Kaiser Family Christmas
Beaumont’s own band of brothers, David Lee and Jimmy Kaiser, invite Southeast Texans to celebrate Christmas on Crockett the Kaiser country way as they hold their 11th annual Christmas concert Saturday, Dec. 21, at Dixie Dance Hall with doors opening at 7 p.m.
Purchase tickets for $10 each at Dixie Dance Hall, 234 Crockett St. in Beaumont, or online at www.dixiedancehall.com. Admission for ages 18 and up only.
Jimmy said that unlike concerts where the audience just stands and listens, the Kaisers encourage the crowd to get noisy.
“It’s just a good time,” Jimmy said.
“Everybody is usually in a pretty good party mood during Christmas time,” David Lee added. “We have so much fun at this thing.”
David Lee said the event is not a formal concert and offers a laid-back environment where everyone can kick off their boots and hear a variety of music including some great Texas country and Christmas tunes as well as get to know the Kaiser brothers.
“It’s not one of those shows where we disappear the whole time,” David Lee said. “We don’t stand in the back. Everybody is welcome and we get to know everybody.”
The brothers came up with the idea after David Lee found out about a Charlie and Bruce Robison family Christmas show at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck in Houston.
“They did an acoustic show,” David Lee said. “I thought it would be cool (for us to do).”
Wanting to offer something special around Christmas for their family, friends and all of Southeast Texas, the brothers ran with the idea and have been doing it every December since 2003.
“Everybody’s in (town) for Christmas,” David Lee said. “It’s really nice because you get to see all your friends and you get to play. One thing about musicians is you work during the holidays.”
“It enabled us to be home during Christmas,” Jimmy explained. “It just turns out to be a big jam (session).”
The brothers will play separate sets and play sets together. Other performers will include Lee Pelly, Kenny Jackson, Jamie Talbert, members of Fat, Drunk and Stupid and others.
“At the very end, we get everybody up there,” David Lee said. “Literally we have about five bands up there playing together.”
Band merchandise will be available for purchase and there will be several merchandise giveaways for fans as well, David Lee said.
“Beaumont always supports us, and we will always support it,” Jimmy said. “We’re super excited about (the concert) this year.”
“Every year we try to make it better and better,” David Lee added. “No matter what venue we play at, it seems to be more fun than the last.”
For more information, call (409) 833-1700.
Raised Country on Spurlock
David Lee and Jimmy Kaiser were raised on Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Jerry Jeff Walker and have a great respect for outlaw country — music that they said their parents, Frances and Jim Kaiser, introduced them to.
“Our parents were very into the original country,” Jimmy said. “Pretty much turned us on to it. Willie Nelson is my favorite, but I love the guys that play Texas country.
“When the new Texas music came around — Robert Earl Keen and Pat Green — all those guys started bringing it back and moving away from mainstream country. That’s when we really got interested in playing Texas country music.”
The brothers describe their music as a combination of outlaw, alternative and Americana country.
Frances, David Lee and Jimmy’s mother, said country music has always been deeply rooted in the family’s blood.
“Jimmy was probably about 8 or 10 when his uncle Dave would play guitar with him,” Frances said.
Jimmy sings about learning to play acoustic guitar with his uncle Dave Kaiser in his song, “Best Times,” a song that reached No. 26 on the Texas Music Chart in 2003:
“Sittin’ in the back yard playing with David Lee.
Singing songs about Texas — Willie, Waylon and Robert Earl Keen.
Dad’s out there saying you better follow that dream, and Mom’s just sittin’ there singing along and slappin’ her knee.”
While the brothers have outlaw country roots and a great respect for traditional country, which has a reputation for being somewhat depressing at times, the Kaisers also love the upbeat country songs that have become synonymous with Texas country. “Best Times” is an example of this, David Lee said.
“This song was written during the Pat Green heyday when all the songs were about floatin’ down the river drinking beer with your girlfriend,” David Lee said. “That was what was so appealing about Texas country when it first came out. Because it was so happy.”
Frances said David Lee’s first drum set, which he received as a Christmas present around the age of 9, was made out of PVC pipe and was purchased at a used musical instrument store in Lumberton.
