Your Homemade Tamales Appetizer

I’m sure you have heard by now that the RRB is recording a new live record at Floore’s Country Store on October 25 & 26. Who doesn’t want a few chips and spicy salsa before they get their main course? I’ll be releasing my debut solo record, a rock n roll side project called “Johnny Chops-Sticks & Stones” on October 1st and doing a few shows with my band, The Razors, around Texas to get you all warmed up. You can find details on my web page, www.johnnychopsmusic.com

or my Facebook page Johnny Chops.

Just to make sure nobody gets any crazy ideas, this is strictly a fun project for me and I have no plans to leave the band at all. Over the past ten years of working with my RRB brothers, I’ve accumulated a pretty hefty book of songs I’ve written and just wanted to set a few of them free. Think of this as your appetizer for our full blown live record. It was a really fun project for me to work on and I hope you get a chance to check it out. You can pick it up on iTunes October 1st, or I’ll have copies for sale at our merch booth, including a sweet vinyl edition for any analog junkies out there. See ya down the road!

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Technology Sucks

Lexington, KY shows up outside the bus window before we know it. This will be our first show of the run without Les. For those of you have never been in a band, the drummer is the guy most of you can’t see, who gets the least amount of attention but is probably the hardest guy to replace. Seriously, next to bass players, drummers never get enough credit. (I kid, I kid) The drums are like the heartbeat of a good band. Replacing one is like doing open heart surgery. Very tricky. But in all fairness, Shane seems like he’s really been studying, we’ve heard him play before and know he’s got the skills so we all feel pretty good about this whole different drummer situation. Until we all get to sound check. We decide to start at the beginning of the show and rehearse our intro for “Interstate.” There’s about 30 seconds of a track we recorded that blends into the first song and is cued by a simple 4 count. We all come in together on the one and when it works, it sounds seamless. This time, its not working. For some reason, every time we start playing, after the first measure or two, Shane seems to be way off the beat. Awkward moment happens. Lots of “well maybe the click track is set at the wrong tempo” and “lets just try again.” After a couple more tries at other songs there is some sweat. We just cant seem to get it together. Everything sounds…off. Shane is starting to get pale. Actually, he looks really nervous and kind of freaked out. With his eyes wide open, he says “I swear guys, I’ve played to a click millions of times, I don’t know whats going on!” We are all starting to look at each other and wonder “Uh-oh. This might be an acoustic show. What the hell is up? We know he can play, but did he learn the songs wrong? Is there something wrong with the rest of us? Is Kentucky on some weird time zone where 4 doesn’t come after 3? Have aliens invaded our brains and laid eggs in them that are diffusing our sense of time? Where the hell is Les?” We aren’t quite to panic mode, but there is definitely some anxiety crawling up a few spines. Just before we all start going mad with trying to count backwards, forwards and sideways in time McCoy shouts out, “Wait! Hold on, I know whats going on.”

Spoiler alert!
If you believe in the Easter bunny, Santa Claus, or the tooth fairy…
Stop reading now.
Yes, we do play to a click track. If you don’t know what that is, its like a metronome that we all have in our in-ear monitors so we can have a silent count off for songs and more importantly so we can play better when we are buzzed. Its keeps you in time and makes you a better player. Most headlining country acts use it because it keeps the show flowing quickly. This will get a little technical, but stay with me. We also all have wireless belt packs that pick up a signal from the monitor console and then send that signal to our ears. Sometimes if we have a lighting guy with us, he gets a belt pack and an ear mix so he can hear lighting cues. Except, because he is usually at the back of a larger room, there is about a half to a quarter second delay on his pack to account for the distance the sound has to travel and so he can synchronize his lighting effects with the music. Still with me? Ok, well we aren’t exactly rock stars in Kentucky, so we have no lighting guy today. Consequently, Shane has ended up with the lighting guy’s belt pack. So everything he is hearing is a half to a quarter second behind what everybody else is hearing. Not good for a drummer. You kind of need to all be on the same beat to rock.
Crew to the rescue again. McCoy grabs Shane’s belt pack, checks it out, goes back to the console, hits one button and BAM! we are back in business. Everybody laughs, everybody cries, everybody shouts out Hallelujah!, Brady does a few backflips, light shines down from heaven, angels sing….well it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but we are all on the same beat again. Which is the first step to rocking. Which we do that night, and Shane actually makes fewer mistakes than the rest of us, totally kills it. Always give credit to the crew, they make us sound good, look good and we’d be a helluva mess without them. Thanks fellas.

Next time, bring your dancin shoes, here comes the Nashville shuffle….

Peace, Love and Anarchy,
Johnny Chops

And They’re Off…

So its official record release day. Whirlwind comes to mind. Not only do we finally get to show the world the music we’ve been sitting on for a year, but we get to do it on Willie Nelson’s birthday and he even makes a guest appearance on one of the tunes. Happy Birthday Willie and thanks for helping us out! We technically started record release day early with a surprise show at our old stomping ground, the Firehouse Saloon. I’m pretty sure we used to play there for about 5 people, two of which were Geoff’s parents. After a fun show, we signed CDs for everybody, including the possum that snuck under the merch table and scared half a dozen people to death. Luckily our trusty cotton tech Damien also doubles as an exterminator and saved everyone from certain rabies. Record release has begun. After what seems like a quick nap, we roll off the bus in Austin this morning a little bleary-eyed but ready to talk about the record. Interviews, acoustic show, and back on the road to College Station. Thanks to everybody who got the album today!

