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Support Your Local Music Scene: My Top 10 Favorite Bands


By John Baggett

Every city has a local music scene, and it’s there you will find more dedicated groups of fans than anywhere else. In fact, I think the fandom for local bands is sometimes more rabid than the ones for national acts, especially when talking about the love and not the numbers. It can also produce a more flippant attitude, because it is easier to skip a local show than a big band coming to town. Foo Fighters might only play where you live once every two years, but it is easy to pass on a local show. You think, “I’ll catch the next one,” because most times there will be a next show. But that attitude can be detrimental to the future success of the bands. Venues do not book acts that are only going to draw five people, even if they are one of the best bands playing. No love means no gigs, and no gigs means no future for these bands. If you love music, you really should check out your local bands. The local bands listed below are those I know in one form or another. Some I have seen live, some I have not (though not for lack of trying). For many of them, I know one or more members outside of their music, and think their contributions should undoubtedly be recognized.

Rockett Queen

Every show Rockett Queen plays singer Walter Lee screams, “Are you ready for a rock n’ roll revolution?” And if Rockett Queen is leading this revolution into battle then I want to be on the front lines with them. This band has been around since the early 2000’s, once voted by MTV as the best unsigned band in America. They had a song featured on the soundtrack for “John Tucker Must Die” and since their 2011 e.p. “Goodnight California” came out, the band has been playing countless shows and working to make it on the national level. What I love about the band, first and foremost, is not that they are nice guys and have a great image, but their music is great. I came first for the music and still continue to go for that same reason. The band is set to release a new record, tentatively titled “Light The Fuse,” sometime this year and the songs they have been playing from it thus far have been outstanding. If you like hard rock, then by all means check these guys out. Rockett Queen recently announced an exclusive deal with Amped, the new home to Metallica, Lenny Kravitz, Billy Idol, Steel Panther and Big & Rich. As part of the new deal, the band will release “Goodnight California” in late April on CD, Vinyl and Digital formats worldwide (

Channel 8


How many people can say they bought a copy of a band’s album out of the drummer’s car? Well, that is absolutely how I got my copy of Channel 8’s debut “Space Animals.” I handed drummer Casey Coomer $5, and we walked to his car and I got my copy. Yes, I could have bought it digitally but I wanted a physical copy, and Casey was happy to oblige. The band is made up of Coomer on drums and vocals and lead singer/guitarist Patrick Salkin. The music is loud, noisy, and quality. These guys are not the White Stripes (or whatever two person musical act lights your particular fire), they are better. They are also one of the hardest working bands I know, constantly playing anywhere they can. I think they have played more shows since forming than a lot of other bands I know, whether it is in a restaurant like What About Kabob’s or Double Dave’s Pizza or all the way to being part of the East Texas All Star Showcase in 2013. If you love noisy DIY rock n’ roll, then here is your band.

Blacktop Mojo


If you want to hear about bands that get better and better each time I see them, then I have to talk about Blacktop Mojo. The band hails from Palestine. The first time I saw them they were in a battle of the bands at Liberty Hall in Tyler and I thought they were good, and they had kind of a southern rock vibe to them. But as I have seen them lately, mostly playing with Rockett Queen, they have gotten heavier and better with each gig. The band’s latest album “I Am” was one of the best albums I heard last year, and its leadoff single, also titled “I Am,” is sure to break them. Check the video out on YouTube. It has been just a few days since I last saw them play, and I am ready to see them again. If you love solid, hard rock with just a bit of a southern edge, then get this record. It will floor you.

Struck By Hammerz


I have shared a stage with Stuck By Hammerz, not as a singer, but it was when they served as the house band for the Local Late Night show that was part of the East Texas Comedy Festival last summer. I have seen them perform a couple of times, and I think they are absolutely terrific. The band is truly versatile and can do a prog rock number one minute, follow it up with a Bad Religion cover the next, and then follow up with a solid alternative rock song. Some of their lyrics have a bit of humor to them, some are touching, and everything they do has been amazing. If you need proof, check out their song “Prologue: The Great Dictator” from their e.p. “Skullduggery.” It still sends shivers down my spine. The band has three e.p.s and a single available on iTunes. It’s less than $20 and is some of the best music you will hear. Go give them some love and check out their live show as soon as you get a chance.

