JAN’S TOP 10 Texas Music Picks 2016

 

top10

Over the past year, writing for a Texas Music Magazine I’ve had the honor of interviewing many Texas artists. As a result, I got to discover great new music first-hand.

So, I’m starting a new tradition this year by listing my TOP TEN picks of new Texas Music releases for 2016. This is based solely on my personal tastes and opinions. I do hope you’ll take time to listen to the song clips and decide for yourself!

#1.  Lovers and Leavers – Hayes Carll       hayes_carll_cover

Everyone who knows me also knows I am a huge Hayes Carll Fan. But, with this new album, “Lovers and Leavers” Hayes takes his songwriting to a whole new level. Perhaps that’s what being in love does for you. Check it out here.

#2.  Latest and Greatest – Jamie Richards   latestgreatestdigitalsmall

Jamie Richards is the most solid country music artist in the business. Even though he lives in Oklahoma, his heart resides in Texas as does his music. On this album, you’ll find some of Jamie’s standards, but five new songs showcase the reason Jamie has earned the title of Master Wordsmith of Red Dirt Music. Judge for yourself.

#3.   I’m Not The Devil – Cody Jinks                     i_mnotthedevil_044cac49-b9bc-4045-acc1-0370e9138074_large

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Cody Jinks twice and each time, I fall a little more in love with the great human being he is as well as his music. On “I Ain’t The Devil,” you’ll find a mixture of what defines Cody – family, friends, God, music. Check it out

#4.   Ain’t Who I Was – Bonnie Bishop             bb-aint_who_i_was

I first got acquainted with Bonnie Bishop through a mutual friend around ten years ago. She is not only beautiful, but has a voice that cuts through. This new album shows her more soulful bluesy side. It’s her best yet and you can preview the album here

#5    Sam Colt and Jesus – Robby White            sam_colt

This album really got my attention. It is a TRUE concept album in that each song leads directly into the next, weaving a complete story. Robby kept the music simple and for a reason – he wanted the lyrics to be heard. It embodies everything that is Texas! Preview

#6     Sinner Man  –  Gus Samuelson               sinner-man-bottomland

I’ve always been a fan of Gus Samuelson’s music. However, the new Sinner Man CD holds a few surprises. Big Gus is a restlessly creative soul and brings his views and philosophy of life into his music. I love all of the tracks on this CD but if I had to choose one favorite today, it would be “In My Soul.” Here’s the link to preview.

#7     Polyester  –  John Evans                             polyester

Texas roots rocker, John Evans, released a comeback CD, the first in six years. It has been said about John’s music style that if Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and Elvis Costello were to have a love child, John Evans just might be it. After listening to Polyster, I would say more like a combination of 50s rocker, Eddie Cochran and Jimi Hendrix. Here’s where you can listen

#8     Walkabout – Dolly Shine                              Walkabout

I received this CD to review and I have to tell you I was blown away! Every member of Dolly Shine contributes to the writing of their songs and are extremely talented players as well as writers. It would be hard for me to pick a favorite as I loved them all but I think “Rattlesnake” would take the favorite spot today. See what you think!

#9     Coming to a Honky Tonk Near You – Kevin Fowler   kf

Kevin Fowler has made quite a name for himself on the Texas Music scene over the years, but this new CD took him in a different direction. In an interview, Kevin told me that he was no longer chasing national radio airplay and simply recording songs that moved him in some way. There are lots of collaborations on this album and hands-down, my favorite song is “Texas Forever.” Listen here

#10    Love to Live by – Cooder Graw                     cg

Last but certainly not least on my list is a new EP from the rocking Texas band, Cooder Graw. With only six tracks, this new release packs a powerful punch. I love them all, but the title track, “Love to Live By” moved me and especially the video produced by Rock Williams. Listen to the CD here. Take a look at the Video here.

2016 was a great year for Texas Music. There were many other releases I loved, but I had to narrow it down to ten so picked from my heart.

Hope your favorite artist made my Top Ten!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday #StoryTime

 

welcome-to-storytime

I want to tell you a story. That’s what writers do, right?

