Well, well, well.
It’s now been more the four months since South by Southwest 2012 wrapped up and we departed the Texas capital. It’s been nearly two months since “Austin Snapshot, Day 2” appeared on this absurd little journal.
But the Rube’s not going to give up the ghost. I’m a stubborn SOB, though you wouldn’t think so to meet me.
Well, I don’t remember fuck-all about our third day in Austin. What do you expect, it’s been more than four months?
(The “you” in the previous sentence is of course entirely rhetorical, since “you” implies there’s someone else, a human someone else, on the other end of this communique.
A reader, for instance.
“You” is a fictional character I dreamed up in my diseased head. I get a lot of funny thoughts from time to time. I’m not dangerous, though. Really.
“You” is a person with too much time on his/her hands. “You” has no cable, no job and no Facebook account. “You” has no significant other, except for a cat named Raskolnikov.
“You” used to spend a ridiculous amount of time on a fan blog chronicling the ups and downs of his/her favorite college football team, until it turned out the revered coach of that team and his “bosses” in university administration had spent an awful lot of time shielding a serial child rapist. Now “you” hates sports and doesn’t read any blogs having anything to do with sports. Consequently, “you” suddenly had a ton of disposable time.
“You” is the kind of guy/girl you’d find sitting around in his/her underwear, neglecting his/her hygiene and forgetting to pay utility bills while combing the Internet for meaning and solace.
“You” is a hopeless masochist whose fantasies of being a “writer” are fueled by the illiterate nonsense he/she reads on this blog.
“You” used to spend a lot of time reading people like Charlie Pierce and Glenn Greenwald before realizing he/she would never have anything brilliant, witty, insightful or useful to say like those guys seem to do on a regular basis.
And so “you” grew despondent and started filling his/her time by watching an embarrassing number of “Three’s Company” episodes on Youtube (how many episodes of “Three’s Company” constitute an “embarrassing number” remains open to debate, and “you” spent a lot of time wondering and fretting about the answer to this very question). Turns out “you” harbors inexplicable and twisted sexual fantasies concerning John Ritter.
Then Youtube pulled the Three’s Company episodes for copyright infringement, leaving “you” with nothing to do but be alone with his/her own thoughts.
This, of course, drove “you” to the brink of suicide.
As “you” grew more desperate, his/her Google searches grew increasingly eccentric.
One of those searches transported “you” into Uncle Sam’s backyard. And here “you” are.
“This is fucking bullshit,” “you” muttered the first time. “Who is this fucking Rube Waddell asshole?”
“You” gets infuriated and flies into frequent rages while reading this blog. He/she screams things like “I can write better than this douchebag with one arm tied behind my back (he always issues a silent apology to Rush Limbaugh after saying this)” and “this guy fucking sucks so bad I’m going blow a hole in my pyloric valve if I don’t stop reading him” and “is there no one left on this God-forsaken planet who does not have a fucking blog on which to scribble down the inane details of their wretched little lives?” and “Jesus Christ on acid doing somersaults and back flips on a tightrope suspended above Niagara Falls, this guy couldn’t possibly be any worse.”
Raskolnikov hates “Uncle Sam’s Backyard,” too, because every time “you” loses his/her mind while reading this blog, poor Raskol leaps off the bed (no sheets or pillow cases on this bed, mind you) where “you” spends most of his/her time and runs for cover.
Yet “you” keeps reading.
For that, I say thank “you.”)*
Where were we? Ah, Day 3. Friday, March 16, 2012.
After a pleasant night’s sleep, we awoke in our camping spot in the parking lot behind the YMCA. Being health nuts one and all, Blind Charlie, Rhoda Morgenstern and I began our day with a refreshing workout. Max had to go into babysitting, however.
Afterward, Blind Charlie, while sitting in the camper, overheard some guy on a cell phone saying “We’ve got an RV in the parking lot, and I’m sure it’s South by Southwest.” We hadn’t seen the “No SXSW parking sign.” We knew we’d be finding new digs for tonight.
We mixed up a batch Bloody Mary’s and went looking for breakfast tacos. Or maybe we went looking for breakfast tacos and mixed up a batch of Bloody Mary’s.
Our bellies full and our heads on straight, we set out for the Yard Dog Gallery for the annual Bloodshot Records dust-up. Blind Charlie and I had a time at this free-for-all in 2006. We enjoyed a rollicking party and lineup that included Scott Biram, the Meat Purveyors, Bottle Rockets and Waco Brothers, among others. I remember a bottle of Jack Daniel’s being passed around during the Wacos typically raucous performance. It made it to the stage, then back into the throng in front. Somehow it got into my hands, and with no thoughts of hepatitis A, I swigged off it with gusto. That was a good day.
Naturally, we had to go back to the Yard Dog. We found a parking spot in environs of south Austin, then set out in a northeasterly direction for the gallery. Soon we came face to face with the Third Man Records bus parked on South Congress.
Jack White was not inside. We chatted up the nice young woman who was, hoping to score some insider information on a secret Jack White concert that we’d no doubt remember for the rest of our lives as legendary. And epic. No such luck.
