Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oh Look Out Interview

This interview is week 13 of Sean Claes' 52 Weeks of Austin Music Interviews.

Nerd Rock FTW!
Talking with JP Pfertner of Oh Look Out

Oh Look Out

A few years ago, I stumbled upon a band called Built By Snow. I've never been a major fan of the synthesizer-driven bands that, to me, always seemed to be a Devo parody... and not a good one. When I saw BBS play, though... they were different. Yes, they have the sound akin to a Devo, but lyrically and musically they were extremely tight and together achieved a pretty amazing sound.

Then they disappeared somewhat. I didn't hear about them for a while. I got an e-mail from my friend Ryan Cano of Austin's The Loyalty Firm about this new band by the name of Oh Look Out. He sent some music to me, and it reminded me of BBS. I dug it, so I scheduled an interview for my 52 Weeks of Austin Musician interviews.

Lo and behold, there was good reason Oh Look Out had a similar sound, as this band is from the mind of JP Pfertner, who is the lead vocalist of BBS. There's similarity, but there ius also a different vibe to Oh Look Out that I found refreshing.

So, I took the chance to talk with Pfertner about his new project, BBS, and fatherhood.

Sean Claes: You seemed to have taken the same genre as you did with Built By Snow into Oh Look Out. For fans of Built By Snow, how does this outfit differ? 
JP Pfertner: Yeah, Oh Look Out is really picking up right where Built By Snow left off. There is plenty of poppy/hanclappy/synthy goodness, and we are also moving right along and trying to build off of what we started with Built By Snow... adding more harmonies, different instrumentation, tying songs together, stuff like that. 

The whole first album Alright Alright Alright Alright Alright was full of songs that I started writing to be on the next Built By Snow album, so I think BBS fans would really dig it! 

Claes: Is Built By Snow on Hiatus, not together, or is this a side project? 
Pfertner: BBS is on an extended hiatus, but we will still pop up on occasion to play a show. A couple years ago my wife and I had a son, and I realized that I needed a break from the band so I could help at home and still get sleep at night. 

During that break, our bass player Ben moved to Atlanta and I kept working on new songs. After a while, I had a whole album worth of material and that was how Oh Look Out started. We had all agreed that we would only play as Built By Snow if we were all involved, so this album turned into a new band. 

For now BBS has become the side project and Oh Look Out is my main focus. We're all still great friends in BBS and love working together, but I don't think there will be new stuff for a while. 

Claes In late 2011 you released Alright Alright Alright Alright Alright. How has the album done thus far? 
Pfertner: The album turned out super rad, and I learned a lot while making it. I bought Pro Tools and some basic recording gear... then recorded, mixed, and mastered the album on my own. As soon as it was all finished, I just put it online for free download and that was that... I started working on new songs the next day. 

I didn't do any promotion, didn't print up any cd's, and didn't have an album release show because I didn't have a band to play live. I think that people who find the album have been enjoying it, but I really haven't done much in the way of spreading the word. 

The last album I worked on before this was "MEGA" with BBS, and after it was complete we put so much effort into promoting that I didn't have free time to write new songs again for almost a year. I didn't want to end up stuck in that position again, so I finished the album and got right back to work. Now, 7 months later, I've already got an entire new album close to finished. My hope is that in time people will stumble onto Alright Alright Alright Alright Alright and it will be like finding a twenty dollar bill in your coat pocket... you know, "Has this been here this whole time?!!" 

Claes: You’ve released the album free on Why release it for free? 
Pfertner: I really just want people to hear it. I didn't want anyone's money situation to be a reason why they weren't downloading the album and rocking their brains out in their car. Of course I wouldn't turn down anyone who wanted to pay for it, so I also released it on iTunes/Amazon/etc. 

5. Do you have a favorite track on the album? 
Pfertner: I have a different favorite track every time I listen back to the album. For fans of BBS, I think "Bass, not an 8-track" "Ahhh!" and "This Is Heavy" might be a good place to start. But I think the album as a whole is way better than any one song. 

