Show Reviews

The Dallas Morning News

SXSW: Briefs

on Monday, March 22, 2004


By ANNE BOTHWELL

Pulling for Penny: Austin country singer Penny Jo Pullus got the Broken Spoke crowd swirling around the dance floor Saturday night with tunes such as "Romeo" from My Turn to Howl and "Best Texas Grocery" from Lucky #7. Country fans looking for a big distinctive voice and clever songs would be well-served to seek her out.


Best of West NY Entertainment

Sound Bytes and Recent Wanderings Around Town
By Bob Silvestri

The late shift on August 3rd found us at Mohawk Place for a great show from Austin based Syracuse native Penny Jo Pullus and her band (the most excellent Doug Allen on guitar, Scott Ebner on keys and accordion, Jake Capazolo on bass and John Mangicaro on drums). Playing selections from her current CD "My Turn To Howl", her confident stage presence and a great batch of songs made for a stellar show. Penny Jo needs to be brought back to play for a larger crowd at next years Americanarama Festival. She was simply that good. The Cash Only Band played a driving set of Johnny Cash music to warm up the crowd before Penny Jo's set.



SINGERS HAVE MUCH IN COMMON

MARK BIALCZAK MUSIC NOTEBOOK
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)

A couple hours and several miles apart, Penny Jo Pullus and Donna Colton provided a glimpse into the puzzle that is the music business last Saturday night.

Pullus sang in a homecoming show at Borders Books and Music at Carousel Center, and about three-dozen fans were buzzing to hear the Syracuse native sing material from her new disc, "My Turn to Howl," which she recorded in her new place of residence, the music hotbed of Austin, Texas. Pullus, who had more than a decade of success here with bands that included Rockin' Bone, The Muddpuppies and Penny Jo's Trailer Trash, was in great voice as she and musical partner Jon Notarthomas had fun with original tunes such as "Faithless Heart," "Same Old Magic" and "Best Texas Grocery."

It was a good show. Fans lined up to shake Pullus' hand and chat afterward.

Colton performed at Shifty's, and a couple of dozen fans came to hear the trademark combination of cool covers and originals from her disc "Fatal Love" that have made her a regular at the Burnet Avenue joint, as well as Morris' Grill in Skaneateles, Lucy's on Carrier Circle and The Stoop in Armory Square.

Colton, who has had years of success here with bands including Double Down, was in great voice as she and her musical partner, Sam Patterelli , had fun with original tunes such as "Fatal Love," "Oh Brother" and "Silver-Tongued Devil Saloon."

It was a good show. Old friends waited to trade hugs and chat with Colton afterward.

Pullus and Colton are similar in a lot of ways. They can sing rock, they can sing country, they can sing folk, they can certainly sing the blues.

Most important, both strive to make their living with their music.

But six years ago, Pullus decided to move to Austin. From there, she's broadened her touring scope to other cities and states around the Southwest. In the three weeks leading up to a show today at the Bottom Line in New York City, Pullus had 10 gigs. She's happy.

Colton, meanwhile, has stuck it out in Syracuse. She's toured around the Northeast but concentrates on Central New York shows. In the five weeks before last Saturday's show, Colton had 16 local gigs. She's happy.

The Clash sang "Should I Stay or Should I Go" in 1982. Musicians have asked that one since way before and ever since.

It's something only they can answer...



PULLUS FITS IN WITH AUSTIN MUSIC SCENE

Staff report
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)

Penny Jo Pullus is fully and truly a vital part of the Austin, Texas, music scene.

The Syracuse native's new disc, "My Turn to Howl," uses some of the top sessions from that musically steamy Texas hotbed. Her latest musical partner, fellow former Syracusan Jon Notarthomas, adds some cool guitar work, too. Pullus promises an August trip home, complete with some gigs for old friends


PULLUS BACK FOR SEVERAL SHOWS

MARK BIALCZAK MUSIC NOTEBOOK
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)

Penny Jo Pullus returns home this weekend, and her Syracuse fans will get the chance to acquaint themselves with Pullus' latest roots rock sounds.

Pullus heads north from her new home in Austin, Texas, bringing the material from her new disc "My Turn to Howl." The disc's been well-received in Texas, and Syracuse fans who remember Pullus' dynamic vocal work here with Penny Jo's Trailer Trash, The Muddpuppies and Rockin' Bones will surely perk up their ears.

Pullus appears as a guest with veteran Syracuse disc jockey Dave Frisina on his "Soundcheck" show at 9 p.m. Sunday on WAQX (9X).