Upon my direction, Rhoda and Max posed for a photo. She set her Bloody Mary on the sidewalk. I deftly kicked it over. “L,” as Dusty and Kelsie Lane would say.
Worse yet, I had to forfeit my Bloody Mary. So it goes.
We kept moving till we found our way to the alley leading to the back yard of Yard Dog, where all the fun was to be had. Cory Branan was on stage. He’s a relative newcomer to the Bloodshot posse. Didn’t really listen too closely as I was waiting in the beer line (first things first). Checked him out later when we got home. Like him. Reminds me a bit of early Old 97’s. At least “The Prettiest Waitress in Memphis” does. His recent work sounds a bit grittier, but still shows off considerable songwriting chops:
Lydia Loveless was up next. Didn’t get a good listen to her, either. Checked her out on Spotify (gonna have to buy some CDs soon. Apparently Spotify, while wonderful for listeners, is not so great for performers. Fuckers.), and took a liking her too. Hey look, it’s Lydia Loveless doing “Steve Earle” at SXSW ’12. This is from Jovita’s Twangfest party on the previous day. Good stuff.
The highlight of the set was Wayne “The Train” Hancock. I’d never seen him, but he’s one of those guys whose name is always floating around as someone you have to see live. He skews to traditional country, but unlike someone such as Chuck Mead, his performances don’t seem traditional to the point of fossilization. In other words, he rocks.
And his bass player, Zack Sapunor, wins the SXSW award for greatest facial expressions. Dude looks like Bag from the old Happy Days episodes if Bag were cool and could play the shit out of the upright bass.
Not only that, but Wayne the Train Hancock bears a passing resemblance to Ryan “The Pain” Divish of The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.). I spent an hour messing with Photoshop in an effort to demonstrate their facial similarities, but I’m shit at Photoshop. I decided to move on before I suffered a stroke.
So instead of posting that photograph, here’s one of some revelers at the Yard Dog:
Blind Charlie had an appointment to meet a former colleague for coffee, so we parted ways.
But before we bid Charlie adieu, there was the matter of a porta-potty visit for Rhoda. While this was taking place, Max decided to give into his creative urges to work. His medium? Dirt and leaves and a readily abused father.
We went north to see the Gourds at the Dog and Duck Pub. While Charlie and I had seen them at Antone’s the previous night, Becky and Max hadn’t. And as a rule you must see the Gourds at least once if you’re visiting Austin. Otherwise you have to go to Houston. Chuck, for his part, got to see JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound and the Wacos.
We got some of that tasty Texas gruel from dem Gourds, as usual. Max did a lot of dancing. We chatted with the always-affable Kev Russell/Shakeheap/Shiny Ribs afterward, then ran into our old friend the Ducktaper.
Duck suggested we head to extreme south Austin later for a SXSW party at Sam’s Town Point, which he promised was as close to the old Austin as one’s likely to find in 21st century Austin. Shiny Ribs was on the bill, too.
We reconnoitered with Chuck, ate some tacos and eventually made our way to Sam’s. We saw a couple of intriguing, under-the-radar songwriters, Leo Rondeau and Mark Jungers. Both are sadly obscure and more than worth listening to.
Mark Jungers …
… And Leo Rondeau:
We enjoyed a good and grimy set from Shiny Ribs then went back to Duck’s house on his invitation/insistence. We hung out in his cave, where he turned us onto the Texas Tinys, Glossary and a handful of other bands I can’t recall at the moment.
There might’ve been some contraband involved. Usually is at Casa de Duck. Becky and I had been here before, in the fall of 2003. We’d been in Fort Worth on the heels of the ACL Festival, hanging with Jason Brown. Then we discovered Kev was scheduled to do a solo show at Flipnotics, so we drove all the way back to Austin.
Kev never showed. There was a mix-up. The Gourds were doing a wedding. The opening act was on hand, however. Scott H. Biram. We’d never heard of the guy. We were disappointed. He promptly knocked us on our asses with his one-man Texas blues-and-country hurricane. We’ve been fans since. When it was over, Duck invited us back to his house. He’s the consummate host. Great guy. Generous to a fault. Also a Scouser, as I discovered. Not a real Scouser, mind you, just a rabid fan of Liverpool FC.
Anyway, to make an interminable story just a little bit briefer, we had a great time with Duck, then slept in his driveway. Well, not in his driveway proper, but in the behemoth, which was parked in the driveway. There was a slight incline, so we slept downhill a little bit, but we didn’t have to worry about anybody calling a tow truck. We slept fine.
Thanks for the hospitality, Duck.
That’s all for now.
*Apologies to Arn Lytle. “You” is not meant to be you. You are my most faithful reader, and I’ll always love you for that. I wouldn’t want to lose you. I want you to keep reading. If you need me to send a donation, let me know. I was just feeling a little bitter. I’m better now. I appreciate all my readers. I could thank you all by name, but won’t now for fear of accidentally leaving someone out. Anytime you feeling like dropping by, please do. I know you’re all busy and have lives and jobs and far better things to read, so no pressure. Thanks again.