- Tribal Nation – Gina
- Willie Nelson – Something To Think About
- The Killer Bees – Doctor Doom
- Grimy Styles – Smokin’ on the Deck
- Don Chani – Action
- The Mau Mau Chaplains – Man Bitter (Curfew Time)
- Mr. Brown & the Dub Kids – Babylon Site
- Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township – La Briza
- Eleven Fingered Charlie – Early Morning Rises
- Five Ton Chicken – Everything Turns Grey
- People’s Army – Monica
- Watusi – Cool Runner
- Grupo Fantasma – Utility Rock
- Daily Bread Dub – Gun Smoke
- Jerry Jeff Walker – Come Away To Belize With me
- McPullish & General Smiley – Natty Natty
- Contra Coup – Rudie Has Fallen
- Stingers ATX – Let’s Be In Love
- Aton – We Are All
- Tribal Nation – Flirty
- Los Skarnales – Borracho
- We are Half Nelson – 1969 (Dub)
- Shark Attack – Ammunition
- Willie Nelson & Mishka – Homegrown
- Tribal Nation – Restaurant
- Border Roots – Just Be Thankful
- Grimy Styles – Ductape & Pancakes
- Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township – Boys and Girls
- The Mau Mau Chaplains – Confirm Reservation
- The Killer Bees – Stereo
- Three Shoes Posse – Ron Paul Is Here
- Sons of the Beach – Dirty Sanchez
- The Raspas – Poor Man Style
- Watusi – The Island
- Major Riley – Wooy Fireman Put It Out
- Los Skarnales – Borracho
- Vital Brass Tones – This Way
- Sons of the Beach – Wake n’ Bake
- Jerry Jeff Walker – Champagne Don’t Hurt Me Baby
The rain fell as the music filled the park. Mud seethed underfoot and gushed between toes. Among the strong aromas and beautiful sounds, the 2009 Austin City Limits Music Festival came alive and offered another memorable year of music. Although environmental factors change from year to year, from stifling heat and dust to drenching rain and mud, the show never stopped. The music continued. And Austin proved itself again as the live music capitol of the world.
I caught Dr. Dog at the Dell Stage for my first show. I found these boys from Philadelphia to be quite harmonic, reminiscent of the psychadelia rock of the Beatles and The Byrds. Songs like “The Breeze” and “The Old Days” displayed that smooth 1960s sound. But my favorite song on the set list was “The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer.”
I had heard of Phoenix, but I had never listened to their music. A friend convinced me to see this alternative rock band from Versaille, France. The comparisons to their French peers Daft Punk and Air interested me. Ultimately I understood the comparisons, finding the sound close to a New Order-like electronica pop. Phoenix pleasantly surprised me with tunes like “Lisztomania,” “Lasso,” “If I Ever Feel Better,” “Fences,” “Girlfriend,” “Run Run Run,” “Too Young,” “Rome,” and “1901.” Many of the songs appear on the new album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.
The best show of the day came from the Somalian born/Canadian based rapper k’naan. Under the Wildflower Tent the slender Somalian rocked the crowd with political prose, heart-felt lyrics, and blistering beats. Appropriate adjectives include humble, inspirational, and talented. k’naan had a broad appeal, drawing young children and old people, and all those between the young and old. An intimate performance captivated the crowd.
The track “T.I.A. [Explicit]” thundered bass as K’naan introduced the crowd to his unique brand of hip-hop. “T.I.A.” samples Bob Marley’s classic ska tune “Simmer Down,” layers it over heavy beats, and atop raps the brilliant young wordsmith. In Africa, Bob Marley, Lucky Dube, 2pac, and The Notorious B.I.G. reign supreme. k’naan studied these great performers and his sound reflects those influences. Yet the sound is original. The music is gangsta but peaceful, hard but soft, and always chalk full of the contradictions and realities of life.
From Africa the Somalian took us on a trip to “America.” On the album, Mos Def and Chali 2Na join the track with their rhymes on the studio version of “America,” but solo and live K’naan brought this song to its full potential without the help of these great lyricists. The song “Take A Minute” brought emotion to the tent. The following love ballad “Fatima” lightened the mood. And then the hardcore rap song “ABC’s” (with a Chubb Rock sample) rocked the and rolled with pure energy.
