Is it me or does this pasta look a lot like fly line?
While I typically race in a million different directions, I am literally preparing to head in two very opposite directions (both geographically and culturally) as we are traveling west to Montana and then east to Italy…in all of its pastalicious carbohydrate glory. I am wildly excited about both trips but it’s a bit heady trying to get ready for my first fishing trip of the season out west as well as my first trip to Italy in over a decade. I feel so lucky but want to be as prepped as possible to make the most of each special vacation! My mind is a water bug making list upon list and jumping between spaghetti, fly line, trout, pasta, rivers, ruins, mountains, museums, cowboy boots, and comfortable walking shoes.
Where the hell is my passport?
Total Panic! (Don’t tell my internationally well-traveled mother this is happening yet again.)
There is a very good chance I could head west with an entire plate of steaming spaghetti wound onto my reel in place of fly line. As you can see it’s all starting to make me a little loopy.
And speaking of tight loops…so the Professor and I are going to spend a few days in Sheridan MT over Memorial Day. I have been madly pulling down gear, clothing, trying to remember what I have here in Austin and what I left at the Troutshack last August. It’s the same fire drill every year, I’m not sure why I don’t make this easier on myself.
Where the hell did I leave my Scott 5-wt?
Total Panic! (Don’t tell my uber-organized husband this is happening yet again.)
If I have in fact learned anything from history, it’s that mother nature on the Big Hole River over Memorial Day weekend will likely dump snow, sleet and rain on us. So yesterday I madly contacted friends at FLY SOUTH in Nashville to redeem a 2011 Christmas gift certificate that I have been sitting on. Figuratively, not literally, as I have long since lost the paper gift certificate. After much computer sleuthing they found my credit and I am now the proud owner of a heavy duty bombproof Patagonia rain jacket sure to keep the sleet and snow away, to the point I can personally guarantee 85 degree sunny skies in Melrose MT over Memorial Day Weekend. Your welcome.
Simultaneously I was in a delightful but fervent email exchange yesterday with my new BFF in Tuscany, Serena, who is helping me secure a tour/tasting at a local olive oil mill. After molto back and fortho we finally have this mill booked. Delicioso!
Then I also had to scramble to come up with a new lunch spot in Siena because I have poo-pooed the original choice on the itinerary. I was actually the one to suggest, nay push, for the first place. But since I last dined there in the 1990’s they have adopted a medieval theme and waitresses clad in peasant costumes serve drinks in giant goblets. Gag. I cannot handle the Medieval Times gimmick when I’m in Italy for just one week (or ever) so now we are going to try this restaurant which is highly endorsed:
And of course I had to compulsively obsess over finding a place in our super-tight schedule to drag my entire family (largely against their will) to my favorite place in all of Rome, The Crypt of the Capuchin Monks. For some reason all the members of my travel party are inordinately preoccupied with visiting utterly predictable things in Rome like St Peter’s and Bernini sculptures and the Coliseum, but I am here to tell you, this is happening:
But first, this is happening:
(Copyright 2013 by Christine Warren)
Any travel tips for us? For the Spaghetti or the Western portion of our adventures?
When I was a kid my parents used to host their own Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic “Satellite” parties in our backyard in Dallas. They were fairly epic. To resurrect that tradition I thought it would be fun to have a celebration last night in honor of Willie’s 80th birthday. With the help of my talented friend Tex Smith, we pulled off a fantastic evening with friends, food and live music. Tex recruited several of his musician buddies to share the stage and we threw a “Willie Nelson Potluck 80th Birthday Party” at Sam’s Town Point. It was a bash. Family style.
GLADYS AND MAYBELLE
Gladys and Maybelle travelled down from Fort Worth where this sister act stays busy playing private parties and busking the streets of the Stockyard. They cleaned out every Hobby Lobby in north Texas buying enough red bandanas to SEW THESE ADORABLE DRESSES just for the Willie party!
They also brought a crockpot of chili and Willie braided breadsticks. Too cute. I love these girls.
Gladys and Maybelle offer sweet, old-fashioned country harmonies that are so vintage they are downright fresh. Every act last night did some covers, did some originals, but everyone did at least one Willie tune. Here they are doing “Good Hearted Woman.”
South station in Boston to the stockyards of Austin….Josh Buckley moved from Boston to Austin and the Texas music scene is all the better for it. Typically he performs with his band The Gilded Splinters but he is as big a Willie-phile as the rest of us so he graciously joined the party and blew everyone away with his strong, unique voice.
People were dreaming up reasons to have parties so they could hire Josh to play them. Josh has a new fan club as of last night.
He did a great rendition of “Hello Walls” for Willie…
If you have been reading this blog lately you already know what a talent Tex Smith is as I have been raving about him in recent posts. His songs are soulful and powerful and dare I say he too got a whole new batch of fans last night. He sounded great. If you like Townes Van Zandt, you will like Tex Smith. His songs have a similar meandering, lyrical yet poignant ache to them.
Unfortunately I didn’t capture any video of Tex last night because once he took the stage I started getting nervous. And I mean nervous! Because Tex had already agreed to let me sing one song during his set. I haven’t sung on a stage since my twenties and the few times I did it was little more than late-nite, overserved screeching. I am incredulously comfortable public speaking in front of a thousand people, but the idea of singing in front of people makes me get all blotchy and nearly faint. I haven’t been this scared in I don’t know how long. But I did it. With a real mic, and a real band, in front of a real audience.
I sang Kitty Wells’ classic “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” I missed a few notes and choked on a few words early. Yikes! But I so enjoyed the instrumental solo in the middle that it relaxed me. Tex was strumming away, Nick was on guitar, Lynette on standup bass, Russ on drums and Peter on steel. I guess that calmed me down because I felt much more relaxed on my second verse/chorus and sounded a bit better. No one bumrushed the stage or anything but hopefully I didn’t hurt anyone’s ears either. I grade myself out at a C+ maybe B- but most importantly….I DID IT!
Thanks to Tex encouraging me for a month and a half, I didn’t chicken out.
The final act of the night was Jason James. This kid has a voice straight out of 1949 and might just be the future of traditional honky tonk in Austin. Great originals as well as covers of Willie, George Jones, Hank Sr. Jason cites Lefty Frizzell as one of the most important singers to him and it really comes across in his music.
Here he is covering Willie’s “I Gotta Get Drunk and I Sure Do Regret It”
Special kudos to the band who played with all four acts. They jumped in on songs they had never even heard before and brought them to life, it was incredible! I have seen Nick on guitar and Jake on bass a few times now and I am continually amazed at their talent.
Of course what’s a birthday party without cake? I made two cakes for Willie. This is the red velvet with the bandana/braid theme. A little rough around the edges but hey, I am not only an amateur singer, I’m an amateur cake decorator.
And this is a yellow cake I did trying to celebrate Willie’s treasured guitar, Trigger. I even sacrificed my best eyebrow tweezers to this project, trying to meticulously place the little silver beads on the guitar and arrange the brown sprinkles to create the hole worn in the wood. I felt like it was 1977 and I was playing the game Operation.
I can’t have a celebration without ordering a cake from my friends at Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop. They just won Cupcake Wars on the Food Network so they are SLAMMED these days but they found time to create this Willie cake masterpiece. I looooooved it! And it was delish, chocolate cake with kahlua and cayenne pepper. Insane.
We ended the night just as Willie ends his concerts, with all the musicians on stage together singing “I Saw The Light.” I was so flattered when Tex asked me to join them up there, I was over the moon.
I don’t even know where to start with the THANK YOU’s. It was such a fun, magical, easy evening. I loved it. SPECIAL gratitude goes to the band…Nick on guitar, Jake on bass, Lynette on bass, Russ on drums and Peter on steel. I can’t believe I got to be on stage with you guys.
Thank you MARY for letting us have this at Sam’s Town Point and for all your enthusiasm about the evening.
BIG THANKS to Tex for cheerleading me all the way to the mic. And figuring out I sing that song in G. And for assembling all this talent. Thank you for sharing your gig and letting us turn it into one big party.
THANK YOU to all my friends who ventured out on a school night to hear some honky tonk, love on Willie, and clap for my song. I kinda stacked the deck, it’s true. But I will never forget each of you being there. Yall were better than a beta blocker.
