2015 SCT, Day Three – Coffee & Sunday Night Services @ The Saxon

This is my first full day in the ATX. I spent the day with my hosts, Michael and Carissa. Michael and I took their dogs to the park, and then went across town for some delicious tacos from the original Tacodeli – a little taco shop located in the midst of a sea of apartment complexes. What a weird place for a taco place! But then as Michael pointed out, really, cities should do more of this type of zoning. Why couldn’t each neighborhood have its own taco place, or little grocery store or – gasp – coffee shop? That everyone could walk to? The Burbs just don’t work that way, and it’s too bad. But I think that’s the topic for another post, another time.
After tacos, I wanted coffee. And the closest place was Jo’s, on South Congress. We headed over that way and I ordered a latte (surprise!). There was a blues band playing on the patio, so we hung out for a while and listened to the music. I didn’t get any photos of this coffee – only their machine, a good ol’ La Marzocco.
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Jo’s serves Stumptown coffee, out of Portland Oregon. So of course it must be good.
And I believe that it was. However, unfortunately the taco I’d just eaten had raw onions on it, as I’d forgotten to ask them to be left off. And as you may suspect, eating something with raw onions on it before consuming a coffee drink can sort of mess up your palate. But it tasted smooth and mild and was easy to drink. We proceeded to walk up SoCo a ways and people-watch. I stopped at Tesoro’s Trading Company and bought some postcards and then we headed back towards home.
In the evening I picked up take-out from 888 Pan Asian restaurant for dinner (it was so much food that I’ll have leftovers till I leave, it seems) and then headed to the Saxon Pub for Sunday Night Services with The Resentments.
No one else wanted to go with me to the Saxon – you know, those people that have Monday – Friday, 8-5 jobs aren’t much fun on Sunday nights, apparently. So I went on my own. When I got there, Jeff Plankenhorn, a super great guitarist, waved hi to me as I walked in. (How he recognized me is also another story, about his ill-fated stop in Tulsa on a recent tour when he was sick and sounded like crap). Then I walked in and realized I had walked through the wrong door – and had gotten in without paying. Well, that’s not good karma! So I went to the door guy and gave him my money and he thanked me for being honest. Then a quick hello to my friend Bruce, the bass player for The Resentments, and then a seat at the bar. This show is, if I’m honest, one of the reasons I came all the way to Austin.
I came to Austin for several reasons – to try to make some writing connections, to meet the people I’ve been writing for the last 2 months, to get out of Tulsa for a while – and to see some music. Specifically, to see The Resentments. It’s the best live music I’ve ever seen.
I’ll spare you from the long version, but real quick-like: The Resentments are a group of musicians who have been playing together every Sunday night for a very very long time. The members have changed over the years, but Bruce has been playing with them for 10+ years, as, if I’m not mistaken, has the drummer John Chipman. The Resentments never rehearse – if someone has a new song, he might pass out a piece of paper with some notes, or they might all just wing it. They’re such great musicians that they can pick up on each other’s cues well enough to play songs they’ve never heard before. That, friends, is the sign of a good musician.

The music is positive, the vibe is positive, the crowd is mellow, the musicians are so, SO good, and they’re also pretty damn funny in between songs. This was only my third time seeing them live, but I have quite a few CDs, and there’s also lots of videos on the YouTubes (if you’re curious enough to check them out). One time I went to see them and it was just 2 guitar players – Jeff Plankenhorn and Miles Zuniga. It was still 100% awesome. If you ever get the chance, go see them. And take me with you.
I went home feeling like I’d had a very good day. Good food, good coffee, good people, good music. Yes. Good day.

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2015 Spring Coffee Tour, Day Two.

Day two of my trip. I started out from Fort Worth and headed for – Fort Worth. Of course I had to get to Trader Joe’s for a few supplies (Crispy Crunchy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, hello!) and then I headed to Avoca Coffee Roasters. In Fort Worth.
Avoca is pretty amazing. Right now, it is the standard by which all other espresso drinks are measured. It was the first latte I had where I went, “WOW.” And every time I’ve gone, it’s been that good. Every time.
Today was no exception, although it started out a little rocky. My favorite barista wasn’t there – the tall guy with the dreadlocks. I’d really grown to trust him, because one time I was there and he was about to hand me my latte but instead he looked at it pensively, said “no, that’s not right, I need to make you another one” and proceeded to dump the first one and start over. Now that’s QUALITY. He wouldn’t serve something that wasn’t quite right. Respect.
But this time he wasn’t there. I was going to have to trust the guys that were. As I was waiting in line, I watched the two baristas. One was dark-haired, and quiet. He would call out names in a normal voice and he looked very serious while making the espresso drinks. The other guy had a blondish-brown man-bun and the voice of a Sesame Street character. That he used incessantly. At a very elevated volume.
He would laugh. He would yell out names. He would sing out names. He would talk loudly to his coworkers. And you know what? It really took away from the atmosphere. The place doesn’t have a whole lot of atmosphere to begin with, and that’s ok! But this made it just downright annoying. I was getting nervous.
Finally Normal Voice Guy called out my name and I got my latte.

