Kool and Together
Gig Seeker Pro

Kool and Together

Victoria, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1971 | SELF

Victoria, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1971
Band Rock Funk




"Kool and Together, 'Kool and Together' (Heavy Light/Light in the Attic)"

A Texas family who played what it called "Black Rock": sludgy, mid-tempo funk vamps punctuated with noisy guitar solos. Shades of disco, carefree use of wah-wah. The songs aren't really there and don't need to be; they'd probably just get in the way of the grooves. Best, surprisingly, are the unreleased live and demo cuts -- recordings so blown-out it sounds like the players are ripping right through the tape. - Spin Magazine

"The Best Under-the-Radar Reissues of 2011"

Kool and Together were a stubbornly productive Seventies-funk band from South Texas that never scored big but released one stone classic in "Sittin' on a Red Hot Stove," a 1973 single of saucy-Meters gait and big doses of Funkadelic voodoo in the vocals and wah-wah guitar. This album includes later rides on the disco bandwagon, but the meat of the tale is the stark swagger'n'roll of the early Seventies material, when Kool and Together were sounding a lot like a black Grand Funk Railroad with more limber in the rhythm and gospel suggestion in singer Tyrone Sanders' high firm belting. - Rolling Stone Magazine

"Kool and Together"

Charles Sanders Jr. (second from left, with his dad and the rest of the band in the mid-seventies) and his brothers, Joe and Tyrone, grew up in Victoria, where they and their father formed the band My Children +2. Later they carried on without their dad as Kool & Together, mixing soul with psychedelic rock. Despite some modest success, they were virtually unknown until their 1973 single “Sittin’ on a Red Hot Stove” began showing up on contemporary DJ playlists two decades later, which led Austin label Heavy Light Records to track down the brothers (all still in Victoria) and release their first album, Original Recordings, 1970–1977. Kool & Together are reuniting to celebrate the record with a show November 5 at Austin’s Continental Club.

Describe Victoria in the seventies.
Whites and blacks all went to school together. I had never had any problems with stuff like that. I was called the n-word maybe once in my entire life growing up here.

How did you get into music?
I give all the credit to my father, who sang with gospel groups—my brothers and I were into football. We listened to groups like the Ohio Players and Earth, Wind & Fire. One day we decided that we were going to start our own little group. I had this cheap guitar; my brothers had some boxes that they were beating on. My dad came in, and maybe two, three weeks later I had a new guitar, my brother Joe had drums, and my brother Tyrone had some bongos.

How old were you at this time?
I might have been a freshman in high school. My dad came up with this idea of My Children +2. It was myself, my two brothers, my dad on vocals, and two other guys. My dad was the guy that everybody came out to see. His name was “The King.” He would come out with a crown on, red cape and scepter …

A James Brown fan.
Yeah, we played a lot of James Brown. We used to play San Antonio a lot, and we would be the only black band in this vast sea of rock musicians with the heavy chords, PA systems, and light shows. It was incredible, a new world to me.

You added your own heavy rock sound to your music.
In high school we ran across this guitarist John Odom, a white guy. He turned me on to Grand Funk Railroad, the Who. I started dabbling in that type of sound.

So how did My Children +2 turn into Kool & Together?
We never played on Sunday—we were brought up in the church—and we were offered a show one Sunday, and my dad wanted to do it to recoup some of the losses we’d had. We refused. After that, he kind of gave up and stopped managing the band. I took over, and we changed the name.

Your song “Hooked on Life” sounds like you had some problems with your sidemen.
I hated musicians—I mean, I hated drugs, liquor. A lot of musicians that played in our band wanted to do drugs, drink, smoke on stage. They didn’t like how I ran things, so we had turnover. I was always high on my music. My brothers too. Well, maybe not my baby brother! We stayed away from stuff like that. Now, I’m not going to lie. There were women.

You seemed wary of the business.
In a small town, the chances of actually making it were very slim. We never thought about chucking our day jobs, because we had families and responsibilities. Once, my father bought time at a studio in Corpus Christi. We went down there and recorded all these great songs. The following weekend we went back to mix them down, and the studio was gone. On the way back, my dad was so distraught we had a wreck. You don’t forget stuff like that.

How did the CD happen?
Noel Waggener [of Heavy Light Records] called and asked for our masters. I’m happy. It’s what my daddy wanted. We made our little mark, I guess. If we had really made it, my brothers and I would probably be washed out now, drunk, divorced. But we’re not. Maybe it wasn’t for us to make it then. Maybe now—maybe this is it. I’m not that sure, but I’m going to try. - Texas Monthly

"Kool & Together | Light In The Attic Records"

Where Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys left off is exactly the spot where Kool and Together was born. For the Sanders brothers, the screams of Psychedelic Rock met with Motown’s funky Soul at a crossroads called Black Rock—a mixture of two genres that few were bold enough to attempt and even fewer possessed the technical ability to master. At the same time groups like Black Merda were crafting their take on Black Rock in Detroit, Kool and Together were blazing their own path with distortion pedals and lyrics about social turmoil in the most unlikely of places, a small, dusty town in South Texas.

This set collects the best of Kool and Together’s 1970’s recordings including material from their little-heard private press 45’s, demos and an explosive previously unreleased set of Black Rock. While searching for the reel for their Deep Funk classic, “Red Hot Stove,” a trove of unreleased material was discovered and Kool and Together’s true modus operandi became clear. Their impulse wasn’t to follow convention but to build an original, distinct soundscape. Songs like “Get Your Feet Off the Ground” and “I Know” represent a seamless, soulful fusion of Funk and Psychedelic Rock.

Digging deeper into the Sanders family’s demos and home recordings revealed even further evidence of their talent and seemingly limitless inspiration. Recorded when the Sanders brothers were still teenagers, the rehearsal workouts heard on “Escapism Beat” and “Nassau Beat” are some of the most searing, uncut Funk ever caught on tape.

