God Bless Stevie Ray Vaughan

Today I remember one of my biggest inspirations and one of my favourite Texans ever, Stevie Ray Vaughan​. What made it all the more special was that when I got clean in 86 , at 22 years of age I felt my greatest love, Music ,and all the good times it brings was going to be over.

Johnny Winter toured that year on the back of his Alligator Records success, and I went, sober and clean, and it was awesome. There was hope that music could be fun without being out of it. Still have the T-Shirt from that tour, wish it still fit me!

A while later SRV released Instep, I could tell by the lyrics he was sober. I was young, and I just thought it was cool. Not only was he clean, the new record kicked some serious ass! Great feel, addition of keys, brilliant. I somehow took some solace that you can be clean, and be cool, and be creative more importantly. I was in Warning back then playing SRV, Johnny Winter , Rory Gallagher, Buddy Guy songs to name a few, and my recovery worlds and music worlds collided in a wonderful way with SRV.

249855_233951743286406_3784115_nWhen they announced his death on morning news, I was broken hearted, and it was all pre-Facebook, no mass media. I can see that social media allows you to connect in a strange way globally when something like this happens. Seeing he was a bluesman and not universally loved in Australia ,I drove off to work and I felt that as if  there was no one to tell who really understood what this meant. It was a devastating tragedy. Not just to me, but to Music. I rang my bass player, he loved him to. It was good to talk about it, our favourite songs. The times we would drive to gig in the bush, long drives and listen to his albums. Memories that will never leave me.

SRV was our Hendrix, he defined guitar, made the blues modern, he was our Bluesman. When I visited Austin, I would always go to Antones, even though it was a different building, the town had him in it. I took a picture by his statue, it was a pilgrimage. Music helped me understand this world, relationships, feelings, love and hate, pain and joy. SRV was music; just watching him play you knew you were in the presence of greatness. I saw him only twice. Once at the Opera House with the Dynamic Hypnotics, that red suit, my God, he blew me away. Then at the Hordern Pavilion with the Fabulous Thunderbirds. It doesn’t get any better than that.

I went to the Narcotics Anonymous World Convention in San Antonio about 9 years ago, and at the Blues Luncheon Steve E spoke then Kenny Wayne Sheppard played with Chris “Rivers” Layton on drums. It felt like he was in the air.  I felt that when the Arc Angels released their debut album, SRV was there. 29 years into recovery, SRV is still cool, and Recovery is cooler than ever.

God bless Stevie Ray Vaughan.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F73EcycGCO8&list=PL84wasvrcnHl8t8ss2_1WIMoTgbvl2Fp7&index=2

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Texas. Got back there as fast as I could!

IMG_0906Sitting here after making it through another USA to Australia flight, I am filled with the exhaustion that comes with liven large for a short time  in a place that just fills your senses, and the excitement of seeing my wife and boys, and all the Family centered chaos of immediate needs that comes with family life.

I tried numbing myself out with movies, American Sniper (love Clint Eastwood, what a talented life he has left, a true master of his art) CAKE (To much like work, and I aint back yet) and Stephen Hawking’s life story. He is an amazing man, he sure made Lemonade.

15 hours into to longest single flight in the world ( Dallas to Sydney), I knew I had to stop hiding, and start facing up. So Sturgill Simpson is the soundtrack to this verse. Every so often I forget, that music always starts flowing from and new and original source, someone comes along like Sturgill, and just blows your boat clear out of the water. He is the next big thing, of this I have no doubt. Seeing him live restored my faith in Country Rock and Roll! The perfect mix of Nostalgia and originality. Man I needed it, with all the replicators out there regurgitating Bro Country bullshit, Sturgill sure is kicking the shit out of that Barn door.
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Coming back from Texas always has me feeling sad, I could live there in a heartbeat. I have felt right driving on the wrong side of the road there for over 8 years now. I love the Music, the people, the food, the way the place feels to me. Usually I am home based in San Antone, but this time around I was the House guest of Ruby Dee and Jorge Harada, from Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers. Finer hospitality you could not have hoped for, and as I get on in years, I am surprised when I make a new friend.