Claes: One of the standouts for me is “Analogatron.” What can you tell me about that track? 
Pfertner: I wrote this one while BBS was still playing. We started practicing it before our break, and we were really ripping it up! The song on the album is actually the same "demo" version of the song that I first recorded and showed to the guys in BBS. 

It's written about our jobs at the time... we all worked together at a TV station. I have a pretty ridiculous imagination... and I'm a bit of a dreamer... I really keep hoping that someday my creativity will lead to something more than a normal job. I was feeling stuck in a rut, like we were repeating the same day over and over and over again, and I wanted to get out. The optimistic part of my brain was having fun daydreams about walkman robots coming to life... but my pessimistic side felt like I was moving backwards, and I would never get ahead. 

Claes: One thing I’ve really enjoyed about Built By Snow and Oh Look Out is the, for lack of better term “Nintendo nerd rock” sound. Kind of a Devo-esque sound. Is that a fair assessment of the sound? How would you describe? 
Pfertner: Yeah, that sounds about right... The Cars, Devo, and Nintendo are definitely some of the main driving forces. I wear the "nerd rock" badge with honor! Also, lately some of my more overdriven guitar fuzz influences have been slipping in, like on "Analogatron" and some of the new songs I'm working on. Oh, and my casiotone keyboard has been getting quite the workout lately. 

Claes: A lot of the songs are nostalgic of the 80s. Are you even old enough to be nostalgic of the 1980s? 
Pfertner: Haha, I guess I look young for my age. I was born in 1980... I grew up with an Atari 2600 and wore the crap out of Asteroids and Pitfall. My first cassette tape was The Cars... they were one of my Dad's favorite bands so he got me into them when I was young. 

I got a Nintendo for x-mas 1989, and that changed everything! Oh, and I had probably watched Back to the Future and Goonies at least 200 times a piece by the time the 80's ended. In high school I picked up a 4-track cassette tape recorder, and have been bedroom recording ever since. Those kind of things just stuck with me through the years and come up often in lyrics because they are such great memories. 

Claes: You’ve got robots, classic video games, outdated audio equipment references and tons and tons of fun keyboard jams on the album. Then, you’ve got a surreal lullaby song of longing in “Short Waves.” How’d that one come about? 
Pfertner: When I first started recording "Short Waves" it had a lot more instrumentation on it... there was a mellotron, lot's of backup vocals, bass, drums... it was way overdone. I stepped back and listened to it and realized that this song was getting swallowed up by all the noise. 

A few years ago I wouldn't have had the guts to record a song so stripped down, but I guess I was finally ready to go for it. I started the song again from scratch, re-wrote the piano part, and practiced the song over and over for a whole day. Once I had it down, I recorded the keys and vocals both live in one take and that was the version that ended up on the album. That was a big step for me... I had never tried recording like that before. 

Claes: I dig the “done on notebook paper” artwork. Who does the drawings and how do you come up with a new design? 
Pfertner: Thanks, I do the drawings! I don't know where these weird picture ideas come from though. It just started happening, and now I've got this growing list randomness that keeps pouring out. Lately my brain has just been taking over, and I'm letting it. 

Claes: You recently became a father. Has that had any effect on your writing? 
Pfertner: Becoming a father has actually made me more productive creatively. I used to take my free time for granted and I would wait until I had some sort of inspiration to get me writing. Now, I only get a small chunk of time every day in between family time, work, and sleep... so I have to make the most of every opportunity. 

Even though I have way less time to write than before, I am getting a lot more done. I've realized that creativity likes to find you working. Oh, also my son Charlie is in the room with me a lot while I'm messing around with recording... In fact you can hear me talking to him at the very beginning of the recording for "Ahhh!" 

Claes: What is the current line-up for Oh Look Out? 
Pfertner: Oh Look Out is me, Matt (he also played with me in Built By Snow), Bryan (used to have the bands Aster, and Red Falcon), and Kevin (who was in The Boxing Lesson and Say Hello to the Angels). 

We all rotate instruments, guitars, keys and bass. Kevin plays drums, but also has a keyboard next to him... sometimes he drums with one hand, and plays keys with the other! The guys are all great songwriters too, so the band has started taking on a collective feel. Everyone is throwing in songs and ideas! Lately we've been pouring all these songs into a pile and seeing where they take us. 

Claes: You play May 5 at the Old Pecan Street Festival for free on 6th and Trinity at 6:00p. What can folks expect? 
Pfertner: Some fuzzy guitars mixed with bleepy keyboard awesomeness all packed inside a cannonball of energy! We'll play a handful of songs from "Alright Alright Alright Alright Alright", some new stuff, and probably mix in a few Built By Snow songs. 

You’re also on the bill for The Impossibles reunion show at Mohawk on June 9. How did that come about? 
I grew up loving The Impossibles! Their original drummer (Pat) was a good friend who I went to high school with. I started going to their shows when they just had a demo recording out, and kept going every time they played in Austin until their last show in 2002. 

Over that time I got to be friends with Rory (guitar/singer/songwriter of the Impossibles) and even got his help on a recording with an old band I was in. In BBS, when we were writing for our album MEGA, we actually were talking about having Rory record and produce the it... but it ultimately just didn't fall into place. Anyway, Rory got in touch just before they announced their reunion show and asked if Oh Look Out wanted to play. Of course we did! 

Then the show sold out so fast, that they decided to add a second show the next night... and Rory asked if Built By Snow could play that one. Of course!! So our bass player Ben is flying into town that weekend... Oh Look Out the first night, BBS the second. It's gonna be so rad! 

Claes: What are some of your favorite places to play in Austin? 
I really like Mohawk... that outside stage is fantastic! Also, the new Emos East is very band friendly... parking, easy load-in/out, great sound... we played there once so far and I enjoyed it. Of course, it won't replace the old Emos, which obviously holds a place in everyone's heart. Still, when I was in high school "Liberty Lunch" was my favorite club. I saw Weezer there on the Pinkerton tour, lot's of Impossibles shows, Superdrag, and a bunch more. When it was torn down and turned into a parking garage, I didn't think anything could replace it... and then Emos stole my heart. Maybe that will happen again now with another club... 

Claes: What are your thoughts of the state of live music in Austin, Texas? 
The bands are as good as ever in Austin right now... great new music popping up every day! But just like everyone else, I'm a little turned off by the changing of Red River. For me, that street has always been what made Downtown Austin fantastic. 6th Street gets all the praise from the city, and Red River gets the shaft. It's just sad. I really wonder what Red River will look like 5 years from now... 

Claes: Anything else to add? 
Pfertner: Lot's of new music is coming soon... so stay tuned!

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here -

Friday, April 13, 2012

Movie Review: Bully

See Austin Showtimes here -

Anger, Heartbreak, the hopelessness of watching a child lose youth, hope and feeling. These are just some of the emotions that I felt when watching Bully. Not the kind of feel-good comedy I’m used to watching, but this documentary is about something many people, including myself, had to endure.

I was a skinny and awkward über-blonde Anglo kid in a 98% Hispanic border town in Texas. I endured being picked on, spit on, yelled at, racist remarks and hit. I was lucky when my instance of bullying got to a really serious point (I was chased home and beaten up the entire way), my parents were supportive enough and has the ability to move me to a private school for my 7th and 8th grade years. That is not the case for most.

I tell my story, not for empathy or sympathy, but to illustrate a point. Everyone has been bullied. Be it by a classmate, a peer, a boss, a spouse, a stranger, or a loved one. It is something each person endures in a lifetime. Most grow up and become stronger because of it, but nobody should have to. Period.

Back to the Documentary. Bully details out five stories about bullying from five places over the course of a school year. Alex is a 12 year old boy in Souix City, Idaho. Kelby is a 16 year old girl in Tuttle Oklahoma, Ja’Meya is a 14 year-old girl in Yazoo County Mississippi, Ty Smalley was an 11 year-old boy in Perkins Oklahoma, Tyler Long was a 17 year-old boy in Murray County Georgia.

Their stories are all as unique as the individuals they are about, but one thing is the constant, they were all subject to extreme bullying.

Alex’s story follows his story as the bullying is happening. After Kelsey comes out as a lesbian in the heart of the Bible Belt she gets no support from anywhere but her family (including a shockingly negative response from the school she attended). Ja’Meya brings a gun on the bus because her bullying reached the point where she thought that was the thing to do and she lands in Juvenile Detention. Ty and Tyler both commit suicide as a result of enduring years of bullying.

I’m not going to lie. It was tough to watch because it was shocking and real. Bully puts it out there and the viewer gets an accurate picture of what a child in that situation endures from ALL sides. If you have children, they are seeing this kind of stuff happening in their school, even if they aren't involved.

After watching the film, I was left with more questions than answers. That is the nature of film Bully. This is a film that every adult should see. I strongly believe that Bully should be required viewing for anybody in the position of childcare.

It is PG-13 due mostly to language. There are a few scenes of child-on-child physical abuse, one that is just chilling.

Bully is currently playing in Austin at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – South Lamar, Regal Arbor Cinema 8 at Great Hills, and AMC Barton Creek Square 14.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Interview: Granger Smith

This interview is week 12 of Sean Claes' 52 Weeks of Austin Music Interviews.

His Boots Are Made For Walking
Granger Smith

By Sean Claes
Granger Smith is one of those country/Americana singers that you see in concert or hear on the radio and think “he’s going to be big someday.” At least that’s what I thought when I saw him play in 2010 at the Kyle Fair and Music Festival. He had stage presence, a humble swagger, and songs that were catchy and lyrically powerful.

But my introduction to him went a little earlier when I learned of his journey to Denver Colorado to visit a young fan with retinal blastoma (see my 2009 blog here: When I learned about that trip, I saw a man with a heart as big as his talent.

He also has a fun sense of humor, which he displays in several of his YouTube posts and even through a rap song dedicated to the plane his grandfather flew in World War II – The B-24.

So, he’s got the trifecta of interesting in my book, but I never had the chance interview him for some reason… that is until now. I learned that he was embarking on another heartfelt journey, this time to benefit the Boot Campaign. On April 15, for the second year in a row Smith will begin walking from Austin, Texas to Fort Hood in Killeen in combat boots to show his gratitude and support of our military men and women.

I thought now was a good time to stop watching him from a distance and get to know the man behind the music and the heart the size of Texas.

Sean Claes: When you were 20 you landed a publishing contract that led you to spend four years in Nashville. How did that shape your career?
Granger Smith: Loved my time there. The older writers that I was paired with taught me how to think about songs. How to "craft" them for a purpose. Ultimately it became a factory of creativity and I longed to get back and start playing live again.

Claes: You garnered your first Top 10 on the Texas Music Chart in 2008 with “Colorblind.” Tell me about that track.
Smith: It will always be a special song to me since it was my first radio single and first top 10 on the TX Music Chart. I set off on a massive radio tour for that song and began relationships with the radio folks that I'm still friends with today.

Claes: You’re 8 albums into your career. When you look back right now, is there any album or track that you are more proud of than the others?
Smith: Each of them are like my children, special in their own way. Each collection of songs is a diary of that journey in my life. Listening back reminds me of old friends and places I lived when I wrote it.

I honestly can't imagine one being more special than another. However, the last 5 starting with Livin’ Like A Lonestar I recorded and produced myself in my home studio. I definitely worked harder and longer for those.

Claes: I remember visiting your YouTube Channel a few years ago when you would put up funny little skits and updates. My favorite was a “Birthday Card” to Texas Music Chart and Katie Key.
Smith: I've always loved to make funny videos. My brother and I have been doing it since we were kids when we would borrow dad's camera. My brother, Tyler travels with us now as tour manager and that's why we still make these videos.

Our latest endeavor- my alter ego "Earl Dibbles Jr." has definitely been the mecca of all of them. I honestly think one day soon Earl will be more popular than me.

Claes: How did you come up with the idea of your tongue-in-cheek rap song, “B-24?”
Smith: My granddad was the pilot of a B-24 in WWII. I got the amazing opportunity to take a flight in one and film a video of it. I realized that if I put out a video of me documenting a B-24, no one would really care especially our younger fans. So, I decided to write a rap song get the interest up and still bring light to the amazing aircraft.

Claes: Do you have a military background? How did supporting the US Military become a passion?
Smith: Negative. Not besides my 2 granddads, one in Europe and one in the Pacific for WWII. I was in the Corps at Texas A&M and many of my friends entered active duty. I've always felt a little guilty I'm able bodied and live this fun life in music while they protect my freedom. I feel that it's my civilian duty to give back much.

Photo Credit:

Claes: You’ve toured several times for the USO. Where's the most interesting place you’ve performed?

Smith: Some of the smaller Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) around Baghdad were a huge adventure. Those men and women were tough out there. Surrounded by city and very isolated to the bigger US bases. We couldn't walk anywhere in the open and had to jump in the bunkers many times which I loved because I'm an adrenaline junky. Those late night helicopter flights in low over Baghdad were pretty serious too!

Claes: You’ve also performed at the White House. How did that come about?
Smith: Through our USO tours we became friends with some people in the White House. They first invited me to play the White House staff Christmas party a few years back. That led to a big party on the south lawn for the Wounded Warriors with George W. Bush himself and then we played 2 going away parties for GW. Amazing times.

Claes: You wrote a modern-day theme for Texas A&M “We Bleed Maroon.” In 2007. How awesome of a legacy is that to leave?
Smith: I never intended it to end up that way. I just wrote a little song about all I knew of the school. My experiences and my families. “We Bleed Maroon” really took off on it's own.

Claes: Tell me about your recent single, “Letters To London.”
Smith: My wife gave me the title because we had been writing letters to our unborn children. We always liked the name London for a girl. Her family is from over there and we got engaged over there. I loved the title and wrote it.

We now have a 6 month old little girl named "London"

Claes: In February, you released Live At The Chicken. As a proud graduate of Texas A&M was it important to record at The Dixie Chicken?
Smith: Live at the Chicken- I've always wanted to record a live album and it seemed like the perfect time. Of course College Station made sense as the city and the Dixie Chicken had the vibe and character that we needed to live with the record.

I wanted something different that people could remember and be proud of. We moved the pool tables out of the way, brought in a stage and Live at the Chicken was born.

Claes: You just released the video to your new single “That's What I Do With It.” Tell me about that track.
Smith: I wrote this a couple of years ago for the Poets & Prisoners album but decided to hold it off because I didn't want it to get lost on a record. Turned out to be a good idea. We launched it with this year's 100 Mile Soldier Walk of mine and it fit perfectly.

I wrote it about a soldier returning home and starting over in his new life as a civilian. I wanted to make it as positive as possible. "I survived for a chance to swing for the fence. So when the pitch comes rolling in, that's what I do with it."

Claes: Speaking of… on April 15, you’ll be lacing up boots and beginning a 100 Mile Walk from Austin to Killeen in support of our military. This is the second year you’ve done it. Tell me a little about why you’re doing it.
Smith: I'm doing it to raise awareness, moral and patriotism for our active, reserve and retired military. To remind people that we're still a country at war even though we don't see it every day. These men and women sacrifice their lives so that we can live ours so freely and we can't forget to thank them for that. This walk is a small sacrifice on me to represent the ultimate sacrifice that they pay for us everyday. Our freedom.

Claes: The night before you leave for your walk, you play the Nutty Brown Café (April 14).
Smith: We are? I only know one show at a time (laughs). I'm looking forward to it! Great stage and a great venue. I'm sure it will be fun!

Claes: Who are some musicians we may not have heard of that we need to check out?
Smith: Three words- Green River Ordinance. My favorite band right now. Group out of Ft. Worth and good guys.

Claes: What is your favorite place to play in Austin?
Smith: Nutty Brown! Best of all worlds. Small intimate setting with a huge stage and plenty of space. Amazing outdoor hill country ambiance.

Claes: So, what is the next step for Granger Smith?
Smith: Last year on the 100 mile walk we took 236,548 steps. Right now for year two, I'm just focused on taking that first step on April 15th!

Let’s send Granger Smith off on his 100-mile walk with a big cheer April 14th at The Nutty Brown (12225 W Highway 290 Austin, TX 78737). He opens for Brantley Gilbert. Pre-sale tickets are $15 (info at or $20 at the door.

Then on April 15 come down to South Austin and take part in the launch of the walk. The location and time will be announced on Smith’s Website – If you can’t make it but would like to donate, here’s a link for that -

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here -

Video for B-24:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

South Austin Moonlighters Interview

This interview is week 11 of Sean Claes' 52 Weeks of Austin Music Interviews.

Moonlighting Rocks
Introducing The South Austin Moonlighters

By Sean Claes
Have you had the chance to catch the latest supergroup to come out of Austin? When I caught wind that members of The Mother Truckers, Deadman, Shurman, Monte Montgomery, and Jimmy LaFave all got together and were playing Tuesday’s at The Saxon Pub and calling themselves the South Austin Moonlighters, I had to find out more.

First I thought they were a jam band of friends who got together to blow off a little steam and play a bunch of covers, which would have been fine. But, when I heard they were recording an album of originals, I knew I needed to get their story.

The South Austin Moonlighters (S.A.M.) are Lonnie Trevino Jr (Deadman), Phil Hurley (Jimmy LaFave), Aaron Beavers (SHURMAN), Josh Zee (The Mother Truckers), and Phil Bass (Monte Montgomery).

S.A.M. is taking April off of playing at The Saxon Pub and are hitting a few other venues in the area including the Baker Street Pub & Grill (4/12, 4/26 @ 9p), Threadgill’s World Headquarters (4/14 @ 8p), and Gruene Hall (4/15 @ 5p).

I had a chance to ask a few questions to 3/5 of the band.

Sean Claes: South Austin Moonlighters (S.A.M.) are pretty much what the name of your band implies, a group of musicians with other projects that have come together to play. How did it occur?
Phil Hurley:
We were all fans of each other’s bands. But, really I credit Lonnie for starting the communication and booking the first show. Once there was a date on the books, there was no backing out.

Lonnie Trevino Jr.: A year ago March all of our bands (minus Phil Bass) were performing at the ninth annual Sin City Social Club showcase hosted by Shilah Marrow. Like Phil said, all of us admired each others bands and individual talent and a genuine like for each other as people.

Aaron Beavers said out loud "Man. We should all get together and just jam with this unit." I took it to heart and sent out an e-mail telling my idea for a "Resentments Type Band" to play a show at The Saxon Pub. Everyone was a little shocked and dismayed thinking this would never happen. I booked a group of happy hour shows on Tuesdays at the Saxon and the pressure was on. We had to put up or pack up. We each picked 3 cover songs we've always wanted to do and we took it from there.

I called my dear friend Phil Bass who I had toured with while with Monte Montgomery. He loved the idea and jumped on board before I could finish explaining what we wanted to do. The others had never played with him before and were hoping for the best. To be honest with you this band would have failed from the get go if it were not for Phil's ability to adapt to any genre. From the moment we hit the first note it was obvious that something special was happening.

