Texas Music Thursday: Interview with Matt Castillo

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Hey y’all, first of all I just want to say Happy Thanksgiving! Hopefully yall are spending time with your families and friends on this day. I wanted to take this time and share with y’all something very special, that I am personally grateful for. Earlier this month, Matt Castillo from Matt and the Herdsmen, agree to be my first interview! Yes, y’all heard right. I had the opportunity to sit down and catch up with him and take a look at how far the band has come, their current projects, and what their future goals are as a band. I'll be honest, I was a bit nervous about doing my first interview, thankfully Matt is a blast  to be around and made it easier for me. With that being said, let's get right to it!

The first time I saw y'all, “Matt and The Herdsmen” was at Palmfest back in 2015. Since then y’all have released two singles “All Gone” and “Too Drunk Anyway”, yall have played alongside great artists, the latest being Mike and The Moonpies at Floores (Helotes,Tx). Also, y’all were nominated for the “Texas Regional Radio Music Awards” and made it to the final round.

M: Yeah, made it to the final round and lost but it was fun. When I found out who we were going up against, I was like “man, there is no way we are going to pull this one out”.

Those were some tough categories, and some tough competition. I voted for you guys, but honestly, I almost didn’t. 

 M: How dare you?! Yeah it was hard but the cool thing is being nominated for “New Single of the Year” and “New Band/ Duo of the Year”. It is pretty outstanding because with the album we kind of didn’t know what we were doing, we did but we didn’t know, and then to be nominated for new band of the year is pretty exciting. It shows our work ethic and all the hard work we put into it. And being nominated in “New Single of the Year” we were competing with William Clark Green, Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen, big guys like - Maaan. The other thing that I really enjoyed and so did the guys is that the fans got to vote. It wasn’t by a committee but it was literally the fans introducing us, it was the fans that got us for the final round. We were okay with not going through the first round, because we are so brand new but everyone started voting, and then it was the second round and now it we are in the final third round, so people must have seen us and asked themselves, “who are these guys?”. We were really happy to just be nominated in these categories.

 How does it feel to look back at everything that you and the band have been able to accomplish within the last 3 years, because it has been 3 years since y’all came together?

M: Yeah. I guess looking back now; it’s pretty cool how far we’ve been able to come. It’s been one of those deals where we had our heads down grinding away and we finally looked up every now and then Hard work does pay off and a lot of it, is making sacrifices, being on the road and playing shows, and just being humble. We’ ve learned so much from each other, because we didn’t know each beforehand, we all came in fresh, and I think that was probably the toughest challenge… seeing how we were all going to collaborate and work together. But everybody has such a great sense of humor and we get along.

Interview with Matt Castillo
Matt and The Herdsmen at Smokin' on the Rio "after party"
Beto Cavazos - Ruben Cantu - Matt Castillo -  Danny Salinas
Y’all do so seem to be getting along, I saw the “Bros 4 Life” set of photos from the show at Floore’s. 

Yeah and that’s cool. I have a great relationship with them all. Again not knowing where they came from, what their background was, we had to just learn that. It is being fun getting to know those guys, I wouldn’t want anybody else by my side playing a show, because I know I can turn back look at Ruben, look to the side and see Beto there, turn and see Danny there and feel comfortable on stage. It is one of those weird things. So if somebody were to replace somebody I would feel awkward.

Y'all are in the process of working on the new album. Is it done? Or still in the process of editing?

M: No, it is done. Completely mastered, and we have it locked up in a safe. Haha…We are just waiting around because the plan is to do something a little bit different that we didn’t do last album. We’ve learned a lot from the past three years, and we really want to go with a publicist, get some presales, and work with a different distributor. The more you engulf yourself in the music scene, you start finding out about who to work with and who somebody would recommend. I am very grateful that a lot of the other bands we have opened up for they have told us, “hey look into this”, “look into that”, “be weary of this”, “don’t jump in”. That is why, it has kind of taken up some time, and the guys understand. That is why we aren’t in a rush to put it out there. That is not to say that you won’t get a sneak peek of the album, the guys and I have talked about different ways to promote, get sneak peeks out there, give them a taste of what is going to be on the album, maybe even put the album live for 24 hours or something like that. We are working on all the paperwork behind the scenes before we get the official okay to start promoting it. 
When we pull the trigger it is going to be all together and there isn’t going to be any missing pieces and that is the goal.

