* Kevin Higgins wins "Song of the Year" for his composition "Monahans" at the 2011 Texas Music Awards. This is his third TMA for "Song of the Year!"
* "Let Them Talk, Great Performances" PBS Documentary with Hugh Laurie, (star of FOX TV's "House") airs, featuring a clip of Laurie sitting in with Kevin Higgins and Barbara Malteze, (hosting) at the Legendary Luckenbach Pickers' Circle.
< http://video.pbs.org/video/2146104923 >
* Cosmic Dust Devils' Founding Member and Songwriter Kevin Higgins Has Songs Placed on CD's by Tina Mitchell Wilkins, Justin Haigh, The Texas Ladybugs. (see Press Pg)
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Built around the award-winning songwriting of Kevin Higgins, The Cosmic Dust Devils, a Texas-based band, was founded in 2001. Led on guitars and vocals by Higgins with his wife and musical partner Barbara Malteze on keyboards and vocals, the group proclaims to have a distinctive style, which they call "Farm-to-Market Rock 'n' Roll."
Stating their independence from hype and trends, The Cosmic Dust Devils can lay down a hot honky tonk number; a ripping 70's rocker; then a bluegrass groove; scream thru a blues tune; caress a ballad...you never know what to expect. And, The Cosmic Dust Devils do it all with energy, feel, abandon and talent. This is Americana at it's best...no one else is kickin' up dirt this hard, creating the real melting pot that folks call "Texas music."
Add to that the visual advantage of a male and female fronting the band, and you have a winning combination all the way around.
Attend any Cosmic Dust Devils’ performance, and you’ll see a loyal legion of cross-generational music fans, (known as “Stormchasers”), who will excitedly describe the band’s live show as “charismatic” and “explosive.” The Cosmic Dust Devils’ music has that hip “throwback” quality, appealing to both the younger crowd, as well as adult “empty-nesters” who have felt abandoned by the music industry for years. “You could say we’re just being true to our actual roots,” remarks Kevin Higgins, “those roots being Country & Western, Rhythm & Blues, and Rock & Roll.”
Over the course of three albums, countless gigs, airplay on XM satellite radio, Americana and Texas Music chart stations, an annual festival known as the “Coastal Bender”, and a healthy press and music industry buzz over the last decade or so, the group has become one of the most notable grassroots success stories in the state.
Greg Patterson, DJ, KHYI 95.3, (Dallas), says it best, "the Cosmic Dust Devils are the Cinderella band of Texas."
Kevin Higgins was raised in El Paso, playing in cover bands until he decided to pursue a career in songwriting. He moved to L.A. in the early '90s where he met Barbara Malteze, who was fronting her own blues rock band at the time. The couple teamed up, moved to Austin and recorded Higgins' first solo effort, DARK SIDE OF THE BARN, which AllMusicGuide.com proclaimed was “one of the classic country/folk/rock albums of that year.” Higgins would go on to become a 2000 Kerrville “New Folk” Finalist later that year, earning the band a spot on the Main Stage at the 2001 Kerrville Folk Festival. The Cosmic Dust Devils released a self-titled CD in 2002 which received rave reviews, such as “the Cosmic Dust Devils is one of those bands that has something to offer everyone” (Best In Texas Magazine), and AllMusicGuide noted that "this band is loaded with talent."
Along the way, collecting seven Texas Music Awards from 2006-2011, the band is still optimistic about the future.
“We believe you can obtain any goal you set for yourself if you work hard enough and long enough following your passion. That's the real definition of the 'American Dream'. And it’s still alive in this country,” says Malteze.
The Cosmic Dust Devils are intent on further pursuing their vision of the American Dream with spirited determination as they continue to perform all over Texas.
Kevin James Higgins - Vocals & Acoustic/Electric Guitar
Barbara Malteze - Vocals, Keyboards & Percussion
David Spencer - Guitar
John Gammill - Bass & Vocals
Clay Bielman - Drums
[Buy Music Here] ~
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"Find Your Shine" CD, (Kevin Higgins, solo)
Little Train Records, 2010
Produced by Stephen Doster
"Change in the Weather" CD, (The Dust Devils)
Little Train Records, 2006
Produced by Kevin Higgins
"Gathering Dust" CD, (The Dust Devils)
Heritage Records, 2005
Produced by Heritage Records
"Company Time"/"Southern Tears"'/"Gathering Dust" (singles): Sirius/XM radio airplay (2005-2006)
"Bent Nail" (EMI single, 2004) placed in indie movie "A Day Without a Mexican."
