Posts Tagged ‘Betsy Badwater


* Chris Thomas King, Betsy Badwater Holiday Show @ Vinyl Music Hall + INTERVIEW W/ CHRIS THOMAS KING 12/15/2013

It was a bluesy Christmas in Pensacola, Florida as Chris Thomas King performed a special Holiday concert at Vinyl Music Hall.

aIMG_7893 CTK


One week before a special concert that featured Betsy Badwater as the opening act, the King of 21st Century Blues answered a few questions for my Music Matters column in the Pensacola News Journal.


In the holiday spirit, King also told the story of the Christmas day that his father, Baton Rouge blues legend Tabby Thomas, gave him his first guitar.

MS: I saw you at DeLuna Fest and I thought; “Man,I won’t get a chance to see Chris Thomas King until next year, but then I looked online and I saw Holiday concert. It’s billed as a holiday show at Vinyl, but tell me more about what we can expect.

CTK: You’re going to get a pretty typical Chris Thomas King show that we normally do. It will be about Christmas time, which is what the club requested and some of the fans requested. You’ll hear a few classic Christmas renditions.

MS: Can you give any hints or do you want to keep it a surprise?

CTK: People want to hear things like, you know we won’t get too classical because obviously coming from a blues perspective, a song like “Please Come Home From Christmas” is something that we always do around this time when we have a show. That’s a Charles Brown classic. And there will be some others. It’ll be kind of a joyful, soulful bluesy Christmas rendition, but it won’t be out of character really to more classical Christmas song.

MS: Are there any special Christmas memories that you have?

CTK: (laughs) Yeah. The first one that comes to mind is when I got my first guitar as a kid. Must’ve been, I don’t know, maybe…I had been playing on my dad’s guitar and he was tired of coming home from work and seeing me breaking strings and things like that so he decided that he would give me a little guitar for Christmas. I don’t even think they make them anymore, but it was a Kent guitar and it was kind of a copy of a Stratocaster which is what I play now. That was a very nice Christmas.

MS: Do you still have that guitar?

CTK: Oh no. It was basically a starter guitar kind of thing. It would be nice to have around the house, but no, I don’t have it.

MS: How was DeLuna Fest in your opinion as far as your performance and the festival in general?

CTK: As far as the festival in general, I hadn’t been there before, only hearing about it only a year or so ago. It’s a relatively new festival from what I understand, but it’s the kind of festival I would attend on my own-I’m not…it’s one thing to be onstage performing and it’s another thing to be in the crowd experiencing a festival, but I’m not a huge festival go-er. I wouldn’t attend on my own as a spectator like a Bonnaroo or something like that because I’m not the kind of camp out kind of guy or at least not anymore. But this is something that is the band’s that they had, the nice variety that they had and it was easy to get from to stage to stage to see the acts you wanted to see. I thought it was great, it was pretty nice on the beach there. It’s one of those festivals that I would attend whether I was performing or not.

MS: I had a great time watching you. I stood there and thought about it, “I’m listening to you play, I’m right by the beach and I thought ‘Wow. That’s pretty amazing.’

CTK: Yeah and the other bands were kind of well behaved for the festival because sometimes sets are longer or they don’t start on time, but you really get-the stage that I was performing- the only odd thing is that when we were due to go onstage, there was a band across the way performing and as soon as one band stopped the other started, that’s how it was set up, but a lot of times the sets don’t always end on time. But this one was only maybe five or 10 minutes off.

MS: What are you looking forward to this Christmas? Are you playing Christmas night? You’re a busy man.

CTK: Yeah, well I’m on tour right now talking to you in Portland, Oregon and I’m playing in a theatre here tonight. I’m heading up into the Seattle area and the last show is Saturday. I’m on a tour now and I probably won’t be able to do anything but get Louisiana and repack some bags and head on out to Florida. The Vinyl show is the last performance of the year, so we’re just all gonna’ let it all hang out, you know. It’s been a great year for us; we’ve turned a lot of new fans on, not only to my music, but to the blues in general because a lot of my fans, a lot of people come out to hear, they’re not necessarily blues fans, they coming out because they like something that I’ve done in the movies or something I’ve done on a recording. This blues genre, we don’t want to see it fade away and I’m still carrying the torch for that genre of music. I’m still standing on the shoulders of a lot of guys that came before me, women that came before me as well, and so I think we’ve had a good year going around the country and turning people on and reintroducing them to this music and we’re looking forward to next year being even stronger reaching even more people…I mean, I’ve reached a lot of people through movies, I’ve reached thousands of people through my recordings, but reaching people live, touching people in a live setting is where it’s real intimate and the audience really gets to get an insight on who I am as an artist and I get the feedback and that’s mostly positive. It’s a nice thing.

MS: Is there one moment that stands out in your mind where you felt that more than any other time this year?

