Willis Brownstone
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Willis Brownstone

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press



There's safety in numbers, the adage goes, and four Waco rock bands that pride themselves on original music hope there's interest, as well.
Faced with a double whammy of few Waco live music venues and club managers' preference for bands that play cover tunes, hit songs by other performers, the bands Willis Brownstone, Common Ground, Color of Darkness and Stroade will play tonight in a showcase of their homegrown music.
It's titled "Super Sexy Fourplay" and features a variety of rock flavors, from Stroade's alt-rock sound to Color of Darkness' heavier rock edge, Common Ground's straight-ahead rock and the rock-jazz-funk fusion of Willis Brownstone's onstage jamming.
Willis Brownstone — Joshua Roberts on guitar, Ryan Patrick on keyboards and guitar, Caleb Jones on bass, Jeremy Bryant on drums and Martin B. Manry on percussion — has returned from a spring that saw the group tour Kansas and Oklahoma and release a new album, Summer Salt. Tonight's audience, incidentally, will hear about half of the new album performed as well as a song the band wrote earlier this week, Roberts noted.
Brownstone has cut its schedule back a bit to rest and regroup, but expects to get back to performing eight to 10 shows a month in the fall.
Headlining a multi-band show bumps up the energy level a bit, Roberts noted. "You always play a little different; when you play with three or more, you want to play your best," he said. "Nobody's going to be making any money from this, (but) everybody's excited."
Each band will play an hour's set with 30 minutes between groups for takedown and setup. Tonight's lineup begins with Stroade at 8 p.m., followed by Color of Darkness at 9:30, Common Ground at 11 p.m. and Willis Brownstone at 12:30 a.m.
"Cover bands do better for bars because they make more money," explained Willis Brownstone guitarist Josh Roberts. "With an original band, you have to convince people that your music is good."
-Carl Hoover - CARL HOOVER - Waco Tribune-Herald



USA - WILLIS BROWNSTONE: Summer Salt
Independent Release.
11 tracks. 54.05 mins.

Willis Brownstone are here man, just to slow things down a little
- life's too hectic; just chill out, sit back and listen to some
fine musicians playing a little Southern Bluesy rock. Aaaah. Just
let it flow, drift off, uh? Where am I!?, REVIEW!, right sorry...
Essentially Willis Brownstone are a stoner jam band in the vain
of say the Allman Brothers, but they've rolled that much fatter a
reefer, producing a fine, laidback, collection of melodic tunes;
at times a little funky, as on stand-out opener 'Severed Shoes'
(where lead singer, Ryan S. Patrick, recalls Jamiroquai's Jay
Kay), but always just that extra bit coooooool! GROOVY BABY!...
Humour aside, this is actually a tremendous collection of songs,
polished and professional with a confident lead and first-rate
guitar exertions. Certainly a name to look out for.


Darren Howells
Assistant Manager/Editor (inc. Magazine Design & Advertising)
Blues Matters!
- Blues Matters Magazine



Those who come out to Willis Brownstone's CD release party tonight at Cricket's Grill & Draft House can experience the Waco jazz/rock band in two dimensions.

There's the band's live performance, in which members often go off on long, improvised jams, using melodies as launching pads for musical explorations. Then there's the studio side of the band captured on its new CD, Summer Salt , in which Willis Brownstone's free-flowing concert style is channeled into cuts carefully organized to flow from one song to another.

Funneling a live show into a studio recording took some adjusting, said Ryan Patrick, the group's keyboardist and one of two guitarists.

"We're so based on improv," he explained. Rather than playing before the mikes at Blue Note Studio and simply editing down jams into album cuts, Willis Brownstone planned out its songs, even down to the length of the solos.

"A lot of it was charted out. We had a notebook full of what we would be doing for each song," he said. The band laid down rhythm and drum tracks first, then went back and recorded guitars, keyboards and vocals on top of the tracks — a move far from the flowing jams that characterize the band's stage show.

Though most of the songs are in the two- to three-minute range, one cut, "Disappearing Act," stretches for 12 minutes, Patrick said. The remaining songs are connected in such a way — often through lines recorded by guest artist Waco cellist Seth Allen — that a listener can sense the band's flair for musical improv.

"There's nothing on that CD that isn't continually moving," the musician explained.