"Planet Texas" CD, (Cosmic Dust Devils)
Little Train Records, 2004 (never released)
"Cosmic Dust Devils" CD, (self-titled)
Little Train Records, 2002
Produced by Kevin Higgins and Cosmic Dust Devils
"I Stood Up" CD (Rusty Weir), 2002
Kevin Higgins & Barbara Malteze, backup vocals
"Kerrville Camouflage" CD, (Cosmic Dust Devils)
Little Train Records, 2001
Produced by Kevin Higgins and Cosmic Dust Devils
"Dark Side of the Barn" CD, (Kevin Higgins, solo)
Little Train Records, 1999
Produced by Kevin Higgins
Looking For Pearl
Out in the Fields
In the Desert
Tom Malthus' Blues
Change In The Weather
Dust Devils: Live at the White Elephant
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Only thing in this world maybe more alive and electric and chock full of possibilities than Saturday...Only thing in this world maybe more alive and electric and chock full of possibilities than Saturday night in Texas is a Saturday night in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Which may be cheatin’ a bit, given that Cowtown’s in Texas, but who cares? The point’s the point and you get it. There’s just something special about walking down the bricks of Exchange St., seeing the names of all the cowboys and Western and Lone Star heroes inlaid on the stars in the sidewalks. Some certain something extra in the air, that presence you feel but can only tangibly notice if you try; who can say if it’s the spirits of the trail hands and Bat Masterson, or maybe Comanche ghosts sweeping in over the hills with hundreds of miles of prairie behind them. Dunno. Don’t care. Whatever it is that makes it happen, the night comes alive in the Stockyards in a way few other places can even begin to claim.
Makes it a great place, then, to see live music. The best artists always invoke that unnamed but familiar something more that stirs or soothes the soul, so having them do it in a place where the night winds are already alive makes perfect sense. The White Elephant Saloon has a long and treasured history of doing exactly that, and Saturday night was no exception. The Dust Devils brought their road-worn and heartwarming brand of farm to market rock ‘n roll to town with a full band and tore off the roof.
You know quite well if you’ve been around Texas music at all in the last decade what Kevin Higgins is worth as a songwriter. His sense of place and his ability to put a listener in a specific situation at a certain point in time are simply exceptional. All of that skill was showcased early on in the set, focused on slower and more poignant selections from the Dust Devils catalog. Some new stuff made the cut, bearing promise for upcoming records, and the early going pretty well found itself summed up perfectly when Higgins unleashed “Monahans,” one of his multiple Song of the Year winners. Fantastic song, and a credit to the band that in a live setting it came off every bit as transcendent and ethereal as it sounded on the Find Your Shine CD.
Kevin gets a lot of the attention when the Dust Devils are the topic, and deservedly so on the basis of the strength of his songwriting capabilities. But again, if you’ve been around Texas music, you know it’s a mistake of the first order to overlook Barbara Malteze. She’s the wife and sometimes the bedrock that makes it all keep spinning, and she’s sporting a set of pipes that’ll make angel choirs shut up and take notes. One of the challenges the duo have had over the years is finding a way on CDs to make their two distinct and wholly different vocal styles work together. Sometimes the studio keeps that from happening, but when these two play live, it’s as seamless and perfect a competitive partnership as one can conceive. The way they play off each other during and between songs, the easy comfortable fit and the body language that underscores heartfelt lyrics? It’s a thing of beauty to watch. A lovers’ dance behind the microphones, really. And one thing live shows allow that studio recordings preclude is a smooth transition from a quiet Higgins song to a soaring Malteze offering. It’s amazing how well the styles work and feed one another when there’s not a break between tracks. Barbara’s standout in the early going was an unfiltered, unharnessed, flat-out unleashed and emotional take on “Change In the Weather.” The way the woman sings that song, it’s a miracle Port Aransas is still just a small vacation town. Impossible to hear it without trying to figure out how to get to Mustang Island. In a hurry.
Malteze followed that with a rousing a cappella version of “Mercedes Benz,” then kept channeling Janis Joplin with a fury as the band came back into full swing on “Me and Bobby McGee.” Just a stunning mini-set, all things being equal.
