WATX Day 3

On Saturday I actually woke up well rested. We weren’t planning to leave La Jitas early, so everyone got to sleep in a bit. The ride to Alpine was  quick and before I knew it we were pulling up in front of the newly remodeled Holland Hotel. We had come out a few weeks earlier to play a show and check out the new version of the Hotel. They did a really nice job updating the place. We got our stuff settled in the rooms and then I met the boys to get over to Railroad Blues for load-in and set-up.

I love this bar. Really. I know, I know, I’ve said it before and there are, in fact, other bars that I love. But, I don’t know any place quite like Railroad Blues. Even when we don’t bring a bus load of our fans to see us we do pretty well there and have been playing out there a couple times a year for a few years now. I used to play at a club in Austin back in the early nineties that was owned by the now owner of Railroad Blues, Richard Fallon. He got out of the big town and opened up this place not long after. Anyway, it’s a great beer bar with homemade sangria (be careful) and a great honkytonk feel. So I had my first beer of the day (tastes like true love) and then maybe one more (I couldn’t help it) and we headed back over to the Holland to catch the end of Tina Wilkins and friends in the lobby.

I could hear Tina’s angelic voice floating on the mountain breezes as I approached the front door and was kind of surprised to see that the hotel lobby had been turned into an intimate house concert like venue. Really cool. What a wonderful bunch of people we had on this trip. Music lovers all! It rained as we ate dinner and the bus came over to pick us up so our folks wouldn’t get soaked on the 4 block walk to the club. It wasn’t raining hard by then so I walked to the show. It was cool and nice. Lori Mckenna opened the show solo. Any one who can stand up in front of a rowdy Saturday night bar crowd with an acoustic guitar, and not only hold their own but captivate, is alright with me. She was awesome as always. Ray, G and I joined her for her last 3 songs and all I can say is “Lori, If you ever need a band……” Sublime, really.

Then we did that loud rocking thing we do. With Jimmy Daddy and a mid set appearance by Michael Hearne, we did what we came to do and made sure that a good time was had by all. There was dancing and drinkin and the hot dog truck in the parking lot did a bang up business at the end of the night. Sounds like fun huh? It was. And so our three nights of music were through and I think we had a bunch of satisfied customers to pile into the bus in the morning and ride back to Luckenbach. But you know, the bus ride home is half the fun……

WATX 2010 – day 2

I don’t know if I woke up so much as came to on Friday morning. The sun was slanting thru the blinds of our hotel room and all I could think about was not missing breakfast. We left Marathon about 9:30 am friday morning to get on the road to the LaJitas Resort. Once again a nap on the bus was necessary and I might have MC’d one more trivia game on the ride as well. We were treated to a great lunch when we arrived at the LaJitas Resort and afterwards, as people went on a 1/2 day river trip on the Rio Grande, or went for ATV rides in the mountains or spa treatments, I once again opted for a nap. I knew I was booked to play the cocktail hour set at the Thirsty Goat and was still really worn out from Thursday.

I played the Thirsty Goat once before. Last year on a scouting trip with Johnny G and Ray. It’s a good bar. I like it. It was a fun set to play even though I was still tired and had to play in front of some of my favorite songwriters in the world. I can tell you I was really ready for dinner when it was that time and it was really good. Oddly enough I didn’t take any food pictures on this trip, you’ll just have to imagine long tables on the veranda, over looking trees and gardens and surrounded by brown desert and purple mountain peaks. Very cool.

Our show that night was in the little theater they have at the resort. Like last year, we played an acoustic set and then had all of our guests come up and play songs with us. It was intimate and cool in a totally different way than the night before. The bar was closing when we finished, but that didn’t stop the midnight poker game or the chicks with their feet in the pool. I decided to get caught up and went to bed fairly early after communing with the stars in the enormous sky of the border. We didn’t have to leave till late on Saturday so everyone got to sleep in a bit.

below is an excerpt from our closing number…. once again all pics and video courtesy of our fabulously talented trip photographer Robbyn Dodd.

Walt’s Across Texas 2010 – Day 1

This is the first of 4 posts about our trip out west this year……

It’s not usually my idea of a good time to sleep four hours, get up at 6 a.m., drive an hour, drop off the dog, drive another hour to Luckenbach and get on a charter bus full of people for a 7 hour ride to west Texas. But, this is no ordinary bus load of people and no ordinary destination. I remember the apprehension we all had last year about being stuck on a bus full of people for a day and then kind of trapped in west Texas with all of them for 3 days. We were all a bit nervous about it, but it was so much fun we had to do it again.

