Friday, January 29, 2010

Ray Wylie Hubbard 1/10

An Enlightening Conversation with Ray Wylie Hubbard

Story by Sean Claes
Photo by Jay West
What can I say about Ray Wylie Hubbard that hasn’t been said before? He is a brilliant songwriter, a humble man, a great friend to music, a legend, and with the release of A. Enlightenment, B. Endarkenment, (Hint There is No C) he’s showing that he’s not even close to resting on his laurels as a writer and performer.

I had a chance to talk with Hubbard over lunch in mid-December. I found him honest, forthcoming, and really, really funny. We talked about the new album, becoming sober in his 40s, the history behind “Redneck Mother”, and his thoughts about Austin and music in general.

Sean Claes: Care to explain the title of the CD?
Ray Wylie Hubbard: The first line that came to me was a line that my Grandmother would say to me when I was a kid “Heaven pours down rain and lightening bolts.” Rain falls on the just and unjust. So that line, I liked it.

Then I remembered the word “Endarkenment” from somewhere, you know reading about the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment. I just liked that word and nobody uses it, it’s just so weird. I enjoy words and how they work. So it just came down to A. Enlightenment, B. Endarkenment and you’ve got to make a choice…there is no C.

I’m at that age now where I’m getting old so I can do what I want. Judy (Hubbard, Ray’s wife) and Tracy Thomas (publicist with Thirty Tigers) told me “That’s a horrible title. It’s too long. It’s too weird.” I kept thinking of other titles for the album and none of the other songs worked. “Enlightenment” per se just didn’t sound right. I had to go with this because it’s what the album is. You’re either mindful or you’re not.
It's also mighty deep and personal in places.
It kind of says where I am right now. I prefer the term “spiritual awakening” to “religious conversion”. I’m kind of in that area where I’m trying to live on spiritual principals without a lot of dogma in my life.

You’ve got several guitarists playing on the record.
Each song kind of dictated what kind of guitar player it needed. It was one of those things where Gurf (Morlix) was perfect for “Drunken Poets” and “Pots and Pans” but a song like “Down Home Country Blues” was perfect for Derek O’Brian. Then Billy Cassis was just perfect for “Day of the Dead” because he had that Soulhat kind of vibe. A couple of songs my son Lucas played on.

It was really that one guitar player wouldn’t work for all of them because they were such weird strange songs.

That was one of the things I noticed on the CD. All of the songs go well together but they each have a very different feel and vibe. It’s just really hard to explain how some of it came together. Some of them I wrote with a direct purpose. I had the title and the idea. I worked on this movie (Last Rites of Ransom Pride) for a while and I’d written some songs that I thought were going to be in the movie.

There’s a scene in the movie where there’s a Pentecostal burial so I wrote “Four Horsemen” to kind of have that specific feel. I guess I’ve been doing it long enough that I can take an idea or word and write a song around it.

You’ve got that ability to tackle something very serious but be a little tongue in cheek about it. Yeah, the writers I like...people like Flannery O'Connor. She was able to take these rural people then all of a sudden they’d say something really profound and they may not even know what they’re saying. Or Tennessee WilliamsCat On A Hot Tin Roof guy, the guy with the torn t-shirt (Brick). Saying something that’s important, but putting that little bit of humor to it. Where you’re not pointing the finger you’re just saying, “Hey here’s this thought I need to get out”.

Some of the tracks on the album are really deep and meaningful, then you have songs like “Pots and Pans” that is amazingly simple…unless I’m missing a hidden meaning.No. There is no deeper meaning on that. It’s just pots and pans. It’s one of these things…getting back to O’Connor or Williams or Mark Twain…it’s this ability to write a song to put on that jacket and wear that personality.

“Country Blues” has my personal favorite line in it, comparing Muddy Waters to William Blake. I just love those down home country blues. I believe that Waters is as important as Blake. All of that stuff is important.

People might not know what black diamond strings on a J-45 is but it’s a good rhyme and it works. People are pretty aware what a Fender amp is. So to be able to kind of be this guy. It leads into “Pots and Pans” and the polecat southern guy with the torn t-shirt sitting on his back porch.

Then there’s “Loose,” which is a very different track on the album. We had the album done. It was kind of a struggle with timing since Gurf was gone; (co-producer) George (Reiff) went out with Jakob Dylan so that took a while. We kind of had to work when we could. So, we had the record done and George said, “You know what this album is missing?” I said, “It’s not missing anything George…don’t tell me anything.”

