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I love this dog. How funny is this!!!
Banjo Man and I arrived at the Austin airport at 3:45 AM Wednesday morning.
Yes, it was painful. But the plane was only half full, so that helped. The flight crew turned off the cabin lights and let us sleep for a while.
We landed in Baltimore about four hours later and staggered off the plane to hear the sound of cheering. I saw American flags waving a few gates away from us, so we went over to see who was arriving home.
“It’s an Honor flight,” Banjo Man explained, reaching for his handkerchief. “I’ve seen them before.”
“We fly veterans to Washington DC to visit memorials built to honor their service to the nation.
Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. We transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.
Of all of the wars in recent memory, it was World War II that truly threatened our very existence as a nation—and as a culturally diverse, free society. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 WWII veterans die each day. Our time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out.”
“We can’t all be heroes. Some of us have to stand on the curb and clap as they walk by.” – Will Rogers.
We watched as World War II veterans exited the plane (in groups of about 10 at a time). An honor guard representing five branches of the military lined up against the wall to salute them, Vietnam vets acted as escorts, and the crowd clapped and whistled and waved flags. It was terribly moving and such an honor to see.
Here are my pictures, as awful as they are (I don’t know how to take a clear picture with my Kindle yet).
(In honor of my father, who would have loved to have been part of this.)
Last Friday Son #1 went to the rodeo with his wife and son. Son #1 is a solid, steady, sweet, funny, loving, dependable guy. He loves his family, music, history, Nebraska football and…food. He is tall and thin and has been known to consume vast quantities of BBQ, steak, shrimp and gumbo.
His appetite is legendary, his capacity for eating quite awesome.
So while he was at the rodeo he ate a corn dog, a giant chipped beef sandwich, ice cream and a funnel cake.
That was lunch.
Then Son #1 drove down to Austin and joined us at Lucy’s Fried Chicken for music and a little afternoon snack of Fried Chicken Nachos, Deep Fried Hard-boiled Eggs with Dipping Sauce and a 16 oz. Lone Star beer.
After about an hour and a half of music and eating, we stopped at Southside Pizza for a large pepperoni and a medium pepperoni with mushrooms and green peppers.
Son #2 had four huge pieces.
The next day he didn’t feel very well. Go figure. And the day after that he was positively…sick.
He thinks it’s something he ate.
Or maybe everything he ate.
So Son #1, who has rarely met a vegetable he likes, is now eating oatmeal and fruit and salads.
He swears he has changed his ways.
Banjo Man and I spent the day with our four-year old grandson last week, and the little guy was determined to show us the sights around town. First he took me to his favorite “parks” (aka playgrounds). I swung on the swings while he climbed and slid and stabbed imaginary bad guys with his foam sword. We did this for two hours. I loved it because there was no snow or ice on the ground and I was certainly safe from all of the bad guys.
Then Grandpa (aka Banjo Man) arrived and John took us to town to his favorite restaurant, a place that serves New Orleans food. The little guy strutted out of there with a belly full of chicken tenders and Mardi Gras beads around his neck.
He definitely wanted me to see this:
And then there were other strange things, like these.
And then Banjo Man took a nap.
And John and I sang songs and drummed for three hours.
Yes, THREE HOURS.
And sing we did.
I’m glad those years–and thousands of hours–with my record player finally paid off.
Yes, it did rain in Austin Friday afternoon. The guy on the left is wearing a Nebraska Huskers poncho. We were impressed.
Kelly Willis played on Lucy’s small stage. We found a seat at one of the picnic tables under a tarp. After Kelly Chuck Prophet was next. The crowd loved them both. So did we, though the rain made it a little hard to hear. Plus we were eating deep fried hard boiled eggs with orange dipping sauce.
Don’t ask me to explain. I can’t.
We had a great time, though it got a little wet at our picnic table. We loved the music and the food and watching the people. There was something cozy about our tarp. After the music we stopped to pick up pizzas for the basketball games and went back home to dry out and watch tv for a while. Story Man headed down to Auditorium Shores to catch the Ryan Bingham concert (which he said was great) when the rain died down. The rest of us stayed on the couch with the food and the remote control.
Everyone is glad I bought a new tv. We’re all mesmerized by its clear screen and vivid colors. The days of the old box tv’s are officially over.
Saturday’s rain changed a lot of plans for a lot of people. But those who live in Austin and those who visit tend to adapt quickly and remain cheerful. I think it’s the music. And maybe the large quantities of Lone Star beer.