By the late-70’s, Kool and Together had shifted their sound, recording and self-releasing prime cuts of Disco and Modern Soul. Included with the essentially unheard singles, “Black Snow” and “Hooked on Life” are stellar previously unreleased demo recordings of the Soul anthem, “Better Days” and the proto-Rap jam, “Blow it Out Your Mind.”

A sonic revelation to even the most seasoned listener, Heavy Light Records is proud to bring the recordings of this massively talented Texas family to light. - Light In The Attic Records

"Kool and Together - Kool and Together - Blurt Magazine"

the archival well will run dry, but for now the rediscovery and re-release of
vintage and little-heard soul, funk, R&B and gospel rarities is still going
strong. Case in point: this scorcher by the early ‘70s bad-ass black rock combo
Kool and Together.

collection of 21 tracks recorded between 1971 and 1977 unearths a trove of
nasty, hard-rocking funk. Hailing from the small town of Victoria, Texas,
Kool and Together were the Sanders brothers (Charles, Tyrone and Joe) +
various other players that came and went. All of these tracks are gritty,
guitar driven heavy funk/rock with some conga and other percussion mixing it up
underneath. Kissing cousins to Detroit’s Black Merda, Jimi Hendrix’s Band of
Gypsies, “Them Changes” era Buddy Miles and some of the gnarlier Ike & Tina
Turner tracks of the era, Kool and Together play it loud and proud. Tracks like
“I Know,” “Get Your Feet of the Ground,” “Peace is at Hand” and the
outrageously heavy “Sittin’ On a Red Hot Stove” are funk at it’s heaviest, with
liberal uses of both wah wah and HEAVY guitar.

playing brother Tyrone Sanders had a terrific voice featured on several
tracks, while brothers Charles and Joe also added an occasional lead vocal, and
a Phillip Jackson steps up to the mic for the proto rap “Blow It Out Your Mind”
from 1977. A tantalizing snippet is the 30 remaining seconds of “Electronic
Funk,” also from 1977, and shows an exciting direction the band was going at
the time. Some of the later recordings also move into a more diffuse direction,
so who knows what might have happened had the band stayed together. Brother
Charles is featured as lead singer on four raw, exciting early demo tracks that
finish up the record, including a pumped up version of James Brown’s “Hot
Pants” and track called “Nassau Beat” that features some explosive
drumming from brother Joe.

rarities go, this one is the merde all the way.

TRACKS: “Sitting On a Red Hot Stove,” “Get Your Feet Off the Ground,” “I
Know,” “Blow It Out Your Mind.” CARL HANNI - Blurt Magazine

"Kool and Together: The First Family of Texas Funk | Bayou ..."

I know, I know, things have been pretty quiet around here lately. Sorry. I’ve spent the better part of the Summer and beyond on the road and as much as I love writing about home, I always find it difficult when I’m not well ensconced in the Bayou City. Well, I’m here now and intend to keep the BCS faithful up to par with my general ramblings on what was once and the musical legends that roamed our fair city. -BK

Kool and Together’s story is so unsuspecting; it’s hard to believe it actually happened. Three brothers raised in the Southwest Texas town of Victoria, created an amalgamation of funk, soul and psychedelic rock and did so by their own accord.

Though the group wasn’t from Houston, they spent plenty of time here performing and recording the majority of their output for Huey Meaux’s Pacemaker imprint. When Heavy Light records sought out the master tapes to the single “Sittin on a Red Hot Stove” a funk number wound tighter than a coil and turned up an unreleased album of primordial psychedelia-infused soul, they did what any good label does and arranged to release it.

Heavy Light kindly asked me to write the liner notes for the release and so I put my nose to the grindstone. Reels of tapes were scrutinized for dates and names, trips to Victoria were made to interview band members and close to a year later, the album is out in stores today.

Here’s some more from the press release:

Where Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies left off is exactly the spot where Kool and Together was born. For the Sanders brothers, the screams of Psychedelic Rock met with Motown’s funky Soul at a crossroads called Black Rock—a mixture of two genres that few were bold enough to attempt and even fewer possessed the technical ability to master. At the same time groups like Black Merda were crafting their take on Black Rock in Detroit, Kool and Together were blazing their own path with distortion pedals and lyrics about social turmoil in the most unlikely of places, a small, dusty town in South Texas.

This set collects the best of Kool and Together’s 1970’s recordings including material from their little-heard private press 45’s, demos and an explosive previously unreleased set of Black Rock. While searching for the reel for their Deep Funk classic, “Red Hot Stove,” a trove of unreleased material was discovered and Kool and Together’s true modus operandi became clear. Their impulse wasn’t to follow convention but to build an original, distinct soundscape. Songs like “Get Your Feet Off the Ground” and “I Know” represent a seamless, soulful fusion of Funk and Psychedelic Rock. A sonic revelation!

You can listen to the entire album and purchase it direct from their distributor, Light in the Attic here or go visit your local brick and mortar record store the good old fashioned way. - Bayou City Soul

"Visit the David Rubenstein Atrium for Free Concerts and Events this Holiday Season"

Thursday, December 15 at 8:30 p.m.

Target Free Thursdays


Where Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys left off is exactly the spot where Kool and Together was born. Inspired by the family band dynamics of The Jackson Five, Charles Sanders formed the band with his sons Charles Jr., Tyrone and Joe in 1970 in Victoria, Texas. Kool and Together forged a sound that effortlessly blended the screams of Psychedelic Rock with the Funk and Soul of Motown. After more than 30 years, the original members of Kool and Together have reunited, joined by their daughters, to tour in support of their first full length release Original Recordings 1970-77 on Heavy Light Records. For more information about the artists, visit: http://lightintheattic.net/artists/365-kool-together - Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

"What to see in Lincoln Center - NY Daily News"

The world’s largest performance arts center is expanding its reach.

Lincoln Center’s ongoing $1.2 billion redevelopment has made the ­upper West Side enclave more accessible than ever with new features like the Atrium community space and the Illumination Lawn, plus electronic signs flashing ­up-to-the-minute show times.

“In the past, I think some people were intimidated about coming to some of these great performance spaces,” says Kate ­Merlino, communications manager at ­Lincoln Center. “We’re trying to change that.”