It was kind of like the scene of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where they’re sitting there at the end and Butch goes “Here’s where we’re going next.”
And Sundance says, “I don’t want to know don’t tell me”
“Australia. I knew you’d want to know.”

So George said “Do you know what it’s missing?”
I said, “It’s not missing anything. It’s done.”
“It’s missing something.”
“I don’t want to hear anything. It’s done.”
So he sat there and said, “rock anthem.”
“I knew you’d want to know. It’s missing a rock anthem. All your other CDs have one. “Live and Die Rock and Roll.” “Rock and Roll’s A Vicious Game”
“Oh man.”

It’s a really strange album the more I think about it. Thank you for bringing that up.

Tell me about “Tornado Ripe.”
We lived in Sulfur, Oklahoma. So my earliest memories is where I’d be asleep and all of a sudden my dad would pick me up and we’d be running outside to the storm cellar.

I think it was in 1954 or 1956, I can’t remember for sure, a tornado just wiped out the whole town. There was a big stone bank and all that was left was the marble floor. “Tornado Ripe” was a song that really happened to me. “The clouds are growing a tail.” I remember my granddad saying that from growing up.

How did you train yourself to write such interesting and different songs?I’ve got to say, I got clean and sober back when I was 41. That helped a lot. When I wasn’t falling into the drums my shows went better (laughs). I’d had all the fun I could stand and I’d kind of dishonored myself as a songwriter. I’d written some songs but I had never made that commitment. It was all beer and electricity and traveling around and having fun and writing songs. Which, when you’re young, that’s OK. But I realized if I wanted to be a songwriter I needed to give it the time and effort it deserves.

How did you go about doing that?
I went back and kind of read and took to heart what I was supposed to read in college. I read
James Allen As a Man Thinketh and it talked about fear and doubt. Those are the things that limit us. You remove your fear and doubt and it’s unlimited what you can do. The thing about fear is…I’ll paraphrase…it is like dragons guarding the precious treasure. If you overcome the fear there’s treasure on the other side.

Somewhere along the way I became aware that the writers I liked were just fearless in what they wrote. The early (Bob) Dylan stuff, and guys like Muddy Waters and Lightnin' Hopkins just creating this type of music. They’d just step up and do it. They were getting past being human and they were just letting their soul play the music.
Writing songs wasn’t going to be just something I did. It was who I was going to be. I was going to be a songwriter. In order to do that I had to learn about songwriting, learn about guitar and learn about the craft.

So, all the stuff I was reading, my songs kind of absorbed that idea. I probably read more in my 40s than I did in my first 40 years put together.

Well, looking at your life now, you’ve done very well for yourself in the past two decades. I’m very aware that I have a good life today. There have been some curves, as they say “life on life’s terms” but I’m very aware and grateful. The days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations I have really good days. I’m really grateful where I am. But if I start expecting things then I can get off track a little bit.

That’s a pretty good rule of thumb for life…keep your gratitude above your expectations.
I’m very aware where I am. I kind of look back and…meeting Judy and falling in love and getting married and writing songs and recording them, my son Lucas being born and moving to Wimberley. Things are really good. But then my old thinking pattern will come up and go…“Oh man…they’re going to go away.”

You do have a lot of religious or spiritual themes to your music. Do you subscribe to any particular religion?
No…as I mentioned. The spiritual awakening is important to me. It helped me in my sobriety.

I live on certain spiritual principles. Being honest. Not holding onto resentments. Showing courage when I need to…and there’s one other one but I forgot it (laughs). There are four spiritual principals I live by, but I only do three of them (laughs).

Something I’ve always wondered…how’d you end up writing “Snake Farm?”
Inspiration can come from anywhere. In the last 30 years I’ve probably driven past the Snake Farm about 10,000 times.

One day I was driving back and I drove right by it and looked at it and went “God, it just sounds nasty.”

Then I thought, “Well, it is. It’s a Snake Farm. It’s not a hospital. It’s a reptile house. Eww….and it’s a Snake Farm...Ewww.” So I pretty much had the chorus.

I kept on driving and I thought, “What do you do with this?” So I thought…”I’ll make it a love song. Make it about a guy who’s in love with a woman who works at the Snake Farm. What kind of woman would work at the Snake Farm? She’d have a tattoo. She’d drink Malt Liquor. She’d look like Tempest Storm (burlesque star from the 1950’s).”

You see… my dad used to have an autographed picture of Tempest Storm he’d gotten in Chicago or somewhere in the 50s. My mom hated it but it was his prized possession. So that name just popped in my head.

Anyway, probably my favorite line in any song I’ve written is (from “Snake Farm”)

“I asked Ramona how come she works there /
She says it's got it's charms /
Nothing to do in the winter /
Now and then some kid gets bit at the snake farm.”

The idea is…in the winter the snakes hibernate so there’s nothing to do. It’s just my own little personal deal. What a great job. Nothing to do!

You’ve kind of become this guru to a bunch of up and coming musicians. How do you feel about that?
Slaid Cleaves was stuck on writing this song and he called me. He came down and we spent the afternoon and finished this song. I showed him some different way to make the chords or something like that. I really just kind of took what he already had and kind of put it together. So he came back and did some interview somewhere and they asked him about the song and he called me the “Wylie Lama.”

Then someone else came up and we wrote a song. Then I asked Hayes Carll if he wanted to come out and open some shows so we did a bunch of tours. Kind of did the same thing with Mary Gauthier. Met her up in Boston and she was working at a restaurant. We did some tours.

Went out to the Steamboat Music Fest. I started writing with these guys. Wrote with Wade Bowen, Bleu Edmonson, Cody Canada, and Seth James. I just started hanging out with these guys and kind of give them a little direction when they’re writing. Some people they should listen to, some folks they weren’t aware of. I told Cody Canada, “You’re from Oklahoma. READ the Grapes of Wrath, don’t just see the movie.”

But to answer your question I really like hanging around with these guys. It does make me feel good when they’ll call me up and ask me a question and I can tell ‘em “Well, here’s some advice I didn’t use (laughs). This is where I went wrong. This is what I did, so don’t do this.” So…the benefit of hindsight.

How old were you when you wrote “Redneck Mother”
21 or 22 somewhere out there in New Mexico. Wayne Kidd and Rick Fowler right out of high school went up to Red River and we’d continue going there over the summer and we opened up a little club there called The Outpost.

What’s the story behind the song?
Which story do you want? It’s changed over the years.

We’d get together and have these, I believe the term was hootenanny back then, but they were just jam sessions. There was this bar up there called D Bar D Bar. This was very “Okie From Muskogee” love it or leave it place.

In Red River there was one safe hippie bar called the Alpine Bar. That’s the place where you could go in and it was for the ski bum, college guy kind of deal. We were having this jam session. We were out of beer and it was cold. And I was going to drive down to The Alpine a mile away to get the beer, but right there was the D Bar D…and I said, “How bad could it really be.” The truth of the matter is I walked in there and there was about 4 or 5 guys and one old woman…just pretty much lifers. They’d been there since 7 that morning.

I went in there and I said, “I’d like to get a case of beer.” And the guy just looked at me. So I said “I’d like to get a case of beer.” And this ‘ol woman just said something. I said something and then the guy just went and got the case of beer.

Her son was just sitting next to her. She was probably fifty-sixty something and he was…well…34 I guess. And they were talking about me like I wasn’t there.

So I went back to the jam session. And I said, “Whew…I went over there.” B.W. Stevenson was there that night and so was Bob Livingston. So I just got my guitar and said, “He was born in Oklahoma…” Everyone kind of laughed and we sang the chorus and then we all kind of forgot about it.

So we came back the next week and I said “Somebody else go get the beer. I’m not going over there again. They said, “Do that thing again.” I remembered the first verse and the chorus and that was just about it.

Didn’t really think much about it. Then at some point I was back home in Oak Cliff and Livingston called me up and said, “Ray, we’re down here in Luckenbach with Jerry Jeff (Walker) and we want to record that redneck mother song.” I went “What redneck mother song?”

“The Redneck Mother song”. So he said, “I’ve got the first verse and the chorus and then I just spell “Mother.” We need the second verse.

So I sat there on the phone and said, “Well, he sure does like Budweiser beer. And he chases it down with Wild Turkey liquor. He’s got a “Goat Ropers Need Love Too” bumper sticker.

So they recorded it. The story I heard was Jerry Jeff was playing at the Broken Spoke and had broke a string and asked Bob to sing a song. So he sang “Redneck Mother”. They went “what the hell was that…sing it again.” So he sang it again and the crowd loved it.

