March 15th, 2012
So this place is nuts. There is music seemingly every ten feet down the street, in bars, on corners, in the back of vans, in coffee shops, guitar stores, restsaurants, any place you can imagine. It’s nothing short of awesome.
So we were at the Jackalope last night for the Critical Sun showcase, and as there was free beer, things were going well. The music was sounding good for two reasons. One because it was good. I admit that I’m biased. I like these bands (if you hadn’t already guessed) and second, the music was good because of the free beer, of course. It puts an ease in the mind of the musician and the listener. People came in and out of the bar, and they grooved and bobbed their heads and smiled big when the bartender said, “Yeah, that’s free.” They invariably looked to the stage in that moment as if the band then playing was responsible for the free beer. They were receptive to the music, gave a discerning look and a nod of approval, pulled up seats and stayed for a while.
I was writing of course, anchored at the end of the bar with a good view of the bands and the patrons discovering the freeness of the beer. Stacey, the lead singer of the Furniture Girls came over and said hi, noticed me on the laptop and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not looking.” She’s good that way, understands not to peek at a work in progress. “Let me know when it’s done.”
The guitar player from Sightseer, Jason, came over, “I didn’t know you’re hiding over here writing away.”
“Let me know you post something.”
Both bands went on, and they both ripped it. They are both deserving of so much more attention than they currently get, and that’s one of the reasons I do what I do. I write about some bands again and again because they’re good. They should be heard. They should be playing the Showbox rather than the White Rabbit or the High Dive or the Shanty Tavern. As a kind of critic, I don’t mind saying again and again, “Check these guys out. Listen to this band.” Why wouldn’t I? If I like something, I’ll make it known.
Christina from In Cahoots came over, “Hi, Dave, good to see you. Thanks for coming down.”
The Januariez as a band saw me typing away at my corner of the bar, came over, “Hey, what’s up? Good to see you!”
“Likewise. I’ll get something written about you one of these days.”
“No worries,” Janie said, “We know you will sometime.”
“Good set by the way.” And it was. Listen to their rhythms. They have a good groove. Give them a second guitar player, and they’ll kick it I’m sure.
When the Jackalope was done, I wandered. I found an Irish Pub with no music which was a blessing, one for the Irish, and one for the no music, the quiet. I spoke to the Irish owner, James (I think), spoke of visiting Killarny. He laughed, “Killarny? Ha … I went there when I was in school for a trip.” I offered to plug the bar for a free shirt. He laughed at that too, “Ha! Free?” So I wound up buying a shirt for myself and one for her, the woman who drove me to the airport. It made me smile to look forward to going home, back to Seattle. It was the first day of SXSW, and I was already looking forward to going home.
Later, I was wandering the streets. I paused on a corner, looked in a window and saw a familiar face. I went in the restaurant to the table, “Hi, Dave.” She stood up, gave me a hug. It was Jamie, the singer for Witchburn, another Seattle favorite.
“I didn’t know you guys are here.”
“When are you playing?”
“Send me the info.”
“I will.” It was Jacy, the bass player. “What’s your email?” I gave it to him. “Done. We’ll see you Saturday.”
So I went back on the street, looked around, wondered which way to go, who to call or text, walked this way and that way in and among all the music, the marching bands, the African bands, the rock bands, the alt-country stuff, the sidewalk drummers, and then I heard my name.
I like this place, so much music, so many people, and yet, I can’t seem to turn around and not know someone. And that speaks well for what’s happening in Seattle right now. Somehow I had inserted myself into this wonderful scene back home, and somehow been accepted in it, and somehow, the entire scene was here in Austin. I should have come here years ago, but I’m glad I didn’t. I needed to come here through Seattle, with Seattle, and hopefully along the way we’ll make a difference, a splash, and go home with stories to tell of the time we went to Austin, the time when there was nothing but music.
The voice was Jason again from Sightseer. “We thought we lost you.”
“Not a chance.”