The best introduction to Jon Wolfe is the basic yet not so simple fact that he’s a country singer and songwriter. And to learn his life story — from small town Oklahoma to the bustling big city commodities trading floor to the dancehalls and honky-tonks of Texas and Oklahoma to Music Row. Wolfe’s 2010 album “It All Happened in a Honky Tonk” introduced a modern country singer/songwriter whose music struck a perfect balance between the best country traditions and contemporary energy and vision. Warner Music Nashville re-released this album in 2013 as a Deluxe Edition. “I feel connected with the tradition,” Wolfe concludes. “There’s something a little bigger than just my dreams going on in country music. That’s why I feel so strongly about doing what I do.” And to make it all even sweeter, “I’m doing what I love.”
Cody Canada was the lead singer/songwriter of the Oklahoma-based rock-country band Cross Canadian Ragweed from their inception in 1998 to their dissolution in 2010. In that time they sold over a million albums. Cody Canada has returned to vintage Cross Canadian form, seizing the opportunity to take the lead of his four-piece band, The Departed, with a newly energized inspiration to get back to his roots. The time he spent pursuing new creative paths with The Departed was a blessing, allowing him time to develop a rejuvenated appreciation of Ragweed’s legendary body of work and the connections it made with fans.
Chris Knight doesn’t like to say much. He won’t chat about his worldview or engage in conversations on his creative approach. For 15 years, 7 acclaimed albums and a hard-nosed career, Knight has always let his music do most of the talking. And on record – as well everywhere across America, from roadhouse taverns to major-city concert halls – his songs have had plenty to say. But with his album Little Victories, Chris Knight has taken the discussion to a whole new level. So after 15 years, 8 albums and a still uncompromised reputation as one of the best singer/songwriters in America, what has Chris Knight learned from it all? “I’ve learned that I’m pretty lucky to do what I do and make a living at it,” he says.
*This is a limited seating concert with chairs set up on the dance floor. All seating will be first come, first serve.* Fourteen-time Grammy Award-winner Ricky Skaggs’ career is easily among the most significant in recent country music history. If Skaggs’ burgeoning trophy case full of awards wasn’t already enough evidence of that fact, consider that legendary guitarist Chet Atkins once credited Skaggs with “single-handedly saving country music.” His life’s path has taken him to various musical genres, from where it all began in bluegrass music, to striking out on new musical journeys, while still leaving his musical roots intact. He became a recording artist in his own right in 1981 when his Epic label debut album Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine topped the country charts and yielded a pair of #1 hits. He garnered eight Country Music Association Awards – including the coveted Entertainer of the Year trophy in 1985. Skaggs’ 1997 album Bluegrass Rules! marked a triumphant return to bluegrass – which he’s solidified ever since with a series of Grammy Award winning albums, recorded with his amazing bluegrass band, Kentucky Thunder. Ricky struck his first chords on a mandolin over 50 years ago, and he continues to do his part to lead the recent roots revival in music. Clearly his passion for it puts him in the position to bring his lively, distinctively American form of music out of isolation and into the ears and hearts of audiences across the country and around the world. Ricky Skaggs is always forging ahead with cross-cultural, genre-bending musical ideas and inspirations.
The Gospel Brunch is led by Bret Graham, one of Gruene Hall’s favorite country musicians. Bret sings his cowboy style Gospel tunes and accompanies The Gospel Silvertones, one of Austin’s most uplifting Gospel groups. The New Orleans-style gospel brunch also features a buffet catered by Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar.
Dale Watson is a honky tonk hero and country music maverick, a true outlaw carrying on where Waylon Jennings left off. A member of the Austin Music Hall of Fame, he stands alongside Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and George Strait as one of the finest country singers and songwriters from the Lone Star State. Commercial country did not fit the fiercely independent songwriter, so after relocating to Austin, Dale wrote several songs poking fun at the industry side of Nashville. Dale released The Trucking Sessions in 1998. Including 14 original driving songs, the album received high praise and caused critics to compare him to chart-topping writer Red Simpson, who was responsible for some of the most iconic trucking tunes in country music. Just two years after this success, Dale’s fiancee died in a car accident. He turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with her loss and nearly died of an overdose. Dale then checked himself into a mental institution and left a year later, releasing his tribute album to her called Every Song I Write Is For You (2001). Back in Texas and on the road in 2006, Dale has been trucking ever since. Dale released his 20th album called The Sun Sessions. Hailed as “one of the best country albums of the year”, it was recorded at Memphis’ legendary Sun Studios with The Texas Two in the stripped-down style of Johnny Cash’s earliest recordings. He followed this with El Rancho Azul, 14 fresh honky tonk originals about marriage, heartbreak and honkytonkin’, which propelled Dale into the national spotlight with multiple appearances on late-night television and NPR.
