Here is the Shinyribs band playing the Sir Douglas Quintet’s She’s About A Mover with Doug Sahm’s son Shawn Sahm. Cheryl Sahm posted this on Facebook earlier today and it was actually the first time I have seen the footage. It was a great night of fun. Just thought I’d share it with all of you.
I have been breaking out the Doug Sahm lately. Anyone in Austin needs no introduction to Doug Sahm. However, if you aren’t aware of him, he is a true American original. In my mind no one sounds like Austin as much as he does. Although he is part of Austin’s musical legacy, I really feel like he represents the mythical Austin, the place where the cowboys and hippies got along, the place people imagine Austin to be even if modernity is turning it into a far more urban place. I’m not saying that Austin no longer exists, just that you have to look much harder to find it. He combines different genres in a way that is unique, that no one else has quite done in the same way. Rock, blues, country, Mexican music, and more rub up against one another. One of my favorite songs of his is the above song Hard Way. It’s from The Sir Douglas Band album Texas Tornado. Listen to the funky groove, the Tex-Mex horns, and the way the song elevates into a big chorus with a truly sweet harmony.
It’s been another busy week here in Texas. Last weekend was four show, this weekend there are four shows, and two of my three days off I have been recording. Going on the road this week with the Shinyribs band:
I’m hoping to get a book worth discussing before I hit the highway. Musically I have been living exclusively in the world of Jamaica.
Recording just a few songs with my good friend Mick Flowers who, aside from being an excellent drummer and producer, is also a prop master, and an amazing one at that. I just saw the last movie that he did, Joe starring Nicholas Cage, and it was fantastic. A gritty southern grotesque with a dark heart and an even darker sense of humor. It’s on Netflix right now and it is worth seeking out if you like your movies jet black or if you are a fan of southern writers like Harry Crews and Flannery O’Connor. It was filmed around Austin and apparently many of the people in the film, although excellent, are not trained actors, but regular people recruited for the film.
In Austin we went from last year, where you couldn’t swim because all of the swimming holes were dry, to not being able to swim this year because the creeks are overflowing due to an abundance of rain. I know better than to substitute weather for climate, but the weather sure has been strange down here the last few years.
The more I think about it the more I am extremely happy that I read Voltaire’s Candide. It is a satire of the human condition of the highest order. You will never hear anyone say, “All is for the best”, or “Everything happens for a reason”, again the same way.
Been reading Stephen King short stories the last couple of weeks. It is amazing how prolific he is. I know there are some critics that criticize his writing style, but he has an ability to tap into the uncanny in a way that few other writers can. I like genre fiction, or songwriting, or movies, as long as they are done well. There is something interesting about taking a certain genre, trying to work within its limits, and deliver surprises along the way that is appealing. I always believed that a lot of creativity comes out of limitations.
Anyway, I am off to enjoy some rare sunshine before I head into the studio.
In the future, when all’s well…
Tonight my band No Show Ponies will be playing at Hole in the Wall in Austin at 9pm. I try not to over promote my own shit on here, as I want this site to have value in and of itself. However, tonight is a special show as my brother moved away a year ago and this is one of the very few times we may get to play music together for the immediate future. Above is a Joe Strummer song that we often cover. “Going to the Mountaintop”!
If you want to hear us here is a link to our record that we recorded two years ago in Austin with Ramsay Midwood at the helm. Recording mostly live to some quarter inch analog tape. You can stream the album in full.
Storms never come when you want them to. We had a horrible storm here in Austin, that lead to the worst flooding I have ever seen here. I was desperately hoping that the rain would go away, not only for my sake, but for those whom lost their property or had it damaged. (I live on the side of a hill and was in no way even close to getting flooded.) However, I remember a time when I would have prayed for a flood, even one of Noah’s Ark proportions.
