Greg “Tex” Schramm, former drummer for local faves StarDevils and Catalog Cowboys and current time-keeper with western swingers The Sidecars and Roots music masters Magnolia Mountain, steps up to the mic with his first solo album, Greetings From (credited to Tex Schramm and His Radio King Cowboys). Schramm’s debut suggests he’s paid studious attention behind the drum kit when he’s been playing with some of the area's finest Roots-oriented bands. But Schramm’s songwriting and execution is so impressive, it’s clear his talent is inherent.
The 15 tracks show impressive range — Schramm’s songs hover in the orbits of Classic Country, vintage Rock & Roll, twangy Rockabilly and rollicking Honky Tonk — and have an air of authenticity so thick, some might have you wondering if the release year isn’t a few decades off. The tone shifts a lot on Schramm’s debut, split between sincere, heartfelt love songs, observations on relationships gone awry, clever storytelling and tunes that carry on Folk and Country’s tradition of playfulness and humor, such as the lover’s lament “Must Have Been Smokin’ Somethin’.” Meanwhile, the album’s musical diversity allows Schramm to showcase his versatility, though his immensely strong songwriting abilities gives the album a sense of cohesion and singular personality.
Schramm’s also really good at putting together top-shelf musicians to help animate his tunes. His Radio King Cowboys band is all-star quality, featuring local Roots legend and lap-steel guitar specialist David Rhodes Brown (he also plays lead guitar, mandolin and banjo on the record), longtime collaborator Greg Renzenbrink on bass and guitarists Peter Mayer and Dean Ulmer. Schramm and his Cowboys make it look easy, moving gracefully and effortlessly from the rumbling, blazing, bluesy “Talkin’ on the Telephone” and the cinematic, reverbed-up Surf instrumental “Tacumcari” to the could’ve-been-Trad Country-hits-40-years-ago “I’m Walkin’” and “A Time Late at Night” and the dark, edgy shuffle of “All in Good Time,” one of the tracks that shows Schramm is unafraid to not simply rely on Americana clichés in his writing.
Though it’s his first solo work, Greetings From reveals Schramm to already be a mature and accomplished artist. Coming straight out of the chute this fully developed is a remarkable feat and suggests even greater things to come, creatively, in Schramm’s future. Fans of legends like George Jones, Elvis (in his early days), Buck Owens, Carl Perkins and Hank Williams, as well as modern traditionalists like The Mavericks, Lyle Lovett, Chris Isaak and BR549, need to seek out this Honky Tonk/Country/Americana tour de force, pronto.
Schramm and Co. host a release party this Saturday at the Southgate House’s Juney’s Lounge. The Sidecars also perform at the free show.