Posts Tagged ‘South Congress

28
Mar
12

Alejandro Escovedo and Friends at the Continental Club: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

I found myself for the first time in days able to take the morning on a slow start path. My host Mike was up and was kind enough to make coffee for us both. He had hooked me up with a great place to stay and inadvertently introduced me to new friends. We finally had time to get to know one another. Of course we related to one another how crazy Southby is and each of us recounted stories as it related to the previous weeks events. We stumbled upon the topics of Rhett Miller. Mike is a fan and a friend. We concurrently experienced The Old 97’s during the 90’s in Dallas. He remembered and recounted things I had long forgotten as he elaborated on Rhett’s career and talent to me. I could only endorse his sentiments with occasional flurries of my own observation of that time in Dallas. There was a part of me that wished we’d had this conversation 2 days earlier but it was such a good feeling to have this connection right then and there as we traded stories in his living room. It appears that Rhett played his last Austin-ish gig in Willie Nelson‘s cowboy town 40 miles outside Austin. That show would have been a sweet ride! Mike was totally cool and it was really nice to get to visit during the decompression part of SXSW.

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My next move was more exploration. I had Mexican food on my mind. It was the return to the taco theme I had earlier in the week. I cruised South Congress diverting to South 1st Street on a deeper level of exploration to happen upon El Tacorrido. The only Taco joint I know of that has 2 drive thrus. I was smitten! I wanted to use the drive thru but after a bit of a wait and a keen desire to hook up, I settled for the walk up solution. The menu was slightly different form most Tex-Mex feeds and that really drove my curiosity. I ordered a gordito and a breakfast taco. I explained it to my friend Jonas like this: “This taco stand is really different for Mexican food in Texas. I can’t say it’s truly Tex-Mex. I’m having difficulty pin pointing exactly the style but it’s more south and inland. Or in other words it’s not the kind of food you find on the border or made for American taste buds.” I was completely satisfied when I headed over to Bouldin Creek for my morning coffee. I spent a few hours organizing photos on my computer as a way to bide my time before the big send off show.

Soon the hour was upon us and I headed over to pick Karen up and to share a little pre-celebratory happy hour at her hotel. I have to say, I was a bit antsy now knowing how both Mike Mills and Peter Buck were showing for tonight’s performance at The Continental Club. I count myself extremely fortunate that the first year I attended SXSW I was made aware and got to experience Alejandro Escovedo and Friends at The Continental Club. I have Karen to thank for that! It’s a cozy environment and the place is ran well. Now it’s an irresistible tradition. It’s such a great way to say farewell to Austin and SXSW. As we rolled up Alejandro was outside visiting with folks. He’s very approachable and a nice guy. It was nice to be inside The Continental Club where Karen and I turned into fans. Miss Melvis was playing. We enjoyed the show but we considered another Happy Hour moment was in order out at my car. We scored the cups at Zen next door and we were on our way. You could hear the sound of clunking paper cups and a toast if you were close or maybe, just inside the red Ford Focus. It was a nice bottle of red wine. Usually, I’m not so inclined to drink red wine but this was pretty good stuff. We then joyfully returned to the club locked in for the rest of the night.