Josie Robertson Plaza (Columbus Ave. between 62nd and 65th Sts.) is the main entry to Lincoln Center’s sprawling 16-acre campus that includes Juilliard, the New York Philharmonic and New York City Ballet, among 11 legendary institutions. The new Revson Fountain streams daily water shows between noon and 1 p.m., and more frequently between 6-8 p.m.

The two-year-old David Rubenstein Atrium (Broadway between 62nd and 63rd Sts.) is a Privately Owned Public Space (POPS) that recently welcomed its 500,000th guest. “This is a gateway to Lincoln Center,” says Tom Dunn, the Atrium director. “We’ve created an environment where people can come for great art, free performances, to purchase tickets or to have a bite [at Tom ­Colicchio’s ’witchcraft cafe] before taking in a show or a tour of the campus.”

Visitors to the Metropolitan Opera House (Columbus Ave. between 62nd and 65th Sts.) take in the breathtaking starburst chandeliers dangling before its holiday tree before enjoying this season’s performances, including “La Boheme,” “Madame Butterfly” and “Hansel and Gretel.”

Even on the grayest winter day, Alice Tully Hall’s all-glass grand foyer radiates warmth and light. The at65 Cafe (1941 Broadway, at 65th St.) serves espresso and Balthazar pastries for breakfast, or sandwiches and cocktails for a pre-performance nosh from 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Puppeteers rehearse a breathtaking battle scene backstage at the Vivian Beaumont Theater (150 W. 65th St.) for “War Horse,” which galloped away with five Tonys this year, including Best Play. It takes three people to bring each horse to life. (Steven Spielberg’s film version of the story opens Christmas Day.)

The Hearst Plaza’s elevated Illumination Lawn (65th St. between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave.) not only provides UWS ­residents with a 7,203-square-foot grassy space to enjoy a bottle of vino or soak up some rays; it forms the roof of the swanky Lincoln restaurant below. The stately plaza also includes the Barclays Capital Grove and Henry Moore’s “Reclining Figure” sculpture within the reflecting pool.

This year’s holiday tree at Dante Park (Broadway and 63rd St.) features phul Hindu flower ornaments that were handmade in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India out of candy wrappers. The 25-foot Norway spruce will stay lit through January.

Lincoln Center’s new state-of-the-art ­InfoScape creatively displays ticketing and performance information screened on the Josie Robertson Plaza steps as well as 13 electronic billboards running past the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (144 W. 65th St.). The movie theater shows critically acclaimed new films like “Margin Call” with Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons.

The Atrium (Broadway between 62nd and 63rd Sts.) is a neighborhood hub where a backgammon tournament meets once a month and moms can park their strollers. Target Free Thursdays hosts gratis shows like funk rock band Kool & Together playing this Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Dancers from New York City Ballet’s “Nutcracker” led little ones through a dance class at a Meet the Artist workshop recently.

Juilliard students sing their scales on the Starr Theater stage at Alice Tully Hall (1941 Broadway, at 65th St.), which boasts a new stage lighting system that practically glows behind the bloodwood “skin” that panels the almost 80,000-square-foot auditorium. - NY Daily News

"Kool & Together – Forever - The Austin Chronicle"

Kool & Together – Forever

Detroit black rockers Death, look out

By Chase Hoffberger, 12:27PM, Fri. Aug. 3, 2012

Kool & Together – Forever

Black rock Texas funk outfit Kool & Together hits the Continental Club Saturday night for its fifth show in more than 30 years. A band of brothers from tiny Victoria in the Seventies, they were all but forgotten until Noel Waggener's local Heavy Light Records unearthed 19 master tapes and issued them last fall as Original Recordings 1970-1977.

We spoke with band leader Charles Sanders, Jr. in advance of Kool & Together's performance. It didn't take much to get the 58-year-old bassist to open up.

Austin Chronicle: We're looking forward to the gig, and I assume that you guys are too.

Charles Sanders, Jr.: Oh man, we're like caged animals here. We're cocked, blocked, and ready to rock. We're still kind of put off by last year. We were supposed to do South by Southwest last year with the Relatives, but we heard about some sound ordinance where we were playing and weren't able to perform. We're kind of upset about that.

We had a few other things, but I told the guys that we just need to keep practicing. We'd been out of it for a while aside from our playing at church. Our guitarist Johnny Ray [Barefield] is constantly playing. I told the guys, we just need to keep practicing and honing in on our musician skills and getting better.

We're a much better group than we were when we played the Continental Club [in October]. Much better. We're tighter. We enjoy it more. We're looser.

On our record, I was playing guitar, and I was playing all those wah-wah pedals and stuff. Since it was a family-oriented band, we would get people trading out from guitar to bass to drums. I could never hone in on my skills to get really good. So I decided to stick with the bass and got a call from my church. That's when I started playing bass.

Johnny Ray, he's extraordinary on guitar. He's one of the best guitar players I've ever seen.

Like I said, the guys are really into it. They want to continue to perform and play. Hopefully, we'll cut another album.

AC: Something new.

CS: We're in it for the haul. The main thing we want to do is let the people know that we're a good band – a good rock band. That black rock Texas funk, it's a black band playing rock, and we add that funk to it. The guitar is basically on strong chords, and that's what I like. I've always wanted to play in a rock band. Rock is in my heart. Metal, that's what I listen to.

I'm a rock guy. I'm a rock head. It's something that resonates with me with those hard-driving chords. With my brother Joe, he's a good drummer. And Tyler, he's in on congas. It's a unique sound and it's always been a unique sound.

When we came out, we had the show that goes with it – the lights, the fog, the electrical bills [laughs]. All that crap. When we went to play those clubs and did that stuff, people would look at us and be like, “What the hell is going on? We got these black guys up here doing these devastating chords and are loud.”

We played the Lincoln Center. We got in and were really tired. But we go in there and they've got everything set up. We kick in, and we just kind of crank it. The people there were saying, "I think you have to turn it down." I go, "What? This is just the soundcheck! We're not loud yet." So we start to soundcheck again and they ask us to turn it down a little bit more. I go, "You're kidding!"