The band consists of Josh Roberts on guitar, Ryan Patrick on keyboards and guitar, Caleb Jones on bass and Jeremy Bryant on drums. Jones, Roberts and Patrick performed together while high schoolers in the Waco area, with Bryant later joining the group. All studied commercial music at McLennan Community College, and tonight's CD release party is part of the band's strategy for expanding its reach.

Willis Brownstone did the bulk of its recording work last summer, but it took some six months of gigs to raise the money needed to produce and release the CDs, Patrick said. In addition to its new CD, Willis Brownstone also will be pushing T-shirts, stickers and other merchandise.

Willis Brownstone lives for its live shows, but finding venues to play its mix of music hasn't been the easiest thing to do.

"Doing improv blues/funk/rock isn't necessarily the biggest thing in Texas at this time," Patrick deadpanned.

Summer Salt may persuade club owners to book the Waco band, and it adds to the band's merchandise, the sale of which adds a revenue stream for the musicians.

With new music in hand, the band will redouble its efforts to broaden its base into Austin, Dallas and across the state.

"What we do from here is just play," he said.

Carl Hoover can be reached at choover@wacotrib.com or at 757-5749.

- CARL HOOVER - Waco Tribune Herald



Hey Willis B,
Many many thanks to all of you for your OUTSTANDING performance at The Raft
Race yesterday. We can't thank you enough for withstanding the un-GOD-ly
heat and putting on such a great show for The Family Abuse Center. Wish we
could have done it on a weekend and had a better crowd...of course it was
the FIRST year we've done it this way and these things take time to take
hold with the community. We got great news response, TV/ and Trib so were
happy about that as I'm sure you are. If there is ANYTHING we can do for you
guys, let us know. Were on your side all the way. We have T-shirts for all
the band members so have someone come by and we'll give ya the hook-up!
THANKS MANY TIMES OVER!
Your Fan~
Dana McKenzie
Rock 102.5 The Bear
- Dana McKenzie - KBRQ 102.5 FM


Hi I'm Dana McKenzie, morning show co-host and local music show producer on
Rock 102.5 The Bear in Waco, Texas. I used to have a bad problem...chasing
the dragon...you know riding "the horse"...some even call it dancing with
Mr. Brownstone. One day while looking for Mr. Brownstone at a local
bar...confusing the sign outside that advertised Willis Brownstone LIVE. I
never knew he had a first name....but I was desperate. There I ran into a
group of guys named Willis Brownstone. A kick ass funky band that I was so
taken with that I forgot about what I was looking for. I had found it. All
that time I wasted....uh wasted. Willis B. was all I needed. I dig those
cats man. They saved my life. And they throw down some tunes that put me in
a place I never wanna leave...a world that sassifies. Give em' a listen and
maybe...just maybe...you'll find what you've been needing all along. And
they're foxy too. Whad'a package!
-Dana McKenzie (102.5 FM) - Dana McKenzie - KBRQ 102.5 FM



These guys have found an eclectic vibe that boils together all genres including some styles that have been lost for years, and even more that they're creating. The musicianship of each player is intricate enough to compose a tune that switches grooves numerous times but never hear the same thing twice. There is always more than one thing to watch or listen to, the bass line is always intuitive and right in the pocket with the percussion, the rhythm and lead guitars mix the perfect tones respectively with perfectly timed harmonies. One of the most entertaining groups Ive ever had in my club as well as one of my personal favorites.
-Ben Davis (Entertainment Director - Maggie Mae's Austin, TX )
- Ben Davis - Maggie Mae's (Austin, TX)


Discography

Ragic Pilf
(2002) - 1st live release

Live at the Bosque River Stage
(2003) - 2nd live release

Summer Salt
(2004) - 1st studio release

Live Shows (12)
(2004-2005) - available for download only

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Self-described as groove based improvisational funk rock, Willis Brownstone is hard pressed into to just one genre. With obvious influences of jazz, rock 'n roll, and funk, Willis B. produces melodic grooves mixed with fluid harmonies and ever evolving improvisation. They have cut their teeth sharing the stage with well known artists including Tea Leaf Green, Del Castillo and Graham Colton, and they have played shows in dozens of cities across the southwest. From as far north as Manhattan, Kansas, all the way down to the South Texas Coast, Willis Brownstone is fast becoming a true Texas favorite.