By the time we returned Jesse Malin of D Generation had taken the stage and was entertaining everyone. I continued my Happy Hour on a little longer by drifting to the back bar that I favor the most. I bumped in to Lenny Kaye as the star-studded event bubbled with a who who’s in the back. Again I moved up front I staked my place near the front when the young musical team called Ghost Wolves started a short and energetic set. Konya on drums/vox and Carley on guitar. They started out their set on each other’s instruments and then flipped after the first song. Karen wasn’t feeling it, but I was kind of feeling it. It was like Loretta Lynn singing for the White Strips. By this time Kimiko had join us. It was good to see her. She’s got a cool way about her. She was representing Rosie Flores who would play later that night. This was her reason to be at The Continental Club on this fine evening. She smartly drifted to the back to await for Rosie appearance. Karen and I were up front when Garland Jeffreys took the stage: I mean he took the stage hostage! This man knows what he’s doing! Photo op after photo-op. I’m not familiar with the man’s material but was I was surprised how much his music sound like early to mid Rolling Stones. He did a riveting version of “? and the Mysterian” 96 Tears. He was one of highlight of the evening: a ball of energy and passion. I drifted to the back as did Karen, eventually, where we sat near the threshold of the door. It was time to cool off from the hot and tightening room. Tommy Stinson was taking the stage, I guess, just fresh from the G&R’s tour. I was drinking beer in the back again. I managed to come up for Barfirld (The Tyrant Of Texas Funk). The brother was funky with ranch fresh Cowboy look. He kept it funky and showed us his James Brown dance, except no leg splits. It was good stuff: comedic and entertaining. Damn good drinking music. So I headed back and drank again. At this point Karen spotted David Fricke, I saw him too, from Rolling Stone at the back door. Before long Kid Congo Powers (The Gun Club and The Cramps) would attach himself to the stage and I was all over that! I’ve been wanting to see Kid Congo for years and tonight it would be consummated. How romantical! Kid Congo spread his freak flag far and wide in the Continental Club as I squeezed to the front to catch his much of anticipated act. The former Cramps alumni kept us all completely entertained. He refered to Lux Interior, no, not Nick Cave, at one point when he said there was visionary who told me, “One day Kid you will have your own band and you’ll call it Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds”. I think his time in the Cramps were well spent because he kept us engaged in much of the same way the Cramps would have had they been there. After Kid Congo left the stage was about the time the lock down happened: no ins or outs! There was some speculation Bruce Springsteen would appear. I now believe it was for Mike Mills and Peter Buck. I headed to the back where I had to say hi to Kid Cango and take a few photos. I mentioned to him that Lux had jumped a couple of rows of people one time at the Spirit Club in San Diego and had tongued me. Then I told him that after that people thought I was pretty cool. That made him laugh. Then when I tweeted it, I found later, he had re-tweeted it on Twitter. I was honored he’d bother to do it and it made me laugh too. Then a little later I spotted Rosie and asked her for a photo or two. Once again I drifted to nostalgia. Rosie was at one time very much part of the LA Rock scene. She was one of the main forces in the Screamin’ Sirens. I know I’ve seen them perform. I think if was at Janice DeSoto’s club or maybe Cat House. But what was on my mind at that moment was the Hollywood Hillbillies. The band had a chicken in it. I loved it at the time. I mentioned Hollywood Hilllbillies to Rosie. Her response to me was she was in that band early on, for 3 weeks. I hadn’t remembered she was in the band. Then she qualified it by saying, “I was in the band before the chicken”. She knew about the chicken! That was a great moment. Only someone in the scene would know that! I chuckled. We finished and I decided to hang towards the back in stalker fashion. I was thinking when Mike and Peter enter I’d spot ’em. At this point we’d entered the home stretch where Alejandro and the Sensitive Boys played till they closed the place down. It’s always one of the best parts of the whole proceedings. I had seen Lenny Kaye learning the word to a song while leaning up against a car. I know because I ask him. I thought he’d gotten a ticket and he informed me other wise. It must have been one of Neil Young songs because he performed an engaging version “Like a Hurricane”. I found myself singing along to “Like a Hurricane”. Then Rosie Flores was announced and join the fun up on the stage. Rosie sang, “If I Could Only Be With You” and then followed it up with a duet with Alejandro with a her and Dave Alvin wrote together called, “Goodbye Again”. The crowd was enthusiastic and riveted. In this time some how, some way, both Mike and Peter got past me. Strangely, Mike Mills started doing this hula move during the cover of a The Troggs “Love Is All Around”. Peter Buck was channeling Michael Stipe hiding in the back corner when Mike Mills strapped on his bass to lead us in a sing-a-long of “Don’t Go Back to Rockville.” I had waited all night for this moment and was pleased I’d made it. As quickly as they had arrived they departed. I pushed through the crowd to catch them, but poof, they were gone, gone, gone! Sniff! Alejandro finished the set with Waco Brothers member Jon Langford for a rousing version of The Clash‘s “Rock The Casbah”. Karen found me and indicated it was a good to leave. I agreed. It was a long week followed by a long day capped off by many amazing performances. It was now time to take the gold home and prepare for long travel day before us both. Here’s to next year: a bigger better SXSW and going for more Hipster Olympic gold!

