Thursday, October 02, 2008

Sunday in Austin.

We woke up Sunday mornin' at about 10:30, with the maid bangin' on the door to see if we wanted the room cleaned. Even though we told them "No!", and put the "FUCK OFF" sign up on the door, they kept comin' back every twenty minutes or so and bangin', askin' us the same stupid question. You know how hard it is to get a good snuggle in with some bitch bangin' on the door? Please! I mean, if you want us to fuckin' leave, don't tell us that we've got till noon to get out. Sheeeiiitt!

Anyway, we rolled out of bed, showered and were out of there by noon. Then we drove a few miles down I-35 and found an IHOP where we could get a fillin' meal. There were lots of people waiting for seats out front, so we thought we'd have to wait too, but since there were just two of us we ended up bein' taken right to a table. Sweet!

After breakfast, lookin' to kill some time (the first band I wanted to see didn't take the stage till 4PM), we decided to check out the LBJ Presidential Library, on the UT campus. I'd been there as a kid, shortly after it opened, but Denise had never been there. We found it open and mostly empty.

I've always had a fondness in my heart for ol' Lyndon. He seems to be a tragic figure, like one of the characters in symbolizing both the great and terrible sides of both Texas and America. He's like family. I guess I feel about him the way you'd feel about an old uncle who was cool as hell and a lot of fun on one level, but maybe also a real asshole and a disaster when he was drinking.A tragic figure, fated to shine and then crash, partly due to his own failings and partly due to the failed schemes of others.

I was a kid when he was in office, and remember feeling that it was cool that the President was from Texas. Of course, having been born in Bermuda and living most of my early life in England and Missouri, I had only a vague notion of what it was to be a Texan. I just knew it had something to do with me, somehow.

All I knew where the stories my folks told me about growin' up there in the country during the depression, riding horses to school and swimming in the creeks, making the place seem idyllic. Combine that with the feelings I had for my Grandparents farm outside Temple, which I knew to be a magical place we only rarely visited, and you've got a great panoramic setting for a child's imagination.

We were in Kansas City when he died in the early 1970s. I was going to an obnoxious little catholic boarding school then, and they let us out of class so we could watch the funeral on television. I remember feeling very sad for him. Someone very huge in the world had passed away. As I grew older and went on to college, my feelings for LBJ were influenced by my liberal history professors, though NOT in the way they intended.

They were all New Left liberals, and they all hated LBJ, condemning him for Vietnam while they worshipping John F. Kennedy. They also told me that Truman and Eisenhower were bad presidents. I knew instinctively that much of what they said represented their own bias, and learned from that to think for myself and ignore what they told me. I think history has proven them wrong.At least the modern conventional wisdom looks at Truman, IKE and LBJ with a much kinder light.

The museum is also a presidential library, with huge stacks of records and tapes from the Johnson years, as well as artifacts from all the history of Texas and America that LBJ's life encompassed. Now that Lady Bird has also passed, there are artifacts and displays concerning her there too. In fact, they're in the middle of renovating the outside of the library, planting wild flowers to commemorate her program to beautify the state by getting Blue Bonnets and other native wildflowers planted all along the roads and in public parks. If you ever find yourself rollin' through Austin and have some time to kill, try to check it out.

So, we parked in the same parking garage and were back in the center of the action by about 3:30. I knew getting there that I was gonna be torn over which act we were gonna see. It turned out though, we got to see and hear both acts.... Simultaneously.

The first two artists on the schedule for Sunday were two more folks that Mushy had turned me on to. The guy in that picture above is an interesting Australian Artist named Xavier Rudd. The first time I heard this guys music was during one of those cessions out on Mushy's back porch. With us rejoicing in one another's company, cigars burnin' and a cold beer in hand, this tune came wafting through his speaker system.

He plays a Didgeridoo, a traditional Aboriginal Australian instrument (those three long tubes there on the left), while playing a fat, Weissenborn guitar that's laying in his lap. He's known as a one-man-band, but as you can see here, he has a drummer these days. I was surprised in the end to hear him close his show with an old Neil Young tune, "Rockin' In The Free World." The crowd ate it up.

While Rudd made beautiful music under the cover of the WaMu stage (here's a map), Joe Bonamssa was playing stunning guitar licks with his band over at the Austin Ventures stage, about 100 yards or so away.

Yea, you could hear both at the same time, but that's something that goes with this sort of concert venue. For the most part there wasn't much bleed-over, but now and then there was, as I mentioned in the last post. Robert Plant complained about it on stage.

I was fascinated to see Rudd play, but the sound of Bonamassa's guitar drew me away and I found myself standing in his audience, taking in his brilliant talent. A child prodigy, Bonamassa was mastering Stevie Ray Vaughan tunes at the age of seven, and touring with B.B. King at twelve. At the close of his show he started playing a Cream tune, which turned into a Led Zeppelin tune, and then back into the same Cream tune. I was blown completely away.

