Stoney LaRue, Reckless Kelly
William Clark Green
14492 Old Bandera Rd.
Helotes, TX, 78023
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
Watch & Listen
Stoney LaRue makes real-life, thinking man's music.
Seriously, how many other singer-songwriters would say this kind of thing about their own output: "You have to be careful about what you put out there and what you sing about, because it's a little like the Laws of Attraction," LaRue says. "You've either lived it or written about it, or you're writing about it and you're gonna."
So much country music today chases inexact images of imaginary roads leading to nowhere, allegedly ambling a pickup truck down dusty roads to some idealized, nonexistent party.
The Texas native-turned-longtime Oklahoma resident has been chasing his own dream down many roads for a long time. He's hit the occasional pothole that sidelined him for awhile, never veering from his internal call to chronicle life's ups and downs.
"I've always been motivated by and came up under the style of old Woody Guthrie songs," LaRue says. "It's always been about talking to the people."
Hence you have the laid-back, conversational style found on Stoney LaRue's newest album project, AVIATOR, his debut for eOne Entertainment.
Don't be fooled...LaRue has lit up and burned down a honky-tonk a time or two, becoming a Red Dirt/Texas Music circuit mainstay known for high-energy shows, and that intensity is found on AVIATOR as well, on tracks like "It's Too Soon", "Golden Shackles" and an album ending "Studio A JAM" not to be missed.
But its tunes like "First One To Know," the opener "One And Only" and the vivid, memory-filled title track that give AVIATOR it's thread, trying to find a path amidst loss and life changes, redemption and reinvention.
"The theme is, essentially, following direction, trusting in yourself, and new beginnings," LaRue says. "A lot of it is spurred from divorce and open-eyed ways of looking at things, be it relationships or just the world as a whole."
But while AVIATOR was crafted at the tail end of some personal upheaval, Larue took comfort and energy from re-teaming with creative partners from previous projects, such as songwriter Mando Saenz and the producers of his last studio record Velvet, veteran hit makers Frank Liddell and Mike McCarthy.
The term "organic" gets used far too frequently in music today, but it's hard to find a more apt one to describe Liddell, McCarthy and LaRue's process making AVIATOR. From recording analog on two-inch tape, to one-take performances by world-class studio musicians gathered as a band, AVIATOR's tracks crackle with an energy you're only going to find from hard-fought teamwork forged in the studio.
It's a process LaRue knows runs counter to the "record today, release later today" modern day music business machine. "I understand it, that people want the product and artists want to get it out there as soon as possible," he notes. "But that kind of goes against what the natural way of letting art happen."
And there's art to be found on AVIATOR, be it the cheeky shuffle found on "Moving On," the delicate weave of piano and pedal steel meshing memories on "Still Running," the churning pulse of "Spitfire" turning onto the two-stepping moment found on "Million Dollar Blues” and Stoney's honoring of one of his heroes on "Natural High".
"It was worth every moment we spent, and there's stuff going on here that makes me think, 'This is the way music is supposed to be recorded,'" LaRue continues.
The rooted-in-tradition nature of making AVIATOR has spun off into LaRue's live performances as well. He tells a story of a recent gig in Longview, Texas, where he spoke to a man at the venue who had seen LaRue (and everything else you can see at a bar) a time or two.
"He told me, 'I've heard you since you first started. I just turned 64. What I heard tonight was a more refined Stoney, and I thought to myself, "I can connect with what he's saying",'" LaRue says. "I like the ability to connect with people at any age, whether it might be sonically or to the depth of what they're willing to think. I like to think, and I like for people to think. It's a little bit of a lost art these days.
"I want that human element to still be apparent in my writing," he continues. "Whenever we're on stage, I notice that people, rather than just standing there swaying back and forth; it's more of an experience show than it is dance hall music.
"I've noticed that some people dance, some people stand there and listen, some mouths are open, and some heads are bowed. Everybody experiences it differently."
But while a lot of thought, care, consideration and skill has been put into the making of AVIATOR, don't ask Stoney LaRue what Stoney LaRue sounds like. One, it'll bring on a certain amount of brain freeze, and two, he wants you to think through it yourself.
"I'd say its a little combination of rootsy rock, country, folk, and whatever else is in the hodge podge, and separate as much of the pride and ego from it, and put it in a format that's easy to listen to," LaRue eventually concedes. "But I don't think the listener can get it in a 20-second format. I don't think they'd get it in a day. It's one of those things that has to be word-of-mouth and experienced themselves.
"As far as the listener is concerned, that's who it's for," LaRue continues. "The music came out of me for a reason, and it's not supposed to be just for me. I want to share it with as many people as possible. If I've done that, then they have the option to embrace it or put it down. I just want it to be available to them."
So take your nearest available audio device -- queue up the playlist or pop in that CD -- put your thinkin' shades on and spin up AVIATOR. Stoney LaRue wants you to find yourself in it...yourself.
