Monday, May 31, 2010

Heartless Bastards / Amy Cook

So Hacienda just got back from a run with Ohio natives, Heartless Bastards. The tour was great. Mainly west coast gigs, as well as some new territory for the band. Shows in Montana, Idaho, and New Mexico were all firsts for Hacienda.

If you've never seen Heartless before, you definitely should. Erika's voice is one of a kind and the band is shit-hot-tight. Jesse Ebaugh plays bass and pedal steal for the band, and guested on our set also. He played pedal steel on Apples, Hound Dog, and Baby Dont Go. The dude can do anything. No joke!

Amy Cook is from San Jose, and now lives in Austin. She was on the bill as well and killed it every night. Very good band. Her guitar player Jake Owen is a bad ass, who plays a 68' Gibson es 335 and a James Trussart les paul for slide. Its a crazy sound. He's a gear head and has everything. Cool dude. Heres Amy singing "Baby Don't Go".

I had a bunch of shit going on during this tour, so I didn't take any pictures but here are some from other people. Thanks people. On a side note, if your ever in Santa Barbara, CA. GO eat at La Super Rica, no matter how long the line is, its worth it!
Special thanks to Mishka on this one. Mishka, I'm sure you don't read this but thanks anyway. She was working for Heartless and bailed us out a couple times. Shes on the back row here next to Jaime and Mark. For Mishka, Hacienda did a version of "Dont Do It". We've never done that before. I dont imagine we'll do it again, but it was fun.

Gonna hit the beach this week. Gonna see MacGruber, and I'm working on a new guitar. Happy Memorial Day to everyone. GO AMERICA!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Younger Days

So Hacienda has done a couple of music videos. Videos are usually kind of strange. Especially if your in them. I'd prefer to not be in them, but whatever. Frank Weysos is a director from San Antonio, who I met through the Dr. Dog dudes. He had done some work for the Park the Van Label, and everyone would say, "Your from San Antonio, do you know Frank?" Well, now I do. Frank and his entire team are some of the most creative people I've met. They're all involved in film, music, photagraphy, production, you name it.

Anyway, these dudes did the new Hacienda video for the song "Younger Days". They did an amazing Job. Special thanks to Frank, Chuck, Darren, Cosmo, Eric, and especially Tristan. Tristan is the boy in the video who absolutely killed it. Eric shot these photos. The dude is a pro.

No one in the band had any idea what the video was about. It was a great to see an amazing set. they must have spent weeks and weeks on it. Its also, the only house in San Antonio witha real basement. It was hot, but totally worth it. If we do another one of these, I only hope they go as well. Great job dudes.

Rene is using an old Greco Bass. I would think its maybe an early 70's. Abe has that Farfisa and I'm using that same black Les Paul.

Monday, May 24, 2010


SO hacienda played the 3rd annual Pachanga festival. I didn't know much about this festival. We've had offers to do Latin events in the past, and I have sometimes hesitated. This one seemed different. There was a different vibe on this one. A lot of different sounding artists and completely different genres. I dug it.

You see, the people in this band are Mexican-American, or Hispanic, or whatever you want to call it, who cares. However, that doesn't matter to us at all. We play rock n' roll music, period! If you want to pay us for being "Latin", thats cool. I mean hey, "I'll take your money".

Saw Brownout, who are a great band. Very Meters-like. I dig that. Adrian is the man, and a bunch of those dudes are from Laredo. these guys back up Prince on tour. I went to High school with these dudes. When I heard that I just thought "Are you kidding me?". Saw Girl in Coma, and David Garza. Amplified Heat were awesome! Great festival, not too big. Big festivals kind of suck. You cant see shit, and sound is usually very questionable. Cheers to the boutique festivals all around the world for being more fun. Beer was also reasonably priced, for a festival. Lets see how long that lasts. These photos are from Richard Gonzalez.