I slept some until we reached our first stop in Junction, TX for lunch at Cooper’s BBQ. When we got rolling again it was time to resume my roll of bus MC that I somehow fell into last year. We watched a movie and then started the afternoon off with a Tequila tasting. The most poetic description of the wining Tequila was awarded a prize. Then we were off into Bingo and Trivia with the beer and Tequila flowing a bit. I picked up a couple of cans of Silly String at a rest stop out by Fort Stockton. I forgot to use them this year, but who can resist a convenience store that sells Silly String?!? By the time we reached the Gage Hotel in Marathon, TX, I would venture to say we were all fast friends. If you’re going to spend the afternoon on a bus, this is the way to do it and the people you want to do it with.

Now of course we all know most of the people on the bus. We had some folks come again this year and most everyone is a fan, a friend or a relative. But, we don’t generally get to spend so much time with each other. Now, I don’t know about everyone else, but I went straight to a nap when we reached the Gage. Lovely. I got to be an audience member at the show that night. It rained, so we put everyone under the covered space on the courtyard and created an intimate little spot. The show was really amazing. Two sets. Jimmy Davis and Michael Hearne and then Tina Wilkins and Lori McKenna. All swapping songs and inspiring us all. Beautiful.

Then of course we had to shut down the White Buffalo Bar at the Gage, and when we were done there we sat around the courtyard fire pit as the night sky began to clear. It was a really long day but a good day. Next stop, La Jitas…….

photos and video by Robynn Dodd, official WATX2010 photographer.

Night Train Rolling By

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, while we were in Washington DC in August we had the honor of traveling with and being filmed by Jessie Scott and the Music Fog crew. If you don’t know about Music Fog, I highly recommend checking it out on a regular basis. Jessie writes about all manner of Americana Music artists and they create some really beautiful, intimate videos.

Here’s the first of the 3 songs we taped at the Mansion on O Street in DC on August 15, 2010. Enjoy, we did.

-El Guap0

The Big Finish

A late summer evening. The humidity rises as the sun begins to dip towards a chance of evening rain. A rapt audience watches the final throws of a washer throwing competition and leaps to their feet as 2 successive 5 point shots are made! There are cheers and laughs. Pictures to be taken and a show still to be played but the end of the tour is as clear as the end of the game. It’s going to be a good one.

On Friday I didn’t drive. After DC, Baltimore, Philly and 2 days in NYC I was worn out with driving and we had an easy highway cruise to Buffalo. John and Walt did the honors. This was to be our anchor weekend. If it weren’t for our friends Gary and Christie Colvin we wouldn’t have been on this run at all. Gary helped me put these shows together upstate and worked really hard to fulfill my request of “asses in seats”, so these were the shows we built the tour around. We arrived in Buffalo and walked into the Sportsman’s Tavern. What a great bar! The opening band was rockin and had one hell of a crowd. The air was crisp and cool outside and the bar was hot and sweaty. We ate at Joe’s, a pizza joint across the street, and continued our run of NY pizza joint Italian food as well as maybe the best buffalo wings I’ve ever had. Kinda makes sense I guess.

Sportsman’s is on my short list of favorite bars ever. They bring in a lot of Texas acts from Asleep At The Wheel to Gurf Morlix and other Americana music folks like Paul Thorn. Owner Dwain Hall used to tour the U.S. in a country band and welcomes you with open arms and a great beer selection. My choice of the night was local beer Genessee though my first of the day was a PBR (tastes like true love). As evening descended and we smiled back at familiar faces in the crowd, all the way from Texas, we took the stage and did what we do. And it was good.

We spent Saturday afternoon with the Colvins and a few friends in Le Roy, NY. It was beautiful and what a treat to be in someone’s home for awhile after all the bars and hotels. It was funny to me that all the New Yorkers spent the afternoon drinking Shiner beer from Texas while the visiting Texans drank NY’s Genesse and Canadian LaBatt’s. After a great sufficiency of food, beer, conversation, a nap in a hammock and a very exciting washer tournament, it was time to play our final show of the tour. The Abilene Bar in downtown Rochester is in an old house right across from a Ballroom that used to be the Jewish Community Center. Another great bar! I love this part of the country! We really hit our stride at the Abilene. The place was good and packed with folks of all ages and we really did rock the house. We had planned to play outside on a beautiful deck, but the weather didn’t allow it and I have to say there’s something about a little bar packed with people and a rocking band that I really like.

So we ended on a high note and when the last CD was signed and our goodbyes said, we headed to our hotel for a few hours sleep. Actually I think Ray and Johnny went to the bar, but I hit the sack. I dropped the boys off at the airport in Buffalo this morning and as I travel back towards NYC and eventually home to Texas, I’m really proud of our trip. We made new fans, some new friends and played well from the halls of the O Street Mansion to the 36th floor of Sirius Radio to The Sportsman’s Tavern. Thanks to all who joined us on this adventure and helped make it possible. See you next year New York.

