Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What I like about good music at small venues

A local Irish fiddler friend, Heather Gilmer (well, engineer with Joe by day, Irish fiddler by night and weekends), sent us an email last week telling us about a great music lineup at a fun, family-friendly venue.

Since the first (early) show featured the kids' mandolin teacher, Billy Bright, they definitely wanted to stop by and see Chojo Jacques and him in action.

So, after the kids' performance at the Austin Family Music Festival, we headed down to Central Market (think Whole Foods, only with a band area and huge playscape in their outdoor cafe). Free live music every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

And this is what I like about small, family-friendly venues: they're casual and personal.

As we got out of the car, we saw Billy walking through the parking lot hauling in his equipment. We visited briefly then asked if we could help him with his equipment. Then chatted with Chojo, letting him know I had talked with him on the phone about some future lessons. He said, "Oh, you must be Laura." (I'm always impressed with people who are good with names...because I'm not.)

So we watched them, up close, playing all our favorite songs from their Texicali Blues CD.

Here's a short clip of one of their songs we love, Cross-Eyed Fiddler.

So far, this is our favorite song of theirs, East Compton Blues--check it out.

Then there was this band, Steelhead Stringband. A fun, interactive group that fed off all the little kids dancing in front of the stage area.

At a place like this cafe, you just feel comfortable walking up and visiting with the band members afterward. In fact, it seems they really appreciate the interaction and interest. They might just come and sit by you amongst the crowd for the next show.

Lastly, there was this girl, the headliner of the roots music showcase -- Ruby Jane.

She's lively, excited, and puts on a fantastic show. Oh, and she's a very talented fiddler and overall musician. She also loves to visit with kids and is a very sweet girl.

After talking with her mom in the audience, we found out that she's just 15 years old. She's had her own band since she was 10 years old.

Here's a song she wrote, "Beautiful You, Happy Me" that is featured in the new movie "Mayor Cupcake" with Lea Thompson and Judd Nelson.

The next evening she played at an event for Willie Nelson--with Lyle Lovett and other well-established musicians.

* * * * * *

Roots music showcase :: intimate, family-friendly venue
Local musicians :: Locally-owned cafe

It was a great music set, and the kids enjoyed it -- especially since they could run freely to the playscape and come back to our table for good eats and drinks, listen to music, and visit with the musicians.

We went for the early show and ended up staying 'til the end--well after bedtime.

Just because.

It was exceptionally fun!