Jan 31, 2012

There Will Be No Justice...

Calm before the storm Wormy Dog Saloon OKC 

No Justice. Where to begin??? The basics… Well, I’m just gonna do my best here since all the info I found on them is a little outdated. But that is exactly what you would expect from a band that averages over 200 shows a year though. Their start came sometime in 2001 in Stillwater, OK. Stillwater is a place that many people consider to have deep roots in the origins of the Red Dirt music scene. They have released three studio albums, Far From Everything, their self-titled effort, No Justice, and their most recent release 2nd Avenue.  Throw an awesome Live at Billy Bob’s album in the mix and you’ve got all of their current releases. These albums have seen the guys enjoy a fair amount of success on the Texas Music Charts with numerous Top 10 singles and multiple number 1 singles.

That is an amazing amount of success for a band that has seen quite a bit of flux over the years. No Justice has been through multiple line-up changes and record labels and even a slightly different sound on their latest album, but they have never lost their connection with their fans. Their music continues to strike a chord with their most loyal fans while at the same time pulling in a new fan base that is ready for more. Fans both old and new will be happy to learn that the No Justice guys are putting the finishing touches on an album titled "America's Son" due out “in March, April, May, or sometime in 2012, because you know how we are” as front man Steve Rice jokingly told a packed house at the legendary Wormy Dog Saloon in Oklahoma City recently. Their new single "Shot in the Dark" is out now and according to Steve represents a return to their older sound. "This album will have more of a country sound then our last album had" he explained. He also said "Our last album had more of a rock vibe to it, that is why we called it 2nd Avenue, we were kinda going down a new road" during a recent live acoustic set in Grant, OK. Either way, rest assured a new/old album from No Justice will not disappoint. 
Wormy Dog Saloon OKC

Wormy Dog Saloon OKC

Acoustic Set in Steamboat Springs CO
   One thing that is certain about the current line-up of Steve Rice vocals & acoustic guitar, guitarist Jerry Payne, bassist Justin Morris, drummer Armando Lopez, lead guitarist Cody Patton, and newest member Bryce Conway on keyboards. These guys have come together as an unstoppable force when put on stage together. I have personally seen the band 4 times in the last 6 weeks, in 3 different states… But, even so, I have yet to see the same show from them twice. One show even had a smoking organ (told ya I’d get that in there Bryce).  They stay after every show to meet the fans, sign autographs, and even listen to your silly “Steve is my cousin” scenarios… (love ya hun!)

The wife and I With Steve at the Wormy Dog
To sum it up, it’s simple. Ask yourself if you like good music. If the answer is yes, give these guys a listen. Get their old albums, they are all amazing. Pick up their next album "America's Son" whenever it may come out. (I'll let ya know). You will not regret it. Like I said earlier, I have seen 4 shows, in 6 weeks, and in 3 states and they are on my schedule at least twice more in the next month. Yeah I’m a fan(antic) but so what? You should be too!
                                        "Just Get Going" from 2nd Avenue

*thanks to Abby Gibson for the assist with quotes

Jan 30, 2012

Kickin' it off Contest

I have ordered some t-shirts & stickers for the blog and I will have a contest to give away a prize package. tshirt <-- click to see it. Just email your best/funniest/most awesome picture of you with your favorite Red Dirt artist. Best picture wins t-shirt and sticker prize pack and 5 runners up will recieve stickers. Send entries to reddirtbluecollar@gmail.com Winner will be chosen Feb 29th. SUPPORT RED DIRT MUSIC!!!

Jan 26, 2012

Meet Granger Smith

So I kicked around a few ideas of what or who I should write about for my first real blog entry. One person really stood out to me. There is so much talent and passion in this guy it’s tough to figure out where to begin. For starters, he is an amazing artist. His website says he has had 7 top 10 singles in Texas Radio (I think its more since then but who's counting). He is an avid supporter of the military and has played in Iraq and Kuwait for the troops. Shoot, the guy has even played at the White House, more than once. Not to mention, he puts out some of the funniest YouTube videos you may ever see. But many of you may have never heard of the guy. Well allow me to introduce you to Granger Smith.

Granger Smith is a guy that has a story pretty common in the Texas music scene. He had a passion for music from an early age. He taught himself to play guitar and began writing songs in his early teens. At 19 he did a stint in Nashville, got a record deal, and put out a few albums before coming back home to Texas. His music had always included songs about Texas but getting back to his Texas roots gave his music a real Texas feel. A handful of singles that have reached the top 10  in Texas Radio and a knack for connecting with his fans are a statement to that. Whether it be the unique kinda quirky sounds of an Irish jig in one of his latest singles “I’m Wearing Black” to get you tapping your feet, or a heartfelt sentimental ballad like “5 More Minutes”,  a song anyone who has lost a loved one can relate to, his music is sure to have something for everyone. "5 More Minutes" is a song that holds a special place with me personally for sure. Granger allowed my family to use the “5 More Minutes” video at my mothers memorial service after she passed away last year after she lost her battle with breast cancer. I dare you to watch the video for that song and not get teary eyed. He appreciates his fans and wants to give back and wants them to know that.