Higgins then stormed the mic to retake the spot
Award-Winning Songwriter Kevin Higgins Has Songs Placed on CD's by Wilkins, Haigh, Texas Ladybugs
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(Austin, TX) ~ Kevin Higgins, award-winning songwriter from West Texas, (and founding member of the...(Austin, TX) ~ Kevin Higgins, award-winning songwriter from West Texas, (and founding member of the Cosmic Dust Devils), has just learned that five of his songs are being covered on new releases by Tina Mitchell Wilkins, Justin Haigh and The Texas Ladybugs.
Austin-based Tina Mitchell Wilkins has recorded Higgin's song "Infinity" on her sophomore release, Morning Glory (Highway 29 Records). With a voice described as "pure sunshine" (Jessie Colter), Tina said the song "...went straight to the center of my being. When we were gathering songs for the project, my husband Walt suggested I sing 'Infinity'." After hearing it on Higgins' 2010 release Find Your Shine (Little Train Records), Tina stated that "Kevin Higgins is one of the most prolific songwriters of our time...his songs swirl around in my head and make me think of Rumi, Rilke and Whitman." Tina's fans are in agreement, sending emails to her, saying "Infinity' is one of the most beautifully written songs they have ever heard."
Higgins has three songs placed on Justin Haigh's Nashville-produced sophomore release. Four years in the making, People Like Me (Apache Ranch Records) showcases Justin Haigh's selections of songs written by industry heavyweights Mary Gauthier, Jamey Johnson, Bobby Pinson, and Erv Woolsey (George Strait's longtime manager), however, it's Higgins' three songs that seem to be getting the nod more often then not by the critics. (AmericanaRoots.com) posted, "'Monahans', 'In Jail', and 'Gathering Dust' each are exemplary songs...you can listen to virtually any one of these songs and from these alone know you are hearing something very special." (Roughstock.com) enthused, “Monahans” is one of three absolutely fantastic tracks written by Higgins...it’s the kind of song I can see ending up as a track on Kenny Chesney’s next record...the other Higgins' tune, 'Gathering Dust,' is the kind of song that would’ve fit quite well on the Crazy Heart soundtrack." (CountryCalifornia.com) stated "Kevin Higgins contributes two of the album’s strongest tracks in 'Monahans' and 'In Jail.' Here, he's sort of the Billy Joe Shaver to Haigh's neotrad Honky Tonk Heros."
Upcoming, The Texas Ladybugs, based in the Hill Country, have recorded Higgins' "Alligator Mouth." Written in 2002, this feisty tune was made popular by The Cosmic Dust Devils. Katherine Dawn, spokesperson and founding member of The Texas Ladybugs, reports their new CD will be released in September 2011 on Band Barn Records.
Collecting six Texas Music Awards since 2006, (including "Song of the Year" for the title cut of his latest CD, Find Your Shine), appearing onstage at the 2001 Kerrville Folk Festival, having his song “Company Time” placed in the politically provocative film A Day Without A Mexican and EMI Records soundtrack, Higgins has been hailed as “quite possibly the next great Texas songwriter" (RockzillaWorld.net), “a gifted songwriter” (Denver Post) and the late Grammy-winning producer and musician Barry Beckett had observed how “Kevin sings from the soul and.his songs speak the truth.”
Kevin Higgins can be found brandishing lead guitar and singing regularly around the state of Texas with his band, Cosmic Dust Devils. He also tours several times a year with his wife and musical partner, Barbara Malteze, appearing as a duo at house concerts and listening rooms throughout the U.S. and Canada
# # #
For interview/appearance requests, contact:
Little Train Records, 9301 Spectrum Dr., #1235, Austin, TX 78717
More information can be found on Kevin Higgins' website: www.KevinHigginsMusic.com
Live reviews and comments
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“...Texas rock and roll is back!” (Rod Kennedy, founder/producer, Kerrville Folk Festival) “...“...Texas rock and roll is back!”
(Rod Kennedy, founder/producer, Kerrville Folk Festival)
“…when Malteze took the stage, it was as if she was channeling Joplin.”
(Port Arthur News)
"I have compared Barbara’s voice to Dale Krantz during the Rossington Collins reign, and while I still hold onto that comparison, I get a real Ann Wilson/Heart feel." (Michael Buffalo Smith, Swampland.com)
“The Cosmic Dust Devils are something special. Kevin Higgins (is) quite possibly the next great Texas songwriter…stellar. He knows his way around songwriting, maybe because he's figured out a way around the soul. And, with Barbara beside him, he can't lose. Those two together have the power to change the way you think and feel about music.” (David Pilot, Rockzillaworld.net)
“GREAT music all the way around…one hell of a set. I was absolutely amazed at the emotion Barbara expresses throughout her performance. Her vocal range and strength are incredible…like gravel and silk…creating a most intriguing singing voice that makes you want to hear more. It’s a voice that could launch a thousand ships. Kevin is a talented songwriter who can cleverly tell interesting stories through life experiences…a high energy set with a good variety of music.”
