Category Archives: Special Shows

Breast Cancer Awareness Show

Please join me and the fellas from Runaway Sun for our first Breast Cancer Awareness Concert at Avant Garden!  All proceeds will benefit the Sara Sullivan Foundation.  For more information on Sara Sullivan, visit

She was a very giving person, and we hope to honor this sense of giving with our concert.

See you there!



Avant Garden

411 Westheimer

Houston, TX 77006



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A Conversation with Jandek, “Sterling Smith”

Andrew and Jandek

The following post conveys all of the ideas I can recall from my half-hour conversation with Jandek at Block 7 Wine Co. on Nov 8th 2009. Photo by Monica Danna


“How did you like playing at Diverseworks?”

 The gaunt man dressed in business casual on the patron side of the bar gave me, waiter, a curious look over.  He looked me in the eye and saw the question he had heard.  He looked down, laughed, and raised his beer to me.  “I never would have thought-”

 I smiled.  I was right.  The man sitting in front of me was Jandek.

 “It’s nice.  Tiered seating.  120 people.”

 “I’m thinking of doing a show there,” I said.  “I like the idea of doing shows in a theater like that- the audience would be quieter, you can control the environment a little more.  Good for acoustic/strings music.”

 “Yes, people listen.”

 “You did that show at Rudyard’s too.”

 “Those are the only two places I’ll play in Houston- Rudyard’s and Diverseworks.”

 I told him about my plans for the solo album – cello, violin, upright bass, mandolin, violin, banjo, percussion, acoustic guitar

 “ Where are you recording?”

“At SugarHill.  Have you recorded there?  I know that Dan Workman played with you at the Diverseworks show.”

“I haven’t recorded there, but I’ve mixed a lot of albums there with Andy Bradley, worked with him back when he was at ACA too.  Those are big arrangements you’re working on.”

 “Yeah it’s driving me crazy but I think it will sound great in the end.  Taking some time, though.  I got this job to help pay for it along with my other job in the med center.”

 “What do you do in the med center?”

 “I’m a research assistant.”

 “That’s good.”

 “I feel like I have three different lives, though- here, there, and music.”

 “It’s okay to have many lives.  It’s good.  I’ve always had a few myself.”

 “Do you like writing with other musicians in the room or writing alone?”

 “The second.  Alone.”

 “That’s how I am too.  I’m really open to writing collectively with the band, but I get most ideas when I’m on my own and then bring them to practice.  How many albums have you recorded?”

 “Sixty one.”

 “Sixty one albums.  How many songs per album?”

 “Ten, on average.”

 “I’ve written seventy five or so songs, but this solo album will only be my second full-length release.”

 “Seventy five?  That’s good.”

 “Thank you.  I don’t know where they come from, I just know that I can write them, and the ideas keep coming.  Sometimes I won’t write for a few months, but then I’ll get a bunch of ideas at once and end up with four or five in a week, and on and on.  I trust the process though and I’m okay with not knowing why or when I can do it.  Is that how it is for you?”

 “It’s a gift.  Songs just blow up. ” (big hand motion)

 “They do.  And it never gets dull.” 

 “It only gets dull if you’re bored.”

 “I’m never bored.”

 “What’s your name?”

 “Andrew Karnavas.”

 “Andrew, Sterling.” He extended his hand, and I shook it.  We have equally gigantic, awkward hands.

 “Do you play piano?” I asked.

 “Recently I practiced piano, ten sessions straight, one hour each.”

 “I’ve been trying to learn but have trouble with my left hand.  I broke my pinkie and ring finger in the past and they give me trouble.”

 “That’s NO excuse.  You can do anything you want.  There’s only trouble because YOU MAKE IT TROUBLE.”

 “I guess you’re right.   It’s a mental thing.”

 “DON’T THINK, just play.  So you broke two fingers?  So WHAT?  Then you have a way of playing that is unique to YOU.”

 “That’s an even better way to put it.”

 “I recorded with a guitar player who worked at a pressing plant.  He had all of his fingers on his picking hand except for his thumb and index finger sliced off in a pressing machine, and he was INCREDIBLE at guitar, an AMAZING player.”  Jandek was leaning toward me over the bar counter. “YOU CAN  DO ANYTHING YOU WANT.  Fuck the world.”

 I laughed at his intensity because it hit close to home, then said,“I get what you mean, there are no limits.  I need to practice more though.”

 “Practice is stupid.  Well, not stupid, it has its place.  I’m more of an off-the-cuff kind of guy.”

 “What about touring?  Where do you like to go in the US?  I’m about to go on tour with my band Runaway Sun in February.”

 “Where?  The South?  Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia…”

 “Yes, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.”

 “You going to Mobile?”

 “We were planning on it, yes.”

