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From south of south Austin, SXSW journal, part 1

A glimpse of old Austin–from the wall at Threadgill’s. Leon Russell, Phil Lesh, Jerry Garcia, Doug Sahm, and others.

Tuesday, March 19: Good morning. Closing out my Texas visit today; driving to Ruston, LA to sit in with Monty Russell tonight at Portico. We start at 6:30. I’ve been working on a post about the last few days. Here’s the first part . . .

Thursday, March 14: I’ve been sitting on the back porch in my sweats watching cloud-shadows roll like waves across the field that is my mom’s backyard. The grass is starting to grow, close to the porch; the tallest greenest leaves are already heavy and lazy enough to bend back toward the ground while being played loosely by the wind. It’s always Spring in Texas before it’s Spring in Tennessee. There’s one wasp up in a corner of the eaves, just starting the ash-gray stem of a nest. Something that has either wings or a tail is making all kinds of racket inside the storage shed. The weather couldn’t be any better, here or anywhere. I’m drinking strong coffee, fooling around with a new app (new to me), Vine, and just feeling all calm and contented (while I can).

Great time last night at the G & S Lounge; I played a solo set (twice as long as I had expected) in the Music Room. From the first chord I knew that yes, as the little internal voice had mentioned hours before, that I should have changed the strings on my guitar. Sounded a little dull to me. But I got through okay–and folks seemed to dig what I was puttin’ down. Even in a 40-minute set it’s hard to pay allegiance to the older songs (inevitably what folks ask for, because they are the ones they know), while breaking out new material, and putting the solo spin on some of the songs from Gloryland. But maybe we got there. And I was reminded of why coming down here for what seems like a ridiculous pilgrimage of false-hope (SXSW) can be so meaningful: connecting with friends–friends who are all connected through the music. A DJ from France who needed the new record; fans from Norway who met me at the back door of the van to fill out their KG record collections. My fellow Nashvegan (no, not vegan) friend Jon Byrd, who, despite having a bad toothache, still sounded like the best country singer in America despite the virtual percocet crutch. And my old pal Brian Langlinais, whom I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. When our kids were small, we used to see each other all the time. Now time and change don’t make it as easy to do that anymore. When I got back here to the house last night, hours later than I’d planned, I was exhausted yet invigorated.

Friday, March 15: I played a set at Maria’s Taco Xpress Thursday afternoon–part of the Grand Ole Austin showcase–on a (thankfully) shaded stage. Thanks again to Julie Richmond, Matt Farber, Kim Grant, and everyone else responsible for having me and making me feel so welcome. Really dug the other acts I heard, though wish I’d had a band, like them! Though friend and neighbor Otis Gibbs did play solo, too. (Did y’all hear the podcast I recently did with him? He’s got a good thing going; check it out.) That night I walked around South Congress–oh the humanity! Despite the onset of agoraphobia, I had a good time, keeping the intake down to one margarita at Guero’s and a small serving of what must be the best ice cream in the world, at Amy’s. Heard a fantastic Norteno band whose name escapes me.

Saturday, 3/16: I slept late Friday morning, dragging my sleepy head into town to make my gig, which was a short set and interview at Threadgill’s, part of a day of shows there presented by Austin’s mighty KDRP and hosted by the venerable Jessie Scott. Five miles from the house I realized I’d left both of my capos there; Nora Jane Struthers was kind enough to loan me hers. I followed the Black Lillies, from Knoxville; wow, were they great! My set went okay, though starting a pre-noon solo show with “Deuce & a Quarter” while running on five hours of sleep and one cup of coffee is no longer advised. My second song, a new one, working title “Walking on the Levee”, was what I should have started with. Closed with “Side of the Road”. I stuck around to hear James McMurty and Ron Sexsmith, among others–really enjoyed hearing new songs from each of them. Ordered a delicious and heavily caloric lunch; drove back to the house. Later I drank a little bourbon with Mom as Friday faded into night and we tried once more to de-code our past and present corners of the world.

One Response to From south of south Austin, SXSW journal, part 1

  1. Sarah Evelyn Womack March 20, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    Hello, My sister tells me you have a song “Crowville”? I remember – a long time ago you told me you would write a song about Crowville. If yes, what album is it on? I have not heard it. I have finally retired from public school teaching and Now I am teaching Anger Management in a Women’s Rehab (It is sponsored by our church.) I have learned plenty from these women. I do hope you and yours are doing well. I miss Susan and Susanne, I get to see Sam a couple times per year. At least he knows who we are. Ha. Great work, many more successes. (T’s Mom) SEW

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