When you hear about the son of two country music legends, the product seems inevitable…But what you get from Shooter Jennings is a little bit of that, and a whole lot of what you didn’t realize you wanted. A musician, song writer, producer and video game creator, Jennings has released eight studio albums, two live records, and has produced and released various projects courtesy of his own record label Black Country Rock. Jennings’ career hasn’t ever stuck to one format, and you can find him all over the map when it comes to where he is at in the game. His latest album, released in 2016, Countach (For Giorgio), features songs with various artists including Marilyn Manson, Brandi Carlile and Steve Young. His 2005 debut solo record, Put The O Back In Country, included southern rock tracks “4th Of July” and “Steady At The Wheel”. The record debuted at #22 on the US Country chart. Fast forward to 2010, and you’ll find Jennings releasing Black Ribbons, a heavy, psychedeliccountry-rock concept album that included narration from Stephen King as the album’s character Will O’ The Wisp. At the time, the album was a left turn for Jennings, but created a new path for fans of all genres, and somewhat of a cult-following of the record. Black Ribbons was re-released on November 8th, 2016 (Election Day) as an “Ultimate Edition”. While some stay in the safe-place of their genres, Jennings continues to place himself where he wants to be, and creates exactly what he feels is needed for the time. Music.
Playing upwards of 200 dates a year, giving heartfelt, unrestrained performances, and winning over a loyal audience show-by-show, the Dirty River Boys have notched a number of significant milestones, opening for legend Willie Nelson several times, and selling out the famed Gruene Hall. Indeed, The Dirty River Boys have an incredible number of strengths. All four members have a hand in the songwriting, and all four sing as well, while members often switch off instruments during shows. This isn’t just a vehicle for a songwriting frontman, with an interchangeable crew of instrumentalists bringing those ideas to life. And so, after a pair of EPs and an album, “Science of Flight,” that served as a tour calling card, the time couldn’t be better for an anthemic, hook-laden declaration of intent, served up to an audience beyond DRB’s Texas diehards. The record is both a cohesive statement and a dizzying testament to the band’s capabilities, as it shifts gears between genres with the skill of a long-haul trucker.
Shinyribs is the continuation of Kevin Russell’s musical journey that began in Beaumont, TX when, at 14, he found his father’s guitar under his bed, along with a sewing machine, a billy club and a box of comic books. Luckily, he chose the guitar. Following his family’s oil boom and bust migratory path he landed in Shreveport, LA where he formed his first band. Picket Line Coyotes was a Husker Du meets Elvis Costello hybrid that lived and died between the “Arklatexabamassippi” borders much like their unfortunate animal namesake. That’s what took him to Austin where The Gourds were born from those Coyote ashes. That storied band of pumpkins came to an end after 18 years of good times and hard travelin’. From that point on Russell, has been riding high on the Shinyribs river of country-soul, swamp-funk and tickle. A Shinyribs show is an exaltation of spirit, truly something not to be missed. It’s a unique musical experience and an original expression of colorful musical heritage.
South Austin’s Uncle Lucius is a dream, conjured in the minds of five sonic mercenaries, a clarion call to arms for true believers. It is the voice that shakes you from complacency, grabs you with both hands and implores: Get in the van!!! Like the city that brought them together, UL is a gumbo, with hints of Americana and folk juxtaposed with a slow-cooked roux that is steeped in classic rock n roll and the blues. The resulting flavor is familiar and unique, roots at its most refined, albeit with a gutbucket foundation. After eight years of touring across Texas and to both coasts and back, UL was named 2014’s Best New Band by the Texas Regional Radio Report. The band’s latest album, The Light, was released June 2015.