(Miss Lana Hughes, MissLana.com)
“The Cosmic Dust Devils are the ‘Cinderella band’ of Texas!”
(Greg Patterson, DJ, KHYI 95.3, Dallas, TX)
“…The Dust Devils are the heart and soul of Americana music…”
(Rick Star, Board of Directors, Americana Music Association)
“…really cool stuff…thanks for letting me sit in with you…”
(Billy Bob Thornton, actor, musician)
“…they impressed at their Nashville showcase…an act to watch…”
(Country Music Facts and News)
Critical reviews: 2007 CHANGE IN THE WEATHER cd
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"CHANGE IN THE WEATHER is a great album, filled with straight up rock and roll and low down country,..."CHANGE IN THE WEATHER is a great album, filled with straight up rock and roll and low down country, all melded together seamlessly by an ultra talented Texas road band." (Swampland.com)
"Live passion is captured with studio clarity and perfection throughout the disc. The title track is so wonderfully arranged and performed it almost sets the bar too high for the rest of the album as the opening cut. Barbara Malteze is mesmerizing. Kevin Higgins is one of the most talented songwriters around. This tightly wound storm is still packing a punch." (MyTexasMusic.com)
(Front Page): The Cosmic Tale of the Dust Devils by Lou Scanlin
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To some, the scorching summer of 2006 will be best remembered by drought conditions, disappearing ri...To some, the scorching summer of 2006 will be best remembered by drought conditions, disappearing rivers and low lake levels throughout the Hill Country. To others it was just too damned hot. But, when the air gets hot and the ground is dry, that’s when dust devils are most likely to flare up. For five hardened Texas musicians, this would be the “Summer of the Dust Devils” and the return of “Farm-to-Market Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
Two years ago, the Cosmic Dust Devils were enjoying the ride with a rather impressive line-up when the bottom fell out from a record deal that went tragically south. The band members, disheartened and disillusioned, each went their separate ways, with the exception of the group’s founders Kevin Higgins and Barbara Malteze. They would carry on as the Dust Devils, dropping the “Cosmic” moniker as to signal a change in direction, forging a new sound out of the dirt and debris of those turbulent times, releasing the highly acclaimed “Gathering Dust” in October of 2005. So powerful were the performances on this recording, the Texas Music Association nominated the duo for five Texas Music Awards, of which they one four…Best Album, Best Group/Duo, Best Female Vocalist, and Song of the Year for Higgins’ thought-provoking whimsical diatribe…”Walk On.” The CD has garnered rave reviews and enjoyed international airplay, thanks in large part to XM Radio and the streaming web audio of KFAN and KRVL, to name but a few. Until recently, Kevin and Barbara had kept a low public profile, steering more towards the house concert / singer-songwriter venues…a proving ground for the Higgins’ “grittier writing” that has his name now being bandied about with the likes of Patterson Hood, Townes Van Zant and Robert Earl Keen (with a mean streak). All the while there was this barely audible clicking noise…the sound of cosmic tumblers falling into place… the unlocking of the gates of destiny.
Lou Scanin: Kevin, let’s cut right to it…now that the Dust Devils are back and better than ever, do you and Barbara feel a sense of vindication?
Kevin Higgins: Vindication is a heavy word…sort of implies guilt on somebody’s part. Things just work out the way they’re supposed to in this world. We’re content with surrounding ourselves with like-minded souls.
LS: Let’s talk about the new lineup: Chris Adams (Lubbock) on bass, Eddie Flores (Corpus Christi) on drums and George “GQ” Quiroga, (Austin) on lead guitar. How’d did this whole thing come together?
KH: It’s a fine story. B and I were getting pretty burned out on the whole “audition” process, and were just going through the motions when we ran into Chris one night down in Waring. We were doing an impromptu performance with Graham Warwick’s Comfort Sympathy Orchestra and as the night went on we starting digging on the rhythm section, especially the bass player. We soon came to realize this was the same Chris Adams we’d come to know over the years as part of the rowdy Kerrville contingent that had made up the Stormchaser’s Southern Hill Country Chapter.
LS: For those who might not know, Stormchaser’s are your loyal fans.
