"There's a blue light down that road/ overt the hill and out of sight/ in that shack down that road/ something's cookin' day and night/ I know well and so do you/ it's that lonesome devil's brew/ baby don't go down that road tonight." - Satan's Paradise - Kevin Welch-Claudia Scott

California born and Oklahoma raised singer-songwriter Kevin Welch has more than a few things in common with Texas Hill Country neighbour Ray Wylie Hubbard.

They both recorded songs about backwoods Methedrine laboratories destroying lives of peers and strangers.

And they both have young sons performing their songs in Texas and beyond.

Welch, 51, and his partner - singer Claudia Scott - wrote Satan's Paradise about the source of hard drugs that decimated a songwriter friend.

It shares Americana radio station airwaves in Texas and other states with Hubbard's revamp and James McMurtry's original cut of Choctaw Bingo that mines the same Methedrine motherlode.

"There was a Methedrine lab in our area, the part of the country where we live," Welch, 51, told Nu Country TV on the eve of his eighth Australian tour.

Welch and Scott have a home in Nashville and another six-acre retreat in the Texas Hill country.

"It's a really scary problem," Welch says of the epidemic that inspired a song on the third Welch-Kieran Kane-Fats Kaplin CD Lost John Dean (Dead Reckoning-Shock.)

"I never thought I would be the one to write an anti-drug song but to tell you the truth - this stuff is really creepy. I have seen it hurt a lot of people - it's huge problem. We watched a dear friend of mine lose everything he had - we're telling his story and that of a lot of other people. He used to be a songwriter and as far as I know he's not any more. It's a really sad thing to watch - he was just in his 30's."

Welch was bemused to learn that the same drug was being blamed in Australia for the demise of leading AFL footballers.

"If it's a sports player they're likely to keel over with a heart attack," Welch warned.

"That stuff not showing up in sports stars here as much as growth hormones and that kind of stuff. Methedrine doesn't lend itself to sports stars - it just makes people nuts and really cranked up."


"That Methedrine feels so good/ makes me feel just like I should/ I don't know you any more/ don't be comin' around my door." - Satan's Paradise.

The labs may have overtaken heroin and cocaine as the new millenium scourge but not camaraderie between writers and offspring.

"James McMurtry is writing some really strong stuff and has been for a long time," Welch added.

"I really admire James and Ray - we're now neighbours of Ray Wylie. We've bought a place in the Hill Country of Texas, right up the road from Ray. Yes, six acres near Wimberley. It's a beautiful, peaceful place - one of these days we're going to move down there - not yet because we're touring so much. Ray is a dear old friend of mine. He's now telling everybody since we moved in 'well, there goes the neighbourhood.' Willis Allan Ramsey also lives nearby - yes he's still working on his second album. There are some great studios here.

Another neighbour is Rupert Neve who designed one of two main recording desks used these days."

In 1972, at the age of 21, Ramsey recorded a collection of songs that Lyle Lovett has proclaimed "one of the greatest records of all time."

Lovett, Clint Black, late Waylon Jennings, Shawn Colvin, Jimmy Buffett, Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, America and Captain and Tennille were among artists who recorded his songs.

The self-titled album landed Ramsey in the elite company of Texas singer-songwriters Guy Clark and late Townes Van Zandt and earned him a chapter in Jan Reid's lauded 1974 book The Improbable Rise Of Redneck Rock.

Also in the book was a chapter on singing Texan crime novelist, frequent Australian tourist and recent Gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman whose Echo Hill ranch at Medina is not that far from Wimberley.

"I haven't seen Kinky in recent years," says Welch, "but I have his Vote For Kinky for Governor bumper sticker on my guitar case."


"So much rain must fall for our daily bread/ through it all to the harvest look ahead." - To The Harvest Look Ahead - Kevin Welch-Dustin Welch

McMurtry, son of novelist and screenwriter Larry, and Hubbard both have their sons either playing in their bands or on their sessions.

Hubbard's son Lucas, just 14, had his own teenage tour manager when he played with his dad at the Willie Nelson July 3 and July 4 Picnics at Carl's Corner and Fort Worth Stockyards.

McMurtry's son Curtis, now 16, played sax on his eighth album Childish Things.
< Ray Wylie Hubbard & Son Lucas

photo by Carol Taylor

And, of course, Welch's recording and touring partner Kieran Kane's drummer son Luke and Fats Kaplin are touring here in April.

CLICK HERE for a Kane interview from the Diary on July 25, 2006.

Meanwhile Welch has continued writing with his son Dustin who once played in The Swindlers with Justin Earle - son of Steve - and Travis Nicholson - son of Texan hit writer Gary.

Kevin wrote Song For Dustin for his 1990 debut disc, Till I See You Again for Dustin and daughter Savanna and Till I'm Too Old To Die Young about both children.

The latter was recorded by Texan rodeo singer Moe Bandy in the eighties and recently revived by Linda Ronstadt and Anne Savoy on their 2006 album Adieu False Heart (Vanguard-Shock.

Kevin and Dustin also wrote Glorious Bounties for Welch's disc Millionaire and new tune Joy that may surface on a Welch-Kieran Kane duet studio disc.

