Joe Ely's daughter and a German opera conductor are both part of his 'Flatland Lullaby'

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The short version of how “Flatland Lullaby,” the Oct. 21 release from longtime Austin musician Joe Ely, came into existence is that it was a Christmas gift for his young daughter Marie in 1984. But the long version reveals a far more interesting story.

“It's really about three different records,” Ely explains. “One part of it was Lubbock, one part of it was Austin, one part of it was Germany.” In addition, the album’s origin and endpoint stretch both well before and after the mid-1980s holiday gift that galvanized the project.

First let’s tackle the overseas part. More than 50 years ago, Ely met the renowned German opera conductor Eberhard Schoener while on tour playing guitar with a theater troupe from the University of Texas. Schoener was experimenting with synthesizers on an album he was making for his young son, and he recruited Ely’s assistance. “Milkmaid,” the opening track on “Flatland Lullaby,” dates from that period.

More songs appeared over the ensuing decades that Ely found to be good fits for the children’s-music theme of the title track, which Ely co-wrote with his longtime friend and Flatlanders bandmate Butch Hancock.

More:'The songs we grew up on': A conversation with the Flatlanders about their 2021 album

“‘Over the Water’ I wrote about 10 years ago,” he says. “‘Rock My Baby to Sleep’ was from about 40 years ago. And ‘Wake Up Sunshine’ was written probably in the ’90s.” And two songs trace back to his years in Lubbock, where he was raised before moving to Austin in the mid-1970s, shortly after that fateful journey to Germany.

“‘The Cats and the Rats’ was done when the Flatlanders all lived on 14th Street in Lubbock” in the early 1970s, he notes. Another song, “The Gypsy Lady,” incorporated lyrics from Flatlanders member Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s then-grade-school-aged daughter, Elyse.

Another track dating to that 1980s Christmas-present period is “Old Mr. Ghost,” which concludes with a chorus of children’s voices featuring “some of the kids that lived in the neighborhood,” he says. "We just gathered a few people up and made a little scream-along. That one is being released as a single, since Halloween is coming up.”

But before we proceed to Halloween tricks, Ely will receive a special treat when he’s inducted into the "Austin City Limits" Hall of Fame on Thursday at ACL Live, along with singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow.

“That took me by surprise,” Ely said of the induction, which honors his many appearances on the iconic PBS television program over the decades. They’ve included five half-hour segments with his own band, the first of which aired in 1980, as well as special hourlong episodes from the Flatlanders, Los Super Seven and a songwriters-circle show with Guy Clark, Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt.

“I didn't realize it was that much that I had done on ‘Austin City Limits,’” Ely said, “but we've had a great relationship for many, many years.” Gilmore and Hancock will perform with Ely as part of the event, with Marcia Ball and Rodney Crowell also on board to pay tribute. Ely’s induction speech will be given by renowned author Lawrence Wright.

Related:How Austin’s Lawrence Wright predicted this pandemic in his latest work of fiction

One friend who almost certainly would have participated if he were still around is Joe Strummer, the legendary frontman for British punk band the Clash, with whom Ely famously toured in the early 1980s. Strummer died of a heart attack in 2002.

“Boy, that would have really topped it off,” Ely said about the wishful thought of Strummer taking part. “Although he wasn’t born in Texas, he had a great mentality of what Texas was about. He was a real fan of all the old cowboy books and movies that are connected with it. But maybe we'll see him in another life.”

More new Austin music

Here’s a look at other local records released in October.

Dayglow, 'People in Motion'

The 2020s may so far be the Decade of the Pandemic for most of us, but that hasn’t stopped Sloan Struble from bending the times to his own will. The 23-year-old songwriter launched his indie-pop project Dayglow from a University of Texas dorm room in 2017, but his career really took off with 2021’s “Harmony House” album, which produced the hit single/video “Close to You” and scored him an “Austin City Limits” TV taping.

Dayglow made its second Austin City Limits Music Festival appearance last year, and Struble got married. Now comes “People in Motion,” released Oct. 7 on Struble’s own Very Nice Records label. Though Struble is increasingly treating his concerts as full-band experiences, in the studio he continues to work on his own: He wrote, produced and performed everything you hear on these 10 tracks.