So, flashback about two weeks…

Bus call in Austin, 7pm, Tuesday, April 16. One long haul with two drivers- 1027 miles. Les is flying to meet us and give his replacement a quick tutorial. He isn’t with us on this run because his lovely wife is about to give birth to their 3rd little girl. He gets to fly back the next morning and stay with the fam until their little girl shows up. In his place we have Shane Vannerson, ex-drummer of Micky and the Motorcars, a great guy and kick ass drummer. After a couple movies and some quality time with the boys, I hit the sack. I am awakened around 930am to a stopped bus. No big deal. We are probably at a truck stop. Sweet. Who doesn’t love a morning at the truck stop? Except we aren’t at a truck stop. We are about 40 miles west of Tuscaloosa, Alabama on the side of the interstate next to about 10 million pine trees and nothing else. We have broken belt to thank for this lovely chance to closely examine the woodland habitat of roadside rural Alabama, and its the only one we don’t carry a spare for. Fast forward four hours because nothing exciting happens until the belt gets there. We arrive in Athens just in time for the show and the rest of the night goes off without a hitch. Whats one little breakdown when you still get to rock? Only regret we have is that we didn’t get to roam around one of the Deep South’s coolest college towns. Oh well, i guess I saved some money not visiting the record stores anyway. It wouldn’t be a real tour without some kind of breakdown, so I guess we were lucky enough to get ours out of the way at the beginning of the run. Bring on the fried chicken, Kentucky here we come. Lets hope Shane did his homework…
P.S. I asked everybody for a pic of our day, this one from Geoff sums it up I think.

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Trouble’s Coming

According to our stage manager McCoy (who can be followed on twitter @McCoyATX78 and is quite informative if you like keeping up with us) its day 11 of a 21 day run that finishes up with a week of CD release shows for our new album “Trouble.” So that puts us pretty much in the middle of one our wildest, busiest times of the last couple years. Since we left on this run, we have broken down,had a sub drummer forget and then relearn how to play in 5 minutes, done the Nashville shuffle, played something like our 10th Larry Joe Taylor fest, been rained out twice, (on consecutive nights), traveled 3700 miles, drank 20 cases of beer, 7 or 8 bottles of vodka, at least 10 bottles of jagermeister, a case or three of Red Bull, uncountable cups of coffee, eaten 30 corn dogs, 28 tacos, played a frat party, worked a shift at the local greasy spoon, given one tattoo of a girls name, crashed a hot tub party, mourned the loss of one of country music’s greatest singers and we haven’t even made it to CD release day. Sounds like trouble doesn’t it?

That’s the short version.
Tune in over the next couple weeks and I’ll have the long version for ya

Peace, Love and Anarchy,
Johnny Chops

I hear the calendar is full

Good news for all u rrb fans out there, I hear our calendar is filling up nicely! I haven’t actually checked it myself, but somebody told me we’ll be headed to new York city and Chicago soon. I can only assume that means we will be hitting up all the cities in between as well. We’ve had a much needed break waiting for all the snowy winter weather to pass us by. I can almost smell spring in the air, and that means its time to strap on our traveling shoe and ride. Can’t wait to see what this year holds as we get ready to come to a city near you!

Out with the old, in with the New

The holidays are over and I’m glad. That’s right I said it. I put away the tree, all my red and green decorations, my 20 strands of lights and my attempt to top Clark Griswold are taken down and socked away for next year. Finally.

Ok I admit it, I was a little sad to see the lights go. And that empty space where the tree was did look a little lonely and dark. So i woke up early this morning, put on some coffee and one of my favorite Stones records and sure enough, I had an epiphany. All that empty space was like a blank canvas, waiting to be colored. Like a drum beat with no bass yet, just waiting to be mished, mashed and molded into something new and exciting. By the time I had to flip the record, I remembered we have a new album to make, new tunes to write, record and jam. Hell, we already have a good handful to get us started.
What a great time of year to do it too. The whole country decides, “ok everyone, clean slate, start over again from scratch and lets get it right this time. Oh, and let’s kick it off with a huge music fest in one of the most beautiful settings in the world, underneath a snow covered mountain with all your friends so we can all get reacquainted.”

Now that’s how I like starting over.

Steamboat time is here folks, so pack up those warm socks Aunt Whatsername got you that you thought were a crappy gift, and at least face the new year with some good tunes, good times and warm feet. See you on the slopes!

Thanks everybody..

Our for the sake of the shot tourney was a great success this year! Thanks to everybody that came out and helped us raise a buttload of money for Houston area Parkinson’s. We had a great time, I think wade bowen’s dad’s team won 1st with a 20 under. I shoulda bought a lot more mulligans.. The concert was a hit. Much thanks to pat, Stoney, randy, John, and Fred among others for the entertainment. It means a lot to us that so many people came out to help us do a good thing, can’t wait to see u all again next year!

Fall in Texas

Well, We just did our 2 nights at floores country store and it was a blast. In case u missed it, we did it halloween style. Who knew u could make fake blood from corn syrup, chocolate syrup and ketchup? Right now I’m on the road between Stillwater and Laredo(a 700 mile drive) and I’m ready for some authentic Mexican food tonight. The road this month has been awesome and our fall fun Is just getting started. Wurstfest is next on my radar. It’s a 10 day German drinking and sausage fest down in new Braunfels. I got me some lederhosen and I’m ready to go! Anyways, let’s make this a great fall, y’all come see us soon.