Have Yourself a Continental Christmas

The Wagoneers and more at the end of the world (year?)

Round Up the Wagoneers: (l-r) Monte Warden, Brent Wilson, Tom Lewis, and Craig Pettigrew at the 2012 Austin Music Awards
Round Up the Wagoneers: (l-r) Monte Warden, Brent Wilson, Tom Lewis, and Craig Pettigrew at the 2012 Austin Music Awards (by Gary Miller)

’Tis the season, or maybe no reason, but reunion shows seem well-suited to the holidays. Starting tonight, Friday, the Continental Club rings the nostalgia chimes with Speedy Sparks’ “End of the World Party,” followed tomorrow Saturday with Paul Ray & the Cobras’ annual Christmas show, and the Wagoneers’ 2nd annual All Ages Holiday Show on Sunday.

That’s a classic Continental Club triple threat, rolling Lone Star roots, R&B, and country.

Tonight’s show rocks the first of those genres with Denny Freeman’s No Name Band, plus Sparks’ Texas Mavericks and the Mystic Knights of the Sea, skippered by Freeman, Will Sexton, John X Reed and more.

Saturday’s blues revue, meanwhile, stars KUT’s Twine Twine hero Paul Ray, also partnered with Freeman, whose recent Diggin’ On Dylan comes up aces.

For Monte Warden, Sunday stands as the perfect close to 2012, wherein his reformed country quartet the Wagoneers – Warden, Tom Lewis, Brent Wilson, and Craig Pettigrew – recorded their first new album in over a quarter-century up in Nashville during the summer.

“When we made records 25 years ago, we were so excited to be there with Elvis Presley’s piano player, the Jordanaires, and all these wonderful side players,” enthuses Warden. “But we decided that if we ever got the chance to record again, it would just be the four of us, no outside players.

“So the new record’s just us. We’re calling it The Wagoneers.

“Mark [Bright, producer] called and asked if any of us played keyboards, and I said, ‘Absolutely! Craig does!’ Which wasn’t really true, but I also knew Craig is the most musical person I’ve ever met and I could have just as easily said, ‘Craig plays the didgeridoo,’ and he’d have mastered it.

“So he spent many Saturday mornings going over the keyboard parts on my son Brooks’ Casio. Craig played brilliantly and when we got to the studio, Mark was blown away.”

And while you can call it a comeback, don’t call the Wagoneers a reunion.

“We’re not a reunion group,” insists Warden. “These are all the original members who have been successful in the music business and picked up where we left off. And we have this badass music producer. He didn’t sell a hundred million records by accident.”

Playing the Continental a second year for the quartet’s all-ages seasonal tradition, Warden says that having families at Wagoneers shows remains essential.

“True authentic live groups bring it,” he states in no uncertain terms. “And audiences appreciate authenticity, because ya can’t fake that!”

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