This story is about a man who had a band and traveled the Southwest playing music. He’d grown up poor and discovered at a young age that he had a talent for writing and playing music. By the time he was out of high school, he’d formed his first band and played rodeos and fairs.

rick-and-band-1960s4

The life of a road musician is often long and rocky. And, although he loved writing and performing music, he found himself caught on a merry go round – lots of booze, drugs and women.

After twenty years, he wanted off. He was burnt out and sullen. He’d blown two marriages and had four kids to support.

Maybe it was inevitable that he would be tempted by so-called easy money.

And this is where I met him.

In less than a year, from the time I met him, he was arrested and convicted on two counts of armed bank robbery.

arrest-made-connected-to-ezoo-2013

He’d never believed he could be found guilty of a crime he hadn’t committed. And, although he had been an accessory to the robberies, he’d never gone inside a bank with a gun and robbed it. But, because he wouldn’t rat out the men who’d done it, he got the full sentence.

Now, I’m telling you this story for a reason. There is a point to it.

You can well imagine that by the time he arrived at Leavenworth Penitentiary with 25 year federal sentence and another 50 years from the State of Texas, to run consecutively, he was angry, bitter and rebellious. He never thought he’d see freedom again in his lifetime.

He often said that he believed he’d reached a point in his life where he didn’t care about anything anymore. But, when the steel doors started closing behind him, locking him in the depths of the prison, he truly understood the meaning of caring. He left family, a lifetime of music and regional stardom, and he left children. He found that he cared more than he ever dreamed possible.

He had a decision to make.

It took him about three years to finally realize that he wasn’t going to change prison and prison wasn’t going to change him.

He learned that all he could control were his thoughts and actions. He couldn’t control his environment or other people.

And that’s when he made a life-altering decision.

He made up his mind to be, think and do positive things, to become a worthwhile human being. He learned that the best way to serve his time was by staying busy. He’d always been a writer and somewhat of an artist, but he discovered, among other things about himself, that he had true artistic talent.

He buried himself in words, paintings and any other art form he had access to. He taught himself to do Indian Beadwork. He learned to make jewelry, paint with oils and watercolors, but his true passion lay in pen-and-ink drawings.

He compiled a complete book of poetry and art. He wrote hundreds of songs, short stories and even wrote a screenplay. He learned to make and fire ceramics and tool leather.

He advocated for and after many years of asking, was given permission to build a recording studio inside Leavenworth. He had a burning desire to get songs to the outside world. To my knowledge, it was the only fully operational studio inside any federal prison.

 

luke-stone-at-mixing-board-recording-studio-leavenworth  homemade-console-recording-studio-leavenworthThe day he made the choice to think, be and do positive changed him forever.

So, that my friends is the point of the story.

You can’t control your environment or those around you. You only have control over yourself – your thoughts, your words, your actions.

I wrote this man’s story in my four books. It starts in the Texas honky-tonks with Flowers and Stone. Then, moves forward to the prison years, with The Convict and the Rose. He did finally get released from prison after serving fifteen years. Home At Last tells that part of the story. Then the last book in the series, ‘Til Death Do Us Part ends the journey with the man’s passing in 2009.

The poetry and art book, Discovery, is filled with pieces of his heart and soul as well as some of his amazing pen-and-ink drawings.

I encourage you to read the story and let it inspire you to make a better life for yourself. Sometimes it is helpful to see how someone else did it.

My goal is to get a copy of The Convict and the Rose and Discovery into every prison library in the country. It is a lofty goal, but one I believe in.

Remember the old Indian saying: “There are two wolves at war within you – one positive and one negative. Which one will win? The one you feed.”

Thank you for listening to my story today.

Think about your talents. How can you make your today better? It’s all up to you.

Do you have any questions or comments?

four-book-banner51mezg9nebl-_uy250_

 

 

#RRBC Holiday Train “Book Trailer” Block Party!

trailer-block-party-1

It’s a PARTY and you’re invited!!

Hi, and WELCOME to the Rave Reviews Book Club Holiday Train “Book Trailer” Block Party at Writing and Music located in McKinney, Texas.

What I’m giving away:

1 set of 10 custom-made charms using your book cover or any design you choose from Dawn Judd Creations. (Shipping cost included on gift certificate.)

author-charms

1 – Ebook of Home At Last

1 – AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF “DISCOVERY – POETRY AND ART BY RICK AND JAN SIKES” (B&W EDITION) This book is hot off the press! 

