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Edwin Holt & The Red Clay Roadhouse Band

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Still Feeling Blue After All These Years

By Johnny Griffith

Edwin Holt caught a mad case of the blues about 30 years ago, and it hasn’t let go yet.

The East Texas native was a graduate of West Rusk where he spent most of his time around the band hall when he wasn’t at home listening to his father’s collection of 45’s to the tune of Sam Cooke, Little Milton, and the like.

After high school, Holt sought to spread his wings and ended up at The University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi. Here, he was exposed to music in a way he never had been before. Eventually finding his way to Dallas, Edwin would make his mark on the Blues Scene over the next several years playing with established acts.

After earning the respect of his peers through years of gigs, Holt was eventually asked to take over Johnnie Winters’ backing band after his death. Eventually Holt stepped away from touring to spend more time with family and focus more on his design firm right here in Tyler.

Fast forward to present day and Holt once again finds himself at the helm of a new group, The Red Clay Roadhouse, and this time the sound is probably the most unique blend he’s every been a part of. We caught up to the blues man recently to get to know him better and get the scoop on his latest project.

Johnny: You’ve been in music for a long time, at last count I’ve got you more than 30 years in the business, but let’s go back to the beginning. When did you first get the itch for music?

Edwin: The big “aha” moment for me was when two guys from Greenville, Mississippi would take me to see James Son Thomas perform in Oxford. James was the real deal, which would then turn into an introduction to the Mississippi Delta Blues Festival, an event that I attended for 13 years in a row and would finally headline three years in a row later on in life.

Johnny: East Texas has a deep, rich, musical history, but the blues has often taken a backseat to other genres. Mississippi, on the other hand, has the ghosts of blues legends around every corner. What was it that drew you into the blues when you went to Ole Miss and then later when you came back to TCU?

Edwin: I couldn’t get out of the music scene long enough to actually attend class, which dented my grades. Frustrated with my lack of academic progress, my parents would pull me out of Oxford (Mississippi) and place me at Kilgore Junior College until I could get my grades up to attend TCU, but Mississippi was the turning point for me in blues music. I think East Texas has nurtured a number of great musicians, but historically they left for bigger and better things. Freddie King, George Jones, etc…

As far as drawing me into the blues at TCU, I missed Mississippi, and so I went looking for what I missed and found it deep in the depths of South Dallas. An entire subculture of music that exists underneath all the glitz and glamor of Dallas. This is the real turning point where I decided to take the plunge and begin establishing myself as a musician and performer. I would soon join an all black blues band and tour every juke joint within Texas and even Oklahoma.

Johnny: Who were some of your early influences as you were getting your start in and around Oxford, Mississippi?
Edwin: Again, the main figure would be James Son Thomas, but that all changed as I began to progress within the urban areas of Dallas. There’s a transformation that the black blues world made from rural blues to soul blues. From the delta of Mississippi, I would soon evolve into the sounds of Johnnie Taylor, a much more soulful sound or slick blues as some folks refer to it.

Johnny: As you split time at TCU between class and a burgeoning musical career, how did your family react and were there ever any doubts in the early days that you’d made the wrong choice?

Edwin: I actually graduated from TCU with a degree in liberal arts, and I would go on splitting my time between a day job and a musical career; something that I still struggle with today. I tell people all the time that I don’t know if music is a temptation, a distraction, or an opportunity. I’ve done well with my career as a designer, but I’ve struggled all my life between two loves.

Johnny: Obviously history proved you made the right choice, finding success while becoming a regular in the blues scene and playing with some of the legends in the business. With so many memorable gigs with legends in the genre, are you able to pick one show that just stands above the rest?

Edwin: The best moments never happen on stage. Shows are calculated and rehearsed. There are moments that happen on stage that are special, but a true moment happens unrehearsed and by the seat of your pants. That moment for me was during a funeral. Mary Collier, or Lady Princess as she was known, passed away when I was in my thirties or so. She was a mainstay in the south Dallas blues scene and the greatest unknown vocalist you’ve never heard. We performed together for 10 years or so before she would finally pass away. Every well known south Dallas blues artist attended the funeral. We all sat on the back row. Ernie Johnson, R.L. Griffin, Tutu Jones, Big Charles Young, and myself. During the service, Johnnie Taylor entered from the side carrying a folding chair then placing it in the center aisle in front of God and everyone, unfolded it, and sat down. While whispers and gasps of surprise riddled through the crowd, the preacher asked if Mr. Taylor would like to come up and say a few words. Johnnie then stood up, took the mic and began to sing, requesting a male chorus from the back row. We all stood up, went to the front, and backed him up while he sang gospel. One of the most amazing moments of my life and completely unplanned. I’ll never forget it.

