Music

High-energy boys from Houston kick up dust at the Motherlode

The Powell Brothers play emerging country and Americana music

By Tamra Testerman
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 2/7/19

The self-described long and winding musical journey of two high-energy Houston brothers, Taylor and Blake Powell, bring them back to New Mexico this week, a place where both say …

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Music

High-energy boys from Houston kick up dust at the Motherlode

The Powell Brothers play emerging country and Americana music

Posted

The self-described long and winding musical journey of two high-energy Houston brothers, Taylor and Blake Powell, bring them back to New Mexico this week, a place where both say they feel at home. Taylor said,"It's the New Mexico landscape, the people. I don't feel that everywhere." His brother, Blake, added, "New Mexico is like a bar in Texas with different local beers - we feel welcome."

The musical genre they most identify with is "emerging country and Americana music." Think Hootie & the Blowfish, Sister Hazel, Third Eye Blind and Counting Crows as a sound and vibe comparison. The Powell Brothers take the stage Saturday (Feb. 9), 9:30 p.m., at the Motherlode Saloon, 406 East Main Street, in Red River. Cover charge is $10 with ID at the door.

The band features Taylor Powell on lead vocals, Blake Powell on bass and one of his two vintage Fender guitars and Mike Smith on drums. Last year the brother's recorded their first full-length album, "Leave On the Light." They will play music from this album and other songs from their expansive and eclectic repertoire.

Tempo interviewed the brothers by phone while they were on tour, outside of Jorges, a Mexican food joint in Midland, Texas. Here are the highlights:

Tempo: What makes a song that stands the test of time?

Taylor Powell: My favorite songs are time capsules. Songs that capture their moment in history and showcase it so I can connect to here in 2019. The song acts as a reminder that the human condition is common, and no matter where we are from, geographically or generationally, we all have the same fundamental feelings and struggles. As tastes change, and the sound quality makes older recordings sometimes difficult to listen to, it comes down the spirit of the song or performance. Whether it is Sam Cooke's recording of "Change Is Gonna Come," or a great vocal performance by Aretha Franklin, or most anything that Bob Dylan wrote, it almost takes you to where they were in that time. The goal is to be honest about yourself, and infuse it with the current world around you. There is no way to know how something will age, there are too many factors, and no way of predicting it. But if you are honest, you are setting yourself up for success.

Tempo: How do you find balance on the road?

Blake Powell: For us, the biggest factor of keeping stability on the road, comes down to getting enough sleep. When we started out, we said yes to everything. We would get to the hotel after a show around 3 or 4, then wake up around 6 to get to a 9 o'clock radio interview in a town a few hours down the road. We would do this every day, Thursday through Sunday, and get home and take all of our time off trying to get back to any level of normalcy we could find. This ended with us getting sick, and we've had to prioritize our health. We are very focused people, and our goals keep us balanced, but drive will only take you as far as your body allows.

Tempo: What occupation other than music would you consider doing?

Taylor Powell: There are too many things we love. I know I love spending my later years teaching. I also love going back to school, I'd be interested in studying medicine, business or journalism. Blake finds the culinary would very interesting. Our problem would be deciding what to do. There is so much out there that is so exciting, and we know so many amazing people in every different field.

Tempo: What is your process for writing a song, and how do you know when a song is finished?

Taylor Powell: There is no set formula or process. A song can come from any and everywhere. If I'm sitting down to write a song without a previous idea, I sit with a guitar and play until some kind of inspiration comes. It can take a minute or an hour, but if you are patient, the ideas will come. Whether it's a chorus, a melody, or a single lyric, all it takes is one spark to get the flame going and then instincts take over. I will find as many good pieces as I can in the initial inspiration and then whittle away what doesn't belong.

Sometimes I create a story to piece things together, and sometimes the pieces create a own story all their own. I am finished with the first draft when I cannot change a single lyric because they say what they mean to say. When every melody flows into the next as if there is no other way someone could sing it. Then I will let the song breathe for a few days. I will come back, comb through and look for imperfections and fix as I go. Sometimes I change single words, and sometimes lines aren't as good as I thought they were in the original heat of battle. I believe a song to be a living thing, so I don't think it is ever "done."

Songs I wrote when I was younger mean different things now. They have changed even if the words are the same. Some songs have slight word changes to suit who I am today. It's one of my favorite parts of this art form.

For more information, call the venue at (575) 754-6280.

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