Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 - a beautiful, Strange year

Well, we made it - one more year in the books! 2015 is going to start quickly for us, with a gig on Jan. 2 at Junior's Grill and Icehouse in Round Rock, so it's worth taking a moment to look back at what's been a successful and fun 2014.

This year, we continued our long-running residency at Junior's, but we switched to an all-night format. Instead of an opener followed by The Staylyns for two hours, we now play 7:30-11:30pm every First Friday. And we're pleased to announce that we'll continue this residency in 2015. Woohoo!

We returned to several other stages this year, as well, including the Pleasure Pier in Galveston, the Boardwalk stage in Kemah and Cafe Mueller stage at HEB - all venues that we have gigs for on the books in 2015.

We got to play a few places/events for the first time this year, including the inaugural Viva Terlingua Festival, The Cedar Door, Cherrywood Coffeehouse, Javelina Bar, the Vapers Exhibit, and the inaugural Austin BikeFest.

The Thirsty Goat in Lajitas, Texas
We also had the pleasure of playing several private gigs including a wedding for a couple from South Africa who came to Austin to get married in front of several friends from all over the world, while simulcasting the wedding via Skype to relatives in South America; a Memorial Day party at a ranch in Gatesville; and a birthday party for a woman who survived a near-fatal car accident a year ago and danced at her own party this year.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Snacking during a show (or: "Ruh-roh!")

We played the Galveston Pleasure Pier last night.

Photo courtesy of Brad Ober
We really enjoy playing the pier for many reasons.

It's a great stage. You can't help but feel like a star playing in the shadow of a ferris wheel.

The view is fantastic. From our perch, we get to see dolphins jumping in the water, pelicans flying overhead and the sunset right across from us.

The audience is so diverse. It's really fun to see such a cross-section of people enjoying the games and rides and being with their families, but also digging our music. Last night we had everyone from babies to senior citizens dancing, singing and smiling with us. Some were locals, and some were visitors from all over the world. We even sold a swag pack of merch to a couple from Canada who hung out for two sets and told us about their daughter who plays guitar (go, girl, go!).

But I did have one small challenge in the third set.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Playing - a little - for the Vapers Exhibit

We played the 2014 Vapers Exhibit this weekend, and it was an interesting experience. The exhibit is an expo for e-cigarettes.

If you don't know what e-cigarettes are, they're an alternative to regular cigarettes. With a regular cigarette, tobacco is rolled in paper, and the smoker lights the roll, inhaling (then exhaling) the smoke. E-cigarettes are battery-powered tubes that hold a mixture of liquid and nicotine. The e-cigarette vaporizes the mixture, and the smoker inhales (then exhales) the vapor. Until Saturday, that's about all I knew about e-cigarettes. Now, I know more than I ever thought I would!

The cool part about the expo, other than getting a convention gig, was that it was held at the Austin Music Hall. The music hall has a real stage and, almost as good, green rooms!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Playing the Viva Terlingua Festival, Part 2

Part 2 - the conclusion! Okay, so as I ended my last post, after arriving in Lajitas on Thursday and catching some music, we called it a day and crashed in our lovely, Western-themed hotel room. The next morning, I arose to this beautiful view:

This was our room (the porch to the right), and my vantage point for the photo above:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Playing the Viva Terlingua Festival, Part 1

Last month we had the honor of playing the very first Viva Terlingua Festival. The festival consisted of three portions - music, film and photography, and it was hosted in the neighboring towns of Terlingua and Lajitas.

Terlingua, technically, is a ghost town in West Texas. But when we got selected to play as part of the music portion, we decided to conquer our fear of ghosts and participate. It was our first festival playing all-original music since our SXSW showcase a few years ago, so it was an exciting opportunity. And besides, you really can't let ghosts push you around.

So, off we went to West Texas! For those of you who don't really have a sense of how large the state of Texas is, Terlingua/Lajitas is about an eight-hour drive from Austin. What do you do in a van for eight hours? Well, if you're Johnny, you drive. If you're Joe, you do this:

And if you're me (Suzy), you do this:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Strange is live!

The glorious day has arrived - our new CD, Strange, is now live online and available worldwide!

This CD has been two years in the making, we are SUPER proud of it. Aside from blood, sweat and tears, a whole lot of vocals, guitar and percussion went into this album (and even some strings). Just look at some of the awesome instruments we got to play with when we were recording:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The nudie post

Okay, so apparently if you tell people you have a nudie story, they want to hear it. So, here goes.

The year was 2009. We were a four-piece called Johnny Austin back then: Johnny, Suzy, Joe and the handsome and talented David Henry on guitar (before he went on to have a successful career in IT - whatever, man).