Anyway, they were in Luckenbach and Bob introduced it as “This is a song by Ray Wylie Hubbard.”

I’d always been Ray Hubbard up until then. But Bob knew my middle name…for some reason they left that on there.

And then things got really weird. I’d been a folk singer and an acoustic guy and that whole progressive country thing happened in Austin… outlaw country. So I got a band together, a folk rock band and so Jerry Jeff came out with that.

At the time it was kind of awkward because we’d go to these places and they’d go “play Redneck Mother!” and I’d say, “Well, I’ve got this other song… a love song. They’d say, “Play “Redneck Mother.” And I’d say, “I’ve got this song about a car.” They’d say, “Play Redneck Mother!” So I’d play it and when I was done they’d say, “Play Redneck Mother again!”


Ever get tired of playing it?

It’s good to have in the arsenal. Now I’ve got other songs. I’ve got “Snake Farm” and “Rock and Roll” and I’ve got a bunch of songs that are good and interesting. Not one of them dominates the other.

I’ve got “Redneck Mother” if I need it. But if I’m playing acoustic like at the Cactus Cafe I may not do it. It’s not expected of me I guess. I don’t have to do it. It’s not just the one jacket I own. But I’ll tell you, there have been times that I’m really grateful I have it. Just to have it.

You were in the thick of things during Austin’s Outlaw Country movement in the 70s.
The thing about Austin…that whole progressive country outlaw music thing…it really was progressive. The incredible thing about it was all of those people were writing great songs. Songs that today are classics. “
Five O’clock in the Texas Morning” and “My Maria” …all of those Willie Nelson songs… Jerry Jeff with “Driftin’ Way of Life.”

It was such a magical place for everybody, but especially the musicians. The audience was almost another member of the band. The Austin vibe. There was such knowledge and awareness. There still is today.

How would you describe today’s Austin songwriters?
It’s more lifestyle over livelihood as a musician. It’s more about who you are, not just what you do. You are a musician, a songwriter.

It’s a lifestyle, it’s a vibe. It’s not just about writing a song and getting it cut by somebody and making some money. It’s about “I’m writing a song about…since James McMurtry and Patty Griffin and Slaid Cleaves are here I better write some pretty good songs.
The thing about having such quality writers and musicians in Austin you can’t slough it off. You have to be pretty damn good.

A. Enlightenment, B. Endarkenment, (Hint There is No C) was released January 12, 2010 on Hubbard’s label, Bordello Records. Find out more about him at

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

1/30 @ Ruta Maya - Reggae 4 Haiti Benefit (2-8p)

The band Root Dimensions Reggae has organized a "Reggae 4 Haiti Benefit" at Ruta Maya International Headquarters on Saturday afternoon, January 30th from 2 PM to 8 PM.

This event will feature live Reggae music and a silent auction. Ruta Maya is an all ages venue located in south Austin in the Penn Field Business Park and the event will be family friendly.

The suggested donation at the door to attend the event will be $5. All funds raised including those from the silent auction are going to the American Red Cross International Response Fund for Haiti.

The line up includes:

7:15pm - 7:45pm Barrington Spence w/DJ Remedios (Houston)
6:00pm - 6:45pm Irie Jane
4:45pm - 5:30pm Root Dimension
4:15pm - 4:45pm Cuban Jamaican Freedom Drumming
3:30pm - 4:15pm Herby Augustine and Frenezi (from Haiti)
2:15pm - 3:00pm Crucial Mystic
2:00pm - 8:00pm DJ Jah Ray (spinning beginning, end & in-between sets)

Donations for the silent auction will be accepted up until the start of the event.

Ruta Maya International Headquarters
3601 South Congress Avenue, Suite D-200
Austin, Texas 78704
(512) 707-9637

Monday, January 25, 2010

Austin Music - The Pons

THE PONS…Making Music That Matters

by Marsha Mann

A few months ago, I went to INsite Night at The Parish to check out a couple of bands I’d heard good things about–Your Kisses Cause Crashes (their Dear in Headlights CD was a local favorite), and Whitman (who my editor had been raving about for weeks). Sandwiched between the two was a group called The Pons, a name I found intriguing as it refers to the connective tissue of the brain that regulates breathing and heart rhythms, as well as arousal. Seemed like a good name for a rock band.