Oh yeah, I got an Analogman dark Peppermint Fuzz. I'm gonna try and find a sound clip for it. Its a great fuzz pedal. I think I might dig it more that the sunface. Its got more treble than the sunface. This analogman cant miss right now. Hopefully his pedals dont start going for 500 bucks, cause I'm digging em.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hoarders/The New Vegas Sensation

So theres that show on TV, hoarders. I haven't seen it, but a ton of people feel compelled to tell me about. Frankly, its sounds friggin boring. But, since I am supposed to blog about gear, at least every now and again, it did get me thinking. I have an ongoing struggle with gear. You see, I want everything just like everybody else, but I also feel stupid if I own too many guitars, pedals, amps etc...

I'm a big fan of guitarists, and I have many heroes in the guitar world, and its extra special when a player has a unique instrument that stays with them forever. Players like Pete Townshend, Keith Richards, and Tom Petty are all hoarders. No allegiance to a special guitar that gives them their own unique sound, look, and feel. You always see them with something new, and if your a fan, it kind of sucks. Niel Young, Buck Owens and even John Lennon had guitars that never left their hands, and if you ever saw them you got to see that prized instrument. Even contemporary guys are doing this. I've been following Dr. Dog since 2006 and Toby's Jazz bass always makes the show. I look forward to seeing that bass as much as any member of the band. Thats rare. I understand that a player needs some tools, but I am making a vow to not own too much stuff. I'm keeping it to under 10. A couple of guitars at home and a couple of main guitars on the road. Its already beginning. I've been playing this black Les Paul live for a year or so, and its gonna stay that way. Lets see how long that lasts. Besides, I'm better off spending money on clothes, anyway. Chicks dig that sort of stuff.

side note, Just got back from Vegas and beer pong is taking off out there. No shit, beer pong is being played up and down the strip. Me and some friends were crushing opponents all day in exchange for paying the beer tab at Planet Hollywood casino, only to find ourselves too bombed to play in the nightly tournament. Those waitresses should've told us theres a tournament a night. There was even a decent cash prize. We would've dominated. Tough shit, I guess. Maybe next time.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How many songs you got?

So if you write songs, that doesn't make you a songwriter. Thats the truth. If you microwave a hotpocket, does that make you a chef? See what I'm saying. I've never written songs, I've only written tunes. This tunes about this, and this tunes about that.

After touring with Alejandro Escovedo I'm finding out about writing songs. Let me try and explain this. Lets see, Frankie Valli singing "To good to be True" is a great tune. The Band doing "King Harvest (has surely come)" is a great song. One is about the sounds and a basic tune, the other is a story and a performance.

Watching Alejandro dig into a seemingly never ending catalog of songs was impressive. I got to thinking, "How do I write songs?" "What does that even mean?" Alejandro is gonna be 60 soon, and he's done a lot of living. Each song is about real things, real people, real places. they can be anyone to you and me, but they are someone real to him. So, I think I'm cracking it. A good musician can write some good tunes, but you got to really live life to write real songs. thats the new goal. Real songs, mixed in with good tunes.

And meanwhile, all I've been doing is writing tunes about girls. Go figure. I'm working on on some songs here in Laredo all week. Looking for something to write about.

I'll leave this post with a video from a daytrotter session Hacienda did on that tour with Alejandro. Its a tune called "Here Today", that has seen many incarnations. Hacienda will release this tune this summer. Until then check out an acoustic rendition with Jaime on the cardboard box.

And a clip of the studio version being cut, using a 1972 cherry red Gibson Es 355. I loved that guitar and recorded a lot of the Big Red album with it. It sucks live though. I pretty much hated it live. Too fragile. I beat up guitars and I that one would get out of tune the way I play. Great sound. Joe Bonnamassa of all people bought that guitar from me. I'm having second thoughts about having gotten rid of it, actually, as I am writing this post, I think I need to get a big red Gibson again. Maybe for the next tour.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How to Bench your Band

So when your touring, there is an insane amount of downtime. Sound check can last forever. Clubs sometimes aren't prepared, and generally if your the band, your not needed til its time to plug in and play. I completely respect all the people who work hard to set up the show. All that being said, you got to find ways to occupy your time.

