Before Lannie Flowers opened his mouth to sing at the Candlelite Inn Restaurant on Division Street, I was impressed. I had Googled him the night before and discovered he has his own Wikipedia listing.
But there’s much more to find impressive about Flowers who’s often cited as a new leader in modern Power Pop/Indie music. And he’s got the recognition to back it up.
In 2013, the singer/songwriter/musician won Record of the Year, Rock Artist of the Year, Social Media Artist of the year and pop Artist of the Year at the LA Music Awards.
He has had the number one video on MTV and won the LA Music Awards Producers Choice Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year with ”Another Weekend.”
He’s toured England, including a stint in the Liverpool Cavern Club where the Beatles played, and done the U.S. – from New York to Los Angeles, Chicago, to, San Francisco.
And here I was in the special events room of the iconic Candlelite Inn on E. Division St., listening to him performing with vocalist-guitarist Doc Davis.
That’s what great about the Arlington music scene today. You can hear an artist of this stature as well as those on the way up.
I was also impressed that although he had spent a grueling day at the Aaron Avenue Records recording studio of his longtime friend and former band mate, respected Arlington big-time investor Alan Petsche, he was on mike by 7:05.
And anytime a musician starts a set on time, I’m impressed.
Ask the soft-spoken Flowers who has inspired him, he’ll laugh and quip, “It depends on what day it is.”
His website also lists T. Rex, David Bowie and Mott the Hoople as artists who have influenced him.
It’s hard to describe that style although a reviewer for Riveting Riffs Magazine wrote “If you require a reference point for Flowers’ music, a good comparison would probably be that his music is a cross between the Irish band Thin Lizzy, on the songs that drive a little harder and on the mellower songs he sounds closer to The Knack. At other times he comes a bit closer to Bryan Adams.”
All I know is I liked it. I sang along to most of the songs. What I didn’t know, I liked.
From Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” to Bluegrass classic ”Cripple Creek,” country legend George Jones’ ”The Race is On,” the playful “Route 66,” and Beatles’ songs, Flowers not only showed he has great range in jumping genres but also the musical talent to make each work.
The Kennedale resident has Arlington roots, having formed The Pengwins, one of the city’s most popular local bands, while he was in high school in 1976. Petsche was and still is a singer-guitarist with the band that ever so often jams at a local spot and it’s always worth checking out. You can always get the details of where and when on the Arlington Nights website or Facebook page .
Petsche was…wait for the pun… instrumental in his career.
His studio recorded Flowers first song but Petsche says he originally had reservations about recording it
“I didn't know if there would be an audience for it," he said. But it caught on -- around the world – and the second recording came shortly thereafter.
At this Candlelite Inn performance, it was easy to see why.
The genre he favors draws inspiration from 1960s British and American rock music, incorporating strong melodies, clear vocals, crisp vocal harmonies, economical arrangements and prominent guitar riffs.
Lot of John Lennon influence, good harmony with mike-mate Doc Davis.
Power Pop is among rock's most enduring sub-genres and with artists like Flowers performing it, it’s easy to see why it should have a long lifespan
But then he’ll give you his list that includes Johnny Cash, Bluegrass classic ”Cripple Creek,” George Jones’ ”The Race is On, ”Route 66, the Beatles.
Written by Kathy Valdez
E. J. Mathews playing on the patio at Cosmic Crow, a cold beer from Division Brewing, and a beautiful Saturday afternoon-cannot get any better than that. E. J. Mathews’ style of music is a combination of Southern soul, country, and blues. He writes original songs based on real life, either his own or on life events he has witnessed. He sings about going fishing, the Bayou swamps, tin roofs, dirt roads, moonshine and white lightning.
Saturday’s concert drew a lot of people and many left money in the tip jar or thanked him for his music. Accompanying E. J. was his cousin Donnie Mathews, who blew me away by playing a 6-string bass guitar. It was my first time to see and hear a 6-string bass guitar. Some of the songs the two of them performed were from E. J. Mathews’ latest CD, “Welcome To The Backwoods” which included, “Down On the Creek” (Ford Truck), “The Piney Woods”, “Country Roads”, Texas Louisiana Line”, “Big Roads”, “In The Morning” and one called “Smokehouse Soul” which is not featured on the CD. He played two other new songs, one about playing his guitar in a nightclub, and the other about spreading his wings and moving on when love fails. The latter song was a blues number, really cool..