Starting the day off with breakfast—with Banjo Man and Story Man. I’m particularly fond of the pumpkin bread french toast platter. Then we took Story Man to work. He’s learning the ways of “the pit”, which is BBQ talk here in Texas. The “pit” is where the magic happens.
We went to the Saxon again, this time to see Folk Uke (Willie Nelson and Arlo Guthrie’s daughters). They’re hilarious. We sat next to a woman who was in Rhode Island last week on business and who was impressed with the amount of snow and the size of the potholes.
Scenes from the van while Banjo Man put gas in the car.
Here’s the guy (I think his name was Danny Hawkes, but I’m not sure–it was hard to hear) on the pedal steel. He was rockin’ it.
I think the pedal steel has to be one of the most complicated instruments known to mankind. I have yet to see a young guy playing one. Except for Cindy Cashdollar, the musicians playing lap steels and pedal steels have all looked as if they just drove off the ranch and came to town to play for a while.
There was one odd moment in this particular show when the band (I think they were called The Peacemakers) played a song I hadn’t heard since the 1970’s. Pat Ball used to sing it at the Playhouse Bar in Clark Fork. “Come On Down, Sweet Virginia” was a real crowdpleaser there at Billy Derr’s.
Hearing it again gave me goosebumps. Banjo Man and I both felt more than a little sad.
And then we came home, but only after a shopping trip to pick up groceries. Banjo Man is making Sunday breakfast for the family in the morning and needed supplies. Because after breakfast we’re heading back to Strange Brew for the Sinners Brunch and two more hours of music.
I’m sure we can sleep on the plane.
Up the street, just a few minutes walk away, is a bar called C-Boys. It used to be a hole-in-the-wall punky loud bar (with rumors of a knife fight) until the Continental Club bought it and turned it into a high quality rhythm-and-blues bar.
Banjo Man decided to check it out for himself yesterday.
Paul Oscher, Muddy Waters’ harmonica player, did a show at 6 PM.
Banjo Man had a great time. He came home beaming, a new cd in his hand and a big smile on his face.
We’re going back to C-Boys later this evening, hopefully before the rains come, but Paul Oscher is going to be performing at the Saxon.
Austin is expecting heavy rains and flash floods tonight, which will certainly be a problem for the dozens (hundreds?) of outdoor shows this evening. We won’t be driving anywhere.
Yesterday I went nowhere. Eight hours at the Saxon wrecked me, which I hate to admit. And there was no music I just had to see yesterday. My ears were tired, which I also hate to admit.
Banjo Man is playing his new blues cd right now. Paul Oscher told him which cd to buy, which makes it even more special.
I had the blues so bad I almost lost my mind…..
Last night may go down in history, as far as Banjo Man and I are concerned. We spent eight hours at the Saxon Pub, our favorite music spot in Austin, to see many of our favorite musicians in one night, in one place.
Epic, I tell you. Epic.
We arrived at 5:30 PM, intent upon getting a seat. The Saxon is not a big place, but we found seats in one of three booths on the far side of the room.
Walt Wilkins and his band played the 6 PM Happy Hour. They were a rockin’ band with great harmonies. Walt was pretty laid back and totally hilarious. Banjo Man bought 2 cd’s.
The three of us (Story Man, aka Son #2) paced ourselves with root beer and ginger ale.
At 8:oo the “Ameripolitan” showcase began. Dale Watson (he was on Jimmy Kimmel last night) is one of Austin’s (and Texas) stars. He is a huge promoter of country and roots music. In 2013 he heard a Blake Shelton interview where Shelton made derogatory comments about traditional country music, inspiring the “Old Farts and Jackasses” movement in response.
You can read all about it HERE (pretty funny stuff). I gave up listening to country music radio back in the early 90’s, when it turned into pop music, as did a lot of people!
Dale and other Austin music lovers founded the Ameripolitan Music movement, with its own awards show, to promote American Roots music–country, hillbilly, rockabilly, etc.
Last night’s lineup:
Dallas Wayne, of Sirius Radio fame. He also plays in Redd Volkeart’s band, Heybale.
Ray Benson, of Asleep At The Wheel! This guy is TALL. And what a voice!! We saw him the night before, with the whole band. Last night he played after having two root canals, which was amazing. He’s a pretty funny guy and I could have listened to him all night, but he had to go home and take the pain pills his dentist gave him.
