SUN., NOV. 16, 2003
If there were ever a geographical locus of the “Keep Austin Weird” battle, it would unquestionably be South Austin. While other parts of the city have already been blighted by chain stores and cultural homogenization, South Austin still retains much of the funk and freakiness for which Austin is known. Even still, corporate Generica is creeping its way up South Congress and pockmarking sections of South Lamar. It’s an unfortunate circumstance to be sure, but a lot of misplaced animosity gets laid on the greed mongers when in reality, they’re just a symptom of the real disease. Inevitably when creative, artistic types whip up a scene, moneyed folks are sure to follow – usually not with the intent of creating something unique and interesting themselves, but rather with the intent of buying into it. There’s the rub. South Austin used to be a funky, artsy, and ultimately cheap place to live. In recent years however, the hand-to-mouthers who created the scene are being pushed out by people with day jobs and Supercuts hairdos. Decent people, no doubt, but not the type of folks who are likely to roll down SoCo in an old Toyota Camry with thousands of Jesus statuettes glued to it. Truth is, weirdness doesn’t come from a marketing campaign, no matter how weird that marketing campaign is, and encouraging people to buy local is still encouraging them to buy. The cool thing about Austin and South Austin in particular is that it has always been a place where people are judged less by what they consume and more by what they create. Fortunately, South Austin still has more than its share of creative people. This Sunday night several of them will be gracing the stage at the Saxon Pub when the Resentments perform their weekly gig. Collectively they may not be overburdened with purchasing power, but Stephen Bruton, Jon Dee Graham, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, and Bruce Hughes all have enough chops to earn them cult status in South Austin. Bruton and Graham already have several impressive solo CDs under their belts and loyal followings outside of the Resentments. Scrappy Judd has a growing list of producing credits, and Bruce Hughes is an accomplished songwriter in his own right. It could easily be argued that the Resentments are South Austin’s supergroup. Stephen Bruton has performed with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, and Bob Dylan; Jon Dee Graham has played with the Skunks, True Believers, John Doe, and Michelle Shocked; Scrappy is a former member of Loose Diamonds, and Bruce has played with Poi Dog Pondering and Bob Schneider. Few other cities in America could claim as much talent in one city, much less a zip code, and you get the feeling that they’re still hanging around for love, not money. These days, that’s pretty weird.