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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

San Angelo Spotlight

T.Gozney Thornton

Sitting on a bench at the old Chicken Farm Art Center T. Gozney Thornton pulls a picture out form his wallet: " I jammed with this guy over the weekend". The man he points to in the photograph is a look alike of the legendary pop country superstar Kenny Rodgers, but it happens to be an old pal of his, Dash Crofts of Seals and Crofts, the 1970s soft rock duo well known for such classics as " Summer Breeze" and "Diamond Girl".  But that's just one of the many friends Thornton has made over the years as a musician.
T. Gozney Thornton ( or T. Goz as his friends refer to him ) is a man with such musical stature that not one local Texas artist can hold a candle to him. It took him 25 years to finish and release his first album. Legends Before the Fall, which later became nomiinated for a Grammy award in 2007. I was lucky enough to sit down with the "legend" himself for an interview.

legends/lobo.jpgSpotlight: The Album you have out now has an interesting story behind it. How does the saga begain?

Thornton: I was living in Austin, TX and I got to be friends with Willie Nelson and his entourage and Willie was just starting out in the early 70's there himself. I got to open a lot of shows for him at the Alliance Wagon Yard. At the time that was one of the three clubs in Austin on 6th street. I would do Monday nights down there and then I was able to open for Willie and a lot of other people who were up and comers in those days that have since come and gone. Willie had just started a record label called Lone Star which was associated with Columbia Records.  He had signed Ray Wylie Hubbard, Cooder Brown, Steve Fromholz and Billy Callery, who he and I wrote songs togather. So, I accepted the offer to record on his label and we went out to Perdenales and recorded all of it ( the album) but also went to Nashvill to recourd some of it. When it was all done, I signed a 5 year contract with a subsidiary of Columbia and they decided they weren't going to release it because they did'nt want Wille to release anymore recordings with any unknowns, because he had done that a bunch just trying to help out his friends. So I ended up having a daughter (Tiana Lee ) and decided that since I had responsibilitys that I should come home and move back to San Angelo and play weekends. The tapes got lost. So a few years ago I thought I'd see if  I could find them and put them out again. I found them at Arlyn studio in a back closet in downtown Austin. I dusted them off, played them back (this is 25 years later) and I had gotten my rights back to the recordings by this time. So I digitalized all of the tracks, went back into the studio and added some parts and tried to modernize it somewhat and recorded a couple of new songs to add to it.

Spotlight: What was your First encounter with Wille Nelson like?
Thornton: I was 22years old, I signed with Shelter Records and I was in Tulsa and Leon Russell let me stay at his house. I was getting ready to go into the studio there in a church and this guy knocks on the door and it was Wille Nelson. I did'nt know him from anybody. He asked if  Leon was home and I told him no and that he had gone to get some barbeque. So Wille gave me a record to give to him and it was Yesterdays Wine. And that was the first time I met Wille. And he was short haired and clean shaven back then.

Spotlight: Who were the up and comers that you used to open for?
Thornton: I used to do Tuesday nights with David Allan Coe. I opened for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band here in San Angelo - 1972 at Angelo State (University). That show was phenomenal! It was held in the old gym that then was the new gym... and now they're tearing it down.

Spotlight: Did you record with Leon Russell?
Thornton: No. Leon owned Shelter Records and signed me to the label. But Leon ended up having to break that deal over a $70,000 check made out by his partner Denny Cordell to someone Leon did'nt know.

Spotlight: How did you form The Old Hat Band?
Thornton: I moved back to San Angelo in 1987 and hooked up with Richard Ramirez. We played as a duo for years and then drummer Manuel Burciega joined us and we became a trio. And of course Joe Dianda who used to play (bass) with Coyote who opened for Little Joe y la Familia and we also have Junior Cortez on the keyboards. And I became influenced by these guys and their tejano styles and of course I'm country so we made up this natural blend of Tex-Mex.

Spotlight: You have been working on a project with Augie Meyers from the Texas Tornados. How is it coming?
Thornton: We have finished a song that is on the Texas Music magazine compilation which features 15 Texas artists on the CD. The song is called "Necesito Nada Mas". It's a Polka. I got the Mariachi Azteca out of San Antonio to play with us on it. What a great time playing with those guys!

Spotlight: You're a really good harmonica player. How did you get started playing  that instrument?
Thornton: I'm self taught. Doak Sneed was playing harmonica and he and I were a duo back in the late 60's and 70's called Tom and Billy. We went to California together and played some college coffee houses. Doak was playing harp behind me,  so I started learning so I could play behind him too.

