Thunderous Applause for the Soul of a Musician Series with Gina Chavez and Johanna Chase

Sunday night’s Soul of a Musician Series provided the perfect remedy for a week’s worth of SXSW exhaustion with inspirational ‘fire water’ from Gina Chavez and Johanna Chase? Chavez, wrapped-up her SXSW schedule Sunday night at The Iron Cactus with her 9th show of the week while the West Coast native Chase trekked all the way in from LA for SXSW and the 133rd Soul Series show.

In its fifth year, the Soul of a Musician Series provides a forum for musicians to play music in a loving, receptive environment in order to explore the various emotional and spiritual dimensions of their music. The musicians perform one or two hand-picked original songs, then series host Rev. Merrill Wade leads an interactive discussion with the artists about the inspiration and spirituality behind those songs.

Chavez and Chase played a back-and-forth, song-swap set in which Chavez led off by debuting ‘She Persisted’. “This song’s not all that deep,” claimed Austin’s 2015 Musician of the Year before unleashing the righteous and unapologetic tune. A lack of depth is most certainly not an issue with ‘She Persisted’. It’s the sort of bold and empowering songwriting Chavez fans admire in her music.

Chase followed with ‘Gangster of Love’, a gorgeous love song with hints of spiritual vulnerability. I’m ashamed to admit, I was unfamiliar with the SOLO.B singer-songwriter prior to the Soul Series event. However, I was pleasantly surprised once she dove into the zoot suited, grass roots ‘Gangster of Love’.

The entire set consisted of 8 total songs between the ladies and concluded with a passionate duet of Chavez’s ‘Fire Water’ from 2015’s critically acclaimed Up.Rooted. The theme of the evening was “thunderous applause” and both musician deserved that and more. I’m not certain why it took 133 shows for me to check out the Soul of a Musician Series. But, I will definitely be visiting The Iron Cactus more frequently on Sunday evenings from here on out.




4th Annual Ameripolitan Music Awards Winners

The 4th Annual Ameripolitan Music Awards took place on February 15, 2017 at the historic Paramount Theatre in downtown Austin, TX presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and hosted by music mavens Ray Benson and Dale Watson. The event honored the best of Ameripolitan Music as voted by the fans.

Over 95 nominees and avid Ameripolitan music fans packed the theatre to celebrate the best of Ameripolitan Music; a music genre originally coined by singer/songwriter Dale Watson, defined as having a prominent root influence, not conforming to the ‘country’ of today. It is broken into four related subcategories: Honky Tonk, Western Swing, Rockabilly and Outlaw. Artists and bands can fall into one or more of these categories.

The Ameripolitan Music Awards, a 501(c)3, was created under the leadership of Texas Honky Tonk legend, Dale Watson, to acknowledge the exceptional creativity and dedication of roots artists whose work does not readily conform to the tastes of today’s “Country”, or other music genres and organizations. Ameripolitan Music LLC and The Ameripolitan Music Awards were founded to benefit and acknowledge these artists. It also provides fans with a means of finding these artists and their music.

The Ameripolitan Music Awards acknowledges those Ameripolitan artists whose music honors tradition while demonstrating exceptional originality, creativity, and musicianship. Through their work, Ameripolitan music is now being defined. The Awards also acknowledge Ameripolitan DJs and venues that promote these artists and their music along with honoring a living legend who has kept the tradition alive through their music and perseverance.

HONKY TONK GROUP: Gary P. Nunn and the Bunkhouse Band
ROCKABILLY GROUP: The Silver Shakers
OUTLAW FEMALE: Darci Carlson
OUTLAW GROUP: Dallas Moore Band
AMERIPOLITAN VENUE: Lil’ Red’s Longhorn Saloon

The 2017 “Keeper of the Key” Award went to Junior Brown, while the evening’s highest honor, the “Master Award” was presented to the legendary Jerry Lee Lewis.
Led by an all-star band, nominees dazzled the audience with performances, including numbers from Leonna Williams, Jason Roberts, Jake Penrod, Marti Brom, Bonnie Montgomery and many others. There were also special performances by Lance Lapinsky, James Inveltd, Jessie Dayton, Rosie Flores, Dale Watson, and Ray Benson.
Celebrity presenters included Andy Langer, Rosie Flores, KOKE FM’s Rita Ballou, James Hand, Johnny Knoxville and Tito Beveridge of Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Sirius XM’s Dallas Wayne also jumped into the announcer’s seat for another year.