KH: That’s right, good people them Stormchasers…like-minded souls…like Chris. Well, some time ago we had talked about trying to get together with Chris and doing some playing, but then he just sort of fell off the radar. Come to find out he’d been dealing with a debilitating health problem that had him pretty much laid up for about a year. So, he was fighting through some considerable pain that night, had even considered canceling, but something had told him he might oughta make the show. Sure enough, we all started laying into some big fat grooves and diggin’ on the feeling. Couldn’t stop smiling that night, and haven’t really quit smiling since.
LS: And how is Chris doing now?
KH: I don’t like to speak for Chris, but he did undergo some MAJOR surgery this summer that had him in a neck brace for a good month, but, if you ask me, he’s doing great. Rockin’ and rollin’ and kickin’ over barstools all the way from Port Aransas to Fort Worth.
LS: Can you describe what it is that Chris brings to the band?
KH: Chris possesses the rare quality of being able to wrap his soul around what he’s playing and make it shine through, plus he’s got that whole West Texas work ethic, which some might say is dogged determination, while others might call it being downright stubborn. Anyway you slice it, Chris is all about hanging tough and enjoying the ride. He’s my brother.
LS: So, how do you all meet up with George and Eddie?
KH: Chris and George and Eddie all go back a ways…eight or nine years. They’re all veterans of the Austin Music scene, fought side by side in the trenches of 6th Street. Chris had moved to Kerrville seven or so years ago, and, like people do from time to time…they just sort of lost touch with one another.
LS: What event or events eventually brought them back together?
KH: Chris was staying out at the ranch (Candlelight Ranch-near Marble Falls) with B and I for a few days, and one night he decided he’d like to go into Austin and stir up some old ghosts. He eventually tracked down George and a couple of nights later the two of them were holding court at a blues jam with Eddie. It marked the reunion of their old band The Weeblz…you know, as in “they wobble but they don’t fall down.”
LS: What a great name for a bar band.
KH: Sure fits ‘em. Turns out, B and I knew Eddie from back in the day at Gino’s in South Austin and had wanted to work together but the we were both locked into “situations.”
LS: So, how did you all meet up?
KH: Here’s where the story takes a twist. We put together a session to demo some new songs I’d written and we needed a lead player, so we put a call into Mark Tokach, (Cosmic Dust Devils’ original guitarist). We tracked three songs with Chris on bass and our friend Rick Hall (formerly of Honeybrowne) on drums. It was good to share the same musical space with Mark again…he’s a monster. He’s signed on to a project with Bill Hamm, (ZZ Top’s producer) and we wish him all the best with that. So, here we are cutting tracks with Mark and in walks George, who B and I had never met. He just hung out for a while and we didn’t think much of it at the time. Now, he’s our new lead player. That’s some crazy-ass sh**t .
LS: How did George know to show up at the studio?
KH: Oh, Chris had asked him to stop by to give us a listen and see if we were doing something he might be interested in.
LS: Obviously he was. Is anything from those sessions going to be available soon?
KH: Not likely. We’re going into the studio next month with the new lineup to lay some stuff down.
LS: I want to talk about that, but first, when did Eddie start in with you all?
KH: Okay, so we’re doing this year’s Raz on the Braz (Terry Rasor’s 11th Annual Music Festival in Rainbow, Texas) and it’s George’s first show with us. Rick’s on drums and we’re doing our set and Eddie walks up, sets down five cold beers on the stage, then proceeds to video tape our show. Eddie was there to play with Rusty Wier, (who was headlining the show). After our set, we all ended up hanging out, eventually heading back to the motel, spending the rest of the night laughing at ourselves on video. Too much fun. That was the beginning of it all right then and there. No ego’s, just the gentle destruction of self-importance through fortuitous laughter at somebody else’s expense. That’s the new Dust Devils for you.
LS: So, what is it that George brings to the band?
KH: George? (laughs) Where do I start? For the record, George is one of those unassuming guys that, when first talking with him you’d never guess he was this incredible guitar player. He’s real comfortable in his own skin and likes to put everybody at ease with his goofy sense of humor. But, like I said, the boy’s got some serious chops. He plays for the song, has great instincts and we’re liking the feeling he’s bringing to the music. And, like I said, he’s f-in’ hysterical.
LS: He’s one to watch, for sure. And finally, talk about Eddie.
