Tripping Over Hidden Treasures

Great Gilded Gift Horse, our beloved fellow Austinites sure do turn into a bunch of whiny diaper-munchers with half-empty sippy cups at this time of year.

“Ohhhh, it’s so crowded!”

“Traffic is terrible”

“Who are all these people?”

“My hemorrhoids are killing me!”

We’re here to change all that – well, you’re on your own with the hemorrhoids – and bring you guaranteed joy. That is assuming you are willing to open up your wobbly head and let some new ideas in.

What do people planning to see certain shows at SxSW sound like to us? waah wah waah wah wah waah. Charlie Brown’s teacher. It is the sound of people preparing to frustrate themselves by taking the completely wrong approach to having fun at SxSW.

Just go. Climb in your car, get as close as you can and still find a place to park, get out of your car, lock it, put your keys in your pocket, adjust your bra and walk into the middle of 6th street. Listen, smell, watch, just keep moving until something pulls you like a super magnet. If there are obstacles, get around them or move on.

Stumbling down the right path is the mantra.  No wristband?  No problem.  Trust that Austin will provide; she always does, if you are willing to float into her midst without pre-conceived notions of being entertained.

Stop and watch the bucket drummer down the block. Buy a breakfast taco after midnight from two girls set up in the lobby of a comedy venue. Then wander into the open door of Esther’s Follies . Good music coming from inside. Find out that it’s free and better yet; they serve beer! Sit down, Fat Tire in hand, as Colin Ferguson finishes up his set. Then clear your mind, because you have no idea what to expect when Donna walks out on the stage.Donna_SxSW2013

Here she is, singing



Non-Stop Beatbox


Mister Cupid

UPDATE: though they only identified themselves as Donna and Ken from Brooklyn, that was enough information to find them on the web:

Donna and Ken’s website

The Ghost of Ivory Ghost

The ghost of a ghost becomes alive again, right? Like multiplying two negative numbers?

There were no negative numbers on May 12, where the death of the Ghost was an all-the-way live experience at the Sahara Lounge *.

Some of those in the audience were seeing Ivory Ghost for the first time and unfortunately, the last time as well. IG’s Woody Russell has landed a featured spot on the television show Troubadour, TX  and will be dedicating his time to that effort as well as his surging solo career. But save the saline, dry the peepers; the band went out in joyous fashion Saturday night, and I am not talking about Marco’s hillbilly-chic cranium cover. The band kicked ass – tighter, punchier and yet smoother than ever. I have heard the band three times previous to the Sahara show and it was always fun from the get-go, but it all really came together for this funky finale.

Ivory Ghost

Ivory Ghost is … or rather was:

Marc Utter- acoustic guitar and vocals
Woody Russell- electric guitar
Doug Marcis- drums
Geoff Union- bass
Steve Marcum- percussion
Dez Desormeaux- sax
Steve Zirkel – trumpet

Ivory Ghost profiles

IG has been jamming at least once a week for over a year straight, closer to two in total, and in that time the group wrote almost of the tunes played at the final show, while still managing to cover some of Marco’s old gems and tossing in a terrific stylized cover of the Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down” that would rock a reggae festival’s audience to dancing abandon. The entire group has put a lot into the writing and arranging of these songs, and have been busy getting all of that recorded. Those recent recordings are not yet available, but you can listen to some older live recordings on their FaceBook page.

And if you want to see more of IG … well, to borrow a line from their song “Mexico 5-0”: you can “pry a photo from a dead man’s hand” and check out more of Austin Above Ground’s exclusive photos from Saturday’s show.

Finally, before the mood gets too funereal, I wouldn’t bet on the Ghost staying dead … at least not all the way dead …

Drummer Doug Marcis put it like this: “Everyone’s individual personalities are a big part of the sound of that group – Woody in particular.  None of us are interested in trying to find a ‘replacement’ for him since that would be contrary to the spirit of what we’ve created – a group writing project.  So anything new is going to head in the direction that the new members take it.  Which could sound similar to what we currently have but most likely will take on a different flavor or substance altogether.  For me, I want to create something new with a life and personality all it’s own.”

We can’t wait to celebrate the resurrection.


*A word about the Sahara Lounge: I first knew Topaz McGarrigle as the Jazz Band Director at the Austin Waldorf School , but soon enough was catching him tearing’ it up with his band Mudphonic. Only recently did I learn that he is one of the owners of the Sahara Lounge. This funky club on the east side has Austin written all over it. From the odd-but-open layout adorned with hand-painted murals, Christmas-tree lights, framed pics, posters, etc. to the big backyard-style outdoor courtyard complete with fire pit and picnic tables; this place would be a contender for any Essence of Austin contest.  On this evening, there was even all-you-can-eat BBQ, beans and rice included with the $5 cover.