CLICK ON TITLE BELOW TO GO TO PURCHASE!!!! CD submissions accepted! Guest writers always welcome!!

I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

Please email me at
Showing posts with label Austin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Austin. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

VizzTone Label Group artist: Brad Stivers - Took You Long Enough - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Took You Long Enough, from Brad Stivers and it's terrific! Just barely in his mid twenties, Austin's Brad Stivers has really hit it deep on this one. Opening with rock n roller, 2000 miles, Brad Stivers steps up to the mic with his telecaster and just lets it fly. His vocals are clear and his playing clean. On Latin flavored, You're Just About To Lose Your Clown, Mark Wilson really rips on sax and the tight drum work of Nico Loophonte, coupled with Bobby Perkins on bass sets a hot plate for sizzling hot guitar riffs by Stivers. Put It Down is a super boogie with key changes and twangy guitar riffs. Smokin! Lightly funked title track, Took You Long Enough, makes it hard to stay in your seat. Funky rhythm guitar with tight drums, and Odie Hill on bass keeps this party rolling with crisp understated low octave guitar soloing. Emily Gimble is featured on country track, Here We Go Again, with Eric Fraygocki on bass, Gimble on piano and Bukka Allen on B3.  Malford Milligan takes front and center on popular blues track, Nickel and a Nail. Dripping soul this track really hits a nice groove with Bobby Perkins on bass and Allen's organ work is spot on with mature soloing by Stivers. Very nice. One of my favorite tracks on the release, a Bartholomew/King composition is instrumental One Night With You showing the style and composure of Sean Costello or Danny Gatton. Very nice!  On Can't Wait, Stivers develops that classic Texas style guitar lope with just the right syncopation and feel. Another excellent soulful track is Save Me, with Stivers literally wailing out the blues. With controlled lower octave guitar, fan picking and tremolo this track is dramatic and solid. Wrapping the release is James Brown's classic, Cold Sweat. Now I gotta tell you I have a soft spot for James Brown but Cold Sweat is near the top. Stivers does it instrumental all the way ... excellent guitar melody with Perkens and Loophonte fanning the flames for this fiery hot close to a super release!

View Bman Blueswriter's profile on LinkedIn

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

 For added exposure - Blues World Wide Group "LIKE" 


“Like” Bman’s Facebook page and get support for your favorite band or venue - click HERE

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hardcore Sex - You Greasy Devil - New Release Review

  1. I just had the opportunity to review the newest release, You Greasy Devil, by Hardcore Sex and it's raw and real and I like it. Opening with Clarksdale, a modern stripped down blues, Bear Ryan wails the lyrics and plays drums and Brian Johnson has super saturated and distorted guitar, not dissimilar but not the same as early The Black Keys with heavy blues and punk edge. This is great! Sister has a soulful vocal line by Ryan and Johnson's slide work is fatter than fat with a catchy guitar vamp and showing a band that is just loose enough to give it a rag tag feel but tight enough to keep you glued. Down My Throat takes raw to the next level with overt sexual lyrics that give the raw bluesy feel even more edge. This duo takes the blues as close to punk as I've heard it and has super aural presence. Great guitar tone man! Excellent! Wrapping the release is Tiger Meat ,a led footed blues rocker with a really wide girth and erotic lyrics. This band knows how to hold it down and hammer it home. Excellent debut! Check it out!!

View Bman Blueswriter's profile on LinkedIn

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

 For added exposure - Blues World Wide Group "LIKE" 


“Like” Bman’s Facebook page and get support for your favorite band or venue - click HERE

