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Austin, Day 2. An elder gentleman and some bats.

July 6, 2017

Day two in Austin began with three hours on Lake Ladybird in kayaks and in the evening, we logged 11,000 steps on Debra’s fitness gizmo, so we met minimum daily adult exercise requirements nicely. Hopefully the churros with chocolate dipping sauce and the apple soda float with caramel didn’t negate all that.


Before that, we had a great Italian dinner on Congress Street, then caught an Uber ride to hear a man we had heard about from his accompanist, John Driver. John had been at Stinson’s the night before, and described the vocalist he had been playing with as an 89-year old gentleman with a golden voice. His name is Herschel McFarland, and we caught his first set. Here is a clip with some pretty iffy outdoor acoustics of Herschel singing the last verse of “Seven Spanish Angels.” What a talent, and what a gentleman indeed.


I sat in with him on a blues and it didn’t go too badly, but i didn’t have a mute. Pianissimo is not my forte, so it could have been better, but I didn’t clam and I found a nice place for it. He is a real delight, with a repertoire that taps into Hank Williams, Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves and others. His “Take These Chains From My Heart” was just superb. If you’re in Austin, check him out at Café Mueller, attached to the HEB grocery store. HEB is a popular grocery chain in the area named for its founder, Howard “Harry” Edward Butt. I am chuckling over the notion that perhaps the name “Harry Butt’s” was preferred by some on the board, but cooler heads prevailed.


After Herschel’s set, we hurried down to the Ann Richards bridge on Congress Street, where every night at about sunset this time of year, two million bats that live underneath the bridge deploy from under the bridge for their nightly foraging session. It is the largest single bat colony in the United States, amounting to an estimated two million bats this year. Here is some wildly insufficient footage of the event. Like a grunion run or a sardine shoal, sometimes nature turns it up a little.


No trumpet extravaganzas or poetic whirlwinds tonight, but in addition to our 11,000 steps in the morning was a long promenade along the Riverwalk that boards Lake Ladybird, which ticked the gizmo up over 18,000. I paused at a scenic vista to play “This Land is Your Land,” partly in preparation for tomorrow, as we are attending Austin’s version of the Impeach Trump rally, and I intend to stir the crowd a little with some Charge bugle call, patriotic songs (like “This Land is Your Land” as well as some of the more jingoistic ones, just to prove that we own them too), and maybe the Darth Vader theme.


So it’s an early morning with lots of unknowns, plus we have at least four and a half hours of driving to get to Abilene. We may power through to Lubbock. One thing we have found out about Texas is that it is BIG.

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