Sloe gin fizz in a pitcher to go

You need to see Loretta Lynn at Stubbs Bbq tonight.

Forget about country music – Lynn is a legend in MUSIC.  She recently finished a new album, Van Lear Rose, with musician/producer Jack White of White Stripes fame.

Some things you may not know about Loretta Lynn: she was a good friend of the late, great Patsy Cline, she is part Cherokee, and she had four children by the time she was 17.

Lynn’s collaboration with White has borne incredible fruit. It’s back to basics for Lynn on this album.  Don’t let her age fool you – although she is in her 70s her songs can still make you move.  This septuagenarian still sounds sexy and fresh.  Check out “Stomp” and “Portland, Oregon” if you don’t believe me.

Events Tips for La Zona Rosa, Austin TX

La Zona Rosa is the kind of club you go to hear great music and thrash around in the mosh pit. It isn’t anything fancy but it works. It is one of the favorite hangouts in Austin for loud, live music. La Zona Rosa is located at 612 W. 4th Street Austin Tx 78701 ; phone 512 263 4146. LZR doesn’t currently offer food. For something quick to eat before a show, head up to 6th to Torchy’s Tacos. These are some of the best tacos in Austin (and also some of the most expensive). I like the shredded pork and green chile. They have great Tshirts for sale. There is also a Thai restaurant on 6th right across from Torchy’s. Cameras are allowed at LZR. The general rule is “no professional rigs” meaning if you can add a flash or a lens you can’t bring the camera in. Smoking is not allowed at all inside La Zona Rosa. Don’t even try.

The bouncers seem to decent guys that aren’t on the normal power trips. They are just there trying to enforce the rules and keep everyone safe.

Bring earplugs to a show. The venue is small enough to be able to easily get to the stage. You’ll sacrifice your hearing for several days though for that front and center experience.

Cabs can be hard to find at LZR. Not a problem however as they can easily be caught if you walk east (left out of the club) on 5th or 6th.

No need to dress up for a show at this venue. Its very dark and can get pretty crowded. This is a perfect venue for your cowboy boots. Its Austin, everyone wears cowboy boots. Flip flops a definite pass at LZR. Capacity at the club is 1200 people. Wear boots and the 1199 other people wont be stepping on your pretty, painted toes.

The venue is an odd shape. The majority of club goers will be able to see the stage without a problem but anyone who gets to a sold out show late may not be able to see well as they will be standing outside on the covered patio. There is a small portion of the main area that is elevated. It is directly opposite the stage and in the back of the venue, right next to the bar.

Any one, any age can attend a show at LZR. There is a covered patio, a bar, and the main area in front of the stage.

This Summer at Stubbs

Big Head Todd and The Monsters,

Friday May 30 TBA (probably 9 pm)

Big Head Todd and The Monsters are touring to promote their new release “All the Love You Need”. The Colorado band has been recording together since 1989 after attending Columbine High School. Their sound has been distinctly bittersweet but the new release is grittier, more punkish. Some of their big sellers in the past include “Sister Sweetly” (“Bittersweet”), “Live at the Fillmore” and Hillary Clinton’s campaign song for the 2008 presidential race (“Blue Sky”).

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Wednesday June 4 TBA (probably 9 pm)

Sharon Jones and the ever popular Dap-Kings have come up with an incredible album “100 Days and 100 Nights”. The Dap-Kings, as many know, are the house band for Daptone Recordings. Jones is perfect in style and sound for the retro 60’s rhythm and blues sound. Is it possible to sound any better live? Also check out “Dap-Dippin’ With…” and “Naturally” from 2006.

Ladytron

Friday June 6 TBA (probably 9 pm)

Hey playgirls (and guys) – Ladytron is coming to town with their funky electronic sound. Robo-pop and Austin? We’ll see how it goes. Reminds me a little bit of Devo with cute girls. Search out “Destroy Everything You Touch”, “International Dateline” (from “Witching Hour”) and “Playgirl” (“Commodore Rock”).

