Just a Little Lovin'
The Austin Music Hall had great security. Ready for any emergency. They promptly removed the half of turkey club I had saved from earlier that evening. I should have considered throwing it away hours ago.
It was a compromise going to the Austin Music Hall. One thing that makes SXSW special is the small, club venues. The Music Hall (capacity 4,400) is larger, even larger than La Zona Rosa (700) where Van Morrison had played two nights before. It was almost full. Crowds shoulder to shoulder standing on the floor space. We went to the second level to sit on one of the concrete slabs that also serve as stairs.
Shelby Lynne's latest cd is a current favorite of mine. Dedicated to Dusty Springfield, the music is intimate and quiet. Perfectly suited to her performance on the small stage at Waterloo Records earlier in the day. Using just a shaker for percussion.
She had her full band for the night show. The lights go down, they take the stage. Once again, it's Buddy Miller's drummer backing her. Or perhaps he is Shelby Lynne's drummer. I should have asked Buddy when I had the chance.
The lights went down, like I said, but the crowd didn’t take the hint. There was the low rumble of conversation and movement. Security moving through the crowd, up and down the stairs around me. Looking for more turkey clubs.
Shelby praised Dusty Springfield and slid into the quiet passion of her songs. Beginning with Just a Little Lovin’, which used silence as an integral part of the arrangement, she covered each song with care and purpose. Security continued to rumble around me. Two women behind me chatted and laughed. Voices rose up from the floor below.
The most intimate show of the festival was being ignored by half the crowd who appeared to be satisfied they had found a place to talk.
Ms. Lynne conjured up the presence of Dusty Springfield. Imagined her in the room, and sang to her spirit. Her performance didn’t sway from this. She was (is) either a consummate professional, supernaturally focused, or didn’t hear the restlessness in the Hall.
The folks behind me didn’t appreciate my interrupting them to ask for quiet. They gave a finely selected vocal farewell as we left after the show. Southern hospitality.
The only thing missing from the show that night was Just a Little Lovin’ in the audience, but it was overflowing from the stage.
Buddy Miller was playing at the Cedar St. Courtyard, so we headed over to catch half his set. Just after we arrived, his (or Shelby's) drummer also showed to sit in, too. Shortly thereafter Bonnie Bramlett appeared to sing along with Buddy.
I had been impressed with Bonnie's voice and spunk a couple nights before, but her show, despite the energy, lacked something challenging. My opinion of her was overhauled with this performance. She was pushed by Buddy Miller in a way her band didn't. Buddy Miller has a way of bringing out the best in those around him.
Having always been curious of a band called The Friends of Dino Martinez, I had my chance to cash in that curiosity and see them live a few blocks away immediately following Buddy Miller. When we arrived at the upstairs club, Buddy was sitting on the floor as a fan. He beat us over after his own show.
Dino Martinez and Friends played a contemporary style of surf guitar instrumentals that shifted towards experimental fusion. It could have been a soundtrack to an animated cartoon version of Pulp Fiction. A mix of darkness and light.
Downstairs, under a tent on the patio, is Rosie Flores. I had seen her a few years ago at The Dinosaur in Rochester. It was her birthday, September 10, which she fondly referred to at “the eve of destruction”.
She still had the best cowboy boots of anyone in Austin.
It is a thin crown, maybe 15 to 20, at a show that began a little after 1 am. She is the consummate professional, equal to Shelby Lynne in that, doing her best to keep the crowd into it, her band together and motivated, and herself energetic. I won’t guess her age, but suffice it to say she has a few years on Shelby Lynne, a fraction of her fame, and just a trace of her audience.
It was the show I admired most.