KH: Eddie’s as solid as they come. He’s on everybody’s call list and it’s great to finally work with him. I think the main reason Eddie’s playing with us is the fact that George and Chris are in the band. Once these three get rolling, man, there just ain’t no telling how far them damn Weeblz will go. They’re a great bunch of guys, committed to the music. Sometimes I think we all oughta be committed, but what the hell, we’re all about having a good time with it.
LS: And it sounds like good times lie ahead as well. What’s next?
KH: We’ve got our 4th Annual Coastal Bender going on October 9-14th with a show at The Back Porch on Friday the 13th. This year we’ve decided to “up the ante” by recording AND releasing a new CD while we’re down there.
LS: That sounds ambitious.
KH: Yeah…it is. We just want to do a little something for the people who’ve been helping us down the road all these years. All we’re really looking to do is capture a little of that island vibe on some old favorites that we’ve never released and throw in a handful of new songs I’ve written with Barbara just for this record. It’ll be our first time with the all the guys in the studio together…should be a lot of fun. Zack Taylor (Larry Joe Taylor’s son) will be engineering the session.
LS: Who will be producing it?
KH: It looks like I’ll be dusting off my producer’s hat and taking care of business.
LS: Do you have a title for the CD?
KH: We’d kind of like to keep this all a surprise, but, yes, we have a concept in mind.
LS: What can you tell us about this year’s benefit concert for Candlelight Ranch?
KH: That’s B’s labor of love. This is her fourth year putting on this show. We’ve had tremendous support from the Texas musical community over the years…Gary P. Nunn, Toni Price, Larry Joe Taylor, Tommy Alverson, Shake Russell, Sara Hickman, man, the list goes on. Every year we do something a little different, and this year is no exception. We’re having our first ever campout at the ranch and have asked all our friends from the surrounding communities to perform. John Arthur Martinez, Walt & Tina Wilkins, Mike Blakely, and John Greenburg have all graciously offered to perform.
LS: How do we go about getting information on the Candlelight Ranch and the concert?
KH: Go to candlelightranch.org or cosmicdustdevils.com
KH: Some things…like web addresses, are resistant to change.
LS: I also see here that the Dust Devils will be the Friday night headliners at this year’s Rice Festival in Fischer, Texas?
KH: Yeah, that’s a huge honor. We have our work cut for us going on after the McKay Brothers. That’s going to be an amazing weekend of music…Peter Rowan, Lloyd Maines & Teri Hendrix, Pat Green…there’s nothing like being part of a music festival. We all get to runnin’ around so much we hardly get the chance to take in a show, much less hang out with our peers.
LS: What’s the latest on your Nashville connection?
KH: It is what it is…you don’t go knockin’ on doors unless you’re looking for somebody to answer. My take on this whole Nashville bashing is this…a lot of people got up-in-arms about this nonsense that we have somehow abandoned our “Texas Music Roots” for the spit and polish of Nashville. I tell you what, what’s going on here with Texas Music these days is just a microcosm of how things work on the national stage. It’s all who you know and how much money you can sink into any given artist for maximum exposure. That’s it. It ain’t really about talent, it’s about driving money downstream from the artist, plain and simple.
LS: How do you see yourself working within that system?
KH: Well…we’ve been accused of being loose cannons in the Texas Music scene. Funny thing of it all is, I thought this was supposed to be Outlaw Country. When were any of us ever supposed to play it safe? Like the night I almost got into it with Eddie Montgomery, (that mike-stand-twirling singer from Montgomery Gentry), in a bar in Nashville. He showed up at the Longhorn one night in full stage regalia…you know, leather pants, red Jim Beam boots, goofy hat and black duster. I saw that over-the-top country star crap and I about lost it. I threatened to kick him in the shins and when he confronted me, I said to him, “What’s the deal, Eddie? Did you give your mike stand the night off?” I thought it was gonna get ugly, but then Eddie got this pained look on his face and started telling me all his problems. We eventually ended up huggin’ it out.
LS: That really happened?
KH: Just ask B. Look, the bottom line on this whole success trip is this…we’re going to go as far as this ride will take us. Like I told Chris early on, if this thing blows up and we go rocketing up into the stratosphere, you won’t find B and me sitting in first class sipping Cristal. We’ll be sewing us a quilted parachute with the helping hands of all the like-minded souls we met on the way up. Because, it’s inevitably going to come down. When it does, we’ll be looking for a nice soft patch of friendly grass on which to land…like right here in the Hill Country.
LS: As outspoken as you obviously are, do you ever worry you might be dangerously close to shooting yourself in the foot?
