The Mahalia Jackson Performing Arts Center
David and David on the Gibson Guitar bus
Outside the Salt Lick
The Gibson private showroom
Our acoustic set at the Cactus Cafe
The Magnolia Cafe
MMM. Salt Lick BBQ
Salt Lick blueberry cobbler
The cast with Earl Poole Ball
At the Butler School speaking to students
The final proof of my album cover!!!!
Hello everyone! I hope this month is treating you quite well! This blog is a bit overdue, but it has been a whirlwind week here. So, on to the events of the past week in Austin, TX!
We arrived in Austin after a short drive from San Antonio to find the weather quite warm and inviting yet again. I could get used to this whole idea of Spring.....
Shortly after our arrival, Jam, Austin, Cody, David Elkins and I headed to the Cactus Cafe on the campus of the University of Texas to do a promo. We don't usually do promos on Mondays, but this was a very cool opportunity. The boys got on a small stage and did an acoustic set of four songs (pictures above, video below) as well as talking to the audience quite a bit. They were a great crowd, and along with being taped as part of a weekly podcast, we were asked some very insightful questions. It always makes for a better experience when our interviewers and public ask amazing questions. We were also fed some amazing local BBQ, and when the set was over, we made our way back to the hotel to chill for the evening.
The next day, as we were driving distance from the theatre, I drove Austin to work in the heart of the U of Texas campus. The theatre, Bass Concert Hall, is so named because, like the Bass Performing Arts Center in Fort Worth, the Bass family were the main contributors to the construction effort. After a couple of little stops to and from the theatre, I picked up everyone and we headed into the thick of campus for opening night. As usual, the boys and m'am rocked it out, and the amazing crowd went along with them for a ride. After the show that night, I headed with Billy, Rosie, Corey and Jam to the famous Magnolia Cafe (picture above) for some great egg rolls, and then headed off to catch our first bit of live music at a place called Sahara. I can't say the music was the greatest, but it was awesome to go to a little divey venue and sit outside and enjoy the tunes. I feel like I haven't done that in forever.
On Wednesday morning, Kelly, the David's and Jam and I took an adventure; Kelly's friend Maclovio works for Gibson Guitars, and invited us to not only ride on the official Gibson Guitar (pictures above, video below) bus, but we headed to what is regarded as possibly the best BBQ place in Texas, perhaps the world: Salt Lick BBQ. First of all, being on that bus was a trip. It was a tricked out tour bus with big screen TV's, multiple guitar models, amps, etc. for us to play with. David and I listened to the bus driver Wes talk about his many stories about Johnny Cash along his illustrious career as a tour bus driver. The experience was priceless. That was enough to make the day great, but THEN,.......the BBQ. By far, the BEST brisket and smoked sausage I have ever had in my life. I got a sampler platter that featured the aforementioned meat as well as some great cole slaw, BBQ beans and ribs. It was the PERFECT amount (picture above). None of us were overly full afterward. But then we made the brilliant decision to order dessert: peach, blackberry and half and half cobbler a la mode. Wow. When they brought them out (picture above) with 4 spoons, we realized that perhaps they were meant to be shared....eventhough we all wolfed down our own bowl. It was well worth it. Fantastic.
Having left Salt Lick, Maclovio took us to the Gibson private showroom for a little tour and some photos (above). All in all, it was an amazing day. We made the 45 minute drive back, and got some rest before the show that evening.
On Thursday morning, Jam and I headed down to SOCO, or, South College street to get our pompadours cut at Avenue Barber, and then did some shopping. Oops. I may or may not have gotten a great new western shirt and a pair of cowboy boots....To be fair, I don't have a high end pair of black boots (clearly I will get some use out of them in my Cash tributes), so I looked at it as an investment. And, a tax write off. From there, I headed to an independent record store, Friends of Sound, and found some GREAT Johnny Cash LP's. Again, it's all good. Tax write off....research.....
That night we had a special guest; Earl Poole Ball, long time piano player for the likes of what amount to country music royalty, but most importantly for me, Mr. Johnny Cash. He was nice enough to take a picture with us after the show (above) and told us a bunch of great stories about him, Johnny and Jerry Lee Lewis.
We were feeling a bit hungry, so we headed to where all of the famous food trucks were. I stopped at Wurst Tex for a great sausage sandwich and some fries with truffle oil. MMMM. Truffles. We ran into a bunch of the cast downtown, but I had to head back to the hotel to prepare for a talk I was doing that afternoon. I was picked up, and headed back to the U of T campus to speak to some students at the Butler School in a music business class (pictures above). It was great to be able to talk about the "biz" with these students; they had a lot of great questions, and I hope I gave them a better idea of what it is that I do for a living. After a quick bite, I was dropped back off at the hotel, and then headed off to work later that evening. From there, a few of us headed to the world famous Continental Club to catch a band that Billy and Corey knew a bunch about, The Red Elvises. Man, it was a fun show. And of course, like I do, I had to buy a bunch of shwag. I mean, c'mon. How many times am I going to be in Austin, TX seeing the Red Elvises??????
I laid pretty low on Friday. Saturday was relatively busy with the two shows, and on Sunday I got word that I would be on for both shows as Johnny Cash! The great thing about that was, that not only did I get to go on, but I had 4 straight shows to look forward to, as I was going to be on for the first two shows in New Orleans the following week. I was pretty stunned and humbled by the response from the audience....it was a great way to finish the week. Later that evening, a large group of us headed back to the Continental Club to catch Earl's band play. They were UNREAL. All masters of their instruments, great singers, and they have played with the likes of (not including those I mentioned above) Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, etc. Just amazing. Earl invited Billy Bob, Corey, Cody and Ben up to play a couple of tunes (video below). The crowd just loved it! Cody and I then took a fateful trip in search of a Johnny Cash tribute bar called Mean Eyed Cat; unfortunately by the time we got there, it was closed. At least I got to see it.
The next morning we headed to the airport for our next stop, New Orleans. It's crazy to think at this point that after all of the touring we have done, that we only have 4 short weeks left. Insane.
Hmmm....other highlights....well, we have raised over $75,000 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, and we still have one week left to collect in NOLA! We want to break that $100,000 mark! Also this week, Billy started the design of my Sun EP (artwork above). I'm so lucky to have such an amazing artist and musician for a friend. It looks amazing, and now all I have to do is wait for the mastered tracks to come back....and a release will be upcoming! Stay tuned!
That's about it from Austin, but next week will be a whirlwind in New Orleans. I guarantee I will have tons of pictures and stories from the Big Easy! Make sure you check back next week!