This Day Forth

This is another East Texas metal band that gets better each time I see them. These guys will melt your faces off. Their e.p. “…And Hope To Die” practically lived in my car CD player for weeks after seeing them play. The record is both melodic and heavy, and their live show is energetic. This band is just getting started, but they have the look and the talent to make it big. I predict in a few years they could be playing some of the big festivals. That is not just wishful thinking. These guys are solid, heavy, and talented musicians.

Out Of The Question

An acoustic duo that started off as a quartet, Out of the Question has been playing all over the East Texas area, all for the joy of playing music. Singer/guitarist Michael Gonzalez and guitarist/percussionist Jeremy Flowers play anywhere and everywhere they can. They mostly play covers and serve to provide an ambient acoustic sound to your night out, and they are worth your attention. You will find yourself singing along. It is always a good time when these guys are playing.

Sleep Juliet


Sleep Juliet is a relatively new band hailing from Nacogdoches. Led by singer Anna Valo, the band has started making a name for itself. Like Rockett Queen and Blacktop Mojo, these guys and gal rock and rock hard. Valo has a fantastic voice and great stage presence, and the band backing her up is super tight, bringing the right amount of energy to every show they play. Their e.p. “Where Nightmares Are Born” is available on iTunes and definitely worth checking out.

Downfall Rising

Downfall Rising is a band a lot like Sleep Juliet – a female led hard rock band that knows how to bring the house down. They are also a band in transition, as singer Rachel Peloquin left the band late last year to pursue other activities. However, the band is carrying on. Until they pick Peloquin’s successor, the band is not playing any shows, but they are still practicing and ready to jump back into the scene. They have an awesome e.p. out that you can check out on Bandcamp. I am looking forward to new stuff and new shows from this band!

She Craves*

She Craves comes with the asterisk because they are currently on hiatus. I’m hoping that they get back to playing soon because they were the first “local” band with which I became obsessed. They came from Austin, but I saw them three times live at Clicks in Tyler. I bought two copies of their full length album “Goodbye Radio Days” the first time I saw them (I gave one to a friend). By the second time I saw them, I got to know them and periodically chat with them from time to time. Led by singer Christine Ely, the band is simply one of the best hard rock bands I have seen live. Every show I saw was tight and in my opinion they have the chops to make it on the national level. Since I last saw them live, bassist Tim Brown went on to be the drummer for Righteous Brisket. Drummer Ben Mills has been in numerous bands since but is currently tearing it up in Three33, thus turning one great band into three. I highly recommend downloading “Goodbye Radio Days” and their follow up e.p. “Static.” I also think you should check out Righteous Brisket and Three33 as well. All three bands are killer and their music deserves your attention.


The band formerly known as Magdalene has decided to re-brand themselves and made their debut performance at Click’s on February 27th. If the buzz around the show is any indication, then this band is out to set the world on fire and I can not wait for it to happen and see where they go.



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Around East Texas

Jason Herrin, Shooter Jennings, Dirty River Boys in Concert this Weekend

Upcoming Concerts

March 9th (8pm) Jason Herrin will be at Moore’s Store in Ben Wheeler. Tickets are available at the door. Cover is $7.

March 10th (8pm) – Shooter Jennings – Shooter Jennings is an American singer-songwriter, active mainly in the outlaw country music and Southern rock genres. He is the son of country music legend Waylon Jennings. Tickets range from $35 -$45. Liberty Hall is located at 103 E. Erwin St., Tyler. Tickets are available at

March 10th (8pm) – Dirty River Boys with Pushwater will be at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at Tickets are $15 for general admission.

March 16th (8pm) – Parker McCollum will be at Coach’s & Cowboys. Tickets are available at Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Parker McCollum treats each song he writes with a painstaking level of dedication, reverence, respect and as he will readily admit, even a bit of obsession. His new album “Probably Wrong” follows the Austin-based performer’s ultimate goal is to reinvent himself with each record he makes. Tickets are $13-$20.

