If you haven’t seen the Texas Music Scene, you are missing out. In its 7th season, the show is hosted by the great Ray Benson of Asleep at the the Wheel and features some of the scene’s biggest names. You get a mix of young and old, from The Turnpike Troubadours to Guy Clark. There’s also Jack Ingram’s “Acoustic Motel” segment highlighting singer/songwriters and up and comers.
We talked a bit about the show when I interviewed Todd Purifoy, one of the show’s producers. They film about once a month and you can subscribe to their mailing list and get notified of upcoming shows. Although spots are limited, you can RSVP and attend the live performance segment of the show for free. So at the end of September I cleared my calendar, booked a cheap motel and took a field trip down to San Marcos to see a live taping.
A half hour episode is made up of a handful of segments, each spotlighting an artist or band. Ray Benson, a.k.a. “Little Buddy” (he’s 6′ 7″) , introduces each segment which includes an interview followed by a performance in front of a live audience.
That night they were filming segments featuring Jeremy Plato and The Departed, Shinyribs, and special guests Jason Boland and Mike McClure. I got into town about 5pm, dropped my stuff off at the hotel and then headed to The Marc in downtown San Marcos. The building looks to be an old movie theater converted to a cool music venue. It’s two stories with a balcony that horseshoes the stage and floor below.
The artist interviews are closed to the public and were filmed earlier that day. I got there about 6:15pm and hung out for a few minutes until the doors opened around 6:30. Once inside we were herded upstairs to the balcony bar to have a drink while the crew finished setting up and the artists did their sound checks. Soon after, all 100+ of us were called down to the floor and encouraged to get another round before the show started. The crowd filled in around the stage while the back two thirds of the floor was roped off so the production crew could do their thing. It’s really intimate because of the crowd size and I choose to be front and center; but, even if you decided to hang back you’d be four people deep tops.
The night started with Jason Boland, Cody Canada, and Mike McClure doing an acoustic song swap. They each played a couple of songs with Boland breaking out fan favorites “Somewhere Down in Texas” and “Comal County Blue.” Check out this sample of awesomeness:
*Video credit to Angela Sparks
Next up was Jeremy Plato and The Departed. Normally fronted by Cody Canada, that night The Departed was all about their new album “In Retrospect” which features Jeremy Plato at the helm singing some classic 60’s outlaw roots country. Back in October I spoke at length with Plato about the project so I encourage you to check out the interview. Here he is throwing down a little bit of Johnny Paycheck’s “A 11” plus Cody rockin’ a solo.
During filming the artists perform the same song multiple times so the production crew has multiple takes for the editing room. Most of the wide shots you see are taken from a camera attached to a large boom that extends over the crowd. In between takes the crew scurried around setting up cameras on stage to get the close ups.
Last but not least was Shinyribs. This was my first time seeing Kevin Russell and his band live and man was it a treat. Kevin is a character and he showed up dressed like a Mardi Gras gangster. He’s a showman – jovial, goofy and fun as hell to watch. That night they were breaking all new material slated for release in early 2017. The horns and saxophone add that New Orleans flavor to their sound so it’s not hard to get into a festive mood with Shinyribs. To supplement their groovy sound, Kevin has been known to bust out an awesome cover tune. That night he graced us with some Prince:
Here are a couple of other pics from that evening, special thanks to D’On Hensley for providing these images.
It will be interesting to see the final product once the show airs. I’m guessing they’ll spread the performances over several episodes even though it was all filmed in two hours.
Things wrapped around 9:00pm so I stopped for a nightcap at the legendary Cheatham Street Warehouse. They’re wasn’t much happening on a Tuesday night but you have to pay homage to Kent Finlay’s place with the number of people that have cut their teeth there.
Overall I had a great time so if you ever get a chance make the trip and check out a live show. Regardless, catch the latest episodes of The Texas Music Scene on local TV or better yet, binge watch what you can on the show’s YouTube channel.