25
Mar
12

SXSW: Bounced in Austin On A Thursday With A Splash Landing Into Miles Davis House

As I sped down the road towards Austin away from Sherman in my rented red Ford Focus. The mile peeled away under the cloudy sky, clouds like white pillows or cotton balls rallied around me, billowing out in all directions under the wide open spaces of Texas: through the greenery of rolling hills of North East Texas, the towers and tangled express ways of Dallas that then gave way to Highway 35 and the arid flat lands of South East Texas that eventually opened to Austin. To say the least it’s a long drive to the largest Interactive/Film/Music convention in the world. The traffic thickened after Waco making it more a challenge to reach my destination in a timely manner. This was my third year at SXSW. Foursquare called me a sophomore, not knowing of my first outing 3 years earlier when I stayed with my gracious host Mary Kate. This year’s event loomed large and rather intimidating for me with over 120 RSVPs locked in and 5 artist I wanted to catch while I was “down in it” in Austin for the weekend.

I was fortunate enough to network through Christine, a social buterfly from Dallas, I had the pleasure to meet while having sushi in Silverlake with Doug and Johnny. We had made contact originally through Facebook. It so happened she popped in on us while she was visiting LA when we dined on tasty Sushi and enjoying multiple sake shots together. She’s a marvelous ball of fire and quite the conversationalist. I was working a number of Austin options that appeared to be on the fade when Christine came through and introduced me to Mike. Mike had opened his home to me for the few days I’d be staying in Austin. I would come to know as time passed and as this story unfold that Mike and I share some similar connections that go back to Dallas a city I lived in for 2 years. I arrived in Austin with all the deets to crash at Mike’s place and set up camp.

I set out from his place to find The Victory Bar & Grill where Karen organized and set up Miles Davis House. I finally deciphered the layout of The Victory Bar & Grill. Among the distractions set before me I decided to head down a long hallway that led into a large back room. It was dark and I immediately saw the stage to the left and booths to the right. I nested in the booths. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before I saw some familiar faces. Earl E. Gibson III (an exceptional photographer) and Erin Davis (Miles son), both came up to say hi and made me feel at home. Soon Karen was in the mix. We visited for a while and Vince Wilburn Jr. came up to give me a big old hug. Vince always puts a smile on your face. It was good to see him. Karen pointed out that Left Over Cuties were playing at the moment. I was amazed how much they had improved from the summer at El Cid and Sunset Junction party. I had arrived late and I had missed the only viable time to catch The Magnetic Fields, a band I yearned to see and the prospects for Fiona Apple were looking grim. While these unsatisfied expectations were on the back burners at the moment I couldn’t resist exploring The Victory Bar & Grill before I headed out. I landed outside where I met 2 young and talented musicians Alexandra Lee of Alexandra and the Starlight Band and Zachary James of Zachary James and the All Seeing Eyes. We all had a great little chit-chat. I got them to pose for a few shots and then Stuart Johnson, the drummer for Left Over Cuties, jumped in to add energy and kookiness. From there on the group shots explored their interpretations of Metal poses with all the gravitas of Rock gods. After all this passion I took the time to shoot a few shots of Vince and Erin outside The Victory Bar & Grill before I jaunted over to see Fiona.

