Interview with Melissa Carper, Bastrop, Texas

Melissa Carper grew up playing bass and singing in her family’s country band. She went on to study upright bass at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln before performing a repertoire of old-time country, Western swing, and bluegrass with multiple groups across the South, including the Austin, Texas-based band, The Carper Family, which won Best Country Album in 2011 at the Independent Music Awards and again in 2013 with their album, Old-Fashioned Gal. In 2013, the group also made an appearance on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion (this was the second time Melissa had been featured on A Prairie Home Companion). Carper has spent many years moving back and forth between her home base in Arkansas and now Texas, where she continues to perform with the Buffalo Gals Band, whose debut album, Brand New Old Time Songs, made it to Number 2 on the European Americana charts in 2018.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 09/14/2020.

Interview with John Dell, Austin, Texas

Guitarist and singer for El Tule, John Dell grew up in Monterrey, Mexico, and moved to Austin, Texas, where he founded the group in 2004. Playing original music, having fun, and making people dance, El Tule has been honing its unique sound, combining influences of cumbia, merengue, salsa, reggae and Latin jam in Austin, TX. Their original music is about history, art, and culture, often focusing on legends and tales of the mystical. The sound that El Tule brings to each performance naturally transcends all cultural and social backgrounds. Their high-energy live show has brought them to festivals and venues across the country, including SXSW, Tropical Heatwave, Viva Big Bend!, First Night Austin, Old Settlers Music Festival, Pachanga Fest, Pecan Street Festival, Austin Reggae Festival, Xemumba World Music Fest, Texas Salsa Fiesta, Festival De Cumbia En La Capital, and Austin City Limits Music Festival 2015 in front of an estimated 70,000 people. El Tule released its latest single Mil Mascaras on Cinco de Mayo, 2020.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/09/2020.

Interview with Belén Escobedo, San Antonio, Texas

Belén Escobedo plays rare and beautiful fiddle tunes in the South Texas-Mexican grass roots Tejano Conjunto tradition. Growing up on the south side of San Antonio and working as a professional fiddler since she was a teenager, Belén has preserved a unique style of fiddling that has all but disappeared from the Texas borderlands. Belén has a vast and unique repertoire, including tunes she learned from her grandfather’s whistling and a huge range of borderlands tunes from both sides of the border. The name of her trio, Panfilo’s Güera, honors her grandfather’s influence on her, the grandchild he called his güera, or “blondie.” Panfilo’s Güera is Belén, her husband Ramón Gutierrez (tololoche or double bass), and Stevie R. Vaveges (bajo sexto).
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/16/2020.

Interview with Jon Dee Graham, Austin, Texas

Jon Dee Graham was born in 1959 in the Texas Panhandle and grew up on the Texas/Mexico border. For over forty years, he has been a working musician with eleven albums and an artist specializing in bears, having sold over 300 paintings and drawings. He lives with his wife, son, two dogs, and two cats south of the river in Austin, TX. He plays regularly at the Continental with his rock band when he is not touring solo with his guitar—which he does 150 days out of the year—or with his band. His live shows and his Americana/rock music feed off of live audiences’ rapport.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/25/2020.

Interview with Toni Hickman, Houston, Texas

She is not only a talented singer-songwriter, but the survivor of two brain aneurysms and a stroke. Toni is an accomplished artist, speaker, author, certified naturopath, and performer who has traveled throughout the United States encouraging people to live up to their highest self.Toni is an author, hip hop artist, and public speaker on disabilities, beauty, and foods.
She uses her voice and music to inspire others. She has been featured on the Deborah Duncan Show and Radio One and featured in Shape magazine and several other publications throughout the world. She has spoken at numerous colleges and other organizations on subjects of depression and recovery; physical, mental, and spiritual health; living one’s purpose; chemicals in beauty products; and a host of other subjects. She is a speaker/performer for YoungStroke and the American Heart Association, an author, artist, Certified Naturopath, mother, and activist.
As a survivor who knows no limits, she lives to its fullest potential and uses music as a tool for empowerment and healing.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/28/2020.

Interview with Brian Marshall, Humble, Texas

Brian Marshall is considered one of the keepers of the unique Texas Polish fiddle tradition. Performers like Brian Marshall have been responsible for a recent revitalization of the rich tradition of Polish fiddling from Texas that declined into obscurity until recent years. In the nineteenth century, Polish bands used fiddles to create a distinctly Texan sound. Brian and His Tex-Slavik Playboys bring back the old Polish Texan sound. A Houston native with Bremond roots, Marshall has a fiddle style redolent of the Old Country while containing elements of Western swing as well. Brian and his band have recorded several CDs including Texas Kapela and Texas Lowlands.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/14/2020.

Interview with Bonnie Montgomery, Wimberley, Texas

Austin-based artist Bonnie Montgomery works in a multitude of genres, including outlaw country, classical, and opera. With her roots in White County, Arkansas, Montgomery is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who has performed and toured with a number of artists, securing the title of 2020 Entertainer of the Year from the Arkansas Country Music Awards, the ACMA 2019 Americana/Roots Artist of the Year, and the titles of Best Americana Artist and Best Female Vocalist. She has produced singles with rockabilly legend Rosie Flores, toured with Texas troubadour Ray Wylie Hubbard, and composed a 2016 short-length opera about Bill Clinton’s youth in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which earned her accolades from The New Yorker and Huffington Post.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 09/16/2020.

Interview with John Moschioni, Houston, Texas

Born in the United States Air Force in 1954, John Moschioni spent seventeen years growing up in the military. He lived in various places in the United States and Germany. He is a self-taught musician and comments that culturally, he identified with blues, soul, and R&B music.
John Moschioni, “Texas Johnny Boy,” has been playing blues for over forty years. He knows how to command a stage and his specialty is “old-school” R&B and traditional blues. He plays in live settings and is a one-man band. Besides primarily being a lead singer and frontman, he also plays diatonic and chromatic harmonica, flute, and saxophone. He makes half of his living playing music, doing art of all sorts, and buying/selling antique documents on eBay.
[Texas Johnny Boy, an authentic Houston bluesician often playing with guitar player Milton Hopkins, passed away on November 27, 2020, after a short battle with cancer. “His relentless passion of da blues filled his life with enough music to bluesify the heavens into eternity,” his baby brother (ninth of ten) says.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/18/2020.

Interview with Stevie Ray Vavages, San Antonio, Texas

Stevie Vavages grew up in Anegam, Tohono O’odham Nation on the Arizona/Mexico border. He comes from a musical family. His grandfather used to play with a group of old-time fiddlers called Gu-achi fiddlers that played Waila music—Waila being the term Tohono O’odham indigenous people use for their instrumental music. His father and uncle were musicians as well: “My uncle taught me for a month and after that month of practicing bajo sexto I had my first gig,” Stevie says. He moved to San Antonio, Texas, in 2017 to fulfill his dream of making a living playing Tejano conjunto music. His big surprise was to realize that many of the music the Tejano conjuntos were playing was music that he has learned from his grandfather. That and the realization of playing with musicians he grew up admiring. Stevie is a very talented bajo sexto player and superb musician who also plays accordion, bass, and drums. He has become a fixture in San Antonio’s Tex-Mex music scene and plays with artists such as Bobby Pulido, Belén Escobedo, and Flavio Longoria to say a few. He feels rooted into the community.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/14/2020.