The season of "the scene"

COLUMBIA, Mo 4/30/15 (Photo Essay)
--  It's the time of year music fills the air:  birds emerging from the cold; outdoor concerts; a CoMo street fair; a troupe of traveling troubadours at a festival in Stephens Lake Park.  

The celebratory sound of the Rose Music Hall unveiling a few days ago.  Children singing at Earth Day.   A crowd lining up at the Blue Note or The Bridge, for the latest band to hit town.    

In honor of this Season of Joyful Noise and the traveling musicians who help make it happen, our music reviewer and editor Hilary Scott Gennaro (left) takes us on her first major journey of the new music year. 

On the road to Texas with her hit new album Freight Train Love, Hilary and her band played venues around the state; took in the sights and sounds of South by Southwest (SXSW); landed a new manager; learned the amazing history of a Houston radio station repeatedly attacked by the Ku Klux Klan; and picked up new insights to share with Heart Beat readers about today's ever-evolving music scene.

Better known as Hilary Scott, she captured and captioned most of the photos below. 

"One of the best on this album, Flowers On Mars comes off as one of those songs
of legend where a musician wakes up and writes a hit."
-- LA Music Examiner, reviewing Freight Train Love


At SXSW, we did showcases on the roof of the Blind Pig and Hometone Records at Maggie Mae's, in the heart of the chaos and action on 6th street in Austin.  It was very cool to be part of the Hometone showcase, sort of a reunion for me with a bunch of Columbia musicians.  Also very cool -- an agent from a huge booking agency came to see us. 
He said meeting and hearing me was the highlight of his festival experience!

After our publicist Kim Grant put us on the bill, we showcased for Grand Ole Austin, the SXSW version of Grand Ole Echo in Los Angeles.  We were honored to join an impressive line-up that included artists like Chuck Prophet.  Kim came to us on a wave of glowing recommendations from other artists, and she had a chance to see us live. 

We also connected with a promoter who works with venues in Texas, another highlight of our trip, which included
gigs in Fort Worth at Shipping and Receiving and in Houston at Anderson Fair.
Lyle Lovett and ZZ Top got their starts at Anderson Fair, the first and oldest acoustic music venue
in Texas' largest city, population over 2 million.  

One of the most fascinating aspects of our trip to Texas was visiting radio station KPFT 90.1 FM in Houston and
learning its history.

First off, there is no zoning in Houston, so the radio station abuts houses and commercial property. 
Years ago, it was one of 9 radio stations on the same block.

In their early days, the station -- part of the Pacifica group of progressive radio -- was often attacked by the KKK.  Nicknamed "Sparky", KPFT's transmitter was bombed by the Klan, once when the station was broadcasting Arlo Guthrie's counter-culture classic, Alice's Restaurant.  Bricks were thrown through their windows, and as recently as 7 years ago, AK 47 shots barely missed the top of someone's head in the studio. 

Five years ago, at their 40th anniversary pledge drive, a KKK member came in with a brick and $400 cash rubber-banded around it.   He wanted to give them a gift for hanging in despite the attacks. 

Performing is the soul of every musician's life, and networking is the heart.  In the heart of Texas, we met Lou DeMarco (above) from Momentary Love Management.   One look at his website -- what Lou says about his mission, his passion -- and you quickly realize why meeting him was the best part of our Lone Star adventure.  

We finalized our agreement to work with Lou at SXSW, a step I can't be more excited about.  Adding Lou's Momentary Love team to our Freight Train Love team :) will help relieve pressure on me, as he focuses on ever-more challenging feats of networking:  licensing deals; representation by larger booking agencies; touring with well-known acts; increasing our exposure to larger and larger audiences. 

With Lou in our corner,
I hope to focus more on writing, creating, and art.

-- Hilary Scott for the Columbia Heart Beat