With enough sleep under my belt, Thursday started on a much better note than Wednesday. I blogged after breakfast, and then Fran and I took a walk down to the lake. After an early lunch, we made it to the first venue of the day, Skinny’s Ballroom, which was diagonally across the street from our hotel. We got there at 1pm for Or, The Whale, a wonderful, large Americana/alt country band from San Francisco. Since I saw OTW last year, they have replaced their keyboard player and lost their full time electric guitar player. But the changes did not affect their sound, and the band put on a rocking and very enjoyable set.
Bob and Bill joined us about three songs from the end of OTW’s set. With the set over, we all marched over to the City Hall garage, got into Bob’s car and drove down to Jovita’s over in South Austin. Once at Jovita’s we found that there were problems with their outside stage and that instead of shows alternating between that stage and one inside, all shows were going to be on the inside stage. The only problem with that was that Jovita’s was quite hot and even more humid. Still it was tolerable (barely). I got to see Great Lake Swimmers, a five-piece chamber pop band from Toronto, another performance from The Hobart Brothers featuring Li’l Sis Hobart (Freedy Johnston, John Dee Graham and Susan Cowsill) and Zoe Muth and The Lost High Rollers, a traditional country band from Seattle. Bob and Bill then decided that they needed to take a nap and they went home to do so. I missed most of the set by Pretty Little Empire, a straight ahead rock band, but what I heard I liked.
Up next were the highlights of the afternoon, Steve Wynn and The Miracle, 3, and The Baseball Project. Both bands put on great, loud and sweaty sets. In the audience were some Steve Wynn fans from NYC, as well as Bill, from Madison, WI, who I last saw probably three years ago. With those two sets over, at 6:10, Fran and I left Jovita’s for the relative cool of the outdoors.
After dinner at Guero’s on South Congress, we took the 1L bus and made it over to Antone’s for the evening’s shows. We decided to park it there for the night and catch The Americana Music Association’s string of shows there. With badges and wristbands, Bob, Bill and I were all able to get in without a problem. Fran had to wait on the ticket buyers line for about 45 minutes, but she made it in too.
Leading off the night was The Band of Heathens, an Austin group who played songs solely from their new album. Next up was Abigail Washburn, a banjoist with a full band and whose set was musically wide-ranging; she was not a blue grass act by any means. Although both these bands were excellent musically, they did nothing for me. Bob and Bill then decided they wanted to see Jason Isbell and left.
Next up was Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison. I’ve been a fan of Kelly’s for more than a decade. She’s now part of a band with Bruce, her husband. Although this combination tacks more toward modern country than Kelly’s previous albums, there were a few songs, notably a new one written by Kelly and Chuck Prophet, where Kelly really shines through.
It was about 11:30 when Emmylou Harris hit the stage. She played in a trio format and her set was limited to songs from her forthcoming album. Emmylou sounds as good as ever. But for some reason I was not drawn to the new songs. Perhaps you can chalk that up to standing all night on a hard concrete floor. Fran and I called it a night after Emmylou.