 It is great to hear that you are taking the time for the sake of doing it right. The last time I saw y’all was at Bourbon St. in McAllen. That is actually where you guys will be going be recording the music video for “Chance to Make You Stay”, and that will be this weekend?

M: It will be this Friday (Nov. 11th), 11pm-1am it is going to be fun. The approach is like this, the first music video introduces the band, so we had a music video that shows what happens with us on a daily basis, that was “Dance All Night”. Then we wanted to do a lyric video and that was “Too Drunk Anyway”. Now, we want to do like a movie music video, so there will be more details for “Chance to Make You Stay”, we kind of just want to do something different.

Is there a specific theme, or a storyline for the video?

M: Well, I kind of want to turn this into a movie because there are so many components to the story. We really want to do a good job on it, and take our time. Friday night will be the party scene, where “me” in the song, I am doing all the bad stuff. Getting our friends involved in the party scene is great too. So, having the band there, and having our closest friends and having people from Facebook come out and get them to be in the music video is the cool thing about it. Because this is not going to be a music show; so we will be filming from 11pm-1am, hanging out, taking pictures. We are thankful that Bourbon St is sponsoring the music video so they get to be a part of it as well. I like that we are able to work together, because they along with other venues down here, had a helping hand in moving us forward, from The Dog House, Monster Carwash, Mel’s Diner, all those venues, and bar owners have been great help, and hope that it always continues and keep moving forward.

Dance All Night Music Video

I’m sure that will be exciting then. So, I know y’all are always traveling playing shows, not just here in the valley but also across Texas. But this Thanksgiving break you guys are having a hometown show with The Powell Brothers and Randy Rogers Band. How do y’all feel opening up for them for the 3rd time during their Valley shows (4th time overall)?

M: First of all, it’s been fun with those guys. We are truly blessed. I think Danny (Bass player) hit it right on the nail “hard work is paying off, and we are getting called to play shows, but there are other bands that are doing the same”. We talk to them and they are happy for us, as much as we would be happy for them go out and support them. As far as working with the Randy Rogers Band, I think they know who we are, and everybody has a great relationship and that is the great thing about it, they keep it humble. For us, maybe we were star struck the first time or even the second time around but they keep telling me “we put on pants just as you do every morning”. I’m excited the show that we have planned out of it, we tried it out at Floore’s Country Store and it was awesome, everybody really enjoyed the show, I did, the guys did, so we will keep it the same for this show, high intensity,…end it with a good bang.

Well we’ve mentioned you guys traveling a lot, and I am sure yall have been able to see how the Texas Country Scene is in other cities/areas, in your point of view how is the South Texas Country Music scene different or unique?

M: I think we are still learning that. Our biggest fan base is here, and that is what we love the most. The music scene up there is a little bit different, they expect more originals, and from what we’ve seen from The Valley they know what they like and they ask for their honky tonks-their legends, their covers. Both are great for us, because we get to play the music, and our main goal is to share our music. It is different, but we are still learning it all. I think we always try to do the best we can, as far as covering all the grounds, from cover songs to our originals.

