Disclaimer: Although I have written on here from the beginning that I’m not sure what the intent of my adventures in blogdom are, I don’t mean for this to become a platform to sound the trumpet for my great musician buddies and what they do, though they are great; much better than what you listen to, and they need every bit of exposure they can get. So, without further bricolage…
This past weekend’s adventures on lovely Lake Limestone, “Chili When It’s Chilly,” or “Bowl After Bowl of Chili Washed Down With Can After Can of Shiner When It’s Semi-Gorgeous Out,” as was the case, was an amazing time filled with great Texas Music, fellowship, cold beverages and lots of other luxuries.
|Good times with Manzy Lowry, meself and Scott Ford. Photo by Mandy Meador.|
The aim of Chili When It’s Chilly, aside for showcasing great music and providing a venue for some damn fine times, is to raise money toward a good cause. In this case, it was the Boot Campaign. It is a worthwhile cause, and if you’re interested, you can read about its particulars here: http://www.bootcampaign.com/ . A great deal of money was raised, but what I want to write about here is a little about the music I heard and a few of the cats I had the great opportunity of jamming with by the campfire.
Liz and I got out to Lake Limestone Friday night and were welcomed right away with cold beers, whiskey drinks and embraces from some Radio Free Texas Rowdies and musician buddies. After a hearty night of drinking, jams by the fire and a great many laughs, Saturday morning arrived before I knew it and Mr. Hangover had made it a might hard to face the daylight. A Gatorade/vodka and cold Shiner chaser fixed that and I was ready to folk-out. My set was at noon, which is usually far too early for most musicians to be fully functional, let alone for the vocal chords to be fully warmed-up and seasoned. It was all good times, though. Had the great privilege of sharing a stage with mi amigo Austin Mayse, an amazingly gifted singer/songwriter who I don’t get to see nearly often enough.
After our set (and a few more cold beers) Austin and our respective better-halves all got caught-up a bit. Austin handed me a copy of his album Devil on my Shoulder. Now, said album has been in circulation for awhile (I’ve had it on my computer for quite some time) but the physical copies have only recently come to light. I’m still old-school in that regard. Nothing like a hard-copy to put on the stereo or to drive around listening to, and I’ve gotta admit, I knew the album was good before from listening to it as sound files on the old ‘puter, but it’s much better than I ever dreamed. Maybe that’s just the fact that I’ve only got those 11 songs to listen to while it’s in the player and not tons others dragged-and-dropped into a Windows Media Player playlist, or that it’s coming through real speakers and not those shitty computer speakers I’ve used since my nice studio monitors were stolen, or God forbid, earbuds.
But yeah, I highly, highly recommend Austin Mayse’s Devil on my Shoulder. There’s catchy, great songs and a great voice. What more could you ask for on a freshman album, or any record for that matter? Oh yeah, there’s all that, AND a vocal cameo by the legend himself, Rusty Wier, who lends his vocal bona fides to “Hungover Sundays.” The way it’s printed on the tracklisting is amusing to me. With the lack of font size variance it looks like the song is titled “Hungover Sundays With Rusty Wier”. Hell, there’s a hell of a song in that, too.
The rest of the acts were good. Really enjoyed seeing Beau Hinze and the Backporch Shufflers again, but the real greatness happened at the songwriter circle after the festivities. There was much in the way of great songs, and an older gentleman who sat on a bench and strummed along in the background gave the sweetest comment about my song “Fences”. From where I sat, though, the real magic of that night was channeled by Messrs. Michael O’Neal and Manzy Lowry.
I’d never met Michael before. We were both on the bill at last year’s Geezerfest in Gruene, and several of my RFT friends had spoken very well of his music, but for whatever reason, it took until CWIC to hear him and hang with him. Every song he played that night was the work of someone who doesn’t bullshit around with his craft. Songs like “5x7s” (which can be heard here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNhbggZ6EZs ) cut to the core of experience and emotion. One after another, the songs just floored me. Several times I just wanted to put down my guitar and listen.
I’ve had the honor of hearing Manzy many times, and hanging out quite a bit, though not nearly enough (a consistent theme with a good many of my Hill Country-based musician pals). I didn’t get there in time to catch his pre-party set on Friday night, but Manzy’s campfire covers of Townes and his amazing originals give away how in-tune the dude is. He's a poet who walks the walk and sings what must be sung, with dignity and authenticity that many try to buy, and many don't even know they should want. At one point, he stood in front of everyone in the circle and played a recitation piece, a tribute to his grandfather called “Lasting Impressions”. It almost got me in the mood to play my “Flaxen Memories” song, but like many of Michael’s tunes, it floored me. I had to stop and get up and walk around awhile and think; reminisce about days and drives of long ago that are present in my mind, but nowhere else, it would seem.
Those lasting impressions Manzy writes and sings of are a big reason why I try my hand at creating art at all.