Friday, January 28, 2011

Austin and Beyond...

It was sunny and warm as we headed up the I-35 to Austin. We pulled into the Austin Lone Star RV Resort, had lunch, and set out for Sixth Street, the live music strip. Sixth Street is not much by day but we wanted to see if we might get a feel for what was going on by night.

Pictured is a shot of Sixth Street by day.

Of course, Austin has grown a lot since we were there sixteen years ago. It now boasts a population of 1.4 million, about the same as Vancouver I believe. Besides being the Live Music Capital of the World, it's also the State Capital and is home to The University of Texas, Austin State University and a whole host of colleges. It’s a happening kind of place.

Pictured is the city of Austin from the Congress Street Bridge. You can see the Capital Building way up at the end of Congress Street.

Despite it's size we could still find our way around the downtown pretty easily. We even got a parking spot right on Sixth Street, but, like I said, it's pretty quiet in the daytime. We did find one store where I could have spent thousands of dollars on everything from guitar lamps to drum sticks that light every time they're struck. After spending about twenty minutes in there, we walked up to the Capital Building for a look.

Pictured is the Capital Building, from inside and out.

Because we couldn’t find out much about what was going on musically from the street, when we got back from driving around the city a little, I got on the internet and found where I found everything I needed.

One thing that has changed since we were in Austin last is that the live music is spread all over the city now. We decided though that there was enough happening on Fifth and Sixth Streets that we would just go back there and stroll around, sticking our heads in doors to see what we liked.

I wasn’t keeping track of all the performers names and I never took any pictures of the musicians, but I can tell you that the first bar we went into had a kickin’ seven piece R&B band that did all original material. Next door we saw an acoustic trio led by the very talented and unassuming singer, songwriter, Chris Ruest.

Next, we strolled down to Evageline’s on Fifth where the Mark Gouduin Trio was playing. They had been the house band at Antoine’s for a number of years, the club where Stevie Ray Vaughn got his start, and where we'd seen an amazing gospel troup on our previous stay. It turned out to be the high roller spot in town though, which we weren’t dressed for - nor did we want to spend the money on high priced drinks.

Every three doors, or so, there’s another band playing and there are no mediocre musicians. Actually just about any one of them would fit in the ‘Monster’ category. The guitar player for the seven-piece R&B band mentioned earlier had just come back from a gig in Vegas.

A little later, when we found our way up to a rooftop bar that we’d noticed some music leaking from, there was a trio playing a Doors tune - to just four patrons. Cover tunes were not what I came to hear, so, we were just about to turn around and look elsewhere when I mentioned to Janice that the guitar player, who was a lefty playing an electrified acoustic, was amazingly talented, getting incredible sounds out of his set-up. I'd never heard someone get those kinds of sounds out of an acoustic guitar, playing rock music. You could tell it was totally effortless to him too.

As they finished the tune he announced that, “My electric guitar’s in the shop, because I’m going out on the road and I need it to play like it’s supposed to.” The bass player then added, “Ya, on the road with Kenny Chesney.” We listened to them play a couple more tunes by Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. They explained they wouldn’t be playing any country music this night. Fine by me. The reason being though was that the guitar player's contract with Kenny Chesney states that he can’t play any country music, publicly, between gigs. I guess because he might leak one of the licks he plays when with the big show. Like I said, monster players.

Pictured are a couple of night shots from Sixth Street.

Maybe I'm just getting old but, despite the quality of the musicians, the trouble with the scene is that the new state-of-the-art PA systems, which the operators use to the max, were wearing us down. We stuck our head into one more bar where a hard rockin’ blues quartet was playing. Despite hiding behind a post we came out with our ears bleeding - well almost. We decided to call it a night.

Like I said, things have changed. If you’re planning a trip to Austin for the live music, do some careful research and pick a couple of shows you’d really like to see - and enjoy some incredible music.

In the morning we took advantage of a $2 breakfast at our RV park and then hit the road for Hondo, a small town not far from San Antonio. After setting up at The Quiet Texas RV Park we toured the town a little and then washed the RV. The park is run by an entrepreneur named Kevin, who also runs a ranch and has a business installing wind power generators. This whole park is run by wind generators. They’re not that big, or noisy, and cost about $18,000.00, all in. There's no bank of batteries required, they'll easily run an average household and they have a about a five-year payback on one of them. Me thinks he's on to something.

At dusk we invited ourselves to the neighbour' campfire. We knew we were probably pretty safe because earlier, we’d noticed her t-shirt that pictured three glasses of wine with the caption: Group Therapy.


  1. Hey Tim, Rich and I spent a week in Austin this fall. We have some good friends there who live in a condo right on Lady Byrd Lake. We found some great music in and around the city. Also had some great meals at the various 'food trucks'.
    It is a fun city. But then you've had a string of fun cities, good food and music on your adventure.

  2. Aloha,
    Sure nice to talk to you earlier, just getting got up on all the postings I missed while away. For some one that didn't get dinner last night and hasn't eaten anything except a "Tim's" muffin you sure have made me hungry.
    How's the budget?