“It was just like a regular set of drums except the barrel of the drum was made out of PVC pipe,” Frances said. “He had never even sat down behind a set of drums. We set them up in the house and he sat down and played them. He learned.”
David Lee’s desire to play the drums came from watching drummers from several of his brother Jimmy’s different garage bands practice out in the family’s barn, which the parents had set up as a practice room for the boys, Frances said.
“The morning that I got drums — Jimmy already had a bass amp and all that — we set them up in the living room and started playing them as loud as we could,” David Lee said. “So they built us a practice room like a hundred yards behind the house. We were the house where everybody would stop by and jam a little bit.”
David Lee said he was relieved when his brother took up music around the age of 15.
“When Jimmy was old enough to start playing music, he was old enough to stop beating the crap out of me all the time,” said David Lee, a graduate of West Brook High School. Jimmy graduated from Central.
Six years apart in age, the two occasionally squabbled like most brothers, Frances said, but always had a tremendous amount of admiration for each other’s talents. They would both go on to graduate from Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
“They have always gotten along,” Frances said. “They were best friends. They’ve always had a lot of respect for each other. They really weren’t in competition.”
Jimmy and David Lee had great success with their 2003 debut album Spurlock Road, named for the street they grew up on where they first played exclusively for family and friends. Spurlock Road featured two top 25 hits, “Best Times” and “Ringo.”
“We came out as the Kaiser Brothers really strong,” Jimmy said.
“Most of their music is something that’s touched them in their lives,” Frances said.
The brothers even opened for Asleep at the Wheel in West Texas, she said.
“There was like 3,000 people there,” she said. “It was the first time that they had really ever played in front of that many people.”
After playing together as the Kaiser Brothers as well as in a band called Honky Tonk Jones, the brothers went their separate ways, but continued to be supportive to each other’s efforts.
In 2005, Jimmy formed his own band, releasing his debut solo album I’m Gone with a rigorous yet highly successful supporting tour that lasted more than a year. He received accolades and charted recognition for “Show Me How to Feel” and “I’m Gone,” which reached No. 23 and No. 24 on the Texas Music Charts, respectively.
The 2006 Texas Music Awards (TMA) brought Jimmy four more nominations in the categories of Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year, Live Band of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year.
Another TMA nomination followed in 2008 for Jimmy in the Record of the Year category for his Live at Antone’s, which he recorded at Antone’s (now The Gig) on Crockett Street.
After making a transition from drums to guitar and David Lee began to write his own music.
“I always knew how to play guitar a little bit, and when I really wanted to start writing … Jimmy gave me some song books — a Doors song book, a Jimmy Buffett song book, a James Taylor song book. I kind of taught myself. When I went away to college, I took some guitar classes and kind of refined everything,” David Lee said.
David Lee saw solo success as well, sharing the stage with Cross Canadian Ragweed, Roger Creager, Pat Green, Robert Earl Keen, Hank Williams Jr. and Merle Haggard.
“Merle Haggard is one of my favorites as far as traditional country,” said David Lee, who was ecstatic to have an opportunity to play with the country legend. “You can’t get any better than that.”
Although the two have had successful solo careers, they always find time to reunite at their annual concert called Kaiser Family Christmas or KFC. Both are family men now. David Lee was married in 2011 and Jimmy was recently married in September.
Jimmy was David Lee’s best man when David Lee married in 2011 and David Lee returned the favor when his brother was married last September and even performed “If I had a million” by Pat Green for Jimmy and his wife, Jenny, as they danced.
The occasion was a memorable experience that their mother said she would never forget. Frances captured the priceless moment with a photograph.
“I actually have a wonderful picture of that,” Frances said. “Dave’s on stage with Jimmy and Jenny dancing and the kids got in there. Nobody told them to. They were just all about the wedding.”
Both David Lee and Jimmy are proud fathers — David Lee and his wife Sara have a 4-year-old son named Tex, and Jimmy and Jenny have a 4-year-old daughter, Julianna.
“Once they had those babies, I became Maw Maw instead of the band mom,” Frances said.
Frances said like her sons’ weddings, Kaiser Family Christmas brings together high school friends, college friends, and friends the brothers met through their music.
“It’s just a big reunion,” she said. “We thrive on having an event where everybody can be there. That’s why we do Kaiser Family Christmas.”