Music News – April 30, 2020

Here we are, the last day of April and so many things are still in limbo. Many concerts scheduled for May are now being moved to June or later. Whitewater Amphitheater has officially rescheduled the Cody Johnson shows scheduled for May 23 and 24. The May 23 show will now take place on September 26. Unfortunately, the May 24 show has been cancelled. The June 11 Urban Cowboy Reunion concert featuring Micky Gilley and Johnny Lee at the Brauntex Theatre is still on the schedule but may be moved to July 23. The Gruene Hall website shows a May 18 reopen date, but it looks like the Americana Jam will be rescheduled or unfortunately cancelled. Freiheit Country Store has a few shows on their May calendar and so does Floores Country Store. Time will tell if any of these shows get cancelled or rescheduled. As I mentioned many times before, I’ve been writing a music column every week since the mid-70’s and I’ve never seen anything like this before. The COVID virus has completely wiped out the entertainment business around the world. Every day I talk to musicians, venue owners, road managers, booking agents, PR firms, tour bus drivers, sound guys, road crews and merchandise people. The story is the same for everyone, complete devastation. Thousands will not survive this, and I don’t mean those that catch the virus. Many people in this industry will be forced to leave the business and find a new way to make a living, if they can. Many will be left homeless or so deep in debt that bankruptcy will be the only answer. I just hope our economy can survive whatever the future holds. As I’ve done for the past few weeks, I checked in with more musicians to see how they are doing during these crazy times.

 

Phil Hurley, singer, songwriter, guitarist for the South Austin Moonlighters, Austin, TX.

The South Austin Moonlighters are one of the best bands on the Texas music scene. Their albums are critical hits as well as fan favorites. They seamlessly blend old school California country rock with Texas outlaw styles. Phil and the band are hunkered down in Austin trying to survive the downtime. “Our whole calendar has been wiped clean. For March, April and May, my group lost around 30 gigs in four different states. I had around ten solo shows canceled as well. In this downtime I’ve been trying to up my home recording game. I got a new recording interface and have been “learning on the job” as they say. I’ve never been known for my engineering skills, but I’m making strides. Writing new tunes and getting my fiancé to join me. She’s a great singer and we’ve been having a lot of fun making music together. Our wedding was scheduled for Sunday, April 19th, but that’s all been postponed as well. I’ve been listening to a good mix of music. The Band, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, The Jayhawks, Jeff Fielder (a friend from Seattle). We’ve all reached out for some government help. I think I will receive some assistance from MusiCares. I’ve been trying to contact the Texas Workforce to see if I can apply for unemployment, but it’s been a dead end. The website says to call, you call, and they say go to the website. Rinse, repeat! I am more than willing to get a day job, but everything is closed. I did help a friend with some construction in his back yard out in Bastrop. But there’s really no work available. Unfortunately, I have a few friends who have the virus or have had it and are getting through it. I was fortunate enough to do some touring with a great group called Fountains of Wayne and they just lost their very talented bass player, Adam Schlesinger, to the virus. His death was a real hit in the face. He’s my age! Too close to home. I started taking my safety much more seriously after that news. I’ve submitted videos as part of an event for the Saxon Pub and for the 35th anniversary of Waterloo Records. I’ve also started “going live” on Facebook on Tuesday evenings at 7 pm central time.

 

Aaron Stephens, singer, songwriter, solo artist, New Braunfels

Aaron is one our talented musicians that performs all over south Texas. His soulful voice is often compared to Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers. “At the moment all of my gigs have been canceled until late May and early June. During this time, I’ve been running a lot, playing guitar and occasionally, I’ll try to write something. Every day is kind of open-ended. I just do what I feel like doing, in that sense, it’s been nice. I’ve been listening to a lot of Bill Withers, of course, but also, I’ve been listening to the Greyhounds out of Austin. Definitely looking into all options as far as government assistance. I’ve been looking for other ways to make money, I’m not ruling out any options. I have a cousin who was misdiagnosed with the virus. There’s definitely a lot of uncertainty going around.

 

Adam Johnson, singer, guitar player & singer for the band Cold Jackets, New Braunfels

Adam plays solo acoustic shows plus he’s the leader of a blues rock band called Cold Jackets.

“I guess in terms of lost gigs, I’m coming up on almost 30 shows cancelled between my band, solo shows and side gigs with other bands. I have definitely been writing a lot, sending voice memos back and forth with friends. So, it’s still possible to collaborate on songwriting. My band Cold Jackets has managed to finish up a new album, so lots of home recording as well. Trying to always expand and listen to new music, but John Lee Hooker seems to be fitting the mood lately. Any of his albums really, but especially the old stuff. My band mates and I have all filed for different financial aid/benefits, but no word yet on if any of them will come through. A lot of them are understandably swamped. So far none of us have applied for other jobs as far as I know, but it’s definitely on our minds quite a bit. I do have a couple friends who have contracted Covid-19, they say it is not fun. I’ll be doing my live streams on Thursdays. Usually at 8pm, but times may vary since I’m trying to do one for my UK fans and friends.”