One such way is to work out. If your in a band, you've got no time to hit the gym, so make the gym come to you. On a long slow day in Paris of all places, I raised the question, "Can I bench press my band?"

take 1

so there was a flaw. you must support your back with some sort of padding. We used a cymbal bag

take 2

alright a new flaw. use a guitar case, place your band member on it and have your spotters balance it. Now you can really max out some weight.

take 3

last but not least. NEVER GIVE UP!

take 4

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

SXSW mixed reviews

So the idea of all my favorite bands in one town near my home for a week seems like a home run, right? If anything I score sxsw as a solid double. A home run is a sure thing, and the only sure thing about sxsw is that I am gonna be pissed off that I am missing some great shows. You get to see shit you wouldn't normally see, correct. But, no band can be comfortable in that environment. the makeshift venues, shitty PA's, overcrowding, and annoying redbull, sony, rockstar energy drink, playstation adverts are fucking stupid. It used to be about breaking bands or announcing events, now its about gatorade, and itunes, and american apparel. Every band has to be there otherwise people think somthings wrong. There will be no changes made over the next few years. It will get bigger, and bigger and bigger, until it becomes completely irrelevant.

Alright thats my rant for the day. I did see some great artists that I now need to see again at real venues to get the experience.

Pete Molinari - If the Everly brothers grew up on London, they would be Pete Molinari. His voice is amazing and he writes great songs. This is my first time seeing him with a band, and it added alot of dimension. Really dig this guy. thats his guitar player Adam Landry. He's a producer in Nashville and guitar junkie. We talked Les Pauls for about an hour.

The Strange Boys are a great band, and we've been playing bills with those guys for several years. I think there primed to do some special stuff this year. they already have actually. this is the first time I've seen the new lineup. I really liked Matt Hammer, the original drummer. The new lineup is great though.
The Carrots, I caught at a house party, that was the best show of the week. No adverts, no bullshit. Just a band playing good tunes. New lineup for them as well. New guitar player who played a bad ass James trussart Tele. thats the thing about austin guitar players. there all good. Its sucks, cause if you get fired the guy that takes your place is probably bad ass.

I caught those darlins again. And Hacienda played a festival in some park off of downtown. Of course we blew out the PA and it was a disaster. The stage hands said we were too loud. No such thing. I play rock n roll, and I PLAY IT LOUD AS SHIT! if you want it quiet go to a jazz club and get a glass of wine. And while your at it pick up Sex and the city on dvd, your probably into that sort of thing.

Them Thar There Those Darlins

So Hacienda was lucking enough to fill in some time playing some shows with Those Darlins. They're from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. They are a fun band. One of my favorites from the last year. We played together for a week, but I've been running into these guys for a year. Not sure how to descibe them. Its Johnny Cash, its Loretta Lynn, its the Ramones, its Roger Miller, its the Shangri-las. Shit, what am I saying, its THOSE DARLINS! Anyway, I'm sure they'll be huge. We met them on the Canadian border, and powered through the tour. Afterall, we'd been on the road at this point for about 5 weeks, so Hacienda was getting burned out a bit.

Something really cool about this run, was that I had a special reunion. I was reunited with the Fender Telecaster. You see I exclusively played Teles for years. In fact, I didn't feel like a pro guitar player until I learned how to play a telecaster. I put down the tele and started playing Gibsons live when I began playing with Dan Auerbach. His sound is big and ballsy, so the tele was at times too thin.

Kelley from Those Darlins and I have been friends for some time, and she was looking for a telecaster to add to the mix. I had a couple lying around and lent her one. It was a white Japanese 62 style tele. In fact its the first telecaster I ever owned. Its the main guitar on the first Hacienda record. I tried a bunch of vintage guitars, but that one ended up on all the tracks. Sometimes its about what your playing more than what your playing on thats important. Its a rare one, in that it is double bound. There are almost no double bound white teles anywhere. In facts I've only seen one other that had creme binding. Most are black.

