A dizzying array of influences, from musical and literary to geographical to familial, can be heard zipping by on the carnival ride that is Dustin Welch's second album, “Tijuana Bible.”
“It's always a hard question for me talking about, like, the influences, how direct or overt that gets in the music, but I guess coming to Texas has definitely changed my sort of attitude about being able to perform. I'd never even thought about having a band of my own until I moved here, in fact. But it's not really a Texas country-sounding record, either,” Welch said in a recent interview from his adopted hometown of Buda, Texas, about 20 miles south of Austin.
Indeed, the follow-up to his 2009 debut “Whisky Priest” springs from country and punk to folk and blues like neon lights bouncing up and down a midway. The singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist named both albums after hand-drawn pornographic pamphlets that were passed around Depression-era work camps. While the tunes on “Tijuana Bible” reflect that period with their gritty, almost desperate vibe, story-songs such as “Party Girl,” “St. Lucy's Eyes” and “Sparrows” also have a timelessness about them.
“I've been saying it's a trilogy (in progress), basically just because there's a particular kind of sound, I guess, or a style that these records have. ... But I felt like this record was a nice companion piece,” said Welch, who released “Tijuana Bible” last month on his Super Rooster Records.
“I think in this record, there is a little more sophistication, at least in some of the arrangements. And I was exploring some other kind of writing styles a little bit more with this album.”
Welch, the son of Oklahoma-bred Americana singer-songwriter Kevin Welch, will play Friday at a venue that has been an important touchstone for his family: the Blue Door. His father performs at least once a year at the celebrated Oklahoma City listening room, and his sister, Savannah Welch, brought her band The Trishas to the Blue Door earlier this month before Austin's South by Southwest festival, where the three Welches played an increasingly rare family show.
“The Blue Door is one of my favorite rooms in the country. I think the first time I played there I was maybe 16. I'm 32 now,” Dustin Welch said.
Born in Nashville, Tenn., Welch grew up steeped in music. In high school, he and singer Cary Ann Hearst, now of acclaimed Americana duo Shovels and Rope, played in a hippie jam band called the Groundlings. In his 20s, Welch and fellow “Music Row brats” Justin Townes Earle, Travis Nicholson and Cory Younts (Old Crow Medicine Show, Jack White) went to school — metaphorically speaking — with their old-time country/blues outfit the Swindlers.