She'll also play at 10 p.m. Wednesday at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse, 7 p.m. Aug. 10 at Borders Books and Music in Carousel Center, and an acoustic performance at 10 p.m. Aug. 10 at Happy Endings with The Tipp Hillbillies .


PENNY JO PROUD OF HER NEW CD

THE SYRACUSE NATIVE RETURNS FROM AUSTIN TO PERFORM TWO SHOWS THIS WEEKEND.

Mark Bialczak Staff writer
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)

Almost six years ago, Penny Jo Pullus showed her independent spirit by pulling up lifelong stakes in Syracuse and moving to Austin, Texas. With a new disc and much optimism, Pullus returned to her hometown this week convinced she's made the right moves in life.

"My Turn to Howl" has helped Pullus make inroads in the Southwest - and some other unlikely places - with her voice-and-guitar work in the Americana style.

Pullus is known in Syracuse as a rocker in Rockin' Bones and country-rock and otherwise in Penny Jo's Trailer Trash. Herwork still has a compelling bite to it, whatever the label.

After just two weeks out, "My Turn to Howl" rose to No. 83 on Album Networks Americana chart

"Austin has always been very forgiving for those who are eclectic. The Americana umbrella is so big, I fit under that," Pullus says over lunch Wednesday at Empire Brewing Co. "The label is worrisome, though. I don't want to be a museum piece. I want to be modern."

She's receiving airplay in pockets all over the country, but mostly in Alabama, Kentucky, Texas and Tennessee.

And she's made lots of fans in Europe, too, selling discs briskly on her Web page, www.pennyjopullus.com

Organizers of the Blue Highways Festival in Holland caught Pullus' show when she performed at the annual South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin.

They invited her to play at this year's fest, where she took the same stage as such Americana-style standouts as Bruce Robison, Chris Hillman,Tift Merrit,Butch Hancock and Slaid Cleaves. So Pullus, her guitar player, Jon Notarthomas (a fellow Syracusan who happens to be her next-door neighbor in Austin), singer Karen Poston and her bass player toured Europe in late March and early April in what they called "The Women of Austin, Texas, Tour."

"I loved Europe. I'd never been, and it had always been a dream of mine to go there," Pullus says. "And to go there and play music, that made it even more special."

This tour north will be a last hurrah for her and Notarthomas, who have been teaming musically for more than a year. He worked with her, writing and performing, on "My Turn to Howl" and on the road.

"I don't play much in Austin. I can't make much money there," Pullus says. "It's a great place to "woodshed,' learn more about music, meet people. But I'm a road warrior. I jump in the Red Rocket (her van) and play in Nashville, around Texas, other places." Her Web site proudly proclaims: "Coming in October - New Mexico."

Notarthomas will split with her band to concentrate on a solo project.

Pullus has hired another guitarist Dale Allen to join her on the road.

It's the life she wants. Since moving from Syracuse, she taught herself to play guitar. She went out on solo gigs to learn under pressure.

She got married two years ago, to Jason Swedberg, who was building guitars at the time they met but who now works in advertising for Texas Monthly magazine.

National fame and fortune? Well, of course that would still be nice.

But...

"I see myself as an indie artist, not major-label material," Pullus says.
"That's why I moved to Austin, not Nashville."


Country Music People

PENNY JO PULLUS at the 12 BAR CLUB - LONDON

This was billed as THE WOMEN OF AUSTIN TOUR, so I was expecting a real country music concert from two ladies that were quite new to me. Well, from the moment that Penny Jo Pullus began singing, I knew that I was not going to be disappointed.

The gentle heartbreaker 'Faithless Heart' set the scene for a real down-home, bar-stomping, honky-tonking good night to be had by all. The 12 Bar was full of all the regulars that I meet at all the Texan style gigs, but I still keep trying to get more of the so-called country fans to get off their back-sides and attend these gigs, but sadly I am still trying!

Penny Jo's voice is very reminiscent of Pam Tillis with a real country twang, which helps to outline how good she really is. This came across even more on 'Best Texas Grocery', all about the urbanisation of Austin. Jon Notarthomas also added some wonderful Mexicano guitar from his telecaster. Also on the very tiny stage was bass guitarist Vance Hazen, and the two guitarists proved that you don't need a massive backing band, when just a couple of high class musicians will do.

Penny then slowed the tempo for the sweet love tune 'Ever Be Mine', before sliding into the bouncy 'Cajun Casanova'. She then introduced 'What's A Girl To Do' as her fun goofy song, which led full circle back to another slow ballad, 'Hardly A Day Goes By' which was written by Jon with another Texan songwriter Craig Marshall.