When E.J. isn’t performing his own music, he enjoys listening to the old blues masters, such as John Lee Hooker. He also likes to listen to the older country singers such as Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson. He told me he has a large collection of old vinyls he listens to regularly.
Born and raised in the backwoods of East Texas, he got his early music influences from listening to his grandfather play guitar and sing the blues on the front porch in the evenings. E. J. started playing his grandfather’s guitar when he was around 4 or 5 years old.
He has his current CD for sale for $10. He will be recording a new CD in Austin with Dialtone recording studio in April. He recently was in Austin and performed with the East Side Kings. The band consists of E. J. Mathews, vocals, guitar, David Ray, lead guitar, Donnie Mathews, bass guitar, and Thomas Stoy, drums.
E. J. will be featured in an article in Blues and Rhythm magazine out of Dover England which writes about all aspects of blues and gospel music. Besides his upcoming recording session in Austin, he will be playing at the Oklahoma State Theater in Harrah, Oklahoma on March 26. He will be going to Europe in June to play in Poland. His popularity is growing and Spain is also being mentioned for an upcoming concert. When I asked him if he could perform on any stage if given the chance, where would he like to perform? He answered, “Verizon in Grand Prairie.” I asked him, “ why there?” and he answered, “ it is easy to get to, has great acoustics, and is large enough. I can invite all my family, friends, and fans to see and hear me there.” ‘Nuff said.
When watching Mo Stevens perform, it becomes clear how much he connects with his music. With relatable lyrics to his originals and a wide variety of covers, it’s easy for any audience member to connect to his music, too.
And that’s what playing music is about for him – connections. Not just to the music, but also to other people through the music. “Singing a song, whether it’s one of mine or someone else’s, it doesn’t matter, and then having people connect with it,” he noted, is “something that can bring people together.” One song of his in particular greatly facilitates this kind of connection. The song “Love You Every Day” was written after a fight that he had with his fiancée. The honesty in the lyrics is obvious and makes the song incredibly relatable.
When asked about the genre of his music, Mo described his music as a mutt. “I’m trying to do my own thing,” he said. “A little bit of Americana, a little bit of blues, a little bit of roots rock, a little bit of funk if you get into the band stuff that I do, and then the rest is just trying to write from the heart . . . be honest.” He also mentioned that his solo stuff tends to have a pop structure, but when playing lead guitar in his “three piece blues rock funk band” Cottonwood Park, he tends towards blues.
Mo started playing bluegrass fiddle when he was only three, and years later, he began his solo career playing blues. He joined the navy in 1995, and during his fourteen years of active duty, the band that he started on board played shows for USO and MWR at whatever bases his company would stop at. If there were no such organization on base, they would simply go find clubs, bars, or other venues and tell the owners that if they could play there, their ship would come party. Later, Mo walked away from a six-figure job building aircraft in order to pursue music as his sole career.
Although he’s played at venues all over the world, Mo still often gets nervous before shows. He noted that he tends to get more nervous at smaller venues or places where he knows a lot of audience members because it creates a setting that is a lot more intimate. Despite some nervousness, Mo would not give up this career path for anything short of the loss of a limb. He suggests two things to anyone considering a similar career path: you need to plan, and you need to play songs that are relevant to the crowd. “If you play songs only you want to hear – you can do that in your room and nobody cares.” And it is obvious that Mo has taken his own advice. He had a great career before that has provided him with a significant financial cushion, plus he has honest and relatable lyrics, and he will play any covers requested of him that he is able to play. Now he’s perfectly content, “getting to hang out and meet cool people and drink cold drinks and enjoy life.”Catch him in Arlington at El Arroyo July 10th and at Pantego Bay on July 15th.