Spotlight: Did you teach yourself to play guitar too?
Thornton: Yeah, my dad had an old Silvertone guitar and I was about 12 years old and he was trying to learn how to play it and he would tell me not to touch his guitar cause I wasn't old enough. Every time he would leave the house I would go get it and one day he caught me playing it and said, " I give up. You can have it".

Spotlight: You have a stong singing voice. Have you ever had any vocal lessons?
Thornton: My grandmother was a voice teacher and got me singing when I was about three. There's a couple of wire recordings of me singing, but I used to have a real soft voice and I kept working on it to project, so after time, my diaphragm kept growing and growing. People think that I have a pot belly but really this is all diaphragm.

Spotlight: Would you consider yourself to be a veteran of the Texas music scene?
Thornton: Absolutely. I had a kid one time at a show ask me to play some Texas music and I told him,
" Boy... your looking at Texas music".  

Thornton and the Old Hat Band's Legends Before the Fall, is a 12-Track album on Thornton's Old Chivo Records label and is available at Hastings and online at cdbaby.com, cduniverse.com, and iTunes.

For more informantion on T. Gozney Thornton and the Old Hat Band, check out their website at
www.tgozney.com and www.texmexfandango.com

5:05 pm est 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The National Blog of Texas


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It was a Texas Cruise

While most of you were freezing last week, I was walking the beaches of Grand Cayman and swimming in very warm, crystal clear Caribbean waters full of brightly colored fish.  I just thought you wanted to know that.  We had been to Cozumel the previous day and

At Las Palmeras in Cozumel with friends Linda, Shirley, and Phil.

the next day we were in Jamaica which is always warm and sunny.

Of course, today as I write this, the freezing  weather has returned to Texas, but it’s not as bad as it was the week we were in the warm Caribbean.  So I have actually participated in winter here to some extent.  If it makes you feel any better, you might know I spent the first few days back from our cruise fixing bursted water pipes here at Sherwood Ranch.

It was all part of the Tex Mex Fandango cruise and you can see  plenty of photos in the near future at TexMexFandango.com

We sailed out of Galveston on January 30 and spent 7 days on the water.  Sailing with us was T. Gozney Thornton and the Old Hat Band, Augie Meyers of the Texas Tornadoes, and Kenny Daniel of  Kenny and the Kasuals fame.  Also performing was Joe Forlini and Cynthia Jordan.

Two old pro's - T. Gozney Thornton and Augie Meyers

The cruise was coordinated by Texas Cruise Company and there were 105 of us from the Tex Mex Fandango group on board the Royal Caribbean ship Voyager of the Seas.  The band had 3 private performances just for our group and an additional ship wide performance.  The Old Hat Band featuring T.Gozney Thornton wowed the crowd and our group of over 100 turned into twice that many due to party crashers who knew a good thing when they heard it.

T. Gozney Thornton sang his new song “Necesita Nada Mas” which I predict will be a big hit on both the country charts and the Tejano charts.  It’s danceable, singable, and catches the imagination  of everyone who hears it.  It was a crowd favorite.  T. Gozney Thornton is a professional all the way and knows how to put on a great performance every time he sets foot on the stage.

I had a number of opportunities to visit one-on-one with Augie Meyers and he is

Augie Meyers and David Werst

one of the all time legendary greats of the music world.  From his time with Doug Sahm and the Sir Douglas Quintet, to the great Texas Tornadoes, Augie Meyers is a living legend.  He took command of the stage and belted out hit song after hit song including “Hey baby, Que Paso!“  and “Who were you thinking of, when we were making love“.  Augie told me some of the stories of the times with Doug Sahm and Flaco Jiminez and a short story about his famous Vox Continental that made the sound that made the Texas Tornadoes famous.  He is one of the most humble and unassuming music stars you would ever want to meet.  He and his wife Sara made a lot of new friends and a lot of new fans on the cruise.

Kenny Daniel played his unique brand of rock and roll and middle age go-go girls (who were a part of our cruise bunch)  danced together on the cruise ship dance floor like teenagers.  Back in the day, Kenny Daniel and his band Kenny and the Kasuals were the top teen band in North Texas and opened for some pretty famous acts.

Cindy Jordan, the fantastic lady who wrote the #1 hit song “Jose Cuervo, You are a Friend of Mine” sang her song on the Tex Mex

Joe Forlini, T. Gozney Thornton, Cindy Jordan, Pam Thornton, Tiana Thornton

Fandango Cruise and she also was asked to sing at several of the other venues on the ship.  She is a musical talent in many different ways and was a real high spot on the cruise for so many of her fans.  Her song, “If Texas Was a Woman,” just blew us all away.  She sings, she composes, she plays musical instruments, she writes #1 hit songs, and she is a heck of a nice person.