 “I like Mobile.  It’s a great town.  Beautiful place.”

 “Any venues you recommend there?”

 He shrugged his shoulders.

 “Just go there.”

 “Do you have any shows coming up?”

 “Baltimore this month.  I’m playing in Lisbon January 23rd.”

 “My birthday is January 21st, need an opener?”

 He laughed, but never answered my question.   Monica talked to him for a much longer period of time, but wow, plenty of  lessons/validated convictions in this conversation:

 1)      There are no rules.  You can play any instrument any way you want.  You can do anything you want.

2)      Songwriting is out of our control.  The songs will show up whenever they want, just keep the door open.

3)      I’m off to a good start, and yes, the musical arrangements I’m working out for the solo should be driving me nuts.

4)      It’s okay to have other lives.  Don’t let the dayjobs/any awkward fitting hats you wear get you down or ever stop you from making music.

5)      I’m not the only one with creepy spider fingers.

 Sweet relief.  To talk to a man who has spent a lifetime writing music, has had many lives, and to hear that it’s okay.  It’s one thing to get the okay from people who don’t write music because we musicians can play the “you’re not a musician, you don’t understand” card, but we all know that’s not true.  Non-musicians have other things they spend a lifetime doing that matter to them as much as music to a musician.  But as a musician,  to hear it from a guy in his sixties who has written sixty one albums (with number sixty two on the way) and performed all over the world, it’s like getting a sneak peek at the deep end and realizing that not only is it endless, but it’s a place of benevolence.  Discouragement doesn’t exist!  There is a beautiful struggle, but no need for discouragement.  Will I write 61 albums worth of music in my lifetime?  Who knows.  What I do know is that we write songs because we enjoy writing them and we can’t help but do it, and while we’re in the neighborhood, we do our best to make them sound their best, with all the instruments they need (or don’t need).

 And so I ask you, what do you love to do?  Do you do it every day?  You should. 

Many lives and many dreams,



For more on Jandek, visit:


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Solo Album Session 2 at SugarHill Studios

After a sold out album release party with Runaway Sun at The Continental Club in Houston (, with The Bridge LP in the can and our new web site almost ready for launch/tour plans under way, I found some time to make my way back home to SugarHill Studios for my second solo album recording session.

My first session and the Runaway Sun sessions were done in Studio A, but for my second session I opted for Studio B.  Every room in the recording studio has a different feel, and Studio B felt right for what we were getting into, namely songs that will be strictly acoustic and vocals.
Chris Longwood is once again the engineer, he did such a great job with the Runaway Sun album and half the fun of recording the solo project is that I’m playing songs he hasn’t heard before.  Gina Miller, friend and marketing director for SugarHill, also sat in on the session and took these photos.
I record at a really fast pace.  My rules for the studio are:
1) Go in prepared (well practiced, set list written out with notes)
2) Be honest (if there is anything about the take that doesn’t feel right as it’s happening, stop, start over)
3) Be bold (try new things at the risk of ruining a take) 
4) Wear comfy clothes that don’t make a lot of noise
In the first session, I recorded sixteen guitar/vocal tracks in six hours, and this second one I did ten guitar/vocal tracks in four hours.  I’m now at the point where I have the takes I want for the guitar and vocals, and we’re ready to proceed with recording the other instruments.  There are ten songs with a range of instrumentation – cello, violin, upright bass, mandolin, banjo, pedal steel, and drums/percussion, and a bunch of songs that are only acoustic guitar/vocals. 

Vocal takes. I love this microphone.

 For more information on SugarHill Studios, visit

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I met Jack White today.

Sunday, October 4th 2009.  Austin, TX

We were looking for Mucinex and shoes.  

My sister had a cold, or allergies, or whatever causes the need for Mucinex.  CVS looked promising, so we stopped.  She also wanted a pair of shoes, something that would survive the mud pit known as Zilker Park, host of the ACL Music Festival.  CVS didn’t have any shoes (no knock-off Crocs).

“I’m going to Buffalo Exchange across the street to find shoes.  I didn’t want to wear knock-off Crocs anyway.

 Rather than watch my sister agonize over shoes, I headed two stores down into Antone’s Records.  

I walked in, no one else in the store besides the clerk, and some old blues record was playing, and it reminded me of this part in “It Might Get Loud” where Jack White talks about his favorite song, this old blues song by Son House, a song about a man in a world of pain. I thought Jack White would like Antone’s.

The first thing I do in any record store is head to the Neil Young section.  Finally, I found Harvest.

“We don’t have these very long,” the clerk said, a girl my age.

I walked out.  Then it happened.

 His back was turned to me, but the scarecrow black hair, the long-sleeved black shirt, and the rest of The Dead Weather standing around a big white van in the parking lot were enough clues for me to conclude that the man in front of me was…

Jack White.