Johnny: Your career has had several twists and turns over the years, a major one of which was when the backing band for that very same Johnnie Taylor asked you to be the band leader after his death in 2000. Was that a call you were expecting and how did it feel to have to take on that mantle?

Edwin: It was a huge undertaking and meant a lot of rehearsals. I hate rehearsals. Horns, charts, timing had to be right on for all numbers. It’s a ton of work for a big band due to the number of moving parts, but the impact is over the top. Some of the best little moments of absolute bliss happen during solo horn parts with a powerhouse of players pushing sound forward.

Johnny: Musicians aren’t exactly famous for knowing when to walk away from a gig, especially a particularly sweet one, but you were able to successfully step away and focus that creative drive on your business for the sake of your family. When was the moment you knew it was time to come home?

Edwin: Like I said, the battle has never ended. I’ve been stepping back and forth over the line for thirty years. It’s a struggle I’m sure I’ll be dealing with until they put me in the ground.

Johnny: So as it turns out, music wasn’t done with you, and a few years later you find yourself once again at the head of another band. This time, however, the big band sound has been traded in for something completely different. How did the idea for the Red Clay Roadhouse Band come about, and who are the members?

Edwin: What’s interesting about this sound is that it showed up every year on a fishing trip. Each year, thirty close friends would leave the world behind and head to Uncertain, Texas for an annual fishing trip. I always had pickers show up, and we would jam around the campfire at night.

One year, my pickers out of Austin couldn’t make it so I pulled in Cadillac Sky out of Fort Worth. I became close to two of their members. Ross Holmes on fiddle and Matt Menefee on banjo. Ross would soon hit the big time touring with Mumford and Sons. Between gigs with Bruce Hornsby, he called me and wanted to know if we could do something between shows. I really didn’t know what we could do on stage, so I literally threw some songs on the table. Before we knew what was happening, a new sound was born in Tyler, Texas.

Johnny: The sound seems to me to be a unique blend of blues, bluegrass, roots, and Americana, thrown into a blender, mixed-up, and poured out on stage. How would you describe it?

Edwin: Yeah, that’s it all right. Hard to define whatever is coming out of that blender, but it sure tastes good.

Johnny: With genres like Rock and Country dominating the gig landscape in this area, how has the reception been to what the Red Clay Roadhouse Band brings to a show?

Edwin: That has been the most interesting piece to this new sound. Most, if not all, of my followers are from the ages of 45-75. They are people that grew up listening to real music and long for something that’s not made in a machine. I would like to think that we represent what’s right in the music world. Real music that pulls from the soul.

Johnny: What is on the horizon for Edwin Holt and the Red Clay Roadhouse Band for 2017?

Edwin: Ha! Who knows. I’m taking this whole thing one day at a time. I’ve been doing it for so long that I’ve given up the idea of becoming famous. I just do what I do because I love making music. And if I can make someone happy with what I do on stage, then I’m all the better for it.

Johnny: If I’m a new fan looking to go to my first Red Clay Roadhouse Band concert, what can I expect?

Edwin: Food for the soul, my brother. So I hope you’re hungry!

Upcoming Shows:

  • May 27th: Bright Star Theater, Texarkana, Texas
  • June 10th: Liberty Hall, Tyler, Texas
  • September 23rd: Big Truck Theatre, Taylor, Mississippi

For more info about Edwin Holt and Red Clay Roadhouse go to redclayroadhouse.com or find them on Facebook.

 

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July 27th: SFO, A Journey Tribute Band at Bergfeld Park

The City of Tyler will host the annual Bergfeld Summer Showcase at Bergfeld Park, located at 1510 S. College Ave., on Friday, July 27. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. with fun and food trucks and live music beginning at 7 p.m.

This year, SFO – A Journey Tribute, a Nashville native band will take the stage. SFO recreates the experience of a 1980’s concert, playing all the Journey hits that you know and love with a special salute to Kansas and Foreigner. The band is made up of top-notch musicians from Nashville, Florida, and Minnesota who bring the highest level of musicianship to the audience.

