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Israel Nash Hosts Triumphant ‘Live From the Hills with Love’ During SXSW

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“A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet,” Israel Nash told those who had gathered out at his Plum Creed Sound studios in Dripping Springs, Texas, on Thursday for “Live From the Hills With Love,” an afternoon of good old southern hospitality, outstanding performances and free beer.

About 45 minutes away from the madness of South by Southwest musical festival in what’s called Texas Hill Country, sits Nash’s labor of love.  And for those who scored a ticket to the intimate hang and ventured down an old gravel road to the studios on the side of a hill to watch sets by Nash, Bee Caves, Kirby Brown, T. Hardy Morris, Eric Pulido (Midlake), Matthew Logan Vasquez and the Wild Reeds, they were definitely treated as newfound friends by a very welcoming host.

Originally from the Ozarks in Missouri, Nash and his wife transplanted to the Austin area from New York in 2011, after falling in love with the scene during the annual SXSW fest.

Critically-acclaimed 2013 breakthrough album Rain Plans was inspired by country life on his new 15-acre ranch, and Nash and his top-notch band  (comprised by Joey McCllelan on guitar, Eric Swanson on pedal steel, Aaron McCllelan on bass and John Fleischman on drums) made sure to perform a few of its tracks during their Thursday night headlining set. Rootsy sing-along number “Rexanimarum” earned instant cheers from the crowd with its downright country lyrics:  “Oh, my baby, settle in. Take your worries and put fire to them. Pour me out just like sour wine. Got the money if you got the time.”

Nash shared stories throughout the set, revealing the stress and team effort that went into converting an old barn into a studio to record 2015’s Silver Season, a masterful blend of psychedelia and country that was produced by Grammy-award winner Ted Young (Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth).

As Nash recalled, just as everyone had arrived to get to work on the album in May 2015, Austin was pummeled with historic flooding, and instead of laying down tracks, the guys were sandbagging and building a trench around the studio.

And although rain drizzled for most of Thursday morning, there was nothing but blue skies and a glorious sunset as Nash and company immersed themselves and the audience in Silver Season cosmic-sounding cut “Strangers,” the beautiful harmony-soaked “LA Lately” and the Neil Young-ish like ode “Parlour Song,” which Nash was inspired to write after the Sandy Hook shooting.

Nash’s on-stage swagger is undeniable, yet he also showcased a special humility and true appreciation for his family, bandmates and the fellow artists who came out to play sets throughout the afternoon.

The intimate event felt every bit like a communal and triumphant celebration for Plum Creek Sound, and indeed, if you arrived a stranger, you felt like you left as a friend.

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We missed catching Kirby Brown’s live set, but we sure enjoyed the Texas-born, New York based artist’s front porch pickin’ and strummin’ on our Gretsch Roots Honey Dipper Resonator.

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Eric Pulido of Midlake has been working on a debut album with newly formed supergroup Banquet, featuring fellow Midlake bandmates McKenzie Smith, Joey McClellan and Jesse Chandler, as well as Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell, Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle and Travis’ Fran Healy.

Joined by McClellan (on a striking Silver Jet) and Chandler on keys/flute, Pulido gave a sneak peek of one of their new songs, recorded a few hours away in Denton, Texas, and well, let’s just say, we can’t wait until the album drops.

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Matthew Logan Vasquez of Delta Spirit, who is a fellow Texas Hill Country resident, played what he introduced as a “long song about doing drugs, finding religion, moving back to Austin, and meeting his wife in Fresno.” He wasn’t kidding about the long – the song sprawled  a good 15-20 minutes.

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T. Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate) kept it simple, just a man and his guitar as he played songs off his 2015 album Drownin On a Mountaintop, which was described by Pitchfork aswild, prickly, and unsentimental. The twang remains, but this time grunge and punk are the driving impulses.”

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Brian Fallon Performs New Single on Colbert

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Brian Fallon celebrated the release of his solo debut album, Painkillers, with a stop by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he performed the instantly likable track, “A Wonderful Life.

During his time with the Gaslight Anthem, Fallon recently drew comparisons to fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen, and this number certainly feels very Springsteen-ish. It, and the rest of the album, also boast the wizardry of famed producer Butch Walker.

Watch Fallon live below, backed by several musicians including Gaslight Anthem guitarist Alex Rosamilia, the Horrible Crowes’ Ian Perkins (on a Gretsch 12-string), Jared Hart of The Scandals and Frank Marra.

