Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Catch Up

So many apologies to all the talented artists who have crossed the Red Room's threshold. My world has been dizzyingly busy lately. It's astounding I have found time to sleep, eat, feed the cats, and get the trash to the curb. I took last Saturday evening off (sorry Eric- I was torn about missing your gig, but, well, ....I have preferences.) and went up to Gruene Hall. That's pronouced "green" in this state, even though it should by all rights be "grew-n". I have German relatives up north. They have corrected me.
Gruene is as close to a late 1800's village/town as you are likely to find in south Texas. They have tried to stay small and quiet and old-fashioned, but the locality of the Guadalupe river and inevitable tourism have taken their toll. It's still fairly quaint, but Fredericksburg is probably closer to what many folks are looking for. The centerpiece of the town is Gruene Hall, a classic tin-roofed honky tonk if there ever was one. Almost every name that has ever been in country and blues, and quite a few that ain't no more, have played this place. Despite it's somewhat out-of-the-way placement, Gruene Hall often sells out. And this despite the total lack of AC, and a minimal amount of seating indoors. Outside under the trees, you might get a breeze, and you can play horse shoes if you feel like.
I must say the sound system that was in the hall the other night did impress me. I don't know that it was an in-house board, but it was certainly professional. Too bad the room is something of an echo chamber! Wide open spaces with a metal roof.... I feel better about the Red Room's potential shortcomings! I get pretty good sound there much of the time.
Anyhow, I had gone up to Gruene to see Mando Saenz play. He's living out of state these days, so the chances are rare, and I must heed the call. He was opening with his band for a group you have to be old to remember: the Pure Prairie League. I would guess that 90% of those coming to hear these guys were there for their one big hit back in the 70's called Amie. Just goes to show that the bug can bite deep, and the stage can then be really hard to give up. They sounded good as far as I could tell, but I was there for Mando. I love that voice, and cannot wait to hear his next CD. What I've heard from him in concert leads me to believe it will be a tremendous album. 'Course, I may be justa tad biased.

I spent a fair amount of time trying to make notes about others who had played the RR while waiting out the sweltering heat till Mando's set. I fear that my lack of time may make me forget some details, but I have got to give this a try. I feel badly for some of these folks. They deserve some kudos too!
Lesse....where to start. Let's backup to Emile Millar. He's another one of those songwriters that just pulls you into his world- deep rich voice and words to match. Recently heard that the macho male is back in- stead of the metresexual thingee of the last 10 years or so. Coulda fooled me with all these fellas out here putting their hearts into their songs, but isn't that the way of the artist? Ever the measure by which we gauge both heart and soul. Emile's soulful tunes definitely do just that.
He brought a friend with him, Lawrence Glass of Western Electric- another one to definitely catch in concert one of these days. I hope to hear his band before the year's out.
The really tasty treat of the night for me was when Emile was going to do his second set. A friend of the RR brought a friend of his by- a didge player- and he sat in with Emile for a tune. I love the sound of the didgeradoo; it calls to me as few other instruments do. This fellow was a master player. Emile had to do some odd tuning to play with the guy, but their bit together was magical. I wish more could have been there to hear this unique baptism of the room. Only trouble was that Emile had to retune to do his last couple of songs, but it was a delightful evening all the way round.

We were going to be having a ladies' weekend the next time round, or so I thought. To my own chagrin, I found out that Melody Mann is the name of a band...not just the lead singer. Her name's Kelly, and her husband is Tom, and the band name is from their name Mann. What a tremendous sound they have too. Tom is a multi-instrumentalist with more than a little bit of crazy artist in his. Kelly has a neat voice for the songs they write. The bass player, Scott Beardsley and I hit it off talking about basses; he was playing for this gig an fully acoustic hollow body bass, which one just does not see many of out there anymore. What a lovely sound.
Guitarist Bill Crock rounded out this quartet version of this band with some really fine licks. Very subtle player, something I can appreciate. They are well worth catching at a gig. I hear bigger things in their future.

I am not one for female voices (sorry ladies...) It has to do with pitch, and isn't completely confined to women. There are certain male singers, to remain unnamed here for discression's sake, that I would slap if they stood to close to me and started singing! I mean, get a voice change!) I have very sensitive hearing- a family trait- and certain tones just cut right through me. Luckily, this trait didn't interfere with enjoying Wendy Colonna the evening before MM came in. She has a throaty voice and writes tunes of frustration that most women can relate too- a real gem, and a hippie of sorts, like yours truly. I may have played other parts in this lifetime, but I came from the Sixties- I admit it. (;p) All in all, guys, I think you were shown up this particular weekend! Better work a lil harder!

short break- I have stuff to do, but definitely more to write. and pictures to put up. And dishes, and laundry.....oh good lord.
Thank heavens for holiday weekends!

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