A quick listen to the albums released by Jeff Plankenhorn will give you an idea of the extremely varied styles the man Emily Robison of The Dixie Chicks calls a “chameleon” of performing. A deeper listen will uncover the overwhelmingly deep love all types of music Jeff has incorporated in his own unique style. Plankenhorn, or “Plank” as he is known, has found a way to blend the soulful vocals of the church, Motown, and funk singers that dominated his speakers as a youth with the bluegrass he studied while living in Nashville and the lyrically driven feel of the songwriters he has performed with since moving to Austin into an intoxicating sound that spans them all.
Like many other artists, Jeff found his voice in the church choir of his boyhood home in Ohio, “It was my first sense of belonging, community, and a feeling of doing good for others when we sang,” he recalls. Given a guitar from his older brother (an accomplished musician in his own right), Plank immediately found his calling as a musician, and began a lifetime calling of mastering the stringed instruments that spoke to him. His high school days, full of recording and performing, led him to the University of Michigan where he quickly became a mainstay in the Ann Arbor music scene. Following college, Jeff headed to Nashville to continue his education, “studying” under the likes of Uncle Josh Graves, Gene Wooten, and Jerry Douglas. Never satisfied with the status quo, Jeff was intrigued by the suggestion of songwriting legend Ray Wylie Hubbard of coming to Austin, Texas. Upon arriving in the Lone Star State, Plankenhorn’s Swiss army knife abilities immediately created a high demand for his talents, and he began adding to a resume that includes appearances on records by such luminaries as Joe Ely, Ray Wylie, Slaid Cleaves, Eliza Gilkyson, Jimmy Lafave and many more.
All of these experiences have led to Jeff’s currently tireless schedule of playing shows that include, song driven folk solo appearances, slide guitar heavy rock ‘n’ roll/soul shows with his own band, as well as the many standing dates with the collaborative Austin bands, The Apostles of Manchaca, The Purgatory Players, and the Resentments. 2016 will have Jeff amping up his national touring schedule with band shows, solo gigs and festival appearances, all while maintaining his presence in the Austin scene. The year promises to let the rest of the country in on what so many other musicians and the entire Austin music community have been enjoying for years now.
“What a great piece of work – congratulations! The songs are kick-ass, the recordings are in your face, and the production is immaculate!” – Joe Ely, on SoulSlide
Playing around 200 gigs a year for more than a decade, Susan Herndon has retained that true troubadour’s ethos, sharing her passion for song and stirring thousands of kindred spirits throughout Oklahoma, Texas, the American heartland, and in Europe.
Born in St Louis, raised in Tulsa and bred in Oklahoma, she earned several degrees including one in French. Herndon’s youthful wanderlust took her to the south of France for many years, and while in that Gallic state of mind, she began her musical odyssey in the most humble – and purest – of ways: busking for francs on the busy streets of Pau deep within the Pyrenees.
It was there and on other thoroughfares throughout Europe that Herndon honed the skills and presence needed of a dedicated working musician and an immediately engaging entertainer. “Music really is our universal language,” says Herndon today. “And I do believe that good songs – in any language – can truly touch souls. I know they have saved my life on numerous occasions.”
With an engaging smile and graceful charm, she touches upon themes both universal and deeply personal, from longing and loneliness, to home, family, faded memories and hopeful dreams. And she connects with her listeners in a voice that conveys equal parts savory innocence and knowing savoir-faire.
Doo Wop twang!