March 17th (8pm-1am) – St. Patrick’s Day Metal Massacre will take place at Click’s Live, 1946 ESE Loop 323, Tyler. The St. Patrick’s Day Metal Massacre features Edge of Misery, No Due Respect, and LowLife. Cover at the door. Doors open at 8pm.

March 22nd (7-10pm) – Zach Winters and Jason Barrows will perform at The Foundry Coffee House, 202 S. Broadway, Downtown Tyler. They will be performing songs from their new albums and changing every city they visit to the city of brotherly love. Early bird tickets are $10. Pre-sale ticket are $12. At the door tickets are $15. Doors at 7pm and music starts at 7:30pm. All ages are welcome. For more info go to or

March 24th (8pm) – Bibeau Record Release Party & Concert – will be held at Click’s Live. Tickets are available at the door with proper ID.

March 25th (8pm) – Texas Sunday Returns with Brandon Rhyder at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at Tickets are $15 for general admission.

April 7th (9pm-1am) – Post Profit with Travis Christian will be at Garage Bar, 418 E. Erwin St., Downtown Tyler. There is a $5 cover.

April 7th (7pm) – Sam Riggs will be at Coach’s & Cowboys. Tickets are $15-$20 and available at

April 8th (8pm) – Texas Sunday: Jason Boland & The Stragglers will be at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at Tickets are $20 for general admission.

April 12th (8pm) Wesley Pruitt will be at Moore’s Store in Ben Wheeler. Tickets are available at the door.

April 12th (7pm) – The Legendary Johnny Rodriguez in Concert – Texas Country Music Hall of Famer, Johnny Rodriguez, has had fifteen top-ten singles and 6 number-one hits since 1973. Some of Johnny’s classic hits include: “Pass Me By,” “You Always Come Back (To Hurting Me),” “Riding My Thumb To Mexico,” “That’s The Way Love Goes,” and “Just Get Up and Close The Door.” For tickets call (866)710-8942. Tickets start at $35.

April 15th (8pm) – Texas Sunday: Chris Knight will be at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at Tickets are $20 for general admission.

April 21st (8pm) – Mouse & The Traps – After more than 50 years together, Mouse & the Traps continue to be one of the best examples of “Texas Rock & Roll.” Formed in Tyler, Texas in 1965, Mouse, Nardo, Dave & Larry continue to give the public just what they want – great rock and roll. Whether you remember “Public Execution,” “Hit the Bricks,” or not, Mouse & The Traps has something for everyone. Tickets are $20-$25.

April 21st – Bowling For Soup at Clicks Live (8pm) – American pop-punk band Bowling For Soup emerged in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1994, but have since relocated to Denton Texas. Tickets are on sale at the door for $19, and may be purchased in advanced online for $15 at


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The Blacksmiths: Still Like That Old Time Rock & Roll

By Johnny Griffith

Bob Seger has a well known hit from the early 80’s called “Old Time Rock And Roll.” This song laments the lack of soul in the contemporary music of that time period and declares his intent to keep playing classic rock as a solution. I’ve never gotten the chance to meet Mr. Seger, but the closest thing we have here in East Texas is Chris Austin of the local classic rock band, The Blacksmiths. A native of Chapel Hill, Chris played drums on the drumline at Chapel Hill High School and went on to graduate from the Dallas Sound Lab with a degree in Audio Engineering and Sound Techniques. Blessed with parents that loved music and supported him in his endeavors early and often, Austin developed a love for classic rock through the sounds he heard coming from his parents’ collections and eventually started a band and is still playing to this day.

We managed to get a word in with Chris recently to find out more about The Blacksmiths

Johnny: What is the current lineup of the band? Any changes over the lifespan of the band?

Chris: The current lineup consists of myself on lead guitar and vocals, Joshua Stewart on drums, Angelo Lopez on bass/rhythm guitar/vocals, and Ben Carter on bass and vocals. Angelo and Ben have both been filling the shoes of bass player when available, but recently we decided to shake it up a bit and go with a 4 piece instead of 3 with Angelo on guitar as well…as our busy schedules finally allowed. The lineup has changed immensely over the years. I haphazardly started this project about 6 years ago with a couple of friends just messing around in my kitchen,,,which was the only place we had to set up all the equipment at the time…typical broke musicians haha. We eventually gained a keyboard and rhythm player and were a 5 piece band by the time we started playing shows. We decided to go back to a 3 piece after about a year for convenience and scheduling issues. Our drummer at the time had to move for work but introduced me to Joshua before doing so. Joshua had played with Angelo before with “Something Blue” and I met Ben after watching him play for “King Richard and the Bayou Boys” …and as they say, the rest was history.