When The Pons took the stage at 11pm, I was pleased to see they were a simple trio: a lean, handsome drummer, a petite female bass player, and a charismatic lead singer/guitarist, who I thought might be Indian (he’s actually Sicilian). As they launched into their opening song “Giant”, an explosive anthem about the overwhelming nature of love (with a syncopated attack reminiscent of The Pixies), my spine straightened and my heart began pounding…The Pons had taken over. This was followed by “Wherever You Are”, a poignant anti-war ballad, with a slow, processional rhythm and soaring melancholy harmonies that gave me goose bumps…the same ones I get listening to the art band, Low. I was witnessing a band performing with every fiber of their being.

At one point during the show, some annoying audience members were talking over the music. Without hesitating, the lead singer commanded them to “show a little respect”. They did, along with everyone else in the room. I felt like cheering but didn’t want to break the spell. With the audience now in the palm of their hands, The Pons introduced a new song called “Impossible Love”–a big, beautiful melody with a clever hook–as good as anything by The Shins and done with half as many players.

I left the show with a copy of their CD, In the Belly of a Giant (which I’ve now listened to dozens of times and have been hearing in my sleep), and made plans to see their next gig, just to check my first impression. They played at The Mohawk in early December on one of the coldest nights of the year, following the righteously dissonant Monahans. Once again, The Pons delivered. The following Tuesday, I interviewed the group in their East Austin rehearsal space. Andrew Stearns took the photos the night of the show.

Marsha Mann: Let’s start with some history. I understand you used to call yourselves LaLaLand. Why the name change?
Tommy Mazzi (singer/guitarist): Well I guess it was just too ‘pop’ sounding. We didn’t want to get labeled a ‘power pop band’...I think we’re so much more. The door over there is covered with all the names we were considering (in 2008), and The Pons finally won out.

MM: How did you all meet?
Ruby Painter (bass/back-up vocals): Tommy and I were in another band with my cousins (from 1999-2002), and eventually realized we just wanted to work with each other. We were a duo for a couple of years and used pre-recorded drum tracks and lots of other instruments, along with the bass and guitar. We had a pretty big sound when we played live.

MM: When did Steve join you?
Tommy: We had started recording Ready? Ready! in 2004 (as LaLaLand) and the owner of Low Light (recording studio) recommended him.

MM: What was your background, Steve?
Steve Sanders (drums/back-up vocals): I had been playing for several years in a local band called Antman B, and then later in a group that actually got signed to a major label, Wan Santo Condo…but I wasn’t really into either of them. When I did the studio work with Tommy and Ruby, I finally felt a real connection…a project I could totally commit to.
Tommy: After that, he started playing some gigs with us and by the time we recorded the Mumbo Jumbo EP (in 2006), he was a full member.

MM: You seem like a ‘real band’, which is rare these days. Is there an acknowledged leader or do you all contribute equally?
Ruby: Well Tommy writes all the lyrics and he is the lead singer…I never sang at all until a few years ago, but I play trumpet, so I guess I approach singing in the same way.
Tommy: Our creative process is becoming more and more collaborative as time goes on. We’ll start out jamming and when we hit on an interesting melody, we begin to structure a verse, chorus, and bridge. Once the structure is there, I look through all the scraps of paper I’ve written lyrics or ideas on over the years and see if I can find something that matches the feel of the song. I think a song should sound and feel like what it’s about.

The Pons

MM: Especially since the audience only gets about 25% of the lyrics (in a live show) anyway! Who have you each been influenced by?

Ruby: I guess I’d have to say my trumpet and French horn-–they were my first instruments. I’ve been playing bass for 8 years now. I like Paul McCartney’s melodic approach and I also listen to The Shins.
Steve: I started playing pots & pans when I was about 10. I guess the first drummers I really paid attention to were power drummers like John Bonham and Keith Moon, but I don’t play anything like them. I like Stewart Copeland a lot (who is more of a colorist).
Tommy: My biggest influence as a kid was the car radio…listening to it for hours on end while my parents drove between San Antonio and Houston.

MM: Is that where you’re from?
Tommy: Yeah.

MM: What about you two?
Ruby: Oh, I’m from Austin…born and raised. I lived in San Francisco a few years back when I was studying sound engineering, but I like Austin much better…it’s not too big, not too small, the people are friendly and they look you in the eye.
Steve: Yeah, I’m from Austin too. I tried L.A. for a while but I missed my friends and family…they’re all here.