We were bummed out, because loud is it. I like to play loud. I like loud music.

Finally, we started performing, and I had been told that New York folks, they're kind of stuffy, so if they don't get up.... That's what we were told in the green room: If they don't get up and clap with you guys, don't feel bad. They'll still like you.

So we go out and perform a couple songs, and by the third song, we've got people standing in the aisles and screaming and stuff. We're used to performing and getting people involved. Like I said, we're ready to go.

My daughter Candice Sanders is going to be performing with us, and my daughter Constance. And I've got two daughters here, Caitlin and Chelsea, and they're going to be singing backup, with Candice playing keyboards.

We're ready to go. We're so excited.

AC: When was that show at the Lincoln Center?

CS: Oh, wow. I'll have to ask my wife, man. That was last year in December, I think it was. That was the first time I'd ever been on a plane. I said I'd never get on a plane. We're on the plane and we're up there, and I'm going, “I'm not so crazy about this." Because when I go, I want to go on land.

But the Lincoln Center was a phenomenal show. As a matter of fact, we just called them and might have the opportunity to go back. We just just contacted them. We had emails and contact, and they had emailed us right back. When we left, they had talked about it, so I'm hoping. But right now, we're going to take it one show at a time. Right now, it's Austin.

I'm not used to the email stuff right now. When I was doing it back in the day, you call the owner of the club and talk to him. But my daughter tells me everything is done by email. We have to get acquainted with doing stuff on email. I'm old school. All this new stuff on the Internet, it's....

I want to hit Antone's bad, but I don't know how to get anyone at Antone's.

We want to let the people know that Texas has some badass music and that black folks can play rock as well as anything else. We got that rock sound that we call black rock Texas funk, but we can jib and jab with the best of them.

What we're trying to do is get back, because this will be our fifth show since we started performing again.

Excuse me for talking to much. This was my old man's dream. Charles Sanders, God rest his soul. This was his dream, and his kids; we're a little older, a little wiser.

It used to be in the old days that I could remember a song. Now, I have a pad and pencil at my bed at night and a tape recorder. Three, four o'clock in the morning, a song hits me, I write the lyrics down and then get a guitar and try to put the music on tape, or hum a couple bars so I don't forget it.

The music is back with us. It's in my heart. It's in my brothers' hearts. All we want to do is play for the folks, give them that good sound and that good feeling. Let 'em rock!

AC: One more question: how old are you?

CS: I'm 58.

AC: Okay, good.

CS: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for this interview. Thank you so much. - The Austin Chronicle

"SXSW Day 2: Texas Funk Legends Kool & Together on The 512 Rooftop @The512on6th"

One of the cooler things about South By Southwest is the way that old and obscure bands are brought back into relevance, either by documentary films that are screened, or showcases that feature them. Victoria, Texas-based Kool & Together was just such a band, a group of Black musicians in a small Texas town who spent seven years recording a rather odd mix of soul, funk and psychedelic rock in the early 1970’s. When nothing really took off, they broke up. That would have been the end of the story, but in recent years record collectors got involved, as did the hip boutique label Light in the Attic Records, and the result was not just awakened interest in the old recordings, but a burst of new activity from the band itself. Although I had seen them play behind Fort Worth gospel mainstays The Relatives, I had never seen them perform their own show, so I was excited this year to get the opportunity to catch them on the rooftop at 512. As it turned out, the outdoor rooftop was the perfect venue for a band like Kool & Together, and although there was a fairly large group of people upstairs, the place didn’t seem at all uncomfortable. The band’s style is based around funk and soul, although elements of hard rock are included in a way that sets Kool & Together apart from other funk bands, and the audience seemed to enjoy every minute of it. - The Frontline

"Preview: 10 Acts To See At SXSW Music | Hidden Track"

Kool and Together

Light In The Attics Records has a proven track record for reissuing fantastic “lost albums” and compilations from semi-obscure acts from the 1960′s and ’70s – they’re the folks that reintroduced the world to the music of Rodriguez. In 2011, the Seattle-based label put out a must-hear compilation by a little known band from South Texas called Kool and Together. The band, who has since reunited, mix deep funk grooves with Motown R&B, Stax soul and rock guitar – arriving at something that sounds like a cross between The Temptations, Parliament and Sly & The Family Stone. - Hidden Track

"SXSW Recap With Videos and Pictures - TheBlot Magazine"

Forget the Big Headliners, Here’s a Video and Picture Roundup of the Best Acts at SXSW

Jason Gross | March 17, 2014 | Music | No Comments

So, Lady Gaga got someone to puke on her (and delivered a keynote you can read about from us here), Coldplay premiered some new songs, and Jay Z, Kanye and Snoop crashed the party. Those may have been the biggest headlines coming out of this year’s SXSW music festival, but they’re not the whole story.

Of course, there was the horrible hit-and-run incident, which we covered here. There were even worse details that came out after the incident. For example, the driver who killed and injured the festivalgoers already had a criminal record and was wanted in Alaska, had five children and was a rapper who was supposed to perform a show that night in Austin (The Statesman newspaper has details here). The evening after the incident, a nurse who was called into the ER to help with the overflow there told me about people with broken necks and broken backs, but that wasn’t the worst of it. One of the girls who got hit by the car had flown up into the air along with the contents of her purse. Her ID then landed near one of the people who was killed. In a horrible mix-up, the dead person was identified as the injured girl and her family was informed of some very tragic news. It was only when they came to the hospital that they found out about the mistake and realized that their daughter was thankfully still alive.

As for the festival itself, aka the thing that eats Austin every March, the detractors have a point that it’s grown huge. As writer Jim DeRogatis found when he was speaking off the record to one of the original SXSW organizers, at this point, the whole atmosphere around the festival might be getting too big for its own good. However, by now, it’s unstoppable — even if they shortened it or paused it for a year, the unofficial parties and sponsors are already too ingrained into the atmosphere there to change anything. Plus, though they originally planned this fest around spring break to time it for when the University of Texas students went out of town, the U of T crowd not only stays for SXSW, but other spring breakers come out there too from around the country.