Looking forward to being back in Texas,

-El Guapo

Whirlwind

I should know better. I’ve been here before. I know what the energy is like. 2 days in NYC with the band and I feel like I’ve been up for 4 days straight. We pulled into Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon. A run up to Inwood to pick up backline for the show and then downtown to the venue. Load in. I hop a cab and go to 48th street to get a part for my new bass. (I needed a thumb rest). Got that done. Ate sushi next door to the club and then played a 3 hour show. Oh yeah,  did I mention that I drove the van up from Baltimore that day with a stop in Philly for lunch? Have you ever driven in south Philly?

After the show, which sounded pretty good, I dropped the boys at their hotel and proceeded uptown back to Inwood where I parked the van and stayed with my good friends Felix and Lisa Hendrickson. Felix and I met in New Jersey in the 80′s and moved to Texas with our band, Heavy Weather. He’s a fine drummer and one hell of a cabinet maker as well as being a great human and one of my best friends. He gave Ray his drums to use for our time in New York and found us some amplifiers for our Tuesday night show at Rodeo Bar as well. We played alright. Not our best work but people seemed to dig it. So I get the boys settled, the van parked and finally shut it down around 3 a.m. At 8. a.m. I awoke to the sound of someone drilling a hole into the outside of the wall. Repairs to the building. Argh. Very tired. It seemed like no time at all and I needed to catch the 1 train downtown to meet the boys and Jessie Scott for our appearance on Sirius Radio’s Outlaw Country Show.

When they told me it was an hour long show I knew I was in trouble. I was tired and grumpy so I asked for some coffee and ended up having a good old time wondering the halls of Sirius Radio on my way to the break room. With french roast in hand I plugged in my guitar and put on my headphones for the show. It was a blast. With a view from the 36th floor, we played a few songs and talked a bit for a show to be aired sometime in September. It really was fun, but by the end of it I was totally spent and all I could think about was getting a nap. Luckily Felix was already downtown and picked me up so I didn’t have to ride the train back up to Inwood. NYC, traffic, etc. No nap. Just a beer (the first of the day; tastes like true love), a bit of food and then change of clothes, pick up van, drive to venue, load in, eat a bit more, set up, drink another beer, say hey to all the great folks who have come to the show from all over the place and then play.

We had a good set. Hill Country on 26th street in NYC is right up our alley. It’s a good place for us to be and we had a bunch of folks come out to see us. (thank you all!) They have really good food (the brisket is for real), a great sound system, and more of a Texas vibe than even the Lone Star had back in my day in the 80′s. We played well. It felt good, but I have to say I was delirious with exhaustion. Maybe that helped me play well, I don’t know. Load up the van and off to Inwood and bed. I got a bit more sleep last night and had a nice morning with my friends. Then fought traffic to pick up the boys and meet our record company owner for lunch. After, I drove the boys out to Jersey and showed them the house I grew up in. We arrived in Kingston New York tired and dizzy. The great spinning, ever moving energy of New York City is just now beginning to fade after a few beers, some good Italian food and a really fun hour long webcast where we played and sang mostly for friends and family back home. What a great way to reconnect with our world when we’re so far away.

-El Guapo

Pat’s vs. Gino’s – The Great Philly Cheeseteak Debate

The Mystiqueros exited the honky-tonk road aka i-95 for an expeditious lunch in mid-town Philadelphia.  Jesse Scott, our resident tour guide on loan from Musicfog.com, suggested a pair of ‘cheesesteak factories’ caddy corner from each other. My MQ brethren looked to me to decide, as they often do, when it comes to food/restaurant choices.  I instinctively gravitated towards Pat’s, as it has the less flashy facade of the two. The line in which we queued was undoubtedly healthier than the fare on the menu, but it moved with the speed of a famished cheetah in hot pursuit of a gazelle on the Serengetti.  Detroit auto executives would be wise to recruit their work force from this kitchen.  Before you could assimilate the indigenous attitude they dish out, the culinary creation was ready. We did our best to blend in, betrayed only by our Chippewa boots, while scarfing down our respective works of art. Alas, as I took my last bite, the Gino’s beacon beckoned, stared me down & ultimately summoned me over.  I had to know which had the better ‘wich’.

Having learned the lingo from my earlier experience, I ordered with the false confidence of an adolescent male asking out his first cheerleader. “One mushroom steak, wit (this indicates the appearance of onions), no cheese”, with a slight tremor in my voice, as I repeated the ‘no cheese’ part. As I feared, my novice approach had revealed my presence as an interloper,  or worse, a tourist.  “I heard you the third time” he barked out a verbal whipping along with my change. El Guapo, having grown up in these parts, explained not to take such quips to heart.  Still, it must have left somewhat of a bad taste in my mouth as I found the latter sandwich to be void of the seasoning of it’s counterpart. I retraced my boot steps back over to Pat’s to let my compadres sample the offering to mixed but also lackluster reviews. In all fairness, we were more famished than the aforementioned cheetah when we arrived at the first eatery, which quite possibly diminished our hunger by the second.  But I still have trust in my ‘buds’, both of taste & of the Mystiquero brotherhood.

