Thursday afternoon, one week since we arrived. I`ve got way too much to say as per usual so here goes…..
Flight uneventful but so damn long. Longest single flight in the world. Nearly 16 hours of wake, sleep, drink from the bar, cramp, walk, repeat, repeat. Then good afternoon Dallas! And what’s more we arrive the same day we left; I know, it’s weird.
My research has told me that the only good thing to come out of Dallas was the demise of JR Ewing, so we just planned a night at an airport hotel to allow the body clock to sync in with the local time. It didn’t – for either of us.
The next morning a quick flight to Austin, capital of the great state of Texas and more importantly THE LIVE MUSIC CAPITAL OF THE WORLD. The cities motto is ‘Keep Austin Weird’. We love it already.
I have a syndrome which I like to call The Empathy Dialect. If I’m in, let’s say, a Vietnamese restaurant, I find that within the first minute I sit down and start to order I find myself speaking with a marked Viet accent. It happens all the time, and with most accents; much to my family’s embarrassment. There is no malice or ‘take the piss’ intended. I was born with it.
Here in Texas I am excelling at it. I love in particular the ‘ya’ll. Such a friendly greeting and can be used in the plural or the singular. It can also be used to attract someone’s attention (as in ‘hey ya’ll), to start a conversation (as in ya’ll be coming from Australia?), as well as an informal or formal greeting. So I’m using it. And let’s be honest, it’s much nicer than Australia’s ‘youse’.
How good is an Australian passport? As soon as we open our mouth people are interested in us. We are exotic. And it’s probably not just us. I have never met such friendly people. If we are sitting in a bar, someone will inevitably ask ‘where ya’ll from?’ And 2 hours later, we have the name and phone number of their cousin who will show us good time in Memphis. They are a warm and generous people and I need to wash my mouth out with soap for ever having said a bad word against them.
But back to the itinerary, the reason for the trip was to see as much music as possible and this was THE best place to start. Our hotel was right next to 6th street, block after block of little and not so little bars and eateries that have live music every night and day of the week. All different kinds of music, acoustic, country, old swing, new and old rock and just about everything in-between.
I was thinking maybe it was a young ones street, a la King St Melbourne, but I couldn’t be more wrong. The whole area was jumping with a huge cross section of people. Some venues have a token cover charge or some just tips for the band. So many great artists started here. Janis Joplin for one. Willie Nelson and oh, by the way, Matthew McConaughey lives here too. So does Robert Plant, apparently he drinks at one of the local Irish pubs. We tried a bit of celebrity spotting, but nothing to report as yet.
We bar hopped the first night. How many margaritas can a person drink in one night? Well, quite a few in would seem. And for $4 a pop it would be a shame not to help out the economy. Speaking of which, Austin is the fastest growing city in all the USA. 135 people per day move there and the unemployment is only around 3%.
You know how when you are travelling somewhere and you think, now what will I pack? You want functional, smart and casual clothes that can take you pretty much anywhere. Right? No need to worry in Texas. Casual and cool is the name of the game here. Shorts and T shirt will take you anywhere.
I wouldn’t say Austin was the prettiest place I’ve ever seen. It reminds me a little of Canberra, functional, a bit boring, boxy buildings with the exception of the capital building. Absolutely stunning. Call me a troglodyte but some modern buildings are just pain ugly. The streets are wide and tree lined and its very pedestrian friendly and absolutely no graffiti. It may not have the architecture of some cities but it sure makes up for it with the vibe of the place. Another place where I want to live.
But back to the music. The one place that all people need to go is The Continental Club on South Congress. The area is called So Co. It’s a cross between St Kilda and Brunswick St. Food trucks everywhere, selling mainly Mexican inspired food but oh so original, cool shops and small bars.
The Continental Club was fabulous. We saw a band that that played on Dale Hawkins record Suzi Q. He wrote the song. His cousin Ron Hawkins was on drums. This was 4pm in the afternoon. Had the best time.
On Sunday, friends of friends picked us up from our Hotel and took us to Stubbs, a very famous Texas BBQ and music venue. Had BBQ brisket. We need this in Melbourne. I need to know how to cook this. It looks like the biggest piece of roast rump I’ve ever seen, blackened on the outside and manna of the gods to eat. Tender and tasty. Also ate biscuits, a bit like our scones. Good too.
The band was a local gospel band. Look, there is so much talent here, words cannot do it justice. You can’t imagine how good they were.
We have had a few issues with the food. 1. It’s too sweet, I’m hanging out for a bit of sour dough bread. 2. The portions are way too big. 3. Every place from up market fine dining to divey little joints have a hamburger on their menu. Really, what’s with minced beef and accompaniments that you can’t last a day without?
Sorry my letters a bit ordinary, cant got my rhythm yet.
Talk later, Dawn.