Guitar virtuoso Joe Forlini was a workhorse on the cruise  with his lead guitar.  His renditions of Stevie  Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy” were amazing and the crowd sang along to Forlini’s version of Delbert McClinton’s “Every Time I Roll The Dice.”

There were also impromptu  jam sessions where anyone could join in and several cruisers took advantage of the sessions and jammed along with the featured performers.  James  Archer performed several songs right along with T. Gozney Thornton, Joe Forlini, Tiana Thornton, Kenny Daniel, Cindy Jordan, Johnathin Schaab and some of the ship’s regular performers who joined in.

How can you join in on all this  fun?  Simply join us on next year’s Tex-Mex Fandango Blues Music Cruise IV.  It’s a new ship, new itinerary, and some of the same great music along with some Texas Blues Music with Jeff Strahan.  It’s going to be a Real Texas tradition that you can be a part of.  Drop me a note if you want more information.

We drank margaritas and whiled away an afternoon at Las Palmeras in Cozumel.  We swam and para-sailed in Grand Cayman, and visited Dunne’s River Falls and Croydon Plantation in Jamaica.

Next year the destinations are Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico.  Yes, you and your friends can join us.  It’s gonna be a Real Texas Cruise party.

My dog Bowie

The only bad part?  Yes, you guessed it.  After being gone for 7 days of cruising, fun and making merry and 2 additional days before the cruise……I really missed my dog.  It’s a Real Texas thang, y’all.

I’m David out in Real Texas

P.S.  My dog was really glad to see me

1:07 pm est 

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Grammy-Nominated T. Gozney Thornton Comes Home to Del Rio Saturday

February 29, 2008
By Joe Hyde

T. Gozney  Thornton  and the Old Hat Band perform at The Herald starting at 8 p.m. Saturday, Mar. 1.

Mild-mannered and humble, T. Gozney Thornton, who attended middle school and high school in Del Rio, finds solace on his ranch along Dove Creek near San Angelo. He’s running cattle and goats. He even has a llama. “This is where I come to find peace and inspiration every afternoon,” Thornton, now in his mid-50s, says. But Thornton’s roller coaster ride to his present life started when he detoured off the Texas music scene—when he had been in his musical prime—to find business success in telecommunications towers, and to raise his growing family.

Now Thornton is “semi-retired.” His youngest, daughter Tiana, is graduating from Texas Tech next year. And he is diving back into his love of music and finding success.

The Texas country music scene is in its second or third generation today. Bands ride the circuit, self-sustained at lots of local venues and through a growing local fan base. Before the current movement, there was an earlier one in the ‘70s and ‘80s, to which today’s younger crop pays its respects. It was the heyday for Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, David Alan Coe, Billy Callery, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Jerry Jeff Walker. It was when the PBS show “Austin City Limits” was started, and the song “Luckenbach, Texas” was charting number one for months.

Thornton was in the middle of the earlier Texas music scene. He applied all of his energy and talent into breaking into the business back then. He was well on his way, too. He claims to have toured 200 shows per year. He opened for Willie Nelson, and George Strait opened for him. He was living the dream, on the fast track to certain stardom with his guitar, his music, and his band. He was living the Austin music scene before Austin really had a music scene like it does today.

But his future wife’s grandmother foreshadowed Thornton’s musical path in 1982. Ms. Kathleen Yellott, known simply as “mom” in the family, was a fortuneteller—a curandera. She told young Thornton that success in music was going to elude him, at least this time around.

“When we first met she said, ‘You’re a musician aren’t you?’ I asked how she knew. She said, ‘Sit down, I’m going to look into your future.’ I did, and she did. And then she gave me some news I didn’t want to hear. She told me that I was going to make it in the music business, but not until a quarter of a century had passed.

“There I was getting all these great gigs and playing with some of the finest musicians in the world. I had the world by the tail!” Thornton says.

In 1982, Thornton secured a recording deal with Willie Nelson’s label, through an introduction by Billy Callery (Callery wrote the famous Willie tune, “Hands on the Wheel”). After meeting Willie in his driveway at what Thornton calls “Willie Land”—the Pedernales estate where Nelson maintained a studio—Thornton was recording his first album. Thornton also married his lovely wife Pam that year, who at the time was only 24.

Thornton continued to tour, make good money, and play fantastic gigs. He performed at the annual Willie Nelson picnics; Farm Aid; sang the state song at Texas Governor Mark White’s Governor’s Ball. He cut a track on the Texas Sesquicentennial album. But none of these accomplishments put the musician in the realm of those country singers who make fortunes on music royalties. The album he cut at Willie’s studio in 1982 remained “in the can,” untouched. Without a recording contract, Thornton was a slave to the road to bring home good money for his growing family.

Thornton’s 12-year-old son Eric (from an earlier marriage) had come home to live with him just after he married Pam. “We just loved hearing the gossip,” Pam says today. “People would see us together and when I would tell them I was 24, you’d see them doing the math. They’d ask, ‘Is that really your son?’” In 1985, the Thorntons welcomed a daughter, Tiana, into the family.

By 1987, nothing was happening with the album Thornton had cut in ‘82. “With a teenaged son in need of a dad and a newborn baby girl in tow, I decided it was time to leave this crazy life on the road and head home to West Texas to help my wife raise our children,” Thornton says.

The family moved to San Angelo where Thornton quickly found he wasn’t prepared to earn a living outside of music. “I’d made pretty good money playing, and all of a sudden I found myself with no job, no skills other than musical, and no prospects,” Thornton recalls. He hocked his instruments and equipment to pay the rent on a small house in the barrio in San Angelo until he found a job as a plumber’s apprentice. “Let me tell you! Digging a 60-foot trench with a pick and shovel seemed a long, long way from playing before 40,000 screaming fans at Willie’s Picnic!” Thornton says.

The Andersons, family friends and owners of Texas Towers, hired Thornton to be their office manager. The wages were meager, but Thornton says he convinced the Andersons to let him sell. He made $18,000 during his first year, then doubled and tripled it in subsequent years.

The tower business was in its infancy when Thornton started. At first there were only pagers and two-way radios. But soon, cellular telephone companies were building their networks, and needed more towers and rented space. Thornton accepted a vice president position with legendary communications entrepreneur Blackstone Dillworth, who built the infrastructure for much of the cellular service in Texas, including the original Sprint PCS cellular network. With knowledge and contacts obtained in the tower business, Thornton founded his own tower company. He has since sold the company, but he still owns and leases towers all over the Southwest.

“Now that I am semi-retired, it’s time to get back to the music,” Thornton says with a smile.

The first step was to close the chapter on the album he recorded in Willie Nelson’s studio in 1982. But the tapes were long gone, or so Thornton thought. A friend helped him find the original tapes at Arlyn Studio, located in the old Austin Opry House. But the tapes were in poor shape. After the 3M technology company sent a machine to Austin that would re-bake the tapes, Thornton took them to Fredericksburg’s Loma Ranch Studio (“One of the only places in the country that still had a Studer tape machine,” Thornton says) and converted the recordings to digital. “Lo and behold, the quality was still there!” Thornton says.

The recordings were re-mastered, and old and new friends joined Thornton to add tracks: Joe Forlini, Thornton’s original guitar player, added new guitar work. Johnny Gimble added the fiddle to some of the tracks. And Paulene Reese agreed to add her voice to some of the duets on the album. “She was two years old when we recorded the original song,” Thornton muses.

The finished product, 26 years in the making, is “Legends Before the Fall.” It is the original 1982 album, with many of the original tracks that were laid in the 1982 recording sessions. Thornton added some new songs and calls it his musical odyssey. It is his way of letting the world know he is back.

And back he is. The album earned a Grammy nomination this year.

“Getting back into the music business is a lot easier when you have money,” Thornton says. But it also takes talent. Thornton has a great voice. “I guess I got it singing with my grandmother since I was three years old,” he says. “She was a voice teacher. I actually have some recordings of me singing with her.”

On “Legends Before the Fall,” there are recurring themes about Thornton’s life and love. Thornton explains some of his songs:

Es Tu Vida”—“It’s your life. And it’s a story of my life. It’s been a roller coaster ride. It’s been real high. Thought I had it made in the music business. I signed with Willie Nelson. [It was] every kid’s dream! And then got the rug pulled out from under me because they weren’t going to release my album. And I came here [to San Angelo], started working as a plumber’s helper first, started from the ground up, and had to hock all my stuff. I’ve [since] built my life back up [where I] have something to be proud of. It could end in a moment’s notice; with droughts, the tower business could crumble into another 9/11. It’s a roller coaster ride.”

