Thursday, March 27, 2008

Chip & Roscoe go to Texas

So, 36 hours after battling my way back from Germany with Air France (one finger salute to you lovely folks) I'm sitting on a plane at Newark Airport with Chip Robinson and what felt like most of hipsters usually found on Bedford Avenue. I know when you are young you want to look old but the furry face beard thing really doesn't look so good when you are wearing your sisters jeans.

Chip and I were headed to the South By Southwest Music Convention. We've both been to the thing several times over the years. I'd been there with the Del-Lords and the Yayhoos and as a Producer and sometimes just as a jam hog eating BBQ and Mexican food and crashing gigs. We didn't get 'accepted' to the official conference but the thing has blown so far out of what it originally was that you don't need to be part of the official thing anymore. The offline parties can be a whole lot of fun. The business of rock is less fun.

First stop on Wed morning was Maria's Taco Express for some Tacos Al Pastor

Al Pastor

Had to fuel up for our one and only obligation of the week. We were headed to Mother Egans for the "Guitartown Party" dedicated to our late friend, bandmate and compadre Drew Glackin.
Chip got up there and played one pretty song then we climbed up there with Skillet and Jesse from
Patty Hurst Shifter and rocked a handful more in a loud way.
off like a...
It was a fantastic party. I got there to find no guitar amps in the backline but saw a lot of friends including Cary Hudson from one of the best bands I've ever worked with Blue Mountain and Jon Dee Graham who loaned Chip and I a couple really great amps. 5 wild, loose, loud songs later after blasting away and showing off for some friends I felt much better. Wow. Now what?

*****Convention tip 1. Water every 3rd drink
*****Convention tip 2. When faced with tons of people trying to get into resteraunts in Austin at the same time go to the most expensive one you can find. It's Austin, it's still cheap as hell. "Right this way Mr. Ambel">

Ok, now I'm done with the convention. Through the great website Fixed Gear Gallery I've got bike pals scattered all over the globe. One of my Austin pals works at Jack & Adams and she hooked me up with their 'shop bike' Photobucket which was a Giant ONCE Team frame converted to a brakeless fixed gear. Little small for me but I had brought my pedals and helmet and we adjusted just fine. Austin is kind of a funny bike town. They talk the talk but boy oh boy as far as walking the walk you sure don't want to be on one of the main drags like Lamar or Congress heading out of town. I grabbed a bike map and found myself winding through hipster South Austin neighborhoods that now have a lot of big Dwell Magazine houses next to simple 1 story Ranch houses from the 50's and 60's. Have to admit to liking the Dwell stuff though.

On Saturday afternoon while riding around on the bike I hit a few parties. Saw the The Silos at the Bloodshot Records party then headed back to Maria's for the Alejandro Escovedo party. chip and roscoe enjoy Marias Chip and I saw some great music that afternoon including The Tallboys from Lexington, KY, old friend Tim Easton and a girl I had recorded with named Rose
Chip, Deb & Rose
that is Chip, Lil' Deb (who I swiped many of these photos from thanks) and Rose

Lots of great music culminated with a performance from Alejandro and his full band. I'd been there pretty much all afternoon except for a quick ride downtown on the bike to see Austin's Deadringers at Threadgills. I didn't get to say hello to Alejandro. He had his hands full taking care of everybody. The band played a fantastic set. We were all talking about Al and just after I described him as "Inclusive" I thought I actually heard him call my name from the stage? "Yeah, you. Eric Ambel come on up here"
Al gave me his guitar and after some quick introductions and being directed to 'go ahead and play' we launched into the Rolling Stones "Beast of Burden". Man that was some unexpected fun. I thanked Al and told him it felt like my birthday. He said "It is your birthday Eric"
Alejandro & Roscoe at Marias 2008
Thanks much Al.

I was supposed to have a meeting with the folks at Rupert Neve Designs but there was a scheduling snafu and since all the flights were booked up by the furry faced youngsters from Bedford Avenue in their sisters jeans I had to just cool my heels in Austin at my friend Jeff Osborne's house in South Austin.
More BBQ was consumed and eventually Chip and I got on another plane and headed back to NYC.

Good times were had. Thanks again to all the Austin pals for the fun and the hospitality.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

NYC doesn't...

NYC doesn't really have to trumpet its greatness. When you get home you know you are in a very cool place.

Very glad to be back from the The Brandos Eurotour which was sorta daunting yet enjoyable for me. Daunting because
it was a very different musical experience for me. In my close to 30 years of playing professionally I've never been in the position of strictly filling in for another guitarist for a 2 hr show. The Brandos have very good, tough songs and needed
their parts replicated as close as possible for the tour. I did my best to do that and sing the high harmony parts too.

The Brandos have been doing the Euro thing for a while and they had the best van tour food coordination that I've ever
seen. We ate 3 hours before stage time every gig day. This is a huge thing. It is really hard to rock on a full stomach. It
is also really, really hard to convince Europeans that you don't want to have a long leisurely dinner before you have to jump
around and scream bloody murder. By nature Europeans want you to have a lovely dinner.

This is a dish from one of a bunch of great German meals
Those 2 large round things are kanödels. A kanödel is sort of related to gnocci. Potato pastalike. The meat cluster was a wrap of a lot of thin strips of beef. Sort of like beef bacon. Fantastic.

The Brandos also have great fans and a great crew helping them with their shows. Thanks to all for a great month.