Sunday, February 26, 2012

Musical Tour Through Texas

Last weekend we traveled to Austin, Texas to see shows by local musicians Dale Watson and The Derailers.  Our trip started in Houston where we saw Dale Watson perform live at Blanco's.  We weren't disappointed, and Blanco's itself is an experience.  We concur with a review of Blanco's that said "this is is the place to go if you want to reinforce the stereotype that everyone in Texas wears cowboy boots and listens to country music".  The venue was small and intimate and we were impressed not only with Dale but his fiddle player who jumped onto our table for a jam session without missing a beat.

On Saturday made our way west to Austin, which was the true destination for the weekend.  It turns out that Brenham where Sheri's "Mimi" lives is half-way between Houston and Austin.  We stopped for a quick visit including a lunch at the Funky Art Cafe.   By coincidence, Michael (Sheri's brother) and DiAnn (Sheri's mom) were also visiting Mimi so we got to see them too!

After lunch in Brenham we headed west to Austin.  We arrived late in the afternoon at the Hotel San Jose which offered an excellent touch-down place to relax and rest during our stay.  The hotel was located in South Austin in the heart of the music and art scene.  The restful accommodation at the Hotel San Jose became an important part of the weekend given that most of the acts we saw played till well past 1 a.m. !

On Saturday night we dined at The Broken Spoke, which has typical bar food with the exception of the Brussels Sprouts offered as a Side!  After chicken fried steak and good Tex-Mex we moved into the dance hall for a lesson in two-step and western swing.   Following dinner and dance lessons we were treated to a  3+ hour show by The Derailers.  The Broken Spoke is "home base" for The Derailers, so it was great to see them in their element, so to speak.  They are incredibly tight as a band and they seemed to have as much fun playing as we had listening (and dancing).

On Sunday were were treated to some warm sunny weather, which was most welcome after some heavy rain in Houston and light drizzle in Austin.  We walked around the town, including a stroll by the Red River which offered miles of footpaths to exercise our stiff dancing legs.  One of the highlights of the trips was discovering that Junior Brown was playing at the "famous" Continental Club just across the street from our hotel.  Added to that Junior was playing the EARLY show starting at 7:30 p.m..  We are big fans of Junior and have traveled as far as Boston, MA and Northampton, MA to see him perform.   We arrived early to get a good spot and were so glad we did!  His talent on his guit-steel guitar is unprecedented and we enjoyed some new material that is as yet unreleased.  Following the show we had a very nice dinner at a French-Vietnamese cafe (Elizabeth Street Cafe).

You can see a few video clips for Dale Watson (performing Memory Maker) and Junior Brown (performing Peelin' Taters, My Wife Thinks You're Dead and Surf Medley) from the weekend here.  A fun video by The Derailers is available here.