CountryLine Magazine – October 2014

Two Tons of Steel have been entertaining Texas fans for almost two decades and have performed thousands of concerts in many different venues. One thing they’ve never done is pay tribute to one of their biggest influences, the King himself, Elvis Presley. Rockabilly has been a staple of Two Tons style for years and many of their songs were influenced by the early music of Elvis when he got his start on Sun Records in Memphis. On October 16 at the historic Brauntex Theatre in downtown New Braunfels, Two Tons of Steel will perform a ‘one-time’ only 90 minute tribute to the music of Elvis. Tickets are just $5 at the door or $9 online at Brauntex.org. Part of the popular ‘Greatest Hits Live’ series at the Brauntex, Two Tons will kick off the 2014-15 season. Other acts scheduled to appear are Phantom 46 performing a tribute to Foreigner, Stewart Mann & Statesboro Revue tribute to the Rolling Stones, Bret Graham tribute to Johnny Cash, The Groove Hounds tribute to Heart and Seth James tribute to Eric Clapton. See the full line-up at Brauntex.org. All shows start at 7:30pm and last until 9pm. General Admission tickets are just $5 at the door.

Sam Riggs is one of the rising stars on the Texas music scene, grabbing fans with every concert and every new album. When his first video was released in late 2013, it gave his career a major shot in the arm and his CD a bump up the charts. ‘Outrun The Sun’ was one of my favorite albums of 2013 and like many fans; I’m anxiously waiting on the follow-up. Until then, we have a brand new video, ‘Hold On & Let Go,’ filmed at Giddy Up’s in South Austin. The video was released in September via Sam’s YouTube page and instantly grabbed over 2,000 views in the first 24 hours. The video is being featured on CMT Pure, on Rawhide & Velvet by the notorious Texas music blogger Rita Ballou, and on a slew of heavy weight radio station websites across Texas. The video features the kind of daring footage that Sam has become known for, in everything he does, both on film and off. Sam’s on stage prowess can be seen throughout the beginning scenes donning his fiddle chops, one of the many instruments he plays.  The vision for the video came from Sam Riggs, Philip Guzman and James LaMarr, and as Sam likes to keep things in the family, features cameo performances from tour manager Matt Renard portraying the bar tender and manager Jeb Hurt portraying one of the assailants when justice comes to town. Check out Sam in concert, see all tour dates at samriggsandthenightpeople.com and be sure to pick up a copy of ‘Outrun The Sun.’

Singer-songwriter Radney Foster was able to use his social media followers for the recovery of eight of his guitars recently stolen from a storage unit in Nashville. But at this point, two of the instruments and a custom-made amplifier are still missing. Foster posted a list of the 10 guitars and the Del Rio amplifier on his Facebook page last month, with serial numbers and background information on some of the one-of-a-kind instruments, including one of the two that has yet to be recovered, a black Gibson J-30, which was given to him by the RCA Nashville label when he was in the duo Foster and Lloyd. The guitar was stolen in Houston and Radney kept police evidence tags on it, so he had all the info needed to identify it. The other guitar that has yet to be located is a 1977 Martin D-28. The first of the guitars that was found, the J-45, was thanks to someone in Dallas seeing Foster’s initial Facebook post and sending a text to songwriter Jon Randall in Nashville. Randall was near a guitar shop where he spotted the instrument. Within two hours of that first post, he updated his Facebook followers, writing, “All hail the power of social media! Six of the 10 guitars have been recovered with your help, and I have a line on where to find two more tomorrow.” It’s nice to know that Facebook can be used for something other than letting everyone know what you had for lunch.

Robert Earl Keen is doing things a little different on his next album; first of all, he’s exploring his bluegrass roots and giving the red-dirt format a break. “Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions” is set for release in February 2015 on Dualtone Records. Keen didn’t write any of the tunes, choosing to cover classics by his favorite bluegrass artists. “My wife and my family used to wear these crazy pajamas that had horizontal stripes, and we called them the ‘happy prisoners,'” Keen recently told the Nashville Scene. “I was working on this title, and thinking, ‘I want something that is unique and sounds original.’ But at the same time, I wanted something that reflected how I feel about bluegrass. I’ve been listening to it forever, I love it, and I feel I’m somewhat locked into it. Even my own songs sometimes are formatted, not instrument-wise, but verse-chorus-wise, like that. So I feel like I’m necessarily a happy prisoner of bluegrass. The new CD was produced by Lloyd Maines, who also produced Keen’s 2011 LP, Ready for Confetti. Maines’ daughter Natalie lends her vocals to a track, as do Lyle Lovett and Peter Rowan. Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins joins on fiddle and Danny Barnes is on banjo, along with several other guest musicians and the singer’s road band. For Keen, this project has been a long time coming and one his fans are anxiously awaiting.

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