Loretta Lynn

Friday June 13 TBA (probably 9 pm)

Whether you know her from the Dukes of Hazard, 70’s country, or as the “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, Loretta Lynn was one of the original honky tonk girls of the 50s. Now into her 70s, Lynn is touring to promote her new album “Van Lear Rose”. The album is produced by Jack White (of White Stripes fame) and is a retelling of Johnny Cash’s music. Check out “Miss Being Mrs” and “Portland, Oregon”. Memorable and gorgeous. A rich new sound for the legend of Loretta Lynn.

Rilo Kiley

Monday June 16 TBA (probably 9 pm)

For those not in the know, Rilo Kiley is a band, not a girl. But there is a girl in the band and a very pretty one at that. A little bit of country and a little bit of rock and roll. Worth mentioning: “The Good That Won’t Come Out” (from “The Execution of All Things”) and “The Moneymaker” (“Under the Blacklight”).

Robert Earl Keen

Friday June 20 TBA (probably 9 pm)

Storyteller, songsmith, and proud Texan Robert Earl Keen will grace the stage at Stubbs between platefuls of barbeque and fried pickles. The reformed Aggie has been singing professionally since 1984 (or thereabouts) always adds a  healthy dose of humor into his songs. Keen is the founder of the annual “Texas Uprising” concert series. Many fans say that the 2004 “Bigger Piece of the Sky” is his best recording to date. Of note: “Corpus Christie Bay” and “Blow You Away”.

Thievery Corporation

Tuesday June 24 TBA (probably 9 pm)

Theivery Corporation will be bringing their stylish sound for the new millennium to Austin. Sitars? This has to be a first for Stubbs. Good music and good barbeque are always an easy match however and Theivery Corporation is sure to please. Typical Theivery Corporation: “Lebanese Blonde” (“The Mirror Conspiracy”), “A Gentle Dissolve” and “Doors of Perception” (“The Cosmic Game”).

Stubbs isn’t the kind of venue that you have to dress up to go to. It is very Austin Casual. The amphitheater has a slope to it and unless you have to be close to the stage at every show you attend, this is the place to hang out at the back of the crowd. The concessions, bathrooms and entrance/exit are in the back. The staff at Stubbs is pretty serious about their camera policy: camera phones and small cameras like “Elfs” are fine but nothing with a removable flash or lens is allowed inside. Parking can be tricky in this area – be sure not to leave any valuables peeking out to tempt anyone to break into your car.

Buy tickets directly from Stubb’s box office.  Also check availability at TicketCity as they sometimes sell tickets below face value.

Feisty Canadian Steals Hearts and Minds of Austinites

It was a beautiful, semi starry night – just right to attend a performance at Stubb’s BBQFeist appeared on stage a little after 9pm.  She performed her first number, backlit, behind a white screen.

The venue was packed with Austin’s typical assortment of people.  The crowd was polite and the mood was mellow.  There was a strict ban at the door of “professional rigs” (cameras with removable lenses and flashes) but there was plenty of picture taking going on further up by the stage.

Leslie Feist’s voice is beautiful – whispery, and a little rough around the edges, but strong.  Her voice is emotional without being whiny.   She looks like she’s about 5’6’’ and barley 100lbs soaking wet. It was pretty dramatic to see her heft up her big red Starfire guitar.

Musically what stood out were the little bits of trumpet in the songs.  The trumpet provides a good pairing for her voice.  The additions of the horn were natural and dramatic without it seeming that she was trying too hard to sound different.  (The word around Austin is that Brett Daniels of Spoon produced the hit album The Reminder and it showed in the addition of the trumpet.) Visually what stood out was the shadow-play lightshow that was going on above the stage.  It was a perfect match for the singer’s voice: simple and dynamic.

There was something that was tugging at my mind during the show – her sound reminded me of something I had heard before.  Her voice is pretty but that isn’t what makes her successful.  It’s her lyrics and the way that she instinctively makes her songs sound different than the rest of what is on the airwaves. What was lingering in the back of my mind finally drifted forward:  “… long and lean and tan and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking….”  Feist’s singing voice reminds me of Astrud Gilberto’s timeless “The Girl from Ipanema”.

It was a great show.  At one point she bent down and reached into the crowd, coming back up with a cell phone. (Iphone?  There were lots flashing at the show, as if they were magnetically drawn to the show by the siren song of “1234” which introduced the Nano last year in Apple’s tv spots.)  Apparently some young thing was chatting on her phone while Feist was singing.  That didn’t go over well.  Feist spoke into the phone, asking asked who was on the other end and was promptly hung up on.  Feist handed the phone back and asked the user not to talk on the phone during the performance.  Just like a feisty girl from Alberta.

Spunky, artsy Feist was a big hit at Stubb’s.  I’m adding The Reminder to my collection.  Not because it’s catchy and pop but because I think we have more to hear from Canadian Leslie Feist.

Concert Tips:

Stubb’s is serious about the no flash photography policy.  Don’t take a camera with a removable lens or flash otherwise you risk having it stolen from your car.

TicketCity  was a great source for the tickets to the show.  Conveniently located on 2222 and Mopac, their staff is efficient, courteous, and knowledgeable about venues.

Plenty of comfortable standing room is up the hill near the entrance to the venue.  The further down the slope you go the more crowded it gets.

Arrive early and have dinner at Stubb’s or one of the other restaurants.

Be mindful of where you park.  If you park in a paid lot ask when the attendant is leaving.

Willie Nelson at the Backyard

Perched on a hill overlooking a stage with a Texas flag as a backdrop, I saw a modern American legend. I jumped at the chance to see Willie Nelson at the Backyard in Austin last last weekend.  The Backyard is a popular venue in these parts and I had been on the lookout for an artist that I’d like to see that would be performing there.  Who could pass up good seats to see Willie Nelson in Texas?

He threw in a few new songs (“A Peaceful Solution” and “I’m Not Funny Anymore”) but the show was mostly an anthology of his greatest hits.  “Whisky River” was great with everyone in the audience singing along, even the 15 year olds which was a little disturbing.  A great song is a great song though, and you don’t always have to live the lyrics to appreciate the feeling of it.  My heart stopped a little bit when he sang “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain” and “Angel Flying to Close to the Ground”.

 I can’t even imagine everything this septugenarian has experienced.  That isn’t even including the rock-n-roll lifestyle he’s lived.  He’s a peace activist and currently owns a portion of a biodiesel plant in Carl, Texas.  He’s survived being sued by the IRS for over 15 million dollars in back taxes.  He has been married 5 times and currently has children who are in their 40s and their tweens.

The rumor in Austin is that he isn’t well but he looked fine for someone who is 73.  He was led onto the stage by a trusted member of his staff.  He looked energized and happy as he played continuously through the 90 minute set. At the end he bent down and shook hands with the folks who walked up to the stage – no mean feat for a 70 year old back.

 We sat in Section C, Row 12 and they were really good seats.  We were close enough to see the performers faces and to appreciate the skilled moves of the musicians as they played.  I’ve heard that it is always better to sit center and be a little further back than to sit on the sides and be closer to the stage.  It was good to have the opportunity to see if that is a good axiom and it is.  The Backyard is a nice, relaxed venue.  It’s open air and there are porch seats that overlook the seating and standing areas directly in front of the stage.  Wear comfortable shoes as it is a bit of a dusty hike on gravel trails from the parking area to the venue.  I was surprised at how quickly the parking area cleared-out.  We arrived at 7 pm and missed part of the opening act as we were some of the last people to get there.  We sat in traffic for about 30 minutes to get out of the lot which wasn’t bad at all.

 It was a good show and I’m glad that I went.  I think that I am part-way to being a Texan now that I live in Austin and have seen Willie perform here.  What’s that old saying:  I wasn’t born here but I got here as fast as I could ?  Thanks for a great show, Willie.  I wish you the best on your continued travels.  Thanks for sharing your memories with me.