Reviewed by David Lynch, Fri., April 12, 2002
Texas RedemptorsMilagros (Catfish Jazz) Led by folklorist, record producer, musician, and substance abuse counselor Tary Owens, Texas Redemptors is a band the longtime local musician helped start after he was hit with a perfect storm of infirmity: Hepatitis C, Parkinson's disease, and diabetes. The band's moniker comes from the support the Austin musical community -- to whom Owens has contributed so much -- has continually shown Owens during his medical troubles. Like Owens' previous work, Milagros features a wealth of guests: Angela Strehli, Paul Ray, W.C. Clark, Derek O'Brien, Mike Mordecai, and Papa Mali. The 14 easy-tempo-ed tunes are self-described as "greasy down-home all-original Texas roots music." Original, if you don't count covers like opener "How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?" The key of "I Wanna C U Dance" stretches the vocalists' range a bit too far, and there are a few bent notes in "Lonesome Railroad." Yet for each of these missteps, there are select cuts like "Ragged but Right" and a tune that should be a new Texas anthem, "Double Cross Shuffle." Owens and Maryann Price's husband-wife take on Hoagy Carmichael's "Old Rockin' Chair" is another sure highlight, while Orange Jefferson's vox and harp join Owens' acoustic guitar in a fine rendition of Lightin' Hopkins' "Mista Charlie." Milagros isn't only a testament to the miracle of Austin's close knit musical community, but also the power of music to heal. Or as "Redemption," the closing track preaches, "let the music sooth your aching soul."