He turned around and looked right at me on his way into the store.

“I’m really looking forward to your set today,” I said.

“Thanks.” (Jack White pauses, extends hand, I shake it)

“And the movie was really good.”

(Jack White raises his eyebrows, smiles and walks through the door)

The door closed, and I walked over to Buffalo Exchange to find my sister was at the front of a long line with a nice pair of shoes.  I didn’t notice the shoes at the time, I just walked up and said, “I just met Jack White over at Antone’s.”


“I met Jack White today” was a phrase I uttered once every half hour or so for the rest of the day.  Watching The Dead Weather perform five hours later, I thought, “there’s Jack White, and I met him today.”  

I stood in the crowd, and people all around me talked about how talented he was.  

“I met him today.  He’s a nice guy.”

I didn’t get a picture with him or run back in the store and buy a Dead Weather album and ask the band for autographs.  I didn’t ask Jack White for recommendations in the blues section, and no,  I didn’t give him a Runaway Sun sticker or invite him to our album release party- which is this Saturday, by the way, at


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Home Away From Home: Live From SugarHill

The Most Comfortable Couch in the World

The Most Comfortable Couch in the World

When you walk into SugarHill Studios, it’s like stepping into history.  It’s a very unassuming, worn building on the outside.  You walk in, and there are plaques and photos everywhere of all the musicians who have come in and passed the time recording their songs, and yet it doesn’t feel like a business, it feels like a home, a home with parents proud of their children.  This is an amazing feeling for any musician.  As a songwriter, much of my time is spent writing at home with the door closed, so I miss out on plenty of events or hanging out with friends, and for the most part, I’m fine with that.  It’s part of writing music.

Studio A Control Room, Chris Longwood at the healm

Studio A Control Room, Chris Longwood at the helm

The thing is, when it comes time to record and I get to do this at a place like SugarHill, there’s all this time I get to spend with this music family that cares about the songs I’m writing as much as I do.  We’re happy to see each other and we work together to create an album of carefully crafted recordings.  I didn’t expect this kind of relationship before I recorded there, and I think that’s because of how much overproduced music there is on the radio these days, music created in high profile studios that sounds like no one really cares about it.  It’s a relief to know that SugarHill’s got soul; that they care about me and the songs I’m singing.  That kind of support shines through in the recordings, and for any musician out there not feeling that with their own recordings, I suggest you find a new studio.  

One big, happy family

One big, happy family

When I got invited to perform this month on Live From SugarHill Episode 6 hosted by Dan Workman and Rosa Guerrero, produced by Gina Miller, engineered by Chris Longwood and filmed by Zen Film, I thought, wow, now we’re sharing this process we love with everyone: with my friends and my family, with fans and with total strangers!  This is about as real as it gets, and yes, we normally do have this much fun.

Tune into Live From SugarHill Episode 6 here:

Live From SugarHill

Also in this episode, make sure you check out The Freddy Steady 5, an incredibly talented 60’s garage rock band fronted by Freddy Krc and co-starring Dangerous Dana, the go-go dancer!  I went to their show at The Continental Club that night after the taping (couldn’t get enough) and had a great time.  Freddy is a really great guy, just happy to be playing music, and I’m glad I got to meet him. 

*****Don’t forget to vote for Runaway Sun as “Best Blues Group” in this year’s Houston Press Awards (question #23, you don’t have to fill out the rest of it if you don’t have time):


Shows — July 25th – Warehouse Live — I’m opening for Back Door Slam

                  July 26th – Houston Press Music Awards — Runaway Sun at the Flying Saucer, 6pm

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Andrew Karnavas, Live From SugarHill, July 2nd

Live From SugarHill

(For easy access to the podcast, click on the above image)



Episode six features Andrew Karnavas and The Freddie Steady 5

 (HOUSTON, TX) June 25, 2009 – Live From SugarHill’s July episode will feature solo artist Andrew Karnavas and 60s garage rock legends The Freddie Steady 5. The hour-long program includes short sets by each guest and candid interviews with Rosa Guerrero (KTRU’s Mutant Hardcore show) and award-winning record producer, Dan Workman. Community guest and ‘audience of one’ for Episode VI is Chris Gray, music editor for The Houston Press, a weekly publication with almost 645,000 readers and more than 2 million online hits each month. Live from SugarHill, Episode VI airs on July 2, 2009 at 7p.m. CST. This episode also brings in a new webhost and audio stream partner, OutboundMusic.

