September 2019 | September 19, 2019
Barry Smith gone too soon, new live albums from The Beaumonts and Hickoids, Austin Corn Lovers Fiesta 2019, Saustex acts on tour...
A couple of years back I had stated that I didn’t want this newsletter to become an obituary column, and of course, I still don’t. But life doesn’t always hand you what you want it to...and this newsletter, while commerce and music/art oriented, also necessarily has a lot of reflection from my personal life as the label is more or less and one-man shop and many of the folks I write about in it are longtime friends and in this case, family. And if you have any level of curiosity or appreciation for what I do and/or why I choose to attempt to perpetuate a dying art, this will interest you because the genesis of my love of rock’n’roll began with my brother Barry.

While the Hickoids were pretty close to wrapping up our Spanish tour last month I got a call from my oldest brother Martin. He alerted me that my other brother Barry (ten years my senior) was in the hospital and not doing well at all. He’d endured some recent health problems and several major hospitalizations over the past few years. But I had spoken to him a few days previous and his voice was strong and he was talkative, he sounded good. He was a robust, big framed guy and had weathered a near-death, two week stay in the ICU just under two years ago. So, while upsetting, I didn’t feel that worried. I thought he w as just giving us another scare. A short while later I received a voicemail from my nephew that they were pulling out all the stops and that he was not expected to make it. I wasn’t able to get hold of anyone who knew anything specific and about an hour after we arrived in Madrid I got the call that he had slipped away about thirty minutes previous. I was dumbfounded. It just did not seem possible.

If you’re a longtime reader of this newsletter you might remember the story of Barry absconding with my ticket to The Sex Pistols infamous Randy’s Rodeo show in San Antonio when I was about 14. I was heartbroken at the time but not really that mad. And, it would prove to be a helluva’ get out of jail free card to be used repeatedly, at any time over four decades. I apologize to Barry, and you, for that being the only impression I’ve ever offered of him in this format because it shortchanges all that he was and his influence on me. He was my original rock’n’roll hero and was always my biggest fan. 

When his bandmate Hector Saldana of The Krayolas spoke at Barry’s funeral he related how much it meant to him that Barry was the first person who wasn’t a family member or a girlfriend that actually believed in him musically, and, that he had the ideas and ability to make what The Krayolas were doing better. Unlike myself, Barry chose to set aside childish things when responsibility called. But he never shot me down for doing what I wanted to and always continued to encourage me, like he did for so many others.

One of my first real memories of Barry was fifty plus years ago. I had a little plastic sherif set; handcuffs, badge, etc. It probably cost less than a dollar at the time, I must have been three or four. We were in the den of our family home in Tulsa. Barry slapped the cuffs on me and then went in the next room and started making a loud siren noise and then ran into den “Jeff, the cops are coming to get you!” I started bawling of course. But everyone got me calmed down and it was instructional as one of my first experiences in having one pulled over on me and would portend Barry’s flair for showmanship. Martin (my oldest brother, thirteen years my senior) and Barry were always great to me when I was a kid. They were more like uncles in some way at that time and would be out of the house by the time I was coming into my own as human at the age of six or seven. But they always showed me a lot of love, wanted me to benefit from their experience and tried to steer me right.

It was also around this time that I began to notice Barry’s extensive record collection. His taste was more extreme than Martin’s and he’d play stuff that was quite a bit beyond my comprehension, but I sure loved looking at the album covers. And while other kids my age were getting dosed with The Archies, Captain Beefheart tunes ‘The Blimp’ and ‘Orange Claw Hammer’ would become two fo my favorites. 

In 1969 my family moved to Houston and Barry would attend Lee High School with some of the guys who would become Really Red, his lifelong friend and collaborator John Harris, and, some other dude named Billy Gibbons who made a few bucks and sold tens of millions of records playing rock’n’roll with ZZ Top. In recent years Barry’s eyes would really light up when he’d talk about the concerts he saw in this era in Houston...Mott the Hoople, Slade, meeting The Faces and drinking with them after the show. 