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Johnny Nicholas - Fresh Air - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Fresh Air, from Johnny Nicholas and it's got breadth. Opening with Moonlight Train, Nicholas keeps it light with his own vocal and harmonica backed by Scrappy Jud Newcomb on guitar and John Chipman on drums. An early blues sound drives this track with purity. Sleepy John Estes' Kid Man Blues is up next with a cool bop. Cindy Cashdollar makes an appearance with some cool slide and Newcomb adds in nice mandolin giving this track a whole new feel. With a Little Feat kind of funk, Blues Time, has a real nice groove. Backaing himself on guitar with Cashdollar on slide and super percussion and drums by John Chipman and Bruce Hughes this track has a real nice feel. Country flavored, Red Light, gets a real nice lap flavor from Cashdollar and with slick piano work, Steve Riley on button accordion and Newcomb's guitar, Nicholas' vocals are perfect. Sweet Katrina has a smoky Latin feel emphasized by precise piano work and nice slide from Cashdollar. Expressive vocals by Nicholas and nicely executed guitar riffs give the track a real cool sound. Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar has an easy, slinky feel highlighted by nice bass work by Hughes and Jack Bruce like falsetto vocals by Nicholas. Painterly organ parts and a nice trade of acoustic and electric guitar riffs add a nice dimension. With a forward jazz ballad feel, How Do You Follow A Broken Heart?, is a strong entry with simple brush drums, rich lap steel soloing and nice chords supporting Nicholas' clean vocals. Very nice. With it's 8 bar format, Bayou Blues, gives Nicholas on harp, Cashdollar on lap steel and Riley on accordion equal footing in the spotlight. Nicely finger picked, Roll Mississippi, is a solitude blues ballad with mostly acoustic guitar and mandolin. Backing vocals by Newcomb, Chipman and Hughes give the track a warm closeness. Willie Dixon's Backdoor Man features Nicholas o national resonator and Newcomb on mandolin for a update on primitive blues styling. Very nice. Wake Up Bobby has a cool, swampy funk feel punched along by Hughes on bass. Nicholas' vocal phrasing and slick slide work by Cashdollar make this one of my favorites on the release. Grinding guitar tone on the opening of Workin In The Garden sets a rock theme with cool western overtones set by Cashdollar. Strong vocal delivery makes this the most radio driven track on the release. Title track, Fresh Air is a real nice track with Nicholas on slide resonator balanced against Newcomb on mandolin and clear lead vocals backed by warm rich backing vocals for a soft touch closer.

View Bman Blueswriter's profile on LinkedIn

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

 For added exposure - Blues World Wide Group "LIKE" 


Monday, August 8, 2016

Heralded Austin Musician Johnny Nicholas Brings a Breath of "Fresh Air" with New Blues/Roots CD Coming September 2

Heralded Austin Musician Johnny Nicholas Brings a Breath of Fresh Air with New Blues/Roots CD Coming September 2

AUSTIN, TX – Acclaimed roots musician Johnny Nicholas has announced a September 2 release date for his new CD, Fresh Air, which showcases his multiple talents on various guitars and soulful vocals for an album surely to be one of the best musical revelations of the year.

Watch the Johnny Nicholas video that includes musical excerpts from the Fresh Air album:

Fresh Air was produced by Bruce Hughes and recorded at Arlyn Studios in Austin. Featuring an all-star cast that includes Scrappy Jud Newcomb (guitars, mandolin, mandocello), John Chipman (drums, percussion, vocals) and Bruce Hughes (bass, vocals, percussion), plus a guest list that includes Cindy Cashdollar (lap steel and additional guitars), the new CD creates a satisfying statement of true American roots music at its finest and most authentic.
Fresh Air is a collection of stories and melodies that have haunted me for some time,” says Johnny Nicholas. “There are some different styles here but all of this is the blues as I know it—as all American music and rock and roll has sprung from the same source. I don’t understand a whole lot of what is going on in the modern world, but I do know I could use a little ‘fresh air.’ I hope you dig these tunes.”