After that show we returned to the WaMu pavilion and watched the first fifteen minutes or so of Shooter Jennings' set. the son of legendary outlaw artist Weylon Jennings, Shooter put on a pretty great country rock show.

I wanted to stay longer, but we had to beat feet to get back up to the AMD stage to see one of the bands that drew me to this festival in the first place.

Aside from the Black Keys and the Foo Fighters, the main draw for me to this gig was a chance to see The Raconteurs in concert. I'll never forget, sitting in this chair one night in 2007 and watching a webcast of a little concert given at a studio to celebrate the release of the White Stripes latest record. The guy with the guitar, makin' a lot of the noise on that stage was one half of that band, Jack White. My buddy Mushy had told me about the show and we emailed one another back and forth while we both watched it.

To be truthful, I wasn't really impressed at first. The sound was too raw. But then they closed with a rendition of Dolly Parton's old tune "Jolene" that simply blew me away. About a year later Mushy dropped a morsel on me in another email, tellin' me that Jack White's other group, The Raconteurs also made some cool music. I didn't even know they existed. I checked them out on YouTube and the next thing I knew I was goin' to the local store and pickin' up their second, latest CD, "Counselors of the lonely". Listening to it in the car, I was happy to find that I liked this other sound that Jack White was making, along with Jack Lawrence (bass), Brendon Benson (guitar), and Patrick Keeler (drums). When I finally got to the last tune on the Cd, I was left stammering. The lyrics, the power of the imagery, it was brilliant. Here, have a taste.

See what I mean? Now here's the irony about that. The band only had an hour to play Sunday night. They played about a dozen cuts from their two studio albums, including blazing versions of "Blue Veins" and "Broken Boy Soldier", from their first album, but they didn't play "Carolina Drama". I couldn't FUCKIN' believe it when they quit and I didn't get to hear that one live!

Still, hearing them play was easily the highlight of the day. I can't wait to get the chance to see them in another venue where they can play for more than an hour, and maybe I'll get to hear all the tunes I like.

As they ended their set, everyone began the march down to the other end of the park to get set up to see the headlining band of the day, The Foo Fighters. It was truly like a medieval army on the march.

When they came out on the stage the crowd went nuts.

I like a lot of the stuff they do, and especially love the covers that they do. These guys can play ANYTHING! They recently did a wonderful tribute spacial on TV or The Who. We got a little taste of that when they performed "Young Man Blues" here at the ACL. It was amazing.

The problem we had here was the group of drunks who were standing in front of us, yelling and talking all through the gig. Those pricks wouldn't shut up. I felt like I was in my high school class and wanted to tell them to shut the hell up. I tell ya, give me pot heads any time over drunks.

By the way, there was a decent amount of sweet smoke wafting around. At one point Denise looked up at me and asked me what the "sickly sweet smell" was. I told her "Baby, That's Ganja!"

About four songs from the end of the show, tired of the drunks and remembering Saturday nights friggin' Bataan Death March back to the bus, I asked Denise if she wanted to go. We ended up getting into the line right out the gate, and we were back at the car and on our way North on I-35 before we knew it.

We stopped at a Denny's on the way home and got a bite to eat, and we were back in the sack by 12:30. The next day we were both hackin' and coughin' from the dust, and Denise was so sick from the greasy food at Denny's that she stayed home from work. Later Monday night she asked me if it might have been an allergic reaction to the "weed and feed". I was like, "Huh?", thinkin' she meant the poison I'd put out on the yard a week earlier. And then it hit me. "No baby, it wasn't the weed." I laughed my ass off.

All in all, it was a hot, tiring, dusty festival, but it was well worth it. If you find yourself in Austin next September, see if you can check it out. Cheers.


Chuck said...

So, what were y'all doing to keep you in bed so long? Hmmm?

I read once that LBJ was the most hung president we've ever had. Like someone saw him skinny dipping in the White House pool and he had like 12" going on. Just a little tid bit for you there...

Sure y'all didn't hit the ganja?

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Chuck - yea, he was hung. There's stories about him that make JFK look like a boyscout! he used to whip it out in cabinet meetings and lay it on the table. Used to walk into his secretaries office, next to the oval office, close the blinds, nail the shit out of her and then go back to work. Stress relief, I guess. He supposedly called it "Jumbo". I mean, ya gotta love the guy, and yet...

Les Becker said...

"...and put the "FUCK OFF" sign up on the door..." ROTFL!! Oh, my God - I'll never be able to see one of those signs again without cracking up!

...and didgeredoo-playing is HARD! And 'spitty', too! Looks like it was a really great concert.