Most of us have to check out of the Austin Motel. It is graduation weekend and the town is booked out. I have managed to get a night at the San Jose (my favourite boutique hotel anywhere) and then two nights at the Homestead Suites on South First, where Rob and Jenny have the whole weekend. Sarah is heading home.
Ken and Lise have two very expensive nights at The Driskill but when I point out that the internet rate is more than $100 a night cheaper, Ken rings and mentions this anomaly they drop the rates from astronomical to stratospheric. A few days later I hear a lady at the Homestead Suites do the same thing. It always pays to check.
In the morning I pick up a car for the weekend rate of $9.95 per day! The insurance per day is more than three times the cost of the car hire. I almost didn’t take out the full coverage. Later, I will be glad I did.
A quick visit to Antone’s Records to familiarize myself turns out to be fruitless. I am looking for the Willis Allen Ramsey album (the only one he ever released) but I cannot find it anywhere. Amazon have it second hand starting at US$90.
A quick snack at El Meson on South Lamar whets my appetite for more. They have an appetizer called Flautas De Carne which is cheap and delicious.
Then I checked in at the San Jose. I have my favourite room, 69, that just out like an attic and overlooks South Congress. This has a shared bathroom, which is the cheapest you can get there at US$105 a night. You can sit at the desk and survey the avenue – or in this case, the roadwork’s which are causing havoc.
Later, I take Rob and Jenny up to Antone’s where Rob finds a few bargains. There is an amazing array of old 78s that seem extremely cheap – Nat Cole Trio, Louis Jordan and more – but most of them are well-worn (as you would expect). As I do not have a 78 player I decline.
On the way back to the motel I stop at a drive in Bank of America to get some cash, go into the wrong lane and then hit a metal pole while trying to reverse out. Rob and I were checking the right hand side, the pole left out from the left. This is extremely annoying as I put a large dent in the rear near the right tail-light. Luckily, I have some clear tape and tape up the loose light. I am reminded that someone said to me recently, ‘You are a really bad driver sometimes.’ They were right.
This evening Rob, Jenny, Ken, Lise and I returned to Maria Maria and managed to get a table despite the influx of graduates here to celebrate. I decided to have the fish tacos that were superb. A nice change from the usual fare I have been eating.
As we were about to leave the heavens opened. The first time I have encountered really heavy rain in Austin. When it eased we made our way along the block to the legendary Antone’s to see Joe Ely launch his new CD.
The opening act, Emory Quinn, from San Antonio were very good. Jenny seemed keen for me to interview them.
Joe Ely then put in 100 minutes of great Texas rock ‘n’ roll. The highlight was an epic 20-minute version of ‘Loretta.’ Dave Grissom on guitar was awesome. The whole set encapsulated what was great about music from this part of the world. Joe sounds terrific, looks great and his band was smoking. I think he should tour Australia with this outfit. Don’t; get me wrong, I enjoy The Flatlanders but people need to hear Joe with this band. It is sensational.