Monday, April 23, 2012

Honky-tonk Heaven

Nena Anderson & Jim Austin w/Brawley 4/21/12 at Griffin San Diego. photo by O

There are some things that just make me smile. 

A few years ago my friend, bassist Jim Austin, put together a band. 
The formula was...good friends and good music = a good time!

So Jim, drummer John Kuhlken, pedal steel player David Berzansky,
guitarist Adrian Demain and I all got together to play music dear to our hearts:
honky-tonk!  Party music, sweet shuffles and swingin' two-steps 
by our favorite artists. Faron Young, George Jones, Buck Owens, 
Charlie Rich, Don Gibson, Patsy Cline, etc. etc. etc. Within a few rehearsals
we had added original tunes by Adrian and myself as well,
and within a year, we had an award nominated country band, Brawley.
(Named after the California "cattle call" rodeo town just east of San Diego.)
Five friends laughing, playing, enjoying the music, audience and each other.
Every show is about that.

Last May, in an unforeseen tragedy, we lost our drummer John.
We lost not only a bandmate, but more importantly, a good friend.
 Since then Brawley has played only a few shows. It's not difficult to find a drummer.
It is difficult to feel like you're replacing a friend...who can never be 'replaced.'

Last Saturday Brawley played our first show in many months.
Our friend Dale Daniel from Los Angeles joined us on drums.
While stumbling through a few tunes, the laughter and friendships
and unbelievable musicianship of the band made me feel sure John was with us
that night, having a beer and laughing with us from the heavens. 
Brawley rocked the set just as we always have...

What a great night! Maybe a little too many whiskeys, but a few turns
on the dance floor to the music of Mark Stuart and the Bastard Sons
and such a fun night of making music with friends...
well, it's honky-tonk heaven.