Off the Record
El Niño y El Sol
Vallejo may not be performing at the second annual Pachanga Latino Music Festival at Fiesta Gardens on Saturday, but that doesn't mean that organizer Alex Vallejo has the day off. At the Niños Rock Pachanga stage, which boasts an arts & crafts area and a photo booth from Annie Ray, Vallejo leads a drum tutorial at 1:30pm as part of a daylong series of demo sessions, featuring Charanga Cakewalk's Jake Owens (guitar), Bobby Garza of Maneja Beto (keyboard), and David Garza (songwriting). Alongside brothers A.J. and Omar Vallejo, Alex also anchors the Pachanga Allstars, a local gathering of Latin musicians, including performing artists Michael Ramos (Charanga Cakewalk), Anita Benner (Los Bad Apples), Juan Diaz (Kalua), and guitarist Adrian Quesada (Ocote Soul Sounds/Brownout), which will be making its public debut at the festival. "The whole thing came together through different jam sessions at little barbecues in South Austin; then it slowly carried over into the home studio," relays Vallejo, who hopes to one day take the group on the road as part of a packaged tour. "It seemed to fit the theme of the festival, bringing people together and celebrating the roots of Mexican culture. See "Pachanga!" and www.pachangafest.com.
"A lot of times, songwriting is nothing more than keeping your eyes and ears open and getting out of the way of the song," surmises Joe Ely in regard to the Flatlanders' remarkable Hills and Valleys (see "Texas Platters," April 17). "It seemed like every time we got together, some big thing would happen in the world: Katrina, the banks going broke, stuff like that. It interrupted our flow, but it led us into writing other things." Hills and Valleys maps a deeply philosophical response to the political turns of the past five years, over which time the album was written, a harmonious amalgam of the West Texas wisdom and seasoned songcraft that defines the Lubbock trio – Ely, Butch Hancock, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Along with Alejandro Escovedo, the Flatlanders, who pull into the Texas Union Ballroom on Thursday, June 4, lead local nominations for the eighth annual Americana Honors & Awards Show, which takes place at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium in September. The local supergroup earned nods last week for both best duo or group and best song ("Homeland Refugee"). Yet, even with the inspiring circumstances of the writing sessions, the words didn't come easily. "I can't say I've ever been involved in a more difficult record to write," cackles Ely. "We'd meticulously write the songs from the ground up, one word at a time. When the song gets done, it's something that none of us could have written individually. It really is a Flatlanders song."
On the Beach
Hayes Carll admits he had a selfish motivation for establishing the Stingaree Music Festival three years ago in Crystal Beach, where he started his songwriting career and resided for five years (see "Trouble in Mind," June 6, 2008): "I wanted to see my favorite musicians play in a place I love that most people don't even know exists." Carll's purpose changed drastically last September when Hurricane Ike destroyed the entirety of the Bolivar Peninsula. "With the economy and all else, people have already forgotten that just six months ago there were four vibrant towns here," says Carll, who started recording the follow-up to his Lost Highway breakthrough Trouble in Mind on Tuesday. "There's still a community that needs our help, and they're the last people that would ask for it." Syncing up with the annual Texas Crab Festival, Carll hosts the third edition of Stingaree this weekend, with all proceeds benefiting various reconstruction efforts. There's also a beach cleanup scheduled for Saturday afternoon. With the exception of Jason Allen, all of the performers – Ray Wylie Hubbard, Ryan Bingham, and Jesse Dayton, among others – are veterans of the fest and are donating their services, a testament to the lasting impression Crystal Beach has on its visitors. "It's just one of those places," stresses Carll. "Spend a few days there with the locals and the beauty of the beach, you'll understand." Patrons can camp on the beach or grab a hotel in nearby Galveston or Beaumont. www.stingareemusicfestival.com.
After more than two decades as Austin's premier classic soul composer, D-Madness is packing his bags for Washington, D.C., "My time here was well spent," says D-Madness, born Dwayne Jackson, "but I'm kind of stagnant. I want to try my luck in a different place on the East Coast so I can get to Philly or New York." The blind, one-man fusion band, known for his live looping of drums, bass, and keyboards, is leaving a fine parting gift, Equinox/Funk Fest, a double album of evocative R&B and futuristic funk, which encapsulates his local legacy. A farewell jam, featuring fellow Hip Hop Humpday conspirator Bavu Blakes & the Extra Plairs, takes places at the Dirty Dog Bar on Friday with an encore on Thursday, June 4, at Flamingo Cantina. "I'll be back," smiles D-Madness. "You can count on that."
• In the wake of American Analog Set's recent reunion at South by Southwest, the local slowcore outfit has issued Hard to Find: Singles and Unreleased 2000-2005, a digital-only companion piece to Through the 90s, featuring contributions from Ben Gibbard and Matt Pond. "The cornerstone of the compilation is a tour-only 4-song, 12" that sold out along our last tour in 2005," posted frontman Andrew Kenny, who's currently on tour with the Wooden Birds, on MySpace.
• Ember boards a Navy jet on Sunday to open two shows next week for platinum rock group Hinder at U.S. Air Force bases in Germany's Baumholder and Ramstein, the former serving as a welcome home for troops returning from Iraq. The local alternative act was selected from more than 250 groups as part of a promotional contest during SXSW 09, held by Armed Forces Entertainment.
• The Austin Music Foundation kicks off Marketing Rehab: Synergistic Branding for Bands, a free, three-part series at the Hilton Garden Inn on Monday, June 1, 7pm, with a seminar on Twitter. www.austinmusicfoundation.org.
• Due to copyright conflictions with the L.A.-based label of the same name, the Waxploitation! DJs unveil their new moniker at Club de Ville on Friday.
• The Kerrville Folk Festival, which acquired nonprofit status through the Texas Folk Music Foundation late last year, is in full swing and continues through June 7. The Belleville Outfit, Bruce Robison, and Terri Hendrix are among the locals kicking up dust there this weekend. For complete details, see www.kerrville-music.com.