CTK:  Headlining at the New Orleans Blues Festival earlier this year because it’s right downtown. It was my first time performing at that festival and it was only the third time that I performed in Louisiana this year. I’ve only performed in Louisiana about three times now in 2012 and that one performance was, it was something that was…just…I don’t know, it was just something really special about it. We were under the lights in the center of the city and as far as I could look people were rocking to the music and the band itself-we’ve been on the road a lot- we have our great nights and we have our nights where we should, like a great team, just-even if you win, you just feel you could have played better, you know, but this night here, everything came together; music, atmosphere, audience and the fact that I was at home performing for what was only the third time in 2012. It was exciting and it was a special night. But that night stands out.

MS: What are you looking forward to in 2013?

CTK: I’m hoping to get-there’s a couple of projects that are in the early stages-I’m developing something, a role for me in a film that will kind of bring me back to acting a little bit and I’m actually working on some scoring a little animation piece right now. So those two things I’m looking to get a little bit more involved. I’ll be attending a film festival and things like that, but also I’m going to be continuing to take this music not just through the years, but I’m going to get a little bit more international in 2013.

MS: Always busy.

CTK: It’s nice to have some projects and people inviting you to perform here and there. In the past, I used to spend a year and a half on acting, just going from film project to film project and I wasn’t touring at all. And then after “It’s a Cold Ass World” came out, I got on the road with my band a little bit, the last couple of years and then I wouldn’t pursue film projects, but right now, I think 2013, I’m going to try and balance the two and not just be so focused on one or the other. Some days I would say my music is suffering because I’m not totally focused on it. You can be a jack of all trades and a master of none and I wanted to give my music all of my attention so that it can be appreciated and so that it can reach. I don’t want to half do it-so to speak-so I didn’t want to pursue anything that would sidetrack, but now I’m going to try to see if I can do the balance, you know. We’ll see how it goes.

MS: Is there anything else you would like the fans to know before the show at Vinyl Music Hall in Pensacola?

CTK: Well, I would say that we were invited by the staff to come and play this holiday party and it only came about recently.  We weren’t expecting really to be back in the Vinyl until Spring, so I would say, people bring their good vibe and we’ll all get together, drink a little toast and start bringing in the New Year. Just try to have a nice old party. Hopefully this will be a party that’s enjoyable for everybody.

– Michael L. Smith


* Chris Thomas King, Hollowman/Badwater @ Vinyl Music Hall + INTERVIEW W/ CHRIS THOMAS KING. 01/21/12

“Some people want to be a star…Some people want to be bling-bling rich and have all the hip-hop type of luxuries, but if you want to make a living from your art…, make sure that you’re in love with it, make sure that you and your music are soul mates…It’s good advice to tell people to have something to fall back on, like go to college and get your degree…but getting a degree is not going to get you booked at the local club. They’re not going to ask for your papers.” Chris Thomas King

Papers and degrees burn by the roadside when Chris Thomas King is on stage. His education has been a lifelong journey that has rewarded him accolades befitting (for lack of a better word) a King.

Joining King at Vinyl Music Hall for this stretch of road were Hollowman/Badwater. In a year that produced new songs and performances from Betsy Badwater and Lang Hollowman, the duo also experienced the passing of friend and bassist Joey Harrison. Harrison died soon after being diagnosed with stage four terminal bone and lung cancer. With dedications to Harrison and their friends and family in attendance, Badwater and Hollowman gave their hearts to the crowd circled around them.

One week before the concert, I interviewed King for a brief article in the Pensacola News Journal. Revealing his renewed passion to music and performing, King takes challenge with himself and creating new music, while rarely looking back on his achievements. Artists with such determination must have a hellhound on their trail.

Link to the Chris Thomas King article appearing in the January 20th, 2012 edition of the Pensacola News Journal “Music Matters”

…the full interview follows below.

*** Chris Thomas King Interview ***

MS: This will be the third time that I’ve seen you perform at Vinyl Music Hall in Pensacola, Florida and every time I’ve seen you play, you’ve blown me away. But what I want to know is-what gets you off the most about performing live?

CTK: I’ve rededicated myself to live performing over the last two and a half to three years and before that, spending most of my time on movie sets and meetings and doing the Hollywood actor thing. Which was a lot of fun and very enjoyable, but I think the essence of my talent or the essence of what I think I am is a musician. So I really wanted to get back and solely focus on touring with my band and over the last couple of years I’ve been doing it. I’ll tell you, before my acting career took off, I only played theaters. I didn’t play all of the time, I didn’t play a lot of small clubs, but I had a different kind of show. A show where you’re traveling with a tour manager, you’re traveling with a light technician and a guitar technician and you got this big production and you’re doing this show that is an effects show and all of the movements of the show are well rehearsed and the blue light is going to hit you when you walk to stage left and take your solo. It was a real structured show.