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Country Music Hall of Fame Salutes Duane Eddy

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As part of its Nashville Cats series and to also coincide with the American Sound and Beauty: Guitars from the Bachman-Gretsch Collection exhibition, the Country Music Hall of Fame recently paid tribute to legendary Gretsch artist Duane Eddy with a special event at its museum.

With his 1958 hit “Rebel Rouser,” Eddy became the first solo instrumental hero of rock and roll.

“Duane Eddy was the front guy, the first rock & roll guitar god,” said John Fogerty,  who credits Eddy as a chief influence.

A member of both the Musicians Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Eddy was born in Corning, New York, and then moved to Phoenix in his early teens. With help from producer Lee Hazlewood, he developed a signature guitar style, full of twang and bluster, and he recorded hit singles including “Cannonball,” “Forty Miles of Bad Road,” “Because They’re Young,” and “(Dance with the) Guitar Man.”

Eddy also embraced country and jazz influences, and collaborated with titans including Willie Nelson, George Harrison, Waylon Jennings, Chet Atkins, Paul McCartney, and Phil Everly.

His low-toned, tremulous twang is echoed in hit songs by others, including Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and Steve Earle’s “Guitar Town.”

The program, held on Saturday, Feb. 13, included photos, video and audio samples of Eddy’s work, as well as a performance by the King of Twang. In case you missed the live stream, the archived version is now available for your enjoyment below.

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Watch George Ezra Cover ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’

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U.K. singer-songwriter George Ezra sure did seem to be having a good time  when he performed for BBC Radio 1, cracking a few smiles and noticeably getting into the groove with a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”

He even threw himself into the lyrics at about the 2:21 mark.

“Ezra just wants to have fun,” he sang.

Watch Ezra in action below.

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8 Glorious Gretsch Guitars from the Custom Shop

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Holy smokes! Once again, Gretsch Custom Shop Master Builder Stephen Stern has built some truly extravagant custom shop models for the 2016 NAMM Show in Anaheim, Calif.

Here’s a quick look at 8 glorious Gretsch Custom Shop guitars, which all had a “car” theme …

G6136 Luxury Falcon “Spectre”

Inspired by an old Rolls Royce, this Black Falcon screams class, but with just a touch of flash thanks to the chrome pickguard, ruby red sparkle on the pickups bobbins and red sparkle binding around the bock, neck, headstock and even inside the F holes. The Spectre also features an ebony fingerboard that somehow just seems the perfect for this beauty.

G6134 Luxury Penguin “Roadster”

Luxurious is certainly the right word for this Penguin Roadster. The custom beauty features a chambered mahogany body finished in bright red with tan leather sides that mimic the interior upholstery of your favorite ride.  In a finishing touch, the pickups are also accented with tan coloring to match the sides, while the guitar body, neck and headstock are wrapped in a tortoiseshell binding. The walnut burl even matches what you’d expect to see on a luxury car steering wheel or console.

6120 Derby Racer Heavy Relics

The trio of G6120 Derby Racer Heavy Relic guitars below pay tribute to stock racing cars and was a collaboration between Stern and artist Sara Ray who treated each guitar with a unique custom paint job.

The G6120 Derby Racer Heavy Relic “Hammerhead seems like an ode to the high seas with its aqua blue finish featuring cartoon-ish looking hammerhead sharks, including one on the body and another on the see-through pickguard. The body, neck and headstock are capped off by red binding that blends well with a blood-red headstock featuring a pirate flag. Although based off a ’59 6120, this model features P-90 pickups instead of the common Filter’Tron pickups.

“That’s a little different for Gretsch,” noted Stern of the pickups.

G6120 Derby Racer Heavy Relic “Nashville Nelle”

Based off a ’55 6120, the Nashville Nelle pays homage to the American flag with its red, white and blue paint job, also featuring a pair of buxom blondes. Also has a custom belt-buckle tailpiece with a checkered flag racing theme.

G6120 Derby Racer Heavy Relic “Brooklyn Bruiser”

Based off a ’67 6120, Ray delivered on the bruiser theme with a menacing muscle man swinging his sledgehammer, against a cream backdrop.

All three models have a number painted on the back of the guitars, just like you’d expect to see on the door panels of racing cars.

G6199 Gretsch Custom Caddy-Bo

This trio of G6199 Gretsch Custom Caddy-Bo guitars is a play off the Bo Diddley Jupiter Thunderbird guitars, but in classic car finishes such as Limo Black, Cadillac Green and Shell Pink.

All feature chrome Cadillac tailpieces, silver glitter binding and chrome knobs.


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