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Off to See the Wizard in the Hills of San Antone: Wolverton’s New Album

Wolverton cover art: James Smolleck

Wolverton’s Wizard Land cover art: James Smolleck

In 1885 the Wizard Oil singers gave a concert in San Antonio’s Military Plaza. Among the songs they performed was a standard of the day that included the word “woodpile” in the title.

The independent record label Woodpile has now released the album Wizard Land by the San Antonio band of merry mavericks known as Wolverton. There is no known connection between these two events.

Wolverton songs — grand adventures in tiny, shiny packages — tend toward the cerebral and the mystical. They soar through territory that reminds me a little of It’s A Beautiful Day, a band I don’t believe I’ve heard since the ’70s. And the trippy gypsy dance of their mysteries and riddles brings to mind the Incredible String Band. Nonetheless, Wolverton is its very own, many-splendored creation, spinning art folk rock as only magi may.

Guitarist and vocalist Hills Snyder says that the band was formed somewhat accidentally after he invited various musicians to perform with him during breaks in the open-to-the-public installation process for his 2010 show Casual Observer/Causal Observer at Blue Star Contemporary in San Antonio. The group coalesced organically, and by the time I first saw them live, at the Sala Diaz fundraiser held at Gallagher Ranch in June 2013, their sonic sheen inspired a lush fantasy.

I imagined that I had wandered into some floating adjunct of the Amargosa Opera House in Death Valley Junction, California. Vocalist and earthbound butterfly Caralyn Snyder seemed a descendant of the Amargosa’s resident ballerina, the entrancing Marta Becket, fluttering amongst invisible blooms and conjuring melody from the very air.

“You’re on your way to Wizard Land,” sings Wolverton keyboard player Kate Terrell in the new CD’s title track. With crystalline vocals and keys that skip lightly, sparkle and cascade, she cautions the listener not to “slip on the leaves in the portal beforehand.” Written by Kate, the song brings to mind the age-old dichotomy between the restricted, careful life and the terrain of freedom and imagination, where one takes chances and runs with the wizard, the wolves, and the wild.

Pirouette, written by Caralyn and Hills, peeps into the glories and challenges of a relationship between two individuals of artistic temperament. When Hills sings, “I’m a white glove floating above the coastline of  Pembrokeshire, Wales,” in his song Coastline, I tend to believe him. “Control is not anything that I can pretend to understand.” Been there. And I love the vague foreboding of the judiciously deployed Roland JX-3P synthesizer played by Wolverton’s performing collaborator and producer Joe Reyes.

Hills’ Radial Array is about the shocking encounter of the aftermath of a wildfire in the mountains of New Mexico, blackened trees arrayed across the horizon. It’s beautiful music tinged with a symphonic gasp. The song puts me in mind of the first time I saw the land after the Bastrop fires.

Wizard Land also includes a mini-literary saga, Melville, written by bassist and fiddler Jeremiah Teutsch, who left the band recently to concentrate on his visual art. Something of an operetta-ette, the haunting song  puts one aboard a 19th-century ship, with more than “a burden to bear” as Jeremiah’s dramatic yet controlled vocal style conveys the urgency, the fleeting chance, the desperation of men cast to dire circumstance. “Down down down down down we go.”

A guest theremin, played by Jessica DeCuir, and banjo, played by Lindsey Verrill, underscore the universal puzzlement of the Hills-penned My Name Is Time. The song reminds us that no one, not Michelangelo, Walt Whitman, or Captain Kangaroo, has ever been able to figure out just what the heck time actually is, why we have so much of it and why we yet have so little — and why it’s so fleeting, as fugitive as the wind. “My name is time, I’m wearing your clothes, they fit pretty well, how nobody knows.”

Wolverton: Kate Terrell, Hills Snyder, Caralyn Snyder, Joe Reyes

One listener described one element of the Wolverton sound as chamber pop, and yes, I do hear an aspect of a quasi-jazzy form of semi-classicism, albeit one that has let its hair down and munched a button in the vision pit. Another listener expressed relief upon perceiving an absence of twang within the fold. Fear not the twang. The twang is the hum and ooze of the native landscape. The twang is the blazing edge of the evening sun. Twang is the soft, warm buzz of the neon glow. Twang is the tongue that forks to the west.

(Yes I’m aware that x percent of twang-saturated regional music can be bland and not particularly interesting, but no way is that the fault of el twang.)

