No. 5 in the U.S., No. 1 in our Hearts



We go to a concert at the Grand Stafford Theater. 

We have a fun night and then go have Breakfast at Tiffany’s. 

On October 4th the Grand Stafford Theater will be hosting world renown band Deep Blue Something for a night of nostalgia and fun with new music from the popular 90s band. Deep Blue Something started their career in the music industry in the early 90’s and had a pretty average career until about 2001 when Breakfast at Tiffany’s was released. This song skyrocketed in the charts after appearing in movies and tv shows all across the board. Breakfast at Tiffany’s capped on the U.S. Billboard Top 100 Chart at number 5 but on the United Kingdom and Scottish charts, it went all the way to number 1. 

The Denton, Texas band decided in 2014 after a long hiatus that they were going to be more than just a one – hit – wonder and have now begun to release new music that makes you feel like you are living in the 90s once more. They decided to hit their largest fan base first with a European tour this Spring which brought in massive success. They have not forgotten their roots and have now returned home to the U.S. and will be catering to their fans here, even in our own College Station, Texas. Come out October 4th for the free First Friday show at the Grand Stafford Theater! 

Texas’ Music Incubator

In order to put on a great show, you need to have the funds to back it up. Financial strain impacts small music venues across the country and inevitably leads to many venues demise. However, the Texas State Senate is looking to aid that problem. On April 24th, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill on to the Senate that would “provide certain music venues and festival promoters with rebates funded by mixed-beverage gross receipts and sales taxes collected by those venues and festivals.” This bill, which they are calling a Texas music incubator rebate program would help ease the financial strain many music venues face.

In Texas alone, the music industry provides almost 97,000 jobs and earns a whopping $4.1 billion annually. However, many venues do not get to see this profit as they are having to turn around and put any profit towards the next show. Also, the cost of leases and permits for the buildings these venues occupy is not excluded from the increasing real estate market. In 2016, a study reported that 53% of the venues surveyed were not expected to renew their leases due to financial strain on their businesses and being unable to keep up with their monthly payments.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

This is why the Texas House decided that the new bill needed to be passed. Music venues provide communities a place to relax, have fun, and listen to music by spectacular artists from all over the world. If the music venues shut down, the musicians struggle as well and so it just becomes a ladder effect until there is no music to go around anymore. “There are some bands, or some kids, who are coming up like we did that might not get a chance to show their talents or showcase their skills or hone their skills if the venues are no longer here,” said Tomar Williams, a soul musician from Austin. With hopes and prayers arising from venues everywhere, the bill is expected to pass soon in the Senate. Once the bill is passed, the Texas Music Office could begin processing rebate applications for venues starting as early as September 2020.

Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.”

-Frank Zappa. 


HONESTly a Great Show

Just over a week ago, The Grand Stafford had the pleasure of hosting an incredible lineup of bands for an exciting night of bright lights and great music.

The night kicked off with a set from Night Traveler. A band out of Austin who we fell in love with when they opened up at our First Friday show in February. This band’s high energy sound was a great way to kick off the show.

Following that, the audience got to enjoy the sounds of a new favorite band of ours out of Nashville Tennessee, Vacation Manor. Their set included a beautiful, impromptu a cappella rendition of their song “Hourglass” which left the captivated audience so speechless you could have heard a pin drop. The audience jumping, and yelling, and singing along to the songs of this group was an incredible sight to see in the room.

Rounding out this lineup was a band who is no stranger to the Grand Stafford, Honest Men really brought this show home. In their very first headlining slot at the Stafford, this band delivered a whimsical show complete with fog machines, mirrors, and flashing graphics to add to an already strong sound. This set was so much fun both to watch and to hear, and the absolute best way to bring an end to this night of music.

Thank you so much to everyone who came out for the show, and a huge thank you to the bands who made this evening so great. We look forward to seeing everybody back in the Stafford soon, and if you missed this show don’t fret, just check out our tickets and events tab to make sure you don’t miss out any any great shows we have coming up soon.