WHAT: Live From SugarHill Episode VI featuring Andrew Karnavas and The Freddie Steady 5

WHEN: Thursday, July 2, 2009 7p.m. to 8p.m. CST. Visit
MORE: For more information contact Gina Miller at 713.926.4431 ext. 1102 or 713.858.8883

For more on Andrew Karnavas visit:

For more on The Freddie Steady 5 visit:

For more on Zenfilm visit:

For more on Outbound Music visit:

About SugarHill Recording Studios
The oldest continually operating recording studio in Texas is nestled in a southeast Houston neighborhood that over time has been home to legendary producers, record labels, and artists who’ve produced some of the most historically important and widely recognized musical recordings. Beginning the legacy in 1946, musician Harry Choates, with producer Bill Quinn, laid tracks for the Cajun classic “Jole Blon” for Gold Star Records. Blues icon Lightnin’ Hopkins recorded soon thereafter. In the 1950’s the studio hosted Pappy Dailey’s D label, George Jones cut “Why Baby Why?” and the Big Bopper recorded “Chantilly Lace.” Willie Nelson, Bobby Bland and Arnett Cobb recorded sessions. In 1960s, the Sir Douglas Quintet tracked “She’s About a Mover.” The mid-1970s introduced Crazy Cajun producer Huey P. Meaux and his work with Freddy Fender and Clifton Chenier. Since the 1980s, SugarHill has hosted Tejano artist Little Joe, country great Johnny Bush, and urban powerhouse Beyoncé.

Zenfilm is a nationally recognized film production company and HD post boutique based in Houston, TX. The creation of long time producer/director team Merideth Melville and W. Ross Wells, Zen has experienced exponential growth and received numerous awards since founding in 2005. Zen works with agencies and record labels to create national TV commercials, music videos and viral media. They also develop and maintain sustainable social marketing initiatives.

Founded in 2001, is an Internet radio and music retailer whose goal is to promote music produced by independent recording artists. They currently promote nearly 700 artists, both Texas based acts and many international talents.

The partnership between Zenfilm, Outbound Music and SugarHill Recording Studios launched its first episode in 2008. Since then, it’s received over 3,500 unique views. The show is free and listeners can login at It will be available on it’s
Vimeo channel at on July 4 or subscribe to the free video podcast on iTunes at

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6.12.09 — The Listening Room (with The Spring Standards)

Spring Standards

The Listening Room has invited me to open for The Spring Standards!  Bob Schneider and Ian Moore have both played here, so I’m excited to be following in their footsteps.  The Spring Standards are an excellent band from New York City known for their CSN-like harmonies.  This show will also be recorded live, so don’t miss your chance to be there, it will be a unique music experience.

Click on the flyer to purchase tickets online, or you can visit Cactus Music in person.

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House Concert!! 4-25-09

I am one of the fortunate few to perform at the well-reputed Lucy Nell Andrews House Concert Series.  Folk acts such as Shake Russell and Dana Cooper have performed here in the past, and I’m honored to have received the invitation to play here. The show begins at 8pm. I will play two sets, with an intermission for drinks and snacks.  I’ll also be sharing some stories behind the songs and it’ll be a place where you can ask me questions too.  When I saw Dana Cooper play, I had to know, “What kind of harmonicas do you use?”  Now I now.  Hohner Special 20’s.
 There is no web site for this venue. For ticket information and directions ($12 in advance, $15 Day of Show), contact Lucy Nell Andrews at  (713) 465-9677.  
Hope to see you there.  I’ve been eager to play this show for months.
photo by Javits Rajendran:

photo by Javits Rajendran:

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“Stranger” sells 100,000 in March

I was hoping this would happen, but I never expected it to happen the first time out. 

The Man

Thank you to the 100,000 people, mostly in the UK and Japan, who bought “Stranger” in March.  I just can’t believe it- one day you sit down and write a song, a few months later you record it and have it mastered, then a few months after that you release it on iTunes and market the everloving _ _ _ _ out of it, you check your email and a statement for $70,000  is staring you right in the face?  God bless the internet.

$70,000 will allow me to finish the solo LP, the band’s LP, book and properly market a tour, and buy a nice van for us to use.  What am I saying, we can hire a manager to book the tour!  We can fly to shows!

I’m going to need some help with booking in Japan and the UK, mostly with Japan.  Please comment with any serious insights on how we should go about doing this and where we should consider playing.

To find Stranger on iTunes:


Thanks everyone, I’ll see you around! 


photo by Javits Rajendran, taken at House of Blues Houston :


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“Put the seat down after your interview, please.”

When JR Cohen of The Coffee Groundz and Geri Druckman asked to interview me, I said yes.  JR’s a great guy and the coffee is the best cup you can find in Houston. They also serve a fine assortment of beers like Chimay Red, which was what I needed once he suggested the location of the interview.  I’m really not sure if this was legal, but the acoustics were great:

Thanks JR and Geri.  I think this interview will score some points with ALL the ladies.  Well, maybe not the cleaning ladies.


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