KH: My Dad always told me, “Son, you’ve got to stand up for what you believe in if you ever expect to get any respect in this world.” He also handed me down his bulletproof boots.
LS: How do they fit?
KH: A little tight in the heel but the big toe rides comfortably.
Stars on the Horizon by Jessica Benavides
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A dust devil by definition is a small whirlwind that swirls dust, debris and sand to great heights. ...A dust devil by definition is a small whirlwind that swirls dust, debris and sand to great heights. The band, Dust Devils, could be defined as a musical whirlwind, swirling their blend of countryfied rock to great heights.
Case in point, the Dust Devils had a near sweep at this year’s My Texas Music Awards, winning four of the five categories they were nominated for including Duo or Group of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year (“Walk
On”) and Album of the Year (Gathering Dust).
So who is this duo, the Dust Devils and where did they come from? The answer to that question begins on opposite coasts of the United States.
Raised in a household where the line in musical taste was defined by a generation gap, lead singer and founding Devil Kevin Higgins grew up listening to the country heroes of his parents, Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins, as well as the rock n
roll idols of his older siblings, the Stones and Beatles. It was equal exposure to and appreciation of both genres that influenced Higgins, or as he puts it “I guess you could say I got caught in the crossfire!” By the time he reached his teens, in the thick of the 1970s, Kevin was a steadfast worshipper of the Southern Rock culture.
Bands like the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd naturally fueled this country
rocker’s fire until one fatal day in October 1977. “I was flying pretty high on the whole Skynyrd thing until it all came crashing down in a field in Mississippi,” says Kevin. “That pretty much marked the end of an era for me. It just wasn’t quite the
same without Skynyrd.”
Meanwhile back in Boston, fellow founding Dust Devil Barbara Malteze was sharpening her piano skills in school plays and musicals, desperately waiting for her chance to come out from behind the ebony and ivory keyboard to belt out
tunes of her own." It always used to hurt when the pretty girls with mediocre voices got picked for the lead singing roles. I wanted to sing so bad, but the musical
directors always convinced me to play the piano instead.” While attending Berklee College of Music with fellow students destined for greatness, Aimee
Mann, Steve Vai, Winton Marsalis, Barbara found the courage to step out in front. “I realized I wasn’t being true to myself. I was a singer, not a jazz pianist. Singing gave me a sense of musical freedom I had never felt before.” Barbara packed her bags and headed for the West Coast where she landed, then walked away
from, a short lived heavy metal record deal before choosing to use the power of her voice for the soulful stages of the blues circuit. “You would’ve thought that by this point in my career I’d be done paying my dues, but one day I woke up and realized I’d only been paying off the interest.” Not willing to give up, she forged ahead until a
chance meeting one evening before one of her shows. At the advice of his friends, Kevin Higgins took a break from the coffee shop shows he’d been performing and stopped in a local club to hear Barbara sing. Kevin remembers he was
so impressed that he “about fell out of my chair when she started singing.”
The two struck up a friendship through their common interest in musical stylings. It wasn’t long before they realized that mid-90s Los Angeles was probably not the ideal place to market their Southern flavored country rock.
Together, they headed back to Higgins’ home state of Texas. They began collaborating as the Cosmic Dust Devils, calling their music “Farm-to-Market Rock
‘n’ Roll” because of the backroads, hill country feel of the music they were creating to take to a Texas-size market. They eventually dropped “Cosmic” from their
name and have since gone on as the Dust Devils to record their highly acclaimed CD GATHERING DUST, a record that was originally a limited release. After its raving success, it will be re-released formally later this year.
Don’t let the name fool you. There’s actually an angelic side to this devilish duo. The two have dedicated their spare time to volunteering and living on-site at the Candle Light Ranch – a retreat for children with disabilities. The retreat is located in the hill country on Lake Travis and is home to the world’s first universally
accessible treehouse. It’s a treehouse that’s not only wheelchair accessible but it’s also for adults whose tree climbing days may be far behind them. For more information on Candlelight Ranch, visit their web site at www.Candlelightranch.org.
Call them a country rockin’ duo or a rockin’ country duo, but make no mistake about it, the Dust Devils, Cosmic or not, are taking both their music and their humanitarian efforts to greater heights!
Critical reviews: 2005 GATHERING DUST cd
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"The immediate thing that stands out about the Dust Devils is their commitment to keeping the sound ..."The immediate thing that stands out about the Dust Devils is their commitment to keeping the sound of Southern Rock alive without pandering or being sheer clones...straight up and unapologetic...the sound of the South never went away, it just got better with age..." (Rob Theakson, AllMusicGuide.com)
“(Gathering Dust)…works for me…well written and performed.”
