*** Official Showcase Performer 2010 Intl Folk Alliance, Memphis, TN ***
*** Official Showcase Performer FAR-West 2009, Irvine, CA ***
*** Kerrville Folk Festival 2009 Main Stage Performer ***
*** Showcase Performer: 2009 Third Coast Music Presents @ SXSW ***
*** Official Showcase Performer: 2009 Intl. Folk Alliance Conference ***
*** Official Showcase Performer: 2008 Southwest Folk Alliance Conference ***
*** CD "Blast From The Past" voted #2 BEST OF 2008 in category Freeform American Roots chart ***
*** Four months in Top 20 F.A.R. Chart; Two months at #3; #14 in Euro-Americana Chart (2008) ***
"You make more music than any two guys I've ever heard!"
- Johnny Gimble
"As musicians, Jagger and Harrell are both consummate professionals - nimble and at ease in performance. Roots entertainers in the true sense of the word, they not only draw from the catalogue of the early blues and country performers, but, like those performers, can engage and entertain a crowd with nothing but themselves, their voices and their acoustic instruments."
- Andrew Stuart, Feature Writer, The Desert Candle
From the mountains of Far West Texas comes authentic Texas music hot as the desert sun, cool as the mountain rain. Kerrville New Folk Award Winner Jimmy Ray Harrell and Austin Music Award winner Todd Jagger are The Border Blasters! Veterans of the Austin music scene, Jimmy Ray and Todd have been making music together since their first gig at Gruene Hall in 1975.
The Border Blasters's sound is a melting-pot of blues, real country, western swing, bluegrass, folk - all sewn together with tight blending harmonies and raw musicianship. Their music connects with people of all ages.
The Austin-American Statesman says: "You can't get enough!"
Music City says more: "Years of experience knit this ensemble into a smooth, ingenious sound, provoking even staid listeners to at least chair-dance. Jagger & Harrell's long Austin history includes gigging at the legendary Armadillo World HQ, the Skyline Club and the original Soap Creek Saloon. Typically Texas eclectic, Jagger's virtuoso mandolin style melds country, bluegrass and blues, while Harrell plays guitar, accordian, piano and more. [The Border Blasters]'s smooth harmonies and lively performance will delight even the most discriminating music fan."
In addition to their musical careers together both Harrell and Jagger have lent their talents to other bands as well. In the early 90's Todd was the mandolinist with the Austin Lounge Lizards and appeared with them at the Kerrville Folk Festival, Kuumbwa Jazz Club, the Strawberry Music Festival, on NPR's Mountain Stage and many other venues. During this time the Lizards won "Best None of the Above Bands" for two consecutive years at the Austin Music Awards. Todd also was given Honorable Mention as Best Mandolinist in the Austin Chronicle and Music City readers' polls. Jimmy Ray, as part of the popular duo "Lou-Ray", won the New Artist award at Kerrville New Folk Festival, and was featured on the main stage at the Kerrville Folk Festival as well as the 1975 festival LP.
Professionalism is a trademark of Border Blasters which club owners and festival coordinators appreciate. On time, in tune, ready to make the crowd feel good!
The Border Blasters divide their time between Austin and the Davis Mountains of Far West Texas.
You can also tune in to the Border Blasters Radio Revue every Thursday at 11am on KRTS-FM, 93.5, Marfa Public Radio where the boys dish up a heapin' helpin' of tasty Texas and Americana roots music, and sometimes they'll get out their axes and play a few themselves.
Jimmy Ray Harrell: Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Mandolin, Accordion.
Todd Jagger: Vocals, Mandolin, Guitar, Mandocello
(Bassist TBD; drummer and sidemen can be added for full band situation.)
"The Sun Studios Session" (Boquillas Records 2010): 8 songs recorded at the legendary Sun Records Studio in Memphis. Featuring Mark Rubin (Bad Livers, Atomic Duo, many more) on upright bass and tuba. Scheduled for December 2010 release.
"Blast From The Past" (Boquillas Records 2008): #2 "BEST OF 2008" ON THE FREEFORM AMERICAN ROOTS CHART, #3 FEB/MAR '08! FOUR MONTHS IN TOP 20. 13 track CD featuring legendary Texas artists on both sides of the studio glass: T.J. "Tiny" McFarland, producer; Joe Gracey, engineer, special musical guests Kimmie Rhodes, Ponty Bone, Alvin Crow, Freddie Krc and more; remastered and mixed by David Sinko. February 2008 release. "Blast From The Past" is getting widespread airplay around the world, including trendsetting stations such as KUT-Austin and KPIG-Santa Cruz.
"it's TOO MUCH": 16 track cassette, limited release 1989. Reached Top 20 in airplay at KNON-FM, indie radio and rotation at other public radio throughout Texas.
