember, and if they had music that could one-day be a major motion picture, the story for a movie, or the song that a movie is named after. If you have any ideas, I’m open to them.

Music and Other Thoughts

Wow, what an interesting weekend. I don’t know about you, but I had a great time and it all had to do with getting to meet new people and hear some really interesting stories.

That’s one of the things I like best about my job, getting to meet new people. Usually in that process, I make friends who I continue getting to know better as time goes by. And in that process, I have been blessed to get to hear some amazing stories and learn all sorts of things. It’s really cool.

That’s one thing I’m really looking forward to about next weekend. I’ll be joining The Paramount Theater in Abilene and KACU (the radio station I manage) in bringing indie singer-songwriter William Fitzsimmons to town. I’ve know William for a few years and in our conversations I learn so much stuff. It’s really fascinating. I’ll get another chance to hear some of his great stories and get insights into his new writing (his new album comes out later this month) when I get a sit down interview time the day before the show. It will be a great time.

I have to admit that there’s a lot of stuff going on with the music side of things that has kept my attention and focus away from some other big news items. I have been following the events transpiring in Tunesia, Egypt and Libya. That’s a lot of transition that won’t be figured out over night. It’s led me to think about a lot of things differently, in particular the power of the protest. As Americans, we understand the protest, it’s something we based our founding on. But our founders had a form of representative government with Parliament when they crafted the 3 part-government (executive, legislative, judicial). What about the people in the Egypt and Libya? They’ve had dictators and rulers for thousands of years. The protest is a powerful instrument of change but they don’t have the infrastructure or history to facilitate the democracy that they see in Europe of America. They saw the power of the protest in our country with the elections of last year, but look at what the power of the protest is doing in Wisconsin. They know how to disagree but not come together and work out the differences for the betterment of the people.

These are the big-picture things I’ve been looking at beyond music. But I totally missed all of the Oscars. I did not see The King’s Speech, so it would be wrong to comment on whether it deserved all the wins it made. I did, however, see Inception. I’m curious as to why Christopher Nolan keeps getting gipped on even best director nominations. Think about his movies. Have you seen a mediocre one? Have you seen one that didn’t move you? All of his movies are not only well written and well produced, they’re pretty amazing films. While it was cool that Inception got a few technical wins, it deserved at least a best director nomination. But that’s my two cents.

For those who got a chance to hear some amazing up-and-coming artists on last week’s show, I put this week’s show together today and it’s got another amazing lineup of people you know and some you’ve never heard of. But more on that coming up later this week.

Contest Opportunity

I’ve been talking about the upcoming William Fitzsimmons concert in Abilene that we’ll be hosting in 6 days at The Historic Paramount Theater. If you can make it, this is a show that will blow you away.

I’m doing a little contest-giveaway. In an effort to promote the show, especially on Facebook, I have free tickets to the show that you can win.


It’s pretty simple. All you have to do is Like us on Facebook. If you already have, then suggest The Appetizer to your friends and tell them to Like us too.

I’ll draw names on Wednesday and Thursday of this week and award the winners with the tickets.

What if I live out of town? How will I get the tickets?

That’s easy too. If you live out of town, you’re tickets will be available at the Will Call at the ticket window.

Now get to telling all your friends to Like us on Facebook.

And thanks for spreading the word.

From Unknown To Emerging

Evolution is a part of all our lives and careers, regardless of what field or industry we’re in. The way my radio show The Appetizer has evolved since its inception in 2003 is pretty dramatic. Back then, it was just a crazy idea to do something out of the box. Over time, the parameters of the box I was out of got larger. My scope for music and realization of the variety of people making it grew in leaps and bounds. In the time between then and now, people have gone from being completely unknown on the regional, state and national level to being pretty well known across the board.

In 2003-2005, people like Ingrid Michaelson, Ray LaMontagne, Feist, Owl City, Iron & Wine, Citizen Cope, etc were either just starting out, or were just starting to make waves. Some of them really hadn’t been writing, performing, or recording at all. Fast-forward to now. Those individuals are not necessarily pop-superstars, but they have a growing following across the country. And these people I named are a microcosm of the emerging artists out there who are being discovered daily. Think about that for a second-daily.

Lindsay Katt

Which leads me to just be so thankful of the time period we get to live in, where we can make these discoveries of talented, incredible artists on such a regular basis. Information travels so quickly that there are no limits. Someone in New York can be completely unknown in Texas. Someone hears their music online or in another place and starts featuring that music on the radio or online. The next thing you know, this unknown individual has a big following 2,000 miles away. That’s a little history and true story of a now good friend of mine named Lindsay Katt.

The transition and evolution of going from unknown to emerging is something I’ll be covering and showcasing over the next few weeks on The Appetizer. This weekend’s show features the beautiful music of He Is We, Green River Ordinance, Andrew Belle, The Head and the Heart, The Civil Wars, Joan As Policewoman, Jesse Thomas, Dodos, Runaway Dorothy and more.

He Is We

If you don’t know much about He Is We, they have a really cool story, a storybook story really. Rachel Taylor and Trevor Kelly are a writer and musician who were working at a music store and decided it would be fun to just spend some time playing music together. The result is the band He Is We. Check out more info on their link.

Green River Ordinance is a Texas band out of Fort Worth that is named after some interesting laws that prohibit door-to-door sales in parts of the state. They’re about to start a tour with another emerging act called Courrier.

Andrew Belle‘s latest release The Ladder was featured last week and I can’t get enough of it. I wrote on Facebook that the album plays nonstop on my iPod. You can get into an artist because of 1 or 2 songs and happen to like another few tracks they do on some other albums. The whole enchillada of The Ladder is flavorful and tasty. I’ll feature two more tracks this week. Also Andrew will be performing in our town of operations (Abilene) later next month at Monks Coffeehouse. More info on that show upcoming.

The Civil Wars

Speaking of Monks, in 2 weeks we’ll host The Civil Wars at Monks for Abilene’s Artwalk. This folk duo is racking up fans in droves. I picked up their Barton Hollow album not really sure what it would be like. Similar to Andrew Belle, it’s cover-to-cover awesome. There’s a fluidity and creativity that’s hard to find in other acts, and their sound is a mix of something completely original with something else very familiar. They cover 2 songs on Barton Hollow, one a jazz classic and another a song made famous in the prime-time of Motown. I’ll feature that song to conclude the program this week. It has to be the most original and creative cover I’ve heard yet.

Let me know what you think. Check out the show. Hit us up on Facebook and let us know of some other unknown and emerging acts we should be showcasing.