2016 in Review: Top 10 Amarillo concerts
By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
Amarillo musicians and outstanding touring artists made 2016 a tune-filled delight.
Here's my personal, but hopefully wide-ranging picks for the best of the year. The rankings are mostly subjective (Nos. 1 and 2 were shoo-ins; the rest are mutable), but they'll hopefully serve as a reminder of good times you also had — or show you what you might have missed.
1. JD Souther: One of the architects of the Southern California sound — and a proud Amarillo boy still at heart — came home for an intimate, yet sensational concert. Even if I hadn't had the chance to interview him in person for an episode of our Live Here newsmagazine, the show still would have ranked in my all-time Top 5. Hearing him sing tunes he wrote for the Eagles, including "Best of My Love" and "New Kid in Town," as well as his own hits like "You're Only Lonely," and realizing that delicate tenor voice, while aged, was still making sweet music as gorgeously as ever was a highlight of a lifetime. (June 11, Amarillo Little Theatre)
2. The Time Jumpers: This concert, featuring the cream of the crop of Nashville's session musicians, didn't draw the crowd I'd expected, especially considering superstar Vince Gill was on the bill with Ranger Doug Green, Kenny Sears and others. The event (and a sister concert the next night in Lubbock) was a fundraiser for the historic Granada Theatre in Plainview, so hopefully it broke even, at least. Those in attendance sat in on one hell of a jam session, with Gill, Green, Sears and the rest trading licks and corny jokes. (July 22, Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts)
3. Ian Moore: One of the best Americana artists in the country returned to town to celebrate the release of his killer new EP, The Noble Art. Though Moore has performed here several times in the past decade or so, the shows have often focused been on the intimate side. This concert, following a blazing opening set by Jesse Dayton, was a full-on rock show, and Moore didn't miss a beat. (Sept. 29, Hoots Pub)
4. Bad Magik Music Festival: Several of Amarillo's best and brightest indie and Americana bands joined forces for this delightful, day-long festival in Sam Houston Park. I stayed for several hours, enjoying some of the city's top acts on a beautiful spring day. Highlights included rollicking sets by Shandy Bandits, Maggie Burt, Ray Wilson, Playa Lake, Eddie & The Eat and Mount Ivy. (May 28, Sam Houston Park)
5. Rick Springfield: Beyond "Jessie's Girl," I don't think I was ever that much of a Rick Springfield fan back in the day and, truth be told, I haven't spent much time this year listening to his songs (though I did enjoy seeing him in last year's Ricki and the Flash and appearing on this season of Supernatural). But I totally fangirled out during Springfield's show; though the highlights were certainly "Jessie's Girl" and his other big hits, the show didn't feel much like a nostalgia act, with Springfield's chops still firmly intact. (Jan. 9, Amarillo Civic Center Complex Auditorium)
6. Tribute to Merle Haggard: Amarillo musicians Mike Chism, Bobby McCauley, Jeff Williams and others had the idea to pay homage to Haggard well before his death earlier this year (one of far, far too many celebrity deaths that wrecked us all this year). But no matter when the idea occurred, the execution itself was sublime, with a murderers' row of Amarillo music talent (also including Williams' Flying Elbows Perspective, Chancy Bernson, Tennessee Tuckness and others) tearing the joint down. (June 24, Midnight Rodeo)
7. Arkansas Family Reunion: A trio of top Amarillo bands — Maggie Burt (and her as-yet-unnamed cohorts), Playa Lake and Eddie & The Eat — teamed up for an exuberant night of music — made easier, perhaps, given that all three bands share members (hence the incest joke in the event's name). The tunes were great, but even better (as with Nos. 4 and 6) was the camaraderie on display. We could use a little more of that on the Amarillo scene. (April 9, Golden Light Cantina)
8. Dear Marsha: The much-awaited return of this indie-rock duo to its hometown resulted in an explosion of music — from an acoustic night at Fire Slice to a full rock show at Austin's Texas Pub (the only of the three I missed) to a joyful family performance at PrideFest. Here's hoping it doesn't take another decade or so for Wendy Clay and Raina Ayres to perform here together again. (June 23-26, multiple venues)
9. Strangetowne: I saw Amarillo's band-on-the-brink several times this year — including one show at which they dragged me on stage to join the mob singing along to "We'll Get What We Want" — but my favorite performance of theirs was during the VIP preview party for the new Create Festival in downtown Amarillo. Watching the quartet on stage, you'd never know that they were playing to an itty-bitty crowd inside the cavernous Globe-News Center; you'd think you caught them opening up for the Band of Heathens or American Aquarium, as they did elsewhere across the country this year, or that you'd shot forward a few years, after the band had, as their fans fervently hope, hit it big on the Americana scene. Fingers crossed. (Aug. 19, Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts)
10.: John Baumann: I caught Baumann, a rising Texas country star, four times this year between February and November. Other than the usual, extremely solid set, and the fact that this show happened to be the night I announced that I was coming to Panhandle PBS, there was nothing in particular about this show that landed it here. It was just good. So, too, were tons of sensational shows that didn't make this list by the likes of Roxy Roca, American Aquarium, Blue Water Highway Band, Callahan Divide, Cooder Graw, the Red River Songwriters, Dalton Domino, the Old 97s, the Show Ponies, the Cassettes and Phlip Coggins, to name just a few. (Feb. 13, Golden Light Cantina)