“It’s Too Late”—“It’s about a girl I had been living with for several years, and I called her up from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, from an old cowboy bar we had been playing up there, and she told me she had moved everything out of the house and moved in with another man. ‘It’s too late, the magic is all gone,’ she said. The song was written before I met Pam. I wrote it a long time ago.”

“True Loving Ladies”—“Just my concept of women, I guess. True loving ladies don’t come free. You have to pay for them one way or the other.”

“Best Part of Lovin’”—“A new song I wrote for my wife, Pam. It’s a fairly new song.”

“Legends before the Fall”—“Another story about people out on the road trying to make it after 20 years. [They’re] banging their heads up against the wall in those bars, and just chasing that big brass ring. But it’s just out of reach. And they’ve made it, and they were legends, and then the rug was pulled out from under them. In Legends, the guy is talking to a curandera, and she says, ‘When you get older, you’re going to make it.’ And that’s what I believe about my own life.”

“Strawberry Stallion”—“This is a song about a rodeo cowboy who was in love with this girl, and she followed him all over the country while he was rodeoing. She had her own strawberry-colored stallion. And then he woke up one morning and the strawberry stallion was gone, [and] so was the girl. And the cowboy surmises the stallion and the girl are somewhere in Louisiana now, by an antebellum home, with the stallion standing out in the pasture. She got tired of chasing after him. And that’s happened to so many musicians: The girl falls in love with him, but then he’s on the road all the time . . . so it means something to me, too. I lost several girlfriends that way.”

“Dream”—“Guy and I wrote that song on a ranch in South Texas. We wrote it about a girl leaving… Well, it’s another love song.”

What’s Next?

Thornton is working on a compilation album to be recorded inside the Alamo in San Antonio. “K.R. Wood and Ron Chancey and I are working a deal to go into the Alamo to record and document it on film as well, inside the hallowed Alamo,” Thornton says. “We’re going to use Davy Crockett’s fiddle. We’re going in with George Strait, the Oak Ridge Boys, and we’re talking to Natalie Maines and the Dixie Chicks.

“I’m looking to make it in music. I know I am not a young stud anymore, I am not going to make it in that niche, but I can still make it on the ‘cracker barrel’ scene,” Thornton says.

9:02 am est 

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


T. Gozney Thornton and The Old Hat Band
Old Chivo Records

In a magazine that will go unnamed I saw a name I hadn't seen or heard in alomost twenty years - T. Gozney Thornton.  It was great to know that an old running mate was still alive and in musical action.  T. Gozney, as we used to call him back in the old days, was an Americana original about two decades before there was such a thing and an Austin fixture among the Waylon and Willie bunch.  "Legends Before The Fall" contains 12 songs, most by T, and spans over twenty years of recordings - from 1984 through early 2007.  The CD is a journal of T's journey through music and life and each song is obviously heartfelt.  This walk down memory lane also brings other familiar faces into the mix.  Old friends like Joe Forlini and Stephen Bruton add great guitar parts and other session notables include Jophnny Gimble on fiddle, the recently departed David Zentner on steel guitar and a host of others make this songwriter's CD a special additon to any collection.
Reviewed by: Greg Forest 
4:44 pm est 

Sunday, December 2, 2007

RadioIndy Review
RadioIndy Review of your "Legends Before The Fall" CD
“Legends Before The Fall” by T Gozney Thornton is a refreshing collection of blues-flavored and contemporary country tunes. Thornton’s warm and welcoming vocal tone compliments these tunes perfectly. “True Lovin’ Lady” departs from the usual mid-tempo blues/contemporary country sound to a more upbeat folk vibe, utilizing some impressive piano and fiddle work. “Dream Away” delivers a compelling orchestra section. Lyrically, Thornton ventures into deep themes of love, life, and pain. What’s more, quality production brings “Legends Before The Fall” to a pleasant wrap.
-Xavier P. and RadioIndy.com
Check out T Gozney Thornton's music on RadioIndy.com with link to purchase and links to popular sites
7:33 pm est 

2011.03.01 | 2011.02.01 | 2008.03.01 | 2008.01.01 | 2007.12.01 | 2007.11.01

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Tiana Lee Thornton
"The Curandera"
and her friend



Pauline & T.
"It's Never" Too Late

The Old Hat Band 
with friends
Flaco & Augie 


Johnny Gimble 
at work



T. Gozney Thornton

Billy C., Willie & T


T, Willie & Richard


Stephen Mendell & T


Stephen Mendell & T
"Still Working - 2006"


Twenty Five Years
And Still "Cooking"

T.Gozney with The Old Hat Band