Final tally: Pats over Gino’s by an attitude.

- By G/mq5 food critic

Baltimore

We only left an hour late today. Considering how fun it was to stay in DC I think we did really well. For lunch I had a burger from a place in Dupont Circle that rocked my world. I should have taken a picture. It was the Cuban burger form a place called The Burger Joint. Pork on top of beef with swiss cheese and pickles pressed on the grill. Wow. Unbelievably good. It was hard to leave our new DC friends, but the road was calling and when she calls, it’s time to go.

On the drive to Baltimore I heard the best radio station ever. Jessie Scott’s Ipod. Now known to us as KJES. The most amazing, random, rocking bunch of songs pop up on this thing. I have no idea how many songs are on there, but something makes me think it’s close to full. From the 60′s band Love to Al Green and BB King. There’s a lot more but I heard so much music today my head is spinning a bit. As we pulled into downtown Baltimore, Al Green came on with Love And Happiness. Perfect. We arrived at Cyclops Books and met owner and true music champion Andy Rubin. I was having my mid afternoon slump but it was nice to catch the vibe of the place. Very chill. And we met the opening act. Two 14 year old boys, Jeff and Brian, who we would later find out, are really really good. (I kind of wanted to take ‘em out back and beat ‘em up a little bit) The J & B Blues Project.

To combat the afternoon slump, we checked into our hotel and had a beer at the bar. (tastes like true love) Then a fantastic sushi dinner at Joss on Charles St. At the venue the young dudes entertained a small crowd and I was happy to hear them. The first thing they did when we walked in the door was “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. And they did a great job of it. Since the crowd was small and the space appropriate, we decided that a fully unplugged show would be best. So we pulled everyone in close and did what we do. It was fun. Hell, it’s always fun to play. Thats’s why we’re out here. That’s what we came to do. We had some fans who drove an hour to be there and WW had an old friend from his school daze show up as well. Once again we were treated like the young princes of Texas we think we are by people we just met. It was good.

We closed down the hotel bar with Jessie holding court and telling stories from her amazing life. There’s a book in there somewhere I’m sure of it. I’m struck by how lucky I am to be here with these people. My musical brethren and one of the original high priestesses of rock-n-roll rolling up the east coast of our great nation in the August heat. Tomorrow we head to my old stomping grounds, New York City. We’re leaving early so I’m out.

Peace,

El Guapo

What A Day

Tip toeing barefoot through secret doorways into rooms filled with books and antiques. The walls covered in paintings. Guitars signed by stars shine in all the corners. Muddy Waters growls from the juke box as we play a game of Cut Throat on the ornate billiards table. Were these my dreams or is that how last night became this morning? Our day in D.C. was planned to be busy. This trip was planned with the generous help and support of one of my favorite people. A great lover of music and rock star in her own right, Jessie Scott. Part of the plan was to hang out at the O Street Mansion and film some songs for Music Fog and then play a show.

The Mansion itself is hard to explain. Here for 30 years or so, it’s not necessarily well known to Washingtonians. They like it that way. An underground art museum, hotel, rock-n-roll fantasy land. The list of guests who’ve graced these halls and slipped through the secret passageways here is long, illustrious and not to be discussed. When you’re here, you’re identity is unknown to the outside world. Reality is the world inside these walls. I found it fitting that we went back to the pool room to film with the Music Fog crew. It’s where our first day of tour ended, so why not start there again?

After an amazing brunch that included, yes, chocolate covered bacon! I returned to the billiards room. We planned to capture songs from both the Mystiqueros and me as a solo artist in support of both the new records, Agave and The Next Time. I went first. It’s bit nerve wracking to have three cameras in your face at 3 in the afternoon after staying up all night, but they did bring us some beer. (tastes like true love) The boys joined me on a song or two and all in all it went well. By the time we were wrapping up it was time to get downstairs and set up for the show. I was beyond hungry at this point. After performing for the cameras I was running on fumes but was revived by a side order of some of the best spinach I’ve ever had from a little place around the corner. It came with my crab cakes. (also fantastic) Then back to the Mansion for the show. I don’t know how it happened, but we had a really nice crowd. Not huge, but quite a bit better than I expected and we fell into that MQ thing that we do. And when we fall in like that, we do it well. I could almost feel all the musical magic that has happened in that room. Very cool.

