Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Year in Review - 2015

My calendar may be a dirty liar, but it's telling me that in just two short weeks, the year 2015 will be over. I'm not sure how that can be true since it *just* started, but the Internet seems to confirm it, and we all know that if it's on the Internet, it must be true.

So, assuming that the year is, in fact, almost over, it must be time to look back over 2015 and review the year that was. For the band, it has been an interesting year.

Okay, I will!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Do yo thang

October was a rough month for us. The rain and flooding throughout the Texas Hill Country led to a bunch of our gigs getting cancelled. But our last two gigs proved to be interesting - one in October, and then our last gig on Nov. 4.

The October gig was our monthly residency at HEB's Cafe Mueller. We had a good crowd that stayed with us for the whole show, and we even sold a few CDs. We were feeling pretty good until the buyer or one of those CDs felt the need to tell us not only what she liked, but what she also thought we should do to really be successful. She didn't corner Joe to tell him what she thought of his performance, but she took time to pull Johnny and I aside, separately, to let us know what she thought we could improve on. Boy, there's nothing more fun after a show than someone in the audience cornering you with "constructive criticism!"

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Red Guitar

It's been really busy lately for your favorite outta-the-garage-but-hasn't-yet-hit-the-big-time band, so I'm just a tad late in writing about this, but with our next Cafe Mueller gig coming up, I just had to share an experience we had at last month's Cafe Mueller gig.

For those of you who have been fans with us from the early days, you know that Johnny has been through a few guitars before landing on his current, awesome, custom Moniker guitars:

In our earliest years, when we were Johnny Austin, Johnny played a butterscotch Fender Telecaster:

The time came when he wanted a guitar that had some capabilities that the Tele didn't have, and it didn't make sense to try and upgrade the Tele. So, he bought a beautiful cherry burst Parker Dragonfly (now called a Maxxfly):

He had the Parker for a couple of years, deciding at one point that he wanted to have it painted Ferrari red. That's when he found the Moniker guys. They said they normally built guitars, rather than just painting them, but they were just starting out and were willing to make an exception, so they painted the Parker for him.

It was a great guitar, but despite its fabulous paint job, its electronics couldn't quite handle the workout of Johnny's sweaty performance. So after a while, he sold the Parker and turned back to the Moniker guys - this time to build him a guitar.

Well, you rarely know what happens to your guitars after they leave you, but last month, a man walked up to Johnny as we were setting up at Cafe Mueller, and he pulled a guitar out of a case and asked, "Was this your guitar, by any chance?" (or something to that effect) It was the Parker.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How we handle the heat

We just finished our last show of the summer, an afternoon show at the Galveston Pleasure Pier this past Sunday, August 30. However, we live in Texas, so it's still going to be hot for a couple of months, and most of our shows are at outdoor venues. So even though we're hopefully past the worst of the heat, we're still going to have to manage that element for a while yet.

Ashley - friend, family and fan to the band - asked what we do to manage the heat at our outdoor shows. So, since we just did it, I thought this would be a good time to answer that question.

First thing to know about heat is that the outdoor temperature is a gauge, but it may not be all you need to know. The positioning and design of the stage is a huge part of the equation. By positioning of the stage, I mean where it's positioned on the venue property. Is it placed in a spot that has shade, or is it out in the open? At the time of day that you'll be performing, where will the sun be in proximity? Will it be behind you, or will it be shining directly on you?

Monday, July 6, 2015

The freedom to be drunk and disorderly

It's a poorly kept secret that the 4th of July is Johnny's favorite holiday. And it's also well known that his favorite thing in the world is to perform. So, if we can line up a 4th of July gig - his favorite thing on his favorite day - Johnny is one happy rock star.

So, you can imagine how happy he was this year when we were able to book gigs for both July 3 (Independence Day Eve) AND July 4.

The July 3 gig, our monthly First Friday residence at Junior's Grill and Icehouse in Round Rock, went well. The weather was nice and the crowd was good, except for one table that seemed to have a bad attitude - one girl, actually. She was with a group of people at a table right by the stage, which is always fun for the band. You really want the hostile people right up front where they can glare at you unobstructed.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Holy pier show, Batman!

After two months of cancellations due to weather, we made our triumphant return to the Galveston Pleasure Pier this weekend, and we had an interesting special guest.