Frontman Gabe Jacobs delivers powerful vocals to his audience by closely emulating the vocals and stage presence of legendary Steve Perry.

“This band will transport you back to the 80’s with all the songs you know by heart!” said Adriana Rodriguez, event coordinator.

The local favorite food trucks will be present for quality dining including Say Cheese, Weinerland, Lupita’s, Kona Ice and Pokey O’s.

For more information, contact Adriana Rodriguez at (903) 595-7248 or at ARodriguez@TylerTexas.com.

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The Haggertys: Hey Hey We’re The Haggertys

By Johnny Griffith

There are times when things just click with someone and you know it from the start. Then, years later you come back across them and it’s almost as if no time has passed. That’s kind of what is like for local Tyler favorites The Haggertys. Having all been members of different bands, some together and some collaborative, over the years, the lineup of “Patrick James” Freden (guitars, vocals), Brad Thurston (bass, backing vocals), and Clint Hiltz (drums/percussion) have been together as The Haggertys since 2013 and have been exciting audiences ever since with their setlists of 90’s standard rock covers as well as reinterpreting some classic songs along the way.

We sat down with the guys recently to get some more history on the band and a better snapshot of the members.

Johnny: How about we start with a brief bio of yourself and your background in music.

Patrick: I was born in Minnesota, moved to Tyler in 1974 and then left in the summer of 1977. I basically grew up in Ocean Springs, Mississippi playing Dungeons & Dragons, riding BMX bikes, and listening to albums over at a friend’s house. My first band was a punk band called Spastic Fury in high school. After that, I did some college in Mobile, Alabama, and eventually came back to Tyler in 1988. I played in bands all through the 90’s and started a solo acoustic project in 2005. I’m a self-employed graphic artist by day building websites, designing logos, etc., and music is my second business. I’m a full-time dad and husband, a professional tinkerer who likes craft beers, Les Pauls, Orange Amps, and hanging out in my favorite music store, Action Sound in Hawkins.

Brad: I’ve been playing music since I was 15 when I purchased my first guitar. It cost me $50 and was in a brown paper bag in pieces. After getting it put together, I started looking around for a band. No one needs a guitar player, so the next year I went and bought a bass, found a band, and the journey began. The start of my high school music career included rock bands like Conspiracy, Guardian, and Blue Steel. After high school, I branched out and did a did brief stint in a country band.

The call of the Hair Bands drew me to California, Hollywood to be exact. I moved in with a friend from high school, joined a band, and played the Troubadour on Santa Monica Blvd. within the first 3 weeks of being in California. I played in other bands there, like Hammer Lane. I did shows at The Roxy Theater and The Whisky A Go-Go. After wrapping up my California time, I moved back to Tyler, found an alternative band, Center Mass, which was later known as “Did Lee Squat?” (DLS?). That’s where I met “Patrick James.” We played venues in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and even Shreveport, Louisiana.

This too ended and I started my family, got a job, and put the band on the back burner. After some time, I started playing with Livid, a cover band around the Tyler/Longview area. This project just kinda wound down and I took a job out of town. More time passed with both family and job changes. I started playing bass in a praise band for Pollard United Methodist Church and did that for a few years until one day Patrick called. No, it was not the “I’m getting the band back together” kinda call. He wanted to redo his current project. I think he said he wanted to play more electric guitar and just rock out…so here we are.

Clint: I’m the baby of the band, born in Austin in 1974. I lived in Alvin, Texas through my 5th-grade year and moved to East Texas in 1986 where I joined the Union Grove percussion section in junior high and continued throughout high school. I played in the band and every sport Union Grove offered. As I got into high school, I was fortunate enough to be allowed to play football then at halftime, I’d take off my shoulder pads and march in the marching band. In 1992, I moved to Tyler and was offered a scholarship to join the Tyler Junior College drumline, better known as the Apache Punch. My hobbies are hunting, fishing, shooting guns, and working out. Currently, I work at Suddenlink as a Commercial Sales Supervisor.

Johnny: Who would you say was personally responsible, individually, for instilling that love of music you’d take the rest of your lives?

Pat: My mom for sure. She was the one that got me going as a kid…from playing Johnny Cash records to buying me a guitar and taking me to lessons.

Brad: My mom, she had me taking piano at the age of six, and we loved Elvis.