What I’m enjoying now is how loose it is, how it feels like I’m improving my playing. So when you see me one year and I come back through a few months later, At least, I’m feeling like I’m improving as a musician, that my show is not so rigidly put together, it’s a lot looser, like a jazz band approach to performing. Where you know the basic structure of what you’re going to do, but you let the emotions and feelings, you try to get lost in the music and follow where it wants to take you. That’s a long answer to your question, but that’s what I’m enjoying. I feel that the spontaneity and letting the music lead me each night is what I’m enjoying the most.

MS: On that same note, how much do you improv or like you said, “Let yourself loose. Lose yourself in the music.” Do you regulate yourself or do you let yourself go whenever you want to go?

CTK: It’s not like something I carry around bottled up in a package. Meaning that I can’t just turn it on or turn it off whenever. And it doesn’t happen every night, but most times, it happens more often than not, I would say.

MS: What I love about your music is how you embrace the tradition of the blues while also taking that leap into other genres of music. You’re known as the godfather and creator of mixing blues and rap. In your opinion, what is the next evolution of blues for you?

CTK: The whole music business is in a transition period. Transitioning from the analog world to the digital world that we live in now and it’s really unpredictable. In the late 90’s when I was out performing, doing hip hop blues and a lot of times I was performing with a DJ, which really makes your show rigid because there’s not a lot of improvisation that you can do when you’re working with a DJ, but I think what’s happening with the blues specifically is that the blues genre is really trying to find it’s way. It’s like the blues genre is like being in a room where all of the lights have gone black. Where the room has gone dark and you don’t know your way around. Because the blues is one of the genres that was least prepared for the digital revolution; a lot of blues fans weren’t used to networking online or downloading music. They frowned upon that kind of stuff. They never gave up their vinyl. Which is cool, but it’s an older audience. An audience that found the blues after following people like Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. They found the blues through rock n’ roll. An older, mature audience.

As far as the young audience for the blues, its difficult for a lot of blues artists to tap into a fan base. For me, I’m a little bit different because I’m an actor as well and a lot of people have seen my movies so I’m known outside of just the blues genre, but for the average blues artist, it’s a tough thing right now when (for) the older audience there’s no music stores to go and buy your records at and the younger audience has an iTunes account.

MS: I’m a guitarist and I’m nowhere near your level. I grew up listening to the blues and jazz and it was hard. I later went on to metal. Is there any chance that we can see you break out a metal or fusion progressive jazz album in the future?

CTK: (pause) No. I don’t think so. And it doesn’t mean that I won’t be rocking. It doesn’t mean that I won’t crank the Marshall up to 10 and go wailing on it. It doesn’t mean that . My new album “Antebellum Postcard” which I’d love to plug a little bit here, it has a song on it called “Rehab: Winehouse Blues” and that’s a pretty heavy number and that usually closes shows when we play festivals and stuff. It’s a heavy number, but when you say metal, the word metal to me…I’m kind of old-school with my music…metal to me got started with bands like Cream and Jimi Hendrix and stuff like that and taken to a new place with Black Sabbath and where it is now with speed metal and all of these different genres of metal. And garbled vocals, you’ll never hear me doing that kind of metal, but if you mean some heavy music, you mean some heavy fuzzed out music, you know fuzz-tone on my guitar, pretty loud and powerful with a lot of energy, yes, you can definitely hear me doing that in the future, but it would be more of a rock blues as opposed to metal, even though it is a distant cousin.

MS: What has been your most memorable concert ever?

CTK: Wow. (chuckles) Well the first thing that pops into my mind is that I was at a club in England and this was during the time when we were using a lot of sets on stage and the fog machine just went out of control and it wouldn’t cut off. It was supposed to have some fog on the stage but it fogged up the whole club and people at the bar couldn’t even see the cash registers. It was a real Spinal Tap moment. That’s the first thing that comes to mind. There’s a few other things where something crazy happened on stage, but musically it’s really hard to say musically what was an inspiring night or great night because…like I said…I get lost in the music at the moment; if it’s really good, I’m not there. I can’t remember what I played 15 minutes after the concert. People come up and say, “I love that you played such and such a tune” and I don’t even remember doing the song sometimes. When I get lost in my music, believe me I’m in a zone and I can’t retain it afterward unless somebody recorded it or filmed it or something. I can remember some bizarre nights when things didn’t go that well. Those are very memorable.So I think that the next time you see me perform you’ll see, hopefully, a better guitar player each time that you see me come through. And as far as success, it’s kind of relative, but as a musician, I’m still trying to get there. But on a success level, even though I do have some awards and things like that, I think that those things really distinguish me as a blues musician, it does say that I’ve had been the most successful blues musician of my generation. At the same time, I’m a blues musician (chuckles) I’m not a country star. If I was a country star, I’d be showing up into town with about 18 18-wheelers, you know, playing at the football stadium, but I’m in a different genre of music and in my genre I’ve done well so far, but in the overall scheme of things, I’m pretty humble.

