Hollis Webb

Where Danger Invites Rescue

Sing Along: The Label On Your Sleeve

Song: "The Label On Your Sleeve"
Album: DANGER
Tempo: 120bpm
Time: 4/4
Key: G

After I left Austin in 2006, I had a "regathering" type of moment where I hung out in my apartment in Arlington and listened to and (tried) writing and recording as much as I could.  I was working a job close by where I was making a little bit more money and after hitting up open mics in Dallas and traveling to see many of my favorite bands live, I had a good idea of where I wanted my "sound" to go and what I was capable of.

I had just heard Arcade Fire at ACL 2006 and remembered loving the kind of serious but high tension mood their droning, repetetive verse beat style.  Driving, disco "four-on-the-four" like you had a drummer stuck on the roof and told him to beat his kick and not to stop until the record is done.

This was fully fleshed out in my parents's garage on Christmas Eve of 2007.  The original title of the song was "Pennant" like the kind of university pennant you might see at a 1950's college football game.  I had the lead melody and the "theme" of the tune in my head for some time.  I could hear it like it was bells or trumpets playing-something "glorious" and heralding like a fight song at a football game.

“The Label On Your Sleeve” theme

“The Label On Your Sleeve” theme

The drums aren't real.  They are individual drum sounds from a Casio keyboard I played live into the recording to the click track.  I could never get the drums to sound quite right, but they are passable.  When I play this song live, I find myself wanting to go quite a bit faster and sing more like David Byrne.  I wanted joyous, but "high tension."

The lyrics are about getting close and physical--how sometimes the first touches are the strangest and weirdest--with another person.  It's kind of like that weird "touching" thing a teenage guy might do at the movies while he's got his arms crossed--it's that little "I want to hold your hand" motion.  I'd like to know the over-under on that weird "touching" thing those guys are doing.

This is the first of many songs I would write trying to imitate The Features.  Funny story:  I posted this on The Features Fans online community board and no one responded.  I suppose listening back it sounds a little rough, but still not bad for where I was in the process of learning to write songs and record them.

I feel the warmth inside your cashmere
I only wish I was the label on your sleeve
Maybe then I could be next to you
But instead I'll have to dream of ways to be
Close to you

So here it is in its full glory:

My 2017 Musical Resolutions

Happy New Year!  I love celebrating and thinking about the upcoming year during January--then I promptly break all my resolutions between February through December.  Here are my musical resolutions for this year.  Will you help me keep them? What are your resolutions for 2017--musical or otherwise?

1. Go see more live, LOCAL shows - There are so many amazing things happening with music in San Antonio that it gives me a renewed sense of urgency to find allies and inspiration in this beautiful town.  When I was in Lubbock, I had a history with the city--I'm attempting to build these things here in San Antonio and part of that is engaging and supporting the artistic community that is already here working.

2. Play more live shows - As I've gotten older I find myself going inward, headphones on doing recording and playing mostly at the house and with close friends.  This needs to stop.  As much as I'd like to invite everyone to take the magical journey with me through my recorded songs, people want to hear live music and they want to be amazed.

3. Make better music - I want to try to actually improve and learn more this year on my instruments, vocals, guitar, trombone, and recording.  I want to expand my range and technical ability in these areas. 

4. Take care of my most important instrument - I've always said the most important instrument a musician has is his ears, but I'm expanding to include the entire body for this post.  As musicians, many of us forget that there is a physicality (or should be) to the art of creating music.  We have to make physical exertions and movements to sing, play guitar, and especially for horn and woodwind instruments.  I look forward to really do the things (and not do the other things) this year to take care of my health and make these musical "exertions" sound better.

5. Release "Rescue" - This recording I'm sitting on has been like a musical unicorn for me, and not in a magical, colorful fantasy-horse way either.  It's officially been almost six years since I started writing these songs.  They are almost done but little nagging things keep me from just doing it.  There is the desire to release on vinyl, which increases cost.  There is the want for the songs to have it mixed professionally--to have a guiding hand mix the tunes in the most appetizing way for someone to listen..  there is also the dream of having the perfect album graphics to package up this group of songs like a beautiful Christmas present waiting to be opened.  These are just a couple of the things that represent a lot of time and money that should be spent on this project--this beautiful, aged project desperate to be released on the world.

