Join us for a special night welcoming Dallas’s own Joshua Ray Walker back from his first tour in Europe PLUS celebrating his birthday!  His friends Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner & Frankie Leonie open the evening.

A good night out drinking can find us making best friends out of people we’ve just met, but the best nights out are the ones that catch us unexpectedly sharing our innermost feelings and secrets with a complete stranger. Those uninhibited moments of truth and vulnerability are the same ones mined by Dallas singer-songwriter Joshua Ray Walker on his debut full-length Wish You Were Here. Through his incisive songwriting, Walker faithfully captures both the highs and lows of working class living. 

In 2018, Walker opened for several of Texas’ favorite acts, such as Old 97’s, Eleven Hundred Springs, Two Tons of Steel, Vandoliers and James Hand at legendary venues like The Blue Light in Lubbock, Stubbs in Austin and The Dance Hall at Luckenbach. For an average of 250 nights a year, Dallas’ classic country torchbearer shares pieces of himself with an effortless sincerity that has brought his audience to both tears and laughter – often at the same time. Told through a melodic, character-driven writing style that’s honest to a fault, Walker depicts a cast of subjects on his debut that are down but never out. 

There’s the portrait of a 13-year-old lady of the streets painted in his lead single “Working Girl,” which melds an up-tempo melody with clever wordplay projecting the strengths and struggles of a young woman just “doing what she’s gotta do to get by.” 

“I often unintentionally write from the perspective of characters that I dream up,” says Walker. “I can usually attribute a character to a person I’ve met, or people that I’ve known, combined with similar traits I find in myself. If it’s by poor decisions or circumstances beyond their control, I find inspiration from the downtrodden and destitute. I see myself in these characters. I use these characters to explore things about myself in songs I’d otherwise be too self-conscious to write about.” 

But Wish You Were Here’s best moments come when Walker sets aside the pretense of his characters, letting down his guard on tracks like the second single, “Canyon,” to reveal his own fears, biggest insecurities and insatiable longing felt throughout his father’s ongoing battle against Stage 4 lung cancer. 

“I’m a big, big man,” he sings in its gut-wrenching chorus. “Not just in size or in stature, but in terms of space that can’t be filled. I’m a bottomless canyon without a drop to spill.” 

Raised on the sounds of the Smoky Mountains, Walker has been playing music since he was a small child, walking next door to his grandfather’s house — an avid bluegrass fan and novice musician himself — every day after school to listen to records together. He also learned his first 

banjo and guitar tunes in his grandfather’s workshop. It wasn’t long before Walker grew into a well-seasoned multi-instrumentalist by grade-school and a working musician since the age of 13. 

After playing in bands throughout his teens, Walker wrote his first country song, “Fondly,” in the early morning, on Christmas Eve, 2009 — just hours after his grandfather passed away from lung cancer that had only been diagnosed two weeks prior. 

“Death and disease in loved ones seems to be a common theme in my life,” Walker admits. “I think it’s given me an intense understanding of the brevity of life. Sometimes that’s what drives me to create something worthwhile, and sometimes it’s just the motivation behind my anxiety, but either way it plays a large role in my life and music.” 

That’s not to say Wish You Were Here is comprised of nothing but tear-jerkers. For every “Canyon,” that lays itself bare at your feet, there’s the wry, self-deprecating humor of a “Last Call,” that jokes about it being better, at the end of the night, to just get out of the bar before the lights come on. For every “Keep,” where the discovery of an ex’s old trinkets sends the narrator over the proverbial cliff, there’s a “Love Songs,” that gives a lighthearted kiss-off to lovers past. 

Recorded by John Pedigo of The O’s (Old 97’s, Vandoliers) at Dallas Audio (where Willie Nelson recorded Red Headed Stranger) and Studio B at Modern Electric Sound Recorders, Joshua Ray Walker’s debut instantly earmarks him as one of Texas’ most gifted lyricists and musicians and a major force in the songwriting community moving forward. 

“Life is about timing I guess,” Walker says. “I haven’t changed my approach or work ethic in years, but people are starting to pay attention. I’m glad it took this long. If it had been possible to make my record any sooner, it wouldn’t be this record that I’m very proud we made.”

“LIM-ERIC!”….Whimsical Rhymes from the Voice of the Texas Rangers and his Friends.” by Eric Nadel

This Concert-Party will be a celebration of the book’s release. Part of the proceeds from all sales of this book and from this concert, will go to the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of children in need within our community, and provides funding for youth in crisis, youth health initiatives, youth baseball programs, and youth education.
The concert will feature three of Eric’s Texas music favorites, and will include Eric reading selected limericks from the book, as well as being available to sign books for attendees. Books will be available for sale at the merch table.