I can definitely attest to how the crowds clog up the streets, how lots of underage students try to unsuccessfully stumble into the bars, and how lots of legal kids then try to stumble into the streets with drinks in their hands (also unsuccessfully). That’s why it’s good to have a strategy when you go there — see my previous SXSW survival guide for details.

And though I do like Gaga, Jay Z, Kanye and Snoop (who I caught walking by with a humongous entourage), I don’t like the huge crush of crowds that went to see ‘em. That’s why I like to check out the smaller venues instead and see the acts that don’t get as much attention as they should. It’s good karma to boost them, and if you do your homework by listening to their online sound files or watching some of their concert videos, you can pick out some good ones that will probably put on a memorable show for you.

With that in mind, I wanted to share 25 of the best acts (out of the 60 that I saw in total this year) that I saw, thanks to a bunch of great entertainers who you should support too — even if you don’t buy music anymore, go see ‘em live or at least like ‘em on Facebook for God’s sake!

Damon Albarn

You know him from Blur and Gorillaz and numerous other projects that this restless Brit popper has done in the last few years, but now he’s finally going solo. For his bigger outdoor gig at Stubb’s, he shared the stage with De La Soul and Snoop, but for this daytime convention center show, he was just there with a small, sit-down band and a string section, previewing his upcoming solo album, “Everyday Robots,” and the personal, low-key songs on it. There was also a bit of a Brit pop invasion theme going on as Jarvis Cocker (see video here) also did a reading a few days before.

Cerebral Ballzy


With one album out and another on tap, this multiracial hard-core punk band from Brooklyn seemed like the silly, bad-taste joke that their name implied, but live, they channeled the spirit and energy of Black Flag, proving that their anger and rants were for real and maybe should even be taken seriously.



While the fashion/style calendar doesn’t say that it’s time for a glam rock revival, don’t tell these Austinites — the guy on the mic wore a lovely lingerie outfit and stockings that were torn with runs. The band had the right look, energy and fun that you’d hope for, even having a contingent of fans there, yelling along with the lyrics. As a bonus, the singer was actually a good flute-tooter too.

The Chevelles


The world probably has too many garage bands as it is, but these Aussies have enough catchy songs and energy to justify their existence — even with the club packed and at capacity, I was glad to stand outside with dozens of others to hear them rock out. Plus, they were exceptional sports to play alongside a big inflatable kangaroo at their showcase gig.

Crooked Bangs


Another band that I happened across was this multi-genre Austin punk band, and I probably wouldn’t have spent more than a minute listening if the singer wasn’t so freakin’ passionate about the songs and the guitarist wasn’t shredding up a storm. But they both did just that. And when you sit down with their music and listen to the lyrics, you learn that they parle francais.

The Dollyrots


Robin Cook (who wrote the Gaga keynote article and happens to be my boo) turned me on to these West Coast punkers, and they wound up being my last show at SXSW. With their cover of Melanie’s “Brand New Key” (their all-time favorite song) and singer Kelly Ogden saying that their new album is called “Barefoot and Pregnant” because that’s how she spent the last year, how could you NOT love ‘em?

El Conjunto Nueva Ola

One great thing about SXSW is discovering bands by accident and that’s what happened when I almost walked by this Mexican band at the convention center. Their gimmick is that they’re all dressed as Luchadors (Mexican wrestlers outfitted with masks). I didn’t know their repertoire, but I did recognize their cover of GNR’s “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by the guitar riff. They knew how to put on a show too — with one guitarist sitting on an audience member’s lap and then later running out into the convention hallway to play wireless. See for yourself how fun they were in the video.



OK, they’re not your typical traditional metal Korean band, but then again how many of those bands are there? With one woman playing a stand-up lap fiddle (haegeum) and another playing geomungo (rectangle-shaped string instrument played on the floor), you wouldn’t expect headbanging, but the gents who provided guitar, bass and drums alongside them pulled it off somehow.

Jungles From Red Bacteria Vacuum

For J-Pop (Japanese Pop) night, these punky girls rocked something fierce. With the singer’s face contortions, the guitarist jumping out front for effect, the bassist and drummer swapping places mid-set and all four singing at some point, there were no weak links there. Plus, how about that great band name?

Kool and Together


Not Kool and the Gang, but this Texas quartet mixed ‘70s Isley Brothers with the Neville Brothers for some soul/funk/rock mash-up (with makes sense since K&T themselves recorded during the Me Decade), complete with three ladies to sing along. Even my jaded oldies rock friend I dragged along was impressed with them.

Lord Buffalo

You wouldn’t think that a moody, arty sound would go along with Americana music, but this Austin quintet pulled it off somehow. They brooded, they stomped, they played kazoo and fiddle, and it all worked magnificently.

Lumiphonic Creature Choir

This Brooklyn duo does layered voices and quiet electronics. Oh, and they have a 12-headed multimedia creature with heads sprouting out of a dozen pod-heads. I know, it’s totally WTF, which is why it needs to be seen up close.

Melt Yourself Down

Think of this UK band as a rowdy klezmer/bar mitzvah doing punk music. Two saxes, two drummers, a singer who likes to walk on bar counters and no guitars is what they offer, and they put on a hell of a party while they’re at it.

Hedvig Mollestad Trio

A Norwegian woman who’s a metal goddess? Believe it. Decked out in a sequined dress, stockings and high heels, she kicked ass, roaring on her guitar alongside another woman who was playing old-school stand-up bass.

More or Les


Part of the Nerdcore movement (think of them as anti-gangsta), this Canadian rapper is a sci-geek who’s got a new “Doctor Who”-themed EP out now. His style and flow will remind you of the great Del the Funky Homosapien, but MOL has a style all his own, using two mics here to show off his Darth Vader voice (told you he’s a sci-fi geek).

No Joy


Ah, shoegaze … the UK-originated music where lads and lasses play melodic tunes at ear-splitting volumes — think Ride, My Bloody Valentine, etc. These Canadians have been part of a recent revival and are some of the best practitioners out there now. Not only do they have the volume (which is the easy part), but they have the catchy songs down too (which is much harder).