Johnny answered an ad someone had placed looking for a band to play their community Labor Day party. They responded, said they'd checked out our music online and liked us, and they could pay our fee, but there was one thing we needed to know about their community: they were nudists.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Photo shoot - Austin style

We did a photo shoot last Thursday for some new band photos. We did them outside, which would normally be a bad idea in Texas in July, but we had some cool locations that we wanted to shoot in front of, and they happened to be outdoors, so outside we went.

The first location went well. We took some group photos and some individual shots. And by "we took," I mean our photographer, the super-talented Carlos Barron, Jr. took them. We don't have any proofs to share just yet, but they look something like this:

Friday, June 27, 2014

A fresh take can be a good thing

Do you ever find that you like a remake of a song better than the original?

We're all sort of wired to think that the original of anything is the best, and a remake is always just a hack job. And sometimes that's true. I mean, what was up with the remake of Psycho - shot-for-shot?

No, Vince Vaughan! NO!
But sometimes someone does a remake of a movie or a song that you actually like better, especially if you hear the remake first.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Talk without talking

This is Joe texting on the break at our last show. He was texting me. Yes, I took the picture - from two feet away. Sometimes, we like to talk without talking.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Who'll stop the rain? No one. But we have tarps.

Last weekend, we traveled to the town of Gatesville to play a private gig for a Memorial Day weekend party. Well, actually, we traveled through Gatesville to a ranch just outside of town.

Our GPS faithfully led us all the way to town, through town, down a country road, then as we got to a fork in the road, with nothing but rolling landscape on either side, it announced, "You have arrived at your destination." All we could think was, "I hope not."

Johnny called the host, who guided us from where we were to where we actually needed to be. He led us over a very cool, but we feared rickety bridge, past a totally tricked out mailbox, up to giant red, steel gate with a code box. We drove through the gate, and there was a house to the left, and for just a moment, we wondered if that was our destination. It wasn't. That was the caretaker's house. To get to the main house, we had to drive a gravel road through the property, which was beautiful.

I wanted to take pictures of all of these things, but we didn't want to be late, so we didn't stop to take snaps. But once we got there, I was able to get the camera out. When we arrived at the main house, we were greeted by this sculpture:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Communication is everything

It has come to my attention that I have a blog. Or I used to. If you don't write a post for six weeks, I think they take it away - so, I better hurry and post.

Okay, so this week's life lesson is that communication is everything. Several weeks ago, Johnny told me that we had an "Upper Decks gig for Rocket Electrics." Cool. I put it on my calendar: May 19. Upper Decks. Rocket Electrics.

It was a big tour of folks in town for a convention (or something), and they were doing a hybrid electric bike tour - Lady Bird Lake, foodie and music all rolled into one. I didn't find out the actual time until the day before - 4:00pm. Johnny helped with the actual bike tour, but I'm crazy busy with my day job, so we agreed I'd just show up at the end for the concert. At Upper Decks. At 3:30pm, so I could set up and be ready to go when the tour arrived.

Upper Decks is a sports bar located just south of the river. It, predictably, has several outdoor decks that folks can sit on to watch sports and eat food. At 3:30pm, I arrived in the parking garage next door. I unloaded the guitars, texted Johnny that I was there, and I walked down to the front doors of the restaurant. And this is what I saw:

Hmmm. Well, that's an issue. I texted Johnny about the situation, and he told me to check with Nicole, the owner of Rocket Electrics to see if she wanted to do the show in another location. I did that, asking if she wanted us to do the concert at the rooftop location where we usually do tour concerts. She said yes. I sent a text to that effect to Joe, who said he was already there, and what's my ETA?

Already there? What the hell, man? Good thing the location got moved, or I would've been here by myself when the tour got here!

It was only when I arrived at Rocket Electrics that I discovered that Upper Decks, the restaurant, has been closed for months - and Nicole and John (Rocket E's general manager) were already aware of this. They did not hire us to play a concert at Upper Decks. They hired us to do a show on the "skydeck" (as John calls it) - or the "rooftop" (as I call it) - or the "upper deck" (as Johnny calls it).

Johnny wasn't saying we had an "Upper Decks" show. He was saying we had an "upper deck" show.

Thank god we planned for me to get there early. I managed to get over to Rocket Electrics and unload the guitars in time to get set up on the rooftop before the tour arrived.

I'm normally a "right on time" kinda gal - get there precisely when I have to so there is no extra time left to kill when I might be forced to socialize, particularly with strangers. I know - it's messed up that an introvert makes a living on stage. But that's a post for another day. Today we're talking about the wisdom of Johnny's "always be early" rule. And the importance of communication.

Luckily for me, I now know that Upper Decks is dead and gone, so this particular miscommunication will not happen again. So, I don't need to worry about being early next time, right?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The girl in the band

I'm the girl in the band.

If you've ever seen us, you know which one I am. I'm not the only one with long hair, but I am a little smaller than the other two, and my voice is higher - though Joe can hit a lot of the same notes I can!