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I left the Victory Bar & Grill to arrive near  the Austin Texas Central Presbyterian Church where a host of showcases were taking place besides Fiona Apple’s. One of the brutal truths of SXSW is if you arrive too late for a show, YOU ARE TOO LATE! No badge, no connections, no begging will lift you through the threshold to magically transport you to the center of the action. I came upon the badge line first. An exceptionally long line to arrive at 10 minutes after 8pm. Fiona was on at 8pm. I knew all was lost. But to make sure I cruised over to the wrist band line to see my hopes utterly dashed upon the steps of that Presbyterian of the church. This was a tough blow, although, I think of Fiona Apple as a nice second to say The Shins or The Magnetic Fields. Having 3 and 1/2 hours sleep under my belt I decided not to squander my flagging energy waiting in a line: a line that I’ll never see the virtue of being inside the sanctuary to see the barefoot chanteuse. I decided to hit South Congress to do something more than snack as I had The Boiling pot earlier on my arrival. I love downtown Austin but I’ve longed over the last few years to get a grip on what South Congress is all about. So I headed to yet another axis of the SXSW experience on South Congress. I wanted tacos! I found a spot near Home Slice Pizza and Güero Taco Bar. Güero’s is always crowded and that’s year after year at this time. As I walked to the corner to cross the street bands were blazing out the Rockin noise at Home Slice with a Boho crowd clustered around the popular pizza joint listening to music and eating copious amounts of pizza. Once across the street and inside Güero’s I found the place full but the bar area was available. After some thought I figured it was in my best interest, time wise. to plug into the bar. I sat next to 2 gentlemen in the middle of their meals and waited to be served. One of them decided to ask me if I were press. I was surprised by the question because I always try to keep that stuff on the down low. Then it dawned on me that I was wearing my Fader Fort Presented by Converse Press wrist. So I admitted I was press. We spoke in between my ordering and eating about his love of Punk Rock. He told me he followed the Ramones like a deadhead would follow The Grateful Dead. His friend to the left of him endorsed the comment and I laughed at the idea. Our conversation continued in-between my bites. The tacos were nice Tex-Mex fare, the red beans were, well, red beans and the Mexican rice was the worst I had ever eaten. So I passed on the rice. The guys bid their adu and the weight of possibly missing Semi-Precious Weapons were taking their toll in my mind on my drive to catch some new exciting bands.

I sped over to The Victory Bar & Grill just in time to catch Semi-Precious Weapons in search and destroy mode. I don’t think I’ve seen more action on stage since Wendy O’Williams of The Plasmatics or Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks. Thankfully, Justin Tranter can’t lactate like Wendy did: although, he played with his nipple while on stage. But the show was amazingly messy. Everyone in the group was jumping , crawling, crashing, playing , singing, spewing liquids as if they were a bunch of crazy monkeys on speed. I said on my Facebook fan page  as a comment they put on a show, show, show! The fans, yes the fans, were  as out of control as the band blew up and played off the crowd. You could honestly say their fans were as much of the show as the band. The fans were giving out the energy and the Semi-Precious Weapons were giving it right back at ’em! This eclipsed into over 20 minutes of magical mayhem of performance by the group. Later I headed outside. Semi-Precious Weapons geared up for  more photo opportunities with Erin and Vince by Earl. Karen and I had time to catch up as the Semi-Precious Weapons were in interviewed by Beta Records TV. Karen with Erin and Vince’s help put together this ambitious all day event for Mile Davis Estates with a host of new talented acts. All the while interweaving the legacy of artistry and innovation Miles Davis represents and carries on by his son Erin and his nephew Vince with these new breeds of entertainers. Miles Davis House shook The Victory Bar & Grill for a history making SXSW inaugural that sets a great foundation for next year’s blow-up event in Austin. We sat there for a while and talked about the day at hand, when Greg my roomie from last year, pulled up on his bike and joined in the fun. It was nice to see my homeboy after such a long time. Then Karen then had to run. Greg and I had a bromance drinking beers and yakking about all that had happened in the last year. Greg still had party left in him but it was after midnight and the fade was hitting me pretty strongly. I had only three and half hours of sleep and a 6 hour drive under my belt I felt it was time to melt into my digs. In Austin you got grab your sleep while you can when you’re playing in the SXSW Hipster Olympics.

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