Billy Brent Malkus
A former Chesapeake Bay-area hog farmer, Malkus left the Baltimore punk scene in ’97 to come to Austin with his new band “Mondo Generator,” with members of the Dwarves and Queens of the Stone Age. Manure still on his boots, he sought to show those Urban Cowboys (who were busy sullying the country music he’d grown up with) a thing or two. In the wake of the band’s demise, Malkus dug closer to his roots and began playing in various honky-tonk and Americana outfits. He currently plays guitar and sings backing vocals with Nathan Hamilton in his band No Deal. His discography is extensive, featuring releases on the indie labels Caroline, GoKart and Southern Lord — as well as lending plenty of chicken-pickin’ tele, vocals, and dobro to many Austin-area recordings.
Rebecca Lucille Cannon
Former frontwoman for Austin’s pop-punk favorites Sincola, Rebecca has several successful releases on Caroline and Rise Records under her belt. Her vocal stylings have been compared to the likes of Siouxsie Sioux, Chrissy Hynde, and Patti Smith, but lately she’s been aspiring to more Kitty Wells and Sara Carter comparisons (especially since her East Texas grandma, Billie Joe Nutt, raised her on the outlaw sounds of Merle, Waylon, Willie, Cash, and Patsy Cline, from a very early age). But no matter who people think she might sound like, Rebecca is more intent on creating her own niche, riding somewhere between classic country and good old American rock and roll.
Bob “Slim Bawb” Pearce
Born on Elvis’s birthday, son of a yodelin’ man, Bawb made his living playing music 5 nights a week for 32 years in Northern California. The first 12 playing pedal steel, banjo, mandolin, dobro etc. with Hot L Sacto and other country bands. Bawb started his own band, The Beer Dawgs in 1986. He wrote all the songs on their 10 albums and was inducted into the Sacramento Area Music Hall Of Fame (SAMMIES) in 1995. He moved to Cedar Creek, Texas in 2006 and joined the Sapphires in 2007. His “swampgrass” band, Slim Bawb and Gator Bait has 2 albums out and continues to perform around the Austin area. Check out Bawb at www.myspace.com/slimbawb. (Bawb’s photo by Plain Jane Photography)
The Texas Sapphires
February 2010 will bring the second independent studio release by The Texas Sapphires, AS HE WANDERS (Ike Records), an album whose theme is semi-universal — wrestling with demons, winning and losing, but winning in the end and finding hopeful new beginnings: a collection of songs done in the sparkling Sapphire style, a blend of classic country with honky-tonk, bluegrass and mountain music that makes the band’s sound hard to pin down.
Whether it’s “Nashville Moon,” “190” or “Teardrops or Rain” — just three of the songs on the upcoming album — it’s the steel that matters, and the fiddle and mandolin, and the smooth harmony vocals, and the lyrics. Each song is in its own way part of the story of AS HE WANDERS.
Co-lead singers and songwriters Billy Brent Malkus and Rebecca Lucille Cannon fuel the band with their pens and their voices, and both come from brief forays into punk. Guitar player and primary songwriter Malkus grew up with classic country on a hog farm in Maryland and honed his instrumental and wordsmithing skills. He moved to Austin in 1997 and played with various country-based acts including Nathan Hamilton’s No Deal.
Houston-born Cannon, after five years as a college radio DJ, wanted to make her own music. She’s doing her best now to keep alive the tradition of good country music, out of respect and love of the beloved grandmother who helped raise her, and is succeeding —with a voice that commands the stage.
Cannon and Malkus surround themselves with seasoned players, onstage and in the studio, including multi-instrumentalist and backup vocalist Bob “Slim Bawb” Pearce, who moved from Northern California and induction in the Sacramento Area Music Hall of Fame to Texas in 2006 and joined The Sapphires in 2007. Also on the new album are band members Billy “Dee” Donahue on electric bass and Scotty Matthews on drums, who both play with Texas troubadour Dale Watson. Guest musicians include Nathan Fleming on pedal steel, Justin Kolb on upright bass and Dennis Ludiker on fiddle.
“Honorary” Texas Sapphires the band has played live or recorded with include GRAMMY Award-winning producer Lloyd Maines, Warren Hood (Warren Hood and the Hoodlums) and Kim Deschamps (Cowboy Junkies). They are veterans of the road, having toured with the likes of Ray Price, Dwight Yoakam and Junior Brown.
The Texas Sapphires’ debut CD, VALLEY SO STEEP (Stag Records, 2005) — called “a great listen” by Maines — grabbed a lot of attention, and the combo was voted Best New Band in The Austin Chronicle readers poll and the 2006 Austin Music Awards. Its aptly named ROADHOUSE GEMS (Stag Records, 2008) cemented its place in the music world.
Media Contact: Heidi Labensart & Jill McGuckin, 512.478.0578; firstname.lastname@example.org
Honorary Texas Sapphires
- Troy Wilson on Bass
- Jeff Joiner on Bass
- Scott Matthews on Drums
- Justin Kolb on Bass
- Nathan Fleming on Pedal Steel
- Kim Deschamps on Steel and Dobro