The Benefits of Music

A recent article by analyzed research on how music can either improve or inhibit productive and restorative functions of the brain, and which types of music were specifically most effective at doing so. The outcome of this research is inherently relevant to every member of modern society, as we possess a strong discomfort with silence and stillness coupled with a relentless drive to be categorically productive with our time and in our actions. The article lists, as productivity-inducing genres: classical, nature, video-game,  and cinematic music; as well as music with beats per minute between 50 and 80 or music to which the listener has a particular sentimental attachment.

Some of the identified genres make logical sense and would even be assumed correct to the layman with no research at all, that classical music improves brain activity is almost intuitive, while video game music might come as a bit more of a shock. The research backing the correlation between the brain activity and music and solid and compelling but a reader can’t help but notice that there is a very important sub-genre missing from this list. Which is why I feel the need to supplement said article with the alleged missing music. Unfortunately omitted from this list are the oft neglected social and emotional benefits of attending/listening to live music shows at your very own Grand Stafford Theater in Bryan Texas. Allow me to refresh your memory on just a few variables that make this experience so truly great.

A Musical Change of Pace

Look, I know that this is Texas and of course we all love country/western music as much as the next guy, but one of the intensely compelling features that the Stafford has to offer is diversity in musical genre. From indie shows to rock shows to cover bands, and more, the array of performers at the Stafford is sure to have something to appeal to any music fanatic.

Dinner and A Show

Well maybe not dinner, but even better, spending the evening at the Stafford sipping drinks at the bar, catching up with old friends or meeting new ones, and enjoying the music is always a welcome change of pace.

An Easy Commute

What could be better than having a great venue for wonderful music right in your own backyard, no long drives or crazy traffic and you’re right back home quick and easy when you’re  done.

A Truly Great Time.

Need I say more?

Entrepreneur Article

First Friday with Dollie Barnes, The Cover Letter & Wiretree

The Grand Stafford Theater kicked off March with a bang as Dollie Barnes, The Cover Letter and Wiretree took the stage for Free First Friday. Each band brought their own unique presence, but all were equally engaging, artful and loved by the crowd.

Dollie Barnes and her band of talented musicians were the first performers of the night. Hailing from Houston Texas, Dollie puts on a show that integrated pop vocals with a 60’s vibe, producing a memorable sound and performance. Her endearing demeanor and distinctive voice truly captivated everyone in the room from beginning to end.


Next up was The Cover Letter, and they did not disappoint. Their charisma was one-of-a-kind, and the crowd really responded to their powerful energy. In perfect harmony, the Austin-based band performed hits like “Paris (Texas)” and “Her Eyes, The Ocean,” and was even joined by an admiring crowd who knew many of the words.

Ending the night was the ever so talented, Wiretree. This Indie-rock four piece from Austin, Texas delivers a flawless show with lyrics that truly capture and move the crowd. One First Friday go-er described their presence on stage as “second nature and incredibly genuine,” which I’m sure everyone in the audience would readily agree with.

It was certainly a night to remember full of talent, fantastic refreshments from the bar and even better company. Thank you to all who were able to attend the show; we hope you had a wonderful time. For those who missed out this time, be sure to check our calendar for the next First Friday show and other upcoming events!

Image Credits: Madi Claus

A Night with Justin Furstenfeld

As the lights went down and the crowd settled in, the anticipation for Justin Furstenfeld’s performance was almost tangible. In front of a full house of fans, the Texas-based artist took the stage in an intimate setting of warmth and wood to play his acoustic set. From his opening song to his final heartfelt rendition of Home, Justin kept the crowd captivated for the entire show with his powerful voice and authentic spirit.

Known for its uncensored truthfulness and stripped-down sound, The Open Book tour is a unique look into the life of one of alt. rock’s most respected veterans. With just two guitars, a microphone and his storybook of life experiences, Furstenfeld moves audiences from laughter to tears to wonderstruck silence with his incredible stage presence. A mix of song, story and Q&A, the tour offers one of a kind insight into his journey and gives fans the chance to really get to know Furstenfeld as an artist, former addict and father.

During the show, Furstenfeld’s message to his followers was one of understanding, second chances, and renewed hope. One audience member described the concert saying, “the way he told his story by weaving in humorous narration and interactive audience Q&As made the whole experience feel intimate and special.” He even surprised one lucky couple with an acoustic version of “Calling You” after a heartfelt proposal in front of the whole crowd. It was truly a night to remember.

