Grand Ole Echo
"THE STONED, STEELY SOUNDS OF '70S COUNTRY MUSIC LIVE ON IN ECHO PARK — ON SUNDAY AFTERNOONS, AT LEAST. BREEZY AND BOOZY VIBES ABOUND AT THE ECHO EVERY SUNDAY AFTERNOON FROM SPRING TO FALL AT GRAND OLE ECHO, AN OPEN-ENDED COUNTRY SHOWCASE THAT FEATURES ALL MANNER OF BUZZED OUTLAWS AND COUNTRY-FRIED SONGWRITERS BUT ZEROES IN ON THE HAZY DAYS OF WILLIE AND WAYLON AND RONSTADT. THE PARTY TAKES ADVANTAGE OF BOTH THE ECHO'S MAIN PERFORMANCE SPACE AND ITS SUNNY BACK PATIO, WHERE RAY'S BACK PATIO BBQ SERVES UP SLOW-ROASTED PORK ON A WHITE HAMBURGER BUN FOR $6 A POP. KIDS ARE WELCOME AND RUN FREE WITH JOYOUS ABANDON; HANDSOME YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN LOUNGE AROUND WITH CANS OF BUD; VINTAGE WESTERN SHIRTS AND COWBOY BOOTS HANG FOR SALE ON RACKS BY THE SIDE OF THE STAGE. IT'S THE MUSIC, THOUGH, THAT KEEPS FANS COMING BACK EVERY WEEK, WITH HOT-SHOT LOCAL ACTS SUCH AS COUNTRY-FRIED ROCKER ELIJAH OCEAN AND THE FLAWLESS BLUEGRASS HARMONIES OF DEAR LEMON TREES SHARING THE STAGE WITH TOURING AMERICANA ACTS. CAN'T-MISS SPECIAL TRIBUTES, LIKE THOSE DEDICATED TO MERLE HAGGARD AND TOWNES VAN ZANDT EARLIER THIS YEAR, BRING OUT SCORES OF L.A.'S FINEST ROOTS SINGERS AND MUSICIANS. IF YOU SQUINT HARD ENOUGH, YOU COULD MISTAKE THE WHOLE AFFAIR FOR A NASHVILLE HOUSE PARTY CIRCA 1978".- CHRIS KISSEL , LA WEEKLY
"That's just one example of the type of collaborations in store at the Grand Ole Echo, whose definition of Americana is much more wide-ranging and diverse than its Nashville namesake, booking everything from southern rock to psychedelic alt-country to bluegrass to old fashioned honkytonk." - Jonathan Bernstein, American Songwriter
The Echo Park crowd knock back longnecks and listen to bands that can include (former) local fixture, Mike Stinson,or former members of the Blasters. Members of Wilco, and The Black Crowes have been known to show up and even take the stage.” - Los Angeles Magazine
“Sunday afternoons, put a kick in God’s day with the Grand Ole Echo, a downhome celebration with three live bands plus and old-timey jam and bbq on the back patio.” - The Pasadena Weekly
The future’s bright for the young Angeleno And an old song plays in his head Far as he knows. . .
These lines from the title track of Sam Outlaw's debut album Angeleno could almost serve as a haiku-like artist bio. Outlaw is a southern Californian singer-songwriter steeped in the music and mythos of west coast country, absorbing the classic vibes of everything from '60s Bakersfield honky-tonk to '70s Laurel Canyon troubadour pop and refashioning them into a sound that's pleasurably past, present and future tense.
“The music I play, I call 'SoCal country,'” says Outlaw. “It's country music but with a Southern California spirit to it. What is it about Southern California that gives it that spirit, I don't exactly know. But there's an idea that I like that says - every song, even happy songs, are written from a place of sadness. If there's a special sadness to Southern California it's that there's an abiding shadow of loss of what used to be. But then, like with any place, you have a resilient optimism as well.”
While he explores those shadows on the title track and the elegiac “Ghost Town,” Outlaw mostly comes down on the side of the optimists through Angeleno's dozen tracks. Opener “Who Do You Think You Are?” breezes in with south of the border charm, all sunny melody wrapped in mariachi horns, while “I'm Not Jealous” is a honky-tonker with a smart twist on the you-done-me-wrong plot. “Love Her For A While” has the amiable lope of early '70s Poco, “Old Fashioned” the immediacy of a touch on the cheek, and the future Saturday night anthem “Jesus Take The Wheel (And Drive Me To A Bar)” shows Outlaw has a sense of humor to match his cowboy poet nature. Throughout, producers Ry and Joachim Cooder frame the material with spare, tasteful arrangements, keeping the focus on Outlaw's voice. And it's a voice that indeed seems to conjure up California in the same way as Jackson Browne's or Glenn Frey's. Easy on the ears, open-hearted, always with an undertow of melancholy.