Friday, June 22, 2012

It's a Getaway

Before we moved to Austin in 2000, I used to travel a bit. Not the way I did as a kid with a military dad and a rambling mother – that was ridiculous… no, just normal traveling around the USA, a few long weekends mostly to see those old rock-n-roll shows… it was my middle-aged craziness.

In early 2001 I went to Las Vegas for The Moody Blues (a weekend) plus one night in St. Louis to see Eric Johnson, and in 2005 one night there for a nephew’s wedding party – then real-life started to settle me down good. I had a steady job that didn’t pay that well, a freelance job on the side that didn’t pay that well either and kept me busy around the clock, plus the 4 cats started needing more and more specialized care. We got to do day-trips only, and eventually not even not even those because of $$$ meds and med schedule… just stuff in town only. MrB would visit his family in MO once a year and I would stay home on kitty-care duty.

Oh, there’s a hell of a lot to do here, and we love this town dearly. No two-ways about that, but it has been difficult hearing about other people’s vacation trips – Ireland, Egypt, London, Venice, Paris, Portland, – not from jealousy, I’m glad when others have that luxury, but just from longing for a break and knowing that there wouldn’t be one. I've been bouncing between getting stir crazy and burning out. We've been trying to think up a plan for an escape for many months, now that we don't have cat-parent responsibilities.

We are going to Santa Barbara for 3 whole nights in July! Got a (hopefully) nice hotel right next to the beach where there will be fireworks for the 4th, and rest of the time just walking and wine tasting. I know, it's a short getaway and doesn't even leave the continental USA, but here's another advantage.

See our forecast temps for the coming week on the left compared to Santa Barbara on the right. (No forecasts yet for the week after… not that I put much stock in forecasts, but I do think there’s a 100% chance of “chilly” in SB and "blistering" here.)

Now that we decided to actually go somewhere, I've got some new issues - like... my luggage no longer conforms to the dimensional requirements for carry-on bags (crap! not what I want to shop for!) and I don't have a swimsuit (as Cathy would say, "AAACK").

Sing along now! V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

This week in live music

It's been a busy month, between work, some freelance work, and trying to finish painting the inside of the house. I wish it was something fun, like a mural, but instead it's large areas of a rich charcoal gray. I love it, actually. What is it about a bold gray? Is it the way it can make ordinary accent colors look stunning? Don't know.

It finally feels like Texas summer here now, it's been mostly in the 90s (with one 101° day so far) but compared to last year it's very mild.

As usual, we've had a chance to get out to some live music events. The Head and The Heart (Seattle) came through town, and even though they sold out a major venue (Stubb's) for 2 nights in a row, they still came by Waterloo Records for a free in-store. They've got great songs and love the vocals. We even managed to drink a free beer while going through the autograph line, then the female singer, Charity (a beauty, by the way), complimented MrB on his very cool Third Man Records t-shirt. That shirt gets the ice broken. This is Down in the Valley, one of their better-known tunes.

Also on the schedule was a free show from The Dunwells (Leeds UK) at Shady Grove. We saw them back in March at SXSW, and liked them enough to come back and see them again. Their music is Americana (just like all the others in this post), and I would say it's got some Dawes, Eagles, Searchers, CSN, some country, pop... anyway, I really like it. They recorded their album at Willie Nelson's studio here in town, and are still here doing a bit more of that. They were a treat to see again, and some nice guys too.

Later in the week we went to the CD release for one of our favorite bluegrass/dawg/swing/jazz/jam bands (jeez, genres are so complicated these day they are nearly meaningless - or the meaning is up for a long discussion) - MilkDrive (Austin). This is an amazing instrumental (not sure of the name of it), although quite a few of the new ones have vocals. This is a real beauty.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Maybe I will do this...

...but not until I'm so old I don't mind dying. Her skydive did not go completely as planned (watch your volume when you hit play), and it was a little awkward, to say the least.

Here's an interview with her afterward. Seems like she's ready for another adventure!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

All Good and Fine

We had a great day of music on Saturday. This was a free all-day concert held on a downtown street, a benefit for Comfort the Children International. Lots of "green" foodie vendors with samples/coupons, and the permanent shops and sidewalk joints. Ponderosa (Atlanta GA) and Cowboy & Indian (Austin TX) are excellent bands that we've seen before and liked a lot. We saw only partial sets of theirs because the stages were located at the other end of the street from where I was hanging out. I wanted to make sure and see Seryn (Denton TX).

Over a year ago we caught a few songs of theirs during SXSW, we were watching from the sidewalk outside an Irish pub, and were very impressed and asked the woman in the band who they were. She said "Seryn. S-E-R-Y-N." (pronounced sir-WREN, or sair-REN). We missed some opportunities to see them again since that, but got lucky on Saturday. I have been in love with their sound ever since. Gorgeous! High-energy, rich beauty.
The traffic light looked weird as a backdrop for the stage.

Believe me, it sounds good.

They are one of Paste Magazine's favorite bands - period. When the set was over, someone asked a band member who they were, and he replied "Seryn. S-E-R-Y-N." It must be spelled each time. Ha Ha!
Alpha Rev (Austin TX) is another favorite of ours, and they have added quite a bit of new material lately. Casey McPherson's voice is amazing to me. Good singer and songwriter too. Like Seryn, lots of lush sounds here. Check out this western-flavored "Lonely Man." I swore it was something that I'd heard from Mark Knopfler before, but it is an original tune co-written with the Texas Ukulele King (TUK), and his version that he calls "That's How You Die a Lonely Man." I'm not seeing a ukulele in his picture though. ;-)

We finished off the day with a night show at the great listening room, the Cactus Cafe, where 2 of the mainstays from The Band of Heathens were doing an unplugged show - Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist. They are doing something special both at these unplugged and full-band gig - they are recording the show and making it available for sale on a thumb drive afterward.

This is Gordy Quist, the singer and songwriter of this tune. I didn't get any focused shots of Ed Jurdi, so apologies for that. Need to improve the camera situation soon for better low-light shots.

I love every one of their songs. Every one.