We are thrilled and honored to have had Justin back for a second year of his solo tour. If you weren’t able to make the show or want more information about The Open Book tour or Blue October, check out the link below.

Wine Pairings for the Holidays

Choosing an appropriate wine to serve alongside Thanksgiving dinner is always a difficult choice. Provided is a short guideline to make life a little easier.

Tipsy Turkey

Hors D’oeuvres

Offering your guests a small snack and refreshing beverage as they arrive not only makes them feel welcome, it also buys you time to put the finishing touches on your holiday meal. I suggest pairing a simple cheese plate with crackers and seasonal fruit with something light and white, like a sparkling wine. While many people serve sparkling wines with dessert courses, the tiny bubbles awaken the palate and give the entire affair a festive atmosphere.

The Main Event

There are many theories behind which wine best pairs with a great Thanksgiving meal. Going into them would take too long, so I’ll break it down between red wines and white wines. I suggest having one of each kind handy, as everyone has different preferences.

Firstly, whites: a dry Riesling is wonderful for Thanksgiving, as its crisp acidity cuts through the heaviness of the meal while its fruit-forward tones are a crowd-pleaser. A Chardonnay will also fit the bill, whether it’s oaked or un-oaked. Oaked Chardonnays will compliment all the creamy flavors on the table, while un-oaked Chardonnays will act similarly to a Riesling, but without the inherent sweetness.

For red wines, a Pinot Noir with its light-bodied approachability pairs wonderfully with turkey, without the heavy-handed flavors of a Cabernet or Merlot to mask the poultry you’ve worked all day to perfect. Another great option is a Zinfandel, as its lower tannin levels help moisten even the driest turkey, while its spicy flavors compliment all the bold side dishes.

Dessert: Pumpkin & Pecan Pies

Here’s the most surprising part of the meal: the best wine to pair with pumpkin and pecan pies is actually a beer! A Belgian style beer such as a saison or a tripel ale has enough bubbles to lighten the heavy pie and interesting spice notes to complement your baking. The juxtaposition of sweet and bitter flavors is also an interesting experience for your guests’ palates. For those averse to beers, a hard apple cider is a great choice, as long as its served ice cold.

Thanksgiving Beer

Remember: Your guests are one of the things to be most thankful for, so be sure to offer nonalcoholic options, such as tea and coffee, to ensure they get home safely!


Always Thankful for Our Customers,

The Bar at Grand Stafford Theater

TMP Top Pick Songwriter Contest Preliminary Round Review


I recently had the pleasure to attend the preliminary round of Texas Music Pickers, Top Pick Songwriter Contest, and I just have one word to summarize the show. “Wow!”. The talent of the performers was astounding! I felt like I was watching American Idol play out right in front of me and that I got to know each contestant personally, and continued to follow them along their journey. It was a live music experience I have never really witnessed before, and it is sure to be one I will never forget.

This was the second annual TMP Top Pick contest hosted at the Grand Stafford. In the preliminary rounds, hosted this past Saturday, 24 singer/songwriters took the stage to compete against each other in a competition that was judged based on vocal ability, songwriting ability, and instrumental ability. For each round, their were 3 guest judges who tallied up the 3 categories into one score, as well as an audience vote for their personal favorite that would be added to their final score. The top 12 scoring contestants would be selected to move on to the Final Round coming up on October 21st.

The talent was ridiculous and the cuts were brutal, with very deserving contestants not quite making it to the top 12. It wasn’t that the choices that were made were undeserving or the wrong choices, it’s just that the level of talent was so good, that in my mind, it was an impossible decision to make on who to put through to the final round.

IMG_5928No cut was more brutal in my mind, then one of my personal favorite contestants, Chrissy Phillips (pictured above) not being chosen to move on. Chrissy was one of the first contestants to perform and she set the bar so high, especially with her personal, heartfelt, original song “Leaving Girl”. She had beautiful range to her voice, with her glory notes literally leaving me chilled to the bone, with goosebumps covering my arms. She’s one that stood out above the rest, so I was definitely displeased when her name wasn’t called to advance to the final round.