John and Barry would start a band called The Satellites, I never saw them and there’s no audio of them as far as I know but they would soon hit the road. John recently posted a photo on Facebook of their the settlement sheet from a booking at a hotel bar in the Midwest. They ended up pretty far in the red after inviting everyone up to and trashing their rooms. Different times they I’m fond of saying, it wasn’t rock’n’roll that got small, it was the audiences. Eventually the band would land in New Orleans, playing at a mob owned venue called The Sho-Bar on Bourbon Street. It’s the same place Elvis sang at in ‘King Creole’, except with real-life gangsters. A number of years later I just happened to be in New Orleans the week the owner had passed and came across his obituary in the Times-Picayune. I was impressed by the way the obituary managed to make the deceased Italian gentleman’s career as a local mafia boss and dispenser of misery seem so matter of fact and commonplace. From what Barry told me they lived above the bar and would play four or five sets a night, occasionally backing up greats like Fats Domino. This engagement ran its course after some months and Barry would briefly join up with Vince Vance and The Valiants - sort of a Southern equivalent of Sha-Na-Na, before landing back at my parents house in San Antonio in the mid-70’s.

Barry was trying to figure out his next move. He was broke. We were getting to know each other again. I had begun listening to the radio after not really having much music in the house for several years. I’d listen to the local top ten station, the regional oldies station KONO and KMAC/KISS the legendary heavy metal station that launched or ignited the careers of many bands in the United States including Judas Priest, Rush, AC/DC and inordinately large number of Canadian bands that could still draw a couple of thousand people here if they had anywhere to play between Toronto and Texas. We’d soon be making trips to the record store together and would pick up copies of Melody Maker and New Music Express (usually with my allowance money, as was the case with the long-suffering, fabled Sex Pistols tickets.) We’d read about the bands, almost in real time, as opposed to the American music press which was generally pretty slow on the uptake and reporting of all but the major acts. It was a study in bullshit detection and much more dramatic week to week thing than was offered by Rolling Stone and the much cooler Creem Magazine, and, I had the coolest professor in the world.

Contemporaneously, Barry had met the Saldana Brothers, Hector and David and soon became part of their band The Krayolas. Initially the band might have reminded you of a hispanic version of the band in ‘That Thing You Do’ (a movie which I admittedly have only seen snippets of) come along eight years too late. But Barry saw the raw talent and potential and wanted to be part of it. Barry really pushed the aspects of costuming and showmanship, and injected a little more of the R&B elements of rock’s roots into the equation. They would soon become a fairly unrivaled act in the region, occupying a space between the hard rock bands and the pseudo-hippie “cosmic cowboy” acts that dominated this area, something of a proto-new wave act without the pretense of trying to be weird. Their originals were melodic and catchy, they were well rehearsed, and, counter to the other styles of acts mentioned previously they knew how to entertain people with something other than a guitar solo.

The band would cycle through several iterations from the mid-70’s through the early 80’s with Hector, David and Barry as the core and John Harris joining the group for a while. They were a popular act on the frat party and nightclub circuit and were one of the first acts to have a video on MTV. Sadly, their recordings never succeeded at translating the fire of the live act and without any big label interest they hit a wall for the time being. Barry would marry his bandmates’ sister Anna and soon would have a young son Matthew on the way, essentially marking the end of his music career.

Happily, this was not the end of The Krayolas. Hector and David continue to record their best work ever and you can hear them often on Little Steven’s Garage on Sirius Satellite Radio. DJ Mighty Manfred gave a shout out to Barry on his show a couple weeks ago.

Barry set about getting a degree in geology from UTSA. After graduation he began working in the petroleum industry again (having worked roustabout summer jobs in the 60’s and later as a roughneck in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 70’s), and other than a brief foray into real estate in the 90’s he would work in the oil business for the rest of his life. As a mud engineer he worked around the world...many years in Nigeria, Israel, The North Sea, Alaska, West Texas. He really enjoyed the travel and getting to know the local people. In 2010 he began a Master of Petroleum Engineering degree at Texas A&M which he completed and had been working for a local firm since graduation. I went to go clear his personal effects out of his office last week and spent a while talking with his boss. He said “Barry told me that he had played music a little but I didn’t really know anything about that part of his life until his funeral.”

