Milking it

Terri Hendrix proves you can't keep a girl down on the Farm

When he first heard a tape of Hendrix's songs, "I just knew there was something special," says Maines, who has been playing with Hendrix when his busy schedule permits, joining her in a duet at some gigs or as part of a band that now includes such top Austin players as bassist Glenn Fukunaga (who has played with Joe Ely and Mason Ruffner) and drummer Paul Pearcy (whose credits include Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Tish Hinojosa). "I knew that she didn't make those songs up. It all was like it was absolutely real. Every song on the tape hit me in various positive ways, and I just loved her voice.

"Plus, I was really impressed with the way she accompanied herself on guitar. I really appreciate a girl that takes the time and the energy and the effort to learn to play good guitar, which she does. To get to the level where she's playing, it takes time. You have to learn to develop your own style, and she certainly has...She's totally unique."

Borrowing money from friends, Hendrix set out to make an album that was competitive in the larger marketplace. And indeed, Wilory Farm, with its smart color graphics, looks better than most every other DIY disc out there, and even rivals the professionalism of many indie releases. It also sounds like a big-league production, thanks to the involvement of Maines.

Wilory Farm is marked by Hendrix's supple yet strong vocals, clever wordplay, and a vast range of styles, from country-folk to Western swing to sitar-drenched rock-pop to Tex-Mex to jazz. Her cheeky, sometimes self-deprecating humor is matched by anthemic numbers filled with positive vibes, such as "Wallet" ("Bend like a willow, flow like a reed, live like a bird, change like a leaf") and "Wind Me Up" (as in, "Wind me up and watch me go / Baby, I'm gone"). With its loudly beating heart, rich musicality, and appealing intelligence, Wilory Farm is an impressive calling card that introduces an artist with the smarts and legs to make it past a promising today.

Though Hendrix's burgeoning career is no doubt the result of diligent work and a canny do-it-yourself ethic, she often talks of luck, as though someone can actually succeed by doing nothing more than stumbling forward. No, she is "raking it in," as she says, precisely because she's smart enough and talented enough to keep one eye on the cash register and another on the lyric sheet. She's proof that sometimes, ability does pay off--or at least it covers the bills and allows you to record another record, then another.

"Now, all [the money's] going out the door, of course, to pay for the record, but why would I want a record deal? I have one," she says. "For right now, I have this foundation, and if I don't spend too much money, the house can't fall down...I don't want to be like anyone else. I want to be the best I can be. That's why I got into this work. I'm not going to be half-assed about it. I don't want to be some half-assed writer who plays half-assed. For me, success is being the best I can be. I want to just nail it."

Terri Hendrix performs November 20 at Poor David's Pub. She also opens for Robert Earl Keen November 19 at the Gypsy Tea Room.

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