On New Year’s Eve Day, Leroy kicked off the Northeast tour here in NYC. Rico, his lap steel player since the early days, was not on this jaunt so I got to jump in the rental car and see what it’s like to be on the road for four shows. He’s known by many names and projects—Hellbound Glory, The eXcavators, Leon Virgil Bowers, and Leroy Virgil. I’ve created a Smart Playlist in iTunes to encompass all his work. Having listened to little else since Thanksgiving, I was ready to kick off 2016 with the chance to see things from his side of the stage.
A few months ago I bought my first flatscreen tv. I cancelled the cable subscription, upped the internet juice, and switched to Roku. I cannot recommend it enough. There are bazillions of free channels, and one that I pay a small monthly fee for: The Roots Channel which is the epicenter of music performances, documentaries, lessons, and culture. For pop music videos, there is a great channel called Vevo. I’m catching up on what people are into and it’s fantastic. I am Taylor Swift’s newest fan. Her videos are gorgeous; her music is fun. There are so many great videos with dancing in them, like the new Sia, and it makes me want more dance in our genre.
Director Todd Tue must have been thinking the same thing. His love of color and contrast and dance present this song as it feels, and it’s beautiful. Music, art, dancing, and children are a recipe for my nomination for Video of the Year 2015 (and it’s only January!).
And the festival! It’s another family reunion with great music. It’s fan heaven, I love the feeling of star struck; watching Calamity Cubes walk by will always give me a shiver. The Godfather of the fest this year is Gary Lindsey. The fact that I was surrounded by people who also revere Gary Lindsey is just another cool part of this. If you’re a Tom Waits fan, ask him to tell you the story of how they met. It’s fantastic.
In the best beginning of a year I could hope for, I got to watch the artists’ process for a week. Hellbound Glory played a bunch of shows booked near here, and I was happy to host them. I attended two performances and heard Leroy singing this and that off and on. Heaven.
This might be the most disturbing painting I’ve ever seen and I can’t take my eyes off it. From what I gather, Rothko first painted the red series. It was all the passion and fury that red evokes. Before taking his own life, was the black; the eternal void. This was painted after the red, before the black.
In tune with the weather, we saw a super storm of fantastic music in 2013. We’re going to be listening to these albums for years to come. I can’t bring myself to put these in order because they mean so many things; they’re not meant to be ranked.
In the late 90s, I was fortunate enough to work with His Excellency Carlos dos Santos, Mozambique’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. At a gathering at his residence, I listened to men talk about a soccer game they went to, where Mandela wore the team shirt and how it changed everything.
My first listen of There Will be Nights When I’m Lonely, I put on the good headphones, turned up the volume, and closed my eyes. Seconds into Hurricane I was in 110%. That’s his power. He’s our Shaman.
Konrad Wert is a teacher/father/singer/songwriter from Austin, Texas. His achievements include Teacher of the Year, an Independent Music Award for his songwriting, and devotion of fans all over. He is a music aficionado. It’s the sound, the rhythm, the texture. He’s aware of all that surrounds him and weaves it into the human condition.
Another stellar Muddy Roots experience to recover from. Though I missed many who could not make it, the joy and magic is still there. Things could not have happened better. I spent the experience with close friends whom I’ve known for decades and ones I only see here. The serendipitous events of the weekend made it another amazing ride.