June Carter Cash B-Day Bash & Hoot

Ashley Monical

Ashley’s beautiful, smooth and warm sultry vocals are breathtaking. This girl has really got some pipes, which took her to Hollywood in the 10th season of American Idol. Some compare her to the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Norah Jones, Jewel & Sheryl Crow with a hint of Janis’ raspy quality. Having lived and traveled internationally growing up, Ashley Monical moved from Colorado back to her (Austin) Texas roots in 2006 with her guitar strapped to her back and a yearning in her heart to make music. Embraced by the “Live Music Capital of the World” she was inspired to write songs that carry the soulful vocals that have wanted to speak her truth since she was a little girl. Ashley has traveled extensively to share her music and is internationally known for her talent. She is planning on releasing her second album in the beginning of 2013.

Jess Kline

For over a decade, Jess Klein’s gutsy “tell it like it is” folk pop has been embraced by taste-makers from Tokyo to London, from Australia to her new home state of Texas.

Graced with one of the most enviable voices in Americana music – equally at ease with a sultry whisper or a rock’n’roll wail, Klein has released eight critically acclaimed albums and toured the globe, sharing the stage with such greats as Arlo Guthrie, Steve Earle, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Shawn Colvin, Alejandro Escovedo and John Fullbright.

MOJO Magazine writes “Jess Klein has one of those voices you want to crawl up close to the speakers to listen to.” And No Depression‘s Lee Zimmerman calls Klein’s latest release Behind A Veil “An excellent album – a career-maker in fact.”

Klein has grown into her Texas surroundings easily. No stranger to culture shock, the Rochester, New York native first picked up the guitar and started writing songs while living as a student in Kingston, Jamaica in her late teens. After returning to the states, Klein moved to Boston and began performing locally, releasing her first album, Wishes Well Disguised independently. After winning the Telluride Troubadour Songwriting Contest, and garnering several Boston Music Award nominations, she was spotted and signed to Rykodisc. Her first release for the label, Draw Them Near, (3.5 stars, USA Today), launched Klein on a worldwide tour that saw her wow 70,000 attendees at Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival. Soon after, Klein joined the songwriter collective Voices on the Verge, along with Erin McKeown, Rose Polenzani, and Beth Amsel. The foursome was featured on Good Morning America performing Klein’s song “Little White Dove” and brought sold out crowds in small theaters across the U.S. to their feet nightly with their blend of harmonies and eclectic styles.

After a move to NYC, Klein recorded her second solo effort for Ryko, Strawberry Lover (2005), which debuted as the No. 1 most added album at triple A radio a week before its release and garnered four stars from MOJO, as well as having the title track named one of the “Top Ten Sexiest Songs of the Moment” by the NY Daily News. Draw Them Near, Strawberry Lover and 2006’s City Garden would capture the attention of critics and fans worldwide.

Always searching for new adventure and inspiration, Klein relocated to Austin, Texas in 2008, where she quickly embraced the music of her new home. In between tours, which included a stint in Ireland supporting folk legend Arlo Guthrie, Klein found time to collaborate with some of Austin’s most talented artists: Jon Dee Graham, Randy Weeks, Radney Foster, Jimmy LaFave, Slaid Cleeves, Matt the Electrician, Drew Womack, Josh Abbott, Stoney LaRue, Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Will Sexton, Ray Bonneville and Oklahoma-based John Fullbright (she’s the featured background vocalist on his Grammy-nominated album From the Ground Up) .

Behind a Veil (2012) marks Klein’s second album with Austin based producer Mark Addison, the first being 2009’s critically acclaimed Bound to Love. In Bound to Love, Klein keenly embraced the dusty roots of Texas songwriters while reveling in her new surroundings. Behind a Veil goes deeper, chronicling her feelings during a particularly hard year; the loss of her father after a 5 year battle with ALS, a split with a long-time lover, and the self-empowering decision to move forward with no record label.

Jess explains: “You never really know what the big picture is to a situation – sometimes the meaning is veiled. It can seem really bad, but then later you can look back at the same moment and feel so grateful it went that way; I love that about life. Sometimes things are just really hard and really painful, but also beautiful.”

