While perusing my Twitter feed about a week ago I came across the above picture of Lubbock singer-songwriter Red Shahan and I freaked. The sign in the background belonged to my grandfather, Jack Starr, who passed away only days ago at 96. He and my grandmother, Lynn, opened Jack Starr Cut Rate Liquors back in 1952 after serving in World War II. At the time it was the first liquor store as you crossed the wet/dry line on E. Belknap in Fort Worth. They built a reputable business within that community and 30 years later, sold the store and retired in Haltom City. I was only 8 years old back in 1982 but had fond memories of that place and the new owners kept the name to maintain the loyalty of the regulars. The store is still open to this day and the neon sign has become a bit of a Fort Worth icon as it is beloved by neon aficionados and local historians. Here is a pic of me, my dad, and my brother (who still calls on the store) the day of Papa Jack’s funeral.
After the service the entire family had lunch next door at Sammy’s BBQ, another Fort Worth gem that my grandparents loved.
With Papa Jack’s passing still fresh on my mind, the picture resonated with me and I felt obliged to check Red’s media profiles where I quickly found a ringing endorsement from both Randy Rogers and Galleywinter. I’ve since learned that Randy has started his own artist management company, Big Blind Management, and Shahan is the first of several artists to join the firm. That’s some serious street cred, so I immediately went to spinning his debut album “Men & Coyotes.”
It’s a week later and I continue to be blown away. I can’t recall how many times I’ve mumbled positive expletives to myself with each passing track. The whole album oozes ambiance with it’s blend of country, slow blues, outlaw, and rock.
The title track “Men and Coyotes” sucks you in with its catchy chorus and Red howling at the moon like nobody I’ve heard. “303” and “Low Down Feeling” bring an edgy, outlaw attitude while “Black Veins Pt. 1” sounds like it belongs on a Sturgill Simpson album.
The blues tunes on this album so lumbering and dark they should be enjoyed from a hidden corner of a neon lit bar with stiff drink in hand. “Drag You Down” and “Black & Blue” are fabulous with the latter being about a woman who turns the tables to free herself from an abusive relationship.
Contrasting those haunting blues sounds are the beautiful acoustic tunes “Long Way to Fall” and “Boom Town.” While many of the record’s themes are familiar (e.g. “Never Turn Around” about trying to escape a small town you’ve come to loathe), Shahan’s sound is fresh and very polished for a debut album. It’s clear why Randy Rogers is taking this guy under his wing and I hope to catch a show when he swings through DFW. Go visit http://www.redshahan.com and pick up a copy of “Men & Coyotes”, it’s a personal favorite thus far in 2016.