All songs in currently in rotation at KUT (Austin, TX), KGSR (Austin, TX), KPIG (Freedom, CA), WEVL (Memphis, TN), KNON (Dallas, TX), KRTU (Houston, TX), KSJD (Cortez, CO), American Music (Belgium), ISA Radio (France), The Medicine Show (UK), Radio Winschoten (Netherlands), 3INR Radio (Australia), Assoc. de Country Music Uruguay (Uruguay, S. America!), AmericanaRoots.com, RadioFreeAmericana.com, and many other terrestrial and Internet radio stations.
Streams at SonicBids.com, www.borderblasters.com, and MySpace.com/borderblasters.
Object Of My Affection (with Danny Levin)
Sunset On The Rio Grande (with Ponty Bone)
I Got To Be With You Tonight
Accordion Shuffle (with Alvin Crow & Freddie Krc)
Rocky Road Blues (with L.E. McCollough)
Treat Her Bad
Wabash Blues (with Alvin Crow)
3rd Coast Music Reviews "Blast From The Past" Feb. '08
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4 out of 5 stars! Some years ago, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing (MCT #26) Paul ...4 out of 5 stars!
Some years ago, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing (MCT #26) Paul Kallinger, for 40 years, a DJ on XERF, Cuidad Acuna, across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, TX. With 250,000 watts of power, Kallinger told me he got mail from listeners in Canada, Greenland, Europe, Russia, even Australia. Dividing their time between Austin and the Davis Mountains of Far West Texas, one can assume that Jimmy Ray Harrell and Todd Jagger could get a pretty good signal, listening to their goulash of blues, Real Country, Western Swing, Tex-Mex, bluegrass and folk, you can see why they took their band name from the generic term for the Mexican â€˜Xâ€™ stations. With careers that go back to Armadillo World HQ, the Skyline Club and the Soap Creek Saloon, Harrell (vocals, guitar, piano, accordion) and Jagger (vocals, mandolin) have been playing together since 1975, but, though theyâ€™re working on a new album, this remix of a 1989 cassette is their first release since then. Produced by the late TJ â€˜Tinyâ€™ McFarland, engineered by Joe Gracey, backed by Keith Carper bass and Phil Johnson drums, and featuring Danny Levin (fiddle on Jimmy Grierâ€™s Object Of My Affection), Ponty Bone (accordion on Harrell & Jaggerâ€™s Sunset On The Rio Grande), Alvin Crow (fiddle on the jazz standard Wabash Blues), Freddie Krc (washboard on Harrell & Jaggerâ€™s Roy Head satire Treat Her Bad), Crow & Krc together (Harrell & Jaggerâ€™s Accordion Shuffle and Mel Tillisâ€™ Stoninâ€™ Around), and Kimmie Rhodes (vocals on Bob Wills & Tommy Duncanâ€™s Blackfoot Blues), the other covers, Slim Harpoâ€™s Got To Be With You Tonight, Bill Monroeâ€™s Rocky Road Blues, Richard Jonesâ€™ Trouble In Mind and Jimmy Cliffâ€™s The Harder They Fall, give an idea of the duoâ€™s range. On top of this, though, much like Ponty, or The Texana Dames, their talent and consummate professionalism comes with a sense that they wouldnâ€™t be doing this if they werenâ€™t having fun, and, as you will have noticed, itâ€™s a bit easier to enjoy listening to music if the musicians actually seem to enjoy playing it. Rather tellingly, Harrell & Jagger describe this album as â€œan artifact; of a time in Austinâ€™s musical history, post-70s outlaw country, pre-SXSW.â€ Incidentally, Jagger, while having rather less power than Kallinger, hosts Border Blast on KRTS, Marfa, TX.
Blast From The Past: 6 out of 6 - KILLER!
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The Border Blasters - Blast From The Past This record sounds like a bunch of old guys (and I use ...The Border Blasters - Blast From The Past
This record sounds like a bunch of old guys (and I use that term lovingly) jamming around a campfire. Really nice swing and country grooves, plus a cooler-than-you bluegrass take on Jimmy Cliff's "Harder They Come." (SC)
Review: The Border Blasters'
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From: The Desert Candle, Spring 2007 Blast From The Past by Andrew Stuart The walls of Jimmy R...From: The Desert Candle, Spring 2007
Blast From The Past
by Andrew Stuart
The walls of Jimmy Ray Harrell’s recording studio, in his home near the end of a dirt road in Fort Davis, are covered with photographs documenting a life dedicated to making music.
One of the photographs captures Harrell and Todd Jagger, a fellow Jeff Davis County resident, when the two played together early in their careers in Austin. Both look the part of 1970s Austin musicians.