The Cadillac’s are three phenomenal musicians who have played together for three years. They agree the members are a “natural fit.” There is Johnny Moore as vocals and guitar, Jamie Downs on bass, and Gary Adlong on drums. They aren’t rich, they have day jobs. And they aren’t travelling around the world to venues; but they are traveling around Arlington reaching residents who love night life and good live music.
It is a band like The Cadillac’s who play every week somewhere that reminds of the love affair that exists between people, music and the talent performing it. Watching this band brings you to one of those moments where you realize, “Wow! These guys really can play.” Most watching the band started to sway or tap their toes to the music within the first minute of the first song, a classic "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On."
The Cadillac’s mission is to always play off of the feeling of the audience, according to John D. Moore, vocalist and guitarist for The Cadillac’s, They are a “play for you kind of band” the lead singer said. “I met the band when I started going to open mic jams at Sensations,” said Jamie Downs, band bass player. “[Moore] chased me out into the parking lot at the end of the jam that night.”
The two shared the same ideas about music and organizing a band to play locally and make some money playing music they love. Gary Adlong, drummer for the group, loves playing the old classics like The Beatles, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. He says that music from that generation defines his life and his music.
“Through our music we relate back to the happier times,” he said. “That’s why we come in here and play 40-year-old songs and feel young again; it takes us and the audience back to that place we were all those years ago.”
Arlington Night’s David Conant shares which local bands play in Arlington in a given week. If you’re looking a live jam session there are live bands playing somewhere in our city every night of the week. Conant shares events at ArlingtoNNightS.net, you can get notifications on night life in the city by “liking” their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ArlingtonNights, and by following them on Twitter @arlingtonnights. Don’t forget to mention #ArlingtonNights on any bands or cool venues you find for live music in Arlington.
You can ask him how to pronounce it. But, it doesn’t matter, he has a style all his own. It’s a little bit fun, a little bit dark, great sense of humor and a reflection about life through his eyes. His Songwriting, acoustic guitar and tambourine on his foot is becoming very well known around Arlington. He has hosted open mic’s at Someplace Else, Chuggin’ Monk and currently hosting the “Musicians Music Mash Up” every Monday night at J. Gilligans. If you haven’t been there to listen to him sing, well it’s something you need to do.
I recently did a facebook Q & A with him to find out how he got where he is and where he is going from here.
It seems West knew he wanted to play music when he was 4 or 5 years old. His dad was a drummer, so he learned to play the drums by the time he was 8. He didn’t start writing songs until he was around 15 in his first band. The other members didn’t have an interest in writing so West gave it a shot. I think we are glad he did. He has some of the cleverest lyrics around.
West can pretty much do it all; from playing bass, guitar, singing and
songwriting. His resume of bands is a mile long and counting. Are you ready ?
He was in Public Hazards, eNDER, Skunx, Social Rejects, Tragic Fake, Fair Well
Yesterday, Indeblareth, High View, Calling all Heros and Some Sort of Weapon.
Now he is just playing guitar and singing for Hello Jamie, The Who Me’s, drums
for the John Epps Band and his own solo project West AA.
If you want to find out what he sounds like, you can check him out at Reverbnation.com or get a copy of his CD called “A Rough Record of Roughly Recorded Recordings by West AA”. You can get it at Groovy Goods in South Arlington or at J. Gilligans on Monday nights at his Open Mic. Trust me; you want to buy a copy for yourself. I listen to mine quite a bit.
He is going to be very busy the first part of this year. He’s is recording for his new CD, which should be out this summer. I can’t wait. He is also performing at Six Flags on March 14th. A photo shoot for a music magazine at the end of the month. He is also recording a single and video for I-tunes and Rattle records is putting one of his songs on a compilation CD.
So, if you get a chance, go hear him play every Monday night at J. Gilligans for his Musicians Music Mash Up Open Mic. He says it’s has been going very well and he has met “tons of great artists through it… Good times with good friends.”
West says “thanks to his 10’s of fans out there”. We both know there are a lot more than that. And hopefully by the end of this year his 10’s will be in the thousands.