Degrees of twang are perpetrated in the final cut of Wizard Land, in the tavern romp of Caralyn’s song Clou. It’s in the conspiratorial skip, hop and march of Hills’ guitar, Kate’s keyboard, and guest Kim Mackenzie’s fiddle that gang up to a delightful and slightly-demented square dance sound as Caralyn cheerily sings about “a clou dans la tête,” which translates to “a nail into the head.”

It was, she continues, “nailed with a certain sound,” testifying, “that’s the way it went down.”


For album info, go here. Wolverton will be performing in these Texas venues in the coming days, starting tomorrow:

Liberty Bar, San Antonio with Julia Lucille, Tuesday, October 24, 7 PM
Liberty Bar, San Antonio with Boonesboro, Tuesday, October 31, 7 PM
Starlight Theatre, Terlingua, Saturday, November 18, 7 PM


Folk World

Although the vast state of Texas HAS an excellent psychedelic reputation beyond its obvious country and Americana scene, it has never been known for much of a psychedelic folk scene. San Antonio’s Wolverton continue to their best to change that perception. Their previous two EPs were real gems and now their first long player continues the magic throughout these fourteen songs. Although this hearkens back to the classic European style, it retains a touch of Americana creating a sound that that is rooted more in the soaring clouds than any spot on the planet. The vocal work is great throughout with a lot of female harmony and a male voice as well. The piano is surprisingly chilling and the guitars are quite tasty. There is also some playfulness in a few of the songs, so it leaves a good after taste at album’s end. This is a solid recommendation for all types of folk fans.



(CD from bandcamp )

With dual vocals, bright instrumentation and a melodic streak running through its centre, the music of Wolverton is easy on the ear yet complex and intelligent enough to slowly become one of your favourite albums, a collection of old and trusted friend willing to pick up the conversation any time you drop by.

    On this latest album, the songwriters are on top of their game influenced by folk, psych, pop, jazz and beyond yet retaining a sonic framework that ties every tune together wonderfully, each song perfectly formed and a delight for the ears.

    Sounding like a mix of Van Morrison and The Green Pajamas, “Paprika Rose” is a summery sheen of melody with a soft groove that sways like a morning meadow bathed in sunlight, the piano leading the dance beautifully. On “Pirouette” a sixties organ blends with some vaudeville vocals/piano, whilst the title track itself is filled with delightful harmonies reminding me of The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, a gently psychedelic song that floats by.

   As I live on the Welsh borders and often camp on the coast of Wales, it was strange yet comforting to hear Pembrokeshire, Wales mentioned in “Coastline” a slightly surreal song that is one of my favourites on the album, more gentle psych with an slight tinge of lounge mixed in, the mellow feeling continued on “Fresh Mint”, piano and guitar dancing together across the opening before a jaunty tune gets you swaying gently in your chair, smiling to yourself.

    Over 14 songs the listener is fully engaged with the album, each song having its own identity and character, the sound of Julian Cope drifting through “Radial Array” whilst “My Name Is Time” reminds me of Jefferson Airplane in relaxed mode, a sweet West Coast vibe found in the music and lyrics. These influences though are just that, the band has their own identity, they cannot sound any other way, this is Wolverton, beautiful, great conversationalist and the perfect date for a summer afternoon, the short and delightful “Clou” a final kiss on the doorstep, until next time at least. (Simon Lewis) 

San Antonio Current

Experimental Folksters Wolverton Have A New Record


Be it their soothing vocal harmonies or free-form acoustic guitar riffage, there’s something awfully calming and sort of therapeutic about listening to Wolverton, whose debut full-length album Wizard Land is set for an official release on May, 20 up in Austin.

The band says it “accidentally” formed in March 2011, and after their first show, a performance in an oversized bathroom inside a penthouse suite atop downtown's Grand Hyatt building, the group started getting requests to play around town. So frontman Hills Snyder and the gang decided to get a little more serious and in 2012 released their first collection of music, Tiny Chair.


Produced and recorded by Buttercup’s Joe Reyes, who also plays in Wolverton as a collaborator and semi-permanent member, Tiny Chair was a first glimpse into Snyder’s Dylan-esque songwriting, which, listening to the latest effort Wizard Land, has since added twinges of psychedelic '70s rock, jazz and blues.

Approaching their songwriting with the carefree spirit of kids on a playground, the three core members (vocalist and keys player Kate Terrell, guitarist and singer Hills Snyder, and vocalist Caralyn Snyder) all take turns leading listeners through the weird and twisting experimental folk journey of Wizard Land.  "We're kind of naive about songwriting in a way which makes the whole thing less restricted, if that makes any sense," says Hills Snyder, who's been a staple of the local art community and has continued to throw the DIY house-shows at Wolverton Home Concerts.

