A Practical Angel

"I carried my PA up and down so many stairs, taking that PA and loading it into various cars and hitting deer in various automobiles with my PA in back. And then I was seeing people that didn't work as hard doing wonderful things with their music. I started to feel resentful, and I started to not like the way I sounded to people," Hendrix confesses. "I started to really get on my nerves to the point where I said, I have to quit what I've been doing. No one's holding a gun to my head and making me go play five times a week loading my PA in and out. If I don't like it, I have to stop. I knew if I stayed at these house gigs, nobody was ever gonna hear me."

So Hendrix began a campaign to take herself to the next level. Borrowing money from friends, she set out to make an album that was competitive in the larger marketplace. And Wilory Farm, with its smart color graphics, looks better than most every other DIY disc out there, and even rivals the professionalism of many indie releases.

It also sounds like a big-league production, thanks to the involvement of Lloyd Maines, producer of Charlie and Bruce Robison, Robert Earl Keen, James McMurtry, Terry Allen and countless others, and steel guitarist for the likes of Joe Ely and Jerry Jeff Walker. When Maines first heard a tape of Hendrix's songs, he knew they were special. "I knew that she didn't make up those songs; it all was like it was absolutely real," he says. "Every song on the tape hit me in various positive ways, and I just loved her voice.

"Plus, I was really impressed with the way she accompanied herself on guitar. I really appreciate a girl that takes the time and the energy and the effort to learn to play good guitar, which she does. To get to the level where she's playing, it takes time. You have to learn to develop your own style, and she certainly has."

Like many folks, Maines found something refreshingly distinctive in Hendrix. "There's little bits and pieces of maybe people she's listened to over the years, but for the most part, she's totally unique," he says.

Wilory Farm is marked by Hendrix's supple yet strong vocals, clever wordplay and a vast range of styles, from country-folk to Western swing to sitar-drenched rock-pop to Tex-Mex to jazz. Her cheeky, sometimes self-deprecating humor is matched by anthemic numbers filled with positive vibes like "Wallet" ("Bend like a willow, flow like a reed, live like a bird, change like a leaf") and "Hole in My Pocket." With its loudly beating heart, rich musicality and appealing intelligence, Wilory Farm is an impressive calling card that introduces an artist with the smarts and legs to make it in the long haul.

But just at the point where Hendrix was gearing up to make Wilory Farm and reorienting her performing calendar to start cultivating a statewide audience, her friend Williamson died at the age of 52. Yet, as one angel passed out of Terri's life, another arrived.

"What's weird is that Marion passed away, and then within a few weeks I was talking with Lloyd on the phone," Hendrix muses. "Lloyd came in my life right when Marion left my life, and he really helped me to quit my job at Biga and move forward with my music."

Maines has also been playing with Hendrix when his busy schedule permits, joining her in a duet at some gigs or as part of a band that now includes such top Austin players as bassist Glenn Fukunaga (who has played with Joe Ely and Mason Ruffner) and drummer Paul Pearcy (whose credits include work with Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Tish Hinojosa). But as much as Maines is helping Hendrix come along, she's also granted him an opportunity to brush up on some musical skills. "It's actually given me a chance to get to be a better guitar player and Dobro player," he says. "It is something I've really enjoyed doing, because I've played steel with so many people, and that's all I've done."

Though Hendrix's burgeoning career is no doubt the result of diligent work and a canny, do-it-yourself ethic, she feels really lucky. "We're raking it in," she says. "Now, it's all going out the door, of course, to pay for the record. But why would I want a record deal? I have one. For right now, I have this foundation, and if I don't spend too much money, the house can't fall down."

Hendrix knows that it takes perspiration as well as inspiration to make her mark in music, especially if she wants to follow her muse with as much integrity and honesty as she can muster. "I don't want to be like anyone else. I want to be the best I can be. That's why I got into this work," she concludes. "I'm not going to be half-assed about it. I don't want to be some half-assed writer who plays half-assed.

"For me, success is being the best I can be. I want to just nail it.

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