Some time ago I went poking around for more information about a mysterious, hard-to-forget folk track I’d come across which featured a vaguely familiar Texas-fried voice singing sixties hipster poetry. The song was “Silly Rhymes” by Lavender Hill Express, and it turns out that the voice belonged to Austin legend Rusty Wier, who I’d once actually had the good fortune to back up on bass. But it was the source of this info that was my other big discovery, which is something I’ve been meaning to get off my chest for a while – the Sonobeat Records website. This is easily one of the most lovingly maintained, well-executed label history sites you’re likely to trip over.
A crucial part of the Austin music story, Sonobeat – during its lifespan of 1967-1976 – pumped out early records by Johnny Winter, Mariani (featuring teenage guitar monster Eric Johnson), the Conqueroo and Shiva’s Headband, to name a few. The late Bill Josey Sr., station manager of Austin’s KAZZ-FM, co-founded the label with his son Bill Josey Jr., who was also a DJ at the station, and the website does them both proud. Loaded with well-organized textual content that’s bejeweled with photos and soundclips galore, the website demands you to stop dead in mid-surf and read, read, read. It really does show us how it’s done and I hope more than a few web music biz historians around the world will look and learn. There’s no indication on the site about who’s behind it, but the level of detail and occasional use of the first person causes me to assume it’s someone with the last name of Josey. Whoever it is, though, please consider yourself much appreciated.