 

Zac Wilkerson, singer, songwriter, incredible guitar player, Little Elm, TX.

Zac entered the music business by accident. He reluctantly entered a talent contest and won first place, with the prize being a set onstage at Larry Joe Taylor’s 2017 Texas Music Festival.

Things took off from there and now Zac is a full-time musician with several fantastic albums in his catalog. Zac and his family are hanging out in the house in Little Elm, near Dallas. “We’ve been here for two years in June and have settled in well. Everything has been cancelled or rescheduled. My calendar has been cleared and the future is wide open. I am always writing. I can’t stop, It’s a sickness. I have been demoing new songs and corresponding with my Producer, Manager Adam Odor at Yellow Dog Studios in Wimberly. We’re moving forward with plans for another record but recording different parts from our own homes. Not the way I like to make records, but better than not making records at all. I’ve been listening to much more John Prine lately. It’s been added to my regular daily prescribed dosage of Bill Withers. We’ve discussed with the band how to get them some assistance and they are still working through the process and trying to help in that any way I can. One of my band members was working with his family business but that has slowed to a halt and now he’s out of work. The other has been without work for 4 weeks. Luckily no one we know has caught the virus.”

 

Carolyn Wonderland, guitarist, singer, songwriter, South Austin. 

Carolyn is a highly respected, singer, songwriter and phenomenal guitar player. When she’s not pursuing her solo career, she’s touring as the guitarist for John Mayall, the legendary blues star. She lives in Austin with her husband A. Whitney Brown, a former staff writer for Saturday Night Live. “We are way out in South Austin. Just like the rest of us touring acts, all dates for John Mayall’s band and my band have been cancelled or postponed. So, there’s John’s US tour and April’s month-long tour of New Zealand and Australia, all of my band’s US Spring dates, and most of the rest of the year seems to be touch and go. We have the greatest folks at Intrepid Artists (our booking agency) working hard every day to bring live music back to the people as soon as it’s safe, wise, and possible. In my downtime I am restringing instruments and learning to beat on drums with sticks. Man, I miss playing with my band and with my friends so much, I’m learning how to stitch together video of us playing together and sharing them as we learn. Picking up new skills, I suppose is the positive spin on the situation. The plans to release our new record are being pushed back until there is some sense of a plan for music and the musicians who create it in this new environment. I cannot wait to share the new music. Dave Alvin producing the album really brought out the best in us, and he and Stuart Sullivan are a superb team. I’ve been listening to a lot of Doug Sahm, it’s definitely mood altering. I’m also digging on folks’ livestreams and stumbling on treasures like someone posting a 1965 outdoor concert of Coletrane’s Quartet in Belgium, getting psychedelic with The Third Mind’s new eponymous release, bopping around to Shelley King’s new “Kick Up Your Heels” and just preordered Ruthie Foster’s Big Band release. We are all attempting to file for unemployment. So far, unsuccessfully. I have a couple of friends who have survived the virus and have lost one friend and several heroes. We are doing a live stream every Wednesday at 8pm Texas Time at

“Wednesdays Live from Wonderland“ features A. Whitney Brown’s “Little Big Picture” commentary and I’ll play a different themed song collection each week.”

 

 

 

Live Streaming Concert Calendar

Almost every musician is doing some sort of virtual live streaming concert. As information becomes available, I’ll list those that maintain a regular schedule for their events. Events are listed alphabetically. To watch these shows, log onto their Facebook pages. Please tip the musicians if you can afford to at PayPal or Venmo.

 

Adam Johnson – Solo live concert – Thursdays at 8pm

 

Alex Meixner – Facebook Polka Time – Sundays at 1pm CST.

 

Band of Heathens – Tuesday night Supper Club – Tuesdays at 7:30pm

 

Brett Cline – Facebook Concerts at BCMusic Live – Thursdays at 7pm

 

Carolyn Wonderland – Live From Wonderland – Wednesdays at 8pm

 

Cody Canada – Facebook Concerts – Wednesdays at 8:30pm

 

Drew Kennedy – Live in the Backyard – Mondays at 8pm

 

Garth Brooks – Inside Studio G – Facebook Concert – Mondays at 7pm

 

Max & Heather Stallings – We Ain’t Drinking Alone – Wednesdays at 7pm

 

Phil Hurley – South Austin Moonlighters – Facebook Concert – Tuesdays at 7pm

 

Reckless Kelly – Music From The Mountains – Sundays at 7pm

 

Todd Snider – Live from East Nashville – Sundays at 11am

 

Wade Bowen – Wade’s World – Fridays at 8pm

 

Zack Walther Band – Walther Wednesdays – Wednesdays at 7pm

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