MS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

CTK: Well, I don’t know if I want to print it in the newspaper. I could give you some BS answer, but the best advice I’ve been given…I don’t think it needs to be in the article.

MS: That’s fine. So many people look up to you, what advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are?

CTK: Somebody that wants to make their lifestyle and livelihood around music and art?

MS: Yes.

CTK: I would tell them…I would define that first before I answer. Because there are some people that want to be a star and that’s a whole different thing. Some people want to be bling-bling rich and have all the hip-hop type of luxuries and that’s something different too, but if you want to make a living from your art, living from your music, I would say first of all, make sure that you’re in love with it, make sure that you and your music are soul mates and the biggest thing about it is you have to stick with it. It’s good advice to tell people to have something to fall back on like go to college and get your degree and all of these kinds of things like that, but getting a degree is not going to get you booked at the local club. They’re not going to ask for your papers. You know what I mean?

MS: Yes, sir.

CTK: All they want you to have done is make some good music that people enjoy and you’re on your way. I would say first, have your art be your soul mate and stick with it. Don’t expect anything to happen overnight, you just have to stick with it and be dedicated to it. And when I say it’s your soul mate, you can’t cheat on it. (chuckles) You can’t take it for granted. You have to take care of it. You have to love it. You have to dedicate yourself to it, put everything you have into it and that love and attention that you give it, other people…it will become contagious. And It’s not instant. Sometimes there’s an act or singer or music that comes out or movie that comes out and everybody just agrees that it’s the greatest movie ever seen…and then it fades away. And then there’s this little movie or this little band and it just takes on this life of its own over time and it becomes legendary. I would say, since you can’t control all of these other things. The only thing you can control is your art and your dedication to it and your love for it and your respect for it. You can control those things and if you do those things well, I think the other things will follow.

MS: What are you top 5 favorite albums of all time?

CTK: (silence) Well, I mentioned one, “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis would be one of those. Coltrane’s “Love Supreme” is beautiful. A little too short. That’s hard, man. It comes down to…the kind of albums that I like to listen to are the kind of albums where you sit down and the whole album is like a play. It’s one whole thing. I would say Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” is something that I find myself listening to continuously. I have to put on “Oh, Brother. Where Art Thou” on that list. And right now, I would say “Antebellum Postcards.”

MS: I think that is the first CD that I’ve had of yours in a while.

CTK: “Antebellum Postcards” The theme for that album was the Antebellum period, pre-Civil War period. I wanted to take my music back farther than just the Delta Blues. I was trying to find where the stuff originated and gave inspiration. When I found what I really wanted to express and one song is from the early Civil War times, “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore” it’s become like a folk song, but it’s one of the first songs that African-Americans that was published, that was written down into sheet music. Because people didn’t know how to…European music people, either they didn’t care about the African-American music or they didn’t know how to write it down or put it on notation paper. Because in European classical music you go from one interval to the next interval and the African-American song was a slur from one to the other or bend from one to the other. And they didn’t really know how to notate it. The first guy to come along and notate it properly was W.C. Handy and he published the first sheet music of blues songs around 1912. And that’s why it’s called…you’ve heard the label Blue Note?

MS: Yes, sir.

CTK: Well blue note is that note that African-Americans brought to European music…to the scale. The blue note was the note in-between the two major notes. And when you play that scale, they call it the blue scale; it gives you that tone that this music was built upon. But anyway, I wanted to get back the early beginning of the music and that’s where I got the inspiration for most of the songs and not every song came from that period. Like “Rehab”, I told you the inspiration for that, but some of the other songs that’s pretty much where it’s coming from. On the album I play mandolin, the acoustic guitar, acoustic bass. I played basically all of the string instruments that my band plays bass and drums in the studio. To me, I think it’s my finest record in many, many years. It’s one of my best collections that I’ve done. I feel very proud about it. I’m very satisfied with the way it turned out.

MS: With the new record out, what do you have on your horizon for 2012? Anything else coming up?

CTK: Besides trying to make some time to try and improve on my playing, I do have a good bit of music that I haven’t released over the years. I have some outtakes from some recordings. I have some live recordings and some…In other words, when I did “Antebellum Postcards”, there are at least 12 or 13 songs that I recorded at the same time, but decided not to put them on the album. I narrowed it down to 10 out of maybe 23 songs. So over the last few years, I have a stockpile of songs in my, I guess I would call it my vault that haven’t been released. And this year I’m trying to about every other month, I’m trying to do an internet release of some songs that previously have not been out. So I think in 2012, people will get a lot more music from me because every other month, they’ll see a new collection, a new album being released. I’ll update the website of some things that will become available. As far as my next real studio release that will probably be later in the fall. And I’m excited about going to Bangkok for a tour. A couple of weeks after we leave The Vinyl (Music Hall in Pensacola, Florida) we head over to Asia for a tour and those kind of things are exciting when you get to go to the other side of the world and play your music.

