01/17/15 @ Continental ClubRosie & the Ramblers, Two Tons of Steel, Redd Volkaert
Beginning with Redd Volkaert’s longstanding free matinee, Saturday’s off the rails on South Congress. 3-5pm, Merle Haggard’s guitarist proves that he remains one of the greatest pickers alive with a repertoire that defies categorization. San Antonio road dogs Two Tons of Steel notch more than 20 years of hard-edged country and revved rockabilly, while relative newcomers Rosie & the Ramblers, led by versatile singer Selena Rosanbalm, released one of Austin’s top country discs last year in Whatever You Need, traditional, modern, and sly.
08/24/14 @ Fiesta GardensAustin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival
True, this publication’s popular free music series “Paper Cuts” got shredded by expense, but fear not. The Chronicle’s original showcase of homegrown sounds gains mass every succeeding year. A benefit for the Capital Area Food Bank, which hauls off (literally) tons of canned goods from the yearly August fry, your three nonperishable food items won’t eat into your refreshments fund, because believe me, hot sauce and nosh go together like Fiesta Gardens and its bandstand soundtrack.
The scourge of Austin singer-songwriters and homegrown country music, our veteran man on the scene, Jim Caligiuri, wrapped up openers Rosie & the Ramblers perfectly in an Aug. 15 review of their debut LP Whatever You Need: “Comparisons to near-traditional local country singers like Libbi Bosworth and Sunny Sweeney are apparent, yet [Selena] Rosanbalm, particularly on the pointed ‘Shut Up’ and ‘Tall, Dark and Lonesome,’ keeps it modern by singing about troubles with a keen eye and a sharp tongue.”
Believe it or not, Austin’s desperately short on Western divas since both Bosworth and Susanna Van Tassel bowed out of the local scene.
The twin Cajun fiddles of Gumbo Ce Soir put a fine point on the local quintet’s bouillabaisse moniker, while Latin powerhouse El Tule continues branding its Austin pachanga to match that of Grupo Fantasma. Where the latter Grammy-winning brass tacks count Prince among their fan base, the grassroots danceathon of El Tule still lurks in the local shadows like a younger sibling waiting for their moment in the spotlight. Cumbia, salsa, reggae, the thrilling octet ramps it all up to a festival thrust.
Headliners Latasha Lee & the BlackTies? Easy – ever since our own Thomas Fawcett “discovered” the slinky combo at the Sahara Lounge and later vaunted them “into the upper echelon of local R&B acts” with their first local press. Consider them Austin’s answer to Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings: next generation soul bottling the spirit of the genre’s progenitors.