Containing a baker’s-dozen 13 tracks, Fresh Air covers a wide swath of Johnny’s roots – everything from the Delta blues of the album’s opener, “Moonlight Train,” to the Chicago-style city blues of the Howlin’ Wolf classic, “Back Door Man,” along with sojourns into swampy Cajun styles, Americana and everything in between.  The constant throughout all these songs is Johnny’s high-lonesome blues vocal style, lithe harmonica playing and soulful string work on an assortment of guitars. Other than “Back Door Man” and the Sleepy John Estes chestnut, “”Kid Man Blues,” Johnny Nicholas had a hand in writing all of the other songs on Fresh Air.
“Johnny Nicholas is one of the best bluesmen ever, black or white.” – Stephen Bruton. When it comes to Americana roots music and especially the blues, the late, great Stephen Bruton knew what he was talking about. His description of his long-time friend and musical comrade in arms is succinct and quite a heady compliment, but then, Johnny Nicholas is an amazing talent.
For four decades, Johnny’s consummate musicianship and vocal skills have graced live music scenes across the country and abroad. He has toured, performed and recorded with many true blues and Americana roots music legends, including Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Lockwood Jr., Johnny Shines, Big Walter Horton, Roosevelt Sykes, Nathan Abshire, Robert Pete Williams, Eddie Taylor, Hound Dog Taylor, Johnny Young, Houston Stackhouse, and Boogie Woogie Red.
Johnny recorded and toured with Johnny Shines and Snooky Pryor, producing and playing guitar on their W.C. Handy Award-winning album, Back to the Country. He was one of the lead vocalists with Asleep at the Wheel when they won their first of many Grammy Awards. He gave blues guitar icon Ronnie Earl his first gig in the now legendary band, Guitar Johnny and the Rhythm Rockers. He has also performed with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Bonnie Rait, Eric Clapton, Pops and Mavis Staples, Delbert McClinton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Marcia Ball and Jimmie Vaughan, among many others. He can wow a festival crowd of thousands or a small room of devotees.
Born in Rhode Island, Johnny discovered the blues at an early age, grooving to the great R&B that was blasting from the airwaves in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s—Jimmy Reed, Lightnin’ Slim, Lloyd Price, Slim Harpo, Larry Williams, Little Walter, Ray Charles and Howlin’ Wolf were all big blips on this impressionable young man’s radar screen. Like fellow Greek-American Johnny Otis had a generation earlier, this Johnny easily made the leap into the soulful world of the blues. He was high school friends with Duke Robillard and the two of them shared licks and records after school, as well as each leading their own band (Duke’s was called the Variations and Johnny’s was called the Vikings).
In 1966, he hopped the train to New York City to see his idol, Howlin’ Wolf. He ended up hanging with Wolf’s band at the Albert Hotel by day (where Wolf, the Muddy Waters band and Otis Spann were all staying), and at Ungano’s nightclub by night, where the Wolf was holding musical court while on a two week prowl of the Big Apple. This experience cemented his love of the blues while providing inspiration and a gateway to friendships and musical adventures that would help mold a successful career, and still smolder in this talented and restless soul
In 1980, Johnny decided to take time off from touring in order to raise a family. He married Brenda Schlaudt, one of the co-founders of Antone’s night club; and played music at (and helped manage) what became a Texas culinary and music legend: Hill Top CafĂ© (housed in a former 1920s-era gas station - “inconveniently located in the middle of nowhere”) near Cherry Spring, not far from Austin. Hill Top’s eclectic menu includes items that reflect his and Brenda’s Greek, Cajun and Texas influences.   
After fathering three sons, Nicholas stepped up his music ventures, highlighted by Back to the Country in 1991.  Since then, he has released several more albums and returned to a more rigorous touring, songwriting and performance schedule.
Johnny Nicholas will support the release of Fresh Air with a series of dates in the Texas area, as well as showcase venues and festival dates around the country.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Travis Green - A Little Too Late - New release review

I just received the newest release (July 8, 2016), A Little Too Late,from Travis Green and it's quite good. Opening with title track, A Little Too Late, Travis Green on super lead vocals, shows country two step style, with Kid Andersen on guitar, Randy Bermudes on bass, Jason Hansen on drums, and nice key work from Jim Pugh. Cowboy styling on Please Don't Cry has a lot of polish with Lisa Leuschner Andersen on harmony. This is a real nice track that should hit the radio. Everybody Knows crosses over more to a rock sound, still influenced by country flavor. With the line "Everybody Knows That You're A Bitch A Heart" it is an auto hook that will certainly be a crowd favorite. Solid bass work from Bermudes and sassy sax work from Nancy Wright give this track a solid kick. Blues based ballad, The Only Love, has really nice organ work by Pugh giving it a great feel. Kid Andersen lays in some real nice bluesy country guitar riffs for good measure. Very cool. Keep You Off My Mind has a really strong rockin blues beat with a driving bass line. Green takes his vocals to a new level sounding every bit like a 50's country star and Andersen's guitar work is clean and classy. Damage Done is a solid country rock/pop track with memorable lead vocals and with sweet backup vocals from Lisa and Courtney Knott. Andersen's steel playing sets this track off giving it that extra bite. Caroline is one of my favorite tracks on the release with a rockin' boogie beat. Wright's hot sax work, with Pugh's key work and Lisa and Courtney on backup make this a top track. Excellent! Road Runs Cold is another well written track and Green sings within a swampy ambiance. Hansen really creates the spell with his tom tom work and Kid A. lays in shimmery guitar riffs that glisten off of his solid soloing. Excellent! Wrapping the release is Don't Forget, a track with a cool country funk and a touch of gospel. This is a great closer with Green's super vocal phrasing, Pugh's organ work, nice guitar riffs from Kid and Hansen's drum work. Nice closer.