I've been in this band for six years now, and it's been fantastic. I hope for another 60. Well, actually that's not true, because I'd be really old by then, and I don't want to be that super-old lady who can't really sing anymore, but she just keeps getting on stage, and it's sad more than inspirational. But I do hope we've still got a lot of great years in us.

That said, there a few challenges associated with being the girl in the band - things like having to do a lot more primping to get ready for a show (Johnny can be ready in about 15 minutes, and I think Joe usually just rolls out of bed) and not being able to lift some of the gear. The biggest challenge for me, though, is the fact that men feel completely at ease giving me criticism.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A family affair

Spring has arrived, and The Staylyns are getting back to work! Most of our venues are outdoor stages, so things slow down in the winter and pick back up in the spring.

So far this month, we've had gigs at Junior's in Round Rock, the Pleasure Pier in Galveston, the Kemah Boardwalk and a St. Patty's Day gig at Pluckers in Round Rock. We've also done several e-bike music tours, and today we'll cap off the month with a show at HEB's Mueller Cafe. Oh, and we're working on recording tracks for our new CD (planned release this summer). Music, baby!

The best part of our Galveston, Kemah and St. Patty's day gigs, though, was that we made it a family affair. I mean, truth is, it's always a family affair since Johnny and I are married, but we kicked it up a notch this month by bringing two of our nephews - Justin and Dennis - on board to work our merch table.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Fan art!

We played our monthly residency at Junior's Bar and Grill in Round Rock this past Friday. We always enjoy the Junior's crowd and have some of our best shows there. There are a lot of regulars we recognize, and now that we have a longer time slot, starting at 7:30pm, we're able to play for some folks we weren't getting to see much of before - families!

Junior's is a family-friendly place, but if you don't start playing until 9:00pm, a lot of the folks with kiddos have already gone home for the evening. By starting at 7:30pm, we're getting a chance to connect with folks who have kids in tow. And once we get started, some of them even stay past their bed time to keep rockin' with us! That's saying a lot since we know know how valuable sleep is to parents.

One such family was in the audience this Friday. They had two kids with them - a girl who looked around 5 or 6, and a boy in the 7 or 8 range. The kids were great. I chatted with the girl before the show about Katy Perry, they never held their ears to complain about us being too loud, and they even boogied a little. But the coolest thing they did was stuff our tip jar - not with money, but with this awesome piece of fan art!

Yeah! I particularly like the anime eyes, and they get extra points for including the stripes on my turtleneck sweater (it was in the 50s Friday - that's sweater weather for this Texas girl!).

It looks like the artist's name may be Eme, so I'm thinking it may be the girl who drew it, but it's some pretty sophisticated drawin' so it could be the boy. In any case, I hope I see the kids again at Junior's so I can get the name right and properly thank her or him face to face.

My first piece of fan art. This goes into the "saved for posterity" box!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

London reading

We're gettin' international, y'all! No, we're not going on an international tour (yet), but we did get a little press across the pond this week. On Saturday, Feb. 22, The London Times published an article about Austin, and guess who was quoted? Johnny!

When the reporter who wrote the article came to Austin, he went on a Rocket Electrics ebike music tour to get the skinny on the music scene here, and Johnny and I were his guides for the tour. That means we not only took him on a jaunt around town, showing him the music sites and giving him a little history on our berg, but we also gave him a private rooftop concert.

It must've been a success, because we are excited to report that the first words of the article were "Johnny Austin!" You can't beat that - not even with a stick.

So, now that you know who we are, Brits unite and bring The Staylyns to the UK for a tour!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Johnny Austin Dixie

We have welcomed the newest member of The Staylyns family! A keyboardist? No. An accordian player? No. Roadie? No. 

It's a new guitar, of course! The talented folks at Moniker Guitars finished Johnny's custom guitar this past week, and he debuted it at our Junior's show on Friday night. So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, the Johnny Austin Dixie!

The Moniker folks included us in the creation of this beauty by sending us photos as it went through construction, and we wanted to share the process with you. It started with Johnny designing what he wanted, and then he turned it over to Moniker to turn his vision into reality.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

2014 Resolutions

We're a little late with setting resolutions for 2014, but we wanted to think ours through carefully before committing to them. So, after much consideration, here are The Staylyns' resolutions for 2014.

Things we resolve to do:

- We will put out a new album.

- We will produce videos for some of our songs.

- We will keep being awesome.

Things we resolve not to do:

- We will not cover Weird Al songs (sorry, Joe).

- We will not destroy our gear on stage to be theatrical.

- We will not participate in eating contests.

I feel confident that these are all things we can accomplish, but it's hard to know for sure. I guess we'll just have to see what the new year brings!

What are your resolutions for 2014?