NUMBER OF WINNERS – 3

FOR A CHANCE TO WIN, YOU MUST VISIT THE BOOK TRAILER VIA THE YOUTUBE LINK BELOW AND LEAVE A COMMENT. YOUR NAME WILL THEN BE ENTERED INTO A DRAWING FOR THESE COOL PRIZES!

HOME AT LAST

CLICK HERE TO VIEW BOOK TRAILER

home_at_last_finalist_award

Released from federal prison after fifteen long years, Luke Stone boards a Greyhound bus bound for Texas, for home and the woman who holds his heart. He happily hangs up his neon dreams for a paint brush and hammer. Darlina Flowers has waited her entire adult life to become Mrs. Luke Stone, but will the hardships of starting over with nothing be too much? Their love is tested to the core as the story unfolds.

 

As with the other books in this series, Home At Last is a true story based on the lives of Rick and Jan Sikes.

Order on Amazon

OR

Order through my website for an autographed copy and the music CD that accompanies this story!

http://www.jansikes.com

HomeAtLast_BookAnd CD-Text

Book Cover Contest Finalist!

Wow!! I am elated. I had forgotten all about entering this book cover contest with Authorsdb. So, you can imagine my surprise when the email came.

Home At Last

Named Finalist in Authorsdb Book Cover Contest!

home_at_last_finalist_award

Released from federal prison after fifteen long years, Luke Stone boards a Greyhound bus bound for Texas, for home and the woman who holds his heart. He happily hangs up his neon dreams for a paint brush and hammer. Darlina Flowers has waited her entire adult life to become Mrs. Luke Stone, but will the hardships of starting over with nothing be too much? Their love is tested to the core as the story unfolds.

You can order Home At Last today on Amazon

Or for an autographed copy order through my Website

View the Book Trailer here!

 

#Musings from Don Ricardo

This blog came across my inbox recently from my friend, Richard J. Dobson, aka Don Ricardo and I felt his words were worth sharing.

Ricardo_bio_pic

“It’s an old habit, this saving of clippings. I cut out a page of excerpts from commencement addresses that included this from Jessye Norman, opera singer, to graduates at Oberlin College, Ohio: “You see art brings us together as a family because it is an individual expression of universal human experience. It comes from that part of us that is without fear, prejudice, malice or any of the other things that we create in order to separate ourselves one form the other. Art makes each of us whole by insisting that we use all of our senses, our heads and our hearts, that we express with our bodies, our voices, our hands, as well as with our minds.”

I often find myself thinking about art and what it means, what it can do. What is an artist, anyway? For me at this point it’s a person who over a lifetime accumulates a body of creative work. Along the way he or she must gain enough support from the larger community to keep on creating. Success, while helpful, may not be required. Too much of it, and you’re prima donna bound, and risk trading your voice for that of a public persona.

Influence

People who write about art and artists look to trace influences. They want to know who it was that helped mold the artist, and thereby suggest a link to some known figure or movement. But when you’re young and starting a career, your greatest influence might be your old roommate, or an English professor who liked your early stories. Or a guitar picker only a handful of people ever heard of, like the reclusive country-bluesman John Grimaudo down in Rockport, Texas. Or Jack Saunders in Florida churning out a lifetime in prose he never sold; or Jason Eklund, street singer-roofer living out of his car and printing his hand-written manuscripts at the copy shop. These people, and others I could name, have probably influenced me as much as any better known artist.

Considering the economics, I’m still amazed that anyone would choose a life making music or writing books or painting. The answer to that one, of course, is the life chooses you. This opens up other questions about success, and what that might be. Artists are forgotten like everybody else. Only a tiny handful are remembered. Success might be nothing more than survival. I might have given a different answer thirty years ago.  Now I would say honoring your vision and your muse, carrying on, and doing your work. That’s your joy, and that might be what success really means. The hobbyists, the people who never had a vision, or didn’t really want it bad enough, tend to winnow out. What you’re left with is artists. Shorn of all the romance and bullshit, just people going about their work”.

If you like what Don Ricardo has to say, visit his website, take a look at the books and extensive catalog of music he has published.

Richard_img01