View Bman Blueswriter's profile on LinkedIn

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

 For added exposure - Blues World Wide Group "LIKE" 


Monday, May 2, 2016

LoungeSide Records artist: Jeff Plankenhorn - SoulSlide - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, SoulSlide, from Jeff Plankenhorn and it's a cool melodic release with a country twist. Opening with Lose My Mind, a gospel flavored track, Jeff Plankenhorn shows strong vocal prowess and excellent electric slide skills. Joined by Miles Zuniga on guitars, Yoggie on bass, Brannen Temple on drums and Ruthie Foster and Malford Milligan on backing vocal, this track is excellent! Sam and Dave's, You Got Me Hummin' get's a cool make over with lead vocals shared by Plankenhorn and Milligan, backing vocals by Foster and relentless with fat slide leads. Very nice. Trouble Find Me lays back a bit with more of a pop country flavor. Warm vocal harmonies, organ work by Dave Scher and Rami Jaffe complimented by a super slide guitar voice makes this a prime radio track. Like Flowers has a driving rock beat with Plankenhorn and Foster trading lead vocals. Strong slide work on this track makes it a real strong seller, nicely complimenting the super vocals. Bright and poppy, Dirty Floor has a super rhythm and solid melody. A light funky guitar rhythm and a gritty lead electric guitar gives this track real traction. Kansas City Nocturne is a really haunting track with piano and eerily beautiful guitar work with blending like vocals from the spectacular Crosby Nash release from the 70's. Born To Win is pure R&B with great movement, vocals and harmonies. This track just has a great feel. Super! Vagabond Moonlight is a smart ballad with warm vocal and instrumental interplay. Easily a cross station seller. Mockingbird Blues is a track with very attractive vocal lead and ultra clean acoustic and slide guitar work. Really nice! Headstrong is a rocker with a heavy bass line and contemporary harmonies. Clean lead electric guitar and slide accent gives the track just a touch country. Live Today is a country flavored rocker with dueling guitar leads and a nice bass lead riff. Wrapping the release is Walking In the Sun, a country track with a lot of Wilson Pickett style soul. Plankenhorn really does show that he not only has a great voice but a very versatile vocal style as well as exceptional slide guitar taste. This release has many flavors but there is a string of continuity that ties it all together as a really nice release.

View Bman Blueswriter's profile on LinkedIn

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

 For added exposure - Blues World Wide Group "LIKE" 


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Austin-Based Dave Insley Is "Just the Way That I Am" on New CD Coming April 29 from DIR Records, with Special Guests Kelly Willis, Dale Watson, Elizabeth McQueen, Redd Volkaert and Rick Shea

Austin-Based Dave Insley Is Just the Way That I Am on New CD Coming April 29 from DIR Records

Latest Country Disc Features Special Guests Kelly Willis, Dale Watson, Elizabeth McQueen, Redd Volkaert and Rick Shea

CD Release Party Set for April 23rd at The White Horse

AUSTIN, TX – Dave Insley announces an April 29 release date for Just the Way That I Am, the latest album from the Austin-based singer/songwriter issued on his own DIR Records imprint. Backing him on the new CD are the members of his regular band, Dave Insley’s Careless Smokers, along with several special guests including singers Kelly Willis, Elizabeth McQueen and Dale Watson, as well as guitarists Redd Volkaert and Rick Shea.     

Dave Insley will celebrate the new disc with a CD release party at The White Horse in Austin on Saturday, April 23rd (500 N. Comal, Austin, Texas 78702 - doors open at 3 pm). The evening lineup includes: 7:00 pm - dance lessons with Two Left Foots; 8:00-9:30 pm - Jeff Hughes and Chaparral; 10:00 - 11:30 pm - Dave Insley's Careless Smokers; Midnight - 1:30 am – Heybale. Several special guests are expected.

Dave Insley's residency every Saturday at The White Horse from 8:00 - 9:30 pm resumes on April 29th. Dave Insley's Careless Smokers are: Dave Insley (lead vocals, guitar); Danny B. Harvey (electric guitar); Charlie Irwin (bass); Bobby Snell (pedal steel); and Daniel Jones (drums).

“We've been playing that time slot at The White Horse since June of 2013, and expect to continue to do so until the walls crumble,” Insley says. “My almost 3-year-long residency at the White Horse has developed a sizable following and the crowds keep getting bigger and bigger. We are so loved and nourished by it. It is literally the best gig I've ever had, and we have risen to the occasion.”