With no definitive plans for touring, though the idea is something they’ve tossed around, Wolverton remains a dynamic collective of artists whose goal it seems is to just have fun, write music and perform whenever show opportunities present themselves.   

In the rat race the music industry can be, even on a local level, it’s refreshing to hear a group that legitimately couldn't care less if you think they’re cool or not. 

New bands, take note.

Saturday, 7pm, May 20, Oglesby House Concerts, 5308 Fort Clark Dr., Austin, TX, 78745, For more information visit the band's website 

Houston Music Review

Having grown up during the sixties and seventies, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart (or maybe my head) for psychedelic music. In the mid to late sixties, the airwaves were full of bands like Vanilla Fudge, Moby Grape, The Great Society, Jefferson Airplane and, of course the Grateful Dead. Most people associate those sounds as being from San Francisco and the northern California area.

Texas had a parallel psychedelic experience going on with The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, The Moving Sidewalks, and Shiva’s Headband. San Antonio had its own scene with the Sir Douglas Quintet, Bubble Puppy, and the Children to name a few. Here now some decades later some keepers of the flame who call themselves Wolverton, have produced an album called Wizard Land in San Antonio that follows the psychedelic folk tradition that populated parks and coffee houses back in the day.

The music is an authentic nostalgic reproduction of the music from the time of distorted guitar riffs and wandering melodies with cryptic lyrics and visual imagery describing enigmatic situations and concepts. Kate Terrell’s piano and keyboards form the base for most of the songs with Hills Snyder adding tasty guitar riffs. The production is live and unadorned, making the presentation all that more authentic.

After a single listen one can tell that the band is having fun and that fun is contagious. Listening to this band is like finding an old pair of bell bottom jeans that you haven’t been able to fit into for decades and discovering a capsule of mescaline in the pocket. Hippies forever!

The Modern Folk Music of America

Wizard Land is the latest album by eclectic Texas based band Wolverton. Their brand of folk rock has elements of chamber pop, and sneaking cabaret/noir vibrations, especially in the dramatic delivery of the dual vocals and kaleidescopic lyrical imagery. A basic, central sound of piano, percussion and guitar is fleshed out here and there by strings, banjo, theremin and other production touches. Wolverton's musical influences seem to range wide, from roots rock and americana to broadway-style show tunes and classical flourishes.


Mixing Americana, folk and Psychedelia, Wolverton have come up with a rather fine selection of tunes on their latest collection “Things Left On Earth” with opener “Cherry Tomatoes” having a sweet mellow vibe, some gorgeous harmony vocals and drifting guitar lines, some lazy, twinkling piano adding that final touch of loveliness to the song. On “Mahogany” there is an old time folk feel to the lyrics/vocal delivery, whilst the guitar has a distorted edge that blends perfectly with a droning organ. Sounding like one of those sing-a-long Dylan tunes, “Nothing” has a delightful sway, the haze of a summers day drifting through the track, hints of nostalgia and regret to be found in the lyrics. Finally, “See You Still” continues the achingly beautifully song writing, everything perfectly in its place, ending a small collection that is at least eight songs too short. I am really fond of Wolverton and this could be the best thing they have done so far.

DC Rock Live

Wolverton --- Things Left On Earth

I really enjoy this San Antonio collective who have the basic style of the Cowboy Junkies, but dig deeper in the psyche-folk world (while not losing their American roots). The electric guitar is mysterious and tasty, while the piano works off of it really well. Add a busy bass, female vocal harmonies and you are starting to work toward Mellow Candle. They are not that audacious—few are, but they work some of the same exciting sonic terrain. I have just one complaint. There are only four songs on this EP. But there is not one ounce of body fat on this mesmerizing music, so whether an EP or an LP, I will leave it to them to decide how much of their excellent music they wish to unveil at one time.


Emerging Indie Bands

Based in San Antonio, Texas in the USA are Kate Terrell, Jeremiah Teutsch, Caralyn Snyder and Hills Snyder who form the agit-folk troupe Wolverton.

The underlying agitation is reflected in discordant instrumentation which bleeds across the room like blood splatter, Wolverton then impose constructs of interpretation which veer between abhorrence of the scene and awe at the beauty of the patterns and it is their ability to draw the two opposites into convergence, which gives the material its beauty.

