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Joe Ely’s Bonfire of the Roadmaps

MAR. 19, 2007

Now that SXSW is over, you’re probably feeling an overwhelming urge to do something meaningful with your life – some sort of wholesome activity that isn’t sponsored by an energy drink or an internet startup. It’s OK, that’s a natural recoil. Five straight days of shameless sycophancy, watery, free beer, and obligatory Texas barbecue would turn even Morgan Spurlock into a Jehovah’s Witness. You’d probably feel similar if you just got off the plane from a sex tour of Thailand’s boy brothels – even more similar if you ran into Pete Townshend at the luggage carousel. Here’s the thing: What happens in Austin never stays in Austin, and it’s probably just as well. That swarm of skinny jeaned, oily haired, pasty skinned trendies would eventually blight our sunny city like a plague of locusts. We did our part. We housed the homeless and the thankless. They ate our cows, fucked our roommates, and split without replacing the toilet paper roll or cleaning their pubes out of the shower drain. It was good while it lasted but it’s good they’re gone, and apparently Jehovah mercifully stayed his hand with the fire and brimstone – or maybe he was bribed with a pass to next year’s Spin party which, rumor has it, will be a live reenactment of the water buffalo decapitation scene from Apocalypse Now with Martin Sheen in attendance. Now that’s barbecue the way Jehovah intended it. Chopper in a few Hueys full of Playboy bunnies and you’ve got yourself a shindig that even Bono himself might attend. Still, just because a large, bloody chunk of your inner ear fell into the dirt at Stubb’s during the Stooges showcase Saturday night doesn’t mean you should abandon your quest for the holy grail of rock & roll. You might, however, want to catch your breath long enough to cough out the SXSW resin. Fortunately for you there isn’t a lot going on in town this weekend that warrants a full mosh pit so you should have plenty of time to let the cilia in your cochlea straighten up again. If you want some quiet time but still want some rock-&-roll cred, schedule a trip to the Ransom Center this weekend for “Joe Ely’s Bonfire of the Roadmaps.” Billed as “an installation of Ely’s verse, sketches, and paintings drawn from his road journals,” the show celebrates the release of Ely’s book of the same title. If you’ve never heard of Joe Ely, the rock you’re living under doesn’t roll. He’s a bona fide Texas music legend who has been on the road since the age of 16, probably not long after he met the devil at the crossroads and was offered an energy drink sponsorship.

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