MM: Getting back to your influences, Tommy, what about guitarists?
Tommy: Well, probably Johnny Marr (of The Smiths). And I really appreciate Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth). I like experimenting with guitar techniques instead of just using effects pedals. When it comes to writers, definitely John Lennon, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan…they’re so honest. I also recently discovered David Gedge of The Wedding Present, who’s done some great work over the last 20 years, but slipped under my radar.

MM: Some of your lyrics are quite political.
Tommy: I can’t tolerate injustice, so sometimes I write about it.

MM: Do you have an overall vision for the band? What do you want the audience to take away with them?
Tommy: I want people to see a true band…three people who actually like each other and really care about what they’re doing and saying…it’s important to us.

MM: What’s your idea of a perfect show?
Ruby: You know that scene in the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? The guys have a hit on the radio, but they’ve never played in front of a live audience. So, when they get on stage and start singing and hordes of fans appear out of nowhere, it blows them away. That would be perfect.

MM: Your last album was very well produced…it has a great flow to it. Can you tell me about your producer, Erik Wofford?
Tommy: Yeah, Erik’s great. We met him at the Scoot Inn when he was doing live sound for The Crystal Skulls. He has his own studio here on the east side–Cacophony. He’s done records with Vox Trot, The Black Angels, and What Made Milwaukee Famous. There’s a lot of trust in our relationship…we feel really comfortable with him.

MM: What’s the next step for the band?
Tommy: Finishing the new album we’ve been working on. It’s going to be called The Blackest Shine. There’s also a fellow in New York who’s going to be using our music for an animated series based on the ‘giant’ character from our album cover. And we’re planning another tour of the Midwest in the spring, up to Chicago and back.

MM: With the music industry in such a strange state (due to the internet), are you even interested in being on a major label?
Tommy: Yeah, I am. In fact we’ve had an offer that’s supposed to happen in January or February. I can’t talk about it too much, but I promise to call you as soon as we know for sure.

MM: O.K…just for fun, what’s your favorite color, sound, and food?
Ruby: This is like those questions they ask on Inside the Actor’s Studio. Baby blue, laughter, and tacos.
Tommy: Midnight blue, the long fade out on a great song (it makes me feel like I’m floating), and pizza…you know I’m actually related to the Mandola Family, but I’ve never had one of their pizzas.
Steve: All shades of blue, silence (since I do live sound for the Alamo Drafthouse and play the drums, I don’t get much of it). And I always say if I had to eat one kind of food for the rest of my life, it would be Indian.

The Pons will be performing live on January 9th at Stubb’s (11pm), with Leatherbag and Danny Malone– part of this year’s FREE WEEK on Red River.

(B&W Photos by Andrew Stearns. Color photo and video by Sean Claes)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Upcycled Art - The Art of Christine Terrell

Upcycled Art
The Art of Christine Terrell

By JoAnna Ordóñez

These days we are all looking for ways to conserve, reuse and recycle objects into useful and practical things we can all use. One Austin artist is doing just that by re-working metal tins and all their fun designs into wearable art.

Christine Terrell of Adaptive Reuse calls herself a “reckless recycler” but you will find some fun and exciting designs in her line of upcycled jewels.
Terrell, grew up on the east coast and while in college found art and began to study it.

She choose to pursue art as a career and received a degree in Graphic Design from the Rochester Institute of Technology. For many years, she worked as a designer and then decided to move to Austin. Terrell had dabbled in different areas of art from accessories to welding and finally found her niche. Terrell added, “Metalwork had been calling me since I left off welding classes when I was pregnant. My house provides no place to safely use explosive fuels and high temperature flames, so I decided to work with only ‘cold’ processes.

As luck would have it, those techniques work great with non-traditional materials.” She then followed her graphic design instincts and moved into the area of reusing metals to create one of a kind jewelry pieces that incorporated images, color and shapes in her designs.
“The older I get the more making is like breathing. It is my passion. When people talk about relaxing they are usually envisioning laying on a beach or hiking a mountain. Though I can enjoy both of those activities, when I think about truly relaxing, I think about standing at my workbench uninterrupted for an entire day” added Terrell.

Terrell has a great knack for finding objects that will make great pieces including rings, bracelets, necklaces and more. “I am a thrift store connoisseur. I’m especially drawn to materials that are decidedly not precious–things that some might even consider to be trash.” Most of her pieces take sections of old decorative tins and containers that are then cut to pieces and reworked to create one of a kind pieces of wearable upcycled art with an almost endless variety of raw materials with bright and exciting graphics, you never know what you’ll find in her pieces, from Lone Star to Mary Jane Candies and more.