Reckless Kelly's roots reach back to Idaho and Oregon, where brothers Willy and Cody Braun paired their state-required education with a musical school of learning taught by their father. Muzzie Braun and the Boys (that also included other members of the Braun clan) took to the stage, playing western swing regionally, as well as on the Grand Ole Opry and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
William Clark Green
William Clark Green
William Clark Green Is not one for pulling punches. Where some songwriters trade in subtlety
and dancing around blunt truths with clever feints and metaphor, Clark aims his words straight
to the point and, when needed, right through the heart. His music is unrelentingly direct and
hard-hitting, too, charged with a palpable rock ’n’ roll immediacy that’s as evident in his most
intimate solo acoustic performances as it is in the full-tilt band shows that have packed rooms
across his native Lone Star State from the Blue Light in Lubbock to the world’s biggest honkytonk,
Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. And with the April 21st release of Ringling Road, his
eagerly awaited fourth album, Green is set to make his biggest impact on the booming
Texas/Red Dirt music scene — and beyond — yet.
But just don’t call him the “Next Big Thing,” because as Green makes patently clear on Ringling
Road’s riotously myth-busting opening track, that’s a laugh, buddy. And even with tongue firmly
in cheek, William Clark Green is only interested in being real.
“Oh it’s hard to pay your dues when there ain’t no money in the bank
It’s a shame
I gotta make it to the show but there ain’t no gas in the tank
what you do for a broken heart and some busted strings
And everybody saying I’m the next big thing!”
“I’m actually a little nervous about what people are going to think of that song, and if they’ll think
I’m being an asshole,” Clark admits with a laugh. “And that’s not the case at all, because it’s
actually sarcastic as hell. But we’ve been hearing that ‘you’re the next big thing’ thing for a long
time now — and I’m guilty of saying the same to some of my songwriter friends who are
struggling out there, too. And even though it’s always meant in a nice way, you can’t help but
think, ‘What? I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m actually sleeping in my truck tonight!”
Not that he’s complaining. Green is nothing if not fully committed to his chosen path. Granted,
had a few chips fallen a little differently, he could have just as easily — and happily — devoted
his life to ranching, but fate dictated pretty early on that he was meant to be a troubadour. He
may have started taking guitar lessons at 13 primarily out of boredom — his family had just
moved from Flint, Texas to College Station in the summer, and he didn’t have any new school
friends yet — but it wasn’t long before he developed a keen interest in songwriting. A healthy
obsession with his father’s copy of Willis Alan Ramsay’s classic 1972 debut had a lot to do with
that (“That’s still the best album I’ve ever heard, and the reason I use three names,” Green
enthuses). So did timing: “I remember seeing Robert Earl Keen and Pat Green and even Jerry
Jeff Walker at the Wolf Pen Creek Amphitheater in College Station when I was in high school,”
he says. “The scene was really kind of in its birth then, and I was right there in the middle,
paying attention and really intrigued by all of it.”
College originally wasn’t part of his game plan — “I was a very poor student, and I still wanted to
be a cowboy” — but after a lead on a ranch-hand job fell through and a miserable two-week stint
at a feed lot scared him straight, Green enrolled in junior college and eventually found his way to
Texas Tech. He majored in agriculture economics, but spent more time songwriting and playing
guitar at every open-mic night and hotel bar gig he could find than actually studying. By the time
fellow Red Raider and Texas country rising star Josh Abbott handed him the keys to his
Tuesday-night residency at the Blue Light, Green and his own band were on their way.
“That’s when things got really serious for me,” Green recalls. “I came out with my first record
[2008’s Dangerous Man], and it kind of got to the point where I knew if I was going to pursue
music, I’d have to give it everything I had, because there’s just no room for half-assing it in this
business. School went to the wayside — I ended up graduating, but it took six years because
music was my priority. And here I am now at 28 — about to release our fourth album and hoping
to get to five before I’m 30. That’ll be a pretty quick turn around, but that’s the goal.”
The aforementioned “next big thing” rumors started up in the wake of his second album, 2010’s
Misunderstood, but it was 2013’s Rose Queen that proved his real breakthrough. Green
recorded the album, produced by Rachel Loy in Nashville, at a real crossroads in his career —
with momentum and high expectations at his back but barely enough money in the bank to foot
the bill (and that only after a desperate call for help to angel investor Wade Bowen saved the
day). “It was a huge leap of faith,” Green says today, “but I told the band, ‘We’re going to pull out
all the stops, and we’re going to find a way to make exactly the record we want to make and
need to make.” The end result was a triumph, yielding Green’s first three top-10 Texas Radio
hits, including two chart-toppers in “She Likes the Beatles” and “Hanging Around” (the former
also won “Song of the Year” honors at the fan-voted Lone Star Music Awards).