He was in a conservative industry in a conservative state and probably figured unfurling his old freak flag wasn’t going to land him any clients or impress the good old boys writing the checks. He did what he had to do and he was accomplished on an entirely different level. But he never once told me “quit wasting your time.” And while I could say a lot of things about materially generous things he has done for others, that speaks volumes about the generosity of his spirit and the love he showed me.

Barry had not forgotten about music or totally abandoned his aspirations just because he wasn’t playing in a band. He had grown especially fond of Hammond B3 players including favorites Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff. In the 70’s he had envisioned ‘Dan Callahan’s Surf Caravan’, sort of a cross-celebration of beach, surf and car culture to be staged in an expo-hall style setting and over the past decade and a half he had turned his attention to writing and staging musicals. One vaguely followed his experiences working in Africa - ‘East Africa’, while another was a rambling tale set in California’s Antelope Valley and New Orleans which was to feature new arrangements of the music of Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band (he had acquired the rights to use the material in a theatrical context). It is my hope to one day stage one of these works in some fashion as a tribute to him.

I could go on but the bottom line is that Barry is irreplaceable in my heart and memory. He was a good friend, brother, father and son. 

And, as I shared at his funeral, four decades on I finally found it in my heart to forgive him about The Sex Pistols tickets. I hope he and that girl he dated for two weeks enjoyed the show. I know I enjoyed watching his.

What's better than listening to The Beaumonts? Listening to the The Beaumonts live and in person. And if you can't have that, what's the next best thing? Putting The Beaumonts new live album 'This is Austin' on your turntable, closing your eyes and pretending that Troy Wayne Delco is in your living room or boudoir serenading you.

The album was recorded at Austin's famed White Horse and includes a dozen of their audience pleasing favorites including 'Money For Drugs', 'Boots' and 'Toby Keith'.

As we reported last issue sales of lighter fluid skyrocketed in Central Lubbock as word leaked out that The Beaumonts would be releasing a new live album titled 'This IS Austin' via Saustex Records.

The Texas Panhandle city's hate-hate relationship with their homegrown act, "America's Favorite Porno Honky-Tonk Band", was on full display and caused the cancellation of several barbecues and at least one church social that we're aware of. As luck would have it, it rained anyway, and the church social has been rescheduled for the fall and will be rolled into one big weekend long event that will feature a Beaumonts CD and LP bonfire as its main event, with one lucky raffle winner having the chance to ignite the pile of dead formats. Money from the raffle will be used to relocate Methodist refugees from nearby Amarillo.

Saustex is offering the "Standard of Purity" White Vinyl Edition in a limited run of only 97! (which includes a download card) for $20 plus shipping and handling. We had previously said that 150 would be available but a cell of self-styled Panhandle musical terrorists who refer to themselves as "The Kulture Kleaners" destroyed a box of the freshly pressed LP's before being apprehended by authorities.

Avoid future regret - order yours today!

Where Do You Want It?
When the Hickoids rolled up to Cafe NELA last August (2018) we weren’t expecting to make a live album, much less a double live LP, one of the key hallmarks of 70’s and 80’s rock’n’roll excess and bloat. We were simply looking forward to playing a fun show with good bands and seeing a lot of old friends at the unassuming venue in the Cypress Park area of northeast Los Angeles.

Indeed, our one real attempt at making a live recording in the late 80’s was a catastrophe. The performance was a drunken shambles. The recording itself was marginalized by inebriated and over zealous fans and band members knocking microphones out of position. And, the guy we paid a grand (on loan from Toxic Shock Records) who was running the mobile truck didn’t seem to get or care for us. It all amounted to a thousand dollars worth of un-mixable magnetic tape that wasn’t good for anything other than perhaps pulling some bizarre blackmail scheme on ourselves.