Earl Poole Ball, also known as Mr. Honky Tonk Piano, was Johnny Cash’s piano player for a gazillion years. It’s always a pleasure to hear Earl on the keyboard. A highlight of any evening in Austin! A few years ago we were at Threadgills North to hear him play and ended up being part of his birthday party. I can say, “Earl Poole Ball served me a piece of birthday cake!”
Rosie Flores: http://rosieflores.com/ Also known as the Hillbilly Filly!
Jesse Dayton is now one of my new favorite musicians. He opened with a song called “Daddy Was a Bad Ass”. I am going to buy all of his cd’s as soon as I finish this post and save them for June’s road trip.
Amber Digby, beautiful young woman with a beautiful voice. The kind of voice that makes singing country songs sound easy!
I’ve posted about Bill Kirchen many times. Banjo Man and I are almost Kirchen Groupies because we’ve seen him so many times, in Texas and RI and Massachusetts. “A guitar player’s guitar player”, Dale Watson said. So true. He thrilled the crowd with his legendary Hot Rod Lincoln song, along with all of the side affects. I sat with him at a picnic table at Guero’s about three years ago and we watched Johnny Gimble perform what may have been one of his last shows. We agreed it was bittersweet, but an honor to just be there to see Johnny one more time. I like Bill. I wish he lived next door so I could bake him peach pies.
Which brings me to another HUGE FAVORITE of mine, Suzy Bogguss.
Last year we saw her at Opa’s, and then we hiked a mile (which felt like ten) to see her perform in East Austin. That was the night where, a few blocks away at the same time we were heading home, the man escaping the police crashed his car into dozens of SXSW concert goers.
Suzy sang Merle Haggard songs from the cd she released last year, plus she did a personal fave, “I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart”, written back in the 1930’s by one of the female pioneers of country music, Patsy Montana.
Dale made her sing a “yodel encore” and the crowd loved it.
And now it was 1:45 AM.
The Saxon doesn’t serve food, but there is a pizza restaurant nearby that delivers. Sometime between Walt Wilkins and Dallas Wayne, we consumed a medium pepperoni pizza and four more root beers.
I indulged in only one margarita. I had to pace myself.
Banjo Man padded his wooden seat with a folded sweatshirt. Story Man used a thick newspaper. I needed no padding and did just fine, though I did get testy when one camera-toting tourist kept stepping in front of me to take pictures. I moved him aside several times when he didn’t move after taking his shots. He’s lucky I didn’t kick him with the pointed toe of my boot.
But I thought about it. I even got my feet in position a few times. I finally had to direct him to a place where he could stand without blocking my view or the ladies room door.
So today, Thursday, we are home. We slept late. Story Man went to work at the BBQ place, where he is learning about smoking brisket. Banjo Man is cooking beans–I haven’t asked why. He is going to wander around later and go to some of the “day shows”. I need to work, get a few more pages written on the Last Writing Project Ever, and later on we will see where we will go tonight.
In the meantime….
Saturday evening on South Congress means there is live music at Guero’s Taco Bar. I love their trees!
Saturday afternoon Banjo Man spent a couple of hours at the Continental Club listening to Redd Volkaert and his band rock the house. I stayed at the condo to work, despite our new neighbor’s incredibly intense remodeling project. Despite using my earbuds (and piping subliminal writing music into my brain) the constant noise of his drilling and pounding and banging had made me crazy.
I was to meet Banjo Man at the Continental Club and we were to go out to dinner somewhere along the tourist-filled street. By 5:30 I was ready to either throw myself face down into the pool or drink a margarita.
Banjo Man could tell I was at some kind of breaking point, so he fed me (Chicken Cabo at the Magnolia Cafe) and then hustled me down the sidewalk to find some music and alcohol.
I have never been much of a drinker. There was one severe and life-changing episode at Mardi Gras when I was seventeen and drank four Hurricanes and was so sick all night I thought I was going to die. There has never been an event like that since then. But when I turned 60 and ended up going back to work, well, I discovered that having a margarita once in a while wasn’t such a bad thing. Tequila didn’t make me sick (whiskey) or give me a migraine (gin, rum) or make me sleepy (wine). In fact, it made me positively cheerful.
Which, after Really Bad Writing Days, Banjo Man is grateful for.
Thanks, Guero’s. A good time was had by all.