Written by Eddie Ferranti
ImageThe last two years when it hits mid-August it is time for us to get rowdy!   As in covering the Rowdy Day Fest in Hitchcock, Texas thanks to Andy McDonald and his fine staff!   From the sweet lady at check-in who said: “I remember you from last year!” to the friendly folks filling our bellies with delicious jambalaya throughout the gigs, it was a very nice adventure again. Rose and I were able to catch four bands and they all rocked the comfortable setting.
An afternoon rain storm knocked the temps down nicely plus armed with over head giant “helicopter blade” fans and VIP air conditioned restrooms, the stage was set for a jammin’ good time.  Cold beer, sausage on a stick and BB-Q sandwiches were on sale to appease the crowd all day.  It is a bring a chair type deal and for a $15 in advance door fee the entertainment is a down right steal. Badlands Radio, an online Texas music station , was a heavy contributor to the day’s activities with CEO Tom Imber egging the crowd on big time. I really dug his passion for promoting live Texas artists and urge you to check them out for online listening.  Here’s a synopsis of what we saw and I hope it gets you to mark down August 2016 to get rowdy with HMR!

MIDNIGHT RIVER CHOIR

ImageThis energetic band came right at ya and really made a mark with HMR.  Their latest release, “Fresh Air”, hit #2 on Lone Star Music’s Top 40 in June, and single “Circles” broke the Top 20 on TRRR.  The lead singer Eric Middleton, sounded a lot like Paul Thorn , whom we like a lot, and the lead guitar player, Justin Nelson,  really ripped it up thru out the gig.   Mitchell Pyeatt handled drums and harmony vocals with Bob Driver holding down the bass and harmony vocals, too. MRC showed they were able to slow it down to do ballad quieter sound which was good with build up rock mixed in for good measure.  Tunes that stood out were the mentioned “Circles”, “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” and “I Still Shine” written for good friend Randy Wells.  The overall sound was an enjoyable funky back bone toe tappin’ vibe which was very infectious.  Nothing mainstream about this band and their tight collaboration produced a true Texas rock sound.  Worth
another look for sure.

THE NEW OFFENDERS

ImageThis band is lead by the vocals of Hunter McKithan and hark to mind  a sound like The Black Crowes, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Ryan Adams.  Lots of southern roadhouse sock it to ya style goin’ on here with some killer covers thrown in too.  A Jimmy Osbourne tune about New Orleans plus their version of CSNY’s “Ohio” was spot on bad ass.  It is very hard to pigeon hole this outfit into a category other than old fashioned rock & roll spiced up with blues, americana and soul.  Listening to a band like this made me remember my rockin’ roots back in the 1970’s of all out yeah baby jammin’, which they were full of with a deep bass back up sound.  Killer tunes were “No Prisoners” and title cut of last effort “Not Broken Yet” which is fitting because as the saying goes “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”  These cats have been around since 2007 and have three albums to date.  Upcoming Houston area shows include Firehouse Saloon 8/29, Lobello’s Pub (Huffman) 9/4,
Gordon Street Tavern (Alvin) 9/9, Constellation Field (Sugarland) 9/17 and T-Bone Tom’s (Kemah) 10/15.  This band is a rising force with strong musicianship and songwriting.  McKithan is a stud and is worth a look see.

UNCLE LUCIUS

ImageWhat more can HMR say about this talented group other than this is the 4th time we’ve seen them in 2015 and they just keep getting better!   They just released “The Light”, their 4th album, but first on their own.  CD was funded through crowdsourcing from the unreal loyal fan base they’ve accumulated over the years of non-stop touring.    They played here last year and busted out with “Age of Reason” spot lighting the deep and soulful growl of lead singer Kevin Galloway.  The album deals with a lot of emotions and nobody out there these days communicates to an audience the way Galloway does.  The band behind him is super tight and studs at all of their positions.  Mike Carpentar leads the charge on non-stop electric guitar assaults coupled with the raucous key board action of Jon “Smiley” Grossman.  The back up bottom is supplied by bassist Hal Vorphal and nobody handles the drums and vocals like animated Josh Greco!   “Take Me Away” is a
stellar number
and that is what this band does to this reviewer every time out.  For some reason they were given a short stage slot of only 60 minutes or so which went by so quickly.  The heat and beer started to “dim the lights” a bit on me, but the last song they played was a stunning jam and they just left the stage, ala The Ramones style, leaving the loyal crowd gasping for more.  These cats sing about living in the present and being grateful for what you have.  Amen and hope to see them again-and again.

JONATHAN TYLER

ImageOver five plus hours into this day of coverage the headliner, Jonathan Tyler, hit the stage and knocked this crowd out of the park.  To say I was a bit “punch drunk” after Uncle Lucius’ riveting set would be putting it mildly, but JT landed a few hay makers to send me into the night impressed. They also were on the bill in 2014 and this year landed in the top spot.  It is no wonder that he’s played opening for the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd,  Kid Rock, O.A.R. and AC/DC, plus festivals of the magnitude of Austin City Limits, SXSW and Bonnaroo!  Hawking his recently released CD, “Holy Smokes” and  other albums “Hot Trottin’ and “Pardon Me’, Tyler left nothing on the stage but sweat, passion and carnage to clean up in his wake.  Whether jammin’ on electric guitar or blowin’ into an old fashioned mouth harp, this guy was smokin’ hot.   Cuts I recall thru the “fog” were “Goin’ Down to the City”,  “Pardon Me”, “Gypsy Woman” and a stunning rendition of “Devil’s Basement”.  This highly talented band has it all going full throttle with zero room for ballads my friends.  JT has an addictive audience similar to Uncle Lucious and the sky is the limit for him.   Now if I could just catch their bluesy groove rock in your face show at a small venue by themselves I’d be most happy.  Until then I’ll just have to cherish getting to see them up close and personal nailing some killer photos along the way.

Two years running HMR has had a wonderful time covering this gig that started out as a back yard kegger type show ten years ago and has grown to be held at Galveston Fairgrounds.   The message they send is to truly support Texas Country Music and HMR is hearing it loud and clear.  As they say on their website: “It is, and always will be, all about the music…”   .Let’s hope folks keep coming out to make mid-August an annual time to get ROWDY!

God Bless ya until the next time I see ya out there “somewhere”!