So, come October 2018 when friend Paul Escamilla alerted me to the posting of a recording of the show on a bit-torrent file-sharing site and said, “This is the Hickoids live album!," I was skeptical at best. We’ve had folks hand us dozens of decent recordings over the years but they all seemed to miss the mark in some way or another. Still, trusting Paul as someone who had a long history of seeing the band over the years, I was intrigued enough to download it and give a listen. While it has numerous imperfections, it does accurately capture our spirit and sound. I was sold and the fact that we could bootleg the bootleggers was especially appealing. It was as if we were getting the thousand dollars we wasted three decades ago back with interest.

This is seventy-five minutes of pure raunch'n'roll done Texas style strewn across four sides of violet vinyl. It features stunning cover art by Clay Stinnett and includes a download card. The limited colored vinyl LP is in an edition of 104 and they're going fast - get it now.

Austin Corn Lovers Fiesta 2019
With everything that's gone on since the spring the planning of this year's Austin Corn Lovers Fiesta is not what it should have been.
It was actually one of my new year's resolutions to spend more time with my extended (and rapidly shrinking) family so when a cousin announced impending nuptials the second weekend of October I decided that we'd go back to a one weekend format this year. I also had a couple of bigger headliners in mind but scheduling didn't pan out on those.
But we're gonna' have fun just like we do every year and it's never been about being bigger, better or money. I'll have time slots and more info next newsletter.
Make the scene.

The Sloths
Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders
HIckoids feat. Frontier Dan

We Are The Asteroid

Pocker FishRmen
Sweet Nuthin

The Beaumonts
Harvey McLaughlin
Black Eyed Vermillion
Eric Hisaw
hosted by Bill Wise
This will be a benefit for Austin Musician's Health Non-Profits

More soon.

Mutants Cover Art
Joey Killingsworth aka Joecephus has made two fine tribute records for Saustex 'Mutants of the Monster: A Tribute to Black Oak Arkansas' and 'Five Minutes to Live: A Tribute to Johnny Cash' (Dig the full line-ups on these puppies here.) Along with producer Dik LeDoux, the revolving cast of the George Jonestown Massacre and a stellar list of guests he has a new one on the way tentatively titled 'Heirs of the Dog', Nazareth's classic album 'Hair of The Dog' in its entirety - more on that 2020 release very soon. Meanwhile catch them in the Midwest and Mid-South.

Friday 9/20 - Jonesboro, AR - Creegens Downtown
Saturday 9/21 - Kansas City, MO - Westport Saloon
Sunday 9/22 - Kearney, NB - J Rod's Rock Shop
Tuesday 9/24 - Denver, CO - Oskar Blue's Black Buzzard
Wednesday 9/25 - Colorado City, CO - Triple Nickel Tavern
Thursday 9/26 - Lawrence, KS - The Bottleneck
Friday 9/27 - Wichita, KS - Norton's Brewing
Saturday 9/28 - Tulsa, OK - The Mercury Lounge

Javier Escovedo, founder and mainman of legendary San Diego/Chula Vista punk band The Zeros and later Austin's True Believers with brother Alejandro Escovedo teams up with Eric Hisaw for some Texas dates. Javier's Saustex release 'Kicked Out of Eden' is a classic slice of pop and garage inflected rock'n'roll while Hisaw's two Saustex releases 'The Crosses' and 'Nature of the Blues' stand as venerable works in the serious songwriter realm with Eric's tasty chops peppered throughout. Get out and see 'em!

Wednesday 9/18 - Austin, TX - Guerro's (SUN Radio live broadcast)
Thursday 9/19 - Austin, TX - Hole in the Wall
Friday 9/20 - Austin, TX - Carousel Lounge
Saturday 9/21 - San Antonio, TX - Bang Bang Bar
Sunday 9/22 - Austin, TX - Antone's Record Shop
Tuesday 9/24 - Austin, TX - The Saxon Pub
Wednesday 9/25 - Houston, TX - Under The Volcano

Eric Hisaw
Javier Escovedo Kicked Out Of Eden
What do you say 'bout a gal like Ed? Ed Hamell aka Hamell on Trial is, simply put, one of the hardest working dudes out there. New West Records has just reissued a 20th anniversary edition of his classic album 'Chooch Town' on the heels of last year's Saustex release 'Night Guy at The Apocalypse Profiles of a Rushing Midnight'. Harper's recently ran a pretty major feature on him which you can read here.
Get out and see the man, he earns and deserves your money.