Below is a little video of Auld Lang Syne I recorded a few years ago.

To buy my music and merchandise click here.

A Thrill of Hope

Merry Christmas from Hollis Webb and the Reindeer Games!

Placide Cappeau: Not in a holiday mood.

Placide Cappeau: Not in a holiday mood.

This year will be a new kind of Christmas for me.  First, this will be the first Christmas day I will not spend with my family.  I'll be enjoying the run up to Christmas with my fiancee's family here in San Antonio and then I will fly the day after to get ANOTHER Christmas with my family in Dallas.  I get TWO Christmases!  HO HO HO!!!

Looking back, I reflect with the soundtrack of holiday music in my head.  For the past few years, Clint Buck and I have taken on the name of the Reindeer Games and for the month of December we churn out the holiday hits whenever we get an opportunity.  When this time of year comes around we break out the holiday song book and I think and speak a lot about the tunes.  So because I get TWO Christmases (and hopefully get TWICE AS MANY PRESENTS), I'll be discussing two Christmas carols I've thought about especially this year.

The Reindeer Games: San Antonio's Merriest Holiday Band

The Reindeer Games: San Antonio's Merriest Holiday Band

The first is "O Holy Night," a traditional song composed by Adolph Adam in 1847.  According to the story however, the lyrics were written by Placide Cappeau, a wine merchant and poet (of course he was a wine merchant and poet, because what other kind of day job could you have as a songwriter in the 19th century?).  The thing that is interesting about this is that Cappeau was commissioned to write the words (or the poem) and he was not a Christian or very interested in religion at all.  I believe this song and the lyrics are some of the most beautifully written in western music and what is particularly poignant to me is the sense of desperate hope conveyed in the tonally ascending tune.  He was able to tap into something amazing through his poetry in this song, despite being sentimentally removed from it.  The lyrics which inspires me the most this holiday season come from this song:

A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Some of us have had a tough year and our souls feel weary.  We may feel as if this past year and coming years stand tall as an insurmountable wall of heartache and disappointment--but we press on and celebrate with gratitude for our family and those we love and who love us.  This is the "thrill of hope."  The new and glorious morn is breaking before us--we just have to lift our heads and hearts to see it.  We can lift others up as well even if our weary souls may not be rejoicing right now.  There is no greater power than the ability to empower others to do great things.  This is my thrill of hope.  What is yours?

The second song I've thought about and played is "I'll Be Home for Christmas"--first sung by Bing Crosby with lyrics by Kim Gannon.  The singer of the song is writing a letter to his family listing off his favorite Christmas traditions so that they will have them ready for him by Christmas.  It isn't until the last verse when we learn he'll only be coming home in his dreams.

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams.

There are many people and families this year who may not get to spend Christmas with the folks they love--for them, the holidays can be a tough time of trying to celebrate, but having the pain of missing someone dear to them.  This season, reach out to the ones you love and the ones who need love the most.  Be thankful for the bounty of blessings and riches we have right now, in this moment.

So I want to wish you out there a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays from me and the Reindeer Games.  Try to get out and let your "love light" gleam for someone.

The Reindeer Games have a Christmas album, if you'd like to hear Clint Buck and I crooning holidays tunes over your stereo speakers.  Click here to purchase the download.

If you'd like to book the Reindeer Games for your holiday event or to surprise someone with a special caroling treat here in San Antonio, click here to book the Reindeer Games!

As always, We appreciate and love you all so very much.  Thank you for listening to our music and have a happy 2017!

-HW

The Reindeer Games with Nicholas Spyker at Ventura's Blue Christmas 2016

The Reindeer Games with Nicholas Spyker at Ventura's Blue Christmas 2016

Throwback Thursday - 1995

This took place at the Cactus Theatre in Lubock, TX with my first band: Tomorrow's Yesterday (or as we were known at the time "The Hushpuppies"). 

This was our FIRST show.  It was a benefit or something for a "say 'no' to drugs" thing or something like that.  Look at that glorious hair and Kurt Cobain-inspired cardigan!

So much teenage angst.

So much teenage angst.