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And – thank goodness – it was delicious.
Even flavor, nice and smooth. It made up for the annoying barista.
So after I finished, I drove down to Austin. I only got caught in traffic the last 30-40 minutes, so that wasn’t too bad. My friend Michael, whom I know from my college days, has been kind enough to put me up while I’m here, so we spent the rest of the evening hanging out and then going to eat at Joe’s Place.
Joe is a caterer by trade, who opened up a restaurant technically so he could get a liquor license for his catering business. We sat in the “garden” out back and had a delicious, fresh dinner. Joe came out and talked to us for about a half hour – interesting guy. Stop by there if you get a chance.

When we got back, I was pretty tired, so I went to bed. Day 2: complete. Coffee: successful.

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oh austin, i really have a thing for you.

So I just went down to Austin for Labor Day Weekend.
It was great. I hadn’t been in 3 years so it was about time!
The trip had two purposes – first and foremost, my friend Dayl and I went for a “girls weekend” together. We’ve known each other since 1997 but hadn’t ever traveled together. AND this weekend was her birthday. No pressure on trying to make it a good trip!
The second purpose was to see some Austin music. Some of my favorite musicians are out of Austin and play pretty regularly, so we could combine seeing a few different acts in one weekend. They didn’t let us down.
On Saturday we saw Bob Schneider at the Luckenbach Dance Hall, just outside of Fredericksburg. It was a 1.5 hour drive from Austin but it was through Hill Country – really, really beautiful rolling hills. Bob is a great act to see live, if you ever get the chance. He’s a prolific songwriter, really funny, and his band is incredible. Dayl had never seen him before, and while it wasn’t exactly her musical cup of tea, I think she enjoyed it… Bob is definitely my cup of tea, and I loved it.
On Sunday, after watching the bats emerge from under the bridge on South Congress, we headed over to the Saxon Pub on Lamar to catch the Resentments. 3 of the members of the band weren’t present that night – it was just 2 guitarists playing an acoustic set. But it was still one of the best shows ever. Going to the Saxon is like being home somehow, and the music of the Resentments, no matter how many members are present, is food for the soul.
We did lots of other things in Austin, like eat, look at shops on South Congress, eat some more, and look in more shops. We almost made it to a museum and were trying to get to Barton Springs, but ran out of time. It was just nice spending time with Dayl and catching up on our lives and Other Important Matters.
It was quite HOT down there, and since I am a Professional Desk Hamster, I don’t get out in the heat much anymore and I wasn’t really accustomed to it. It made me a little less motivated, I’m sorry to say. Guess I’ll have to head back again soon… when it’s cooler though!
So I have a few tips for you, if you decide to make your own pilgrimage to Austin in the summer… these are lessons I learned from the weekend…
Travel Tips:
1. If you are going to drive from Fort Worth to Austin on the first day of college football season, be sure to leave 3 hours earlier than you were originally planning.
2. Do not stop at a place called Health Camp in Waco. No matter how long you’ve been in the car and how hungry you are (resort to item #3 below). The name is deceptive advertising. Which you SHOULD realize when in the middle of Burger Country.
3. Bring peanut butter and a loaf of bread (and knife) and keep it all in the car. As someone with low blood sugar I need to eat at certain intervals. When you go out to eat, you never know how long you’ll end up waiting for a table; or once you’ve gotten your table, how long you’ll be waiting for your food. Especially if there is a Texas football game on.
If you know that your restaurant is near a food truck (or if your restaurant IS a food truck), you can leave the pb and bread at the hotel.
5. You will sweat through everything you bring with you, so take one extra outfit per day. I’m pretty low-maintenance when it comes to clothes but you just can’t bring too much extra stuff with you. For reals.
6. Remember to bring socks to wear with your cowboy boots when it’s over 90. Eeeew.
Music tips:
1. When traveling 500+ miles to see a band, always always buy a ticket ahead of time.
2. At the show, laugh really hard when the ticket guy who controls whether or not you get your “over 21 so you get alcohol” wristband tells a really bad joke about Oklahomans.
3. If you are young, female, attractive and are with a friend who is the same, stand up front and act like you’re going to make out in front of the band. I think they like that kind of thing.
4. If a musician agrees to do a podcast with you but you didn’t set an exact date / time, don’t let it slide till the last day you’re in town – it ain’t gonna happen.
5. Bring a damn tripod if you decide to video the band playing a really great song that happens to be over 5 minutes long. My arm nearly fell off.
6. Be sure to see 3 musical acts while you are there – if you don’t go see these, your trip to Austin will have no point whatsoever.
The Resentments
Bruce Hughes and the All Nude Army
Bob Schneider
So do it.
hot.
hot.
bob sr and bob jr at luckenbach
bob sr and bob jr at luckenbach
even hotter.
even hotter.
driving into the rain
driving into the rain
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