Don’t let the sadness and down-on-their-luck characters on Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner fool you. The new release from Dallas singer/songwriter John Pedigo, one half of folk-rock duo The O’s, also radiates plenty of hope, joy and exuberant defiance in the face of loss. Pedigo’s father was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, and Pedigo set out to make and record some songs that would, in their own way, honor and entertain his dad.

Over the course of the next year or so Pedigo’s father received treatment, seemed to be in remission, then got sick again, and ultimately succumbing to the cancer in May of 2017. So, if you, like many, thought 2017 sucked even more than 2016, John Pedigo probably has one up on you. And yet, despite the loss and despite the sadness, the debut self titled record is about being energized to face life’s occasional misery and maybe even standing upright with a wry smile after a blow to the gut.

“A lot of it was me in a room,” says Pedigo of the writing and recording for the album. “It was a real process. I hate to use the word cathartic, but it certainly was that to a certain degree.” After stewing over the initial tracks — guitar, vocals and drums — Pedigo called in some friends to zero in on the soul of the material and the album.

The record kicks off with the sound of a siren, and a little banjo to orient fans of Pedigo’s picking from the O’s. With a full-band sound, touches of honky-tonk piano, a string section in one spot, the sizzle of a gospel organ in another, a few festive brassy blasts of dixieland horns, driving drums, and lightly saturated electric guitar lurking underneath the acoustic playing that anchors the songs, Pedigo sings about people in peculiar binds.

Pedigo’s destiny was making music. He got his first guitar in 5th grade, got ahold of cassettes of Guns N’ Roses and Metallica and went from there, listening to hard rock and then getting turned on to The Smiths and college rock of the era. Hearing the Pixies’ Bossa Nova album reoriented Pedigo’s songwriting efforts.

“When I heard that, I knew those were the kinds of songs I wanted to write,” he says, “with hard-hitting choruses coming out of the chaos.” And he’s written plenty of those himself.

Pedigo went through his grunge phase, his rockabilly phase, and his punk phase. After going to school at Emerson College in Boston, home of the Pixies, Pedigo returned home to Texas. He played in a handful of bands —  Slick 57, Boys Named Sue, Vandoliers, Party Police, Rose County Fair and others. Some of those outfits toured hard and played all over, bringing Pedigo to Australia, Europe and all around the U.S. One of his bands was an off-the-cuff country side project. Talking with Taylor Young, his bandmate with The O’s, Pedigo half jokingly said he was going to get a banjo so they could make a duo that could tour easily and showcase their songs. That’s how the O’s, an energetic rootsy one-man-band-times-two, took shape. The O’s have played to audiences from 10 — or less than 10 — to 10,000, taking the stage at legendary venues like London’s Hammersmith Odeon and elsewhere. Part of that band’s ethos has always been to not do what couldn’t be done as a duo.

With Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner — which is named after an infamously bad batch of homebrew that his dad concocted in the kitchen sink one year — the scope is a little wider. Fans of the emotional and narrative heft of bands like the Hold Steady, Deer Tick and Dolorean will appreciate what Pedigo has pulled off here. Some might hear a connection to early Tom Petty, with a DNA-level kinship to the muscle and economy of classic rock but also a tender stoicism that’s sneakily rebellious. Others might detect a connection to acts like the Pogues, who can take a bone-deep bleakness and turn it into fist-pumping beer-hoisting anthems somehow.

For Pedigo, this album was a way to explore what-does-it-all-mean questions, to process the confounding feeling of a deep loss and a constitutional sense of optimism about life and the possibilities that come our way.

Before moving to Austin, Whitney Rose had never danced the two-step. Now, the country-pop singer’s infatuation with Texas’ rich musical culture, from stage to studio to dance floor, informs an enthralling new project, a love letter to the Lone Star State. Her EP, South Texas Suite, is a touch nostalgic, deeply romantic and defiantly personal — it’s Texas, through Whitney Rose’s eyes and ears.

South Texas Suite is a meticulous study of sound and place, but also a product of unexpected circumstance. Last October, shortly after the release of her album Heartbreaker of the Year, Rose packed up her boot collection and headed south to play a two-month residency at Austin’s famed Americana bastion, the Continental Club. But that November-December engagement went so well, she wound up staying. Since then, she’s toured with Sam Outlaw, made her European debut and signed with Thirty Tigers-distributed Six Shooter Records.

Rose became smitten with Texas, and the warm welcome from Austin’s vibrant musical community made her feel right at home. Songs started pouring out — so many that she just had to start recording. Rose herself produced South Texas Suite, a first for the poised countrypolitan songwriter. Top to bottom, the EP is the work of an artist who is both an insider and an outsider, an observer and a maker, a listener and a storyteller — no matter where she lives.

“Ever since I moved here I’ve been going out and watching live music, and falling in love with musicians around town,” says Rose. “The music scene here is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. So I have been writing nonstop, I’ve written close to 40 new songs since I arrived.”

