February 2017 Newsletter
Industry Profile: Producer / Musician Lloyd Maines
Prolific producer Lloyd Maines has worked on 4,000-plus projects in his career, including producing tracks for his daughter Natalie Maines' band, Dixie Chicks, and their multi-platinum selling albums.
One of the first things you'll discover about producer, pedal steel player, Grammy Award-winning musician Lloyd Maines is that he's incredibly humble considering his exceptional career...down to Earth in that earnest, hardscrabble West Texas way that the thousands of musicians and music industry veterans that have worked with him can attest. The man lives and breathes music, and as one of the most sought after producers in Texas, headed into his fifth decade as a music business professional, he shows no signs of slowing down.
What was supposed to be a 10-minute conversation turned into an hour long career retrospective interview that revealed Maines to be at the center of more pop cultural zeitgeist-defining moments than ZELIG and FORREST GUMP combined.
Pop a top, fire up our Lloyd Maines retrospective playlist (he's producer and/or pedal steel player on every track), and join us as we dive into part 1 of a 2 part interview where Maines takes us through how he and his brothers learned to play music, how The Clash got turned on to the Joe Ely Band, the eureka moment Maines had while producing Terry Allen’s seminal “Lubbock (on everything),” and how Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Live at Gruene Hall” gave birth to an entire sub-genre of Texas country music.
TMO: Early on as a teenager, you started playing music with your brothers as the second generation Maines Brothers Band. Did you ever study music as a kid, learning how to read music and all that? How’d you pick it up?
Maines: "I’ve never taken a music course at all. Never learned to read music at all. I kinda picked it up from watching my father (James Maines) and my uncle (Wayne Maines). They had a weekend band (the first generation of the Maines Brothers Band) back in West Texas when I was growing up. And my brothers and I would sit around the living room floor and watch them play and just soak it up as best we could. And we were only in the fourth, fifth, and/or sixth grade.
"And then when I was in the 8th grade, I remember I had my parents buy me a Mel Bay Chord Book. One of those $2 Mel Bay instructional books, where it just taught basic chords. You know, nothing fancy. It showed a picture of a guy’s left hand making chord patterns. So I would just copy those. And that’s the way I learned my chords. And I practiced on my dad’s old…my dad had an old 1958 Gibson acoustic guitar. So I practiced on that and learned the chords, and then I taught the chords to my brothers. I have 2 brothers (Steve and Kenny) just younger than me. And my other brother (Donnie) came along later. I taught them the chords, and then one brother (Kenny), we worked on bass for him, and that’s how we started our young Maines Brothers band (by 1967, known as the Little Maines Brothers Band).
"We just learned as we went. We learned by listening to Merle Haggard records, Ray Price, Johnny Bush, Buck Owens, George Jones. We knew all those songs by all those artists. We just learned (via) on the job training. We started playing gigs when I was 14 years old. My brothers were 12 and 11. The 11-year-old (Kenny Maines) played bass. And the 12-year-old (Steve Maines) played acoustic and sang. And then when I was 14, I got an electric guitar. And I tried to play electric…and we gigged all around West Texas: VFW halls, rodeo dances. We were too young to play in the bars at that point, (though) we still started playing when we were underage in some bars. My dad would go with us, and he was the chaperone that was ‘of age.' So we started off early and just learned (via) trial by fire."
TMO: And you’re going by the Maines Brothers Band at that point...playing covers, and different places around Lubbock. And at some point, you guys split up to go to college?
Maines: "We did. We played all through high school. I got married right out of high school to my high school sweetheart, and we’ve been married almost 47 years now."
TMO: Congratulations! That’s amazing.
Maines: "Thanks…yeah. So I got married right out of high school. One brother (bassist Kenny Maines) graduated and got a gig in Las Vegas playing for this guy, Kenny Burnham. And then my other brother Steve went to Texas Tech. And actually he even went to Texas State for a while, I think. And then went back to Texas Tech and graduated. And then my youngest brother who came along a little later, he was our drummer. And he didn’t start drumming full-time with the Maines Brothers until the late ‘70s, once he got out of high school. He graduated in ’76.
"So once everybody got out of high school (and went separate ways), I started playing with Joe Ely at that time. And also working in a studio in Lubbock called Caldwell Studios. And that’s actually where I started working on my studio chops. Man, I had no training in that either. I just learned it as I went."