Of course, all of that set the bar even higher for the follow-up — and Ringling Road delivers in
spades. Returning to Nashville to team once again with Loy (Green calls working with the gifted
up-and-coming producer “the best decision I’ve ever made in my musical career”), the band
overcame a a couple of early setbacks — longtime drummer Jay Saldana had recently left for a
new gig with Wade Bowen, followed by guitarist Steve Marcus breaking his arm a week before
they went into the studio — to come through like champs under pressure. Saldana ended up
coming back as a guest to drum on most of the record (along with new band member Ryan
Garza), while the lead guitars duties were initially shared between Nashville session vet Kenny
Greenberg and band friend Josh Serrato, recruited out of fellow Texas band Six Market
Boulevard for what originally supposed to be “fill-in” duty. By the time Marcus’ arm healed up
enough for him to join the sessions halfway through, though, Serrato had been promoted from
temp to full-time band member. Greenberg ended up staying on for the rest of the record as
“All three of those guys are monster talents on guitar, so It was a really incredible experience to
have them all working with each other in the studio,” Green marvels. “It all just happened the
way it was supposed to, and we weren’t going to get in the way of that!”
With that formidable triple-guitar threat augmented by Green on acoustic, seasoned band
member Cameron Moreland on bass and key assists from Loy and others on background
vocals and a few other instrumental tracks, it’s no wonder that Ringling Road boasts the fullest
sound of any WCG album to date. But as has been the case since day one of Green’s career,
it’s the quality of his songs that ultimately makes the boldest statement. And it’s not just the flatout
rockers (“Next Big Thing”) and irresistibly catchy, up-tempo numbers (“Sticks and Stones,”
“Creek Don’t Rise,” “Going Home”) that hit hard, either. Other highlights include “Old
Fashioned,” a stirring elegy for a bygone Texas (“The interstate’s pumping just like a vein full of
California license plates”), and the uproarious, Todd Snider-worthy title track, which takes its
name from a real road in Green’s current hometown of Eastland, Texas. Back in the day, the
Ringling Bros. Circus used Eastland as a regular resting stop between shows, where the
elephants and other animals were let off the train for a drink and the myriad circus folk would
unwind and do whatever circus folk usually do on their nights off. As colorfully imagined by
Green and co-writers Ross Cooper and Randal Clay, that was a helluva lot more wild and
entertaining than the actual ticketed performances.
“Ross is a good friend of mine from Lubbock, and Randal is a guy he met in Nashville who was
actually a roustabout for 10 years,” Green explains. “I mean, what better way to write a song
about the circus than to write it with a guy like that? Randal brought in a lot of truths about what
really does happen behind the scenes in the circus. To be honest, after I told them about
Eastland and the history of Ringling Road, he and Ross just got going on this tangent that was
so good, I kind of just sat back and was like, ‘keep going!’”
“Ringling Road,” the song, may be a freak-show blast, but the rest of the album is hardly all fun
and circus games. “Final This Time” is a devastatingly frank post-mortem of a divorce Green
witnessed between two close friends. “Fool Me Once” and “Hey Sarah,” two of the three songs
(along with “Sticks and Stones”) that Green wrote solo, are unflinching accounts of his own
firsthand experiences at bad (or at least uncertain) love. And the lead single “Sympathy”
(already a No. 1 on Texas radio) offers anything but sympathy to a former lover looking for a
shoulder to cry on.
Most brutal of all, though, is the hauntingly plaintive “Still Think About You,” in which the kind of
sympathy Green does offer an ex comes laced with painfully bitter honesty: “Sorry that you fell
in love with someone you could never inspire …”
“You know, it’s not that I’m an asshole,” Green says again, laughing. “But I feel like everybody
has those selfish feelings sometimes, but they’re never said in songs. I actually showed that
song — I had the chorus written but still needed the verses — to Randy Rogers and Sean
McConnell, and they both went, ‘oh, that’s not my style.’ And I thought, ‘Well, maybe this is a
terrible idea …’”
Before giving up on it, though, Green showed it to one other trusted friend: Kent Finlay,
songwriter’s songwriter, founder of the legendary Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos,
Texas, and, not for nothing, Green’s co-writer on Rose Queen’s hit single “Hanging Around.”
Sage soul that he was, Finlay — who sadly passed away on March 2, 2015 after a long illness
— took a shine to the unfinished song at first pitch.
“I took it to Kent and said, ‘I’ve got this song, and no one seems to like it,’” Green recalls. “But I
played what I had for him, and he went, ‘Oh, I like that!’ And I was like, ‘Thank God, finally
somebody does!’ So we ended up finishing it together, and I’m really glad we did.
“Taking uncomfortable feelings like that and putting them to paper and writing songs about them
— that’s kind of been my staple, really,” Green continues. “And that song is about as true as it
He pauses on that thought for a moment. “Now, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad
thing,” he adds with a laugh, “but I guess the truth prevails! And that makes me able to sleep at