Watching Kelley play that guitar got me jealous, and sure enough I've been mixing in fenders again on tour. I just took out a blonde esquire on the current tour with Heartless Bastards.


So the tour continues with 2 new bands. Generationals from New Orleans and Floating Action from Asheville. Frank, a buddy of mine, hipped me to these dudes last September and i really dug "when they fight they fight". A few months later I'm checking them out and I realize their new drummer is a great friend of mine. Tess Brunet. I had no idea she was playing with them. I met Tess a few years back when I played a gig before one of her bands, Deadboy and the Elephantmen. She is one of the nicest poeple I know. So I was very excited to be playing with Generationals.

Floating Action I had seen a couple of times. Seth KAuffman is a great songwriter. It wasn't until this tour that I actually got to dive into the tunes live. Thank God I did, because his music is freakin amazing. He uses a digital tampura, which makes sitar sounds throughout the set. I need to steal that trick.

Gear wise, I started using an analogman sunface. Dan Auerbach uses these, and I was impressed that it was fuzzed out without a bunch of compression. I had been using a willis texas fuzz forever, but it was too thin. the sunface nkt275 is very bassy. Perfect for a band with only one guitar player in it.

This tour also saw us part ways with our tour manager Andy Fiegel. He had some other commitments and his last show was in Philly. He's a bad ass TM and a good cook to boot. Its a pretty important combination in a roommate on tour.

Monday, May 17, 2010

New year, new tour

So to start the year, I was lucky enough to tour with some great bands. Alberta Cross is one of those bands. Their record, "Broken Side of Time" is their latest, and the guys in the band couldn't be more fun to hang with. Traveled with these dudes for about a month, and managed to find some trouble in some towns, and stay out of trouble in a few. It was a great tour. Check them out when they are in your town. This is going to be a giant band very soon. Highlights from the tour included sold out shows at the Bowery in New York and Schuba's in Chicago. Its nice to tour with a band that like to have fun away from the stage as well.

The only drag was getting caught in 3 blizzards. Bands shouldn't tour Jan/Feb if they can help it. It sucks. Shows are always in jeopardy of being canceled. At least getting stuck in Philly, I got some great food. This is the clams casino at Pizza Italia just over the bridge into New Jersey.

I did also play on a new Vox ac30 for the first time ever. I had always played fender amps previous. I was using a 66 blackface tremolux forever, but I was blowing out every room we played. SOmething had to be done, so vox it is. I'm digging it. I also took out a 57 Les Paul with the 3 humbuckers. Its an amazing sounding guitar, and heavy as balls. I'm undecided on whether or not its my sound. I'm a p90 freak at the moment. My main guitar is the 54 style.
Overall, though its was a great tour, best of luck to the Alberta dudes!

The Title

So I'm titling this blog "The Streets of Laredo". Not only is it my hometown and one of my favorite places to be. Its a great song. The version I'm all about is the Buck Owens version from the "Live at Carnegie Hall" album. On that version Doyle Holly sings the lead in the deepest, coolest voice I've ever heard. Buck is from Texas, and he's a hero of mine. His museam at The Cyrstal Palace in Bakersfield has amazing pictues are artifacts. Its five bucks to get in, and its worth it! If you're a nerd for anything Buck like me.

Anyway, Laredo can be a strange place, for sure, but I love that town. Hacienda got to play there in December, and the show was awesome! Laredo always surprises me, and its a big part of my personality. I can't say enough how proud I am to be from there.

Someone sent this video link to me from a show I played with Dan Auerbach. Thats what its like when you're from the LRD.

First post. Now what?

So this is the first time I've ever done a blog. I'm way into it. I know a few people who have these, and there usually entertaining. I'm a musician and I have the good fortune of getting to travel and meet a bunch of people. I figure this is a good way to update my friends. I'm not that into the facebook thing. I'm gonna try and keep it musically related as much as possible. Maybe I can provide some insight on some of the artists I've met along the way as well as some of the instruments I've had the privilege to play. The road has a lot of down time, so lets see how this goes.