Her most interesting pieces come in the form of what she calls her “basin forms”. Each tin is pre-selected and then circles are punched in strategic places and then formed into shallow bowls with the printed side showing. Terrell’s charm bracelets are wonderful and have great movement with well over 20 basin charms attached for a super fun and sassy effect.

You can find Christine’s work at shops around the Austin area including Creatures Boutique (1206 S. Congress), Women and Their Work Gift Shop (1710 Lavaca), and the Austin Museum of Art Gift Shop (823 Congress) and online at and

JoAnna Ordóñez is a local glass artisan and owner of Vidriosa Glassworks. Her work can be found at The Lucky Lizard (412 East 6th Street), Things She Adores (2306 E. Cesar Chavez, Suite 101), The Oasis Gift Shop (Comanche Lane) and Local Art Shows. Visit her online at

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

INsite Austin January 2010 Food Feature

The Cedar Door Spreads Its Wings

by Marsha Mann

It was 2001, nearing the end of a long day and tedious commute from San Antonio back to Austin, when Steve Potts got the urge to stop in at his favorite watering hole, The Cedar Door. There was just one problem - it had been closed down and physically moved (for the 3rd time in 26 years!) to a trailer park off Barton Springs Road, where the small stilted building stood languishing. There’d been rumors of it reopening, so on a whim Potts dialed the number from his car, hoping to get a confirmation.

Surprisingly, a caretaker answered and after some pleasantries, informed Potts of owner Gus Koerner’s recent decision to sell….was he interested? In a flash of inspiration (which he now calls ‘naïveté’), Potts realized he was. Tired of working in a cubicle for a telecommunications company, he had often talked with his wife, Heather, about owning their own business– something small and manageable, like a bar. The Cedar Door, with its colorful history and local cache, seemed like an ideal opportunity. All they needed was a piece of property in a great location.

After months of searching and multiple disappointments, the couple finally found an open lot at 2nd & Brazos. Aided by a well-connected real estate agent, Kurt Vandermueller, Steve and Heather were eventually able to negotiate a three-year lease on the land…just enough time to succeed or fail with their new endeavor. In 2001, The Cedar Door was once again loaded onto a truck and relocated for the 4th and final time–by the very same movers who had done it previously! They wisely kept the bar elevated, so it would have a familiar feel, and added a large deck off the west side. The beloved bar reopened in 2002 to rave reviews from patrons and press alike.

Though they wanted to expand the food menu, the tiny kitchen made it impossible to do more than simple pub grub, so they added a second patio on the east side in an attempt to make fuller use of the property. It seemed to work for several years until Austin’s harsh weather began to take its toll. The couple realized they needed more indoor space and a bigger kitchen as well.

Two years ago (after renegotiating to a 30-year lease), Steve and Heather began meeting with famed local designer, Michael Hsu (Uchi, Fino, Olivia, Bess, and The Belmont), to flesh out plans for an interior expansion. The resulting addition utilizes panels of reclaimed wood to create a seamless transition from the original bar space into the impressive yet still welcoming ‘new’ room. With its sleek bar and elaborate wood-beamed ceiling, shaped like giant winged birds high overhead, the space feels as if it could take off and fly.

Once known almost exclusively for their deceptively smooth Mexican Martinis (the kind that sneak up and clobber you), The Cedar Door’s brand new kitchen has led to a brand new menu. Created by Potts, long-time manager, Stephanie Hughes, and the newest member of their family, second-generation chef, Justin Morgan, they’ve dubbed it Southwestern Grill–a combination of Texan, Mexican (not to be confused with Tex-Mex), and Southwestern cuisine: highly flavorful and supremely satisfying.

For instance, I’ve never been a fan of Tortilla Soup when I can have a delicious bowl of hearty Pollo de Caldo at any number of restaurants, instead. But Justin’s version, with a transparent cilantro-infused chicken broth, chunks of tender white-meat & roasted vegetables, additional roasted poblano & jalapeno peppers, all topped with fresh avocado and the most thinly sliced, super crisp tortilla strips ever, has won me over. His soup of the day was a Creamy Squash, made with roasted chipotle peppers (giving it a distinctly smoky flavor), and real whipped cream…all I can say is OMG! Both soups are $3.95 a cup/$5.95 a bowl.

