Music News – Dec. 31, 2020

Every December I write a year-end column to look back on the previous twelve months and spotlight the highs and lows. For 2020, there were more lows than highs. It has been a year filled with many losses, both personal and financial. Many families lost loved ones to the virus. Hundreds of musicians passed away this year due to a wide variety of health issues including cancer, heart attacks, strokes and the Covid virus. Sure, there has been a few good things that happened this year, but they were few and far between. Tonight, at midnight we can say good-bye to a terrible year and hope that 2021 brings better times. However, we thought the same thing back in 2019 when we welcomed the new year of 2020. There does seem to be a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. Many of our health care workers got vaccinated and hopefully we all will be within the next few months. Maybe then our lives can get back to normal or whatever our new normal will be. It’s amazing what 10 months of quarantine can do to your personal life. I’ve made many new observations during this time. When we are running errands around town, everyone seems to drive 10 mph under the speed limit. They should know I’m in a hurry to get back home to continue my quarantine. For years I only ate vanilla ice cream, now all I want is butter pecan, by the gallon. Which is probably the reason my wife bought my Levi’s a size larger in the waist this Christmas. Curbside pickup is now the normal way to get your groceries, but it’s always a gamble on what the expiration date on the milk will be. We know which restaurants do the best job with to-go orders. We found our favorite pizza, tacos, and chicken sandwiches. We’ve watched every Hallmark movie and every Netflix documentary. Sometimes we go sit in a parking lot and watch people walk to the front door of the store, then walk back to their car when they realize they forgot their mask. It’s amazing what you can do to pass the time during a pandemic. It may be time to buy some jigsaw puzzles.

New Years Eve will be different this year

Today is the final night of 2020 and I imagine everyone wants this year gone forever, I know I certainly do. Hopefully someday we can look back on this year and find something to laugh about. Personally, I don’t think I will live long enough to find any humor in this year. It’s ironic that our celebrations to bid this year farewell will be hampered by the virus, which is the reason we want this year to end. All the venues are doing their best to keep everyone safe, but the choice is yours to make. Going alphabetically, Billy’s Ice has Highway Hypnosis New Year’s Eve Party tonight at 8:30pm. Downtown Social has their New Year’s Eve Bash starting at 6pm. Over at Freiheit Country Store, Clay Hollis will open for Jon Wolfe. The gates open at 7pm and tables can be purchased on their website. Tables for Gruene Hall’s New Year’s Eve show featuring Mason Lively and Flatland Calvary can be purchased on their website. Pale Horse Sky Bar are calling their event a New Year’s Eve Snow Party and according to the weathermen, it might just happen. Riley’s Tavern has the Chris Cuevas Project on tap for their year-end bash. River Road Icehouse will have Tallula opening for our local Midnight River Choir. Last but not least, the Watering Hole Saloon has 3 Man Front tonight at 8pm. As I write this article, the City of New Braunfels just announced that all bars must close immediately. Any bar that was reclassified as a restaurant must reduce their occupancy to 50%. So, before you head out tonight, please check with the venue to get all the latest information on bar closures. Phone numbers can be found on the concert calendar page and most places will be charging a fee to attend their New Year’s Eve parties.

Albums released this year

Even during a worldwide pandemic, many artists released new albums. They were not able to promote their music by touring, but many released new music anyway. Some of my favorites were Mandy Moore – Silver Landings; Ashley McBride – Never Will; Kenny Chesney – Here & Now; Jason Isbell – Reunions; Jimmy Buffett – Life on the Flip Side; Willie Nelson – First Rose of Spring; Mickey Guyton – Bridges; Bon Jovi – 2020; Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass; Bruce Springsteen – Letter to You; AC/DC – Power Up; Chris Stapleton – Starting Over; Garth Brooks – Fun; Steve Earle – Ghosts of West Virginia; Ronnie Dunn – Re-Dunn; Reckless Kelly – American Jackpot & American Girls; Ray Wylie Hubbard – Co-Starring and Cody Jinks – Live at Red Rocks.

Favorite Concerts of 2020

Even though the pandemic put a halt to live concerts, some good shows were able to happen early in the year. A few standouts were the Hal Ketchum Tribute and the two shows by LeAnn Rimes at Gruene Hall in February. The Brauntex Theatre had Marty Stuart & Connie Smith on Valentine’s Day and an awesome night with Gary P. Nunn in March. Riley’s Tavern had the final show by legendary singer Johnny Bush in September. He passed away less than a month later on October 16. Wade Bowen’s Wassail concert at the Civic Center with many of his friends raised money for local arts related non-profits. It was a fantastic night of holiday tunes for a great cause. Many artists hosted live streams each week and a few became weekly rituals for those of us missing live music. Todd Snider’s Sunday shows were incredible and each week he performed one of his albums in its entirety. He finished all his albums last week so I’m looking forward to what he has in store for us in January. The Sequestered Songwriters, a large group of area songwriters, pay tribute to a different artist every Monday night. Next Monday they will feature songs by the Rolling Stones. I recommend that you check them out each Monday night at 6pm on their Facebook page.

