Last night I ventured out to do some hard hitting honky-tonk research for the book. I decided I needed to get out of my Old South Austin music scene (as fabulous as it is) and plug in to some different artists/venues. Through my friend Ashley I have come to know Tex Smith and last night I went to hear him play with his band the Haymakers.
They played at a joint called Sam’s Town Point which I had never heard of before, and now won’t be able to stay away from for long. It is a fantastic, divey, warm, honky-tonk tucked away from the madness of Austin’s condo construction chaos. Tex and I chatted for an hour or so before he played and discovered we have a whole overlapping history of Dallas music in the early 90s! I knew I would be inspired and entertained but I have to say, I can’t get over what a great guy he is. He was wide open with me and I really enjoyed his perspectives on music and life.
And the band. The Haymakers is comprised of super charged talent, all guys who also play with other bands like Hot Club of Cowtown. But here at Sam’s Town Point on Tuesday nights they are Tex Smith and the Haymakers and they were outstanding.
There is a lot of sound coming from these four guys! They were tight. Tex delivers songs that hint at his eclectic musical influences (Johnny Cash, Elvis, Beatles, Ernest Tubb) but are also altogether unique. His songs are unornamented, raw, and pleasing. They have an ache and a quirkiness at the same time, not to mention an honesty that fits with this very authentic new friend I have made. Great guy, great talent.
And speaking of talent. He generously invited various musicians who showed up to hop on stage and play a few of their songs. The Haymakers were unbelievable backing these songs they were hearing for the very first time and I felt like I was watching magic unfold before my eye.
First up was Ben Ballinger. He looked like a young Harry Connick Jr, but when he opened his mouth to sing the blues came out. Big time! Blew me away…
Next was Toronto native Nancy Dutra who transplanted herself to Austin for a few months to feed off the music scene here. Perhaps my favorite thing I learned about Nancy is that late in life she ditched her high salary J-O-B to follow her creative dreams. (Hmmm, reminds me of someone else I know.)
Finally there was Pake Rossi who was rocking the hippest hat with a single feather hanging down from it. He played solo without the band backing him and I couldn’t get over his song, something about empty cupboards. It was wholly his own yet was on par with a Guy Clark composition!
MANY THANKS to Tex Smith and the Haymakers for spending so much time talking with me before the show and making me feel so welcome. Thanks to all the other musicians who are brave enough to work on their craft and get up and sing in front other people, an act that terrifies me to the bone. And finally, special thanks to Sam’s Town Point. You haven’t seen the last of me there, I have something up my sleeve in April and I think Sam’s is just the spot to pull it off.
Meanwhile, yall take a moment and check out these singer-songwriters. Last night was a fresh reminder that there is always good new music on the horizon if you’re willing to step out of your rut and check it out. Here are links to their sites:
Brava Tex, Jake, Nick, Russ, Ben, Nancy, and Pake.
(Copyright 2013 by Christine Warren)