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An unexpected two-hour set in Austin.

July 1, 2017

We arrived in Austin after some rain driving in the driving rain; windshield wipers were set on “stun” but were still ineffective at providing a moment’s clarity. The 75 MPH Texas highways were creeping along in the 40s, pushing my noon goal for Austin back to around 2:30. We got squared away at last, took a nap and arose to check out Stinson’s, exercising an invitation to sit in that dated back to last summer.

 

Debra and I attended the Old Settler’s Music Festival in Austin, Texas last year, a mostly bluegrass affair with some other styles stirred in, and as festival haunters will tell you, a large part of a bluegrass festival’s appeal is the after-hours jamming that happens at campsites across the festival grounds. We ran across a campsite that called itself “Camp Bayou Love,” where a group of musicians were sharing songs and accompanying one another. There were many fine singers and players, two of whom particularly knocked me out; Michael Cross, a guitar player and singer, and Joanna Howerton. Their circle did have somewhat of a bluegrass whiff, but Joanna is a real-deal accordion player with an authoritative Cajun swing, and Michael is a killer blues and gospel whisper-to-a-scream singer, so their sound was definitely more urban than most, and as it would turn out, a trumpet was just the thing, especially relative to groups playing idiomatic string band style, a beautiful scene I prefer not to crash for decorum’s sake.

 

I sat with them on muted trumpet and was warmly accepted into the fold. Michael and Joanna have had a long-standing steady gig in Austin at a place called Stinson’s for many years and they stressed that if I ever found myself in Austin on a Friday, and they heard about it, and I didn’t come play with them at Stinson’s, they would be grumpy with me. Last night, I called their bluff.

 

Stinson’s is a renovated gas station, and the band plays outside where the gas pumps used to be:

 

The bar resides in the automobile bays:

 

 There is a kitchen that makes killer tacos where the cash register and the office used to be. Crazy. I think it’s the future model for bar-and-grill-type restaurants as Elon Musk slowly takes over the world and gasoline becomes obsolete.

 They invited me up on the first song and I ended up playing the entire two-hour set with them, minus a break for delicious tacos. Debra filmed my St. James Infirmary vocal, along with a blues called "Honeybee," with an excellent demonstration of when a bandleader cajoles you to keep soloing even though your chops are a little busted.

 

Honeybee:

St. James Infirmary:
 

This morning we rented kayaks and paddled around in Ladybird Lake, part of the Colorado River’s series of dammed up lakes. Odd, I found a prescription bottle of anti-anxiety medication, quite full, bobbing up and down like a cork in the water. I retrieved it and snorted them immediately. Just kidding of course. I returned them to the rental agent, who snorted them immediately. Again, just kidding. I assume they initiated some little web hunt and absent success, disposed of them properly on the black market. Yet again, just kidding.

 

We have met wonderful friendly people here in Austin, and have been given rides and smiles and offers to play. It has been a great stop for us. Tonight we are going to try to catch Jimmy Vaughn at The Continental.

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