Dave Insley’s Careless Smokers will also be performing several times during the upcoming SXSW Music Conference in Austin:
3/18 - Atomic Honkytonk Showcase - Key Bar (9:00-10:00 pm)
3/19 - CD Preview Party - The White Horse (9:00-10:00 pm)
3/19 - Third Coast Music Presents NotSXSW - G&S Lounge (11:00 pm)

On Just the Way that I Am, Dave Insley showcases honest, no-frills, hardcore honky-tonk music at its best. This is old-style country crooning, delivered in a vocal style that recalls the great Ernest Tubb. Dave’s new disc showcases his quirky, heartfelt narratives and smoky baritone, and features the musical muscle of some of Austin’s finest players. From the opening lines of “Drinkin’ Wine and Staring at the Phone” through the closer, “Everything Must Go,” it ain’t nothin’ but a hardwood floor party, with Rick Shea, Redd Volkaert and Danny B. Harvey on guitar; Matt Hubbard on piano, harmonica and trombone; and special guest vocalists Kelly Willis, Elizabeth McQueen (Asleep at the Wheel) and Dale Watson.

Just the Way That I Am is Insley’s fourth solo release and his first since West Texas Wine in 2008. His artistic maturity and the clarity of his ideas shine through, carried by the easy cadence and quality performance for which Insley is known. Highlights include the honky-tonk weeper “Win-Win Situation, for Losers,” co-written with Rick Shea and Paul Lacques (I See Hawks in L.A.) and performed as a duet with Kelly Willis; “Arizona Territory 1904,” a re-telling of a Marty Robbins classic; and “We’re All Here Together Because of You,” a tender, upbeat homage to his wife and family. Insley’s modern voice and old-fashioned approach have earned him a singular position in the broad field of Americana music. This is thinking man’s country—intelligent, thought provoking story-songs that grow more satisfying with each listen.  

For more information, visit

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Austin-Based Singer/Songwriter Ashley Monical Is "Facing the Shadow" on Debut CD, Coming October 16 on Firecat Records

Austin-Based Singer/Songwriter Ashley Monical Is Facing the Shadow on Debut CD, Coming October 16 on Firecat Records

New Album Features Members of the Band of Heathens

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Austin-based singer/songwriter Ashley Monical announces an October 16 release date for her debut CD, Facing the Shadow, on Firecat Records. Produced by John Evans and recorded in nearby Wimberley, Texas, Facing the Shadow is the calling card for an exciting new Americana artist, showcasing 11 original songs either written or co-written by Ashley Monical. Backing Monical (lead vocals, guitar and keyboards) on the new disc are Falcon Valdez (drums) and Scott Davis (bass, guitar and organ), with special guest appearances by Emily Bell on background vocals, Eleanor Masterson on violin and Trevor Nealon on keyboards. Monical will tour substantially in support of the album’s release, including dates throughout Texas, plus Tennessee, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah.

The material on Facing the Shadow is very personal in origin, but universal in appeal, as Monical explores her own fears and dreams that anyone can relate to in the real world. At the heart of her songs is the idea of facing your own faults and desires in life by being truthful to yourself and to others around you. It’s the kind of musical territory she first began exploring over five years ago when she was one half of the buzzed-about acoustic folk duo called the Wildflowers, with singer Halley Anna Finlay. She has even traversed the glitzy “American Idol” phenomenon that took her out to Hollywood. About that event, Monical remembers, “It was a cool experience, but it definitely wasn’t really for me.”

The recording sessions for the new CD came together very organically and in a beautifully- relaxed setting. Producer John Evans (who also plays guitar on the album) lined up Falcon Valdez and Scott Davis (Band of Heathens), plus fellow Heathen Trevor Nealon and Eleanor Masterson for a couple of tracks, and Emily Bell on a few others. Monical secured the perfect studio space for them to live and work together in creative seclusion: a cabin in Wimberley on land owned by her father. “We all stayed out there and recorded the album on equipment that the engineer, Steve Christensen (from the legendary Sugar Hill Studios in Houston) brought down with him,” says Monical about the sessions. “I just wanted to be surrounded by nature and really liked the idea of everyone being out there together with nothing else around to distract us.”