We almost thought the gig wasn't going to happen, though. We looked at the forecast in the morning, and it showed some slight chances of rain during the day, but a 60% chance smack in the middle of our sets. So, we checked the radar.

The radar showed a big storm system stretching up from the Valley into Central Texas, but the road to Galveston looked clear, and there didn't seem to be anything developing in the Gulf, so we figured we had the all clear. So, we hit the road. And we ran into this more than halfway there:

We started to get a little bit worried, but we pressed on. Sure enough, when we got to Galveston, it was clear skies. This was our view from the stage when we arrived:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Splinters - they suck

It's been a challenging month and a half, which is partly why it's been so long since I've posted. I (Suzy) got a cold in late March that left me with very little voice for our gigs in late March and early April. Around the time I finally got my voice back, Johnny and Joe both got colds. They started feeling improvement, but weren't fully healed when...I got another cold. Seriously.

It's killin' me.

You'd think that would be enough of a challenge, but no, there was more. On Friday night, we were setting up for our monthly gig at Junior's. We perform outside on a wooden deck, and as I was opening one of the guitar cases, I managed to get a splinter - a serious hunk of wood that lodged deep under a fingernail on my left hand (the hand I hold down strings with on the neck of the guitar). Behold the splinter in its unfortunate position under the nail of my middle finger:

Note that the splinter is pushed well below the white part of my nail. So, there was no pulling it out at that point. I had to perform the whole show with this piece of wood lodged under my nail.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Three Questions About...Trees

The second installment of our video series is now live - woohoo! "Three Questions About...Trees" is up on YouTube, but to make it super easy for you to watch it, here it is:

The video series is called "Three Questions About..." and each episode features one member of the band answering three questions on a given subject. We figured if we were going to have all kinds of random conversations in the van as we traveled around Texas, we may as well share some of it with you guys.

So, enjoy! And if you have any subjects you'd like us to tackle, or specific questions you want to ask, let us know. If we use one of your questions or topics, we'll give you credit!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Winter trudges on

It's still winter everywhere. Some people blame this guy:

I think he's too cute to throw any blame at. Besides, he doesn't make the weather - he just reports on it. He calls 'em as he sees 'em. I respect that.

But I'm definitely tired of this whole winter thing, and I'm ready to move on to warmer days. While we've had some indoor gigs this winter, we've still had several outdoor gigs the last few months, and it ain't always easy to keep it hot when you're cold.

I know that folks up north are in a straight-up, never-ending deep freeze, so they probably don't want to hear about the hardship of trying to play guitar with stiff fingers in 40-degree temperatures. But we don't live up north. So...

Okay, so the challenge of playing outside when the weather is extreme is not new information, but we in the band have realized recently that while temperature is a strong factor in your comfort level on an outdoor stage, more than that is wind.

A hot day with a breeze is much more comfortable than a hot day with no air moving (thus, our standard-equipment stage fans). And a cold night with wind is way worse than a cold, still night.

But it's more than just that a hard wind not only makes you feel colder. It blows your set list around, creates noise in your microphone, blows your hair in your mouth and eyes, and it keeps your audience away from you since they're more interested in a sheltered spot than a spot up close or on the dance floor. It's just a general pain in the ass. When you've got low temps but there's no wind, you can bundle up, set a space heater next to you and go about your business.

So, there you have it. Wind makes a cold day more uncomfortable.

Groundbreaking, right? Next time we'll explore the impact of humidity on how hot one feels.

Friday, January 23, 2015

2015 is under way!

Well, here we go, friends! 2015 is officially under way. It was actually officially under way for the band when we played our first Junior's gig on January 2, but I couldn't get my shit together quickly enough to get a blog post written before that gig. So, I'm getting my first post posted before our second gig of the year - at the Pleasure Pier in Galveston this Saturday.

It's still January, though, so it still counts as a new year post.

Oh, I will, Chuck Norris. I will.
January can be a tricky month for us with gigs. So many of our venues are outdoors, and January is not known for its lovely weather. Winter here is generally cold and rainy. But it's Texas, so it can be 70 one day and 40 the next. I'm not joking. Last week we actually had a day in the 70s, and the next day a front came through and dropped the temps into the 40s.

So, when we book gigs in January, we hope for the "unseasonably warm" days OR a back-up space indoors. Junior's has a back-up indoor space, which is where we played earlier this month: