One Night in Austin: Longhorn afternoon gives way to a local music evening

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The University of Texas football team’s home opener on Saturday may have been a disconcerting affair, but out on the LBJ Library lawn across from the stadium before the game, the new Longhorn City Limits live music series had an auspicious debut. We opted to bypass the game itself in favor of sampling other shows happening around town as the evening wore on. Video highlights are above; here’s the full recap:

4 p.m.: Longhorn City Limits with Jimmie Vaughn and the Nightowls at LBJ Library Lawn. It’s quality Austin music, it’s free, and it’ll happen before each home game this year: This new addition to pregame tailgating rituals is a no-brainer. The crowd was a bit thin early on — the Nightowls began at 3:30 p.m.; we arrived about halfway through their hourlong set — but the group’s horn-spiked soul revue set a lively tone for the day.

When blues guitar great Vaughan took the stage at 5 p.m. with his Tilt-A-Whirl Band, quite a few more people were in the crowd, about 99 percent of them wearing orange — including a few Longhorn cheerleaders who joined Vaughan onstage for a number early in the set. During the game later on, UT announced that country-rock band Reckless Kelly will be playing next week’s Longhorn City Limits concert before the USC game.

RELATED: It’s the final inning for Reckless Kelly’s Celebrity Softball Jam

6:15 p.m.: Bobby Whitlock & CoCo Carmel at Saxon Pub. A key member of Eric Clapton’s circa-1970 band Derek & the Dominos, Whitlock is one of those rock ’n’ roll treasures who happened to settle down in Austin, moving here many years ago with Carmel, his wife and musical partner. The duo generally plays every few weeks at the Saxon, and it’s one of the best gigs in town.

Whitlock’s prone to going off on tangents when he starts talking about the good old days, but those tangents are almost always fascinating. An integral musician who also played on key records by George Harrison and the Rolling Stones, Whitlock noted Saturday that “I hang my hat on ‘Layla,’ ‘All Things Must Pass’ and ‘Exile on Main Street.’ It’s a pretty good hat rack.” Indeed.

The pair played some songs on acoustic guitars before Whitlock moved to keyboards and Carmel picked up the saxophone. Both phases of the show were musically quite lovely, gradually building to the obvious yet still riveting finale of “Bell Bottom Blues,” the Whitlock-penned Dominos tune for which he’s most famous. Tagging it with the iconic piano coda that he added to Clapton’s “Layla,” Whitlock gave the crowd a smile, thanked everyone for coming and invited them back again soon. If you’re an Austin music fan and you haven’t taken in this gig yet, move it to the top of your list.

8 p.m.: Michael Nesmith & the First National Band at Paramount Theatre. A square peg amid our typically local-focused “One Night” itineraries, this touring show by the legendary Monkees member played up his early-1970s years playing country-folk-rock music. That focus made for quite a nice segue from Whitlock, whose heyday overlapped with Nesmith’s in the fertile Southern California scene of that era. (Groovers Paradise record store owner Greg Ellis noted that Nesmith even covered the Whitlock/Clapton tune “I Looked Away” on one of the First National Band albums.)

No other original First National members are aboard for this tour; only drummer Jonathan Ware is still living. But Nashville ace Pete Finney did a fine job re-creating the late Red Rhodes’ pedal steel runs and thus was a key member here, along with Nesmith’s sons Jonathan and Christian on guitars.

The most lovely moment, however, came mid-set when the band departed and left Nesmith to deliver three of his best-known compositions — “Propinquity,” “Different Drum” and “Papa Gene’s Blues” — just as he had done at L.A.’s famed Troubadour nightclub right after he wrote them. “Here I am, 50 years later,” Nesmith marveled, as the crowd basked in the special moment.

Marlon Sexton fronts the new band Marfa Crush, which played Saturday at ABGB as part of the venue’s new monthly series that focuses on emerging acts. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

9:40 p.m.: Marfa Crush and Midcentury at ABGB. We caught only the last minute or so of Midcentury’s final song, but their closing instrumental jam was tight and impressive, whetting the appetite for catching them again another time. On this night, we were there mainly to see Marfa Crush, the new project of 19-year-old Marlon Sexton.