Sitting out on the back porch with Jorge as we shared our smoke of choice, me my Peterson’s pipe with a hometown San Marcos blend, and him, his stogies. Talking music, life, women and the road as only men hitting 50 can. Old enough to have seen dream’s come and go. Old enough to know who you are, and what’s likely to be. Old enough to still harbor fantasies it can be different. Young enough to attempt them.
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Jorge put together the Snakehandlers for my early shows, and AJ Mac on Drums and Dylan Cavaliere on Country Bass were a great fit for Chucks Wagon tunes. Playing my Texas inspired music with Texans always ads something extra to the mix. For the shows that the Snakehandlers couldn’t do I have Stephen James from San Marcos on Guitar and John Duer on bass, with Tony Gloria on Drums. Different feel, same Texas magic.
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This time around it was short and sweet. I was there for my day job, which in itself was inspiring, apart from my time at the Meadows with Master Craftswomen Pia Mellody, I was able to spend my downtime in Texas with John Lee (The Flying Boy). John is a Psychotherapist, Author, Men’s worker and Storyteller. I have been influenced by his work for over 20 years, so to spend so much face to face time with such a man was soul enriching, thought provoking , and thoroughly guidance providing when it comes to my future in that field. Him being a Texan,  well hell y’all, that was just cherry on top of the Pie. My work with John was about finding and living from my King, but that’s a story for another day.

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This trip had many surprises. Getting to see James McMurty , two weeks in a row, at Midnight, watching him get all his new material together, ready to roll put on tour, just standing in front of him, alone, enjoying the moment, like no other existed. When you write songs, and perform them, and then have moments where you stand in front of someone who is just in a different stratosphere, it’s humbling and exciting all at once.

You want to write songs and burn your guitar all at once. That being said on this night I just stood there, admiring, dancing, and belonging. Right place, right time. I wasn’t the only one. There was regulars that come to the church of James. Met another one right up front, never really spoke till after, but we shared a lot in common.

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When she, Andrea, Light worker, Energy healer, asked me up to Willie Nelson’s Ranch to see her son who was making a movie, I just knew you do not say not to an offer like that. I was cool just walking around Willies. One of the original Outlaws. A man who believed in himself, believed in what he could do so much so, he turned his back on it all and did it his way. The rest is history. So just being up there, soaking it all in felt special.

Going to the Broken Spoke in Austin Texas, going early, and learning to Two Step. Getting out of my comfort zone. I really like to dance, but I get to comfortable just standing inside of myself, instead of getting in to the soul of my body, and then getting into the limbs, and moving to the music. It was stressful, it was fun, I was glad it was over, but then you had to practice, otherwise why do, so I did. Now it’s time to learn it with my wife, we need to dance more. It’s that simple.
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I got to see older men, men that have spent their lives building their relationship with their craft. Heybale at the Spoke, seeing those seasoned veterans of the dance halls sending them folks around the floor nearly effortlessly, was amazing. Red Volkart, Ernie Poole Ball brothers in Honky Tonk arms. Seeing James McMurty’s band though was the same, generation or to younger, but grown men in the mastery years of their craft. Was special to watch. Seeing Cornell Hurd and Rosie Flores at Ginnys Little Longhorn was the same, and Casper Rawls with the Legendary Bill Kirchen on guitar was the same. Thankyou gentleman, and for the punters that keep going and hearing good music that comes from heart.

There was those though still keeping Austin weird . Thunderosa, AJ Macs “other” band. Nashville Pussy crazy rock and roll, was fun singing a punk version of Folsom Prison Blues with them.
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When I first came to Texas to play 8 years ago, it was Jeff Smith of Hickiods Fame and Saustex Media that booked me. He still is booking me. Getting to see the Hickiods is always grinning material, Jeff always end up near nude, and when they played at the Women’s Roller Derby, and he could get away with getting a chant of “Whore”, in Mexican of course, going with the whole crowd chiming in. It’s a long story, but let’s just leave it with the Whore chant!
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The other end of the scale was seeing Sturgill Simpson, young, charging, on fire, raising eyebrows, getting people talking. Exciting, humbling, Rock and Roll.

Being at the White Horse and seeing Bar Brawl 3, just rocking out, versatile, on it, people dancing. Awesome. Singing Humdinger with the boys just made it all a better kind of Texas evening.

Being at Luckenbach Texas, catching up with Darryl Magg,  Troubadour, Texas Red Dirt Aficionado. The hours I have spent sitting at his bar after closing as he turned me onto bands and songs I hadn’t heard. Well Darryl got me up on stage on the dance hall with Country Folk artist Kevin Deal. It was a cool as shit, playing Waylon Jennings at Luckenbach. Cheesy, but still cool as shit.
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Still it was playing, seeing friends and new people enjoying my songs. Some new venues I had not played, Ginny’s Little Longhorn, what a legendary place, Giddy Up’s and Moontower, all great shows with the Snakehandlers. Triple Crown was the usual fun, Happy Hour show, but we still played load and proud. Beethoven’s at San Antonio is always a stand out. The worlds a funny place. Why a German beer Halle has taken a crazy Aussie under their wing I will never know, but I love the welcome I get there all the same. Wonderful.
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The same can be said for the friends I have made over the years, whether they be older or younger, Christian or pagan, I have a great time in Texas. Thank you to the beautiful Cliff and Rita Leach and show me that loving lasts a lifetime. Dawn and Stefani Duke who are simply two of the best Texas woman I know. Billy Milano who just lives with a beating heart for all to see on the outside of his chest, love him like a brother. Thank you or believing in me Billy. To Andrea, a light worker, seeker and two step companion, it was a blast.
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To my musical brethren, Chris Rhoades, Tony Gloria, AJ Mac, John Duer, Dylan Cavaliere, and Ruby Dee and Jorge Harada. Thank you for laying down the swing so this cowboy from downunder to sing to. Without it I would be a lonely voice.
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So, one hour to go till this flight touches down in Sydney and life will become all to real to fast, and driving around Texas and staying up all night will be but a dream.  I have had been able to listen to Sturgill and James whilst writing, and now I am onto Absent Father by Justin Townes Earle. Beautiful.