I am excited for this album, it is 11 songs, I think it is going to be a 180 from the last album.  The songwriting in it has improved, as well as the musical composition. I have been able to write with good songwriters and I am very blessed that they said yes to write with me. I am really excited. And I lot of the people that we have talked to, have said “You guys are really country, it’s almost refreshing. You guys are doing a really great job” and that is a compliment to the guys, as much as it is to myself as a songwriter. I’m happy that in this album, I get to showcase some songwriters from The Valley, and some from Austin, and we all come together and make this really great album. I wrote a couple with some of the band mates, Eddie Saenz, Andy Walker, and then I went up to Austin and wrote a song with Jordan a good buddy of mine. When, I look back at the album and I look at the credits, I am so happy that they allowed me to song write with them and put them on our record. That’s a really cool thing, to showcase them because there are a lot of talented songwriters down here and I am glad that there is almost like a movement, they are coming out. A lot of bands, are putting out EP’s, recorded 2 or 3 the songs, it is so awesome because now we can put The Valley on a map. That is the whole point with us putting so much effort into this record, because we want to put The Valley out there.

That is the goal for people to know that there are great song writers and greatness here in South Texas, just because we are so far that does not mean we can’t be put on the map. 
I hope The Valley is proud of what we are trying to do, it’s been a fun ride and it is only the beginning. 
I think this album is going to be really good, and I hope people enjoy it.

Matt Castillo Interview
Matt and The Herdsmen at Smokin' on the Rio "after party"
There we have it everyone! If this doesn't make you excited for what is to come for our hometown favorites, then I don't know what will...well maybe listening to the album, but for that we will have to wait...or you can just go and check them out the their upcoming "Holiday Hangovers" show,  with The Powell Brothers and Randy Rogers Band, at Boggus Ford Events Center (Pharr,Tx). I would like to reminder you to follow the band on their social media accounts to stay up to date on their latest shows, the new music video and the possible "special sneak peeks".

Thank you to Matt Castillo from Matt and The Herdsmen, for the patience, and willingness to do this interview with me.

Gift Guide: Small Business Edition

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner; seriously it is just a few days away! It's crazy how time flies. This is just a reminder why we should really appreciate every moment we are able to spend with those around us, so instead of falling for all of the hype that is surrounded by Black Friday, rushing through dinner to stand in line for a ridiculous long time, I have a better idea. Stay home this “Black Friday” enjoy your family, make memories, after all the real event is on Saturday, November 26th anyways. Because It is “Small Business Saturday”!

It is easy for this day to get overshadowed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the constant promotion for the bigger businesses, but Small Business Saturday is special in its own way. When we support and shop from small businesses, we aren’t just supporting the individual, we are also supporting their families, their goals, and their dreams. More often than not, the products are handmade, with carefully picked materials in order to provide a quality product. Personally, I appreciate this so much. Which is why in honor of “Small Business Saturday” I would like to share with y’all some of my favorite businesses to shop from! These are businesses that I trust and have always delivered quality items. Before Christmas catches up to us, let me share these 4 wonderful businesses.

Travelin’ Trinkets:

First, we have Kenzie and her business Travelin’ Trinkets. I came across Travelin’ Trinkets through a mutual friend that shared a Texas Decal done for her. I have had Kenzie do two different decals for me, one for my car and another for my BINO Tumbler. Both times, I presented Kenzie with my ideas, and she provided me with suggestions as far as size, font styles, and colors. I’ve loved the result of both decals. Her business is social media based, meaning that all of her business is generally done through her Facebook page or her Instagram account. I would like to point out that she does more than just decals; she also has wood signs, glass etching, and other custom items.

If you mention “Smiley Shares” Travelin’ Trinkets has offered BOGO on decals and 5% on Woodwork (not including shipping). Take some time to look around on her Facebook and Instagram pages, or contact her for custom work, for you or a loved one for this upcoming Christmas.

Instagram: Travelin' Trinkets

Decals, Christmas Gift, Small Business
I love that Kenzie sends detailed instructions on how to put the decal on items.
Otherwise I'm sure I would have messed something up. 