The quartet are uncompromising in their style which inevitably draws, by the very genre, but much scorn of the like of their kin – Dylan, Baez, Guthrie et al, yet to ignore the message for its conveyance, is to miss prescience and to my mind a grave error.

Lyric ever lays baleful eye, whilst the vocal delivery transposes, akin the instrumentation, betwixt menace and glorification giving the compositions an ebb and flow of texture which keeps the ears attenuated.

Growing in experience and confidence over their four years of journey, Wolverton have the potential to mark themselves out territory, which will be long lingering.

A new EP – Things Left On Earth – is set for release on the 3rd of November.

Jersey Beat

Horse Head Dawn --- Beautifully mellow and melodic, this debut six song EP from a San Antonio, Texas quartet immediate puts the listener at easy with its lovely and gentle folksy Appalachian country sound. There’s a soft lulling quality to this delicately tuneful music that’s both charming and soothing in equal measure: The reassuring vibe projected by the subdued vocals, the fragile harmonic nature of the arrangements, and the laid-back sensibility articulated in the plain-spoken songwriting all cohere to make this sweetly dulcet honey one to relish!

Ptolemaic Terrascope

For their latest collection Wolverton have become an entire band, giving their songs a rich full sound topped of with some excellent vocals that tie the whole thing together. Setting out their stall, Ears opens things with elegance --- a lovely song with a sweet melody, whilst No Big Deal adds a soft violin that creates an aching presence to the melancholic tune. Exhibiting a creepy Doors-like atmosphere, Pool is a highly effective slice of psychedelia --- a mix of early Paul Roland and Jim Morrison, while May I Ask has a brighter quality with a sweet guitar running through its centre. Over six songs, the quality and atmosphere remains high, great stuff.

DC Rock Live

Wolverton: Horse Head Dawn

This is folk music that has that psychedelic sensibility not with flailing sitars or reverb, but more of a sense of space in the vocals and the staggered timing in the guitar notes. There is some distant violin and piano punctuation that creates intriguing atmospheres and tensions, but the lead male vocals and female harmonies lead the way in these six songs. They remind me a bit of the Mills/Raven albums, but this foursome has their own sound that takes its cue from classic English, European and American folk from the late sixties to late seventies. There may be some traces of Hunter Muskett and Mac Murrough in here, too, although this is more American than that (although I don't hear a lot of San Antonio, Texas here). The band members all have some unique skills of timing and emotional resonance they bring to the arrangements, which set them apart from simpler players. This is memorable music and far better than a lot of what has passed as nufolk or wyrdfolk in recent years. They can be the third band in to my dream billing of Espers and Faun Fables.

Leicester Bangs

Monday, 28 October 2013

Review: Wolverton – Horse Head Dawn

Wolverton – Horse Head Dawn (Woodpile Records)
The six-track “Horse Head Dawn” EP is Wolverton’s third release. The multi-generational San Antonio quartet (plus friends) have already released a pair of full length albums since they formed in 2010/11, and they show no signs of slowing down. The core players, Caralyn Snyder, Hills Snyder, Kate Terrell and Jeremiah Teutsch came together through a series of performances, including a gig in a huge penthouse bathroom suite (that’s Texas for you…).
With a list of influences that includes country, folk and jazz, together with the classic late ‘60s San Francisco groups (Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, etc.) and songwriters like Donovan and Richard Thompson, the results were always going to hark back to earlier times, and they don’t disappoint – though, importantly, “Horse Head Dawn” never sounds like an exercise in nostalgia.
Acoustic instruments dominate, and lyrically, a loose, hippy surrealism is present, which encourages the listener to pay attention, and inevitably draws them into a world of natural sculpture, where pop stars are replaced with newer models, and the planet warps and distorts. Standout songs come thick and fast, especially “No Big Deal” and the elegiac “Fresh Mint”, and the combination of boy/girl vocals, gentle melodies and heartfelt sentiments are impossible to ignore.
Phil S.
No Mission Statement

Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.”  Though spoken by Jimmy Stewart as Elwood Dowd in the 1950 movie Harvey during psychiatric review of his invisible rabbit companion, one could draw a more than a superficial analogy to Hills Snyder and his music, written over about twenty years and recorded in two volumes. The first volume, Tiny Chair, came out in 2012 from 2011 sessions produced by Joe Reyes, a San Antonio artist and musician.  Shores of Erewhon, the second, is from the same sessions and was recently released, capping a fairly active two years of performing. These songs are not as ephemeral as a 6-foot plus rabbit, but at some point, one might have pondered their actual existence.