More:Austin's Dayglow on '80s sitcoms, Mr. Rogers and making music that uplifts people

Press materials accompanying the album suggest that Dayglow’s new album “continues Struble’s joyous quest to create music that makes people feel good,” and we’ll buy into that assessment. Instantly catchy fare such as “Radio,” “Deep End” and “Someone Else” underscore Struble’s divining-rod sense of pure pop for now people (with apologies to Nick Lowe).

Dayglow is on an extensive nationwide tour, and Struble will bring the band back to Austin for a two-night stand at Stubb’s Dec. 2-3.

Here’s the track “Radio”:

Randy Rogers Band, 'Homecoming'

A top act on the Texas country roadhouse circuit for two decades, singer-songwriter Rogers and his five-piece group from San Marcos enlisted ace Nashville songwriter Radney Foster to produce their ninth studio album. Released Oct. 14 on Thirty Tigers, “Homecoming” was recorded at Austin’s Cedar Creek and Louisiana’s Dockside studios. Its 11 richly melodic songs feature co-writes with Foster, Jon Randall, Parker McCollum, Jack Ingram and others.

Here’s the opening track, “I Won’t Give Up”:

Churchwood, '6: The Boule Oui'

Six albums into a surprisingly productive run, Churchwood has now proven to be far more than a late-career project from these longtime members of the Austin music community. Old-timers like me may still think of Joe Doerr and Bill Anderson as those guys from Hand of Glory, or from their collective tenures in bands such as the LeRoi Brothers, the Meat Purveyors and Poison 13. But with “The Boule Oui,” released Oct. 7, it may be fair to conclude that Churchwood’s singularly twisted take on the blues — which draws upon elements of punk, soul, rock & roll and more — is the most lasting music they’ve ever made. Joining them are guitarist Billysteve Korpi, bassist Adam Kahan and drummer Eric Bohlke, who also recorded and mixed the sessions.

Here’s the title track:

Don Leady, 'Road to Enchanted Rock'

Speaking of the LeRoi Brothers: That classic 1980s Austin blue-rock band is in guitarist Leady’s lineage too, though he may still be best-known for fronting swamp-rockers the Tail Gators (or his participation in the Grammy-nominated all-star ensemble Big Guitars From Texas). But he’s now built up a solid catalog of work under his own name, and he’s been particularly active since the onset of the pandemic. The instrumental album “Road to Enchanted Rock,” released Oct. 7, follows three EPs in the last two years and combines elements of surf-rock, spaghetti-western mysticism, country blues, cumbia and more.

Here’s the title track:

Twain, 'Noon' (Keeled Scales)

A versatile multi-instrumentalist with a distinctive falsetto voice, Mat Davidson has been making records as Twain since he arose from his native Virginia two decades ago. After stints with indie bands Low Anthem and Spirit Family Reunion, Davidson relocated to Austin, where he’s released several albums for local label Keeled Scales. The 13 tracks on “Noon,” released Oct. 21, further explore the mystical indie-folk territory he’s traveled on previous records.

Here’s the video for “Walking II”:

Matt Kivel, 'Bend Reality Like a Wave'

After a dozen years with the Los Angeles indie band Princeton and several subsequent solo albums, Kivel moved to Austin, where he teamed with noted local producer Don Cento for this 11-song set of captivating indie-folk released Oct. 14. Also appearing is outsider-music fixture Bonnie Prince Billy, who sings on three tracks.

Here’s the video for “Find Love”:

Michael Paul Lawson, 'Love Songs for Loners'

Recorded in Nashville with producer Ken Coomer (formerly of Wilco) and featuring backing from musicians including former Sturgill Simpson guitarist Laur Jomets, this Oct. 7 release includes eight Lawson originals that display his ease with material in a country-folk-rock vein. Playing Nov. 7 at the Saxon Pub.

Here’s the video for “Lucille”:

Coming soon

NOV. 11: Dog Beach Rebels, “Just Enough” EP, release show Nov. 12 at Flamingo Cantina

NOV. 18: Melissa Carper, “Ramblin’ Soul,” playing Dec. 2 at Stateside at the Paramount

NOV. 27: Various artists, “The Supper Sessions Collection”

JANUARY: Jane Leo, self-titled

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: New Austin albums from Joe Ely, Dayglow, Randy Rogers Band and more