K’naan then sang a song about “Somalia,” which brought tears to the crowd’s eyes. The lyricist played two different versions beginning with an acapella and moving into a full band version. As K’naan says “his real will makes your real look like a rental.” This track talks about the perils of childhood in Somalia and the suffering of the people. K’naan harnesses the pain and realities of the world and turns them into amazing poetry. The rapper followed the tear jerker with “Bang Bang,” a nice jamming pop tune. And he ended his set with the a sing-a-long to “Wavin’ Flag.”
K’naan was the highlight of the evening. But the jams continued with Thievery Corporation. The dub electronica duo and band played on the main stage this year kicking out funky electronica with “.” The crew from Washington, D.C. also played the sitar heavy “Mandala,” displaying their unique acumen at world music.
In a testimony to the diversity of the music at ACL I caught parts of sets from the Texas country group Reckless Kelly and the hard-rocking new super trio Them Crooked Vultures. Them Crooked Vultures features bassist John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, drummer David Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters, and Josh Homme the guitarist and lead singer from Queens Of The Stone Age. Kings Of Leon headlined Friday night playing their hits “Sex On Fire,” ”On Call,” and ”Use Somebody.”
The music continued after the festival at the ACL after shows. I went to a Township Records showcase at the Ghost Room downtown on 4th Street in the Warehouse District. I caught the end of Danny Malone‘s set. This kid has a beautifully haunting voice. My wife described him as a creepy James Taylor. His new album Cuddlebug features the eerie track “Basement.” Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township played some of my favorite tracks from the new album Yearbook, including “Ragamuffin” and “Let It Go.”
Nature lovin,’ tree-huggin, hippy musician and artist Graham Wilkinson put together a fascinating group of Austin-based musicians to accompany his original and inspirational songs on the new album Yearbook. Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township make beautiful music for mountain drives and nature hikes, but also for boisterous bars across North America. The music is original. Some might claim it is a kaleidoscope of roots music, folk, rock, Americana, jazz, and reggae, but really Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township melt away genres and make new and exciting music.
On Yearbook Graham Wilkinson writes beautiful ballads like “Star Blue” and blues tunes like “The Corner Store” underscoring his brilliance at song writing. Drummer Matt Morris, bassist Wayne Dalchau, guitarist P.J. Herrington, and Chris Stringer on keys make up the backbone of the Underground Township on this particular album with Graham playing a range of instruments from harmonica and guitars to percussion. The Township is joined by a revolving cast of musicians from the Austin scene including Hayes Carll, Alejandro Escovedo, Ray Hilner, Meg Kemp, Mista Swift, Margaret Whitt-Harn, Joe Fallhaeber, Trisha Keefer, Mark Levine, Nick Warrechuk, Mark Wilson, Kyle Clayton, Will Duppy, Leila Henley, Heidi Johnson, Danny Malone, David Moss, Hector Munoz, Ron Weisberg, Dawnerin Wilkinson, Sarah Lu Wilkinson, and even legendary Texan musician Lloyd Maines.
The track “Ragamuffin” sticks out as a particular favorite of mine. I’ve always liked this song, but when it came up on my iPod (in a random shuffle mode) while cruising through the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming it seemed to be the perfect song at the perfect time. Hayes Carll and Graham Wilkinson share vocals on the song with Lloyd Maines playing a beautiful steel guitar. The gliding pace of the song helped me to glide smoothly over the meadows and mountain lakes.
The tracks on Yearbook like “La Brisa,” “Let It Go,” and “Boys and Girls” are not only great songs, but they also have been well produced here by Township Records. Township Records, run by bassist Wayne Dalchau, is a great local Austin indie label with talented new artists like Danny Malone, James Levy, and Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township.
Yearbook is a concept album that takes a look back at the collaborations and music of 2008 in South Austin. The previous release from the band was the self-titled Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township, which took a different approach to Graham’s songs. On Yearbook the tracks are more filled out. And the good news is, The Underground Township are taking this wonderful music on the road for 2009. The late summer tour is exhaustive. Make sure to catch Graham & the Township playing in a town near you.