Though ostensibly solo albums, Tiny Chair and Shores of Erewhon were released by Wolverton, the San Antonio quartet that Hills has been part of since 2011, and include contributions from everyone.  Though the primary tracks grew out of a spontaneous live-in-studio performance by Joe and Hills, Wolverton’s Caralyn & Kate added voices live as well; Jeremiah contributed cover art.  Some instrument tracks were added to songs later, but they feel completely at home, balanced and accretive.  I found Tiny Chair the quieter of the two, but the songs of both works would flourish on either.  I suspect any difference between the two is a derivative of the time frame when they were finished, but it’s not of huge consequence – they go back and forth through time and tide invisibly.

Hills Snyder is mostly known as an artist, teacher and writer, so it’s not surprising that the lyrics can go anywhere, cutting a wide swath of reference through film, art and literature.  Some of the songs reference culture overtly, like the Tin Star film overtones of “Just like Hello” or the Renaissance meets WWII of “History Lesson”.  There are also songs grounded firmly in nonsense – these are less comedic than nuanced and more rigorous than random, with “Rope with a String”, “ESL” and “Funnybone” being prime examples.  Lyrically, they’re clever and sometimes baffling, like word of the day songs done by an obsessive compulsive.  Musically, they remind me of garage rock, a staple of the San Antonio scene, and a deep musical and lyrical thread running through both these volumes. I recall thinking “garage folk” when first hearing Tiny Chair and through this aesthetic, I see Tiny Chair and Shores of Erewhon as two of a pair.

There are a number of songs that feel more experiential and make it easier to see the artist in a single light. These songs are more first person, but abstracted to serve the emotional experience as well.  The actual spark could have been anything, as in “Sissy’s Lament” and “Entropy” on the first album, “Wreck on the Highway” and “Lava” on the new one.  I don’t know that they’re true, but they feel true, though maybe in the way good fiction does. The title track, “Shores of Erewhon”, seems to challenge critics, know-it-alls and finger-pointers alike; words, images and memories are the bones of our experience, and for Hills, the assailable living fuel for art.   Really, I don’t know what these songs mean, but I get it.


Ptolemaic Terrascope

After all that rock it just might be time for something quiet and reflective, in this case, Tiny Chair the first album by Wolverton. Featuring the songs, guitar and voice of Hills Snyder, with occasional help, although there is now a band built around the name, the songs are personal and humorous, having a gentle country lilt, barbed wit and sweet melodies, creating a collection of tunes that catch the ear, with The Sissy's Lament and Chessman being personal favourites.



That’s Wolverton!

They’re a San Antonio art-rock band made up of Caralyn Snyder (vocals), Kate Terrell (vocals, keyboards), Jeremiah Teutsch (vocals, electric bass, fiddle, banjo), Hills Snyder (vocals, guitar). Their music, which I like a lot, has got a durable alt-rock-folk-country top hand and is excellently rendered, and what it leaves out is as important as what it throws together but is gloriously free free of twang or self-conscious neo-traditionalism. Contemplative, affectionate, warm and gently flawed, it’s roots music sans self-importance, and Hills Snyder’s songwriting is witty and doleful and full of unexpected touches; as in Guts, a small song that sounds like deeply personal footnotes to the human epic. You know how in Tangled Up In Blue, you can’t tell whether the time-frame is 19th century or Now? Kinda like that.

The soldier in the story has brains on his helmet, but also “the mosh at the end of School of Rock always made him cry / He cried all the way through that movie, he never did know why.” I love that. Your everyday, popular-media-induced open-heartedness that occasionally makes mincemeat of the heart.

In another song, The Sissy’s Lament, the speaker, a “little sissy from way down South/ glasses on my face and candy in my mouth/ you don’t like my shoes, I don’t like ‘em either/ but why every day do you have to always be there?”