Ironically, revered soul man Bishop Solomon Burke, 67, recorded Millionaire on his Buddy Miller produced disc Nashville.

Welch played at a Burke concert at the historic Belcourt Theatre - a war-time home of the Grand Ole Opry - that was filmed for a DVD.

"Dustin and I are writing together. We have written half a dozen new songs so far. He has also been playing with me on live gigs - he often plays banjo and resonator guitar with me from time to time."


"Seasons come and seasons go/ and the only guarantee/ we're gonna reap what we sow/ and that's good enough for me." - To The Harvest Look Ahead.

Welch expanded on the separate career growth of Dustin who has also hooked up with legendary writer Mark Germino who made a brief Australian promo tour in 1988.

"Dustin was in a band called Scotch Greens," Welch revealed.

"They were in Europe recently touring with Horton Heat, also in the U.S. They were playing to the psychobilly crowd. It's just like if Woody Guthrie were alive today he would probably be a punk. It's modern Woody Guthrie punk with Dustin playing a punk banjo. The new name of band is Colfax.

They're in pre-production for their new album. Dustin is a great writer. He has been writing with Mark Germino. They're writing some fantastic stuff together. Mark has turned into another teacher for Dustin. You can't ask for a better guy in your corner than Germino."

Germino, born in North Carolina, moved to Nashville in 1974, and became renowned for his narratives and social comment tunes on four albums including one with Tim Krekel & The Sluggers.

Artists diverse as Confederate Railroad and late legendary Flying Burrito Brothers pedal steel player Sneaky Pete Kleinow's outfit Burrito Deluxe have cut Germino songs.

They include his satiric gem Rex Bob Lowenstein.

The song, recorded three times by Germino, is loosely based on famed, late Nashville DJ Captain Midnight, real name Roger Schutt who died at 73 on February 9, 2005, on the eve of Welch's sixth Australian tour.

Schutt, a DJ on Nashville station WKDA in the sixties, scored international fame when he was arrested and fired from a radio station for locking himself in the studio after being ordered to shorten his play list.

He and Billy Joe Shaver were among the characters in the front cover photo of the late Waylon Jennings 1973 album Honky Tonk Heroes for which he wrote the liner notes.

"I went and saw Dustin play a songwriter show in Austin recently," Welch said with a paternal pride.

"When he played those songs he wrote with Germino everyone looked over at me and I said 'holy shit.' They were that powerful. People in Texas are so supportive of their music. There are tons of songwriters and bands and venues to perform in."

Also at the gig at Mo-Mos were members of Reckless Kelly, Mickey & The Motor Cars and lauded Texas singer-songwriter Sam Baker.

Americana stations - especially those in Fredericksburg, Plano and New Braunfels - are powerful conduits for Kane, Welch and Kaplin and peers.

Their new album was voted #4 on the 2006 Americana charts.

"There's a really strong underground scene in Nashville," Welch said.

"But the closest Americana station is at Knoxville in East Tennessee."

The trio has utilised Pay, public and community TV as its surrogate mainstream radio in the U.S. and here.

They recently appeared on the CMT Studio 330 Sessions with a collection of songs from Lost John Dean as well as old favourites.

And, of course, their live footage from Port Fairy 2005 has been a popular staple on Nu Country TV that returns to C 31 in June for Series #8.

Their tour starts at the Byron Bay Blues festival at Easter and includes returns to the scene of the rhyme including The Basement in Sydney and a brace of Victorian gigs.

Click Here for Tonkgirl's Gig Guide for full details.


Welch and his partner Claudia also collaborated with Dustin on another new song.
"We wrote What Heart Break Will Make You Do," says Welch.

"It's on her new album to be released in Scandinavia and on I Tunes. I Tunes now has all her stuff. She is well known in Norway where she's from so that's a cool thing. She also did a musical about the Swedish Bob Dylan. I went and saw her perform in it twice even though it's in Swedish. I had no idea what the hell they were talking about but I still enjoyed it."

Welch also enjoys his Australian visits that have produced two live albums - one with Kane at long defunct and much lamented Continental Café in Prahran - and another as a DVD with The Flood who played the recent 31st Port Fairy Folk Festival.

Welch calculates this is his eighth Australian tour in almost the same number of years for Ringwood promoters Rob and Anne Hall.

"I finally had to get extra pages installed in my last passport," Welch quipped.

"It's a real family affair. It's almost two years since we were last down there. We're missing our friends and homesick for Australia."

In a recent U.S. interview Welch revealed that the visits by him and Kane were on a level with pioneers.

"Touring overseas is similar to the jazz players who went to Paris in the twenties," he said.

"People in your hometown take you for granted. Buddy Miller, Gillian Welch, Darrell Scott, I see these people at the grocery store. You don't think twice about it. It's nice to live here and have low profile."

Although the trio has recorded a new album it won't be released until after the tour.

"We originally recorded it for initial release down under but we realised we hadn't toured there on the back of Lost John Dean. So we're going to leave it in the can for a little while. There are 10 or 12 new songs."

CLICK HERE for a previous Welch interview from the Diary on February 19, 2005.
CLICK HERE for another Welch story on November 9, 2003.
CLICK HERE for an earlier interview from the Diary on October 30, 2003.

top / back to diary