TMO: And did you have a mentor there at Caldwell Studios?
Maines: "No…not really. The owner was a good musician and a good engineer. His name was Don Caldwell. We just figured it out as we went. By that time, I had started playing pedal steel, and was doing session work on pedal steel, and I really enjoyed it. And (learning in the studio) just kind of evolved. Back in the early ‘70s. I was recording and playing on everything I could get my hands on: hardcore country, heavy metal rock ‘n’ roll. I even played and recorded Conjunto music…and Tejano stuff that would come through the studio where sometimes they’d want me to play or produce. And I’d just dive right in, man. I learned it…and soaked it up early.
"And then I started playing with Joe Ely in 1973. He wanted to put a band together and just do a couple of weekend dates to try to get enough money for him to relocated to Austin."
TMO: Was Ely familiar with you from your band with your brothers? Or did y’all cross paths at the studio in Lubbock?
Feature Film Loaded with Texas Music
The central TX-shot LA BARRACUDA launches crowdfunding campaign in order to meet festival season rollout
Austin-based filmmakers Julia Halperin and (musician-turned-filmmaker) Jason Cortlund will debut their new feature film La Barracuda in the Narrative Competition section of this year’s SXSW Film Festival.
They’ve launched an IndieGoGo campaign to help them cover the finishing costs and music rights in advance of the world premiere next month in Austin: https://igg.me/at/labarracuda.
La Barracuda prominently features on-screen performances by great Texas musicians including Butch Hancock (The Flatlanders), Bob Livingston (The Lost Gonzo Band), Colin Gilmore, Richard Bowden, The Mastersons, The Harvest Thieves, as well as songs by Blaze Foley, Don Walser, Betty Soo, and Bonnie Whitmore.
The film stars newcomer Sophie Reid (Game of Thrones) as Sinaloa, a young British woman who comes to Texas to find her half-sister Merle - played by Allison Tolman (Fargo) - by way of their dead country musician father. It doesn’t take long for Sinaloa to charm her way into Merle’s life. Her singing awakens something in Merle and erases some of the lingering doubts about their shared bloodline. But an all-too-familiar chaos comes with it, which soon starts to unravel Merle’s stable world—her job, her upcoming marriage, and an already tense relationship with her mother, portrayed by Texas Film Hall of Fame inductee JoBeth Williams (Poltergeist, The Big Chill). And while the family music legacy brought this stranger to town, darker motives are woven into the songs she sings, showing glimpses of a violent rage that’s been building for years.
The IndieGoGo campaign offers a number of rewards that should appeal to serious music lovers – from exclusive bonus music videos, to musician merch packages, to a personalized murder ballad written just for you, to a pair of early 1960s Gibson LG-0 guitars used in the film.
Texas Music Office at MusicFest
The Steamboat, CO annual event showcases Texas country talent
In early January industry professionals associated with the Texas Country and Red Dirt genres gathered again in Steamboat, Colorado for the annual MusicFest conference hosted by Dickson Productions.
Now in its 30th year, MusicFest gives managers, promoters, agents, and many others who work in the Country and Red Dirt genre the rare opportunity to sit down with one another to discuss the issues facing their artists.
This year the group had something exciting to discuss: the election of a nine member board who will work to define the scope of the newly elected board, and serve as an advocate for their scene. With the assistance and support of the Texas Music Office, big things are in the future for this sub-genre.
TEXAS MUSIC License Plates Promotion Retains Artists Star Power
With the help of many different Texas artists, celebrities, music businesses, and TMO friends and community partners like yourself, sales for the revamped specialty license plate program - benefiting grants for Texas school children and community music programs - continue to grow since the new plate's release.
$22 out of the $30 fee goes directly toward grants for traditionally under-resourced Texas school children to receive music lessons, music instruments, and toward community music programs sponsored by 501(c)3 non-profit organizations.
You can purchase a license plate from the Texas DMV here: goo.gl/pLpwgV.
And nonprofit organizations may apply for a license plate grant to fund the purchase of music lessons and/or music instruments via the Office of the Governor's eGrants online application. Grant applications may only be completed online via eGrants.
Texas artists from a variety of genres continue to help us spread the word about the TEXAS MUSIC license plate grant program, including Kevin Russell of Shinyribs (pictured above with a souvenir version of the license plate).