MS: This is a food related question. Do you like crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

CTK: (chuckles and answers in the coolest way humanly possible) I like my peanut butter smooth. I like the peanuts and then I like the smooth peanut butter. But when you kind of mix them together; nutty and smooth, to me, that don’t work as well.

MS: Is there anything else you’d like to add or have everybody in Pensacola know in preparation for the show?

CTK: I would just say that, if you like the new album, you’re going to hear a lot of it on the new tour that we’re doing this year. We’ve incorporated a lot of new songs, but we still definitely…some of the favorites from “Oh Brother” and “Ray” and some of the movies and things, those things will definitely always be part of the set, but we made room for a lot of new songs from “Antebellum Postcards” and it’s one of my favorite places to play. I have a good relationship with the audience and they seem to really get what it is that we do and I always look forward to coming back.

MS: Are you going to have the same bassist and drummer backing you up this time too that you had last year?

CTK: Yeah. My drummer’s name is Jeff Mills and the bassist is Danny Infinte. They’ll be there.

– Michael L. Smith

Link to additional photo gallery of the concert by PNJ photographer Jody Link


* CANCER SUCKS: Benefit For Joey Harrison. Tribe Zion, Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome, Jeff Glickman Trio @ Vinyl Music Hall. 09/09/11

“We love Joey! We love Joey! We love Joey!”

That was the chant for a friend and the prevailing subtext of the benefit for Harrison and his family during the Cancer Sucks: Benefit for Joey Harrison.

What started as a chant quickly grew into a roar as Tribe Zion frontman Arlon Wise, led the crowd into a soul-singing finish and parted the stage, giving Harrison his moment in the sunshine of spotlights and love during the last song of their set. Armed with a bearded, boyish grin and his bass, Harrison played away with his right leg cocked-cool above his foot and bass rig.

In May of this year, the father, husband, artist and friend to countless musicians in our area was diagnosed with stage four terminal bone and lung cancer. Even though it would be impossible to equal the love and time that Harrison has given to the local arts community, several friends decided to do their best and the Cancer Sucks: Benefit for Joey Harrison was created.

Spearheaded by Betsy Badwater and several artists who have shared the stage with the musician whose grin and heart of gold instantly take over you, the benefit was created as a fundraiser to help Harrison with the expenses of treatment and to assist his family, Lavinia (wife of 19 years) and children Grace, Jacob, and Joshua during this time.

Greeted by a Cancer Sucks display, donation jar and a table full of buttons for the event (including a button designed by the multi-talented Harrison) I walked through the entrance of Vinyl Music Hall with ears jingling to the sounds of the Jeff Glickman Trio (Jeff Glickman, Ashley Pennewill and Aaron Clark) and eyes dancing to the display of artwork collected inside the venue. As part of an auction that included jewelry, paintings, prints and more, the visual exhibit added another beautiful element to the atmosphere of the evening.

Following the Jeff Glickman Trio, Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome took over the Vinyl Music Hall stage. Having performed with Harrison on bass at various venues throughout the last year alone, the duo of Lang Hollowman and Betsy Badwater used their performance to show their love and admiration for their friend and fellow musician.

Closing out the evening were Tribe Zion and their party-vibe blend of hip-hop reggae and all things high-energy. With Wise flowing-full of enthusiasm, the vocalist bounced around the stage and even took the show to the crowd as he jumped off-stage to show his respect for all in attendance. Joining Wise and the Tribe Zion crew (Chad Roose (guitar), Joey Harrison (bass), Chris Brooks (bass), Jeremy King Cole (drums), Justin Temple (percussion), Brian Vogel (trumpet), and Michael Kinser (saxophone) were an all-star lineup of musicians including Jeff Glickman and Tee “Precise” Williams of Mad Love who helped put an exclamation point finish to the evening.

Sponsors of the event included Al Graham Photography, Blues Angel Music, Bob Burt Guitar Pedals, Black Sparrow Tattoo Studio, Custom Pins, Dirty South Glass, Innerlight Surf & Skate, Jay’s Gun Shop, Jef Bond Photographics, Paddy O’Leary’s Irish Pub

-Michael L. Smith

Additional photo galleries from the Cancer Sucks: Benefit for Joey Harrison

PNJ photographer Kira Lynn Ramos’ photo gallery
Al Graham photography
Prolific Memorie’s photo gallery
Ian Lemasters photo gallery


* Chris Thomas King, Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome @ Vinyl Music Hall + Q & A W/ Lang Hollowman. 06/25/11

This isn’t my grandfather’s blues. On a night that saw Chris Thomas King perform a hip-hop, spoken-word laced version of the blues standard “The Thrill is Gone,” local musician Mike Roycroft expressed his thoughts on witnessing the new wave of blues created by Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome. “After all these years, I think it’s really hard to do the blues without being trite or cliché, but she makes it all her own in such an awesome and literate and thoughtful way. Not only does she add to it with her natural singing voice, but she redefines it with her songwriting voice and a spirit that is all her own.”

