Austin360 On The Record is a weekly roundup of new, recent and upcoming releases by local and Austin-associated recording artists.
OUT THIS WEEK
Jimmie Vaughan, “Baby, Please Come Home” (Last). Used to be that records with this kind of joyous and soulful R&B sound got made all the time, in the music’s mid-20th-century heyday. Recent revivals by artists such as Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings have been welcome, but when Jimmie Vaughan takes this stuff on, it’s like siphoning directly from the source. Classics from T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Reed, Lloyd Price and others flow from Vaughan’s guitar and voice like his lifeblood. A nice curveball is “No One to Talk to But the Blues” by Lefty Frizzell, a country legend who clearly could connect with R&B audiences as well. Recorded mostly at Fire Station Studios in San Marcos, the album features many longtime regulars in Vaughan’s live crew, including George Rains on drums, Ronnie James on bass and Mike Flanigin on Hammond B-3 organ, plus a five-piece local horn section. A swingin’ rendition of the Clifford Scott/Billy Butler instrumental “Hold It,” recorded live at Austin club C-Boy’s, provides a perfect sense of what it’s like to hear Vaughan in his element onstage. Vaughan spent three nights this week in London opening for Eric Clapton at Royal Albert Hall(!), but he’ll be back in Austin next week for a May 24 in-store at Waterloo Records and May 24-25 release shows at C-Boy’s. Here’s a recent dual-interview with Vaughan and Gary Clark Jr.:
Freedonia, “Firefly.” It seems a little incredulous for the only Austin musician with both a Grammy and an Oscar on his shelf to be flying under the radar at local clubs with a jazz ensemble, but Christopher Cross has been pulling it off lately with Freedonia. “Firefly,” their second release in as many years, is a richly layered 10-song set that highlights the musicians skills but smartly keeps the focus on the songs, in a vein vaguely reminiscent of Steely Dan. The three-piece sax section of Seth Carper, Russell Haight and Justin Vasquez is primary in shaping Freedonia’s vibe, coloring over the rhythmic foundation set by keyboardist Sean Giddings, bassist John Fremgen, percussionist James Fenner and drummer Scott Laningham. Cross plays guitar and gives his distinctive voice over to songs he mostly wrote or co-wrote. “FBI” is tale of nefarious excess with a clever twist, “Elise” is an uplifting love song, and “Never Saw It Coming” has the kind of engaging melodic hook that reminds how Cross rose to prominence in the first place. Guest vocalists Randy Miller (“Big Blue Ball”) and Marcia Ramirez (“Us”) broaden the band’s scope, as does the opening instrumental “The Lost River.” Release show May 17 at El Mercado Backstage. Here’s the track “Unreconciled”:
South Austin Moonlighters, “Travel Light” (Station House). The third studio album since they introduced themselves with a live album done at Saxon Pub, “Travel Light” finds the Moonlighters bringing in a ringer of a producer in New Orleans roots-blues ace Anders Osborne. He helps put a sharp focus on the songwriting of guitarists Chris Beall and Phil Hurley, while spotlighting the vocal blend they create with bassist Lonnie Trevino Jr. and drummer Daniel James. Alongside eight originals are two notable covers: Danny Kortchmar’s “Machine Gun Kelly” (from an early James Taylor album) and Stephen Stills’ CSN classic “Daylight Again/Find the Cost of Freedom,” which closes the album on a dramatic note as their four voices harmonize hauntingly in an a cappella passage. Playing June 14 at Sam’s Town Point and June 15 at Threadgill’s. Here’s the video for the title track:
RELATED: Check out more recent Austin360 On The Record roundups
MAY 24: Megafauna, “Ghost Coast,” release show May 25 at Empire.
MAY 24: Ray Prim, “Unconditional,” release show May 24 at One-2-One Bar.
MAY 24: Texas Horns, “Get Here Quick” (Severn), release show June 19 at Antone’s.
MAY 24: Sour Bridges, “Neon Headed Fool,” playing Texas Radio Live May 22 at Guero’s.
MAY 31: Shy Beast, “Shy ’Til You Die,” in-store May 30 at Waterloo Records, release show June 1 at Antone’s.
JUNE 6: Montopolis, “The Legend of Big Bend,” release show June 6 at North Door.
JUNE 14: Los Coast, “Samsara” (New West), release show June 27 at Antone’s.
JUNE 14: Bill Callahan, “Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest” (Drag City).
JUNE 14: Jamestown Revival, “San Isabel” (Thirty Tigers), playing Blues on the Green in Zilker Park on May 22.
JUNE 14: Michael Fracasso, “Big Top,” in-store June 10 at Waterloo Records.
JUNE 14: Oscar Ornelas, “Some Gospel,” release show June 13 at Mohawk.
JUNE 20: Hector Ward & the Big Time, “Smile Into Life” (Blackfinger), release show June 20 at Antone’s.
JUNE 21: Willie Nelson, “Ride Me Back Home” (Legacy), playing July 4 at Circuit of the Americas.
JUNE 21: Black Pumas, self-titled (ATO).
JUNE 21: Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis, “Beautiful Lie” (Next Waltz), release show June 22 at Continental Club.
JUNE 21: Eric Tessmer, “EP 2,” release show June 21 at Scoot Inn.
AUG. 9: Jesse Dayton, “Mixtape, Vol. 1.”
» LISTEN — Peter Blackstock talks about ZZ Top's 50th-anniversary tour on Austin360 Radio: