Monday, November 24, 2008

Tredway and Friends’ “Throats on Fire” tour—North Texas songwriters rock Drury University in Springfield, MO

North Texas songhunter, Randy Tredway, and Drury University Visiting Instructor of Video Production in Springfield, Missouri, Briain Shipman, hosted several Collin County Songwriters Association members for a three day television shoot aimed at the Dallas market. The event was held on the Drury University Shewmaker Communication Center’s soundstage. The CCSA members joined a long roster of outstanding Texas performing songwriters for a truly unique artistic and networking session. Think Austin City Limits meets Grand Ole’ Opry, where anyone might end up playing with anyone, non-stop shop talk, jam sessions late into the night, and a near-religious experience. The only thing that was missing was an audience, but with all those musicians in the house there was a lot of support—both actual and moral.

I’m joking about the “Throats on Fire’ part, but we Texans coming from the warmer and more humid south, did have a few adjustments to make with the long hours and forced-air heat. Lots of warn out voices by the end, but worth every bit of it.

My team of Matthew Gaskins (bass guitar and anything else you’d ever need) and Chad Ireland (drums, percussion, vocals and incredible friend) arrived in Springfield on Thursday night, as we unloaded our equipment into the studio and watched several of the solo acts. I was greeted by Michael “The Mudcat” Reams, our CCSA Ambassador whom I did not expect to see.

“You’re in a heap of trouble,” said Mudcat. “Your wife is looking for you!”

Well, I’d just gotten off the phone with Jenny, but had to explain all over again that I’d been conserving cell power for the drive up from Dallas. Dang, yelled at twice in 10 minutes, and everyone was absolutely right. I really shouldn’t be out of communication that long, especially having so much fun with Chad and Matt during the trip. Yes, I had a blast. Yes, I feel a little guilty. I’ll get over it.

Randy Tredway seemed to be everywhere, running one of the six TV cameras, managing the schedule, getting musicians queued up and doing an excellent job of ramrodding. Brian Shipman served as a strong captain of the ship, keeping the team of student camera operators, Jimmy the sound engineer, lights, musicians, and shots coordinated. My team and I retired to our hotel and were almost giddy about the upcoming day.

Friday did not disappoint, as we watched other acts perform, jammed and swapped ideas with fellow songwriters, and shot a session with The Mudcat, himself. Matthew Gaskins had never played Mudcat’s songs, but Chad Ireland and I were pretty familiar. Matt masterfully slipped in on bass, and we knocked out a fine little set.

Later that day, we got to shoot our segment as I relied heavily on doctor-prescribed steroids to get my voice to work. We were joined by Mudcat and Spider Minshew playing harmonicas on different tunes. Things seemed to go pretty well, and then we were in for another treat. Dallas power trio, Daddy Rocks—with Billy King, Kyle Black and Mike Love—took the stage and pounded out a great set.

That night, Brian and his wife hosted the musicians at his home for burgers and music. Daddy Rocks had managed to book a gig, and were off to the show early. The rest of us began to jam, finally moving to the recreation hall of an old church, until the wee hours of the morning.

“This is what heaven must be like,” Matt told me. “It’s like, you get to hang out with all of your friends, eat good food, and just sing and play all the time.”

I’m not sure if he felt that way by the next afternoon—although I expect he still did. The secret had gotten out about just how good he is, and he was drafted to play bass on several more sets. Did I hear him say, “I’ve got blistahs on me fingahs”? I’m not sure. In the end, Chad and I got to join him, along with percussionist Mica, to back up Vicky William’s set. The set rocked really well despite Vicky’s challenge with—you guessed it—throat problems.

There were so many notable performances that it’s hard to remember them all. I did enjoy the Allen Hurt Band, playing some great bluegrass and featuring Allen’s sweet, solid tenor lead vocal. I most identified with Ross Vick’s material for it’s contemporary adult focus, much like my own. For three days, everyone turned out a positively outstanding representation of Texas songwriting. With day gigs, kids to raise, and lives to live, most of us are trying to be legends in our spare time. But there is certainly no shortage of talent in this corner of the world.

I’ll try to list the musicians and songwriters involved, and hopefully I got most of them: Aubrey Teeter, Billy Ewing, C. J. and Randy Randolph, Chad Ireland, Daddy Rocks (Billy King, Kyle Black, Mike Love), Matthew Gaskins, Michael “The Mudcat” Reames, Paul Johnson, Randy Tredway, Ross Vick, The Allen Hurt Band, Tim McGeary, Vicky Williams, Wade Kilgore, Wanda Mullens, and Whit Hyde.

In the middle of it all, I got a call from CCSA President, Diane Hart. Yes, she sounded a wee bit jealous, but I can’t wait to see her join one of these events. Other calls intervened from home, with responsibilities popping up. Finally, Matt, Chad and I bailed a bit early in an effort to remain married to our spouses. The trip home was spent listening to Ross’ latest CD, reviewing the catalog of 70s and 80s music in my wife’s onboard CD library, singing, harmonizing, and reminiscing.

Thanks, Brian and Randy—what an amazing opportunity.


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