With guest artists joining the Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome family throughout their set of mostly new material, the Pensacola group set a tone of respect for music tradition while fearlessly sounding the call for creative exploration.

Following Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome and making his return visit to Vinyl Music Hall, Grammy Award winning artist, Chris Thomas King added fresh new twists to a set that featured many tunes from King’s first performance in the Pensacola, Florida venue. This time around, donning a pinstriped suit, King raged with even more fire this night, skillfully weaving solos behind his head and commanding the role of devilish, party instigator of the foot stompin’ good time for every soul in the house.

***A Few Minutes With Lang Hollowman of Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome***

TCAS: Who were the guest artists for the show?

LH: We’d definitely like to thank the following for the inspiration they have on ‘their’ songs played this night: Joey & Lavinia ‘One Love’ Harrison, Jeff Glickman (percussion/harmonica), Brian Vogel (trumpet), & Mr. Virgil T. Badwater (oil drum & tambourine).

TCAS: You played quite a few songs I haven’t heard before. What is the story behind the material you played?

LH: Yes, most of the show was new songs…mainly because that’s what we’re into right now. The songs seem to be writing themselves, but its hard work to get them to reveal them to us. We’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of time as just the two of us writing and playing vocally and instrumentally, and some good inspiration mixing in with everyone else in the ‘Chrome’…that just sets up a good cookin’ recipe to write ‘This Way To Glory’, ‘A Letter from John’, ‘Engine No. 9’, ‘Headed on Down the Highway’, ‘Left Hand Side’, ‘Dear Delilah’, and several others that we’re in the midst of recording right now.

TCAS: Any shows or announcements you’d like to promote?

LH: Presently we’re just focused on recording now to get through what may end up being a double album in the end. This must really be our only focus. We’re really aiming for a great production quality through the collaboration with our favorite sound designer, friend, and engineer ‘Disco’.

TCAS: Anything you would like to add?

LH: The opportunity and pleasure to share a night with a legend like Chris Thomas King, is one of only a few reasons why we share what we do with our friends (audience). Our audience, we know are our friends, and to be able to step into the audience and watch our musical favorites…well, that’s why shows are such special & humbling evenings to us. And to close, hangin’ after the night was finished at the 5 1/2 Bar with all of CTK. Patrick took care of us all, so see him as much as you can. We can’t help but to feel at home chasin’ the sun up one more time.



* The Architects, Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome, Swim With Sharks, American Suicide, Martyr: The Unicorn @ Vinyl Music Hall. 05/12/11

“The Return of Rock to Vinyl” was the declaration of Swim With Sharks vocalist/guitarist Leer Baker. A mid-set declaration that punctuated a night full of bands rolling out their blood and sweat for a wild crowd geared-up to return the favor. Prophetic in direction, Baker’s Merlin-like proclamation cut straight to the bone.

Opening the show at Vinyl Music Hall in Pensacola, Florida was Rob Dill’s solo project Martyr: The Unicorn. Laced with original compositions and a few covers dedicated to close friends in the audience, Dill worked the crowd with his set of acoustic rock.

After Dill’s set was the reunion performance of American Suicide who, according to vocalist/guitarist Aaron Taylor, played their last show as opening act for The Architects’ previous show in Pensacola. While Taylor secured the lead vocalist duties, brothers Robert Taylor (guitar), and Lawrence Taylor (drums) joined forces with Roy Clark (bass) as the group effortlessly launched into the rock, blues, punk crush that marked American Suicide shows and recordings since the band’s creation in 2000.

Following the American Suicide reunion and staying true to his word, Baker and the crew of Swim With Sharks delivered on their end of his rock promise. With Aaron Taylor doing double-duty on guitar for both American Suicide and Swim With Sharks, the Pensacola outfit, rounded out by Nicolas Pauwles (bass), and Dave Myers (drums), will continue delivering the rock on June 5th at The Handlebar as they open for New York punkers The Turbo A.C.’s.

Kicking the night’s adventure with a strong boot of blues n’ roots was Betsy Badwater and The Hillbilly Chrome. Performing a slew of new, unreleased songs, the team of Badwater and Lang Hollowman kept the rock energy flowing in preparation for the headliners to take the stage.

Marking the evening as their Vinyl Music Hall debut, The Architects quickly drowned the crowd in a wave of rock and sweat that has proudly been a trademark of the working-band’s energetic live shows, confirming their reputation as a high-intensity live band. With their no rest for the rockin’ ethos, The Architects used their one week off as supporting group for the My Chemical Romance “World Contamination Tour” to headline a few dates that included their show at Vinyl Music Hall. Born of the remaining members of the ska-rock, punk band, the Gadjits, The Architects were immediately formed in 2004 by the Phillips brothers. The children of an art teacher and jazz musician, music played a major role in their household and their passion for live performance was on full display for the Pensacola crowd.

