Best CD about Houston - 2007
Kashmere Gardens Mud, Johnny Bush
Long a resident of San Antonio, Texas honky-tonk titan Johnny Bush turned his attention this year to the city of his birth and raising. In collaboration with former Chronicle music critic Rick Mitchell, Bush both authored his memoirs (Whiskey River [Take My Mind]: The True Story of Texas Honky-Tonk) and a Bayou City-themed album called Kashmere Gardens Mud. Neither Bush nor his hometown emerges from these works unscathed. The singer is frank about his sexcapades and addictions in his book, and he doesn't sugarcoat his childhood in the Kashmere Gardens 'hood on the CD's title track either. "The southern wind blows through Kashmere Gardens," opens Bush in his leathery baritone, "With the smell of Pasadena in the air / Nothing good ever grew in Kashmere Gardens / Only bitter weeds and flowers of despair." Elsewhere, Bush does celebrate his hometown's music — the album ranges from hard country to Cajun music to blues to mariachi to gospel to country-folk — and it features works by area players and songwriters such as Calvin Owens, Jesse Dayton, Brian Thomas, Dale Watson, Townes Van Zandt and onetime Houstonian Willie Nelson, who also sings. In the end, Kashmere Gardens Mud stands as one of the finest warts-and-all portrayals this city has ever spawned.