Cinco Wildflowers:

Daniela from Cinco Wildflowers is also someone I came across through a mutual friend. My friend shared this wonderfully detailed necklace of Texas with very beautiful wildflowers. It didn’t take long for me to reach out to Daniela and make my first purchase, I bought an already made necklace. But after my first purchase, I decided to have her create a custom piece for me. I am not very big on jewelry, but what I do wear usually has a special meaning behind it, and I wanted this piece to be personal. Daniela was great, I gave her some ideas of what I wanted and she went with it, once we agreed on the design she would send me photos of how it was coming along and if there were things I would change, she was very receptive to my suggestions. I have received many compliments on my “Texas is Home” necklace. Cinco Wildflowers also has earrings and rings. You can get a whole custom made set for someone, and they will be sure to love it.

If you use/mention coupon code “Smiley5” when ordering from her on her Facebook, Instagram or Etsy shop, you will receive a 10% discount on your order.

Instagram: Cinco Wildflowers

Necklace, handmade, small business, south texas
Necklaces pictured are mine. The one with the two hearts is my "Texas is Home" necklace,
showing both Houston (sparkling thread) and the Valley (red). 

Whiskey Boat Goods:

Whiskey Boat Goods is actually owned by fellow blogger Morgan S. I have been following her on social media for over a year now, since we are both music bloggers, and she recently moved down to Texas! Then I saw that she was starting her business alongside her boyfriend, and all the positive feedback that they had been receiving. Which is why when I decided to do this post I knew I had to share “Whiskey Boat Goods” with y’all. Morgan and Eddie were gracious enough to send me one of their more popular candles, Blueberry Cobbler, and let me tell you it smells divine and I am not even a fan of blueberry!…at least not baked (prefer fresh), but I loved the sweet subtle smell of the blueberries, without this overwhelming bakery smell. Not sure I am explaining this in the best way possible, but personally I love my candles to smell good without this overpowering smell that gives a headache. And although the smell was subtle, I was able to smell the blueberries as soon as I opened the package (unless my mind was playing games with me). If you wanted to send this to somebody out of town or state, the packaging is already good to go! These natural wick made candles are made in adorable mason jars, labeled with the batch number and name of candle, as a reminder that these were handmade with love and care, then they are placed inside a burlap bag with the logo stamped on it.

Whiskey Boat Goods have a series of holiday scents, great to share with friends and/or to keep for you. These include, “A Southern Christmas” (seasonal only): A mix of White chocolate, sweet sugar, and sprinkles of peppermint. Hot Apple Cider: Mulled Cider, spice and fresh cut apples, with sandalwood undertones. S’mores (seasonal only): toasted marshmallows melted chocolate, crunchy graham crackers. (This is one I will be ordering as my own Christmas gift. Not even kidding!) Coconut Crème Pie: buttery base with hints of vanilla, fresh baked graham crackers, and a sprinkle of coconut, and many more. Make sure to check out more of the rest of their selection, also I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you sign up for their email list, they might have an upcoming SALE this weekend. *HINT*HINT*

Website: www.whiskeyboatgoods.com
Instagram: Whiskey Boat Goods

Candles, Soaps, handmade, Small Business
Isn't this the cutest packaging?
I love everything in mason jars, because they can be utilized again!

Sweet Texas Treasures:

Last but certainly not least, is Mrs. Morgan Fields from Sweet Texas Treasures. I came across this business through a blog post a little over a year ago. I was able to order my sister her Christmas gift last year from STT. Mrs. Morgan now has her own storefront in Houston, Texas, where she has different clothing options, decor, accessories and other items. I have purchased her custom made Texas Tees which are amazing. When I made my custom order from her, she went over the patterns (huge selection of Fiesta inspired) she had available, in addition to the shirt colors. The process was quick and my order was shipped to me within a few days. She had perfect communication and kept me in the loop at all times.

I am looking forward to being able to purchase more items from her. After all, she not only has Texas tees, but also has football team logos, birthday “Number” tees, cactus, and I am sure she can work on another requested design. If you use the code “sweetlove” on her Etsy page, you will receive a 10% discount!

Facebook: Sweet Texas Treasures Boutique

Texas, Handmade, Small Business
I didn't have many pictures of my Texas Tee shirt, except for that Selfie...lol.
The others are borrowed from Sweet Texas Treasures Boutique Facebook page. 