Maybe it’s the Lubbock Factor. Hills Snyder, who’s also the curator behind emerging-artist powerhouse Sala Diaz, and Jeremy Teutsch, a generation younger, are both from Lubbock. Historically, I really respect and enjoy those Lubbockites. How’re you gonna be pretentious from Lubbock? If you’re smart, you have to confront the small-town Christian hegemony while drawing on it’s strengths, which can make for some terrific territory for an artist. From Buddy Holly until today, that town has produced quirky down-South gems. Down South, I know, is  a tricky concept vis-a-vis Texas. In fact, I witlessly generated the most comments I’ve ever gotten from a Facebook status update when I asked, a couple years ago, “Is Texas the South?” Folks fought for days. To those whose forbears emigrated from Mexico either two generations or 300 years ago, we’re resolutely “El Norte.” Other Mexican-antecedent Tejanos consider themselves soundly Southern, though. Descendants from non-slave-owning German ranchers (a good friend whose last name, actually, is Wolverton, is among these) strongly disavow the Confederacy legacy, while other Texans descended from either Confederate lineages OR those African-American families entangled in the pre-Civil War economy argue, with wildly varying emotion, that we are the South. Where the past isn’t past, but it isn’t even gone.

Lubbock, in this sphere, is an important cultural lab. One which produced Hills Snyder and Jeremiah Teutsch. And as such, Wolverton’s got some potent, quiet music, and the recordings make you feel like you’re right there, reckoning the quirks of our heritage right alongside them.

San Antonio Magazine

We hear ... that local visual and performance artist Hills Snyder is regrouping his elusive country folk outfit Wolverton for a performance at the Cove. In the past Wolverton, featuring sly lyrics and straightforward chords, has included a rotating cast of singers, fiddlers, and others that Snyder describes as “more of a musical family than a band.” The most recent addition is Joe Reyes, a Grammy Award–winning producer and co-founder of the group Buttercup. Reyes also recorded Wolverton’s debut album, slated for release later this year. Considering the family's last performance occurred last spring in the bathroom of the local Grand Hyatt penthouse, it's best to expect the unexpected from this eclectic collective.

When: Jan. 28

Where: The Cove,
606 W. Cypress Ave., 227-2683 


San Antonio Current

I’d always wondered what a Hills Snyder song sounded like. About one year ago I asked Snyder, an artist, to create an altare to Doug Sahm for a Day of the Dead photography feature. Something just told me he was the man for the job. Not until we were driving out to the installation site did he tell me he also was a singer-songwriter. I asked where he played, and I’m pretty sure he said “my backyard.”

It’s not like Snyder hid his musicality. A link to his many songs appears on his web site. Several of his installation and performance art projects tie back to his six-verse murder ballad" Song 44". In fact, his latest show, The Casual Observer The Causal Observer [Ed. Note: that’s my best approximation of the title, not an error], takes on verse one. This isn’t an art review, and I’m certainly not an art critic, so I won’t hazard a description of the artwork as a whole, but there is one nook in Blue Star’s expansive main gallery with two chairs, a bookshelf, and verse one printed neatly on the wall.

“I’ve written for my true love songs forty-three/

I wrote them on a banjo upon my bended knee/

but I could not play my instrument so they arrested me/

for scratching on that tightened skin my own filigree.”

It was here, in the teal “living room,” that Snyder played Thursday night with old friend and new musical collaborator Joe Reyes (Buttercup, Mitch Webb and the Swindles), just before the official opening of his exhibit. Unlike the thwarted banjo player, Snyder and Reyes breezed through 13 of Snyder’s songs. Reyes eased into a plush recliner with his Fender and a small FX pedal, while Snyder propped himself on a wooden chair too small for his six-foot-plus frame, left leg canted at a sharp 45 degree angle to properly cradle his acoustic Martin guitar.

Musically, the dual guitars, suitably muted for an art gallery performance, played traditional honky-tonk enhanced with a little pedal steel guitar approximation; the unadorned sounds of the West Texas plains, where a verse can resonate for miles. Afterward, Reyes, who just recently began playing with Snyder, said he gravitated toward Snyder’s naturalistic style. The simple rhythms make room for Snyder’s complex lyrics, less mysterious than his visual art, but layered nevertheless, and delivered in Snyder’s deep, twanged voice. Usually, the layers play for laughs with double entendres and witty puns, like in “Rope on a String” where Snyder sings, “She was the Eve in my everything” in a story of a happy love affair that devolves. By the end of the song, he notes, “It was on us, but now, it’s ennui.”

Snyder, along with Reyes and assorted musician friends, will host similar jams in Blue Star sporadically for the duration of his installation, which closes on November 6. He and Reyes plan to play next from 6:30-8pm Thu, Oct 21. For future gigs, check his Facebook page at Be on the lookout also for Reyes-produced Snyder songs, to be recorded in the near future.

Hills Snyder and Joe Reyes
Thu, Sat 30
Blue Star
116 Blue Star
(210) 227-6960

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