She recorded South Texas Suite over two days at Dale Watson’s Ameripolitan Studios in North Austin, accompanied by Grammy winner Redd Volkaert, Merle Haggard’s former guitarist; Earl Poole Ball, who spent two decades tickling keyboards for Johnny Cash; Kevin Smith, now playing bass in Willie Nelson’s Family Band; and Tom Lewis, who’s drummed with the Mavericks, among others. All four play in Haybale!, the Continental Club’s Sunday-night stalwart; Lewis also plays in Rose’s band, along with guitarist Bryce Clark, steel player James Shelton and acoustic guitarist Sophia Johnson. They’re also on the EP, along with fiddler Erik Hokkanen and accordionist Michael Guerra.

Lauding Rose’s blend of “the purer sides of pop and country” in its Heartbreaker review, American Songwriter magazine noted, “The most exciting part is seeing where she goes next.”

Raised on the music of the Smokey Mountains, Joshua Ray Walker took a precarious path back to traditional country music; one forged by musical exploration and life experiences that most his age have not yet endured. He has played his songs on stages all across Texas and beyond, enthralling listeners with his brand of melodic, character-driven writing which puts a new spin on traditional story-telling country. Already with a great deal of buzz, expect his first full-length release in Winter of 2019.

 

An alt-country band with punk roots, Vandoliers formed in 2015, bringing together a group of Dallas-Fort Worth musicians led by frontman Joshua Fleming.

Fiercely proud of their homeland, Vandoliers put their own spin on the Texas country tradition with 2016’s Ameri-Kinda, a debut album that mixed honky-tonk twang with hard-edged, rock & roll stomp. The band’s follow-up release, The Native, arrives less than one year, doubling down on Vandoliers’ modern approach to traditional influences. Rounded out by bassist Mark Moncrieff, drummer Guyton Sanders, fiddler Travis Curry, electric guitarist Dustin Fleming, and multi-instrumentalist Cory Graves, the group fills The Native‘s 10 songs with barreling guitar solos, train beats, anthemic melodies, mariachi horns, and the autobiographical details of Fleming’s own travels.

“I grew up in Texas,” the singer says, “and I wanted to write about why I loved it. I wanted to use myself as a character for my own songs. The Native goes through all our favorite styles of Texas music, and tells my story along the way.”

A tribute to the band’s Texas homeland, The Native takes its listener through a swirl of East Dallas dive bars, Pantego pool halls, small towns, big cities, and the rolling ribbon of bluebonnet-covered highway that stretches throughout the state. Along the way, Fleming sings about getting drunk, getting arrested, and getting it on. Behind him, the band kicks up a storm of Western swing, electric blues, roadhouse rock & roll, Tejano, cowboy country, and twangy punk, saluting everyone from fellow Texans Bob Wills to ZZ Top in the process. There are songs about leaving town. Songs about coming home. Songs about the short-lived romances that spark, burn, and fade in roadside bars, and songs about the lasting relationships that await back at home. It’s a full cycle — a detailed exploration of what it means to truly belong somewhere.

“I was born September 1st in a little town outside Fort Worth,” goes the first line of the album’s kickoff track, “Bluebonnet Highway.” If The Native unfolds like a coming-of-age movie, then “Bluebonnet Highway” is the opening scene: a fast-moving montage of clips from Fleming’s home, filled with neighborhood girls, traffic lights and the state flowers that bloom every spring. From there, Fleming and company hit the highway with “Rolling Out,” a fiddle-fueled, horn-filled salute to the road, and wax nostalgic with the epic, driving “Endless Summer.” By the album’s end, they’re back in Dallas-Ft. Worth, spilling all the details of their journey to a friend in “Welcome Home.”

For Fleming, the real journey started years ago, when his sister took him to a Bad Religion concert. That night left a permanent impression on the young teen, who left the show inspired to make his own music. Years later, he earned his first audience as the frontman of the Phuss, a rowdy punk band that toured nationally. Business was good, but Fleming’s personal life was heading south, with songs like “I Don’t Feel Good” hinting at a troubled mind. After bottoming out, he resurfaced by meeting his future wife, falling in love, swapping his electric guitar for an acoustic, and writing a batch of songs that his country-loving partner might enjoy. Vandoliers were born, with many of those new songs filling the tracklist on the band’s Ameri-Kinda debut.

Recorded in the same studio where Willie Nelson made Red Headed Stranger, The Native was tracked to tape by producer John Pedigo. The album was finished in four days, capturing the spark and spunk of a live band whose tour dates have included shows with the Jayhawks, Old 97’s and Reverend Horton Heat. Released on the heels of Ameri-Kinda, The Native isn’t just a story about where Vandoliers have been. It’s a sign of where they’re going. It’s twang and tattoos, grit and guitars, honky-tonk and horns, Tejano and Telecasters. It’s Vandoliers.

Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner is the solo project from 1/2 of The O’s John Pedigo.

Jake Paleschic opens the evening.