Claes: When you began did you think it’d become an organized band?
Not really. It was more just for the joy of making music together. My favorite group from when I first arrived in Austin was the Mother Truckers and I was always looking for an excuse to jam with Josh. I’m so thankful to Lonnie for bringing Phil Bass into the group. We needed a drummer. Lonnie said he had it covered. What an understatement! Aaron & I were hanging out and writing together anyway. So that was just extra bonus time with one of my best buddies.

Trevino Jr.: I'd say after that first month! We started offering up original tunes and taking it serious. Even rehearsals!

Claes: Tell me a little about your musical background.
Trevino Jr.:
I moved here in '93 after I was hired by Language House (Geffen). I've went on to form a jam band called Jumbo Shrimp, formed Dahebegebees with Ady Hernandez, Joined Cadillac VooDoo Choir, Toured with Monte Montgomery, Jake Andrews, Lisa Tingle, Tommy Shane Steiner, Mike Zito, Deadman, Papa Mali and now with Fastball. I've also started yet another side project called The Whiskey Sisters.

Hurley: I was part of the Boston music scene in the 90’s making records and touring with Gigolo Aunts and Tracy Bonham. I’ve lived and played in Seattle, Amsterdam, Los Angeles and Nashville since then. Touring with acts like Fountains of Wayne, Miles Hunt of the Wonderstuff and Lisa Loeb.

Phil Bass: I have played and or recorded with artist such as Bo Diddly, Gatemouth Brown, Stephen Bruton, Joe Ely, Delbert Mclinton and many others" I also compose music for T.V., film and multimedia projects and do session work for independent artists.

Note: Aaron Beavers (SHURMAN) and Josh Zee were not able to be interviewed for this article, but you can find out more information about them by following the links in this paragraph.

Claes: How did you end up with the Tuesday residency at The Saxon Pub?
Lonnie worked with Joe (Ables) from The Saxon to make it happen.
Trevino Jr.: Joe Ables & David Cotton both jumped on the idea immediately. It wasn't a hard sell.

Claes: Now, you’re taking a month off of playing at The Saxon in April. What are you guys going to be up to?
Trevino Jr.: We are expanding and trying other venues and traveling regionally. We will be playing once a month at the Saxon Pub and will probably do another residency in the future. We love the Saxon Pub and understand there are only just so many slots and availabilities for the time slot our fans prefer.

Claes: I’ve heard you’re going to be recording or just have finished recording a CD. What can we expect from it?
Trevino Jr.:
We are in the process of organizing a Kickstarter page and video to raise the funds to record a proper record. It will be all original and a true studio album.

Hurley: We’re super excited to start a Moonlighters record. We’ve each picked two original tunes to contribute making it a solid ten tune record.

Claes: You have captured a good number of live tracks from your residency at The Saxon Pub. Any plans of releasing a CD of the live tracks?
Trevino Jr.: That is also in the works. We have interest in Europe and will be releasing a live EP. Ideally we'd like to get it out there by the summer. We are still working out the kinks.

Claes: Has any one player stepped forward to be the “leader” of S.A.M.?
Trevino Jr.: I'd say we have all stepped up as a leader in different areas of the Business side and performance side of S.A.M.

Hurley: We each have that ability. But, there’s a lot of mutual respect within the group that allows us each to have out input and ideas heard. I’ve never been part of a group that has such a strong sense of musical communication. We can accomplish so much in such a short time in rehearsals. Each guy just understands his role in the overall sound so quickly. It’s amazing.

Claes: What are your favorite covers to perform?
Trevino Jr.:
So many to mention, I'd ask the fans what their favorites are. We get a lot of requests for "To Love Somebody" by The Bee Gees, and "She Caught the Katy" by Taj Mahal.

Bass: My favorite covers that we do: “To Love Somebody,” “Night Train,” “Last Time,” “Puppet,” …really just about all of them. Ha.

