once again this w-e, we decided to mix healthful exercise with our nightlife, so we walked from la casa (near hulen st.) to fonky fred's
on currie and saloui's on university (which i guess is gonna be renamed "the blue grotto" soon, according to the cat who just bought it). the evenings were mild and clear and very conducive to this kind of peregrinatin', as well as sittin' out on fred's patio (recently upgraded with new fencing, new paint, strings of white christmas lights, and aluminum light poles with built-in gas heaters).
first stop on friday night was the modern art museum, to meet my middle dtr and her b-f and hear james hinkle
holding forth with eric zukowski on bass and joey carter on vibes, dipping into the jazzier side of his extensive repertoire of toonage. as james (who went to ut in austin to study painting but spent more time jamming in clubs than he did slinging paint in the studio) said, "we feel it's appropriate to be here 'cos what these cats were doing -- charlie parker, charles brown, robert ealey, u.p. wilson -- _was_ art." unfortunately, tadao ando's massive marble 'n' glass lobby swallows sound, or rather, amplifies audience conversation to a level where the lightly-amped three-piece was barely audible, even from 20 feet away. my sweetie informs me that the weakly said james' new cd, straight ahead blues?
, has been shortlisted for the 2005 blues grammy. it'd be a sign of a just universe if he won, having come close a coupla yrs back when johnny mack's hinkle-produced gave myself the blues
made the same list but not the final cut.
as my dtr hadn't eaten anything substantial in over 24 hrs, we departed the modern after a few minutes and headed to fred's for burgers 'n' jazz all around. terry's specials are legendary, and justifiably so, but i've been having to curtail my red-meat consumption of late and consequently, i've had to reluctantly pass on offerings like this weekend's 22-oz. porterhouse (sigh). but giving up fredburgers would be like giving up sex, or music, i.e., ain't gonna happen. (have tried to be more moderate in my consumption, tho.) musically this week, saint frinatra
was stripped down to the basic quartet, with brian sharp contributing his trademark whiskey-and-nicotine-soaked hipster quips in between trumpet solos.
the kids were flagging, so we left them to head home to catch some sueno and trekked on to saloui's-soon-to-be-"the blue grotto." i'd never set foot in the joint before but found a nice brick-lined barroom with a warm vibe kinda like the way the old hop on berry st. usedta be back in the day. mike richardson
was getting ready to start, his keyboards and brace of acoustic gtrs set up in the little "amphitheatre" at the end of the bar. now, big mike -- who plays in the party crashers
, their side project the exploding chihuahas, csn&y cover band 4 way street, and a doors tribute band, besides holding down a coupla regular weekly solo gigs and who knows what-all -- must know _thousands_ of songs, but for purposes of this saloui's gig was focused on keeping thangs soft 'n' quiet.
(actually, the whole enterprise reminded me mucho of a pianner-bar gig i'd seen jesse goldberg
, yet another expat lawn guylander (we are legion), do in aspen the winter of '79-'80, when i was there trying to make a rockband with some other noo yawk micreants. jesse, whose claim to fame back then was having written a campaign jingle for john anderson
's presidential campaign, used to do an act where he'd insult bar patrons in between playing their requests and his own billy joel-esque originals. i was amazed he got away with it without getting his ass kicked. somewhere there exists a tape of all of us along with jesse playing "do you love me" and "louie louie" with my bud bruce making up half the words that's pert fuckin' high-larious. but i digress.)
so anyway, we sat and listened to big mike sangin' songs that'd cause us to punch buttons if they came on the radio in the car (i'm a big music snob, remember), but the cat performed with such skill (not only does he hit _all_ the notes, including the tricky high ones, but he can actually change the timbre of his voice to match that of whoever he's covering, whether it's elton john or bob seger or roger daltrey or even the dreaded billy joel his own self) and sang with such soulfulness that we just had to dig it. then, home to check out the new dungen vinyl double elpee that just came in the mail and the cd-r of the first set from last week's wreck room wednesday night jam (aka "dax in orbit").
sat'day my sweetie remembered the clarence "gatemouth" brown ceedee i'd ordered from sumter bruton
at record town a few weeks ago, so we headed over to the shop before continuing on to thrift town on storied jacksboro hwy. to cop some new-old threads. the gatemouth disc was backordered, but there was something even better: a cd-r of the '73 live at the bluebird
elpee by robert ealey and his five careless lovers, a band that included sumter b. and freddie cisneros, aka "s.o.b. sammy" -- "that's 'south of the border,'" sumter 'splained -- on gtrs, jackie newhouse (who was playing with stevie vaughan the first and only time i heard him in the flesh, on 6th st. in austin back in late '79) on bass, and mike buck (he of fabulous thunderbirds / leroi brothers fame) on drums. i'd had this on vinyl back in the day but my future ex-wife donated it to goodwill in bossier city, louisiana, along with all my other good rekkids ca. '90 and it'd be worth a pile of money today, but sumter was generous enough to burn it for me and even let me take the cover art over to the xerox place next door so i could have the compleat artifact.
