I have only been here since Monday evening but it already feels like weeks. At least an hour in the morning is spend at Jo’s coffee place across the street from the motel. I usually get there by 8.00am before the sun starts to heat everything up. The coffee is good. Sometimes I have a wrap or a croissant. The lunch sandwiches are excellent value.
The ambience is literally split asunder by roadworks on South Congess that create a lot of noise and dust. There is a large machine with a blade that makes a horrible shuddering sound as it rips up the roadway.
This evening Steve Earle is doing a book signing for I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive at Book People and we get there early to make sure we get a seat. Good tactic. Because I already have the book, which I purchased in Oxford, I ask if it can be signed and the manager says sure, if I buy the equivalent value ($26) in other books. This is not a problem for me!
Steve stands at a lectern and talks for a while, reads an excerpt and then takes questions. He really has his act together these days. Still as talkative as ever but he seems genuinely contented.
“What do a red head from Alabama and a tornado have in common?” he jokes, “Sooner or later they’ll get your trailer.”
Rob manages to get Steve to sign a copy of the Townes Van Zandt biography. As Steve signs my book I slip him a copy of the May edition of Rhythms open at the page with my review of his album. Someone later tells me they saw him reading it.
Dinner tonight is at Carlos Santana’s Maria Maria on Colorado. This is a large, classy joint that appears to be a lot more expensive than it is in reality, although maybe the strong Aussie dollar makes everything here seem cheap now. The food is excellent.
The evening then finishes with Jon Dee Graham followed James McMurtry at The Continental. Both musicians seem very serious, McMurtry especially but the music is uniformly good. Some of the group have never heard of Graham but are impressed with his hard-edged rock; he looks like Tom Waits but the music is much closer to someone like Alejandro Escovedo (with whom he once worked).
McMurtry builds a groove from the first song of his midnight show and lets it ride for the next two hours. It is compelling and, while I am tired, I cannot leave. Sometime around 2.30am I hit the pillow.