When all the CD’s had been signed and the folks were gone and the last cable rolled up and put away I was dead on my feet. So tired that I felt ill. The boys went out and I went to bed. I may never live it down, but I had no choice. I’m looking forward to their stories of what may have happened while I rested. We head on down the road to Baltimore today and a show at Cyclops Books. I will miss this place, but it seems we’re welcome back anytime. I hope that time comes soon.

-El Guapo

p.s. I’ll leave you with a video of the video shoot. WW was kind enough to shoot this for me as the boys and I did “Hold Up The Train” Look for the Music Fog version sometime soon.

Delirious

5 am came way to soon yesterday. Or was that the day before? Anyway, after a nice Sushi dinner outing in Austin I got home and packed for the road. Sleep usually comes easy for me, but I was restless and didn’t get much. As far as I’m concerned if you have to get up at 5 for a flight, it always comes way too soon. But we made it. And before I knew it we were on the ground in Baltimore, in the rental van and heading towards D.C. to check in to our hotel. After a surreal but fun check in and bag drop we had some lunch, and the first beer of the day (tastes like true love), then back in the van to head out to Virginia and our show. That’s when I started to feel like I was on prescription medication or something. I drove through Virginia in a dream. The 3 hours of sleep, flying, driving, lunch, etc. all mixing together like a delirious soup. I came out of my haze long enough to be social, I hope, with Scott from Shamrock Music in Purcellville, VA. He gave us a drum kit to use last night and we stopped by his shop to pick it up, sign a poster, give him a cd or two and our heartfelt thanks. Cool guy. Back in the van and down the road to the show. Are you getting tired? Writing this is making me tired again.

When we arrived at The Beautiful South it took another beer and a few minutes rest at the bar to gain the strength for loading in and setting up. After our nightly chores were done I snuck away for a 9 minute nap in the van. All the while, WW was doing his best to get to the show. He had to change his plans and leave Texas on a later flight from DFW and as I enjoyed my fitful, sweaty van nap he was rolling from the airport and unbeknownst to me, about to make a wrong turn. If you’ve ever made a wrong turn in the greater D.C. area you know what a disaster this can be. I actually saw 2 cars on the highway trying to reverse back to an exit they just missed! Stupid, scary, dangerous and crazy, but I get it.

As our scheduled downbeat time passed, the boys and I sat at the bar and tried to appear casual while wondering if we could pull of any songs without Big Daddy. But he arrived and we played. I brought a brand new bass on this trip and struggled to figure out how to play it all night. In Walt’s words, “We sounded like a band trying to sound like us.” But the crowd was really great and seemed to have a good time last night. I think I did too, but it was hard to tell through the fog. Then back in the van and to D.C. After parking our 12 passenger van in a tiny space in an alley, for the second time, we brought WW into the hotel. I can’t really explain this place to you though I’ll try in a later post, but it’s crazy cool. It’s hard to believe but we weren’t quite ready to shut it down yet so we explored the hotel and ended up playing pool until 5 a.m. Noticing that I’d been up for 24 hours was enough to send me to bed. So as brunch and a video shoot are calling, the fog is beginning to lift. The adventure has most definitely begun.

More later.

-El Guapo

And so it begins…….

image

In the dark of early morning, not enough sleep, or none at all, we meet to travel east. You’d think it would be more rock-n-roll than G dropping off a car seat at my house so my girlfriend can help his wife with the kids. Ray’s the rock star for having no sleep. We’ll be in Baltimore by lunch time and playing our show in Hamilton, VA tonite. It’s our second time in DC but our first as a band in Baltimore, NYC and Upstate NY. We got drums, boots and our guitars……. the Honky Tonk Road continues…..

see you in september jimmy daddy

As you may know, the Mystiqueros are blessed to have many part time members. The incomparable Marcus (Crazy Uncle Mertis) Eldridge, Corby Schaub and Ron Flynt just to name a few. But this summer we got to spend the whole month of July with Jimmy Davis. From shows in Alabama, Nashville, and his home town of Memphis, to west Texas and the mountains of New Mexico. All over the Hill Country, DFW and even Oklahoma City, we played, we sang and we had fun.

Jimmy Daddy is no stranger to the road. In the 80′s he had a top 40 hit and MTV video hit with a song called “Kick The Wall”. He toured all over with his band Junction. One of my favorite things about Jimmy is the stories. From performing around Memphis as a kid, to MTV, to writing in Nashville, to riding the road and camping his way across America as a singer songwriter, he’s always got a story to tell. If you’ve seen him perform, you know the energy he brings to every song. That energy of his reminded me of the singer I am and always makes me bring it up from my toes.

No shirt, no shoes, a six pack of PBR; 11 a.m. rocking 30 people like they were 30,000. That’s Jimmy. From the toes.

