The Bolivar Kid Strikes Again

Hayes Carll continues H-town's hot streak with Little Rock

"I call some records 'economy with dignity,' but this was almost economy without dignity," says Field with a laugh. "We had a stripped-down band, and I don't know that we ignored the more acoustic elements of his first record -- we honored that on a couple of tunes -- but we tried to have that Hill Country Texas, mid-'70s, anti-hipster, regular approach to a song."

Both Carll and Field are too cool to name-drop that stripped-down studio band, which included growlin' monster of a guitarist Kenny Vaughn (who tours with Lucinda Williams), former Ben Folds Five bassist Jared Reynolds, Los Straitjackets drummer Jimmy Lester and backup vocals from Allison Moorer. Carll's songs also are studded with star co-writers: John Evans pitched in on the anti-bad-country fight song "Sit In with the Band," Guy Clark helped Carll come up with the brooding "Rivertown," while Ray Wylie Hubbard assisted the penning of the bluesy ditty "Chickens."

"Guy was very, very deliberate," says Carll. "Every word had to have a specific meaning. Even after we were done, he would call me on the phone and say, 'We should change this to that' or 'and to the,' you know, just little things that made a lot of difference. And Ray definitely goes for a certain feel with the lyrics that he's putting down. It was a real education."

For Carll, most of the schooling was in the key of "try, try, again." "I learned a lot of lessons in persistence," he says. "I don't mean to seem half-assed about it -- I write all the time -- but I don't really stick to it after I hit a roadblock. I'll give up and move on to the next song. All three of these guys were like, 'We're not quitting till we're done with this.' In three days I got two songs, and usually that's a couple of months' worth of stuff for me."

The highlight of the album for me is "Down the Road Tonight," a J.J. Cale/ Dylanesque stream-of-consciousness white-boy rap Carll describes in the liner notes as a song about all the things he would like to write about but lacks the discipline to try. (The list includes, but decidedly is not limited to, Van Zandt groupies, right-wing radio ranters, hard-partying Quakers, Michael Jackson and tantric teachers.) It's a surefire Texas music classic, but don't expect to hear it live yet -- in a concert setting, Carll still can't remember all the words. There are some things, it seems, Hayes Carll won't do for a song. Like memorize it.

Scuttlebutt Caboose

More national validation for Houston's burgeoning young songwriter scene (indie pop division): Arthur Yoria's "Call Me" aired on The O.C. on March 24, alongside tunes by little-B buzz bands Kasabian, Kaiser Chiefs, LCD Soundsystem and Eagles of Death Metal. In other Yoria news, keep an ojo out for his first Spanish-language EP, which is coming soon…The Hollisters aren't the only killer turn-of-the-century Houston band to reunite this spring. While many of us were away at South By Southwest, swamp crawlers Jug o' Lightnin' played their first show in months, if not years, at the West Alabama Ice House's annual crawfish boil/art show on March 19. Drummer Chris King says the band will be playing more shows, maybe one or two a month, but he added that the band is still pretty vague about future plans…Also vague are the plans of Alvin honky-tonker deluxe Johnny Wolfe, who finally has started work on a follow-up to the criminally underrated 2001 album Bad Tonight. His Web site also says that there are "whispers of an overseas tour."…Still speaking of second albums, soulful and tasteful young local blues-rocker the Mighty Orq will stack up a pile of Milk Money CDs on a merch table for the first time on April 30 at the Rhythm Room. Check this paper the week of the show for more details…Congrats are in order to Bob Morgan, who was inducted into the Jazz Educators Hall of Fame earlier this year. Morgan directed HSPVA's jazz studies program from 1976 to 1999 and vaulted it into national prominence and acclaim. Here's a partial list of his former pupils: artists/bandleaders Jason Moran and Everette Harp, composer-arranger Ed Smart, New York pianist Helen Sung, Al Jarreau music director-bassist Chris Walker, Duke Ellington Orchestra saxophonist Shelley Carrol and McCoy Tyner drummer Eric Harland. And there are many, many others.

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