Leslie West dies at 75 yrs old

Though his name may not be familiar to many people, guitarist Leslie West was very influential to many rock guitar players. The late Eddie Van Halen listed West as a huge influence on his playing. Born Leslie Weinstein in New York City in 1945, he changed his last name to West after his parents divorced during his teen years. He started a garage band called the Vagrants with some of his neighborhood buddies and they recorded one album together. They scored a hit with a remake of the Otis Redding classic song ‘Respect.’ West went to see Eric Clapton’s band Cream during this time and was impressed by Clapton’s playing and the fact they were a three-piece band. He left the Vagrants and formed Mountain, one of the first hard rock bands in America. He named the band Mountain because of his large size, six foot tall and nearly 300lbs. His first album was credited to the Leslie West Band, but he changed the band name to Mountain for the second album in 1970 called Climbing. They made one of their first live appearances at the massive Woodstock Festival in 1969. Their 11-song set won them thousands of fans and kickstarted their career as a hard rock band. They scored their biggest hit in 1970 with ‘Mississippi Queen,’ a song that’s still played heavily on classic rock stations. They released eight studio albums and three live albums. Leslie released ten solo albums after Mountain broke up in 2000. In 2011 he had his right leg amputated due to complications from diabetes. He continued performing until the pandemic forced him off the road in March of this year. He suffered a heart attack on December 20 at his Daytona, Florida home and never regained consciousness. He passed away in the hospital on December 22 at 75 years old.



Billy’s Ice  (1193 Loop 337, 830-692-8169)

Tonight – Highway Hypnosis New Year’s Eve Party – 8:30pm


Dam Red Barn (16520 S. Access Rd, Canyon Lake  830-964-3276)

Sat – Shades of Blue – 8:30pm


Devil’s Backbone Tavern (4041 FM 32, Fisher, TX)

Tonight – Turn Up Jam – 7:30pm


Downtown Social Club (386 W. San Antonio, 830-214-6650)

Tonight – New Year’s Eve Bash – 6pm


Farmer’s Market (Castell Street Downtown)

Sat – Steve Tschoepe – 9:30am


Freiheit Country Store (2157 FM 1101, 830-625-9400)

Tonight – Clay Hollis / Jon Wolfe – 7pm

Fri – Jason Boland & the Stragglers (Acoustic) – 7pm


Grapevine in Gruene   (1612 Hunter Rd  830-606-0093)

Tonight – Johnny McGowan – 1pm

Sat – Colton’s Kin – Noon / Jamie Cameron – 4pm

Sun – Eric Middleton – Noon / Johnny McGowan – 4pm


Gruene Hall (1281 Gruene Rd   830-606-1281)

Tonight – Josh Baca & the Hot Tamales – Noon/ Mason Lively/Flatland Calvary – 8pm

Fri – Bo Phillips – 12:30pm / Guy Forsyth & Jeska Bailey – 6:30pm

Sat – Silvercloud – 1pm / Shaker Hymns – 7pm

Sun – Lady And The Tramps – 5pm

Wed – The Georges – 6pm


Happy Cow (9103 FM 1102, Hunter, TX. 512-667-7510)

Sat – JJ Garrett Band – 8:30pm


Krause’s Café (148 Castell, 830-632-5076)

Fri – Monte Good – 1pm / The Georges – 7pm

Sat – Slim Bawb – 2:30pm / Chubby Knuckle Choir – 6pm

Sun – Western Gospel Brunch with Danny White – 10am / Cactus Flats – 2:30pm

Wed – Terry Cavanagh & Alpine Express Polka Night – 6pm


Luckenbach Dance Hall (412 Town Loop, Luckenbach  830-997-3224)

Tonight – Stephen K Morris – 5pm / Jesse Daniel / Sunny Sweeney – 8pm

Fri – Hayden Whittington – 1pm / ShAnnie – 6pm

Sat – Ben Beckendorf Trio – 1pm / Darden Smith & Jamie Lin Wilson – 8pm

Sun – Stephen K Morris – 1pm / Jake Martin – 5pm


Muck & Fuss (295 E. San Antonio Street, 830-312-5387)

Tonight – Three Swings and a Miss – 7pm / Devan Jones (Sidecar) – 8pm


Old River City Café (2771 FM 725   830-620-1900)

Sun – Ryan Waguespack – 10:30am

Wed – Monte Good – 5:30pm


Pale Horse & Sky Bar (2031 Central Plaza, Creekside 830-743-1067)

Tonight – Snow Party NYE – 6pm


Phoenix Saloon (193 W San Antonio, 830-643-1400)

Tonight – Tex Porter – Noon

Fri – Tony Taylor & Geoffrey Hill  – Noon

Sat – Kullen Fox & The Coop – 8pm

Wed – Steven Vee – Noon


Pour Haus  (343 W San Antonio, 830-214-6033)

Tonight – Natalie Rose Band – 8:30pm


Riley’s Tavern (8894 FM 1102 512-392-3132)

Tonight – Chris Cuevas Project – 9pm

Fri – Danny B. Harvey – 8pm

Sat – Joel Hofmann Band – 8pm

Sun – NPD Songwriter Series – 4pm


River Road Ice House (1791 Hueco Springs Loop  830-626-1335)

Tonight – Tallula / Midnight River Choir – 8pm


Rudy’s BBQ (844 Loop 337,  830-609-3337)

Tonight – Shawn Hart – 6pm


Sam’s Burger Joint (330 E Grayson St   210-223-2830)

Tonight – Damn The Torpedos – Tom Petty Tribute – 9:30pm

Sat – Claude Morgan & the Bandaholics – 5pm


Villa at Gruene (1190 Gruene Rd,   830-625-9463)

Fri – Dave Fenley, Brent Michael Wood and Friends – 4pm

Sat – Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis – 6pm


Watering Hole  (1390 McQueeney Rd  830-625-0045)

Tonight – New Year’s Eve w/ 3 Man Front – 8pm – $15

Fri – Cactus Country – 8:30pm

Sat – Zach Talbert – 9pm

Sun – Acoustic Show TBA – 2pm

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