And thank you to Willie for bringing us all together. I think he would have enjoyed it, we certainly captured his spirit. They’re all good but this was a pretty special night of music and friends in Austin Texas.
In this case, it was the egg. As in The Big Green Egg Eggfest. Cake would come later in the weekend.
You may not know that the Professor is quite the grill master. Last year for his 50th birthday he got a green egg and it has opened him up to a whole new world of outdoor cooking, smoking, and grilling. This weekend in Austin was the 10th annual Big Green Eggfest out on Lake Travis and it was a blast!
This event is not recommended for vegans.
We topped off Eggfest with a stop at the most legendary dive bar of all time, Dry Creek. A little Pearl in a can and George Jones on the jukebox seemed like the perfect way to cap off this beautiful Austin Saturday and honor The Possum.
On Sunday our friend Monte Warden was celebrating his birthday so we went to see him perform with his band The Wagoneers at the Continental Club. They too were called to pay their respects to George Jones as you can see in this little video…
Granted I was a little excited when they busted out their three George Jones tunes but if you saw me crying, please don’t think I was completely emotionally unstable. I had been a little heavy handed with the self tanner earlier in the day. While it clearly states not to apply near your eyes, I had slathered it around my eyes and right when they started playing the Jones songs it seeped into my eyes, burning my retina and no doubt turning my eyeballs orange.
A minor distraction. The Wagoneers brought it big time. Just another Sunday night show with Monte Warden delivering his one-of-a-kind, full tilt, all out, high-energy, cardio honky-tonk. If you have the chance, definitely come to see the Wagoneers, they play Sunday nights at the Continental Club at 7:30. You won’t be disappointed.
After the show I had the chance to meet Austin photographer and author, Mathew Sturtevant.
(Yes, I realize I was a little too aggressive with the self tanner and I look like a human Cheeto. In another post I will address my on-going issues as a lifelong tanorexic in recovery trying to make it in an SPF-centric world.)
Sturtevant published a coffee table book called The Sound of Austin which the Professor bought for me for Christmas last year. It boasts incredible photographs of Austin musicians, including Junior Brown, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson…and the band of the evening, The Wagoneers.
If mom or dad are music lovers, this book would be a great mother’s day or father’s day gift, yall. Run don’t walk.
It was a great show and a lovely time afterwards relaxing with the Professor, old friends and new friends. We were thrilled our friend Kin joined us and we were able to convert another fan to the Wags. And I always love laughing with Brandi Warden who is sweet and hilarious, plus I enjoyed chatting with new friend, Tom Lewis, aka the hardest working drummer in central Texas.
And of course, the birthday boy. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MONTE! (Thanks for the cake, Brandi!)
Speaking of birthdays…and cake…
Our beloved Red Headed Stranger turns 80 this week and we are throwing a bash to celebrate. If you are in the Austin area, or can get yourself here, PLEASE COME! We are throwing a Willie Nelson Potluck 80th Birthday Bash this Tuesday 4/30 at 8pm at Sam’s Town Point. My talented friend Tex Smith has generously decided to share the stage, in true Willie family style fashion, and has invited some redhot musicians to come for the party. We are going to have live tunes from:
8:00 – Gladys and Maybelle
8:30 – Josh Buckley
9:00 – Tex Smith
10:00 – Jason James
Bring a dish, bring a sweet, or just bring yourself. It’s going to be a perfectly Austin evening, sending love and music Willie’s way.
Followed by cake.
Yesterday we spent spent a beautiful spring day in Mobile Alabama trying to acquire/install a turntable so we could listen to our growing vintage vinyl collection. I will spare you the laborious details but we went to a local record store, no luck. Tried the flea market, no luck. Went to my sister-in-law’s to commandeer her parent’s old turntable, set it up…broken belt. Bought a new one at Guitar Center, got it all the way home, missing parts. Returned it for another one. Odd sound. Radio Shack for new speaker cable. Tried the Bose speakers. Hooked up the AR speakers. Troubleshooting, troubleshooting, troubleshooting.
Ten hours later we determined our vintage Onkyo receiver is on the fritz.
