"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


last week in live music

It's Christmastime in Austin and the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is in full swing. One does not go to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar to shop. (No one you know really wants a pink-and-turquoise painted glass cat. Trust me on that.) No, one only ventures to the Austin Music Hall this time of year to get a fix of high-quality live music for a low cover charge.

Saturday, I took a break from holiday shopping and stopped by the bazaar to see one of my favorite live acts, Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez. Chip Taylor is a famous songwriter who heard Austin native Carrie Rodriguez playing fiddle at Cheapo Discs one day four years ago and the rest, as they say, is history. I love their music. The Trouble with Humans is one of my favorite albums, and Chip's songwriting mixes with Carrie's fiddle and vocals in a way that creates totally unique, fantastic roots music.

The last time I saw Chip & Carrie live was at their live album taping at the Cactus in May 2004. Paul and I had the table right up front and got to watch Chip and John Platania play guitar from literally about three feet away. The evening was so good, even considering the fact that Paul forgot where he'd parked his new truck/what his new truck looked like such that we had to drive around West Campus for half an hour while he held his remote out the roof of my car while trying to set off his alarm so we could find the thing. There's just something about the combination of their voices and the incredible songwriting that makes for a great show.

Their Saturday set was, in a word, awesome. Once again backed up by Platania and bass player Kevin Smith, they didn't try anything fancy, just a straightforward run through some of their best songs, including "Let's Leave this Town," "Don't Speak in English," "Keep Your Hat on Jenny," "Angel of the Morning," and the get-me-back-to-Austin song that everyone loves, "Sweet Tequila Blues." An extra-special treat was the fact that Carrie's grandmother was in the audience, so she sang the rarely-performed "Memphis, Texas" in her honor. It's hard to explain how great that song is - the lyrics perfectly capture what it is to be from, and of, a small West Texas town ("I'm a dusty old road/by the back of a barn/with the wind blowin' cross me/on this Panhandle farm/I'm a sky with no end/just tryin' to rain/and the ground's gettin' thirsty/ -- that's who I am") It's pretty close to perfect.

The rest of the lineup for the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is pretty good as well, starting with The Greencards tonight, through Christmas Eve.


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