Hurley: I love to sing “Rolling Man” by Fleetwood Mac. And I really enjoy what Lonnie does with “To Love Somebody” by the Bee Gees. Aaron’s version of “Put the Message in a Box” by World Party always makes me smile.

Trevino Jr.: Josh Zee has an affinity for 50’s rock and roll that I like. Especially the New Orleans and Elvis stuff.

Claes: How are you coming with the original tunes?
We’ve started to learn how to write together. One of my favorite tunes in the set right now is one that Lonnie, Josh and I kinda created in rehearsal called “Moonlight Ride.” It’s becoming a kind of signature jam!

Claes: Any danger of the moonlighting job becoming your full-time gig?
Nothing would make me happier than to see something good happen for this group. I truly love playing with these guys. I sure hope that we can get it together to do some European touring. That would be a dream comes true.

Trevino Jr.: We haven't ruled out that possibility. Anything is possible.

Claes: That said, where do you see the band going?
I have no idea. I just want it to stay inspired and inspiring.

Trevino Jr.: We could speculate but we are just interested in living in the moment and having fun. The joy of playing with this band is hard to ignore.

Claes: You’re going to be playing a few gigs this month at the Baker Street Pub and Grill. Have you played there before? What can you tell me about it?
It’s a really cool room with lots of room for listening and dancing. The sound is good. There’s no cover and the kitchen stays open until 1:30am!

Trevino Jr.: We've never played Baker Street Pub. It's new, were the Old Alligator Grill used to be for many years. We are hopeful and want to try to spread the joy around Austin.

Claes: Looks like you’re playing a Sunday evening at Gruene Hall on April 15. Will this be the first time the band has played there as a unit?

Trevino Jr.: It will be the first time this Band performs there. We are very excited. I've always have had a great time playing there. Can't wait to play there as S.A.M.

Hurley: I reached out to Tracie (Ferguson) at Gruene Hall. Stonehoney had a special relationship with that room. I am so honored that they are trusting in us and giving us a chance to get something going down there in that historic room. Is there really any place cooler than Gruene?

Claes: You’re also playing Threadgill’s on Saturday April 14. How’d that gig come about?
Threadgill’s has been a mainstay for most of our groups and one of my personal favorite venues in Austin. That’s family to me here in town. We’ll have our sister group, The Whiskey Sisters, opening the show. That’s going to go off!

Trevino Jr.:
That is going to be a great weekend!

Claes: Is there anywhere you’d like to play that you’ve not yet had the chance?
Hurley: Yeah, sure. I wanna play the new Moody Theatre, The Ryman Auditorium, The Hollywood Bowl, Royal Albert Hall and Madison Square Garden. In that order!

Trevino Jr.: So far so good. We've been offered several gigs at many well known venues. We don't want to jump the gun too quickly and jinx anything.

Claes: Anything else to add?
Trevino Jr.:
I've traveled all over the world and think that Austin Texas is by far the best Music city in the World. The problem is the City and the residences naturally take it for granted. I've been guilty of that as well in the past. I encourage everyone to find a venue and patronize the heck out of it, find a band and support the heck out of it, create a community that supports the heck out of the arts in this town.

Being a Musician as profession is not taken seriously by a lot of people in this town who want and expect music, and the performance of music, to be free. The economy has been on the rise and yet musicians haven't given themselves a raise in 40something years. Be kind and show support for the biggest reason folks visit and end up staying in this town, the live music.

Hurley: If you haven’t come out to see this band yet. Do yourself and favorite and come on out. It’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Bass: Ditto!

I suggest you do as they say and catch them live this month. You'e got four chances. Baker Street Pub & Grill (4/12, 4/26 @ 9p), Threadgill’s World Headquarters (4/14 @ 8p), and Gruene Hall (4/15 @ 5p). For more information on the South Austin Moonlighters, visit their website at

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here -