(Robert K. Oermann, Music Row Magazine)
(5 Star review)
"...Daring, intense and terrific come to mind while trying to describe the sounds of The Dust Devils.” (RootsMusicReport.com)
(4 of 5 stars)
“…muscle bound honky tonk…Higgins and Malteze harp back to the glory days of
Bonnie Bramlett and Marshall Tucker Band…” (Maverick Magazine, UK)
"...a wild and gritty Southern accent in the writing..this won't be gathering dust anytime soon.” (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)
“…tight, creative country rock…great lyrical stories, powerful melodies…unique voices…a powerful cd that simply commands your attention…a great album of country rock with a hint of good ol’ Southern rock swank.” (Gritz Magazine)
"'Walk On' is one of the freshest songs I've heard in a long time!"
(Glen Duncan, legendary Nashville studio musician and Earl Scrugg's fiddle player)
“...impressive southern rock…excellent…memorable riffs and hooky melodies…
…original enough to stand out in an overcrowded market…” (Country Music People Magazine)
“…a unique band…big voice(s), big words, big music…meticulous lyrics. The Dust Devils deserve recognition and praise for what they’re doing. They have created a genre all their own.” (Music News Nashville)
"...straight ahead redneck rock...the musicianship is solid..."
(American Songwriter Magazine)
"...This husband-and-wife act is one to watch. Higgins is a gifted songwriter...fine voice. (Malteze) vocally more than holds her own...excellent music..." (Denver Post)
"Higgins is a most gifted writer, on par with the legendary cowboy poet Red Stegall. Malteze's vocal delivery varies dramatically, from smooth as silk while on other songs, she sounds like Janis Joplin (when she was at her very best)...when two individuals this talented come together, the end result is pure magic..."
(Country Stars Online)
"This is an awesome record. Kevin Higgins is a fabulous songwriter. As mainstream country music gets sillier, acts like the Dust Devils are filling a much-needed niche in the American music scene. (High Bias)
“..Kevin sings from his soul and his songs speak the truth.”
(Barry Beckett, Grammy-award winning musician, producer)
“It all comes down to the song, and Kevin’s got him some good ones.”
(Freddy Powers, legendary singer/songwriter/producer)
Critical reviews: 2002 COSMIC DUST DEVILS' self-titled cd
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"…this shit ain't been heard in years…Rusty and Steven and Ray and Billy Joe are still making cool m..."…this shit ain't been heard in years…Rusty and Steven and Ray and Billy Joe are still making cool music…but nobody's gashing something open just to throw some salt in it and see what happens before leaving you with a big sloppy kiss anymore…” (Rockzillaworld.net)
“The Dust Devils is one of those bands that has something to offer everyone.”
(Best In Texas Magazine)
“This is Americana music at its best.” (InsurgentCountry.com)
“...roots/heartland-style rock and plenty of Texas country, (Higgins) writes it with authority...” (San Antonio Express-News)
“My discovery was a Janis-like woman who belted out the songs. Barbara Malteze has the kind of voice and delivery that causes me to stop…turn around and say, “Now who is that!” (Dr. Kathleen Hudson, Executive Director, Texas Heritage Music Foundation)
“…the concept of the American album experience is becoming a lost art at the dawn of the 21st century, and only a few bands such as Wilco and Los Lobos seem to have the inventiveness down. Add The Cosmic Dust Devils to this short list. Their self-titled debut ebbs and flows with a sense of purpose, giving the listener an aural journey through their version of Texas, and by proxy, America as a microcosm. Led by singer/songwriter Kevin Higgins (whose 1998 solo album, Dark Side of the Barn, was one of the classic country/folk/rock albums of that year), this expanded group album continues his highly personalized take on his life and the saga of this country…spiritually, and metaphysically. Musically, the band has a delightfully rustic appeal…a cohesive whole that surrounds the listener with a sort of Cinemascope panorama that manages to be homespun and expansive at the same time, which is no easy feat…the band is loaded with talent…aside from being excellent players and singers, The Cosmic Dust Devils are a smart group of musicians, who all fall in line with the art of playing for the song — a seemingly lost ideal these days. This igloo of talent and perspicacity supports Higgins' brilliant and intimate vision perfectly, making Cosmic Dust Devils a sparkling and important release.” (Matthew Greenwald, AllMusicGuide.com)