|Aug 2 2009 6:00P||Freds Texas Cafe||Ft. Worth, Texas|
|Aug 5 2009 8:00P||The Whitewater Tavern||Little Rock, Arkansas|
|Aug 6 2009 9:00P||Tres Hombres||Carbondale, Illinois|
|Aug 7 2009 9:00P||Duke’s Hideaway||Chicago, Illinois|
|Aug 8 2009 9:00P||Duke’s Hideaway||Chicaco, Illinois|
|Aug 9 2009 8:00P||Village Inn||Suttons Bay, MI|
|Aug 10 2009 8:00P||Village Inn||Suttons Bay, MI|
|Aug 11 2009 8:00P||Village Inn||Suttons Bay, MI|
|Aug 12 2009 9:00P||The Happy Dog||Cleveland, Ohio|
|Aug 13 2009 9:00P||Hill Country BBQ||New York, New York|
|Aug 14 2009 10:00P||Blak Oak Tavern||Oneonta, New York|
|Aug 15 2009 8:00P||Fred Fest||Oneonta, New York|
|Aug 19 2009 9:00P||Northside Tavern||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|Aug 20 2009 9:00P||Boone Saloon||Boone, North Carolina|
|Aug 21 2009 9:00P||Tasty World||Athens, Georgia|
|Aug 22 2009 9:00P||Westville Pub||Asheville, North Carolina|
|Aug 25 2009 9:00P||Lynagh’s Irish Pub||Lexington, Kentucky|
|Aug 26 2009 10:00P||The Basement w/ Rufus Huff (Kentucky Headhunters)||Nashville, Tennessee|
|Aug 27 2009 8:00P||The Whitewater Tavern||Little Rock, Arkansas|
|Aug 28 2009 8:00P||Smoke and Barrel Tavern||Fayetteville, Arkansas|
|Aug 29 2009 8:00P||The Parish w/ The Blue Hit & Danny Malone||Austin, TX|
The Best of April 2009!!!
1. Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township – Yearbook [Township Records 2009]
2. K’Naan – Troubadour [Octone Records 2009]
3. Buju Banton – Rasta Got Soul [Gargamel 2009]
4. Bob Dylan – Together Through Life [Columbia 2009]
5. Cunninlynguists – Strange Journey Volume One [QNS 2009]
6. J.J. Cale – Roll On [Rounder 2009]
7. B Real – Smoke and Mirrors [Duck Down 2009]
8. Jah Cure – The Universal Cure [SoBe 2009]
9. Souls of Mischief – Tour Stories [Hieroglyphics Imporium 2009]
10. Jahmali – El Shaddai [Penthouse 2009]
11. Various Artists – Evolution Dub Volume 1: The Origin of the Species [Greensleeves 2009]
12. Various Artists – Evolution Dub Volume 2: The Great Leap Forward [Greensleeves 2009]
13. Sizzla – Ghetto Youthology [Greensleeves 2009]
14. Bitty McLean – Movin On [Taxi 2009]
15. John Brown’s Body – Re-Amplify [Easy Star Records 2009]
Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township released a new album on Township Records, Yearbook, this month that brings the best of Texas roots music to the fore. Graham Wilkinson has proven himself not only as a songwriter but also as an arranger. Some of the songs on this album come from earlier albums but here they are arranged in new and lovely ways. On the track “Ragamuffin,” Hayes Carll lends his voice and Lloyd Maines plays his pedal-steel guitar. “Let It Go” stands out as an americana roots jam and “La Briza” casts an easy groovy spell. “Boys and Girls” is a reggafied track that has a ska sound. On the strings laden “Ghosts,” a previously unreleased track, Alejandro Esovedo adds his voice to this rock n’ roll piece of art. Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township and the boys at Township Records, including producer and bassist Wayne Dalchau, have done it again. And this time the album artwork and concept of the Yearbook make it worth getting the hard copy of this album. Get the digital album if need be but the artwork and music make this album a tangible item one needs to hold, see, listen, and appreciate. Like the old days before the digital single this album harkens back to the good old days of the concept album. This album, Yearbook, captures a year of creativity, music, and Austin vibes.
K’Naan the Somalian rapper dropped sweltering rhymes over fat beats on his new album Troubadour. The track “I Come Prepared” with Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley stands out as a powerful song and the track “ABC’s” with Chubb Rock is slamming. Chali 2Na Fish, Mos Def, and Adam Levine also co-star on this album. But K’Naan shines on solo tracks too. The track “T.I.A.,” which stand for “This Is Africa,” samples Bob Marley & the Wailers’ “Simmer Down” with heavy bass drops chopping the old rhythm into a new dancehall beat. The Somalian rapper shows his softer side on ballads like “Wavin’ Flag” and “Take A Minute.” I am looking forward to seeing the live show.