Wednesday 9/18 - Tacoma, WA - Honey Alma Mater
Thursday 9/19 - Seattle, WA - Egan's Ballard Jam House
Friday 9/20 - Seattle, WA - house concert
Saturday 9/21 Tacoma, WA - house concert
(reach out to Ed on Facebook for details and possible invites on these shows)
Sunday 9/22 Bellingham, WA - Firefly
Wednesday 9/25 - Albany, NY - Low Beat
Wednesday 10/2 - Albany NY - Low Beat
Thursday 10/3 - Indiana, PA -HR Steinhouse
Friday 10/4 - Dayton, OH - Blind Bob's
Saturday 10/5 Park, IL - Lunar Villa
Sunday 10/6 - Indianapolis, IN - house concert
Thursday 10/10 Denton, TX - Dan's Silverleaf
Friday 10/11 - Fort Worth, TX - The Grackle
Saturday 10/12 - Austin, TX - Hole In The Wall
Sunday 10/13 - Austin, TX - Sam's Town Pint
Wednesday 10/16 Nashville, TN - The Cobra
Thursday 10/17 Chattanooga, TN - JJ's Bohemia
Friday 10/18 - Washington DC - Gypsy Sallys

I've covered Imperial Wax fairly thoroughly in recent editions of the newsletter. I'll just say it's an honor to work with them and to have released their debut LP 'Gastwerk Saboteurs'. They have upcoming dates in Holland, Germany, Ireland and The U.K. while also working on a second LP for U.K. label Louder Than War Records with the plan currently being to issue a North American version via Saustex. Next newsletter we'll have details on a lathe-cut limited edition single for the US with tracks from the forthcoming album. I've yet to see a live show but have no doubt they are brilliant.

“This is straight up infectious rock’n’roll filled with attitude and looking to get you to move” – Post Trash
“A modern take on post punk” – New Noise Magazine 
“Just crying out for you to dance, shout and be battered down by” – Fighting Bordom
“To put it more plainly, the band succeeds at every approach it attempts” – Big Take Over
“Imperial Wax is a band with fire in their bellies, not some end-of-career cash-in” – the I Newspaper 
“The idea of a band not looking for a fight but ready to end it if one should erupt ” – Uber Rock
“Relentless transmissions of anger, frustration and other volatile states. MES would approve ” – Mojo

Saturday 10/5 - Wakefield, UK -Balne Lane WMC (Love Music Hate Racism)
Saturday 10/19 - Rotterdam, NL - Left Of The Dial Festival
Wednesday 10/23 - Nijmegen, NL - Merleyn Nijmegen
Friday 10/25 - Berlin, DE - Kantine am Berghain
Saturday 10/26 Amsterdam, NL - London Calling Festival at The Paradiso
Wednesday 11/6 - Dublin, IR - The Sound House
Thursday 11/7 - Limerick, IR - Kasbah Social Club
Friday 11/8 - Galway, IR - Roisin Dubh
Saturday 11/9 - Belfast, UK - The Speakeasy
Thursday 11/21 - Southampton, UK - The Joiners
Friday 11/22 - Milton Keynes, UK - The Craufurd Arms
Monday 11/25 - Sheffield, UK - The Leadmill
Tuesday 11/26 - Stafford, UK - Redrum
Wednesday 11/27 - Leicester, UK - The Cookie
Thursday 11/28 - Edinburgh, UK - Sneaky Pete’s
Friday 11/29 - Stockton-on-Tees, UK - Georgian Theatre
Saturday 11/30 - Preston, UK - The Ferret

As always thanks for the love and support.
Keep rocking and I will too.
Jeff Smith
Saustex Records