That’s enough for now, I will post this when I get some signal, put my head back into Willie Nelson’s new book, “Roll me up and Smoke me when I die!”  Will let Justin get me home.

See you on the road my friends.

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Ragged Edge of Rock and Roll….

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Well its Saturday night of the Australia Day weekend, the CMAA awards are on, and I’m at home, the boys are all tucked up in bed, even wrote  another song today, that’s two since Christmas. My writing partner was my son Marshal, he was dressed as the Blue Wiggle, apparently, I’m the Brown Wiggle ( Yes, I know, there is no Brown Wiggle! You tell him that.) In-spite of the fact our couch was the Big Red Car Train, ( Thomas and the Wiggles ride together in our house), the song turned out all right. Congratulations to Luke O’sShea for another Golden Guitar

Beautiful man and his.six string machine.

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Tamworth nearly didn’t happen at all this year,as booking took place when the old man was really ill, and even two weeks out I wasn’t set on my lineup, but knew I needed something big to happen. Even if it was just for my own heart. Live music, when people stand and deliver, really only happens when there’s an air of danger lurking about. When in our case four men come together, and they have something to leave on the stage, something that matters. Tamworth can be a car wreck of a place where people just go through the motions, and as the week goes on and they get more pissed, and more hungover, and start to break down, somehow expecting the audience should just accept it as a badge of honor, well personally I think that is Bullshit If a punter has made their way to the front of your stage, you surely owe them more than that. I have played there with no voice, that’s true, but have never not given my all, everything that was in the tank.

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Well this year with Den Hanrahan being with me since last Tamworth, and no one plays with more heart than this guy, and Dodge Dave Harding on the bottom end, it was the drummers stool that once again bothered me. I made a big call two weeks out and left behind Henry who had worked with me all year,  there was no Danger, great guy, never stopped having a go, but no lives could have been lost to the raged edge of Rock and Roll with him there. So the call went out, answered by none other than Scotty Dogg. From the first song at The Albert he was on it, we even played Last Song About Girls, no rehearsal, and slayed it, this is just my perspective, just how I felt, but right now, here , alone, after listening to the Blues all night and watching how the other half lived in Tamworth , it’s all I have. That and the dream for this year.

God I came close to giving up, closer than I have before. This Rock and Roll Fantasy has haunted me sine I first won a pair of Radio Head phones off a G.I,. Cordial bottle when I was in Primary school. I was trying to describe to my wife that it’s impossible for me to be just a punter at any show, I always want to be out there. Don’t get me wrong, I have Springsteen tickets and  I will rock out, I love High Hopes, Wrecking Ball, Man he has written these in his 60’s!

So, this year, with this new line up, something , anything might happen, I am working on songs, I have  new band with Hank in the wings, Warning my first band is reforming, I have two film clips/ singles to come off I Play Country, and I have a Live in Austin Texas full band album in the can for Mastering. The Howling Buzzard reckons we should hit Texas again, he has some guys, I have some Guys, wants me to make sure Hank gets there, man, it’s look classy San Diego.

So 2014 , I put you on notice, and by Australia Day 2015, I will have High Hopes, High Hopes indeed. This Dreamer isn’t done yet, it might have been close, but as Rocky said in Rocky 5, ” Its not how many times that you get knocked down that counts, it’s how many times you get back up!”

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Time to get a move on.

OK, it’s Fathers Day here, that used to be a one way street, me to my dad, but with Little Marshal being 18 mths old, it’s my second time round as a Dad on Fathers Day, and just quietly, that’s pretty cool. I had to pick him up from childcare the other day, and I was presented with the Fathers Days artwork, it made me feel good, simple as that is. Robert Fulghum, the author, pointed out that there is ” Treasure like this in shoe boxes under beds, and stuck onto fridges, in all the countries around the world. I think he is right.