If you follow Austin music (or Bob Dylan, for that matter), you’re well aware of his father Charlie’s accomplishments. It’s easy to see a young Charlie in Marlon’s face, yet he’s a very different kind of singer, and the songs he’s writing with this band of similar-age friends have more to do with envelope-pushing atmospheric rock than anything Dylanesque. Marfa Crush is still in its infancy, but their charismatic performance on this night suggests this is a young band with enormous potential.

10:45 p.m.: The Mrs. at Lamberts. Celebrating the release of their new EP “Five Minutes,” this quartet featuring singer-guitarist Mandy Prater, singer-keyboardist Larissa Ness, bassist Jenny Mason and drummer Andra Liemandt drew a sold-out crowd to the small bar above Lamberts BBQ. Opening with the effervescent single “Hurricane” from the new EP, the group kept the mood in the room lively throughout.

A cover of the Lumineers’ signature tune “Ho Hey” went over well but seemed unnecessary, as the women write strong enough material on their own to let it carry them. They’re still relatively new (the group’s debut release came out last year) and perhaps are still building their catalogue, but the title track to the new EP suggests they’re hitting their stride and could become a breakout mainstream-pop act.

RELATED: More videos in our “One Night” series

One Night in Austin: It was a hot time in the old town last night

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We’re in the throes of many consecutive days with temperatures above 100 degrees, but live music pays no mind to the summer heat in Austin. From downtown and SoCo nightclubs to a campus cafe to an iconic record store to a classic beer garden, we found good music everywhere on a Friday night in the heart of July. Check out the video above to accompany this recap.

5 p.m.: Dan Stuart at Waterloo Records. The expatriate rocker, who’s lived in Mexico for the last eight years, kicked off a weeklong “tour of Austin” to celebrate “The Unfortunate Demise of Marlowe Billings,” an album accompanied by a book of the same name. Remembering Waterloo’s smaller store when he lived nearby in 1990, Stuart mused, “Things change. Not all of it is bad!”

Focusing on songs from the new record such as “Here Comes My Boy” and “The Day William Holden Died,” Stuart also threw fans of his 1980s band Green on Red a bone at the end with a sweet solo acoustic version of “Time Ain’t Nothing.” There’s seven more chances to catch him around town in the next six days, starting Saturday night at Opal Divine’s Austin Grill.

READ MORE: Songwriter Dan Stuart embarks on a ‘tour of Austin’

6:45 p.m.: Rosie Flores Revue at C-Boy’s. The South Congress outpost of the Continental Club empire is big on weekly residencies, and a new addition is this Friday happy-hour show featuring longtime local guitarist and singer Flores with a terrific five-piece backing crew.

A master of many American roots styles ranging from country to blues to jazz and beyond, Flores is a natural bandleader. A solid crowd for an early-evening show soaked in the welcome air-conditioning as sunlight streaked through the windows at the front of the club, which had another fine show on tap after dark with the Texas Gentlemen.

Bruce Robison performs at Threadgill’s South on Friday, July 20, 2018. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

7:15 p.m.: Christy Hays and Bruce Robison at Threadgill’s. We don’t often stay for more than one act in these evening musical smorgasbords, but the bill for KUTX’s “Back to the Garden” series inspired a longer stay. The beer garden wasn’t as sweltering as you might think on a day like this, thanks to plentiful shade.

Hays, who’s split her time between here and Montana the past couple of years, played many of the songs on her acclaimed new record “River Swimmer.” She also wrote a song on the latest record from Robison, who delighted the crowd with favorites such as “Desperately” (a country chart-topper for George Strait co-written with Monte Warden) and the only-in-Austin anthem “What Would Willie Do?”

READ MORE: Bruce Robison looks toward the future of music with ‘The Next Waltz’

9:15 p.m.: Kevin Galloway at Cactus Cafe. For a decade, native Texan Galloway fronted the roots-rock band Uncle Lucius, a solid draw across the state with several albums to their credit. He’s moving to a new phase with “The Change,” his first solo record, due out in early August.

The Cactus show served as a full showcase for the new material, as Galloway played “The Change” from start to finish. It’s a fine record that benefits from a strong supporting cast, many of whom accompanied him at this show, including his former Uncle Lucius bandmate John Grossman on keyboards, ace pedal steel player Kim Deschamps, and guitarist Doug Strahan (whose own band, the Good Neighbors, opened the show.)

A full house at Antone’s for Los Texmaniacs and friends on Friday, July 20, 2018. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

10:45 p.m.: Los Texmaniacs with Flaco Jimenez at Antone’s. We’re well into the monthlong 43rd-anniversary celebration for Austin’s home of the blues now. One of the coolest things about Antone’s is that while its focus is blues, the club reaches well beyond those bounds too. This night was a prime example, with some of the best border-crossing Tex-Mex sounds to be found anywhere.

Max Baca’s renowned Texmaniacs crew anchored the evening, with Grammy-winning accordion great Jimenez coming out to join them shortly after we arrived. They ran through familiar tunes such as the Don Gibson country classic “Oh Lonesome Me” and the Mavericks’ rousing “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down.” We departed before the scheduled appearance of Jimenez’s Texas Tornados bandmate Augie Meyers, but there’s no doubt the party went on well past midnight. And it continues Saturday with a bang-up show featuring C.J. Chenier plus Christone “Kingfish” Ingram.

READ MORE: Get the blues while it’s hot at Antone’s anniversary bash

One night (and day) in Austin (and beyond): A scorching Saturday for live music

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It’s fitting that Saturday afternoon marked the first official crossing of the 100-degree barrier in Austin, because June 2 had long been circled on the calendar as one of the hottest nights for live music around town in recent memory. Here’s a rundown of what we took in, to accompany the video recap above.

2 p.m.: Jerry Jeff Walker exhibit reception at the Wittliff Collections in San Marcos. On display through July 8, “Viva Jerry Jeff!” celebrates one of Austin’s living-legend songwriters with photos, artifacts, rare recordings and more. Walker and his wife/manager, Susan Walker, talked with exhibit curator Hector Saldana at this afternoon gathering that brought out many Texas State luminaries (including Collections founder Bill Wittliff) and quite a few fans from Austin who made the short trek down Interstate 35.

A highlight was San Antonio musician Rachel Laven playing three of Walker’s songs for the crowd, with Walker himself looking on from the front row. Laven delivered signature song “Mr. Bojangles” beautifully, but perhaps more poignant was “I Look for That Day Today,” an early-mid 1960s Walker tune found on a recording the Wittliff recently acquired. It prompted a great exchange between Walker, 76, and the young Laven. “It’s a young person’s outlook,” Walker suggested of the song. “All young people think that way.” Laven nodded and confirmed: “Yeah. I do.”

7:30 p.m.: Joe Ely, Terry Allen and Jo Harvey Allen at Hogg Auditorium. Fast friends stretching back to their common roots in the Texas Panhandle, Ely and the Allens took the stage together. Terry and Joe swapped songs, with Jo Harvey reciting content from the stage musical “Chippy” that all three helped bring to life in the 1990s (along with several other Lubbock-raised pals).

READ MORE: Our interviews with Joe Ely and with Terry Allen

Jo Harvey’s recitations frequently served as a lead-in to one of Terry’s numbers on the piano, with guitarist Ely’s West Texas-themed songs such as “Because of the Wind” adding color to the canvas. They worked in some crowd-favorites — Ely’s “I Had My Hopes Up High,” Terry’s “Gimme a Ride to Heaven” — but perhaps best of all were “Fate With a Capital F,” which they traded back and forth, and “Goodnight, Dear Diary, Goodnight,” which played brilliantly off of a Jo Harvey recitation. A second set from Joe and Terry followed, but we were off to the next stop…

Kelly Willis at the Stateside at the Paramount on Saturday, June 2, 2018. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

8:45 p.m.: Kelly Willis at Stateside at the Paramount. Celebrating the mid-May release of “Back Being Blue,” her first solo album in more than a decade, Willis was up against some pretty stiff Americana competition around town on this night. But the Stateside looked to be about 90 percent full, and she rewarded those who chose her show with an immaculate set drawing on new material as well as highlights from her three-decade career.

