[“One Night in April” is the first installment in a new monthly series on austin360.com in which we’ll pick a day each month to visit at least a half-dozen local venues. The idea is to provide just a small sampling of the options available to Austinites on any given night in the Live Music Capital of the World.]
From a live radio broadcast outdoors, to restaurant and coffee shop shows on the south end, to a handful of touring acts playing downtown, to a classic east side honky tonk, we had a blast on Wednesday night experiencing “One Night in April” on the Austin music scene. Here’s how it all played out (and check out scenes from the night in the video above):
6 p.m.: Don Leady & His Rockin’ Revue at Guero’s Oak Garden. The weather was perfect for our first stop, Sun Radio’s weekly “Texas Radio Live” under the shade of two giant live oak trees. There’s no admission charge here, but donations are accepted to support the public station; it’s easy to chip in a few dollars when Guero’s is serving up tasty tamales for just $1.50 each.
Leady is best known for his long tenure leading swamp-rockers the Tail Gators, but he’s got a cool new combo here featuring 14-year-old guitarist Jack Montesinos, and they’re releasing their first album this week. Between songs, Leady told of how he first heard about Montesinos from Jack’s dad during a show one night at Evangeline Cafe — which provides a perfect segue, as that just happened to be where we were headed next.
7:15 p.m.: Paul Glasse & Floyd Domino at Evangeline Cafe. The restaurant’s calendar listed only Glasse, which was reason enough to attend as the longtime Austinite is a world-class mandolinist. What a pleasant surprise, then, to find that his accompanist on this night was keyboardist Domino, another of the city’s most highly respected players.
They serenaded a full house dining on Cajun fare with a mix of both vocal and instrumental tunes, from Hank Williams favorites to Glasse originals. “Paul wrote that when he was 15,” Domino revealed after one lovely number. Glasse joked that the pair typically spent a good deal of time wondering, “Are we going to eat before the gig, during the gig, after the gig, or all of the above? So it’s a good thing we booked a gig at a restaurant.”
8:10 p.m.: Wrenfro at Strange Brew. It ain’t right that I’d been back in town for two years and had yet to catch this weekly show by the current power-pop project of Tony Scalzo and Kevin McKinney. With Fastball, Scalzo reached heights few Austin rock bands ever have, and McKinney has played in many prominent local bands over the past quarter-century.
They were as rock-solid as those credentials would suggest. Joined by Chris Gebhard and Ed Jarusinsky, the foursome churned out one fine original after another, proving that more people should be turning out for this residency. They had some stories to tell between songs too, like Scalzo’s recollection of the night John Stamos sat in on drums with him and Miles Zuniga at Hole in the Wall one night many moons ago.
9:15 p.m.: Marc Broussard at the Parish. A six-venues-in-one-night itinerary is likely to end up with at least one hitch. We’d planned to catch longtime Austinite Reed Turner in this slot, but he’d just finished when we arrived. (Chalk it up to the perils of trying to guess set times when venues list the doors-opening time but not when the music starts.)
We did have a chance to chat with Quiet Company’s Tommy Blank, who informed us that Turner (who he briefly managed) recently moved to Seattle. Can’t fault anyone for that! And the late arrival did allow us to catch a few songs from Broussard, the Louisiana soul man with a richly resonant voice who connected with the crowded room from the moment he began his opening song, “Lonely Night in Georgia.”
10:10 p.m.: Margaret Glaspy and Mount Moriah at Lamberts. ATO Records artist Glaspy, from Brooklyn, made waves at SXSW last month, and it was easy to see why. Playing solo with an electric guitar, she was totally at ease and at home in front of a modest audience at Lamberts, with only the chatter drifting up from the restaurant below distracting from the spell of her beguiling indie-folk tunes.
Mount Moriah, from Durham, N.C., and touring behind their new Merge Records release “How to Dance,” gave a nod to the upscale barbecue joint’s ambiance. “I’ll tell you what, barbecue restaurants do NOT look like this in North Carolina,” leader Heather McEntire quipped. McEntire’s voice and stage presence were captivating in the indie-roots band’s stellar if too-brief set. They apparently have some Austin connections: McEntire dedicated one of the songs to Lauren Larson of local band Ume.
Midnight: Harvest Thieves at the White Horse. Our January Austin360 Artist of the Month offered a perfect way to close out the evening, among the waltzers and two-steppers at one of the city’s best almost-always-free venues. We tipped accordingly, inspired by the band’s even mixing of originals from their recent “Rival” album with tried-and-true covers by the likes of Uncle Tupelo, Doug Sahm and even the late Merle Haggard.
Perhaps best of all, however, was when frontman Cory Reinisch turned over lead vocals to keyboardist Annah Fisette for a beautiful version of Rosanne Cash’s “Seven Year Ache.” A short video clip of the song posted to social media got a stamp of approval from the songwriter herself:
Join us again next month for “One Night in May” — date to be determined.