So I finally got an iPhone, and as much as I like it, I’m astonished by the quality of the photos it takes. I say “it,” because there are no settings. It’s all automatic. This is the first photo I took with it, today, on 6th Street. The only Photoshop work done here was to cut the file size in half. Incredible. Those people there at Apple may just have a future in computers and stuff.
I’m not sure if he was ever in the PGA of America, but the late Larry Trader managed Willie’s golf course for years, doing all the stuff that golf pros do. I ran across this shot of him I got back in 2004, a few years before he died, and it remains my favorite portrait. Probably because I knew Larry, and we’d spent a couple of hours together on this day talking about Willie and Evel Knievel and Ray Benson and Ear Campbell and Coach Royal and all the things that happened out there at Pedernales and on the road. And because I know that he bummed that very cigarette there off my friend Mopar, who today will give a few golf lessons at Ascarate Park in El Paso. I never asked Larry what happened to that finger.
This shot here shows what kind of concert-goer I am. My old pals from Better Than Ezra were in town for a show at La Zona Rosa last night, and all I could manage was a stop in at the 4:00pm soundcheck and dinner with them at Ranch 616. Hell, their show started at 11:00pm, and while I’m sure there were plenty of drunk happy Longhorns and drunk pissed Red Raiders there, I’d been asleep for two hours when they cranked up. Big thanks to Kevin, Jim, Tom, Michael and Brian for the beer on the bus. Next stop for them: El Paso, Albuquerque and on out to the West Coast. A little-known fact I learned last night: BTE frontman Kevin Griffin writes all their songs and is a very, very talented songwriter. He wrote this.
I started this blog on the suggestion and encouragement of the talented team at Fosforus. In terms of ROI, it has been a homerun. Off the charts. The only investment has been time posting entries, and I’ve had actual cash return. So big thanks to WordPress and to Fosforus. That said, I think I’ll join the rest of you bloggers out there who use these things to tell people about your day (no, I’m not making fun of you…I repeat, I join you). Today started out with trip to the dump. 1-800-Got-Junk is not effectively marketing themselves if they’re not using an image like this with a caption that reads something like, “You’ll Never Get The Smell Out of Your Nostril Hairs.” You think Hell has fire and stuff? Mine has six inches of foul-smelling slippery grey mud.
Then, I drove back downtown. Probably shouldn’t be snapping photos on a 70-foot flyover at 55mph.
I saw a bad wreck at the intersection of MLK and the I-35 access road. I hope everyone was okay, and by the look of that Prius, I bet they are. Astounding structural resilience.
I drove past the Capitol and thought about all the people I know who’ve worked there.
Then I saw this in a parking lot in Sunset Valley.
Then I drove back downtown and noticed how far along the W Hotel is coming.
When I got up to Congress, I saw a small herd of those Segue tour people.
And one of them wiped out. I couldn’t help laughing. Sorry.
Then I went south on Congress to shoot some of those traliers that sell food, but got there to find that they’re not open on Mondays. Shit.
So I went home.
Oh, and today is my birthday.
Jason Lewis, the frontman for Loose Leaves, asked me to go to Club DeVille last night and shoot a few for his CD release party. Very talented guys there. You might recognize the guy on the far right (Ryan Young). He and Jason and Taylor Vieger (who was there last night, also) were the guys in the first installment of Tuning Fork down at Fosforus. Great show last night, and a great venue. Big thanks to the guy there at the door who let me go up on on the roof for a few shots. Shhh….there might be a lawyer listening.
Went to Flipnotics last night to see Ben Mallott (pronounced muh lot’, not “mallet,” the pronunciation I’ve been carelessly and ignorantly throwing around). I’m astounded that so few people were there. I don’t offer recommendations lightly, so listen to me when I say that you Austin music fans are missing out on something very special. I could be wrong here, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ben standing up there on live television with a Grammy in his hand. I could go on and on about him, and to call him a blend of John Prine, Ray LaMontagne and Joe Cocker would be an insult to his talent. He’s got his own style. Go see him. Are you listening? Go see him.
You know what? So do I. But for all the wrong reasons. I want to be a songwriter or a singer or a guitarist, but only for the money. Lots of you want it for the fame or the lifestyle. But some do it for the love of music, and those are the ones with a chance. A very, very small chance. And then there are the musicians who love music AND have played gigs in crappy dives AND have performed for free so many times they’re sick of it AND know their way around a sound booth AND put in hour after hour of mixing and recording AND get their stuff professionally produced. And, they’re genuine, they nice people, and they have real jobs and lives because they know the odds they’re up against. Those are the guys who have a real chance. Those up there in that shot. That’s a few guys from the Ryan Young Band, and I can’t predict whether or not you’ll download their new album from iTunes or pick it up at Waterloo by the hundreds/thousands/millions, but if musicians were priced like stocks, I’d buy this one. Right now. Maybe because I’m on the inside, and I know how talented these guys are and how hard they’re working to make stuff happen for themselves. They are NOT sitting around in a smoky den waiting for MTV to call. After all, as Calvin Coolidge (you kids will need to Google him) said, “…nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.”
One reason I love SXSW (while other locals seem to avoid it) is because of what happened last Thursday. I walk across the street to BD Riley’s for a burger, around noon. All of a sudden, this band cranks it up and rocks the place sideways while I’m having a business lunch meeting. The client loved the energy and spontaneity of it all and bought everything I was selling. This kind of stuff doesn’t happen at ACL Fest. Or maybe it does. Most of the time, I’m not a crowd person, and that’s all ACL Fest is. SXSW allows me to choose. It’s barely over, and I can hardly wait for next year’s.
Another reason I love it is that it’s so undefined. ACL Fest is about music, for hardcore music listeners. SXSW incorporates music, interactive and film. Probably more. And the whole time it’s going on, I don’t know what’s happening where. But the energy is incredible. And that’s just on the periphery.
The first volume of Tuning Fork has come and gone. Thanks to everyone for doing what you did: Ryan Young, Taylor Vieger and Jason Lewis there, for your incredible music. Eric Sutherland and the gang at Fosforus for the use of your space. Patrick Spruiell for your help with setup and soundcheck. And big thanks to everyone who came and feasted on brisket, chocolate, cheese, grapes, beer and wine. Stay tuned for more pics, some vidclips and announcements on the next show.
Went and saw Flat Stanley last night at Drungo’s. At least that’s their name when they’re doing covers. I think I like The Doghouse Project better, which is the same group of guys playing all original stuff (just me…I like original music). Patrick Spruiell there, the front man, is a talented guy. Expect to see more of him in music or in film. He’s played the lead in two feature films already, Dust being the latest. In fact, they’re all talented musicians and filmmakers. More on these guys here. And more photos from the show at Drungo’s here.