Well there you go, 4 Small Businesses that put all their care and hard work into each homemade item they create for you! So relax, and enjoy your time with those around you, create memories and skip the long lines and craziness of Black Friday, and get ready to support these amazing businesses this Saturday. Take a look at their social media accounts, Etsy pages, and websites, and get those Christmas gifts ready!

Texas Music Thursday: The Powell Brothers

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HESTEC Community Day is the last day of the HESTEC (Hispanic Engineering Science and Technology) week long Celebration. It is an opportunity in which the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley hosts a  conference that features exciting events focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematicsThroughout the week there are several different events, highlighting many of the special student projects and other exhibits.  I was unable to attend any of the events due to work, but going off their social media they all seemed very interesting. The HESTEC Community Day is when it all wraps up, with several of the college clubs manning a booth with either games/food/snacks etc, plenty of family oriented activities and can’t forget the music. Community Day may be the ending of this Celebration, but it is only the beginning of this weeks’s Texas Music Thursday.

One of the reasons I decided to attend Community Day was because of the scheduled entertainment, this included Houston (My Hometown) Texas Country Band, “The Powell Brothers”. Prior to this I had heard very little of them.  Which is why, I did a bit of research about the band, listened to their songs and watched a couple of their Youtube videos, before the show, wanted to have an idea of what to expect at the show. Here is what I found out, the brothers, Blake and Taylor began their musical careers as a backing band in 2006, this was before they even graduation High School! They sound kind of cool so far, well afterwards they attended Berklee School of Music, during this time they had the opportunity to really grow and explore different musical projects, such as being songwriters, producers, music directors. Their music has been played in different media forms, from TV Shows, movies, until 2014. Sometime between 2014-2015, they decided that instead of parting ways, they needed to stay united and form what we would now known as “The Powell Brothers”. And just like that, I was intrigued.

I arrived early to the event and the Navy Band Southeast was keeping everybody entertained with a full of energy performance. Once their set ended, all of the young audience members began to get antsy; they were waiting for the arrival of Mrs. Sabrina Carpenter (Maya Hart from Girl Meets World) after all (she was considered the headliner). Instead, The Powell Brothers took the stage. Considering that there were a lot of families, I was anticipating some complaints, since it wasn’t the young superstar, instead I saw everyone enjoying the show that was just starting. From the beginning the Powell Brothers demonstrated their ability to captivate an audience, people began to clap and sway along to the rhythm of “No More”. They kept that same enthusiasm throughout their first couple of songs,  all of which were originals. Personally, I thought it was bit risky considering that they were playing to a crowd that for the most part didn’t know who they were, but the people kept dancing, and enjoying themselves. However, what really kicked it off was when they covered a George Jones favorite “Love Bug”, which was enjoyed by everyone, and honestly how couldn’t it? They added their own rocking twist to it and everyone seemed to have fun listening to it. There was a bit of change of pace, with their song “4 Wheel Hotel” a song that focuses on the less glamorous part of the life of an artist, and although slower paced, the energy isn’t lost.Their set continued with a mixture of originals and a cover here and there, each song being a great combination of rock, country and blues, their songs highlight their strengths as musicians and also bring the wonderful harmonies to focus. Those that were antsy a couple of songs earlier were now dancing nonstop enjoying every bit of the show. As band Taylor Powell (Lead Vocals/ Acoustic), Blake Powell (Electric/Background Vocals), Joseph Daniel (Bass/Background Vocals), Mike Smith (Drums) are a combination of talented musicians that are able to transmit their passion to their listeners, and as listeners that is exactly what we want. 