Her four-piece band brought out the natural country twang in Willis’s music without ever getting in the way of her exquisite vocals. The small-theater crowd kept respectfully quiet but expressed their appreciation with an emphatic ovation at the end of the 75-minute set. We arrived midway through and no doubt missed some high points, but her singing on the new-album standouts “Freewheeling” and “We’ll Do It for Love Next Time” (the latter written by Rodney Crowell) made this stop well worth working into the busy night’s itinerary.

9:30 p.m.: Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Dave Alvin at Antone’s. Gilmore going up against his Flatlanders bandmate Ely and his old friends the Allens was a crazy stroke of fate, but some folks seized upon the somewhat staggered timing and managed to attend both shows. We arrived just as Colin Gilmore, Jimmie Dale’s son, was wrapping up a solid opening set with his band. In striking contrast to the seated, air-conditioned, theater-quiet Stateside environs, Antone’s was hot and sweaty, brimming with nightclub buzz and packed so tight near the front of the stage that there was little room to squeeze by.

READ MORE: Our interview with Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Minor discomfort aside, all of that actually fit pretty well with the bluesy vibe of Gilmore & Alvin’s new album “Downey to Lubbock.” The show had its occasional acoustic moments, and both men told engaging stories between songs, but the heart of the evening was in blazing old-school numbers from the new album such as Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and the Memphis Jug Band’s “Stealin’.” A special treat was getting to hear new voices on signature songs: Gilmore added chorus harmonies on Alvin’s classic “Fourth of July,” and Alvin took a verse on Gilmore’s iconic “Dallas.”

11:45 p.m.: The Posies at the Parish. A power-pop band from the Pacific Northwest might seem like an odd nightcap for what was mostly a roots-music day and evening. On the other hand, the Posies’ home base in the early-’90s was Seattle’s Egg Studios, where Jimmie Dale Gilmore once recorded a song with grunge masters Mudhoney. There’s always a through-line.

The crowd at the Parish wasn’t large, but it was very appreciative of the band, who returned that respect with a wondrously energetic performance. Co-leaders Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow had played a duo show at Cactus Cafe back in February that put the spotlight on their vocal harmonies, but on this night they rocked hard, teaming with longtime drummer Mike Musburger and bassist David Fox for the first time in nearly a quarter-century. By the time we departed this long day’s journey into night, it was June 3. With George Strait and Asleep at the Wheel playing the Erwin Center, it promises to be another hot one, folks.

Bye Bye Blackheart: One final day and night at Rainey Street’s best hangout

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On the chalkboard sign out front and in the Facebook page for the event, Sunday’s swan song for Rainey Street’s much-loved Blackheart Bar was dubbed “See You in Hell.” There was a let-it-all-out feel to the afternoon and evening, to be sure, but we thought local band Harvest Thieves might have nailed the title. Peeking at their set list as they took the backyard stage just after 9 p.m., we noticed it was titled: “Bye Bye Blackheart.”

Harvest Thieves play the final night at the Blackheart on Sunday, April 29, 2018. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

More than a dozen acts, most of whom had played regularly at the venue over the years, signed on for half-hour finales that rotated between the bar’s dark indoor and bright outdoor stages from 5 p.m. till past midnight. They all wanted to say goodbye to a place that, as Harvest Thieves leader Cory Reinisch put it, “was the best thing that happened to this street.”

Many of the musicians worked at the Blackheart over the years as well. Reinisch even did some work behind the bar on Sunday before his band’s set. Corey Baum of Croy & the Boys mentioned that he used to work the door there. Mike Schoenfeld, who kicked things off just past 5 p.m. in the sunlight on the backyard stage, told amusing stories about watching baby raccoons cavorting on the roof, and that time he called the police on himself. (A missing motorcycle was involved.)

Late-afternoon scene from the last day and night at the Blackheart on Rainey Street, Sunday, April 29, 2018. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

Mostly the vibe was celebratory, even as the bittersweetness of the moment was not lost on anyone — particularly co-owner Jeremy Murray, who described the day as an “emotional rollercoaster.” Erica Shamaly, manager of the city’s Music & Entertainment Division, noted that her office had offered help to the Blackheart owners if they wanted to start up again somewhere else, though it’s unclear at this point whether that might happen.