I used to work in sales for a moving company that was run by a couple. (That no longer exists.) It was the stupidest place that I ever worked. Often I would show up for work and the boss would be passed out drunk on the back couch. The movers would be running around out front of the building in what looked like the USO scene from Apocalypse Now. The owner got hit with a DUI and got a breathalyzer put on his car, so at night he started driving the moving truck to the bar. When he finally went to jail, which was inevitable, the bar he frequented called the office and told us that he owed them a thousand dollars! In all my years of drinking I have spent an untold amount at bars, but I never owed a bar money, nor even knew it was possible to owe a bar that much! Onetime the female boss disappeared for days on a drug binge. When she returned, I actually saw a coworker fire his own boss, only to have the male boss get soft and allow her to return. None of these stories even tell the half of it. Insanity went along with daily defeats. All they seemed to talk about around the office was American Idol, except when they were occasionally mentioning the Bible. Anyway, as you can imagine it was not the greatest of work environments. One should never be in the position of trying to meet sales numbers for drug addicts that believe in angels.
One day I showed up for work and the business next store had burned to the ground. All of the workers stood in the field next door and looked at what was left, and what was left was cinders. I remember looking out the window wistfully, hoping that I too would some day be blessed with such an event. Floods, plagues, and fires became the stuff of Tuesday morning daydreams. Sometimes I would let my thoughts go into the realm of fantasy. I remember one day thinking how great it would be if a werewolf came through the front door and just started dismembering people. I was willing to go down too, with whatever horror came through that door, as long my imaginary werewolf friend took out my bosses first. Hey, what else is there to think about when one is facing skull crushing boredom and mind numbing stupidity?
So whenever you here a politician talk about the nobility of the small business owner, I call bullshit. I’ve seen things. Small business owners, like everyone else, are a mixed bag. Some dream big and treat their workers well, and some DUI moving trucks in endless circles around town.
Anyway, I hope my fellow Austinites are able to recover from the flood. My parents home in Pennsylvania have faced minor flooding before. I know even a little water can be an absolute nightmare to deal with. I wish that upon no one. But there was once a day when I did wish it upon myself…
“I wanna dream lover so I don’t have to dream alone” – Bobby Darin
Today the video for Old School Austin Groove premiered. It’s a song that is part of the soundtrack for the movie Crazy Carl And His Man-Boobs: An Austin Love Story. Both were filmed by Beef & Pie Productions and you can stream the movie in full for free here. The song was written and performed by Shawn Sahm and Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell. That is Keith Langford, of Shinyribs and the Gourds, holding down the rhythm with myself. The Crazy Carl movie is actually a really great documentary about Austin, despite its seemingly bizarre subject matter, though the title character himself is an interesting character study with a lot of heart for anyone interested in the strange thing we call humanity in general. A must see for anyone that has any interest in the city of Austin past, present, or future.
The recording session and the filming of the video were great fun. If I said any more someone would kill me…
Allergies in Austin have knocked me out of commission the last few days. For any of you who are thinking coughing and sneezing, I hope you are not asking me to laugh in your face. It’s more like someone is injecting one with Nyquil, but a brand of it that is actually increasing your cold. I sometimes wonder if my conspiracy-theory friends are right about the government and chemtrails. Anyway…
The Walking Dead is the best show on TV right now. (At least until the return of Mad Men.) Describing why would take a whole series of posts, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that week after week it pushes the limits of what you can do with characters in long form writing. Breaking Bad, which I love, took Ned Flanders and turned him into Scarface, but this has done that for almost an entire cast. Meanwhile, while you knew Walter White was crossing a line that shouldn’t be, with the rules of society gone out the window on The Walking Dead, you don’t know whether the characters are people that should be rooted for or feared. The show has a moral complexity to it that I find really interesting. It looks at human nature outside society in the same way that a novel like Lord of the Flies does. As a bonus, it is flat out entertaining as hell!
I’m watching Better Call Saul right now. I’m still on the fence about this show. There is a lot to like in the performances and the details of the writing. However, the show still feels like it is building towards something, that it hasn’t arrived yet. I’m going to stick with it as I trust Vince Gilligan, also the creator of Breaking Bad, will pull it all together.
If anyone is interested in South African Music, I can’t recommend the compilation Homeland: The Best of Black South Africa enough. It’s one of those rare compilations that plays like a really great album. Every track has a commonality that feels related to the others, but the diversity of artists means that it also never gets boring. I clearly can’t understand the lyrics, but this is soul music, in the sense that it is uplifting and life-affirming, even if you get the sense that it was created under hardship.
This week I go on the road with Shinyribs to Florida for a festival. You can get the details here:
I hope to be back up at my usual posting rate by tomorrow, but if I’m not, you know why.
In the future when all’s well…