His fans are not the only people that he gives back to in a big way however. He is also a proud supporter of the men and women in the military. Granger is a major contributor of The Boot Campaign. The Boot Campaign is an organization that sells combat boots with the help of celebrity endorsements to raise funds for a variety of charities that support military personnel and their families.  Last year Granger did something pretty remarkable. They say that you can never know a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes; well Granger took that just a step farther, or miles farther… Over a 5 day stretch last April he walked 100 miles from south Austin to Fort Hood in Killeen. A walk that he did in combat boots and at the end he performed a free concert for the troops. Said Granger, “I wanted to show there are other ways than to write a check.” and added, “I wanted to get out and make a physical sacrifice on my body and to prove a point to raise awareness, raise moral and raise patriotism.” And from what I hear, there is a chance he may be repeating his 100 mile walk again this year. Oh, and by the way, he has also been overseas 3 times to play for troops in Iraq and Kuwait (I think I mentioned that). But he isn't always so serious…

Granger Smith 100 mile Walk "Sleeping on the Interstate"

Granger has been known to have a lighter side to him as well. If you do a YouTube search for him you will turn up everything from music videos, to live performances, and a few videos that reflect some of his "alter egos". Due to what I’m sure comes from a little extra down time, Granger and his crew have shot some hilarious videos. Some of them depicting the lighter side of touring with goofs and gags and even an impersonation of Cris Angel. Some of his videos doing promo for his Poets and Prisoners album portray Granger as alter ego #1 Lionel, a slightly nerdy, very uncomfortable street reporter. And perhaps his most popular, and the one alter ego that has taken on a life all its own, Earl Dibbles Jr. Earl is a country boy and proud of it, and trust me folks we all know an Earl Dibbles Jr (come on click it). I dare you to watch any of his non-music related videos and not laugh so hard you just might pee a little.

The one thing that you can take from all of this is that Granger is a man of passion. Whether it is his music, or his support of the military, or giving his fans a show that rivals anything out there, he always gives you everything he has. I have seen him perform in front of hundreds of fans, and I’ve seen him perform for 50 or so. It didn’t matter to Granger. He gave his all no matter how big the crowd. He stays after every show to meet and talk to every fan that wants to meet him. And knowing Granger, if you meet him more than once, odds are he remembers you. Because that's the kind of guy he is. He truly is an artist; a master of his craft. He loves music and he loves his fans. Thank you Granger for doing what you do and sharing it with us. I consider myself lucky to be a fan. See ya down the road.

* videos are property of Granger Smith

Find Granger Smith here

Official Website: http://www.grangersmith.com/
YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/GSBAND

Jan 24, 2012

Thanks Aaron, That went better than I had hoped.

   Well, one blog entry down and I have to consider it a pretty good success. Over 200 views the first day is a lot more than I expected. I'm sure that I owe it in no small part to Aaron Watson who somehow found, read, and tweeted about my blog. Not a bad first effort. No pressure... Thanks Aaron.

                                   My wife and I w/  The Honky Tonk Kid  Mr. Aaron Watson

   I was thinking today and kicking around a list of ideas of what to write about. I wasn't planning on writing another entry this soon. I really want to make this thing a success. I wanted to take the time to find the right subject, do my research, and provide an entertaining yet informative blog. But after today I figured I would provide a little more insight into what those of you who have tuned in can expect. Just a little something to fill your bellies until I put out the next full blog.

   In the future I will be running a few different series of topics. I am going to do a "Best of What You've Never heard of" series profiling some bands that I have found that haven't really gotten a ton of exposure. I am going to do a Red Dirt Retro Review every so often and talk about an album or CD that came out at least 5-10 years ago. I will review new music as well and do my best to keep you posted on when that stuff will be coming out. I go to a lot of shows so I will post about the shows, the venues, and bands when I do see a show. Lastly I plan on doing individual entries about a number of Red Dirt artists. There are so many of them that deserve a little more exposure. I am just excited about maybe playing a little part in spreading the word about some of the music that has come to mean so much to me.

Jan 23, 2012

Where to Start??? First Blog.

I have been thinking about doing a music blog for a while. I wrote one years ago but life and a career in the military got in the way of doing that on a regular basis and eventually I just stopped all together. But life has slowed down a bit, the family is growing up and doesn’t take up so much time any more. So here I am...

   The one thing that has been a constant for me over the years was music. And the one style of music that was always in the mix was country music. I remember listening to old George Strait albums with my dad when I was a kid back home in Texas. I have fond memories of an old radio playing George Jones, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson as my family gathered around a table playing cards or dominoes at my grandparent’s house. Country music has always felt like home. But as times change, so does music.

    Even country music, as simple and down home as it may have once been has been changed by the powers that be and turned into a machine spitting out something that hardly resembles your daddy’s country music. I will admit that for a couple years even I gave up on country music. Then I happened to hear a song one day that really struck a chord with me. Thank you Aaron Watson for bringing me home to the Texas/Oklahoma Red Dirt Music scene with your song "Off the Record".

    That song began a relationship with Texas/Red Dirt music that has grown stronger with every cd, concert, new artist that I have heard, seen, or discovered over the last 6-7 years. Last year I saw about 30 shows. My first date with my wife now was a Reckless Kelly show. I proposed to her at the first JABFEST show. We spent a week at Musicfest in Steamboat Springs CO this year as our Christmas present to each other. I have a dozen videos of our kids singing everything from Aaron Watson to Randy Rogers and JB and the Moonshine Band. Heck, my wife and I, we saw No Justice 5 times one month. I even have part of one of Granger Smith's songs in a tattoo memorial for my mom.

    That’s what this music is to me. It tells my story. I relate. I can put in a cd and connect. Not just with the words but with the people behind the music. Real people. Who play Red Dirt music. With a Blue Collar attitude. They always have time for you. They are grateful that you came to see them. They can for a brief moment become family. It’s almost like coming home.