Cold and Bitter Tears: The Song of Ted Hawkins, due October 23, 2015 on Austin-based Eight 30 Records, marks the first tribute album to the soulful Venice Beach street performer, a legend overseas later in his lifetime but a songwriter largely overlooked in the States. Hawkins simply sang like songs were stamped on his heart at birth. Evidence: High watermarks on the new record such as “Big Things” (James McMurtry), “Cold and Bitter Tears” (Kasey Chambers), “Sorry You’re Sick” (Mary Gauthier), “Who Got My Natural Comb” (Shinyribs) and several other classics. Hawkins himself backs the point with the album’s hidden track, the moving unreleased demo “Great New Year.”
Danny Barnes’ first collection in six years showcases a singular songwriter and player in peak form as Got Myself Together (Ten Years Later) reworks his classic album a decade on (“Big Girl Blues,” “Get Me Out of Jail”). The Seattle-area resident simply strips songs to their essence on the new recording. “I spend a lot of time developing new contexts like the barnyard electronics aesthetic,” Barnes says. “Get Myself Together was my last acoustic-type recording and I get quite a bit of fan mail about it, but the label that released it went out of business. I wanted to make something with this record that featured more of my raw acoustic sound, as though I was kind of playing in your living room.”
The compilation CD, Dreamer: A Tribute to Kent Finlay features the songs of Kent Finlay recorded by James McMurtry, Randy Rogers and Sunny Sweeney, Steve Poltz, Jamie Wilson and more!)
Kent Finlay’s skyrocketed aspiring artists for four decades now. You know the names: George Strait. Stevie Ray Vaughan. Todd Snider. James McMurtry. Eric Johnson. The list literally goes on forever. Each songwriter’s an unmatched talent with one common thread: Finlay launched their careers from the stage at his legendary Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas. Finlay’s simply the most respected lyrical editor and talent scouter in Texas – not to mention a singular songwriter himself.
“Songwriter. Mentor. Curator. Teacher. Historian,” longtime acolyte Owen Temple says. “Kent Finlay has helped create the best of what Texas music has been and is.” “Kent Finlay’s a guru, a Yoda,” says legendary songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard. “He has an incredible sense of craft and the right inspiration for why he does it. For him, it’s not about what he can get. It’s about what he can give, what he can contribute to the music.”
Kent Finlay: Dreamer tells his story. You’ll find the best of both worlds: Jenni Finlay’s intimate interviews with her father about his entire life. Brian T. Atkinson’s detailed conversations with songwriters about his astounding influence. No stone remains unturned. Look for the book next year, a captivating tale telling the story of arguably the most influential mentor, songwriter and venue owner in Texas music history.
HIGHWAY PRAYER: A TRIBUTE TO ADAM CARROLL CELEBRATES
SINGULAR TEXAS TUNESMITH, INSPIRATION TO OTHER WRITERS
Tribute album on Eight 30 Records features James McMurtry, Hayes Carll, Slaid Cleaves, Band of Heathens, Tim Easton and Aaron Lee Tasjan
AUSTIN, TX – Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll, due October 28 on Austin-based Eight 30 Records, celebrates a true songwriter's songwriter, a Texas tunesmith who has inspired both younger and older artists for nearly two decades. Carroll simply captures entire lifetimes among stilled snapshots like few other songwriters (“Screen Door,” “Girl with the Dirty Hair”). “I try to find moments that are sublime,” Carroll xplains. “They just last a little bit and then you're back to your regular life and strife, but there are just these perfect little moments.” Evidence: “Black Flag Blues,” “Red Bandana Blues,” “South of Town,” “Smoky Mountain Taxi” and dozens more.
Carroll sketches characters with a novelist’s eye (“Errol's Song”) and a poet's elegance (“Hi Fi Love”) as his vivid vignettes frequently turn personal into universal within seconds (“Highway Prayer”). Consider “Rain.” “I'm feeling like a bird dragging through the storm/Feeling like a scarecrow standing in the corn,” the down and defeated narrator declares. “Sometimes you can't get through, sometimes it just takes two/Sometimes two adds up to nothing.” Such sideways glances define his literate landscapes. “Long compared to the likes of John Prine and Townes Van Zandt,” the Austin Chronicle once raved, “Adam Carroll proves he's beyond compare.”
Admittedly, eyebrows raised throughout the Lone Star state and beyond as news spread about this tribute record. After all, the Central Texas-based songwriter has notched only forty-two trips around the sun, a young man by any measure. No matter. Carroll's deeply observant stories simply deserve wider attention beyond his reverent peers. “Adam's a songwriter's songwriter, a unique voice who's important to a lot of songwriters,” longtime fan Hayes Carll says. “A lot of people are influenced by him. That's the measure of if you deserve a tribute record: Are there people you have influenced enough who will come and do it? That's undoubtably so with Adam.”
Clearly. Scan the roster who jumped the notion was mentioned: Slaid Cleaves. Terri Hendrix. James McMurtry. Verlon Thompson. Walt Wilkins. Only songs with the most depth and weight turn those heads. “Adam has so many great songs,” Cleaves says. “There are only a couple of writers who consistently catch my ear and remind me of the subtle joy that great songs can bring. It's artisanal songwriting. Never gonna be sold at Walmart, but it'll remind the fortunate few that great songwriting can connect you to your neighbors, your fellow humans, even your own jaded heart.”
Tim Easton doubles down. “Adam Carroll is East Texas' own Shakespeare of song,” the East Nashville resident says. “Listen and learn, people. Listen for the details that make us human. Learn how to write about a culture that you are fascinated with. Find the details in behavior that make us all sympathize. His songs belong in Texan and Bayou anthropology courses, but mostly they should belong to your car stereo speakers.” Other titles on Eight 30 Records include Cold and Bitter Tears: The Songs of Ted Hawkins, Dreamer: A Tribute to Kent Finlay and Danny Barnes' Got Myself Together (Ten Years Later). See below for full track listing on Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll.