Review: Mando Saenz – Bucket

“Thinking about our last goodbye/I’m not sure who took the prize/I guess we both lost in the end”. That sentiment runs through Bucket‘s closer “Last Goodbye” as well as the album as a whole. From the Ryan Adam’s mold of rock music with Steve Earle lyrics comes Mando Saenz’s second album. Full of beer & heartache Bucket is a few rungs up the ladder from most of the albums you’ve worn out over the years when nursing a broken heart. The lyrical prize of the album has to go to “I’m way too cool to cry/And I’m way too young to die/I’m fine for now getting by/Somewhere in the back of your mind”, from “Somewhere In The Back Of Your Mind”. Heartache on display has rarely been put better. Opening with essentially the same song from two different points of view, the record makes no attempt to hide it’s “breakup album” status. “Wrong Guy” is Mando admitting that he’s probably not worth the trouble after all and “Pocket of Red” (a Kim Richey co-write) is the album’s significant other coming to terms with that same realization. Don’t worry though, it’s not all heartache here. “Seven Dollars”, an ode to last call bar hopping that you have to be broke to enjoy but when you are is Heavenly, perfectly captures the drink now think later mindset we all had in our drunken days of supposed higher learning and “I Don’t Like It” is just good old fashioned rock and roll. The world may be littered with the remains of God knows how many “breakup albums” but few this good. Bucket may be Mando Saenz’s cure for your blues, but it might just be good enough to make the blues worth it.

Staff Write Brandon M.

Available at Red River Market.

Published in: on August 11, 2008 at 5:51 am  Comments (9)  
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Review: Mike McClure Band – Did7

Mike McClure Band - Did7

Mike McClure Band - Did7

Mike McClure has gotten a lot of flack since leaving beloved red dirt pioneers the Great Divide in 2003. This disc is proof those people are wrong. Did7 is an early front runner for album of the year in my book, and I’m more than happy to tell you why. First off, it’s top to bottom the best album of McClure’s career. For the first time he blends everything he’s given us over the years into one amazing set of songs. “Magnolia”, “Take Me Somewhere Tonight” and “Supposed To Be” could have all felt right at home on any one of the Great Divide’s albums. “I just want to feel something, yeah anything is alright, but we don’t have to do nothing ,just take me somewhere tonight”. Lyrics like that, sang in the way that only Mac can is unbeatable. The album kick off “Stupid Hole” is a song that anyone over three days old can relate to. Today sucks, but I’ve got high hopes for tomorrow. He embraces his silly side with “Dance Like An Idiot”, his
gospel side with “Hallelujah” (featuring an awesome horn section of all things) and his family man side with “Little Sister Sunshine”. It’s no secret Mike’s oldest daughter Marleigh had cancer last year (she’s 100% recovered), and “Little Sister” is all the more touching knowing that. Written for Mike’s youngest daughter Mayme from Marleigh’s point of view makes the song one for the ages. “Even when the sun is gone, my little sister’s sun shines on”. Amazing. We get a little bit of Twelve Pieces with the tune “Eagle and the Crow”, a little Everything Upside Down with “Nowhere Else To Run” and even some Foam with “Streamlining”. This album combines everything Mike has done in his career to somehow give us something we’ve never heard before. Thanks Mike.

Writer Brandon Morrow, OK

Published in: on July 21, 2008 at 6:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Sweet Root – Bourbon to Broadway


With one boot planted firmly in the hallowed grounds of Americana and the other digging in strong to the new Texas music scene, Sweet Root straddles both genres for a perfect blend of country-fused rock that’s caught the attention of fans and critics alike.

Influenced by legends such as John Mellencamp, Alabama, Tom Petty and the great Johnny Cash, in just a short time this Louisiana-based group has cultivated a devoted following from Georgia through East Texas.  Kansas-born lead singer Dustin Powell’s rich vocals breathe new life into tried and true songs about relationships, lost love and the rigors of the road, while Blake Harlow’s gritty guitar add another dimension to the music. Brett Smith’s drums and Lance Dubroc’s bass and tight vocal harmonies wrap up a full sound that fits each tune like an old familiar jacket.

Listening to the band’s music, you get an immediate understanding of their respect for song craftsmanship and unique ability to wrap great hooks around grassroots lyrics. Songs like the rocking “Half a Mile Away,” clever “Tuesday Night” and radio-friendly “Matter of Time” grab you by the collar and force you to take notice from the opening notes. Country-influenced in the studio, the band comes alive on stage and you better believe, “The Root” can rock as they blast and blaze through their deep repertoire of crowd-pleasing songs.

Treat yourself to a little taste of Sweet Root and we guarantee you’ll be back for more.

The Band

  • Dustin Powell – Vocals, Guitar
  • Brett Smith – Drums, Vocals
  • Scott Jordan – Bass, Vocals
  • Blake Sticker – Guitar, Vocals

Bourbon to Broadway

Is an edgy hybrid cross between Southern Rock and Americana. Although SW is out of Southern Louisiana their style of music does fit the  Red Dirt sound. The only down side the their first full CD release is it has only nine tracks. I can’t wait to hear more from this up and coming band from Baton Rouge!

Track List

  1. Who You Are
  2. Tuesday Night
  3. Good As It Gets
  4. Half A Mile Away
  5. See What You Want To See
  6. Crazy Beautiful
  7. Look What We Got
  8. Round Here
  9. Good One To Leave On


Published in: on June 15, 2008 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Carolyn Wonderland – Miss Understood

Track List

  1. Miss Understood
  2. I Found The Lions
  3. Bad Girl Blues
  4. Walk On
  5. Still Alive And Well
  6. Long Way To Go
  7. I Don’t Want To Fall For You
  8. Trouble In The City
  9. Throw My Love
  10. I Live Alone With Someone
  11. The Farmer Song
  12. Feed Me To The Lions

Carolyn has an awesome voice! The whole album has a smooth bluesy feel to it. I could almost see and smell the thick blue smoke in a corner nightclub…in Mayberry! No that is not an insult! I really liked the blues sound. Even the upbeat tracks like “Walk on”, “Still Alive And Well” and “Throw My Love” Drip of a thick Blues Backbone! The ballads “I Don’t Want To Fall For You”, The Farmer Song” and “Feed Me To The Lions” are some slow melodies sure to get the lovers on the dance floor. The highlight of the CD, in my opinion, has to be the title track, “Miss Understood” Definitly a foot tapper! Great back beat and superb Blues guitar! Carolyn’s vocals are spot on!

Miss Understood is a sure bet! Go out today and get your copy! And if you get a chance you should check out her live show!

Published in: on June 15, 2008 at 10:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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Review: CD Tex Vol. 62 Feb. ’08 (Yeah it’s late I know!)

The CD Tex Sampler back in February had a pretty good line up!

  1. Carl Acuff Jr. – Gonna Be Bad Today
  2. Sammy Sadler – Trying To get The Girl
  3. Jerry Lee Surber – Don’t Have To Love Me Back
  4. James Lann – You’re From The Country Too
  5. Lisa Hayes – Fierce Love
  6. Chuck Allen Floyd – I’m Not That Drunk Yet
  7. Johnny Bush – Free Soul
  8. Brian Collins – Wake Up Dancin’
  9. Bryan Fontenot – Trailer Park Pulp Fiction
  10. J. R. Castillo – Welcome To My Country

Carl Acuff Jr. has a great Red Dirt sound. The song itself has pretty good lyrics in my opinion. Speaks about having to much bottled up inside and need to unleash the “Rowdy!” Great song, can’t wait to hear the rest of the CD. Look for Carl’s CD Two Trails on Something Else Records. (

Sammy Sadler’s “Trying to Get the Girl” is awesome the only downside I heard was the voice tweak with a PA horn. I personally didn’t care for that part. Fortunately it was only one line. Sammy web site is

Jerry Lee Surber is verging on rock more than Red Dirt in my opinion with “Don’t Have To Love Me Back”. Has more of a late 70’s Dr. Hook feel to it. But don’t get me wrong it is still a good song and would like to hear the rest of his Hey Guitar CD on Tejas Records International. (Jerry Lee on MySpace)

James Lann’s “You’re From The Country Too” needs to be everyone’s theme song! great vocals and music! Lyrics are just spot on! Speaks about God in the Pledge, The right to bear arms…….man I just realized I am “From The Country Too!” Check out James’ CD F-O-R-D on Ari-Tex Records (

Lisa Hayes just rocks out with this Zydeco/Red Dirt hybrid. Terrific song, love her voice! I am interested in hearing the rest of her Somewhere Deep In Texas CD. (

Chuck Allen Floyd brings a little comedy to the Red Dirt world with “I’m Not That Drunk Yet”. You know we have all been there! The not so great looking chick/guy ask us to dance and well “I’m Not That Drunk Yet” is what we really want to say because you know by closing time they all look good! Look for Chuck Allen Floyd on Chief Tecumseh Entainment (Chuck Allen on MySpace)

Johnny Bush……not really my cup of tea on this song. Kinda reminds me of the Champagne room at some ritzy hotel. Names like Frank Sinatra and Perry Como come to mind. Just didn’t feel Red Dirt to me. From the CD Kashmere Gardens Mud on Ice House Music. (

Brian Collins slows it down with “Wake Up Dancin'” Great heart felt song! Sure to get some on the dance floor with this one. Brian’s CD Farm Road is available from Promise Records

Bryan Fontenot “Trailer Park Pulp Fiction” LOVE IT! then again I am Trailer Park Trash at heart! So I really associate with this song! Great tempo and super lyrics. Definitely want to hear the rest of the CD. I think though, for him to really go somewhere he should consider a pen name! Just my opinion! Look for the self titled CD Bryan Fontenot on Aspirion/JAXN Records Group (

J. R. Castillo is keepin’ the dirt red with “Welcome To My Country” from the CD Diablo on CEG Records. Great track, if the rest of his CD is half as good it would be well worth the buy! (J. R. on MySpace)

That rounds out the Feb. ’08 CD Tex Sampler! Sorry it took so long!

Published in: on May 30, 2008 at 7:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Review – Dean Strickland – Hitchhiking Guitarman (CD)

Dean Stirckland is an up and coming Texas artist with great potential. This CD “Hitchhiking Guitarman” Is a great starting point.

  1. All The Means We Need
  2. Why Did Classic Country Music Have To Die?
  3. It Takes A Cowboy Like Me
  4. Everywhere I Go
  5. I Believe The Lord Has Put Me Here To Sing To You
  6. I Love Texas (It’s My Home)
  7. The Perfect Place
  8. Texas
  9. The Commitment
  10. The Good Lord Knows
  11. The Life Of Our Lord And Savior Jesus Christ
  12. With A Smile On My Face
  13. With You Step By Step

The lyrics in these songs are wonderful. I love the fact that Dean sings about Family and Jesus (and Texas). The whole CD has a mellow feel and is a good CD to sit back and listen to while you lounge around the house. The only real down side that we could find was the fact it sounds like it was mastered in his living room. I understand that it is a solo acoustic performance but fell it could have been mastered a little better. Deans voice sounds to tin canny at times and there is a slight echo on most of the music. Now if this is what Dean was after (being a hitchhiker) then he is spot on. I would love to hear him backed with a band and look forward to seeing him live. All in all I like the CD. And recommend you get a copy and check it out!

Published in: on March 25, 2008 at 3:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review – No Problem Ranch (Radio)

I found a pretty good online radio station called No Problem Ranch. Great Texas Music. Not only will you hear the more current stuff they also play a good mix of Texas music from the past like Bob Wills and Cindy Walker. Some of the station breaks are a little on the controversial side and rather political, but hey thats the way we are in Texas! They are definitely not a liberal radio station. They are conservatives and proud of it. Their web site has a link for music news and political news. Beside the political stuff it’s a great radio station and good break from Radio Free Texas, which is getting a little repetitious with their request. I am not saying RFT is a bad station, I still listen to them everyday, I am saying that NPR should be added to your listening rotation!

On a scale of 1-5 No Problem Ranch get a 4.5 from me!

Published in: on March 8, 2008 at 8:31 am  Comments (4)  
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Review – Joshua Peek – Central Texas Kid (CD)

The debut CD from Josuha Peek, Central Texas Kid, is the epitome of Texas Music.

  1. Wahoo!
  2. Cold Dead Hands
  3. Central Texas Kid
  4. Port Aransas Sand
  5. Where Have All the Cowgirls Gone?
  6. Walztin’ All Alone
  7. Barbwire
  8. Buckin’ Chute Saloon
  9. Rowdy Time
  10. For A Dream
  11. You Mighta Been Robbed
  12. I Love Drunk Women
  13. Hidden Bonus Track

With a sound similar to Aaron Watson with a little more Hill Country Attitude, Josh Peek is destined to be around for a long time. The songs on this CD speak the truth about Texas. When you hear Wahoo! you just now it means fun. Cold Dead Hands could easily be a theme song For the Texas Chapter of the NRA. When I was reading the track listing and saw track 5 all I could think of was a comeback song to Paula Cole hit song “Where Have All the Cowboy Gone?” So I went into it with a prejudgment but I was surprised. I found myself asking Where Have All the Cowgirls Gone? Great song. I have not seen Josh in concert yet but I am sure his songs fill whatever dance floor is in front of him. From simple two-step to waltzes, this CD has em all. The Buckin’ Chute Saloon is a bar I think I have been to many times, and several times in the last week. This song will help you through some hard times. Remember whatever you are going through someone has it rougher than you. Rowdy Time must be Beer:30. A great up-tempo Party Song! The song You Mighta Been Robbed is an interesting look at a cheating lover from a third person perspective. Terrific song, very original lyrics. The last track (13) is not listed in the liner notes. It starts off with a dedication from Josh to his brother Troy, who died in a motorcycle wreck, and his Uncle Bill who died of a heart attack. Terrific acoustic song about a rodeo rider that has to ride just one more time.

Published in: on March 1, 2008 at 10:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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Review – Rodney Parker & The Fifty Peso Reward – The Lonesome Dirge (CD)

  1. Firefight
  2. 10 Lb. Test
  3. Atlantic City
  4. In The River
  5. Brother
  6. Ghost
  7. Wild Man From Borneo
  8. A Knife Beneath Your Pillow
  9. I’m Never Getting Married
  10. Tell Me What It Is
  11. 11 Hours

Overall this is not that bad of a CD. There are a couple songs I just didn’t care for. The Opening track Firefight is a great song. Both lyrically and musically. Kinda loses something with 10 Lb. Test I feel the vocal arrangement should have been different somehow. Now that brings us to a Bruce Springsteen tune, Atlantic City, This is a good choice for Rodney. His voice fit the song. Bruce should be happy with this version of his classic. In The River is another great song. Love the way he choose to do the vocals, great arrangement. Now the next track. Brother, Is where he loses me again. Personally I don’t like this song. First it’s too slow for my taste. The lyrics are pretty cool but don’t care for the arrangement. Sorry Rodney! Ghost, although another slow tempo song, I like it . It sorta tugs at the heart. The mellow sound of the trumpet, played by Mike Maher, really sets off the song. Rodney really get Kinky with the next track. Wild Man From Borneo a cover of Kinky Friedman. Although I like Kinky’s version better, probably because I know it. RP50PR did it justice. It will still be one to get ’em on the dance floor. Track 8 A Knife Beneath Your Pillow is another one I don’t care for. I can’t quite put my finger on the problem with this song. It just does not sound pleasing to me. If it was to come on the radio I would change the station. Again sorry Rodney. I’m Never Getting Married is a pretty cool song. Although it sounds pretty much like the rest of the CD I like the message. It’s upbeat and after all single life is fun (I love you April!). Tell Me What It Is finally changes to sound of the CD. This track has it’s own sound on this CD and I like it a lot. Great lyrics, vocals and musical arrangement. The last track on the CD, 11 Hours, finishes off kinda slow and leaving you wanting more. I didn’t like this track at all. It lives up to the whole slow song cliche’. I found it hard to listen to. It seems to ramble and is hard to follow.

I feel bad about this review. This is my first non-favorable review I have written. These are my opinion and your results may vary. I am in no way saying “Don’t buy this CD.” In fact I think you should all go out and see RP50PR and buy their CD and listen for yourself.

Published in: on February 25, 2008 at 5:14 pm  Comments (11)  
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Review – Randy Brown – Hard Face to Face (CD)

Randy Brown

Sophomore CD Hard Face to Face

RB Productions

  1. Hard, Hard World
  2. Ophelia
  3. Honky Tonk Mood Again
  4. Hard Face to Face
  5. Warmth of the Wine
  6. Tell ’em I’ve Gone Crazy
  7. Your Secret’s Safe With Me
  8. Goin’ Down Drinkin’
  9. A Dime at a Time
  10. This Guitar is for Sale
  11. Rodeo This
  12. I Never Did Know
  13. Cuttin’ the Rug
  14. All Likkered Up

Randy is a very energetic performer, and his music shows that. There is a reason that he is nominated for 5 awards this year at the Texas Music Awards. Including Male Vocalist of the Year.

The CD starts off strong with Hard, Hard World written by Jamie Hartford. The song shows an influence of Bellamy Brothers. Very down to earth song with lots of energy. Track 2 Ophelia, is kind of a cute song about a woman who just up and left. Honky Tonk Mood Again keeps the ball rollin’ with a medium tempo rant about a fun lovin’ girlfriend/wife who like to dance and have a good time. Hard Face to Face is the first song on this CD written by Randy. Great lyrics, been many a day that I looked in the mirror and felt the same way. A little slower than I like but great song writing! Track 5 Warmth of the Wine is definitely one for the dance floor! On Tell ’em I’ve Gone Crazy Randy called in the big guns! The song written by the immortal Ed Bruce back in 1984 is sure to be a hit for Randy also. 20 plus years since this song came out and Randy nailed it. If you have read any of my other reviews you know I don’t care for the slow songs but this song you can’t help but like, “Kudos Randy, Good Job!” Your Secret’s Safe With Me is another Jamie Hartford addition. One of the best tracks on the CD in my opinion. Track 8 is another Randy Brown original co-written with James Brock, Goin’ Down Drinkin’. How many time have we all been here? Lost a love and trying to get over her but always seem to fail and feeling knocked down. Well if I’m, goin’ down “I’m gonna go down drinkin'” . Another classic throwback, A Dime at a Time, written by Jerry Chesnut and Dottie Bruce. This song puts Randy up there with the like of Ernest Tubb and Del Reeves. Great choice for Randy another spot on cover. This Guitar is for Sale written by Shel Silverstein is probably my least favorite song on this CD. Now that is not to say it is a bad song. As I stated I don’t personally care for the slow tempo songs. Lyrically it is a great song and Randy does a great job on the vocals. So if you like the slower stuff you will most likely love this song. Rodeo This displays bold Texas lyricism combined with Nashville craftsmanship. OK I admit it I didn’t write that line but it does fit. I found that statement on the Texas Music Round-up web site. This song was written by Roy Robinson and Shawn Pabst. A 1996 David Ball tune I Never Did Know is another cover that Randy did a great version of. In my opinion it is better than the original, Sorry David. Cuttin’ the Rug the third Randy Brown original was co-written with Mike Owen. Great up tempo Texas Swing. Sure to get ’em on the dance floor. That brings us to what I feel is the best song on the CD. All Likkered Up witten by Roger Alan Wade.

Some other notable personalities on Randy’s CD are Ray Austin, Chad & Reggie Rueffer & Tommy Alverson.

Produced by Tommy Alverson, Chad Rueffer and Randy Brown.

The 5 Awards that Randy is nominated for at the TMA’s this year are:

  • Male Vocalist of the Year – Randy Brown
  • Producer of the Year – Randy Brown, Tommy Alverson & Chad Rueffer
  • Album of the Year – Hard Face to Face, Randy Brown
  • Entertainer of the Year – Randy Brown
  • Live Band of the Year – Randy Brown Band

you can vote for Randy at The Texas Music Awards website.

Published in: on February 14, 2008 at 8:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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