Led by Brandon Phillips (vocals/guitar), Zach Phillips (bass) and Adam Phillips (drums), the brothers enlisted the power of Keenan Nichols (guitar) to complete their Kansas City, Missouri rock sound. Just as King Arthur waved the mythical weapon of British lore “Excalibur,” so does Brandon Phillips, who calls on his beaten n’ true, blue Fender Tele to execute his will. Cutting chunks of hot rock, Phillips’ weapon is marked “Excaliber,” daring anyone to stand still during a raucous set by The Architects.

In the end, Baker’s evening promise proved to be as true as steel.

– Michael L. Smith


* Izzy Cox, Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome @ The Handlebar. 04/21/11

According to Simone de Beauvoir, “One is not born a woman, but becomes one.” If the French philosopher could have witnessed Izzy Cox and Betsy Badwater set fire to the souls inside of The Handlebar, she would have added that a woman can also “raise some hell!” J.P. Sartre be damned.

For those inside of The Handlebar this night, there was no exit, only the release. A release and a chance to experience their world through their eyes and music. With existence comes experience (n: the conscious events that make up an individual life (v: to learn by experience) and the experience often presses onto a person knowledge that others will not know. The push/pull stories of oppression, pain, joy, love, betrayal, friendship…life wrapped in a gift that is recognized by many eyes, but few will open and even fewer willing to share.

The beauty lies in the ability to share the experience(s). The willingness to rip out your eyes, your being, all of the parts that equal a person and bare it for a world that will either mock, destroy, or embrace the(ir) (words) work. The artist’s gamble. To share. To give. To hold on. To let go. Evolving, changing and growing. In daring and in chance, Betsy Badwater and Lang Hollowman continue to grow and build on their music, never fearing to explore and experiment.

This night’s set included Joey Harrison on bass, Brian Vogal on trumpet and Jeremy King Cole on drums. When asked what else is around the corner for the hard-working group, Ms. Badwater shared her excitement, enthusiasm and the gracious reverence that is on full-display every time she hits the stage.

“We’ll be doing a hot and hard quickie set (35 minutes) to close the show at Vinyl on May 12 in support of Missouri boys, The Architects, and we’re super stoked that we also get to play with Cockfight and the reunion of American Suicide! It’s going to be a ROCK show, baby! Our next big gig will be a full 85 minute set on a package show with Chris Thomas King at Vinyl on Saturday June 25. We really hope everybody can come out. We intend to have a really powerful tight presentation, including more new songs and even richer instrumentation.”

Reflecting on to their show with Izzy Cox and Cody Ruth (who is playing upright bass for Cox on her current tour) Badwater added,

“I love Izzy Cox so much. She is a remarkably passionate musician and a sweet hearted woman. We played with that good ole Mississippi Boy Cody Ruth at Blazzues earlier in the season with our friend Ramblin’ Steve Gardner. I cant wait wait to play and visit with all three of them again. Who knows what will happen in August when Steve gets back from Japan.”

Strong like Patsy Cline, as raw as Merle Haggard/Lydia Lunch and as compellingly torn and complex as Peggy Lee/Mary J. Blige, Izzy Cox took to the stage with Ruth and proceeded to take it to the crowd. Proudly declaring herself as an “Americana outlaw steam punk artist,” Cox bathed her audience in a river of dynamic states, from loud rejoicing to quiet whispers of reflection.

At one point during her set, Cox introduced the story of serial killer Belle Gunness who inspired her song by the same name. In the middle of her story, a person in the crowd, who may have had the most innocent of intentions, began an impromptu Q and A of Ms. Cox regarding Ms. Belle. Without grandeur or disgust, Ms. Cox greeted the brief interruption with soft elegance, completely answered each inquiry and then quickly proceeded to rock apart the place. Proving that even the most raucous of spirits can have a patient and kind heart. Jump out the grave adjacent to your lover, leave his dying letters unedited and join the party. Ms. Simone de Beauvoir be blessed.

-Michael L. Smith


* Asleep at the Wheel, Betsy Badwater and the Hillbilly Chrome @ Vinyl Music Hall. 02/18/11

Who wouldn’t want Ray Benson to be their Grandpa? The man is tall and imposing enough to scare the biggest neighborhood bully, yet has a heart of gold and can turn a tale with the best of storytellers, as well as play banjo rolls so smoothly on his guitar that Chet Atkins would smile in appreciation. The Vinyl Music Hall audience was more than willing to play the role of grandchild as Benson and the other members of Asleep at The Wheel drove through a night of song and stories in Pensacola, Florida.