They offer several exceptional appetizers, such as the fresh and smoky Chipotle Shrimp Cocktail ($8.95); the lusciously gooey 512 Sweet & Spicy Habanero Wings (served at the bar with a shot of 512 IPA); and some mouth-watering, Beer Battered Onion Rings ($5.49).

For the main course, I highly recommend the Southwestern Chicken Salad ($8.49), or the Green Chile Chicken Tacos ($7.99). Both are made with grilled chicken breast marinated in a zesty lime & cilantro vinaigrette, along with one of my favorite touches, caramelized onions. Also delicious are the Beef Fajita Tacos ($8.99)–strips of marinated skirt steak, grilled bell peppers & onions (also an option for the Southwestern Salad); and the Grilled Fish Tacos ($7.99), that use true cod (instead of tilapia) and are topped with a unique cabbage & jicama slaw. Even the black beans and rice, served with most of the entrees, are unusually flavorful.

Both bars still turn out The Cedar Doors’ signature Mexican Martini, currently made with 80-proof Paula’s Texas Orange and Cazadores Blanco Tequila. Their superior mix sells for $5.99 and will soon be available in New York City. The stellar bar staff–Russ, Jesse, and Christine, also serve up a wide variety of other specialty drinks, made with local spirits like Tito’s Vodka, ‘Z’ Tequila, and Treaty Oak Rum. You’ll also find Shiner, Real Ale, and 512 on tap, alongside Guinness, Newcastle, and Stella Artois.

Potts tells me the expansion has been met with some grumbles from older Cedar Door patrons, but really, there’s a simple solution. You can still sit at the original turn-of-the-century Brunswick bar, even gaze out the original window with its emblematic Cedar Door signage, or chat with the friendly and gracious Asst. Manager, Manny. If you’re having trouble with the ‘new’ room, just don’t go in there…have another Mexican Martini instead!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Saturday Night 1/23/10 - INsite Night

This Saturday. INsite Night. Ratarue CD Release Show.
w/ Diasporic, DJ Digg, Betaplayer, Higher Than Why, B-Boy City

@ The Independent at 501 Studios, 501 I-35 (Entry on 5th and Brushy)

See You There.



DJ Digg of Table Manners Crew


Higher Than Why

B Boy City

January 2010 INsite Magazine

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January 2010 Letter From the Editor
INsite Magazine, Austin, TX

So, it’s 7a.m. and I’m with the family sitting on a plane headed to Boston for Christmas (INsite Austin has a sister magazine in Boston by the way). I’m also becoming Godfather to my little nephew William. It’s the end of the year and the end of the decade. Pretty crazy. By the time you read this, I’ll be a Godfather (every time I think about it I think about James Brown and go “heeeeeyy!”), you’ll have rung in the New Year… hopefully you were at the big shindig INsite sponsored at Karma Lounge (or at least watched the live streaming video at We’ll share a few photos from that online and in the February issue.

Anyhow… We’ve got a great one to start the new year for you this month. As you see from the cover, Ray Wylie Hubbard is back at it. On January 12 he will release his most interesting album title to date A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint There Is No C). I had a chance to visit with Hubbard at his Wimberley home and we talked about the album, sobriety, and the story behind a couple of his big songs.

Also in music this month is Austin’s The Pons. They played an INsite Night at The Parish a few months ago and impressed our Food Editor Marsha Mann so much that she just had to write a feature about them. She’s as picky with her music as she is with places she features in her section (this month is The Cedar Door) so I’d say this band is going places.

In movies this month is a feature on director Terry Gilliam, and actress Thandie Newton. We also have Cole and Bobby’s movie reviews as well as their picks for the top 10 films of 2009 (see how they stack up to Roger Ebert's picks) and the decade (See how they fair with Rolling Stone's Peter Travers).

But for those who are gamers, flip directly to page 13. We’ve run down some of the most impressive video games we’ve come across. Tech Editor Radames Pera also takes a deep look at an Austin video game creation, “Mushroom Men.”

There’s so much more in between the pages of INsite this month… art, CD reviews, INsite Hindsite, Naked Accountant, Between Rock and a Hard Place (By Chuck Loesch)… I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

So… join me in bidding a farewell to 2009 and a giving a big hug and a smooch to 2010. This is going to be a great year Austin. Oh.. and FYI coffee tastes pretty good at 30,000 feet.