The Bayou City Tapes is a Blackard Brothers record. The tracks are a collection of bluegrass standards and covers recorded with my brother, Chris, over the summers of 2004 to 2006. At the time, I was living in Austin, Texas, and returning home to Houston in the summer to visit family.
My brother had picked up on the banjo a couple of years prior in Spain of all places and was playing with a local bluegrass group in Houston, so we would get together to jam whenever I was passing through. Lot’s of informal picking sessions, a few open mics, and even did a live set on the radio – 90.1 KPFT – where five of us were huddled into a sound booth searching for the ‘high lonesome sound’ live over the airwaves for all of Houston to hear.
Around the same time, I was getting into recording. I had some cheap gear – a Behringer mixing board, an old desktop PC, a little a Sony DAT, and some passable Chinese condenser mics, if I remember right. I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time, but I lived by the “always record” mantra, so I’d invariably throw up a couple of mics anytime we’d get together to pick. Most of the time it was just me, Chris, and Fred X (a bona-fide bluegrass mentor who’s name has been changed to protect the innocent) with the occasional guest – the same group of musicians heard on “I Don’t Know” from my Austin EP.
Fast forward almost 10 years, and I was back in Houston for the holidays in 2014 and ran across an old hard drive at my parents’ house that had a lot of the original multi-task recordings from those summers. I had recently bought some fancy new gear, a Universal Audio Apollo recording interface, but hadn’t recorded any new tracks on it yet, so I pulled up some of the old bluegrass tracks to mess around with and remix on my new Apollo.
Remixing those old tracks put a smile on my face. They were loose and carefree. Lots of banter. Almost a bluegrass verité. They brought back great memories of those summers back in Houston, so I figured I’d put them out for the world to hear. Thanks for listening.
1. Hesitating Beauty – originally by Billy Bragg & Wilco with lyrics by Woody Guthrie
2. Blue Ridge Cabin Home – Chris on lead vocals and banjo, originally by Flatt & Scruggs
3. Midnight Moonlight – originally written by Peter Rowan and performed with Old & In The Way, Jerry Garcia’s bluegrass band
4. On and On – a guitar and banjo duet with Chris & Fred X, originally by Bill Monroe
5. Presbyterian Guitar – solo fingerstyle guitar from Chris, originally by John Hartford
6. Truck Drivin’ Man – Fred X on lead vocals, originally by Terry Fell
The Bayou City Tapes (A Bluegrass Covers EP)
With You (Solo Acoustic)
Just A Day In Your Life (Live)
Empty Bars, Live Guitars: Austin, Texas – October 5, 2005
Right About Now I’d Like to Move to Austin and Buy a Purple House
Just A Day In Your Life