JMR_5836 - Marquee

JMR_6140 - Co-Hosts - Dale Watson, Ray Benson



JMR_6194 - Darci Carlson, Winner

Photo Credit: Jennifer M. Ramos (Photos 1,2 and 6)

Photo Credit: Sandra Dahdah (Photos 3,4 and 5)

Article courtesy of: Nicole Shiro

Black Fret: The Peterson Bros., Eric Tessmer, Jane Ellen Bryant

Black Fret flooded the banks of Onion Creek Saturday evening pouring muddy, rock-filled blues from the historic home of Austin’s Music and Entertainment Manager, Don Pitts. Iconic Shady Grove was on hand serving partygoers Tex-Mex pork and chicken tacos while Ben E. Keith kept the Alaskan Whites, Moscow Mules and Merlots flowing from the bar.

Teenage blues phenoms and 2016 Black Fret nominees, The Peterson Brothers, set the party off and got the crowd rocking early with ‘Don’t You Lie to Me.’ The Bastrop boys, Glenn (Guitar & Lead Vocals) and Alex (Bass) Peterson, have an infectious on-stage chemistry and infuse the blues with a lively, outgoing energy that shoots through the crowd. “They deliver more smiles per measure than any band in Austin” as they sway back-and-forth in unison, play to the crowd and even hop off stage to play through the crowd. The brothers paused a 30 second freeze-frame before soloing right into crowd favorite, ‘I Gotta Go’ then delivered a bluesy, central Texas version of The Spinners’ classic, ‘I’ll Be Around’. Alex Peterson cooled the crowd of the late July heat with a chilling, fiddled rendition of ‘Amazing Grace.’ The Peterson Brothers’ set was so captivating even the residents of Onion Creek took to the skies with a couple of ‘V’ flyovers to capture a birds-eye of these funky blues brothers.


Black Fret founders, Matt Ott and Colin Kendrick filled the break between sets with interesting news and updates regarding the organization and its artists. In Ott’s words, “I’m really good at killing time up here” However, when it comes to Black Fret, that statement couldn’t be any further from the truth. Over the past two years the organization has raised more than $280,000 and helped local musicians schedule 198 national tour dates. Black Fret artists have also contributed to 44 fundraisers for other local organizations and charities. Oddly enough, the next musician that took the stage was not a grant nominee…not yet at least.

A breeze finally blew through the blanketing humidity when Austin’s own guitar prodigy, Eric Tessmer, unleashed a cyclone of lightning fast riffs from his personalized “Tessmer” Fender. The vibrant blues-rocker electrified the crowd with an intense, solo-filled performance packed with several new tracks from his upcoming EP; check out the release party, Friday 7/29 at Antone’s. Tessmer opened his set with howling vocals on ‘See You Tonight’ and nearly caused the amps to short-circuit with a wicked solo midway through blues-groovy ‘Ms. Fortune Teller’. He plucked flute-like squeals from his Stratocaster and laid down powerful, string yanking licks reminiscent of…dare I say…Stevie. Tessmer paid homage to another guitar legend with a sweet cover of Jimi’s ‘Are You Experienced’ and closed the set with a brand new track and a rapid-fire drum solo.
“The depth of talent in this town is amazing,” proclaimed Ott. And after witnessing Tessmer’s high-octane performance, this assertion, I believe, is an understatement made even more evident when talented newcomer Jane Ellen Bryant closed the evening with a 3-song set that included hot new single ‘Twenties.’ Bryant is a rare singer whose singing capacity, somehow, someway, stretches further during her live performance. However, that’s an opinion I dare not voice with Bryant’s super-producer, Frenchie Smith, standing a mere few feet away. There’s no denying her vocal range is utterly mesmerizing on the assumed harmoniously tame ‘Want it With You.’ The Austin songstress took the crowd home on a “high-note” with a vocal rich cover of Prince’s ‘Kiss’.

Black Fret continues to host listening sessions showcasing the best of local talent. The depth of that local talent, in my opinion, is fan-friggin-tabulous.


Written by: Douglas Leach (

Photos courtesy of: Becca Kadison and Black Fret