Angel Olsen

This St. Louis singer/songwriter/guitarist is becoming the latest buzz in the indie rock world and for good reason. Though you might not get hooked with her folky stuff at first, she brings it out stronger live, especially when she pairs the tunes with her rockier material. She managed to sound great not only in a small, crammed club but also in a large church, which should tell you something.

Saor Patrol

The Scots have had rockers before, but not many like these. You might remember Big Country, an ’80s band that made their guitars sound like bagpipes, but these guys play actual bagpipes, with kilts on no less, accompanied by only guitar and three drummers who play standing up (like the Boredoms and Butthole Surfers). After a promotional film with Russell Crowe, they proceeded to blast out the audience with their version of metal.

Jade Simmons


She seems like your average well-meaning, schooled classical pianist until she throws in some hip-hop beats and some rap into her mix and doesn’t sound forced when she’s doing it, which is a real neat trick.

Dudu Tassa

As much as I admired Tinariwen’s desert blues (which you should check out too- see video here), the real Middle Eastern region performer that I got off on was this Israeli singer/guitarist with a name that we Americans will probably chuckle at. The music’s no joke though — with a qanun (Egyptian harp) player, a two-woman string section and a guy playing samples in the background, Tassa rocked and transported you with his drone-influenced melodies.

Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders

Every big and small city in America has dozens, maybe hundreds, of bar bands, and if you like that type of music, they’ll cater to you just fine. Once in a while, however, you find someone that not only rises above the pack but just plan kicks all of their asses. This well-connected LA singer has a great, loud band that drives the music way past the speed limit. Previous at SXSW, I saw them do an amazing hair-raising, life-affirming show. This time, it was only just great. And if he ever comes to your town, do yourself a favor and see him.

This is another band that does a weird mash-up of music. This Mexican group was “jazz,” but done in a way that the mosh pit at a punk show would appreciate — in other words, it wasn’t your mom and dad’s kind of jazz. They were funny, fast, furious and fierce.

Young Fathers

Easily one of the best bands at SXSW this year and a real find as such. This Scottish quartet has three singers who alternate between rap, soul and gospel with a touch of arty/avant feel to them, backed up by a member who banged on a bass drum positioned on its side. It was one of the few times this year that a group not only showed me something truly original but also took my breath away. When I cornered the drummer afterwards to say how great they were, he disagreed, saying that they were playing “shite.” He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Youth Code


As luck and the alphabet would have it, here was the other band that floored me at SXSW. This LA duo features a cute little blonde, but up close you notice her arm-length tattoos and on stage she screams like a banshee and jumps around like she’s possessed. It was industrial music for sure, the type that Ministry fans would love, and not surprisingly, this crew thanked industrial pioneers Psychic TV for their support. My ears rang through the next morning thanks to them, but I had no complaints about it. I was actually gratified.



Another great thing about SXSW is that it shows off a lot of local talent from Austin, and the place isn’t considered a music city for nothing. Take this techno/prog-rock/punk duo for instance. Along with a light show and projections to give ‘em the ol’ psychedelic effect, their fast-paced keyboard riffs, pounding drums and shouted vocals made you think that you were listening to a much bigger band. As it was, these two filled the stage and the venue sound system just fine for a showcase of local groups featuring fellow prog/punks The Octopus Project (who you should also check out).

Also notable were: Mark Kozelek (beautiful, haunting voice- see video here), Lucinda Williams (legendary singer/songwriter who did a free show at the Miles Davis Party- see video here), Rosie Flores (rockabilly filly), Hamell on Trial (hilarious, brainy folkie- see video here) and Front Bottoms (wise-ass, funny, sing-along indie rockers).

Lastly, I have to mention the wonderful people who helped with my social media panel at SXSW: Lindsey Kronmiller (Merge Records), Nils Bernstein (Matador Records) and Sean Hallarman (Big Hassle Media), in addition to the supportive panel people who work at SXSW itself.

Hopefully I’ll be back at SXSW 2015 and maybe I’ll see you there? - TheBlot Magazine

"Sittin' on a Red Hot Stove - The Austin Chronicle"

Sittin' on a Red Hot Stove

A Q&A with Charles Sanders, Jr. of Kool & Together

By Thomas Fawcett, 8:13AM, Thu. Oct. 6, 2011

Sittin' on a Red Hot Stove
Courtesy of Heavy Light Records

From the unlikely Texas town of Victoria, Kool & Together – led by brothers Tyrone, Joe, and Charles Sanders, Jr. – explored the expanses of lo-fi funk and fuzzy psychedelic rock. For years the band’s master tapes were unceremoniously stuffed in a tin can, but on Oct. 4 the group's Original Recordings 1970-77 will be brought out of the dark by Heavy Light.

The Chronicle caught up with Charles Sanders, Jr. as the band prepares to take the stage for the first time in more than 30 years for their album release party at Continental Club on Nov. 5.

Austin Chronicle: Have you been warming up for your gig coming up in Austin?
Charles Sanders, Jr.: Yeah, we’re practicing. We’re trying to get it together.

AC: And how’s that going so far?
CS: It’s good. We still have some songs to go through; plus we have to go to Austin to practice because my daughters are going to be playing with us, and they live in Austin. The plan is after we get everything set ,we’re going up to Austin to do one practice with my daughters. My daughter Candice is going to be playing keys and my other daughters Connie, Chelsea and Kaitlyn are going to be singing backup for us.

AC: Were you surprised when Noel [Waggener] and Charisse [Kelly] contacted you saying they wanted to put out your music?
CS: I was real surprised because we had done this for a long time; my father had this huge dream back in the day. I remember just like yesterday. One night the song “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5 came on. After that my two brothers and I decided to start a group. We started messing around. I had one of these cheap little old guitars with the cat gut strings – I didn’t know what I was doing - and my brother Joe played drums and my brother Tyrone played congas. My dad came home from work and heard us, and he ran with it. Around two or three weeks later, I had a guitar and a small amp, my brother Joe had a drum kit, and my dad had bought my brother Tyrone some bongos.