Houston Meets the Valley: It was great having  the opportunity to talk to my fellow Houstonians,
and getting to know both Brothers Blake and Taylor Powell. 
The Powell Brothers are definitely a band I will continue to keep my eyes on, they left a lasting good impression on me. They took a risk, that paid off, people are now aware of who the Powell Brothers are, and just how amazing their shows can be.  Now knowing just how dynamic of  show they put on,  I would like to see them perform more acoustic songs in their shows or simply just see them in an intimate performance. I say this because when I was doing my research (YouTube watching) I saw some of their acoustic performances and really loved the stripped down version of some of the songs they played during their set, and would like to compare and see which version I liked the best. Although, I understand that that probably wouldnt have worked for a big crowd as the one they had that day.

Since HESTEC Community Day, the band has been traveling and playing several shows, including a couple of music festivals, but Valley friends I would like to remind you that the boys will be back for the post-Thanksgiving show with Hometown favorites Matt and The Herdsmen, and none other than Randy Rogers Band. As someone who has seen all of the artists on the lineup, I HIGHLY encourage for you to attend, and make sure you take a dancing partner because there will be plenty of great songs to dance to. Tickets for show can be bought [here]

As always, I would like to remind you to listen to the band and let me know what you think of them. I know they are currently working on their upcoming album, that won’t be released until next year, but make sure you follow them on social media as they occasional share videos from their shows, and you get a taste for what it is to come. Also, Four Wheel Hotel is out on the radio now, if you like it, be sure to request it.

Social Media:
Twitter: @BrothersPowell
Instagram: @BrothersPowell

Texas Music Thursday: Sam Riggs Concert at Stubb's

A little over year ago I shared with yall how I wished that Sam Riggs and The Night People could make it down to South Texas since I had recently missed his show in my hometown of Houston. Well, just my luck! A little before the year anniversary of those comments (June 4th to be exact), Mr. Sam Riggs came down to South Texas and opened up for Mr. CoJo (Cody Johnson)...However, I messed up...I missed a good portion of Sam's set because I was in line to meet Cody Johnson, Whoops! Although by the parts of the performance that I was able to see I knew that he had put on a great show. Thankfully, my friend and I had actually decided a few days before this concert that we would embark on a road trip later on during the summer.
August 26th, 2016. After traveling close to 5 hours thanks to traffic, my friend and I finally made it out to Stubbs, it was a typical wonderful Texas night, yes that pretty much means it was hot and humid with a couple of lightning strikes close by, but not close enough to cancel the amazing show that we were about to see.

Sam Riggs began his set with an all time favorite "Long Shot" and instantly the venue was filled with high energy. That is the thing about Sam Riggs, not only are his songs intense,but the energy that he gives to the audience is powerful. The energy packed set continued with "Heartbreak Girl"a song from his latest album "Breathless". However the moment that made -the 5 hour drive, rushing from the hotel to dinner to Stubb's in a hot humid day completely worth it, was not only seeing Sam Riggs play "Lucky Ones" but it was hearing everyone singing along to every word, and the fact that he took the time to recognize and thank the law enforcement for their continuous work and sacrifice. As someone who has a family member in the field  and is constantly surrounded by law enforcement, this, made my heart happy.

The show did not end there. Sam Riggs was continued with more of his dynamic performances such as "Hold on, and Let go" and "High on a Country Song". I know that normally when an act is opening up for someone there set may be a little shorter, which seemed to be the case with him, I did not want for it to end. There is something special about seeing someone totally in their element, passionately performing a song, playing a series of various instruments (he plays around 4 or 5 different instruments during his performances), all while capturing an audience at a sold-out venue. Sam Riggs followed Flatland Calvary as the openers for Josh Abbott Band, you can catch Flatland's concert review. Here.

I hope that this would sway you to checking out Sam Riggs and The Night People, if you haven't already. Personally I feel that  they have a song for everyone. Also, dont forget to follow him along on his social media to make sure to check out when he comes to a place near you.

Facebook: Sam Riggs
Twitter: @SamRiggsMusic
Instagram: @SamRiggsMusic

 I know I will be looking out for a headlining show somewhere here in South Texas, because although he always takes time to spend it at his merch table and engage with his fans, I have yet to meet him. I am hoping third times the charm. *fingers crossed*