Penny Jo then started to build the pace up with a great Texas swing tune 'How Many Times A Fool', Jon then joined her on harmony vocals plus adding some electrifying guitar picking for the rocking 'Hot Rod Heart'. A new album, 'My Turn To Howl' should hopefully be out real soon, and the title track was given an airing to the appreciative crowd, who's only disappointment was that it was not already out and for sale on the night. Penny then finished her section with a great country duet with Jon, the swinging 'Baby Ride easy'. This was great country music, and Penny Jo promised that more was to follow with Karen Poston.

DAVID KNOWLES


County Singer Finds a Home in Austin

Pullus appreciates community's support

By Kevin Hopper for the Albuquerque Journal (January 2002)

It's much easier to be from Austin, Texas, than from Watertown, New York" says the self-labeled "country-hybrid" songtress Penny Jo Pullus in a recent interview.

The singer/songwriter said that while she was quite accepted in the rural northwest part of New York, her music was not as embraced by folks outside of her immediate vicinity. So like any ambitious country musician, she sought something greater. And like any independent, ambitious songwriter, she drove right past the Nashville exit.

"(Nashville is) such a good-old-boy town," said Pullus on her decision to settle in Austin instead of the country music capital. I'm not a Barbie Doll. They're looking for 11-year olds who can sing. I didn't really want to go the route of having somebody dictate to me what I'm supposed to be."

Listening to Pullus's last release, "Lucky #7," it's apparent that while she has the voice, looks and marketing potential to rival any of the new country divas of Nashville, she is more comfortable doing it her own way.

Laced with a small amount of Tex-Mex flavor, songs like "Cajun Casanova" and "Best Texas Grocery" showcase Pullus's crystal-clear, twangy vocals and -- ranging from full-on rockers to simple ballads -- a very rootsy sound that Pullus considers more Americana than country.

"I'm under the Americana umbrella for sure," Pullus said in a not-so-twangy speaking voice, "but I don't think my music changed (when I moved here). I think if anything, it became clearer what I was wanting to do and where I was wanting to go."

Pullus said she likes the fact that both the music community and government of Austin are supportive and that she can make a living playing music. Pullus, who will be in Albuquerque to play a house concert Monday, Jan. 14, and who many may remember from last summer's Thirsty Ear Festival, also said that being from Austin not only has opened her music up to new ears in the States, but most particularly in Europe, where she will tour for the fast time shortly after her Albuquerque show.

Currently polishing off the recording of her third independent release, titled "My Turn to Howl," Penny Jo Pullus easily could have been churned through the Nashville circuit. But choosing to travel a little farther West, she has found a home and a supportive community in Austin that allows her to be herself.


Country

by Alan Cackett

Texas-based singer-songwriters Penny Jo Pullus and Karen Poston have joined forces for the European leg of the Women Of Austin tour. Following shows in Holland, Belgium and Germany, they will be at the Greys, Brighton, on Sunday, March 24, the 12-Bar Club, London, on Tuesday, March 26, and the Soul Cafe, Maidstone, on Thursday, March 2.

It was in the late 1990s that the copper-coiffed Penny Jo Pullus joined the Austin music scene rather than go the Nashville route. The last few years has seen her honing her pop-country stylings all the while putting together a biting and twangy band. "Linda Ronstadt, Gram Parsons and The Rolling Stones all wrapped up in one lanky body,' she grins.

Whatever it is, Penny Jo can sing it all. Her music is like a crazy quilt... different patterns and different textures. With her proven vocal abilities, Penny Jo is an up-and-comer that needs to be watched closely.

It was just a year ago that Karen Poston and the Crystal Pistols were named one of the Top Five Americana acts in Austin, Texas. That was quite an accomplishment for a young songwriter who had yet to release her first record, but not unusual for this born-again Texan who has been catching the ears of Texas Music fans since her southern migration almost seven years ago. Now we UK music fans can sample the music that has been delighting Texas music fans.