From there on it took off. We were writing our little songs and there was a talent show here at the Victoria Community Center. My dad asked us if wanted to perform in this talent show and we said, “Yeah, okay.” I had wrote a song called “Train” and we got up at the community center and played our little song not thinking anything would happen. We got second place out of about 15 performers and that started it.

AC: And you played guitar and bass?
CS: At that time I was playing regular guitar. My dad found a bass guitar player, and we started practicing. It was my two brothers and a couple other guys my dad found to play with us, and that’s how we got started with the band My Children + 2. When it came to practice, we practiced. We started practicing and the next thing you know my dad was getting us little gigs and shows. We weren’t making much money mind you, but it was fun; it was exciting.

AC: What sort of events were you playing at the time?
CS: Well, my dad got us a lot of shows with My Children + 2. We were playing cover music, a lot of James Brown stuff. It’s so funny because we played a talent show in San Antonio, and there were a lot of rock bands there but we were the only black band playing James Brown and stuff like that. We got a good response.

We liked playing football, that was our deal. That’s what we really enjoyed was football but dad wanted us to be doing music, so that’s what we did. We played a couple of Spanish shows in Corpus, and dad booked us a show playing the Jerry Lewis telethon for muscular dystrophy. We were on TV in Houston and got on the Armed Services gigs at Lackland Air Force Base and Bergstrom Air Force Base. We were playing all over the place.

AC: You mentioned James Brown. Who else were you into at the time?
CS: Dad was basically calling the shots on the songs. It was James Brown; Earth, Wind & Fire; the Gap Band; and stuff like that.

AC: So mostly funk and R&B. Were you listening to any rock or heavier stuff?
CS: We didn’t really get off into that until after a while. We had this deal where we never performed on Sunday. It was one of our rules. Dad was the one that told us to never perform on Sundays because that was when you give your time to God. We had got back one Saturday and a band had cancelled for the next day. Dad wanted to recoup some money and play the show on Sunday. My brothers and I got together and refused to do the show. After that he backed off, and I took over the reins a bit. After that we were all over the place.

We did all these recordings, and we really forgot about them. We had put all of our masters in a tin can and it was at my mother’s house for the longest time. I brought them home one day, and they sat under my dining room table for another five years. It’s just one of those things, man. After that we decided to change the name of the band to Kool & Together and everything sort of took off. We were with Huey Meaux and did a few songs, but then Freddie Fender came along. He did a song called “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.” After that [Meaux] kind of threw us to the side. We wanted out of the contract, and he let us out. When we changed the name to Kool & Together we got a bunch more musicians, and I was basically a utility player. If we found a bass player, I would play guitar. If we found a guitar player, I would switch off to bass.

After Kool & Together we were done, that was it. I had my family, my girls. My brother started playing our church, and they needed a bass guitar player so I decided to start playing for God. That’s what we were doing when Noel and Charisse came down to talk to us.

AC: So when they came down your masters were just sitting in your house in a tin can somewhere?
CS: Yeah. When they called us I was like, “Yeah right. Who wants to listen to this old stuff of ours.” [Noel] wanted to come down, and I said I’d think about it. At that time though, I couldn’t find the masters. I had moved them somewhere. He told us “Sittin on a Red Hot Stove” was being played in discos in Europe, and I was like, “Yeah right. Europe, sure.” I was not really believing him. My brothers and I had a meeting, and we decided the masters were just taking on dust and stuff so we voted and decided to do it. It took me a while to get on board, but they came down here and we turned the masters over to them. It took off from there.

AC: How was it like working with Heavy Light?
CS: They were fantastic. I wasn’t believing them at first wondering who would want to listen to our old stuff, but we trusted in God and we let them take over. At first we weren’t thinking about playing, but Noel talked to us about performing live. I wasn’t sure because we had been out of the business for so long. They were very persistent. Finally I talked with my brothers, and we said, “Okay, we’ll try.”

AC: Is this Kool & Together’s first show in Austin?
CS: Before that we had a manager from Austin who put Kool & Together on the map. We played the Aqua Fest in Austin; we played at Municipal Auditorium in Austin. We played with the Gap Band, the Bar-Kays. Willie Nelson was there too at one of the shows we did in Austin. Everybody talks about us having a rock flavor, and going back I met this guy John Odam, a white guy. He turned me onto the rock: Grand Funk Railroad, Credence Clearwater Revival. It was just a whole new genre of music to us. At some point Victoria had a whole bunch of rock bands coming to play at Sun Valley, and we would go and we were blown away by the sound and the music they were playing. We dabbled into that and our music evolved. We picked up light shows and fog machines and black folks weren’t used to seeing that stuff. We blew them away with all those pyro effects. I’m a headbanger to this day. I’m 57, and I love rock music. Don’t get me wrong, I love the funk, but there’s something about the drive of rock that’s wonderful.

AC: You were there with your family at the Austin City Limits taping this summer when Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears covered “Sittin on a Red Hot Stove.” What was that like for you?
CS: It was fantastic. They really did the song justice, did a hell of a job with it. They want to record it and put it on their next album, and they want us to be involved with it. I’m very happy and very pleased, but I don’t understand why people are digging our music. We’re still scratching our heads - The Austin Chronicle

"SXSW Friday Picks and Sleepers"


7pm, Continental Club K&T explored the expanses of lo-fi funk and fuzzy psychedelic rock in the Seventies from the unlikely outpost of Victoria, TX. The family band – led by brothers Tyrone, Joe, and Charles Sanders Jr. – was long defunct until Austin imprint Heavy Light compiled the group's long lost recordings in 2011. – Thomas Fawcett - Austin Chronicle

"50,000 Kilowatts: The Best of The Week - Free Press Houston"

