Dori Freeman has been hurt and felt torn. We know because she’s told us so, always with unblinking frankness in crisp pop songs with deep Appalachian roots. But even if we couldn’t understand her words, we’d hear the pain in her soprano, which rings out with melancholy strength only gained from living.
There are more trees than people in San Isabel, Colorado, where the Wet Mountains poke the sky and Jamestown Revival’s Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay set up a makeshift recording studio in a cabin. The Texas natives emerged with San Isabel, a gorgeous new album that marks both a return to Jamestown Revival’s acoustic roots and a bold step forward into more topical lyricism.
Even before releasing her first full-length album, Molly Tuttle made history. She became the first woman to be named IBMA Guitar Player of the Year, a title she’s won twice, in addition to winning Americana Music Association’s Instrumentalist of the Year, all on the strength of her 2017 EP, RISE. But to focus exclusively on Tuttle as a guitarist would be a mistake. She isn’t interpreting others’ songs. She’s writing and singing her own, and as her debut record When You’re Ready proves, she’s doing it not only with classically trained musicianship, but with an exciting willingness to explore and trust her own wide-ranging artistic instincts.
Right now in Houston, a group of kids who might otherwise be skipping school or dodging gangs is excited about class. Today, they aren’t statistics to be shamed or problems to be forgotten. They’re poets. And a Pablo Neruda-quoting, poetry slamming, world-renowned breakdancing social activist is their teacher.
Susie Criner had a 2-year-old daughter and an ambitious new rock ’n’ roll club called Rockefeller’s to run when a local father approached her with a request: Could she get the Four Tops to play a Houston debutante’s party?
Criner, now 67, didn’t miss a beat: “I said, ‘Well, yeah, I sure could,’” she says, nodding with a sideways glance and a smile. “That’s when the light bulb went off.”
Horses of all sizes and shades of brown, white, gray and black graze in the pastures on either side of the road Rebecca Williams drives up to get to a large barn.
Her truck’s windows are down, and the sound of tires crunching road rocks and whiffs of hay and coastal salt fill the cab. “I like getting outside because sitting in front of a computer screen, cobwebs start forming in my head,” Rebecca says as she pulls up to the barn gate. “I like to get out here and just blow them away. It helps me remember why I’m doing everything I’m doing when I get outside and put my hands on a horse.”
It’s Thursday in Houston, and Paul Beebe is suiting up to play. Black jacket and pants, skinny black tie, crisp white shirt in place, he’s ready for Beetle, the gig he’s played every Thursday night at the Continental Club for the past 17 years. It’s his fourth show in eight days, and this week, he’s rung up the tally with three different bands at three different clubs, all without ever leaving the city’s inner Loop.
Copyright 2019, Elisabeth Carroll Parks. All rights reserved.