It’s been a great run this last month. Many miles and giant craters of rock music left in very town. One of my favorite things about the MQ’s are the wonderful musical compadres that pass in and out of our shows. We have our first show in a month without The Reverend Uncle Cousin Jimmy Daddy Davis (no one is safe from the nicknames around here) tonight and I know we’ll all feel like something’s missing. But, he’ll be back in September. We’ll see him in Taos for Michael Hearne’s Big Barn Dance Festival and he’ll be with us on the 2nd Annual Walt’s Across Texas Tour. Once a Mystiquero, always a Mystiquero.

Peace,

-EL G

p.s. There’s lot’s of old footage on YouTube of Jimmy and Junction from the 80′s. Below is one of my favorites…

Rollin, Rollin, Rollin

Rollin, Rollin, Rollin

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks as evidenced by my lack of posts. It’s been one adventure after another on the Mystic road. Our friend, the immensely talented, fun to hang out with, singer / songwriter, Memphisian, Reverend (not really) Jimmy Davis has been sharing the stage with us since the 1st of July. Gruene Hall, San Antonio, Austin, a blow out blast in the heat at Luckenbach on the 4th of July, and although it took hours of driving through rain to get there, we just returned from a weekend in the mountains of New Mexico.

When the van starts to climb up towards Taos, everyone’s mood changes. It feels a bit like my childhood summer vacation trips. Everything is suddenly vibrant and exciting. Jimmy turns into our tour guide with bits of info he’s picked up from his many trips to the enchanted circle. We had a long drive from Lubbock and were running late when we arrived at the Old Blinking Light in Taos, but everyone was cool calm and collected there. No worries. We got the gear set up, ate some green chilli’s and played under the stars. I had to wear a jacket!! In July!!! We had a slow day on Saturday since all we had to do was get up the mountain to Red River, so we walked the plaza in Taos, Jimmy got to watch the World Cup. Food, beer and a relaxing time was had. On the way up to the Motherlode we stopped by the River for a bit of nature and another beer.

The Motherlode opened it’s arms as always and welcomed us back. It’s starting to feel like home up there. There’s so many great musicians up in that area. Michael Hearne sat in with us in Taos (and made sure we had a p.a.), and Jed Zimmerman was playing in the Lodge Bar in Red River. We rocked hard with our six piece 4 guitar show and laughed the night away with Jed and friends at the Lodge. It was good. The only hard part was leaving. No offense to Amarillo, but it just doesn’t sound that good when you’re standing in the crisp sunny morning mountain air on the main drag in Red River. We put it off as long as we could and headed down the mountain and back on to the high Texas plains.

After a long drive like Red River to Amarillo, I’m pretty much ready to be out of the van, play the gig and be done. However, we agreed to do an interview with nod internet radio station in Amarillo, Texas Drive Radio, hosted by Jeff Williams. We pulled in during a rain storm and got ourselves situated in the studio. I didn’t know what to expect and it turned out to be really fun. We answered a question or two and played three songs. It was a good way to arrive and feel welcome in Amarillo and a nice warm up for our show at Hoots later that evening. It was a slow night (Sunday) at the club, but the sound was great and we were inspired to play. And play we did!

Jeff Williams shot a little video of our visit to Texas Drive Radio, which you can see below. Hope you dig it. Me, I’m enjoying being home for a few days until the next adventure begins.

See you out there,

El Guapo

A Day at Kerrville

Highway 16 as I drive from downtown Kerrville to Quiet Valley Ranch never disappoints. This road is what the Texas Hill Country is all about. It’s June and we’ve had rain so it’s green and lush along the road. Black Eyed Susan’s still poke their yellow heads up from the tall grass of the shoulder. I’m happy to be heading to the ranch again this year. For the 4th year in a row we’ve been invited to play the Kerrville Folk Festival on closing weekend. As always there’ll be old friends, new ones too and, a whole lot of music. From the minute I arrive to check in and get my parking pass for backstage I’m treated amazingly well. It’s almost unnerving for a minute until I remember where I am. It’s hot and dry but not dusty and it’s already rained once today. Perfect Folk Fest weather.

As I approach the backstage area and up the familiar wooden steps I’m treated to the sound of Band of Heathens doing their sound check. They sound great as usual and it’s good to see everyone again. I love sharing the stage with those guys. They make me want to play my best. I dig that. Most of the MQ’s are already here, including Corby Schaub who’ll be joining us for the show. I shoot a little backstage video with my Flip camera. Should have shot a bit more, but as usual I got caught up in friends and the business of sound check. I drove in from Houston, as I had a show there the night before, and I’m a bit wiped out. After sound check I waste no time in heading to the hotel in town for a nap.