IMG_5936For the most part though, most of my personal favorite contestants did indeed make it through to the next round, which makes me believe I could’ve done a good job at being a judge as well! Wishful thinking, right? The perfect example of this result was Jefferson Clay (pictured above). Maybe my favorite in the whole competition, Jefferson blew me away. In a contest full of predominantly country songwriters, I got more of an indie/acoustic vibe from Jefferson, and I was totally digging it. His original songs, “San Francisco” and “The Tide” were such a change of pace from the style of the previous contestants. I will freely admit, that I have been listening to them non-stop the past few days!

I left the show very happy and content with all the music I had heard that night. I always enjoy getting to experience a new artist and some new music so this event was the perfect place for. Getting to hear 24 unique songwriters share their stories through their music is something I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. I know I’ve cleared my schedule for Friday, October 21st to witness the Final Round go down, and see which artist comes out on top.

What’s at stake in this final round? The winner takes home the grand prize of $750 cash, the opening slot to the Dirty River Boys show at the Grand Stafford on 11/19, a recorded single from Hilltrax Studios, and song writing sessions with award winning singer/songwriters, Toney Ramey, Drew Womack, and Walt Wilkins. In the music industry today, this kind of prize is priceless and the value of it goes beyond the monetary gain. The knowledge and experience gained from receiving this prize could potentially help the winning artist make or break it in the industry.

So come on out and join me for the Final Round of TMP’s Top pick Songwriter Contest! Tickets are on sale now for $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Tickets can be purchased here. Doors open at 7pm with the show starting at 8pm. See y’all there!

Interview with the Landon Evans Band

Untitled design (3)

Last week I got the opportunity to meet with Landon and Josh, two members of the Landon Evans Band, at the Dixie Chicken. We talked music, A&M, and their performance coming up at the Grand Stafford Theater for First Friday.

I wanted to share, in a paraphrased, interview format, all that they had to share.

“How did you guys all meet and get your start as the Landon Evans Band?”

Landon went on to describe the unique path the band has taken to get to where they are today. Starting with himself, Landon’s career in music has been a fairly recent one. He didn’t start playing guitar until he was 17 and didn’t actually perform for anyone until he was a freshman in college. They encouraged him to reach out and play for bigger audiences and from there his success happened quickly and unexpectedly. Landon went on to describe how the original band was a 4 piece but is now a 5 piece band. In addition, over 20 people have been in the band before! Of the current members, Landon and Sam have been in the band the longest. Josh later joined the band through Sam but had heard of the band before through prior shows and running merchandise for them. Robert and Eric are the newest band members, joining about 3 months ago.

“I noticed the band has a lot of A&M and B/CS references in the song lyrics. Is the songwriting process mostly a reflection of your experiences here at A&M?” 

Landon explained how he is the main lyricist for the Landon Evans Band. He said although the lyrics are somewhat a reflection on his experiences, he wants the songs to be “relatable and identifiable for everyone.” The songs use a lot of local and Aggie references so audiences in the B/CS area and even Aggies across Texas can enjoy the music even more. Additionally, while some of the lyrics are a narrative of Landon’s personal experiences, he draws some inspiration from the lives of his friends, as well. The stories his friends will describe to him sometimes help with ideas for lyrics and Landon uses them as inspiration. Something Landon said that I particularly was intrigued by was that “songwriting can be like a dreaming…you get the opportunity to live another life through the lyrics.”

“Are you guys currently working on a new album?” 

Landon and Josh said they are in the process of getting a new album started right now! They are currently working to raise the money and find a studio that’ll help them record. For their first album, the Tate Music Group paid for production of their album for them. They enjoyed the sound and young energy the Landon Evans Band brought so they offered the band an opportunity to come to Oklahoma for 4 days and record an album. The band has done a lot of reflecting on this experience and knows how they want the process to go in order to get their second album made and out for audiences to hear. Additionally, Landon and Josh added that they are considering re-doing some of the songs off their first album plus adding new songs for album #2.

“Since most of you are students, what do future plans look like for the band post-graduation?”

Landon starts out by saying he “wants to give the band to have the best chance to be successful.” He is working hard to make the band grow and find new opportunities for them but isn’t too quick to put all his eggs in one basket. Personally, he thinks the next album will help determine the future of the band. Lastly, him and Josh agree that no matter what happens, all the members of the band plan on continuing their involvement with music and the music industry.