listening to ealey and the five careless lovers now is a trip, and not just for the sobering realization that i used to take it for granted that this music would always be around (in the same was as a teenager i assumed there'd be a big hipi rock festival in upstate new york every summer for the rest of my life). i never set foot in the bluebird until '78, but hearing the old room's ambience digitally reproduced (from t-bone burnett's original analog recording, which is phenomenally clear and loaded with presence for an early '70s live thang) was nothing short of spooky. as someone who grew up in the empire state surrounded by black ppl who were disdainful of blues as "countrified" and whites who preferred the heavy english variant on blooze to the genuine article, it was a revelation to me coming to the fort and hearing bands like the thunderbirds, ealey's various outfits, the juke jumpers et al. playing the real schitt the way it was meant to be played.
i learned so much about blues (and r&b and jazz and rockabilly and western swing) from hanging around record town and listening to sumter and his dad ("big sumter," we usedta call him) spinning sides and talking story. it made my heart glad that the ealey rekkid stands the test of time even better than i expected it to. it's a nice cross-section of the kind of material robert liked to sing: slow blues 'n' shuffles, gospel-based shouters, a soupcon of rock'n'roll, and even a boogie (john lee hooker's "boogie chillun," a signature toon for ealey and u.p. wilson when they first hit town). it'll be nice having it around to put on in between the ealey and juke jumpers discs that sumter and jim colegrove released a coupla yrs back.
turns out sumter had been playing at pop's safari (think the wreck room for older folks, just around the corner from fred's) the night before, and he was playing at saloui's (!) with hank hankshaw that very night, so we decided to stop by after checking out dave and daver at fred's.
it's a mystery to me why dave karnes and dave williams haven't yet managed to find a following as loyal as the sunday jazz crowd at the black dog or even the throng that flocks to hear saint frinatra (and eat terry chandler's boss chow) on friday night at fred's. this saturday night was a one-off, but hopefully terry was impressed enough to wanna book them back. karnes and williams are prolly the top players in town on their respective axes (traps 'n' tenor, respectively), and they've always enlisted great musos to collaborate with them. at fred's, besides jubilee theater/saint frinatra regular chris white on bass, they had leonard belota on trumpet, joey carter on vibes and oaklin bloodworth along to sing the good old ones. (when i hit the lottery, i wanna cut a rekkid on oaklin, backed by this unit.) while it was a relatively restrained outing for dave and daver (restaurant gig 'n' all, albeit one under the stars), foregoing the killer williams 'riginals from their jazz lines
ceedee in favor of standards, they started to cut loose a bit on "softly, as in a morning sunrise," and dave karnes graciously made room on his drum throne for saint frinatra's ron thayer and a pint-sized nawlins cat to sit in. karnes said that monster gtrist clint strong will be on the black dog gig tonight, so we'll be heading out there for a bit later (altho we'll have to leave early -- school night etc.).
(comedic high point of sat'day evening: at one point, ron thayer asked dave karnes, "so what do you think of the drums?" to which the fort worth academy of music instructor replied, without missing a verbal beat, "i wouldn't recommend that anyone ever play 'em, especially youngsters!")
finished out the evening by strolling back to saloui's, where sumter was tearin' it up with hank hankshaw on riddim gtr/vox, hank's wife jill on percussion, and bassist scott harpster. this drunk (but not yet garrruuunnnk) kid kept requesting grateful dead songs (maybe 'cos he saw scott's hair and figured "they're old, they have gtrs, therefore they must know..."), so hank mollified him with bobby bland's "turn on your lovelight" (which the dead covered on live dead
, not that the kid would remember) -- it was funny hearing sumter play that one after listening to him do it on the ealey rekkid earlier in the day. just be glad you missed the drunk kid bellowing the first two verses of, um, "texas flood" from the bar while hank 'n' co. played a slow blues. gotta love alcohol: makes _everyone_ a performer, including those who clearly ought not to be.
i'd only ever thought of hank as a country/rockabilly singer, but of course, he can sing the shit out of blues and arranbee, too -- in that way, he's the consummate texas entertainer (with the pipes 'n' persona to go with the mantle). sumter's gotten jazzier with maturity (his inversions on willie nelson's "night time" seemed to confound scott harpster until after the toon was over, when the bassist belatedly realized, "ahhh...I, VI, II, V!"), and he sometimes phrases behind the beat in the manner of his idol t-bone walker (no eric clapton grandstanding or mike bloomfield mock hysteria for this boy), but he's still enough of a showboat to rip off a few choruses with his gtr held behind his head a la t-bone. when my sweetie told him, "you make that look easy," he modestly replied, "it _is_ easy!"
finally, home to audition the day's other record town acquisitions (charlie christian and dizzy gillespie live at minton's and monroe's, 1941, and sonny boy williamson II's classic trumpet sides) before drifting off to blissful sleep, happy to live in a town where you can hear so much great music in an evening's stroll from la casa.