Opening the show for the 9-Time Grammy winning group were Pensacola’s Betsy Badwater & The Hillbilly Chrome featuring Lang Hollowman (guitar), Jeff Glickman (drums), Joey Harrison (bass), and Devon Coon (percussion). Debuting new material from their upcoming CD and performing crowd favorites, Badwater and company lit up the loyal faithful and won over some new fans over the course of their set.

Asleep At the Wheel made their Vinyl Music Hall debut and entered the stage to a round of warm applause and cheers from the crowd. Accompanying Benson on this musical journey were Jason Roberts (fiddle/vocals), Elizabeth McQueen (guitar/vocals), Dave Sanger (drums), Dave Miller (bass), Dan Walton (piano), and Eddie Rivers (steel guitar).

With a mixture of supreme musicianship, storytelling and well-crafted songs, Benson warmly played the part of ring leader and shared stories of a music career that has spanned over four decades and has included close friends such as Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.

With pleasant surprises at every turn, the group even threw in a Django Reinhardt cover and Benson showed off his juggling prowess. It’s safe to say that any venue where Asleep At The Wheel perform is transformed into a musical, magical place called Home.

Related Links
Rhythm and Blues Foundation. Organization of which Ray Benson is a founding member. Created to help aging Rhythm & Blues musicians.

Article and pictures from Grammy winning artist Buckwheat Zydeco and Hollowman/Badwater performance at Vinyl Music Hall.

Interview with Betsy Badwater and Lang Hollowman.

TCAS: It’s 2011. What’s in store for you now? You’ve opened up for Grammy winners, country legends and tonight you’ve opened up for 9-time Grammy winners Asleep at The Wheel. What’s in store this year?
BB: We’re going to make a new record and we’re going to do festivals and we’re going to do theatre shows, radio shows and play with a lot of friends.

LH: A lot of the songs on the album are what we played tonight. We’ve been playing a lot more of the newer songs just because that’s how we do it. And that’s what the record will be and a whole lot of other things that we haven’t been playing out.

TCAS: So who are the new players in the band now?

BB: We’re always changing players. The thing is that Lang and I create the core of the situation and Jeff (Glickman) is the driving force. We’ve got PBS/WSRE’s Studio Amped coming up and Jeff isn’t going to be with us due to a show with his band, Jeff Glickman and The Panhandle Allstars. So we looked to our friends to get a little help and see what happens. Devon Coon is on all of the good hobo percussion stuff and is a seasoned drummer. Joey Harrison is on the bass and has been playing for 20+ years. Both of these guys are in a couple of other bands and we’re very excited to have them in the ‘Chrome’.

TCAS: When is the next show?

BB: We’re going to Mobile…

LH: That’s next Sunday..the 27th (of February.)

LH: Come out to Studio Amped. Friday March 4th. And it’s a live PBS show taping that WSRE does. And they replay it again three months from now. They have DVDs of it. But I think it’s going to be much quieter, intimate setting. And playing stuff like this (at Vinyl) is like playing a rock show. But when we can sit around and quiet it down and really play it as more of a…I wouldn’t say “unplugged” but at the same time it is…because the audience is really quiet and really focused on listening and not making a lot of noise, at least in my experience of being there. That I think we’re going to pull off some things that we would normally sit around and play. I’d say come out to that.

TCAS: How did you meet and start collaborating?

BB: I was on tour in Texas and Lang emailed me because he was a friend of my friend. Said we should play together. I was all real cautious pants. I had been breaking stages through Texas with my high-heeled shoes and by the time I came back, he was like “Hey, we’re doing a show at a motorcycle festival. Will you come play with us at our show?”

LH: But play her stuff. We would do whatever she does.

BB: I said, “Alright then. Let’s do that.” So for a couple of days he came over. But what happened was he picked up his guitar and I listened and it was like…(jaw drops)

LH: Yep.

BB: Like the channel was open. The channel is open. The biggest ship could go through it.

LH: And if you listen to the album….

BB: We’re connected.

TCAS: As far as the creative process, how do you juggle what’s going on…..

BB: It’s new now.

LH: That was the burning moment that came out and after that…..

BB: It was all me writing, writing, writing, but now it’s me and him.

TCAS: You two have a powerful chemistry.

LH: Yeah, it’s been a totally different thing for me. Because, although I was always a writer with music, but I never lyrically engaged that part of the process, the storytelling. Now there’s that part, which gets thrown back and forth constantly and however it is that we do it…10 o’clock in the morning…10 o’clock at night.

BB: The record for 2011 is going to be fabulous. But the one that’s probably either going to happen in the late 2011 or early 2012, that’s going to be straight Betsy and Lang. And I think it’s going to be dangerous.

LH: And the reason why is because this one coming up, we’ve got all these songs that we’ve just kind of accumulated over the past 9 months. So we got to get those taken care of and just…

BB: What is it like….68 songs we’ve written over the time that we’ve met?

TCAS: Anything that you would like to add?

LH: Show by show, song by song. Can’t get any more than that. We’re completely grateful for every person that calls us.


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