The two continue to play here in Far West Texas, creating a distinctive blend of acoustic music under the name of the Border Blasters. “Our playing together has lasted longer than all our marriages combined,” Jagger said. The Border Blasters release a CD this spring, featuring original compositions as well as classics from Bob Wills, Bill Monroe and others. Originally recorded in 1988, when Jagger and Harrell performed under the name of Too Much, the album also includes guest performances from an impressive array of veteran Texas musicians – the renowned accordionist Ponty Bone, fiddle master Alvin Crow and Lubbock-born songbird Kimmie Rhodes among them.
Like the bygone, high-wattage border radio stations that give the duo its name, the Border Blasters’ music is eclectic and difficult to categorize, drawing as it does from a wide range of American musical traditions, from bluegrass to jazz to rhythm and blues. The music is unified by Jagger and Harrell’s vocal harmonies and virtuosic musicianship – and by the raw energy of the performances.
“The way we play is different,” Jagger said. “Both Jimmy and I would be the first to admit we’re not bluegrass musicians. We both have a roots feel and sound. It may not be the prettiest –but it’s always real.”
Both Jagger and Harrell are multi-instrumentalists.
Jagger plays the mandolin and guitar. Raised in a musical family, Harrell began playing music at age 3 and did his first gig in a bar at 13, and he plays guitar, accordion, piano, mandolin, sax and drums.
As musicians, Jagger and Harrell are both consummate professionals – nimble and at ease in performance. Roots entertainers in the true sense of the word, they not only draw from the catalogue of the early blues and country performers, but, like those performers, can engage and entertain a crowd with nothing but themselves, their voices and their acoustic instruments. Both Jagger and Harrell grew up in Austin. (Harrell’s roots in the town go deep, about as deep, in fact, as an Anglo’s can: his ancestor Jacob Harrell introduced Mirabeau Lamar, the vice president of the Republic of Texas, to the land that would become the capital while leading Lamar on a buffalo hunt, and went on to donate the land that now includes most of downtown Austin.) And both found themselves in the middle of the town’s emerging musical culture, what Jagger (quoting songwriter Steven Fromholz) refers to as “the Great Progressive Country Scare of the Seventies” – the flowering of the Austin music scene that helped define the city’s culture and the state’s music.
The two musicians’ collaboration began in an auspicious way: a New Year’s Eve performance, in 1975, at Texas’ oldest continuously operated honky-tonk – the legendary Gruene Hall south of Austin.
At that point, Harrell had been performing for several years with singer and fiddle player Christy Lou Calhoun, under the band name of Lou Ray. The duo had opened for the likes of David Allan Coe and Asleep at the Wheel and had received the new artist award at the 1974 Kerrville Folk Festival, but Calhoun and Harrell split up in 1975, and Harrell found himself with six months of booked gigs and no band.
He brought Jagger, whom he’d met through mutual friends, on board. At the Gruene Hall show, his first professional gig, Jagger was too young to drink.
The performance was the beginning of their enduring musical partnership.
“Out of 31 New Years’ nights since then, we’ve probably played 20 of them,” Harrell said. Harrell and Jagger played in venues around Austin and became the house band at Raven’s Garage on Sixth Street, performing Saturday night shows there for three years, and they shared stages with premier performers from around the state.
In the late 80s, Harrell and Jagger teamed up with T. J. McFarland, a talent scout and booking agent who had also served as Joe Ely’s drummer. McFarland arranged for the two to record an album at Lone Star Studios, where Willis Alan Ramsey had recorded his single, classic release. The album was produced by McFarland and engineered by Joe Gracey, another fixture in the Austin music scene. First as a DJ and then as the program director at Austin’s KOKE-FM, Gracey was the first to put the distinctive Austin musical mix on the airwaves and went on to write music columns for the Austin-American Statesman. Too Much did an in-studio set at KUT, Austin’s public radio station, and held a CD-release party at the city’s leading independent music store. One of the record’s tracks, the tongue-in-cheek “Treat Her Bad,” was chosen as one of the top 20 songs of 1989 by Dallas’ KNON-FM. But, Jagger said, “as far as signing us, nobody bit, and that pretty much was the end of it.”
Jagger said that while McFarland believed in the duo’s music, the group’s eclectic sound made it difficult to find a niche.
“At that time, there wasn’t a genre label that we fit into,” Jagger said. “We weren’t bluegrass, we weren’t blues, we weren’t country – we were a little of all that.” T.J. was trying to figure out where we fit, how he could market us.”
Harrell and Jagger continued to play together, and Jagger did a stint as a vocalist and mandolin player for the satirical band, the Austin Lounge Lizards.
Jagger made the move to the Davis Mountains in 1991, and Harrell followed in 1992. From 1992 to 1995, the two were instrumental in the Harvest Moon and Tunes music festival in Fort Davis, which brought national talent like the Dixie Chicks and Guy Clark to the small town.
