Sharing a lighter moment as they introduce singer/songwriter Ashlee Rose (left), Rick Star and Erin Frantzen tape another live segment at Nelson City Dancehall for their syndicated worldwide radio show Homegrown, Texas “Live.” Photo by Phil Houseal
Listen to current shows online at AirPlayDirect.com/homegrowntexas
Homegrown goes worldwide
Fredericksburg native Erin Frantzen remembers those postcards titled “The Night Life in Fredericksburg.” It was just a black postcard.
Then in the 1980s she started hearing a new kind of music on local radio.
“I was too young, and I couldn’t tell you who it was or what song it was, but I knew the words!”
What it was, was Americana music. Fredericksburg and the Hill Country became the nexus for it, and soon - if Erin and business partner Rick Star have their way - fans around the world will be listening to their “homegrown” Americana.
Through their business, Homegrown Americana Radio Consulting, the former DJs already have a good start. Their signature project is Homegrown, Texas “Live” - a one-hour broadcast featuring Texas artists that is digitally syndicated worldwide through Airplay Direct.
I caught up with Rick and Erin at one of their Sunday tapings at Nelson City Dancehall near Welfare. The rustic saloon is real Texas, with a high, wide stage, old-fashioned wood dance floor, and spacious courtyard in our beloved hill country setting. We sipped cool drinks on the patio while they explained their business mission.
“We started out to promote Americana music worldwide to whoever will listen,” Rick said. “That music is so hot right now.”
During a typical Sunday afternoon show, two or three live acts perform. The public is invited free to enjoy the music, full bar, and often some type of barbecue. The day I was there we heard Ashlee Rose and the Texas Ladybugs. They have also hosted Butch Morgan, Melissa Ludwig, the Wolf Sisters, and other “Central Texas awesome talent.”
The pair introduce and interview the bands, which are then recorded as they perform live onstage. Rick and Erin edit each act down to one-hour segments, which they digitally upload to Airplay Direct. The online distributor then makes the broadcast available to 5000 radio stations around the world.
And we do mean the world.
“We are getting on 30 to 40 stations all over the world,” Erin said. “We are on in Austria, Australia, the Netherlands... they crave Texas music.”
The global appeal of Texas music sometimes eclipses its local appeal. Ironically Americana is hotter in Finland than in America.
Rick Star concurs. “Calvin Russell is a perfect example,” Rick said, citing a hero of Texas Rebel Roots Rock. “He is one of the most talented singers in the world, and the world recognizes that, but I don’t know that we do in the States.”
Why? Excepting innovators such as KFAN radio in Fredericksburg, Rick understands that “big radio” is a conglomerate of stations that service the same music to half the United States. “Unless an artist has a major label distributor, they can’t even get played on some stations,” he said. But as digital distribution takes over, with streaming, satellite radio, and personal music players, “you are going to be able to program any station and listen to what you want.”
Rick compares the current rise in interest in Americana to the rock revolution of the 1960s. “We are hoping that the more it’s heard, the more those people that have the power in the industry are going to open their eyes,” he said.
Rick and Erin have plans and the passion for more projects. They want to highlight music events already going on in Central Texas - such as the Pioneer Museum’s Roots Music series - and perhaps a series on Texas dancehalls.
“We want to take a road trip around Texas, visiting old, new, and historic dancehalls where you find a cold beer, a good band, and real Texas music,” Erin explained. “We could syndicate that worldwide, so when people come to Texas they’ll say, ‘That’s where I want to go!’”
Meanwhile, fans of Americana can log on to AirPlayDirect.com/homegrowntexas for live streaming of the music series. Or even better, plan to attend one of the free tapings at Nelson City Dancehall, which resume at the first of the year.
“Come on down and check it out,” Erin yelled into the microphone. “We miss you guys!”