Monday, June 13, 2005

Rock Stars and Rock Island

Lake Wobegon had a quiet week, but we don’t have those in Austin. There’s always too much to do. Last Saturday, the 4th, we went to see the Annie Leibovitz photography exhibition at the Austin Museum of Art. There were some amazing photos there. I have always loved her work. The Willie Nelson was my favorite with the Iggy Pop set coming in second. Most of them were taken in the last couple of years or so, she apparently is pretty busy.

On Wednesday, I got to see Eric Johnson at Blues on the Green at Rock Island in Zilker Park. Eric is simply my favorite guitar player. I got hooked on his music back in the late 90s but it was after his Venus Isle tour brought him to St. Louis where I lived. He tours occasionally, twice a year, something like that... he's more likely to stay in Texas or does limited regional tours, and I was growing impatient waiting for a local gig so I traveled to Austin to see him record a live album at Antone’s in Austin. That was late 1999, my first time to see him and my first time in Austin. Traveling to see a band I really liked wasn’t unusual for me back then. I had plenty of money, and besides that I have always been a hopeless fangirl for one geek thing or another.

EJ is not the reason we moved to Austin, the reason(s) were personal and had more to do with leaving St. Louis than going TO anywhere. It was time to leave, and having crossed off a dozen or more other places from the short list, Austin rose to the top. This was at the end of the year 2000. We had strongly considered moving to Dallas. We would both have been able to find good-paying work there, and arranged interviews to coincide with an upcoming visit to Ft. Worth to see Eric at the Caravan of Dreams. The vibes in Dallas were a huge turn-off (I was giving it a second chance. I had been freaked out in Dallas the only other time I had visited in 1998[?] because I had gone to Dealey Plaza and cried my eyes out. I decided that I wasn’t sure I could ever live in the same town with Dealey Plaza). The job I was assured to get was with the same company I already worked for, and they told me that it was really more like 2 jobs. Lots of overtime, lot of burnout. Exactly what I didn’t need and the biggest pitfall I always have to avoid in my line of work. My husband’s interview went alright, it was with a company where his good friend was a Vice-President so that’s a pretty good connection even though he wasn’t sure he was right for the job. I drove from my interview over to pick him up at his. It was raining by then. Miraculously I found the place, got out of the car to walk around to the passenger side, and the car accidentally got locked! Grrrrrrrrrrr. It’s now Friday after dark, we are stranded in a fancy corporate lobby with just a security guard who doesn’t really know how to help us, the rental car is locked and still running, sitting in the pouring rain, and it’s looking like we are going to miss the Caravan show... which was the original %$#*^ reason we had bought airline tickets to come down here! The business about relocating had come along after the fact. Oh merciful whatever, get me out of this awful place and get me near some healing music before I completely lose it. I was so angry, frantic, and frazzled! And what kind of a damned car lets you get locked out with the key in the ignition?
--->Ford Focus<---- data-blogger-escaped-span="">

We managed to get a locksmith to rescue us, and tore up the road heading for Ft. Worth. We got there after about 4 songs had been played already. This was my husband's first show, and he ended up in my stageside seat, just inches away from the band, and I was a little further back (I let him have my seat. I figured we both need a blessing and this was his first time so he got that along with a baptism.) I had been raving about Eric for months, but he found out it was all true. The Hendrix tunes are the ones that can clinch the first-timers. EJ plays him better than anyone I’ve heard... I mean ANYONE short of the man himself.


Alright, what was the topic again? Oh yes, saw Eric Johnson on Wednesday. I wrote a bit about it on his board, here. My board name is Paula (and my real name too). I didn't go backstage, but a friend of mine did and she told me that Eric had asked about us and where we went. She told him that we had to get up in the morning (sadly true, at 5 am). Now I really wish that we'd stayed around for a quick chat and good luck wishes for the tour, but I always want to make sure that I'm not annoying him or imposing on his time. To me there is nothing worse than being a fan of someone who dreads seeing you. How could you miss the mark any more than that? I am not as star-struck by EJ as I used to be, thankfully, but no less dazzled by his music. Oh yeah, Chris and Tommy are fantastic too, and worthy.

On Saturday we went to see one of the local bands made up of some rock legends: Ian McLagan and the Bump Band. If Ian McLagan doesn't ring a bell, maybe you've heard of Small Faces, Steve Marriott, Faces, Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane, some of those guys? Ian is the keyboard player, also songwriter, singer, etc., and largely responsible for it all sounding that way. He's also quite a character! Here's his website, which he probably does himself, and includes a nice Jokes page. The other rock legend in the band is Mark Andes on bass. Mark was in one of my very favorite bands of the sixties, Spirit. He was also in Jo Jo Gunne, Firefall, and Heart. These days he plays with lots of the local talent. "Scrappy" Jud Newcomb is one of the best guitar players in town, usually a sideman, probably has a gig nearly every night, has played with some very big names but never seems to have the big ego. I always love to hear Scrappy. He is terrific. We had a great time at the show, but none of my pictures turned out. Gurf Morlix was enjoying the show as a spectator. Gurf is pretty darned good too. he plays a beer bottle slide, and you may have heard him play on those great old Lucinda records.

On Tuesday, June 14th, Eric Johnson releases his new album, Bloom! He will be playing in St. Louis at Mississippi Nights that night.

I recommend picking up a copy!

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