All of the recording was done over the course of two weeks in the summer of 2014. And although Monical and Evans stayed true to their shared big-picture concept for the album as a whole, they allowed the sessions to flow naturally rather than by any sort of confining formula. “We just bended and twisted the songs and sound until they came to a place where we felt right about them,” she explains. “Some fell into their place right away and some took lots of time, energy and patience, but they all found their home.”

And the resulting tracks have a flow that glides smoothly throughout the entire album. The opening song, “A Child I Was,” is a gorgeous, stately piano ballad with a spiritual theme and sensual undertow that recalls the Rumors-era Fleetwood Mac sound. From the fierce resistance coursing through “Hunt Me Down,” to the soulful, gospel arc of “To the Mountain” and “Traveling Soul;” and from the languid beauty of “Sleep Child Sleep” (a lullaby Monical wrote for her godson), to the restless verve and sly bite of “Running” (a surefire single with a razor-sharp hook worthy of prime Tom Petty), Facing the Shadow is a multi-faceted study in sonic and emotional contrasts that fit together as a seamless, three-dimensional whole.

“It’s not really a concept album,” Monical says, “but I was definitely going through a period of really discovering who I am and what I stand for and what I believe in over the past couple of years, and a lot of these songs are definitely about that.” 

A good deal of that self-discovery came out of Monical's decision (self-imposed) in her mid-20s to go sober. But coming into her own as a performer with the courage — and obligation — to share her songs in front of strangers, friends, and peers alike proved an awakening, too. 

“Of course, there are still times nerves creep in a little when I am about to go on stage,” she admits with a smile. “And for a while, I wanted to call the album ‘Stage Fright’ because I want to face that. I want to bring it out of the dark and shine a light on it, just to put it out there and ... release it.” She ultimately decided on Facing the Shadow as the album’s title. “Everyone goes through a time in their life when they need to face the shadow. My wish is that this album will not only help folks through that time, but also inspire them to turn up the volume, roll down their windows and sing along with me in the moment!” Monical has the courage to own up to and face her fears and weaknesses, but she’s not about to be defined by them. 

About Ashley Monical

Although both of her parents loved music — so much so that her mother began teaching her how to sing as soon as she could speak — Monical didn’t begin writing songs until her early 20s. That’s when the Texas native moved to Austin after spending her teens in Colorado and growing up overseas for the better part of her childhood. She began the Austin chapter of her life immersed in theater, discovering her passion for performance over the course of many experimental plays — including, she recalls with a laugh, a Greek Tragedy in which she had to be fully nude onstage every night in front of an audience of 300 people. Talk about stage fright!

“It was terrifying and liberating,” Monical admits. “And I feel that performers should always strive to go to that place, even if they aren’t literally taking their clothes off in front of hundreds of people. When performers are open and vulnerable, it allows the audience to be open and vulnerable, too, and it benefits everyone involved in the sacredness of the art.” 

As much as she loved the theater world, it wasn’t long before Monical found herself drawn like a willing moth to a flame deeper and deeper into the heart of Austin’s justly celebrated music scene. “I picked up the guitar at around 21 and just sat alone in my bedroom a lot - playing through the finger pain - and I learned enough chords to play some covers, just because I wanted a way to sing,” she recalls. “But then I started writing my own songs and eventually going down to songwriter night every Wednesday at Cheatham Street (a legendary venue in nearby San Marcos where many notable Texas songwriters got their start), and it all kind of started from there.” She went on to spend the better part of the last decade playing her songs in front of audiences all over Texas and beyond, from Austin bars and coffee shops to the International Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis to Larry Joe Taylor’s Coastin’ & Cruisin’ music cruise; she landed that gig — and the chance to perform for thousand’s at the LJT Texas Music Festival — after winning one of Taylor’s annual songwriting competitions. 

All of the experience is readily apparent on her debut. Monical’s honeyed voice has been honed to crystal clear perfection and purity over years of choir practices and performances going back to fourth grade, and every song is a testament to both her poet’s soul as a writer and her equally graceful way with melody. The album also reveals a definite sense of purpose; Monical spent months revising her songs to gig-tested perfection and recording a number of demos with different artists and producers as a concerted effort to bring her artistic vision into clear focus. By the time she found just the right producer in John Evans, she knew exactly the kind of record she wanted to make. And Evans, a seasoned performing songwriter in his own right, was right there on the same page with her from the start. 

“It wasn’t forced at all,” Monical enthuses. “John has experience as an artist and fresh ears with an edge on how he hears music. He is open to new ideas and ways of creating sound and that’s what made me want to work with him.”

For more information, visit