Clint: Hands down, my father. He played drums as well and he got me started gigging at the early age of 13 when I would sit in for him and play Wipeout.

Johnny: When did you three first meet?

The Haggertys: During the 90’s, Pat and Brad were playing in a band called DLS? and Clint was in a band called Affinity. The two bands did several shows together, including one at the Oil Palace in Tyler with DLS? as the headliner and Affinity providing support…the friendship and collaboration grew from there.

Johnny: How did the idea of starting the Haggertys come together?

The Haggertys: Sometime in the summer of 2013, Pat was doing his solo acoustic thing and had done some earlier shows with Clint and Brad as the Patrick James Band but these were still “acoustic” shows. After playing these kinds of shows for so long, Pat just got the itch to play with electrics and amps again, and Clint was on board to “get loud.” A permanent bass player was recruited and the band was formed. Really the Haggertys morphed out of the Patrick James Band and the guys started rehearsing so the song list grew. The band covers lots of material but kinda focuses on 90’s rock. The old “If it’s a good song, it’s a good song….doesn’t matter what genre it’s from” always applies.

Johnny: Okay, so the name. Where did it come from and whose idea was it?

The Haggertys: During one of the early rehearsals the idea of a band name came up and of course lots of stuff was thrown around. Pat noticed that all the band members had some righteous beards going at the time and this got him to thinking about people with beards and the one person that came to mind was a childhood hero from the show Grizzly Adams. Pat said, “the best beard ever, in my opinion, hands down, was Dan Haggerty, let’s call the band that!” So originally he wanted the band to be called the Dan Haggertys which morphed into the Damn Haggertys which quickly changed, for obvious reasons, and the band settled in with The Haggertys.

Johnny: When and where was the first Haggertys show?

The Haggertys: The first show was March 22nd, 2014, at Shoguns (#2) under their black tent outside. It was an alright turnout, and the band had fun. We later learned that many people were turned away or had to wait to get outside under the tent because of limited seating and fire codes.

Johnny: How would you describe your sound to a new listener?

The Haggertys: Straight-up, no-frills, fun-having, 3-piece rock cover band with a few surprises.

Johnny: You guys move in and out of different genres and decades of music pretty easily. Would you say there is one you’re more comfortable with than the others?

The Haggertys: Being a 3-piece with everyone doing something, we kinda gravitate towards 90’s rock songs we can easily play and cover well. More complicated songs with multi instruments tend to be harder (or impossible) to pull off with just three instruments, so we shy away from them. However, the art of taking a song and “making it your own” remake/cover is what we strive to do. Really any song we can cover well and make our own stays on the set list.

Johnny: Are you primarily covers or are you throwing some original stuff in the mix?

The Haggertys: We all played in what we called “Showcase Bands” back in the 90’s…all original songs and we all made albums, struggled to get gigs that paid, rehearsed a lot, tried to get signed, etc. Today we just play covers, play a lot, rehearse way less often, don’t care about getting signed, and get paid to play, which is nice. We won’t rule out that one day we might start writing songs again, but it isn’t on anyone’s radar anytime soon. We have done some reunion shows by combining Did Lee Squat? and Sand Dollar band members into a group called Did Lee Dollar. This allowed us to reconnect with old bandmates and fans and play some of the old originals. Come to think of it, it’s probably time for another one of those shows.

Check out The Haggertys online at:

www.facebook.com/thehaggertys

www.instagram.com/thehaggertys

www.thehaggertysband.com

 

Shows:

  • Thursday, July 12th – Razzoo’s, Tyler, 7-10pm
  • Friday, September 14th – Gregg County Fair on Dennis Hiltz Memorial Stage, Longview
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Southern Charm: Small Town Girls With Big Time Sound

By Johnny Griffith

So there’s an old saying that has something to do with ‘dynamite comes in small packages’ and that certainly holds true with the two talented, dynamic artists in the East Texas duo Southern Charm. Both hailing from small East Texas towns, Shelby Ballenger and Billie Jo Sewell have been making a name for themselves both as successful solo artists and the fast rising duet, Southern Charm. Both artists have honed their crafts on many local stages and along the way found they had a knack for harmony and similar musical interests. Borne of a shared passion and great timing, Southern Charm takes advantage of each artist’s unique vocal ability and is greater than the sum of its parts…which is saying something because Shelby and Billie Jo both have burgeoning solo careers in their own right. So much so that Southern Charm as a duet has to book six months in advance and then they have a seven show run in seven east Texas venues.

