February 24, 2009
Twenty years from now, when you look back on the time you spent in Austin (and this is, of course, assuming that the polar ice caps have melted and you own a beach house in either Amarillo or Oklahoma City), what do you think you’ll remember most – that time you dropped $600 on the We Own the Night package at Qua or the Wednesday nights you spent at the Continental Club with Guy Forsyth, Jon Dee Graham, and James McMurtry? Take some time on that one, Sparky. Let it simmer. Here’s the thing: A bottle of Cristal, a few shots of Patrón, and a night of fluorescent-toothed-overbite disco dancing with guys in baroque-print polyester shirts and frosted tips is some heady shit indeed, but that memory will burn out about the time your hangover headache kicks in the next morning. And is that the taste of K-Y in your mouth? Maybe another shot of tequila is in order, or maybe you could use a slight cultural adjustment. As much as some people would like it to be, Austin isn’t South Beach or Vegas or North Dallas. Not yet. If that’s your bag (the one with the hose hanging off of it?), those places have plenty of openings. Here in Austin, however, we’re still mostly free of valets, velvet ropes, and muscled dudes in tight shirts with clipboards. We don’t try to keep the riffraff out, because we know deep down inside we are the riffraff. We clean up well enough, sure, but we’re not on a first-name basis with the guy behind the counter at the dry cleaners. We look a little ruffled and frumpy, and we just don’t care. Why? Because we got game, yo. We’re interesting riffraff. We can hold a conversation about something other than last night’s TMZ, the Kardashians, or the Christian Audigier shirt we just bought that looks like a bunch of tattoos engaged in a spirited clusterfuck. For better or worse, the Austin aesthetic is a little more flip-flops, boxer shorts, backyard barbecues, and bong hits – it’s more about being than looking. Most importantly, Austin looks like a big, world-class city, but it’s really not. There will always be some boisterous, booze-breathed old hippie or redneck who will violate the sanctity of your VIP section and then … goddamnit … actually turn out to be a VIP. Maybe he’ll serve as a gentle reminder to unpucker that starfish and really enjoy yourself instead of just acting like it. Four fellows that nicely fit that description will be appearing at the Paramount this Sunday for the 2009 Texas Heritage Songwriters’ Homecoming Concert: Willie Nelson, Guy Clark, Allen Shamblin, and Michael Martin Murphey. All are ingenious and accomplished songwriters from Texas, even though they may not necessarily live here, and all, with the possible exception of Shamblin, look like they could be the squeegee guy on the corner. They’re also all into country music, which may not be your thing, but you don’t have to be a blood relative of that banjo pickin’ kid from Deliverance in order to appreciate their artistry. In fact, if you’re a little stuck up about your music, this might just be the thing that pops your cork.