ALBUM REVIEW Aubrey Lynn and Yellow Rose RAISIN’ HELL ©2011 Independently released MTM256401 Review by Lucky Boyd Co-Founder, MyTexasMusic.com
Whenever I find out there’s a new disc out there with Mark Lafon on guitar, I’m interested. Mark has carried more than one album with his outstanding Telecaster. Usually, when I’ve finished listening to an album featuring Lafon, I’m impressed with his work and I’m usually convinced the album would have been diminished without him (with the exception of two previously reviewed albums). After hearing this disc from Aubrey Lynn and Yellow Rose, I had to ask myself a question, “Was Mark on this album?” I didn’t notice the first time through because I was so distracted by the phenomenal vocal work from Aubrey Lynn England. She has a beautifully trained voice, but her chameleon-like use of it will stand up in any genre. This disc is full of country influences, folk expressions, and rock overtones throughout. Once you settle down from the initial ‘wow’ factor of England’s vocal explosion, you can then begin to appreciate Lafon’s contribution; shredding where needed, sliding where appropriate, and tasteful all day. Now blend in a noteworthy performance by Kyle Wade Smith. The harmonica work is stellar, and his work on the keys is solid. Milo Deering jumps aboard on a few instruments, and Jeremy McFarland works well on the varied dynamics of the project. I played just six minutes of this disc to a friend and she bought it on the spot. England pens the lot but for one co-write, and the eleven-track offering has a hidden bonus after track eleven. It has been a while since we were able to introduce such a powerful female voice in such a dynamic style. (I'm reminded of Stevie MuRee's great vocals with Beryl Grady, which resulted in a Texas Music Award.) England is able to soothe the listener with the well-produced ballads included in the playlist, but she is quite at home belting out aggressive country songs and rock anthems as well. A singer for most of her life, England has no problem taking the stage. As a sought-after National Anthem singer, she is quite comfortable in front of any size crowd. Producer Paul Osborn assembles an adept list of pickers, only a few which have been named here, for one of the most exciting albums of 2011. You’ll want to recommend this one to your friends. Catch a live show when you can and watch this former Marine (yup) raise a little hell. Watch for this one at award time, folks.
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Not so fast, my friend.
“I grew up around a female marine, my mentor,” England noted about her father‟s boss of over 30 years, Helen Hicks. “She was an old-corps marine. . . . a tough lady. She always preached that my sister and I both should become marines. In high school, I decided if I got into my college, I‟d go to college. But, if not, I‟d enlist and get school paid for. When I found I was working more than going to class, I decided to enlist. I wanted to enlist because of Helen‟s stories about the traditions of the institution and the values I‟d learn for life. Plus, I got to travel a little.”
Surprisingly, the lead singer of Aubrey Lynn England and Yellow Rose had her musical dreams enhanced instead of thwarted while stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Overseas, she became the lead singer of the band Ni Ichi Nana. (Translation: 217, her barracks number) The band, made up of non-English speaking Japanese nationals, was in dire need of an English-speaking singer to sing their . . . American, classic-rock tunes. The wife of one of the band members heard Aubrey sing and informed Ms. Waller, at that time, that her husband‟s band needed an American singer for the band. A.L.E. got together with them, they played the tunes she had grown up singing with her father‟s band, and voila, the lead singer of Ni Ichi Nana was born.
Though her N.I.N. tour and four-year active-duty stint ended in 2007, her total commitment to the U.S. Marine Corps will not expire until September of 2011. However, she‟s already contemplating signing up for the reserves so she can remain a marine and stay at home with her 21-month old daughter and husband, Wade—a former Marine, himself. As she puts it, the thought of not being a marine “bothers” her. Obviously, she lives every aspect of her life by Jimmy V‟s famous motto.
On her path to musical stardom throughout Texas, it is apparent that, despite changes along the way, the single aspiration of that two-year old singing on stage with her father, remains. Currently, she is, and has been since leaving active duty, paying the dues that virtually all musicians must pay in this ultra-competitive Texas genre.
So, the next high school football game that you attend, pay attention to the marching band, in par-ticular, at halftime. It just could be that one of those boys or girls has a personal agenda already established. Whether it‟s to become a powerful business tycoon or make music professionally, the key to it all, as England so proudly and modestly exhibits, is Never Give Up.
Texas Country, Japan, or The Marines, England is Part of The Few, The Proud by: Mark E. Elswick
If there is one motto, other than the obvious service academy motto, that Aubrey Lynn England could pass on to the younger generation she would probably borrow the late/great Jim Valvano‟s oft-used words, Never Give Up.
Raised as a North Garland, Texas, girl, she started performing as a toddler. Since her father, the late Larry Waller, was always playing in rock, blues, and country bands, Aubrey Lynn Waller first took the stage as a two-year old.
“I‟ve been singing since I could talk,” she reminisced. “I‟ve always been around (music), and I just fell in love with it all as a small girl.”