Johnny: Who were some of your early musical influences?

Chris: My parents were very into music and had a plethora of vinyl records to dig through. I was turned on to The Doors, The Who, The Allman Bros, Deep Purple, Grand Funk Railroad, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, CCR, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, SRV, David Bowie…but most importantly Led Zeppelin. When I was 12 I received a cheap electric guitar and Led Zeppelin IV on cassette tape for Christmas and that changed everything..

Johnny: At what point was the decision made to be a primarily classic rock band? Have to say you guys are a bit younger than most of the other ones in the area.

Chris: That’s really the stuff I always enjoyed playing the most and felt most comfortable with, because those tunes were ingrained in me from a young age. When we first started, we tried a lot of 90’s stuff and some 80’s Metallica and Misfits which we were pretty decent at but learned pretty quickly what we had more fun with. Even though we’re a bit younger, I feel we were all entranced by that era of music growing up. We were very lucky to have Miss Robin Griffith from XLN on 5th street give us the chance to really explore our potential. We played every Sunday there for quite a while as the house band which gave us a lot of quick feedback from the crowd…and from the venue owner haha.

Johnny: Is there any specific period of classic rock you guys gravitate towards over others?

Chris: Not really, I’ve just personally loved the 70’s era most, but we cover the 60’s and 80’s as well. We do seem to cover a lot of Creedence Clearwater and The Doors though, if that says anything.

Johnny: Where did the band name come from?

Chris: The guys from the original lineup and I were hanging out after practice having a beer or two and trying to come up with something, After a length of time and much pondering, we looked around the room and noticed the main theme of what we were looking at…which was old, broken down, second hand, very junky equipment that I had been hoarding and frankensteining together with duct tape and zip ties for years. I’m really not sure how we didn’t shock or hurt ourselves but I remember us saying…”well, we sure know how to make something out of nothing…like a dang ole’ blacksmith” (speaking of the ramshackle but playable equipment). And just like that, it stuck.

Johnny: do you guys do any originals at this point or is it primarily covers?

Chris: I’ve had a couple of blues tunes in the works for a while but we’ve honestly been so busy playing shows and working full time day jobs or careers it’s been tough to find time, but I think this is our year to shine.

Johnny: You’ve been playing music in this area for a while now, do you have a favorite memory so far?

Chris: I’ve had a lot of really cool experiences along the way getting to play with some amazing musicians. I was the guitar player in a band with Jonathan Scott from Resident Hero for a while and grew up with the singer Ryan White. I also toured a bit as guitar player for Stewart Mann and the Statesboro Revue out of Austin. I’d have to say though, my favorite memory thus far is a recent one. Joshua and I were both taught drums by Nardo and I learned guitar from Larry Stanley. We had the opportunity to open for Mouse and the Traps for the New Years Eve party at Love and War in Lindale and man was it an experience! We got to open for the guys who taught us everything in a packed room. Too cool

Johnny: Where can people get their Blacksmiths fix over the next couple of months?

Chris: Our next scheduled gig is March 31st at Club 155 on Frankston highway…at least for the public. We do a lot of private parties, bike rallies, and events as well. But always keep an eye out for us at XLN on 5th street…that’s our main stomping ground

Johnny: What do The Blacksmiths have on the radar through the rest of the year?

Chris: We have a lot of new stuff planned for this year. A whole new set of songs, some killer merchandise and a new demo ep. Also, I’m told that you might see us opening for Mouse and the Traps again in the near future…so keep your eyes peeled

Johnny: What can a new listener expect to see at a Blacksmiths show?

Chris: A good ole’ Rock show with lots of classic favorite tunes played by guys that do the best they can to respect and represent the music for what it is….life and love

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