Right now, I am trying to get my head around getting another record out there, studio album number three. The title, well that was a hard one to settle on, at first it was going to be “Family Man”, then Shooter Jennings put that out last year, so end of that one, eventually settled on the single “I Play Country”, and the title became easy. After touring Texas now for the last five years, I was stoked to record there last year. It was a crazy ride. Originally Texan Chris Wall was going to produce, after we met at Greune Hall while I was on the road the year before to discuss it, but that turned into Chris turning us over to Tommy Detamore, and the rest is history. It wasn’t easy though.We had arranged to record after the tour in 2011, while we headed back over from Colorado. I rang Tommy heading back to Texas to check it was all good to go ahead. He said, ” Don’t know what to tell you this Chuck, but the studio Burnt to the ground last night!” I really felt for Tommy, and I am a believer in synchronicity and serendipity. I told him it was my belief that I was meant to record with him, and if he could sort something out, we would still go ahead. He did, and we did. Tommy was bailed out by a generous offer by B.A.M. studios and Bobby Floores in San Antonio, and Robert De Gaza came on as engineer, and Tommy produced, and we knocked out the basic tracks in a week, with Texan Stephen James on lead Guitar from San Marcos. Stephen had been on the road with us , was amazing and I wanted him on it. I had Tom Miller from San Antonio on bass, but Chris Rhoades from Two Tones of Steel guested on three tracks as well. Our Aussie drummer Simon Wale was in the engine room, and Buzz Talay who was touring with us from Australia played on Road Trip. Most of the record was written before I got there, but I still had some Lyrics to pull together, and as Neil Young says, sitting next to the Rabbit Hole got the record finished. I wrote the lyrics for Road Trip and Burn It Down in the car park over the week, as well as I Prayed Today. Robert De Gaza was a true gentleman, was prepared for us everyday, and we worked our asses off, as we had limited time.Having Little Marshal and Jen there was a gret way to be on the road, even though there was no sleeping in with him around!

We were still doing gigs at nights, recording all day, and when the week was done, the basic tracks were all completed. The plan was that I would be back for the mixing. It was a plan, cause Sydney is along way from San Antonio, but I just knew it had to happen, and in this band, that’s how I have worked for along time. I have always punched above my weight, and lived outside of my means. I have put everything into this band, friends have bought houses, go on nice holidays, have decent cars, I make records, film clips , tour Texas/Colorado/L.A./ New York, everywhere we can actually, plus all around Australia, us much as we can anyway. This has worn out band members, managers, exhausted wallets and hearts, but yet the drive has mostly remained. Even when I got married, and then Marshal came along, our Honeymoon was touring Texas, I really wanted my wife to see the Texas that I knew. Little Marshal was a real trooper, if he started crying while we drove, Lullabies went on the stereo till he calmed, and then back to Rock and Roll. It was funny how it calmed the whole band. 

I was able to get back to Texas this year for SXSW, and after I did some shows for the festival, I headed up to San Antonio and mixed the record with Tommy.  Since I had been back in OZ he had  added his Pedal Steel, which is mighty and sounds awesome on this record, and other over dub’s,Fiddle, backing Vocals, and we started from there. With technology the way it is , mixing was a dream, I wanted my original bass player on the record, so with the assistance of John Wardle, Chuck’s Wagon’s new guitar Player, and his mobile recording unit, he and Dodge Dave flew some tracks in from Australia, and all went into the mix.Australia’s Banjo Slayer, Mark “Bucky” Collins flew some tracks in, and again, like on Lipstick and Sin, it was amazing.! I added a Texan Trumpet player, Kullen Fuchs on I Prayed Today, and we pretty well had it. I got back to Australia, and scraped all the money I needed to get to Tommy, and it was hard, especially when my wife was in a car accident, and our car that gets the family around was written off, but we got there. 

Then it was sorting the mastering, and I always use Don Bartley, and with some fine tuning between Tommy and Don we are getting there.

I knew we had to push a single out there, so “I Play Country” was released on the CRS singles for this September release, and now we have to get in behind it, and again John Wardle , has been the Angel , supplying contacts for artwork and the film clip, all being done on the smell of an Independent Musicians Oily Rag! This week we work towards organizing and signing off on all of these, but I put a draft of the artwork out there , just so folks have something to listen to.

I figured, I would start to blog this chapter in the bands History, it’s an important time. Third Record, another push to getting our name andImage songs out there. Another throw of the dice on the Country Music Channel, The Tamworth Awards, not to mention Texas! I am stuck between two worlds, I Love Texas, but I am not a Texan, even though “I did get there as fast as I could!” My love of Texas , and it’s Music, seems to keep me on the edge over here. So be it. My understanding is that the Original Texas Country Outlaws turned their back on Nashville, and went it alone. Inspirational, and that’s what I need right now. Inspiration to get this job done. 

Thats enough for now, but it doesn’t end here. It’s just the beginning.