“What feelings do have towards playing at GST for First Friday?! Nervous? Excited?”

If you didn’t already know, the Landon Evans Band has played at the Grand Stafford before where they opened for country artist, Kim Dunn. Landon and Josh express how they’re very excited to play at GST as it’s always a different kind of crowd that really appreciates the music. They’ve played in many dance halls before or for audiences that like hearing covers of old, 80s country songs. They enjoy the Stafford because it’s a diverse crowd but everyone in the audience is there for the music and lyrics.

“What can new listeners expect from not only your performance at First Friday, but from your music as a whole?”

Landon says expect to hear some real country music. Their sound is not what you’d hear when you turn on the Top 40 Country radio station, it’s a more old-fashioned, honky-tonk sound. What makes their sound particularly unique is the energy they bring to a traditional music genre. They added that while it’s difficult to evaluate their own music, they’ve typically heard listeners compare their sound to Jason Boland and Max Stallings.

It was great to meet with Landon and Josh of the Landon Evans Band! Through listening to them talk and describe the band, you can easily sense how humbled they are for this journey. They genuinely enjoy performing and care about the audience and what they want to hear. You all are going to love listening to this band!

Make sure to come to the Grand Stafford Theater this Friday, October 7th, for a FREE performance from the Landon Evans Band and openers The New Offenders and The Cover Letter. Doors open at 7pm and the music starts at 8pm. Click here for more details.


Interview with John Krajicek of Leavenworth

Leavenworth Blog

Recently, I got the opportunity to interview John Krajicek, the lead singer of Leavenworth, and ask some questions about his band and their upcoming debut album.


·        You’ve been a part of Texas A&M’s faculty since 1996. Tell me about what your role is?

I am an Executive Professor in Mays Business School, where I serve as Communications coach for MBAs and other Masters students. I teach and coach public speaking, professional presence, self-awareness, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, etc. Performing music is, of course, much different than delivering a business presentation, but it’s also surprising how much they have in common. For example, to perform well in both it is of course critical to be really well prepared, but at the same time, once the lights go on so to speak, you need to stay in the moment at all times. Be here now. Fully engaged in each moment.

·        How did the band start?

After having played in many bands over the years, including a few bluegrass bands, I just came to a point where it was time for me to start a project that was what I really wanted to do. Not that I regret any of those previous bands. I learned a lot and made some very good friends through those projects. But in most of those situations, I wasn’t playing the kind of music that is where I really LIVE musically. I’m not getting any younger, and it was just time. Time to put together a band that felt like coming home to me. And man, did I get lucky. Leavenworth started as a solo project, because I wasn’t sure I would be able to find the right guys. But I was amazed how quickly I did find these guys. Thank you, Craigslist!

·        Where did the name Leavenworth come from?

I was born in Leavenworth, Kansas. And as I said before, this project represents to me a kind of coming home, thus the name. And by the way, it was a bit odd living in Leavenworth as a young kid. The Federal prison there is very present, and I recall as a little kid wondering if I would ever encounter any escaped prisoners. Pretty heavy stuff for a 5 year old.

·        Tell me about what inspires/influences you musically and lyrically?

Well, we all stand on the shoulders of giants, and like everyone I am heavily influenced by a lot of artists. Beginning with The Beatles (specifically John Lennon) and Bob Dylan. But through the years, bands such as REM, Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, Centro-matic, and more recently, bands like the Water Liars, Wiretree, and The Head and the Heart influence me musically. But I’m probably influenced by musicians from other genres as well, just through listening to them for so many hours. Artists like Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Jaco Pastorius to David Rawlings, Gillian Welch, and Townes Van Zandt. This is a bit of a stretch, but I am also a painter, and I suspect that my favorite painters have influenced my songwriting in some ways (Pollock, De Kooning, Klee, Miro, Joan Mitchell). When we give ourselves over to the creative process, who knows what influences us from our memories and experiences? When you’ve spent hours listening to a Miles Davis record, even if you don’t play jazz, how can that experience not influence you in some way?