With a rest and a fine dinner behind me I once again travel down Hwy 16 back to the ranch. It’s just beginning to get dark and I’m trying not to speed, but I don’t want to miss Susan Gibson. She’s playing before us and I want to hear her on the big stage. I flash my “I’m In The Band” button at the front gate and am greeted with “Welcome Home”. What a way to enter a concert. It feels good here. With my 1st beer in hand, my new cd checked in and greetings from several old friends, I grab a spot and listen to Susan from out front. She’s got the whole place in the palm of her hand which becomes ever more evident when I watch her last few songs from backstage. She’s amazing as always.

Then it’s time. We take the stage, plug in and play. I’m trying out the Flip Camera onstage on top of the bass amp again tonight. I’ve done this before but haven’t been happy with the results. I have a little technical issue at the beginning of the show, wrong cable in the right place, but get it sorted out before I have to play my first note. The crowd is right there with us. The stage sounds great. It’s inspiring. I feel really great about our performance. I even get to take WW’s guitar for the encore and we sing my song “The Next Time”. I can’t really explain the feeling of singing to an audience, especially a large one, that’s listening except to say that it’s why I keep showing up on stage. Nothing else is quite like it and the audience at Kerrville is a special one indeed.

The Heathens procede to rock the place after us and Ray and I sneak out to join in on percussion for one of their encore’s. I’m always amazed at how quickly the crowd leaves after the show until I remember that for many of them the night is just getting started. There’s campfires, songs and fire dancers over in the campgrounds. I don’t always have the opportunity to stay and wander around the campfires when we play the Festival, but this year I don’t have to leave early the next day and Corby, Ray and WW all want to hang around a while. So I walk, play and listened until 4am. As I drive back towards town on 16 for the last time today, or was it yesterday?, I feel like I just had a really fine meal. I’m full and satisfied. At least until next year.

I’ve included a video I out together from my Bass Amp Cam experiment. It’s the first song of our set and some of my backstage footage. Hope you dig it.

Winker Does the Backyard

He’s everywhere at once. I could swear that on more than one occasion I’ve seen him simultaneously at The Broken Spoke, Artz Ribhouse and Donn’s Depot. On any given Monday at Donn’s, Chris Gage and everyone in the bar will hail him upon his entry with a rousing “Hello Winker!” To which he”ll respond, “Hello Everybody”. I’ve been running into Winker for years and over those years I’m proud to have become his friend. I’m even prouder that he likes the Mystiqueros enough to come see us just about every Wednesday at the Saxon Pub. That’s a rousing endorsement from a true music fan. I don’t know anyone who sees more live music than Winker or is able to capture images of us musician types any better. Over the years it seems like his photography has gone from hobby to true calling. Right now, the majority of live shots you see of us are from Winker. His ability to take beautiful pitures in the darkness of The Saxon is amazing to me.

Not long ago we were asked to play for the grand re-opening of The Backyard here in Austin. The line up that day was a whose who of Austin talent and I got to see a lot of old friends. I knew it would be a good day when I saw Winker strolling to the stage, camera in hand. Below are some of the shots he took of us that day.

So here’s to an Austin original, even though he was born in Boston. When you see him at your favorite club supporting your favorite band, buy him a beer. Winker is one of the people that make live music in Austin like no other place in the world.

Stonehenge

“In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, lived a strange race of people….. the Druids” – Spinal Tap.

Often times, people wonder what a country rock band does with it’s down time on the road. Well, being the knowledge seekers that we are, we are often lead to interesting historical sites, natural wonders etc. by our head Mystic, WW. We also enjoy a good movie. You might find us quoting lines from our favorites in conversation, which can be maddening for the casual listener without footnotes. Our trip to Odessa last week to play a private party allowed us to bring together both of these off hour pastimes.

While driving thorough Odessa I never thought I would hear someone say, “I want to see Stonehenge”. And yet, somehow WW knew that there was a life sized recreation of the ancient mystical site in town. So, after getting directions from a somewhat bewildered desk clerk, WW drove us to the University of Texas Permian Basin campus to see Stonehenge. It’s actually pretty cool, but all I could think about was the foot high version from Spinal Tap. Once we filled ourselves with historical info and got a good look about the place we were inspired to create the video below…… (if you haven’t seen Spinal Tap, this will just seem stupid. Ok, it might seem stupid anyway)

note: I did have a version that included the Spinal Tap song “Stonehenge” but I didn’t want to risk copyright infringement. Use your imagination.

KNBT Americana Jam


My favorite show of the year was yesterday. The annual KNBT Americana Jam 2010. Why do I love this show?

1. It’s at Gruene Hall (need I say more about that?)

2. It’s where the Mystiqueros were born – May 2006, Walt needed a band for this show. Ray, John, Marcus, Tina, Walt and I took the stage. It was magic. We became a band.

3. It’s put together by one of the coolest dudes at one of the finest radio stations in the country – Mattson Rainer (shown here mugging for my phone camera just before our set).