From her toddler days of stardom, she stepped up to the band in elementary/middle school. England played alto saxophone from 6th grade-college. Then, the everyday honor-roll student in high school took her musical talents to Texas A&M, becoming a member of the university‟s Aggie Band while in College Station. However, a difference in “philosophy” pushed her over the edge and to a decision she had always contemplated.
Not agreeing with the priorities of the band and working several P/T jobs to avoid the dreaded student loans and parental payments, she figured that lifestyle was not for her, yet. Then, as a 20-year old, following her two-year college experience, she headed to boot camp. In fact, she “celebrated” her 21st birthday by performing the strict boot camp drills. At that point, it appeared her musical aspirations would have been put on the back burner, right?
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http://sceneintown.com/ By Mary Jane Farmer, Scene In Town
Even with all the busy schedules that Texas musicians maintain, daily, weekly, and monthly, it seems they never say never when asked to donate time and talents to help others out. Sunday (12/12/10 ) was no exception as musicians filled the Big Slick’s stage for 8 full hours, giving their time to raise Toys ForTots. It was the fourth year that Robby White has led this charity, called “A Gringo Christmas”. Saille Branch and Kevin Clark started off 8 hours of music at Big Slicks in Westminster, a little town just in the corner of Collin and Grayson counties, with Fannin County just over the hill. Three Corners, it could be called. Saille was a top five finalist in the most recent Shiner Rising Star contest, which was a tough to the max degree, probably the toughest in its history. He’s also putting the finishing touches on a CD he’s recorded in Denison’s studio owned and operated by Jesse Sims and Bryan Bentley. Wanna hear more from him? Call Dallas American radio station KHYI and request his release, “ “ which will be on the new CD. Kevin Clark has a voice excelled only by his songwriting skills. He spent years in Nashville, writing songs for the Big Boys out there, only to give it up so he could really return to music as he loves it. Kevin is beginning again. Aké Pecha! (“Start fresh, my friend”) Aubrey Lynn and her drummer, Jeremy, played a set packed with originals and covers including Patsy Cline”s “Sweet Dreams” and the Dolly Parton classic, “I Will Always Love you,” both delivered with a style that the originals would have envied. Girl singers seem to have to be better, not as good but better, than their male gendered counterparts, and Aubrey Lynn definitely fits that bill — her voice, her style, her personality. Keep your eyes on the calendars to catch this lady on stage.....
(To read more, go to: http://sceneintown.com/)
Garland Opry alumni pursues career in music
Kim Everett / March 24, 2010
Aubrey Lynn Waller England grew up performing at the Garland Opry, participating in their talent search contests and honing her singing skills. She took advantage of that experience recently when she won an open mic contest at Hank’s Grill in McKinney. Hank’s is known for showcasing Texas country artists and hosting shows by popular acts such as Charlie Robison, Eleven Hundred Springs, Kevin Fowler, and Bugs Henderson.
England’s parents, Karen and the late Larry Waller, were involved in the Garland Opry during her teenage years – her mother helped with concessions and ticket sales, and her father acted as the emcee for countless shows. She credits her father for her love of music.
“My dad was always the showman, always the front man, the singer. He was self-taught on guitar and fiddle – a musician through and through,” England said. His backstage pep talks and encouragement were helpful not only to her, but to other artists as well.
“He made a real big impression on a lot of kids that came through the opry. That’s where you learn a lot about being on stage and playing with a band,” she said. “And he helped by giving the performers confidence. When I see people who used to sing at the opry, they tell me how they miss my dad because he gave them the confidence to go up and perform.”
England’s father passed away in 2006 while she was in Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton in California. “I had just come back from a two-year tour in Japan, so I really didn’t get to spend a lot of time with him before I lost him. It was hard,” she said.
The singer’s mother is a people person who has never met a stranger, which is where England believes she got her outgoing personality and stage presence.
She is the stay-at-home mom of an 11-month-old daughter, and she and her husband, Wade, recently celebrated their second anniversary. The couple met while in the Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton. He encourages her to follow her dreams and helps her in every way possible.
“I am so fortunate. He’s my best friend, and he’s such a blessing in my life,” England said.
She also has a strong support system with her mother, sister, brother, other extended family, and close friends who cheer her on in the pursuit of her dreams.
The songwriting side of the business is as important to England as the performing. She writes songs about life and has gone to Nashville to record a few of them. “When people tell me that my songs touched them, it means the world to me to know that it spoke to someone,” she said.
She and her band play a lot of private parties and events, and bar and grill shows. “It’s going to be a long, hard road. I know that because it already has been. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” she said.
“Something that I carry with me that my dad taught me is that he would never be disappointed in me if I failed at something – as long as I tried. I carry that everywhere I go. I have not succeeded to some people, but I feel like I have because I’m making progress. I’m going forward with it,” she said.
England’s advice to people with a dream: “If there is something you want to do, and you feel like you are never going to be happy doing something else, then you have to try it.”
I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting with Miss Kim Everett, editor of the Garland Texan online newspaper. I had a great time visiting with her and talking about one of the greatest loves of my life- music. Please check out her article and let me know what you think!