Monday, May 6, 2013

Texas Renegade - Another Sunday at the Vineyard.

Happy day after Cinco De Mayo.  How was everyone's Monday morning hangover?  I am so behind on writing about the things I want to talk about with everyone. I have lots to share.  Last Sunday I went up to San Marcos for the Lonestar Music Awards.  I even bought a new dress, you know just cause I love shopping and there was this secret hope that maybe, just maybe the powers that be read my words and think I am worthy of presenting an award.  What? It could happen... Of Course it didn't, but it was still fun.   On my way to San Marcos or San Marvelous as I have heard it called from time to time I stopped at the Vineyard at Gruene.   They have been hosting a Sunday afternoon acoustic music shindig.  The previous Sunday before this one, they had Ms. Courtney Patton.  Who by the way, her new cd is officially up on the lonestar music website for preorders. Everybody snap for Courtney.  Hopefully you got the Legally Blonde reference I just made there.  This particular Sunday the entertainment was one of my go to favorite bands Texas Renegade. When I say "go to favorites"  I mean that this is a band that I will see a million times over because I never get tired of seeing them.  It's kind of a funny story about how I found out about these guys.  Long ago in a land far far away there was this station that is now known as KBUC.  Back in the day some of you may remember it as 92.5 The Outlaw.  The outlaw played all kinds of "Texas Country" or at least I think that was how we referred to it at the time.  There were about three songs from the cd titled "After Everything" that were being played on the station.  It was funny because those three songs  kept me wondering "Who sings this?"  Everytime I would look up who it was I kept coming back to Texas Renegade.  For some reason though I hadn't bought their cd or even seen them live. One night though, I was sitting in China Grove General Store.  I was mid conversation, and suddenly out of nowhere I heard the chorus to Still The One.  I remember this moment plain as day. I stopped mid conversation with the group I was in, didn't even finish my sentence walked up to the jukebox and saw to my surprise that it was in fact that same band I knew from the outlaw Texas Renegade.  I wonder if I am the only one who has those moments?  It's like a strike of lightning and something I can't explain or describe.  It just is some feeling I get when I know music is good ..I remember walking back up to the conversation to tell my friends what I had discovered. They weren't as impressed as I was.  At the time that was something I was used to...not that they didn't like music, they just didn't think about the lyrics or do the research that I did or still do. So what was so special about this song?  It has to be the best break up song ever.  I will tell you this little confession.  Anytime I ever have a sad moment over something ending with a guy this my song that I will listen to.  I describe this song as a bar conversation. Hear me out on this. It starts of with this quiet strumming on the mandolin and then the rest of the instruments come in with the lead singer Andy's sad lyrics coming out and you get the idea that he is narrating why he can't figure out why the girl left him.  It's early in the night he's only a drink or two in.  He's just working out in his head as you hear the harmonica come in like a sad lonesome fiddle.  The conversation goes on talking about the memories he has with the person and then suddenly the drinks kick in full force and this organized chaos of instruments come together as he starts singing like he is screaming the words from his heart when he realizes it's another relationship that got messed up that he can't stop talking about and can't stop thinking about.  I love the moment right after this part, he just stops and composes himself all the instruments stop but the harmonica and he speaks the title of the song and then the symbols crash and as the scene of the song fades out the instruments all come back together perfectly as if that emotional scene didn't happen.

I searched everywhere for a place to buy that cd.  When I bought that cd I couldn't wait to get back to my truck to listen to every word of those songs.  This after everything cd is still more than five years later, one of the best all around cd's that you could buy.  I have replaced it many times.  In fact I bought it again Sunday.  I also rebought their third cd Bad Dreams and Other Things. 


Well before I had moved to New Braunfels in 2009 I got to see them at Gruene Hall.  They used to do a weekly show with Zach Walther and The Cronkites.  Prior to that they had a regular spot on the Billy's Ice stage.  They are one of the only bands that I knew of at that time who had a harmonica player on the stage the whole time. The harmonica when done right is one of those instruments that can be used like a fiddle or steel guitar.  They also almost had and still have the mandolin as one of the primary instruments played in their songs. The band consists of Andy Berletsen who writes and sings almost all the songs the band plays, twin brothers Tyson Carver on mandolin and background vocals, Eli Carver on Bass, and recently added Justin Belz on lead guitar.  I am not sure who is playing drums with them now.Andy has an ability to write some of smart lyrics. Really, I think he is another songwriter that doesn't get enough credit.

This show at Vineyard was fun for me not only because of the band but because I had the pleasure of meeting some really great people. As fate would have it I was invited to sit with the people in the picture below. 
Judith in the middle invited me to come sit with them.  I pulled up a chair and as they were talking about the music, the band, and questions they had about the band, the music blogger in me couldn't keep my mouth shut.  As the band went to break we struck up a conversation about their weekend. Turns out Lloyd in the base ball cap and Art in the Cowboy hat are fraternity brothers from college at Southwest Texas State. Together these three had come from the Texas State Fiddle Competition.  I never knew anything about a fiddle competition but now that they have told me about it. I want to go check this out next year. Funny thing, Robert Earl Keen mentioned at the award show he had in fact been at this very same competition as Art, Judith, and Lloyd. When they told Art about my love of music and that I write about it. Art and I got to discussing music.  Turns out Art and I have lot in common when it comes to country music, the state it is now in, and how we feel about it.  He had many stories to tell me about his friendship with Willie Nelson and Kent Finlay of Cheatham Street Warehouse and the shows he has seen.  One of the things I took away from our conversation was him telling me about how when Willie Nelson came back to Texas, it wasn't to be the Willie Nelson we know him to be now.  It was to come back and get a real job.  Willie was out at a show somewhere and he saw the hippies and the rednecks listening to music that wasn't manufactured in Nashville. It was the real stuff that people like you and I are listening to now, the kind of music I am telling you about.  And what Willie realized was he could come to Texas and make music that made him happy and people would come to listen to it because people cared about good music and wanted to hear it.  Art said that the state of country music in Nashville is the same state now that  it was in when Willie left and came back to Texas. To become the outlaw movement. I was feel very fortunate to have met these friends.  We tried to take a full on group picture of me with them and their friend Rick who joined us also and is a music fan himself. Turns out the person we enlisted to help with that took the photo as video instead.  So alas no photo of our group for that Sunday.   It goes to show that good music can bring people from all walks of life together. Hippies, rednecks, young and  young at heart.  Art and I exchanged emails.  I hope to keep in touch him and his friends and hopefully see them at shows.  They are good people.  I will leave you with one last statement of Art wisdom that he ended our last email with. 
"Good luck and keep the faith, country  music has been down  this road before and will survive. "

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