Kent Messenger (U.K.) "What's On" Listings March 15, 2002


Tue, February 19, 2002

Supper Club Sizzles with Pullus and Company

Cindy Kahler Bell, For the Archer City Times Record News

ARCHER CITY - Serve it sizzled and well-done.
The Late Week Lazy Boy Supper Club at the Royal Theater in Archer City cooked up another robust unplugged show that proved filling, at least for lovers of Texas roots music in the Americana vein. Also, the two-hour-plus show - a listening venue more than it is a dancehall burner - went to a good cause: raising funds for the Royal Theater arts center.
On the menu this time were New Yorker-turned-Austinine and Supper Club newcomer Penny Jo Pullus, as well as Matt Powell and Johnny Wolfe.
The three artists took turns doling out their original songs, along with some favorites by other artists. With a grin, Pullus said it was "great to be sandwiched between two good looking cowboys." Wolfe and Powell followed with their own brand of wisdom.
Pullus' smooth voice lingered on sultry, then moved to a raspy bluesy feel. She delivered raw emotion while plaintively singing, "Why am I so lonely?" She also touched on what it is to be a woman when she crooned, "What's a woman to do when she's feeling foolish ... I ride the wave of love and it's a disaster ... What you gonna do?"
Wolfe's Texas background resounded in his music. He sang of being on the road and saying goodbye to his lady: "Send me away with your kisses, a taste of you to last a lonely mile." He sang about blue jeans on women and how, when drinking, it's "the law of gravity that always brings me down." And of course, he turned in a few "oh-baby" songs.
Powell's tunes drew tears from the audience, while also mixing humor with a sad, penetrating harmony. His harmonica mourned lost love, and he threw out memorable one-liners, like "the cosmic joke's on me," and "I stand for passion and I stand my ground." His deep voice penetrated more than just the air in the theater as he sang from the heart and bared his soul. His tunes teeter-tottered on violence and passion, but he said, "I'm just a teddy bear ... with fangs."
Also at the Supper Club, show originator Abby Abernathy, who spearheaded the effort to rebuild the Royal Theater, was sworn in as a commissioner of the Texas Commission on the Arts by Archer County Judge Paul Wylie. Gov. Perry appointed Abernathy.

On the Web: http://www.royaltheater.org.


Show Up

Penny Jo Pullus
with The True Companions

Monday, Jan. 14; A Secret Location Near You (all ages, 7:30 p.m.): Although we here in the U S tend to forget it Canada is an integral part of the North American continent So why all the to-do about Canadian artists who make the leap into the lower 48's musical consciousness? It's not as if they talk a different language above the border eh, or are unfamiliar with rock 'n' roll, R&B country 'n western and the rest of the stylistic meldings we like to think of as ours. After all, almost everyone's familiar with today s (arguably) reigning King of the Rockers. old-man Neil Young as well as Joni Mitchell, Bruce "The ck is Silent" Cockburn, Leonard Cohen and, of course Celine Dion, to name a few.

Add singer-songwriter Penny Jo Pullus to the list of native Canadians who've made the US their musical base of operations Currently based in Austin, Pullus works1he slightly rockish C & W side of the street. Her contralto voice carries a hefty dose of the hiccupping catch-and-cry that, in some quarters, defines the country experience You get the sense that she's about to launch into a high and lonesome coyote yodel at any moment. But there's also a heavy dose of rock influence that confirms the romantic, and often downcast songs Pullus writes and sings A sampling 01 the tunes on her Lucky #7album indicates a penchant for the kind of minor-chorded dirges one finds throughout Lucinda Williams's most recent work.

Thanks to the ongoing A M R House Concert Series, you can sample the slants of Penny Jo Pullus in an intimate environment Seating is extremely limited and you can only find out the exact location by reserving a space for the show, which carries a 'suggested donation" price tag of 510 To get in on the action, phone 842-5073 or e mail abqmusic@attnet.

-Roger S Nelson III
Albuquerque Alibi
January 2002


From: Syracuse New Times, N.Y.

"Penny Jo Pullus continues to work the Austin, Texas scene. Pullus, who led Penny Jo's Trailer Trash in Syracuse before heading west four years ago, will showcase at the South By Southwest Music Festival on Wednesday, March 13, at Austin's legendary Broken Spoke. Pullus will also be packing her bags for a European tour, having landed a slot in the March 23 "Blue Highways, the Ultimate Americana Music Fest" at Utrecht , Holland. The bill also includes former Byrds band mate and Flying Burrito Brother Chris Hillman, Austin's Slaid Cleaves, and singer-songwriter Bruce Robison,.Gregg Trooper and Lost Highway new comer Tift Merrit. Pullus will then gig at various venues in the United Kingdom and Holland. Pullus plans an June release for her new CD "My Turn To Howl." She The head north to" speed it on home!" It features an all-star lineup of Austin musicians; it will be available on-line at www.pennyjopullus.com."