On Behind a Veil, Jess writes honestly and courageously about the conflicting emotions of love, loss, joy and pain. But even in the most delicate passages you can hear the triumph in her voice.

Kristy Kruger

Songwriter and artist Kristy Krüger has an extensive history in music that spans classical, jazz, folk, and rock genres. Throughout the course of her career as a pianist and composer, Krüger won a multitude of state, national, and international awards for jazz and classical composition and performance. When she shifted gears into the world of the singer/songwriter, she brought a broad spectrum of influences with her, ranging from Hank Williams, Sr. to Miles Davis as she criss-crossed the country, touring alone for over six years. Her untraditional jazz-influenced approach to folk music has carried her throughout the United States, and secured her status as a favorite in her hometown of Dallas, Texas. The Dallas Morning News says she has grown into one of the most eclectic singers in the area, citing her as a “female Tom Waits.” Krüger has also received two nominations for Best Acoustic Act and recently won the 2006 Dallas Observer Music Award from Dallas’ leading entertainment weekly for Best Female Vocalist.

With a wealth of life experiences from her solo journeys, Krüger is also an engaging storyteller and essayist. She has contributed to Public Radio International's This American Life and even made a fan out of the show’s host Ira Glass. In addition to these efforts, Krüger has released four full-length albums. Her latest, Songs From a Dead Man’s Couch, is a meeting of her Texas Americana roots, her love of New Orleans-style jazz, her not-so-sunny disposition, and a touch of the cosmic – a sound she’s calling: “Ameritronica.”

Krüger began studying classical piano at age five. She studied jazz at the Dallas Arts Magnet, whose alumni includes Norah Jones, Edie Brickell, and Erykah Badu. There her strength became composition. By the time she was 17 the Texas Music Teachers’ Association presented her with an award for winning more musical awards than any other high school senior in the state of Texas, leading to scholarships at the country’s best music schools.

Krüger chose the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where she majored in Music Industry. During this period, she began writing songs on piano and guitar and released her debut album, Bachelor of Apathy in 1998. Upon completing her degree at USC, Krüger relocated to her native Texas and began booking her own tours, performing solo across the country and released a second album, The Noise I Make.

In 2003 Krüger relocated to New Orleans where she recorded a third album, An Unauthorized Guide to the Human Anatomy, an elaborate anatomical concept album, with Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum and Andrew Gilchrist, long-time engineer for Ani DiFranco. Krüger produced the record playing piano, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and was able to put her classical counterpoint skills to work, composing background vocals that move like string arrangements throughout the album. Anatomy also won Best Female Singer/Songwriter Album of the Year at the Just Plain Folks International Independent Music Awards.

After six years of touring the country alone, Krüger recently released her fourth album, Songs From a Dead Man’s Couch, a title which came about from her writing songs on the second-hand couch of a dead man. The title suits this collection of dark and deliberate songs and her voice sounds of a lone, well-traveled woman. She gives a nod to her Texas roots, offering up a sullen, classic country influence on several numbers. There is also a definite hint of New Orleans in her writing, inspired by the traditional jazz she heard while living there. Other tracks offer a fusion of dark Americana and electronics, a sound Krüger is calling “Ameritronica.” Engineer Ethan Allen, who has worked with countless artists, including Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, and more recently Gram Rabbit and the 88s, put the finishing touches on the record. Krüger produced the record, leaving some tracks raw and layering others with ambient electric guitars, keyboards and her latest instrumental endeavor, the pedal steel.

Ben Bethea

KDRP deejay, June Carter fan, blossoming superstar....

HalleyAnna Finlay simply sings like her songs were stamped on her heart at birth. Evidence: The Country. HalleyAnna's superb debut collection swaggers ("So Heavy") and sways ("Fast Train") with effortless elegance. The album, which deftly spotlights her meeting point between Patsy Cline and Emmylou Harris, serves as a shining introduction to a skyward bound emerging talent. High watermarks – particularly, "Back in Your Arms Again" and "Peace Is Lonely, Love Is War"– already show HalleyAnna growing exponentially sharp as a songwriter.

