Roots Vibes

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I missed the radio show this morning as I had a late night …However I managed to get up to The Continental Club for 11am and Jon Dee Graham & his Band
The music had been going since 9am & the place was as packed as an evening gig when I entered, it was quite surreal. Also Jon Dee Graham was extremely emotional & you felt tears would flow from his eyes every time he finished a song. He said that he didn’t consider himself a musician anymore as he made money with his Bear drawings & books to get along through the pandemic. He had a bag with his drawings in and passed it around the audience to pay what you liked & have one of his drawings. I had to buy one but his music did the talking for me. It’s the first time Id seen his guitarist Mike Chadwick play steel on half the set. It was perfect.

Coming out the club to get some fresh midday air & with the sun glowing, I crossed the road & caught the back end on young Londoner Grace Cummings show. It wasn’t much either except she descended from the show on a horse… a first for Austin I think.

I just managed to get back into The CC for John Doe. He played solo this time & his lyrics were much easier to hear. It was full to capacity now.

Id bought Jesse Dayton’s new book from him at Lucy’s the other day & playing here next up, he’d probably quoted half the book during the set. Jesse had his regular stand up bassist, a Cajun drummer & Matt Hubbard on Keys. He loves to entertain a big crowd & was on great form. He’s a very talented guitarist too.

Afterwards around mid afternoon, I went over the road again for two of my “not to miss” artists at SXSW.

Joshua Ray Walker & Band @ SXSan Jose. While awaiting big Joshua the couple next to me (from Houston) were telling me how brilliant he is. What a great country voice & a great band. A lady from San Diego butted in saying she’d flew here just to see the young man … mmmmmm I thought, I’ve pencilled him for August in toon, this could be good… He then comes on with the band and WOW. He is brilliant …something like when Dale Watson first appeared, a star in the making. Straight in my top 3 SXSW highlights

Ural Thomas & The Pain@ SxSan Jose. Ural cut a series of rare soul singles in the late sixties, toured with Otis Redding & jammed with Mick Jagger, then just disappeared. Fast forward 50 odd years & Bella Union are releasing his third album in recent years & a proper release. So here was the 82 year old, with a top-notch 7-piece band, crooning the funk out of them & having a ball. Even Harold behind me was dancing. I loved this one & hope to have him here. Another top 3 SXSW Highlight.

I’d had enough of live music for the rest of the day & by chance met Tracey Dear from The Waco’s in Gueros & had a couple beers with him. I also by chance met Jake the ex Bassist from Hot Club Cowtown which was nice. Alas,sadly though,I completely missed my friend Phil Harding whom I was supposed to have met!

The evening was going to be a last chance for a while to see special guest Chuck Prophet up the drag at C Boys. I got there very early at 8pm. It was $10 door for Lavelle White & her blues band. Id heard about this local blues & soul singer & looked forward to it. I found a table/seat near the front side as nobody was in & waited. The young blues band took the stage & played some nice classic Chicago blues. They had the groove & were pretty good. Unfortunately Lavelle didn’t show. Talking to the barman they can never tell whether she’s going to turn up or not cause she’s 92 years old!!!

I kept my seat & a couple came & sat with me. One was the guitarist of the band next up. It was $25 covers for the rest of the evening but being with the band they never asked me!! I knew nothing of The Continental Drifters but not to worry, the lady immediately updated me. They’d not played in 5 years, quite a few had travelled from all over US for this show (which was true) & one of the two female singers had been married to two of the band members…very Fleetwood Mac. One of the singers was in the Bangles & the other was the great singer (Susan Cowsill) who got up with John Doe the other day. I gave them a try but their folk pop rock music wasn’t for me. Many did enjoy them though.

Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express@ C Boys. It was midnight & around 70/80 souls were reaching out total positive vibes for this one. Austin does love Chuck. He’d played a free show 5 mins walk away earlier, but I settled for C Boys lounge. After he announced his cancer diagnosis earlier in the week, he was determined to play these two shows before having 7 month of treatment (its said to be curable). Tears flowed as He & Steph (masked up) set up the stage. His band came on & masks were effaced & bang they were off. They must have played a solid 1-hour 45 mins (like Bob Dylan). Although they both looked taut & frail they didn’t sound like it. Stephanie maybe had more songs that normal but they sounded great. The tipping point came when Chuck sang “ Wish Me Luck “ and came into the audience giving everyone the microphone, to wish him luck. I was crying at that point, I don’t mind admitting it. Anyway the reception was thunderous & I’m not sure whether this gig was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Quite a few musicians were in the crowd and Charlie Sexton was invited up for a three-guitar jam to end things off.

I walked down the drag in a haze & nearly couldn’t get into my Hotel as the curfew on Saturdays is 2am & it’s been 2.15. I got in the fire exit entrance!