Archive for October, 2010

From the official press release:


North American Tour Kicks Off In December Including A New Year’s Eve Show In The Band’s Hometown Of Dallas

October 25, 2010 – Los Angeles, CA – Old 97’s critically acclaimed new album, The Grand Theatre Volume One, debuted on the Billboard Top 200 with the bands highest chart position to date.  The record received a 7 out of 10 rating in Spin Magazine and 3 ½ stars in Rolling Stone with Twangville calling it “…one of this year’s best albums.”  The band spent release week in their home state of Texas introducing songs from the new record to enthusiastic audiences at packed shows and In-Store events in Dallas, Austin and Houston. Old 97’s, legendary for their blistering live performances, have added dates to their upcoming winter tour in support of The Grand Theatre Volume One, including a newly announced New Year’s Eve show in their hometown of Dallas, TX at the House of Blues. A full list of tour dates is below.

The Grand Theatre Volume One’s first single, “Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You),” which USA TODAY calls “part garage rock, part vintage British punk,” continues to climb on radio station playlists with increased spins each week. The new record was produced by Salim Nourallah (the band’s previous release, Blame It On Gravity) and engineered by Jim Vollentine (Spoon).

While recording The Grand Theatre Volume One, the band set out to capture the energy of their famous live performances.  They spent a week of pre-production recording the new songs completely live at the nearly 100-year-old (and reportedly haunted) Dallas venue Sons of Hermann Hall.  After deciding what new songs made the cut for proper studio recording, the band moved the production to Treefort Studios in Austin, TX.  Basic tracks for these studio sessions were recorded mostly live, resulting in an album that is as vibrant, immediate and sweat drenched as their praised live show.  Frontman Rhett Miller stated, “The Old 97’s have hit a great stride, found our second wind.  I feel like we found the secret to capturing the live energy people rave about after they see us play.”

Back in the studio.

October 20, 2010

The band is back in the studio this week, finishing up some more tracks for The Grand Theatre Volume Two. Seems crazy, I know, since the full slate of touring to support Volume One hasn’t even kicked in yet. But you have to strike while the iron is hot, or some other applicable cliché. Anyway, the guys are back in Austin this week at Texas Treefort Studios, and I had the distinct pleasure of dropping by for a few hours last night. What I heard was amazing.

They worked on two songs in the time I was there, focusing past the distraction of the Rangers’ shellacking of the Yankees on the TV in the next room. The first song was actually an old Ranchero Brothers tune, and you can hear Ken working on his part in the video clip above. Bonus points to anyone who can name the song. The second tune was actually a new instrumental that left everyone in the building grinning like fiends. You’ll know what I mean the first time you hear Phillip yell “onetwothreefour!”

I’m going to try to get back out there today to get some more video and photos. It’s a dark, comfortable setting, and the light last night was not good for shooting.

I’ve done some digging and found some info on the upcoming CuervoGames the Old 97’s will be playing at. According to the press release I found:

Jose Cuervo arrives to Austin with the CuervoGames, a FREE festival event for adults 21+ that will feature a grueling American Gladiators-style competition, food, music and more.

CuervoGames features a series of interactive challenges created to test the athletic prowess and skill of local competitors. Teams of four can go head-to-head on the Barrel Roll, where competitors climb a Mayan Pyramid to capture a series of flags at the top, the Waterfall Climb, where teams scale a 20-foot rock climbing wall as they’re drenched by rushing water, the Highwire Harvest, where they test agave farming skills 30 feet in the air, or in the Margarita Madness, a messy race against the clock to make the ultimate cocktail.

The winning team will earn a FREE trip to Las Vegas on Halloween weekend, where they’ll represent their hometown in the CuervoGames National Finals.

Cuervo’s “Ride the Lime” offers consumers an on-site challenge (think mechanical bull) and FREE CuervoGames gear as they cheer on their favorite teams.

To pre-register a Facebook team or for more info, visit
WHERE: Cross streets of W. 4th and Guadalupe St
WHEN: October 23, 2010 (times are subject to change)

4:00 – 4:30 PM – Charity Challenge Margarita Madness
4:00 PM – Qualifier Round Begins
4:30 PM – Charity Challenge Trophy Presentation
7:30 – 8:30 PM – Live Performance (TBD)
8:00 – Qualifier ends
8:30 – 10:00 PM – Cuervo Games Finals
10:00 – 11:00 PM – Live performance by the Old 97’s

The rumor going around is that the 7:30 performer is The Gourds. Not sure, though.

We got a rare treat in Austin last night. The guys played a special show at a very small, very cool venue, The Ghost Room. The show was hosted by local radio station KGSR and featured a raucous setlist and a rowdy crowd, two great tastes that go great together. We were treated to several songs off The Grand Theatre Volume One, and they sounded fantastic live. Seems like as good a time as any to see how video embedding is going to work on the new site. Enjoy.


YouTube version for you iPhoners:

FYI, New West video taped the entire show, so here’s hoping you all get to see it one day. It was something special.

A note from Ken Bethea.

October 12, 2010

Back in the mid and late 90’s, around about the time Seinfeld was becoming slightly less funny and the word “blog” was about as well known as “DVR,”  I used to write what I thought of us a “Band Diary.” For the most part I wrote about happenings on tour and in the studio. At the time I was pretty amazed at the technology that allowed me, a guy in a band, to directly communicate with fans. Fueled by the desire to prove that I was just a “regular guy in a rock band” I think I wrote off and on for about three years then suddenly… I stopped.


It’s hard for me to remember exactly the specifics, but I think for the most part it had to do with getting married. Suddenly I had a mortgage. A yard. Two cats and an iguana. Soon there was a son. Then a daughter. And not only did I have less time to devote to a few hours a week of writing a non-paying journal, but also I got a little tight with my privacy. I remember there was a phase where fans would bring up things I had written with no preface. Like:

“Hey Ken.”
“How is Tyler?” (My hometown.)
“Uh, it’s OK.” Pause here while I panic, wondering if this is someone I went to high school with. “Have you been there lately or something?”
“Oh no, I just read what you read on-line about going there over Thanksgiving.”
Relief, sweet relief would wash over me, then:
“So how was your honeymoon in Italy?”


I know compared to most jobs that’s a fairly small complaint. For instance, I used to repair roofs with tar on scorching 100 degree Texas heat for $3.10 an hour, but for some reason, that scenario got to me. Somewhere around 1998, I stopped tapping the keys.

One year led to two. And to 3 and 5 and 10. I wrote a few other spur of the moment pieces, but nothing with any regularity. Now here I am 15 years later after the hey-day of my old school “blogs” (hate the word, love the meaning) and I’ve decided (after the urging/insistence of my band mates) to get back into the business of sharing my stories with strangers over the Internet. (See how dark that sounds?)

I’m going to keep this thing pretty loose. Not exactly a diary (too bloggy) nor a memoir (I’m not a member of AARP yet), I’m going to just try to tell some tales that you readers will find worth coming back to. Every band has a million stories and some of them are actually worth hearing.

With that, how about a story? Since I’m only recently back into the writing game, I’m going to start easy and tell the easiest story of them all: The “In the beginning…” story.

But that will have to be saved for next week. Until then, enjoy the “TGT V1.”