"Experience is what happens when you don't get what you want, so songwriting makes me feel better," she says. "Any time I'd go through a heartache growing up, my dad would say, 'Well, you'll get a good song out of it.' Sure enough, I really did. You can't write every single song about how somebody broke your heart, so some of the stuff I've done is more serious. 'Back in Your Arms Again' may sound like a song about somebody who dumped you, but it has a much deeper, eternal, death-related theme about meeting in the next life."

For the last decade, HalleyAnna has honed her songwriting skills at Cheatham Street Warehouse, the legendary Central Texas listening room owned by her father, singer-songwriter Kent Finlay. She now leads the next generation of compelling writers who follow James McMurtry, Todd Snider, Bruce Robison and others who started out at Cheatham Street. "I grew up listening to people who play music in Texas," says the youthful singer-songwriter. "I really love the traditional stuff that's going on in East Nashville like Elizabeth Cook and Caitlin Rose and Hayes Carll and Slaid Cleaves here in Austin. They embody the same traditional country that I like."

All personify the literate storytelling so identified with the Texas music tradition and HalleyAnna has put her creative writing studies to good use following their footsteps. Look for further proof one her sophomore effort (due in early 2013). Americana all-star Bill Chambers (Kasey's father) produced the collection. "Working with Bill is so easy and great," HalleyAnna says. "Bill came up and was here for the summer touring with Kasey and he had about a week window to make a record with me. He brought this really nice microphone that Kasey used on 'The Captain' and 'Barricades and Brickwalls' and we did vocals pretty much live. We cut the album in five days in the Wood Shed in San Marcos."

Brian T. Atkinson, author of I'll Be Here in the Morning: The Songwriting Legacy of Townes Van Zandt
Photo by Bill Sallans

Christy Hays

Born and raised in rural Illinois, with some time done in Nashville, Kristy Hays & Her Sunday best have been knocking around Austin for the past couple seasons, including a long-standing Thursday night residency at the vaunted Hole In The Wall. With powerful, sweet vocals and an eye for crafting deft stories, Kristy's music is equal parts Gillian Welch, Kathleen Edwards and Robert Earl Keene.

So Long Problems

Waylon Payne

Payne was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of guitarist Jody Payne and Grammy Award-winning country singer Sammi Smith. His father became a longtime picker for Willie Nelson; his mother toured with Waylon Jennings. Payne is named for Jennings, who is his godfather. Due to the divorce of his parents and their heavy touring schedules, when he was about four months old Payne's mother placed him with her brother and sister-in-law, Bob and Yvonne, in Vidor, Texas. Although he spent summers out on the road with his mother, he lived with his uncle and aunt, who were strict Christians, until he was about age 18.

After high school, Payne enrolled in a seminary to become a minister. Payne had also acquired a taste for beer, marijuana, and popular music, which made his downfall complete in the eyes of his aunt and uncle. "I haven't seen them since," he has said. "I was branded a sinner and basically disowned." [1]

Payne's music industry career began to take shape in the clubs of Los Angeles. He was part of the popular Eastbound and Down country night at the King King Club in Hollywood, which featured musicians playing pure, uncompromising roots music and appealed to such artists as Lucinda Williams and Dwight Yoakam. Prohibited was the playing of anything but traditional classics by Hank Williams, George Jones and other performers of true country.

While in L.A., Payne wrote and recorded some songs with the help of his group of musical friends, which included producer Keith Gattis. With the record completed, but no deal to market it, Payne was playing New York with Willie Nelson and Pat Green when Green suggested he play the album for his label, Republic/Universal. Payne was signed with the label and his début album, "The Drifter," was released June 22, 2004.

Payne was featured in the role as Jerry Lee Lewis in the hit 20th Century Fox movie Walk the Line (2005), which stars Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter, and did all his own singing. Payne then starred as Hank Garland in an independent feature about the legendary guitarist's life titled Crazy (2007).

Waylon Payne has also made guest appearances on television, including the series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Waylon Payne also stars in Monte Hellman's new romantic thriller Road to Nowhere


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