Lyrically, it is important to me to write from a place of integrity. Of honesty. For me, that means avoiding the clichés that we so often see. I mean, how many times can you use rhymes such as senoritas and margaritas? I’m not really knocking that sort of thing. I’m just saying it isn’t me. I prefer to write from my own actual experience and my own actual memories. So, a lot of what I write about is family and friends. The actual, real experiences that I have had with the actual people who I love and who love me. The deep moments (such as my parents’ deaths) and the more mundane moments that somehow become strong memories.

·        What is your songwriting process like?

Wordsworth said “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” That feels pretty right for me. Because I do prefer to write from my own experience, that means drawing heavily on my memories. But we know our memory isn’t particularly reliable. That in itself is really fascinating to me. So, for example, one of the songs on the new record – “Occurs to Me” – involves memories of me being a kid in Leavenworth, Kansas. The chorus of that song goes “If memory serves me / unfaithful servant /  whatever occurs to me /  is all I can see.” Or another lyric of mine asks “Is it memory / or must’ve been?”

What I’m getting at is that I sometimes take the consciously postmodern approach of writing about something in the past while simultaneously writing about the process of remembering. There is no doubt that, to some extent, we construct what happened in the past. Of course, the older I get, the more I think we actually construct the present as well, but that’s another kettle of fish.

Anyway, the practical process of my songwriting process varies. Sometimes I have a chord progression that I’ve found and I work it and work it until a melody starts showing itself. Sometimes the melody comes first. I have even written songs in my sleep! I have literally woke up with a tune in my head, and sometimes even lyrics to go with that melody, and my job is to write down or record that gift before it slips away. But all the songs develop as you play them over and over again. It almost feels like what I’ve heard sculptors say, that they scrap away what doesn’t belong in order to find the figure that is trapped within the medium. Sometimes it feels that way. As if I am not just making up the song, but rather discovering it, learning it, finding it.

·        If you were to tell a new listener about the new record, how would you describe it?

Well, I’m pretty biased, but I think it is a really good record! One thing that would become obvious immediately to a listener is the variety. We certainly have our own sound, but one characteristic of that sound IS variety. Much of what we do I suppose you could call Alt Folk Rock. But that label doesn’t really get it. In fact, some of the songs are a little bit country, some rock pretty hard, and some have a more poppy feel. One song, the closer on the record (Hibernation) has a sort’ve Wilco-esque Kraut rock foundation, with an extended swirling guitar solo around it. So yeah, a lot of variety.

Lyrically it varies as well. We range from lighter, poppy moments to heavy reflections of the past. Even a few fun, silly moments, such as our song “Birds of North America,” which is basically an extended litany of bird names and things associates with birds. But then another more serious song, “Ridgelines (too many),” imagines a Confederate soldier walking home from the Civil War, and the song is delivered from his point of view. So again, a lot of variety. And we’re very proud of this variety, and we think people will dig it.

·        What are you most excited/nervous about the release of your first album and playing at the Stafford?

No, not nervous. But very excited. When you launch something like this into the world, there is always that anticipation of what people will make of it. But I mainly feel like this CD and show is the culmination of many years of songwriting, performing, playing in bands… it’s kind of a big deal for us, and we’re thrilled that it is at the Stafford, our favorite (and the best) venue in town. But we’re also already looking forward to the next record. It’s interesting how much you learn about your bandmates (and yourself) making a record. When you finish, it’s not that you wish you could go back and rerecord things now that you have a better feel for each other and the songs, but you do very quickly start looking forward to the next one. And we have 5 or 6 songs pretty much ready to record, and 4 or 5 more that we will complete soon. So, as much as this is a wonderful moment that we will enjoy and cherish, on “Monday morning” we’ll keep pressing forward. I love the process of creating. I love the process of collaborating what I’ve created to make it better. And I love performing. So we look forward to more of that after this first record. It’s just the beginning…


Come Check out John and the rest of the guys in Leavenworth on September 24th at the Stafford, as they mark the release of their new debut album “All Despite Biology”. Special guest appearance by Adam Mikeal of the Brazos Symphony, who will join Leavenworth on one of their songs. Openers for the show are Americana artists Ben Ballinger and Chris Longoria Gonzales. Doors open at 7pm with music starting at 8pm. Tickets are $5 at the door or online in advance.