Saturday is White Linen Night in The Heights…which is usually something I steer clear from because it’s a healthy mix of suburbanites waltzing the streets with a drunken disregard for traffic laws. However, this year seems to have enough great festivities that it’s worth making it out for. Over at Heights Vinyl, they’re hosting a show that’s full of plenty of soul, funk, R&B, and the in-between. Starting things off is the crazy souled out and funky sounds of DJ Flash Gordon Parks. He will be followed by the doo wop sounds of Houston’s The Motion. I caught The Motion recently when they opened for Mikey & The Drags, and I’ll just say that they’re worth checking out. They have a sound that’s like a mix of The Ronettes and Connie Francis, and they put on a pretty good live show. They will be followed by the funky and spaced out sounds of Houston’s Radio Galaxy. Radio Galaxy has the ability to mix trip hop and soul with funk and electronica in a way that’s pretty amazing to see and hear. Their ep, “Darkness Everybody” is a great mix of old and new with a little Janelle Monae thrown in that should be an example of what you’ll see on Saturday. I don’t even know how Craig did it, but somehow he got Kool & Together to make an appearance as well. There’s a really good chance that you have no idea who Kool & Together were/are; but they might have been one of the best overlooked funk rock acts in the history of music. Hailing from South Texas, the Sanders brothers were so funky, that you’ll immediately see where Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye were listening to back in the day. Closing things up, is Houston’s newest soul revue, Tight’n Up. I caught Tight’n Up at Record Store Day this year, and I’ll just say that you’re in for a treat. The group is made up of some of Houston’s best musicians and their sound is pretty epic in a live setting. The show is a healthy mix of old meets new, and possibly the future as Tight’n Up has these crazy breaks in their music that I haven’t heard since Funkadelic. Things get started at 5:00, it’s 100% FREE, and I’m sure they’ll have plenty to drink out in front of Heights Vinyl on White Oak. - Free Press Houston

"Kool and Together back together"

When Charles Sanders was 12 years old, wearing a then-all-the-rage afro hairstyle and bell bottom jeans, he had visions of becoming a rock star.

With his brothers Joseph and Tyrone and equally musical father, Charles Sr., the Sanders boys would practice soul music covers in their Queen City Victoria home and book gigs around town at bars and clubs.

"We were 13 or 14 when we played in the bars, but Dad was always there with us," Sanders, now 60, said. "A lot of people thought we were the Jackson 5. We looked just like them with our hair and everything."

Sanders has never given up on the dream he had when he was a preteen that his family band, Kool and Together, would achieve fame and fortune.

And since the band's reunification in 2011, he's been holding the group together and hoping for a miracle.

"I'm the one who always said we were going to make it," Sanders said. "It was a godsend to get the original members back."

Kool and Together - which also includes guitarist Johnny Ray Barefield, who's been playing with the group for more than three decades - is described by Sanders as "black rock Texas funk."

"When people see us play, their mouths drop open because they see us and think we're not supposed to play this kind of music," Sanders said.

Back in the '70s, their father wrote the music, much of it soul, and managed the band.

But when Kool and Together was nearing real fame potential, Sanders said the brothers found a new sound. It was rock and funk performed by African-American musicians.

After a falling out with their manager father, band members decided to part ways and try their hands at studio production.

They took a risk and signed with a Houston record label and produced a series of 45 records, which Sanders said never really went anywhere.

"We didn't really get famous. We put out music, and it would fall by the wayside. But we did get the chance to hear our music on the radio here in Victoria," Sanders said.

Life eventually separated the group. Band members started getting married and having children, and eventually, the recording contract expired.

Fast forward about 40 years, and Sanders said the growing interest in vinyl records and all things vintage somehow landed Kool and Together's old 45s in the hands of an Austin record label executive from Heavy Light/Light in the Attic.

"He convinced us to put out a reunion album," Sanders said, mentioning the 2011 release of their album "Kool and Together."

Since the album release, Sanders said they've played shows around South Texas, including South by Southwest earlier this year, and New York City's famous Lincoln Center.

Fame has not yet arrived, Sanders said. But he knows it's around the corner.

"This is my dream," Sanders said. "Hopefully, things will work out for us. We'll have that one show with someone in the audience who will see us play and say, 'I want y'all.'" - Victoria Advocate


Still working on that hot first release.



Kool & Together were an obscure R&B act from Victoria, Texas who earned a cult following years after their breakup for their tough, soulful mix of funk grooves and rock guitar. Kool & Together were formed in 1970 by brothers Joe Sanders, Tyrone Sanders, and Charles Sanders, Jr., who were teenagers when their father, a gospel singer, suggested they put together a family band. With their dad singing lead, Charles on guitar, Joe on drums, and Tyrone on percussion, the family became the nucleus of an R&B act, My Children + 2, who played often in Victoria and took frequent road trips to San Antonio. Despite their hard work, My Children + 2 had trouble making headway in the regional music scene, and eventually the elder Sanders quit the group after a dispute over playing gigs on Sunday (he wanted to take a paying gig, his sons disapproved of performing on the Sabbath). With their father out of the act, the Sanders Brothers re-formed the band as Kool & Together, and their approach began to shift; while they also played straightforward soul and funk, Charles had been influenced by the rock bands they shared bills with in San Antonio, and had been checking out albums by the Who and Grand Funk Railroad. As Charles incorporated harder rock figures into his guitar work, Kool & Together's music developed a rough, street-wise edge that blended with the band's funky rhythms. Kool & Together released a handful of singles on their own Magic Records label, some produced by legendary studio hand Huey Meaux, "The Crazy Cajun," but the group never broke out beyond their home base, and by the end of the '70s, they'd called it quits. Decades later, British DJs, always on the lookout for obscure soul sounds, began spinning Kool & Together's 1973 single "Sittin' on a Red Hot Stove," and it became a favorite among fans of overlooked R&B classics. Eventually, the rare Kool & Together sides became a hot commodity among collectors, and in 2011, the reissue label Heavy Light Records licensed the group's studio masters, as well as some unreleased live and demo recordings, and issued the album Original Recordings 1970-1977, the first full-length release from Kool & Together. To celebrate the release, the Sanders Brothers reunited the band for a November 2011 show at Austin's Continental Club.

Band Members