We caught up with them in the middle of this latest run to get some more background on these ladies and their “Southern Charm.”

Johnny: When did you two first take up an interest in music?

Shelby: From the age of 13 I began singing at The Wylie Opry. From there, I was self-taught to play the guitar. I eventually began going to open mic nights all around north Texas to make a name for myself. About 2 years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to quit my day job and pursue music full time. I haven’t looked back.

Billie Jo: I started singing when I was 4 years old and grew up singing in church. I went from singing at church to Opry’s, restaurants, and festivals, to opening for people such as Ray Price, Gene Watson, Justin Moore, Mike Ryan, and Stoney LaRue. I had the honor to be on “The Voice” where I made top 150 on season 6 and recently I made top 100 on “American Idol.” I just recently signed to TXM Records and am currently in the studio working on my first country single!

Johnny: Who were some of your early influences?

Shelby: I always looked up to dominant female singers growing up. My lead inspirations were Shania Twain, Lee Ann Rimes, and The Dixie Chicks. When I began songwriting, I leaned on lyrics by Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert, and local artists such as Meredith Crawford and Matt Grisby for inspiration.

Billie Jo: I was raised by my grandparents so I was inspired by the oldies but goodies, as I like to call them, such as George Jones, Ray Price, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, and many others.

Johnny: When did you decide music was more than just another hobby and was something worth pursuing?

Shelby: Once I began taking the stage with my guitar, people began talking about the talent and potential I had. I tried to make an impression at every new venue and began to see the joy it brought to people listening. I began entering songwriting competitions once my repertoire grew and placed with within the top four each time out of hundreds of hopefuls.

Billie Jo: I knew at a very early age that God didn’t give me this voice to just sing at home. I just knew that He gave me this voice to share with the world and that one day this would be my full time career which, gratefully, I’m very close to being able to say. I’ve always wanted to use my gift that God gave me in hopes that the audience may come to know Him through my music and testimony.

Johnny: How did you two first meet and when did the idea of a duo project come up?

Shelby & Billie Jo: We met at an East Texas singing competition a little over four years ago. From there, we became instant best friends.

Johnny: When and where was your first show as Southern Charm?

Shelby & Billie Jo: Our first official show was at The Foxhole where we won a karaoke competition. We took home $2,500 which made it our first paid gig together. From there Southern Charm played The Forge in Ben Wheeler and then our solo careers started taking off. We now book six months in advance for the Southern Charm East Texas Tour.

Johnny: How about the name? Where did that idea come from?

Shelby: Billie Jo’s son Chandler won most handsome baby boy at the Emory Rains pageant in 2014. I saw Billie Jo make a post on Facebook needing a car to ride in the parade with. I offered her convertible slug bug for the event. While we were in the car, we started trying out songs to sing together. I mentioned that I’d always wanted to put a duo together and name the act Southern Charm. Billie Jo loved the idea so we ran with it!

Johnny: How would you describe your sound?

Shelby: Southern Charm’s sound has a pure tone and the harmonies blend extremely well. I [Shelby] have more of the bluesy tone and Billie Jo brings the powerhouse country twang. Together, our voices mesh to create a unique country sound.

Johnny: What do you feel you bring to the table individually that compliments your partner on stage?

Shelby & Billie Jo: We know the dynamics of music. We never try to overpower each other onstage and that’s something every duo needs in order to be successful.

Johnny: About how many originals do you try to work in during a show?

Shelby & Billie Jo: We try to work in all of our most favorite originals at each and every show. Usually there’s about four to five each.

Johnny: You’ve had a busy summer already, what’s coming up on the radar the rest of the year that you’re excited about?

Shelby: I’m currently working on my full album with Joe Austin as producer. I’ve written 12 brand new songs and my new single “Heartbreaks & Hangovers” will be released late July while the album will drop next summer.

Billie Jo: I have a big secret I’ll be able to announce in a couple months about where I will be on the National Stage. Currently I’m in the studio with Chad Mauldin and Mauldin Productions working on my new single that will be released in early August.

Johnny: What can a first timer expect at a Southern Charm show?

Shelby & Billie Joe: Harmonies that give goosebumps and two best friends shining, as they do what they love onstage.

Keep up with Southern Charm online at facebook.com/southerncharmmusic.

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