Just before Thanksgiving of last year, Jagger sent the original 2-inch tapes of the 1988 recordings to Dave Sinko, an old friend now working as a sound engineer in Nashville. Jagger’s interest had mainly been in preserving the recordings from decay, but when Jagger and Harrell heard some of what Sinko had done with the material, they thought it might be worth re-releasing. “Some of what he found on the 2-inch tapes was stuff we had never heard,” Jagger said. “When Dave sent us his rough mixes, I started getting excited about it – it may be subtle, but to us it was a whole new perspective. It was like rediscovering what was there.” Jagger and Harrell are hopeful that, with a music industry landscape transformed by the Internet, their unique, handmade form of music will find a larger audience. “At the time we recorded this, the entire point of the game was to get a record contract,” Jagger said. “Then you had a foot in the door – otherwise you didn’t have a shot.
“The Internet has completely leveled the playing field in terms of getting artists in front of the fans,” he said. “Fans are driving the market. You don’t have to be Justin Timberlake to be a reasonably successful musician.”
All of the tracks on the album will be available for free download on the Border Blasters’ Web site.
Thirty years of playing together have given each musician an intuitive sense of where the other is going, which makes their live performance particular exciting.
“That kind of intuition is something that’s hard to capture in recordings,” Jagger said, “but to me, that’s what makes it fun and interesting – that’s when the magic happens.”
“We’ve never pursued it like we’re pursuing it now,” Harrell said. “We’re at a point where it’s finally first. We’ve survived this long, and we have so much to pull on. And we still have fun playing.” The Border Blasters’ CD will be available in stores around Far West Texas this spring, and Jagger and Harrell anticipate holding CD release events in Fort Davis, Alpine and Marfa. The CD was not titled as of press time, but Jagger and Harrell were leaning toward “Blast from the Past.”
For more information on the Border Blasters, and for free music downloads, visit http://www.borderblasters.com
Too Much Fun
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Any production involving Joe Gracey and TJ ["Tiny"] McFarland is hi-cred and this 15 song tape ... Any production involving Joe Gracey and TJ ["Tiny"] McFarland is hi-cred and this 15 song tape doesn't disappoint. Along with excellent pickin' and vocals by Todd Jagger and Jimmy Ray Harrell, added ingredients Danny Levin and Alvin Crow on fiddles, Ponty Bone accordion, Freddy Krc washboard, L.E. McCollough harmonica, and Kimmie Rhodes harmonies top the mix.
Covers range from Bill Monroe's "Rocky Road Blues" and Bob Will's "Blackout Blues" to a bluegrass version of Jimmy Cliff's "Harder They Come". Add in seven excellent originals and it really is toooo much.
Years of experience knit this ensemble into a smooth, ingenious sound, provoking even staid listeners to at least chair-dance.
Jagger & Harrell's long Austin history includes gigging at the legendary Armadillo World HQ, the Skyline Club and the original Soap Creek Saloon.
Typically Texas eclectic, Jagger's virtuoso mandolin style melds country, bluegrass and blues, while Harrell plays guitar, accordion, piano and more.
[The Border Blasters'] smooth harmonies and lively performance will delight even the most discriminating music fan.
[Ed. note: this review was written when we were perfoming under the name "Too Much", hence the brackets around the band name in the last paragraph.]
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You can't get enough! [The Border Blasters] perform at Raven's Garage on Sixth St. [Ed. note: Qu...You can't get enough! [The Border Blasters] perform at Raven's Garage on Sixth St.
[Ed. note: Quote above appeared under large feature photo of us in the "Best Bets" entertainment section; hence the one sentence of text.]
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"These guys are fantastic! An all-star line-up. It's really, really good." -Ray Randall, Americ..."These guys are fantastic! An all-star line-up. It's really, really good."
-Ray Randall, AmericanaRoots.com
Airplay and love from Italy!
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Hi Todd, Here is Massimo Ferro from Radio Voce Spazio, Italy. Some weeks ago I received a copy...Hi Todd,
Here is Massimo Ferro from Radio Voce Spazio, Italy. Some weeks ago I received a copy of the album of the wonderful Border Blasters and I now want to thank you so much for sending it to me. ""Blast From The Past" is really an exceptional album with its innovative and highly individual mixture of roots styles. I immediately started playing it in my radio show of here Radio Voce Spazio, as you can see from the alleged playlists, but I also was one of the FAR charters including the CD in my most recent list of the favourites of the month!
More music of the glorious Border Blasters will surely follow on air in the next weeks of course. In the meantime let me please thank you once again for your kind attention and wish you all the best.
An eclectic mix of originals, obscure covers and a few classics drawing from Texas and American roots music, real country, blues, bluegrass and western swing.
Sets can be from 25-70 minutes as desired.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.