Archive for Texas

Gruene Hall

Gruene Hall in Gruene, Texas is the oldest dance hall in Texas.

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The Best of SXSW [Music Fest]

The highlight of sxsw - The Cave Singers

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion

Alejandro Escovedo

David Olney

Amanda Shires & Rod Picott

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Natural Bridge Caverns

Near San Antonio, Texas. For years I have driven by the billboards, but really didn’t take any notice to the signs. If anything, I thought it was for kids, and/or a “cavern” the size of my living room.

Boy was I wrong. The caverns are HUGE and very cool. I would highly recommend going if you are in the area.

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New Braunfels High Unicorns!

I was recently in New Braunfels Texas, where New Braunfels High holds the distinction of being the only public high school in the US which has a unicorn as their mascot.

Yes, a unicorn. Their motto is: Unicorn Pride is Justified.

What does that mean?

I’ve been searching for the official mascot photo and have found several. I’m gonna go with the one with the Texas flag…this is Texas after all [part of their Texan pride is that they’ve got to put their flag everywhere to remind people where they are].


And what does the football entry tunnel look like?

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sxsw Day 2

# of bands: 11
cds bought: 2
Mexican food meals: 0 [Usually we have Mexican food at one or both meals – late bfast and/or dinner]
Highlights: Stone River Boys, Gurf Morlix, Lynn Miles, Kasey Anderson
We planned [and did] on staying at Threadgills all afternoon.  The entire day was being filmed for re-broadcast on  Check it out. Music started at 11.20 am and we were there when the doors opened at 11 am, and scored a table front and center. 
Never heard of Kasey Anderson and his band.  They were great. 
Ray Wylie Hubbard played that dratted Snake Farm song.  Every time I see him [which isn’t often now], he plays it.  AND it’s a sing along, which means it’s long and wastes precious set time minutes.  This is the man who wrote one of my favorite love songs, If Heaven Is Not A Place, which still makes me cry…and he’s playing Snake Farm?  Hissssss.  However, I must admit, that most people seem to love it and I am in the minority.
It looks as though Joe Ely’s kid is his roadie.  I have NO idea if Joe has a son, but the roadie was a mini me version of Joe – same hair, face and clothing style.  If so, kinda sad the 30 yo adult son is NOT doing his own thing in life, but schlepping daddy’s guitar around.  However, I bet he’s popular with the ladies!
We see that Stone River Boys are playing everywhere all week…wonder who they are?  It’s Mike, the front man, from the Hollisters.  You know him…the one with the lamb chops…or are they pork chops?  Which reminds me that I read a couple years ago that they were named after a Civil War General.  I just googled this and re-learned that sideburns are named after General Burnside [switch syllables], and that facial hair configuration are called MUTTON chops.  Ha.  Kudos to Mike for putting his guitar down and doing his interpretive dance for us all.  Pure fun!
Warren Hood [Champ’s son] and his band were just delightful.  A fun surprise.  However, would someone please tell him NOT to part his hair in the middle.  I know…this has nothing to do with his fiddle playing, but it just has to be said.
To end the evening, we saw John Hiatt at LaZona Rosa.  Hiatt looked all dapper in suit jacket and tie, yet his lead guitar player looked like he was ready to clean out the garage, wearing new blue jean overalls, and gray hoodie under a t shirt.  The sweating heavily base player was wearing a brand new, stiff, drab green onesie/jumpsuit [but with a popped collar!] and looked like he should be in ghost busters video, or working under a car somewhere.
Nicole Atkins got the coveted spot before Hiatt.  I have NO idea how she managed that, but let’s just say, if someone told me she appeared on American Idol, I’d think that “yah, I can see that”.  So, save your time and money and go see someone of quality.
** Photos to be added next week **

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sxsw Day 1

# of bands: 12

cds bought: 0 [will buy David Olney’s cd when it comes out in a couple months]

Mexican food meals: 1 [dinner at Guero’s]

Highlights: James McMurtry, Jon Dee Graham, David Olney, Raul Malo

We had our traditional pre-sxsw meal at Katz’s Deli [Katz’s Never Klozes]. This time it was bfast, instead of lunch. Then we were off to listen to music starting at 11 am.

The 11 am first day gig is a tough one, but David Olney was playing, and he’s one of my favorites. there was a bigger than expected crowd there…around 50 people.

The guy next to me was from Newcastle, England and saw him in a pub with 4 other people. He couldn’t believe that David isn’t playing for 10,000 people. For me, when David is “on”, he gets maniacal. He got a bit maniacal in his short 30 set. It was great!

Since I’ve been coming here every year for probably 13 years, I tend to see the same people year after year…and all week long, Since we like the same music. I immediately saw the 2 guys from Norway. I went up to say hi, and they acted like they didn’t know who I was. every year, they act like they don’t know who I am…and I will see them every day. Later in the day I saw the 2 guys from Omaha, who told us to go see Phil Lee [good tip]. Then we saw the 3 guys from somewhere in CA.

This is the biggest crowd this early in the fest. However, yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, so people tend to come out for that. There also seemed to be more people/accents from places outside of states than usual, so that is good and fun.

We ended the nite seeing Raul Malo [ex Mavericks] for free. I’m the only one who felt devious [in a good way] they we sneaked in. How can you sneak into a free event? There was a line…and we hopped a fence. THEN we managed to get right in front of the stage.

** Photos to be added next week **

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Sxsw Music Fest in Austin

I’m on my way to Austin for sxsw, a music festival.  Sxsw [south by southwest] originally started as a way for unsigned bands to get a contract.  Now it has grown and branched out.  It used to just be official sxsw nite time showcases, now there are thousands of artists/bands and unofficial day and night time activities, a lot of them are free.

EVERYTHING becomes a venue.  The parking lot of a coffee shoppe.  In fact any parking lot.  Move some furniture aside in an antique store…now it’s a venue!

For me, free music starts tomorrow/Wednesday at 11 am!

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Port Arthur, Texas

May 30, 2008


I am leaving Houston and will be making my way to Baltimore.  I plan on exploring Louisiana and Mississippi on the way.  My only constraint is that I need to be in Baltimore by June 11th, so I can fly out of BWI on June 12th to go to my niece’s wedding celebration.


I started off later than expected yesterday, and planned on spending the nite in Port Arthur, home of Janis Joplin.  With apologies to anyone with family and friends in Port Arthur, but ahhh, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  You know how there is a section of town that you don’t want to stop in?  Well, the whole town seemed like that.  


Pretty much, the downtown area is abandoned, except for gov’t buildings, which seemed new or newly refurbished.  It was 5.30 and not a car in sight. I could have stopped in the middle of the street and left my car to look around.


They have received money somehow since there seems to be a new performing arts center, a new multi purpose building, and as I mentioned above, the gov’t/city buildings look new.


I needed directions and decided on a certain gas station to ask.  Inside there was an older woman, younger woman and an older man scratching off Lotto tickets.  I asked how to get to 82 and there was a conference amongst them and the younger woman started rattling off directions a mile a minute…talking so fast and with an accent, I couldn’t understand a word she said except Valero this and Valero that.  And then there was more discussion between them cuz they decided that I would get lost that way.  I did manage to understand and they actually got me where I needed to go.  I am going along hiway 82 which hugs the coast/Gulf of Mexico.


Port Arthur goes on my worst cities list, right next to Manchester, NH.


So….being in the oil and gas business, especially production offshore [Gulf of Mexico], I have heard for years of various places where the gas/oil hit the beach.  So, I drove along this 2 lane road near the coast and went by places like Johnson’s Bayou, Sabine Pass, Holly Beach… and saw all these plants, compressor stations…that I have heard of for years.  I had a nerdy blast!


It seemed the only people on this road was myself and guys in big white trucks [going to/from work].  There are just 2 lanes coming up out of the bayou/water.  There is NOTHING along this highway.  Nothing, besides oil/gas infrastructure.  No gas stations, no bait and tackle, no 7/11’s, no grocery stores…nothing.  Now and again there would be housing, which means it was either trailers/trailer park or these really expensive, huge houses built up on 15’+ stilts.  Johnson’s Bayou had a school, and a health clinic.  That’s it.  Nothing was at Holly Beach.  I was so glad that I stopped to get gas before Port Arthur, cuz without a doubt, I would have run out of gas.  I drove for 2 hours in this area, which they call Cameron.  I would have kept thinking there has got to be a gas station sooner or later.  Yes…in Lake Charles!  I didn’t see anyone on any of the beaches, no one anywhere [except the white trucks].  Pretty much deserted.


The area smelled like how a new shower curtain smells.


In the middle of all these plants/refineries….is a pelican sanctuary.


At times I thought it was raining, but it was really just bugs splatting on my windshield.  


I saw a sign that mentioned “ferry”, I turned the bend…and the road stops.  So, the ferry took me over to Cameron.  The ferry lady told me…duh…that hurricane Rita took out everything.  That is why there are no stores/businesses.  She said it was pretty dumpy before Rita, so it was nice that Rita came and wiped everything out, but now they are rebuilding with expensive homes…which is quite the opposite of what was there before…so the whole feel of the place is slowly changing.


I then headed to Lake Charles to spend the nite. It was much later than I had planned…I checked into a hotel and it was 9.30 and I hadn’t eaten dinner yet.

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