4. It’s just a great day. Great music, great fun, cold beer, and all for a good cause. (benefiting the New Life Children’s  Center in Canyon Lake, TX.

Ray and I left McKinney around 8 am yesterday morning. As you might imagine, that was a bit early after a Saturday night show at Hank’s Texas Grill. But, we wanted to catch Tom Gillam’s set at 2pm. Tom and his band are awesome and it’s been great to get to hear them more since they moved down here from Philly. Ray managed to catch the whole set and after a stop home, where I may have fallen asleep on the couch for a minute, I managed to catch the last couple of songs. We played on the bar side stage this year, which feels pretty familiar since we’re in that same spot on the first Thursday of every month, and I’m fairly certain we rocked. Mr. Gillam joined us on guitar for the last part of the set and proved that the only thing better than one electric guitar is two!  Well, I know I had a good time and the crowd was lovely, welcoming and cool as usual. We got to hang for awhile outside and catch up with friends new and old. The only problem I ever have with the Americana Jam is managing to see as many acts as I would like too. As usual I was done in before dark and made the trek back to A town, but I wouldn’t trade having this as our 4th birthday party show. Love and thankfulness to all…..

-El Guapo

Happy Anniversary!

Last week was our one year anniversary at the Saxon Pub. It’s gone fast. I remember WW coming to us with the idea of doing a weekly show at the pub. My first gig at the Saxon Pub was opening for Jimmy LaFave in 1990. Over the next 19 years I played there a few dozen times and saw some great music there. It seemed like a weekly gig might be fun. A weekly gig can really help people remember you in an otherwise vast Austin ocean of live music choices. In previous years we hadn’t played very much in Austin so why not? As I said in my last post, it’s really turned into something special. It’s different every week and it’s been a great way for us to keep growing as a band. The only thing missing last week was G, and that’s a big missing, as he was home with Jess and Baby Emma. He has the longest commute to the gig, so he’s having a couple of weeks off with the new baby. The Pub is about 7 minutes from my door and I must say that having the opportunity to play with the boys every week so close to home has been great. So I’m looking forward to another year of weekly shows at the Saxon with great musical guests, good friends (like the infamous Winker who shot the above pic and regularly keeps a visual record of our Pub shows), and more joyful noise.

In other anniversary news, the MQ’s turn 4 next weekend at the annual KNBT Americana Jam at Gruene Hall. More on that later…….

Below is a video of a fun night (we look like we’re having fun!) at the pub with Jimmy Davis, Corby Schaub and head Mystiquera, Tina Mitchell Wilkins. Brought to you by our friends (with slightly shaky camera hands) at Blue Boot Records.

See you on the road,

El G

Someone Different Every Night

One of the things I’ve come to love most about being a Mystiquero is the traveling musical circus we’ve created around us. Road gigs with Jimmy Davis or Brian Langlinais, Luckenbach with Ron Flynt or Davis Raines, shows with Corby Schaub or original MQ Crazy Uncle Mertis (Marcus Eldridge). There’s never a dull musical moment. And what better place to be joined onstage by amazing friends than a weekly show at the Saxon Pub, right in the middle of Austin, TX. When we first took on having a weekly show, I wondered how we might keep it fresh. Of course new songs help, but we continue to have the most wonderful musicians join us for our set. Last week was no exception. Here visiting Austin from the Netherlands and recording some tracks with WW at the helm and a backing band of MQ’s, Bart De Win joined us for a few songs. Bart is an incredibly talented musician and has the true heart of a Mystiquero. His lovely wife Arianne filmed this version of Big Daddy’s  “Someone Somewhere Tonite” as we closed our set last week. I hope to see Bart again soon and share some more music both here in TX and in Holland. (where they have lots of beer!) So, if your in Austin on a Wednesday, you know where you need to be. Grab a seat at the pub and see what the MQ circus has in store for you. (they have lots of beer too!)

the Lucky Ones

I’ve had the pleasure of being in Austin now, with the exception of a a couple of years when I clearly lost my mind, for 20 years and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a spring quite like this one. As we’ve arrived to shows out in the Hill Country over the last several weeks it hasn’t been traffic or even beer we’ve been talking about, ok well maybe beer, but flowers. Amazing Texas wildflowers. Yes, grown men who give the appearance of being cool musician types, gawking slack jawed at all the flowers along the road, in the fields, seemingly everywhere you look. As Walt says many times during shows, “We’re the luckiest people on earth.” As I sat on the deck at the Bugle Boy in La Grange a couple of weeks ago and took this picture, I couldn’t have agreed more. For the past few weeks we’ve been playing CD release shows all over the Hill Country and with a spring like this it’s easy to get present to just how lucky we are. So if you haven’t seen your share of rare Texas beauty this spring, get out there on the back roads of the Hill Country. See ya out there…