But one of the highlights of the day was spending time in Mobile Records with owner, Keith Glass. Originally from Australia Keith is a singer, songwriter, producer, record label owner. And now proprietor of an epic record store. This place is a true gem, some other patrons showed up having driven over from Biloxi just to check it out. Keith makes it, he is one of the most gregarious and knowledgeable musician/storytellers I have ever encountered. I plan on logging some serious hours in this place.
I was delighted to see he had this 45 of Curtis Gordon’s local hit “Mobile Alabama.” Curtis Gordon was an early rockabilly/country star who owned a popular music venue in Mobile called Radio Ranch which Elvis played a few times.
Keith also had an old copy of a Lawrence Reynolds album with a handwritten note scratched on it…from Reynolds himself! Lawrence Reynolds was a Mobile guy who was a prolific country singer. He recorded a vast library of tracks without ever really breaking through as a household name. But he had a big hit called “Jesus Is a Soul Man” which has been covered by countless country greats and even inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to create the Broadway smash “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Here’s a fantastic clip of Johnny Cash singing “Jesus Is A Soul Man” with Lawrence Reynolds as a guest on the Johnny Cash Show.
Got the bug to browse some vinyl? Want to support your local record store? APRIL 20th is NATIONAL RECORD STORE DAY. Check and see if your town has a retail location that is celebrating. If you’re in the Mobile area, head over to the parking lot of Mobile Records, Keith has plenty of live music lined up for the good people on the Gulf Coast.
PS…here’s what we took home from Mobile Records yesterday:
This blog has always been about storytelling…fishing stories, tales of family & friends, travel, food music, life in Austin, life in Alabama. Lately I have been stretched so thin I haven’t had a moment to spare to spin a yarn here on FFC. When you’ve been blogging for years and years like I have sometimes you do wonder if it’s time to hang it up. It can start to own you if you let it. Have you noticed how bloggers are always “closing down their blog” or “quitting their blog” and then you promptly receive an email notice for their latest post just a few days later? Or have you seen those sweeping announcements from friends on Facebook who proclaim that everyone is going to have to reach them via email from now on because they are getting off of Facebook for good…and yet those are inevitably the same people peppering the Facebook newsfeed with extremist political rants just 24 hours later.
I am not quitting my blog. I am not changing the format. I am not going to pull a Michael Jordan-esque retirement just to start posting stories again the following week. I am not going to alter the nature of the site just to revert back to what’s been working for half a dozen years already. I am not going New Coke on your ass.
I am just talking out loud here, trying to explain why it’s a little flat of late. And the answer is LIFE, for the most part. Marriage, family, friends, raising a 13-year old…the joys and responsibilities have been amplified lately. Plus I have started working part-time for my husband’s company which is fantastic, but one more ball to juggle.
And then, there’s my writing. I am working on Book #2 and for some reason I am having a much harder time finding good chunks of time to write on this one. Paddlefish just flowed right out of me, I don’t remember this constant panic that life was too hectic and I couldn’t sit down to right. But for whatever reason this season of my life is so overwhelmingly nuts that I have to fight to write each week. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not writer’s block, I love love love writing on the book. It just seems everything externally is conspiring against me to have that quiet time. I have been doing a lot of interviews for this project, which are enriching the story but are a pain in the butt to chase and schedule.
The good news is I am undeterred! I have about eight chapters left to do in the first draft and I hope to have those completed by the end of May. Game on! And because I tend to overcomplicate an already complicated calendar I have some fun outings/soirees/getaway planned along the way. The other thing that has suffered in my focus-on-others schedule is diet and exercise so it’s time to put that back at the forefront of the todo list on a daily basis. It’s just a lot. You know, your life is the same, I’m no different. Doesn’t everyone seem extra nuts these days?
So bear with me. I don’t have time or brain power to offer my full tilt storytelling at the moment. Posts might be a little leaner for a while, a picture/caption, random soundbites, or a few bullet points here and there. They are going to be quickfire updates for the time being. Then someday this summer when you least expect it and you’ve gotten used to my rapido posts I will hit you with another long and winding story.
Until then, I’m not really sure what’s coming your way via this blog. But we’ll find out together.