Out on the front porch was another example of the venue’s legacy. There for the taking were a handful of vinyl copies of Austin band Sweet Spirit’s album “Live at the Blackheart,” recorded here a few years ago. The band couldn’t be there on this final day, but with their offering, it was clear they were here in (sweet) spirit.

Inside, the band that followed Schoenfeld early on was an intriguing one. By Pass was a hip-hop collective blending members of Austin’s Mindz of a Different Kind and the group Nouvel R from Angers, France. Its very existence is an outgrowth of collaborative exchanges between the two cities in recent years, including an annual Austin-Angers Week that happens each year in the fall.

RELATED: More about the Austin-Angers musical connection

By Pass, a hip-hop collaboration between Austin’s Mindz of a Different Kind and France’s Nouvel R, played the indoor stage on the Blackheart’s final day, Sunday, April 29, 2018. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

The music rolled on with exemplary sets by Croy & the Boys outside, followed by an indoor set from rootsy singer-songwriter Christy Hays, who just released a new album on Friday. I departed for a short time after that in order to catch a special performance by Steve Kilbey, leader of Australian band the Church, with keyboardist Amanda Kramer at east side private club the Pershing. This was an unusually busy Sunday, with the final night of Levitation shows also taking place in the Red River District.

By the time I returned at 9 p.m., the Blackheart was at capacity, with a line stretching down the Rainey Street sidewalk of folks hoping for a chance to pay their last respects. Harvest Thieves were taking the stage with a massive lineup that included current and former members, resulting in a merry wall of five guitarists across the front at one point. The chorus of song “Your Damn Vanity” seemed especially appropriate for the evening: “Austin ain’t quite what she used to be, but then, neither are you and I.”

There was much more to come as the night wound down to a 1 a.m. acoustic duo performance by Not in the Face, which played the first show at the Blackheart six years ago. The line outside might also have been in part for the 10 p.m. set by Chasca, a full-on-costumed glam outfit that was reuniting just for this occasion. Drummer Wiley Koepp loaded in gear and wandered the grounds early on, his face painted but not yet in full costume. There would be “lots more glitter,” he assured, remembering the time that the fire marshal shut down one of the band’s shows at the Blackheart a few years ago.

Chasca drummer Wiley Koepp loads in gear before the band’s performance on the Blackheart’s final night, Sunday, April 29, 2018. Blackheart co-owner Jeremy Murray is at right. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman.

I didn’t stay till the end, as there was another adieu to bid across the river at the Continental Gallery — which thankfully isn’t going away, but it is going to close on Sundays beginning next month. That means no more Sunday nights there with Jon Dee Graham’s ever-evolving Lo Jinx Orchestra, who closed this final chapter with a wonderful rendition of his song “Airplane.” Aboard for that final flight were his son William Harries Graham and Amy Cook on guitar, Andrew Duplantis on bass and Mike Meadows on drums, with Abra Moore’s haunting vocal swirls soaring above it all at stage right.

The good news: As the song ended, Graham informed the crowd that Lo Jinx would now be playing every Sunday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at El Mercado Backstage. As always, Austin keeps changing. But it’s not all going away.

The backyard of the Blackheart on its final day, Sunday, April 29, 2018. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

SXSW Saturday: Here’s a toast to the locals on the last day of the fest

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Once the roaring apex of a music-marathon long weekend, the final Saturday at South by Southwest has changed dramatically from the early years. Now it’s the fading denouement for a near-fortnight of tech, film, politics, media, style, gaming, social issues… and, oh yeah, there’s music in there somewhere.

No matter. If out-of-town SXSW attendees are increasingly arriving and leaving early, Saturday still leaves a lot of options for the locals. A final free show at Auditorium Shores was built like a home-team showcase, with Roky Erickson, Shinyribs, A Giant Dog, Night Drive and Bidi Bidi Banda. But we opted for a half-dozen of the countless smaller gigs around town, some directly related to SXSW and others that weren’t. Watch the video above to follow along on our day-to-night tour, but here’s a little more about each stop.

2 p.m.: John Doe Folk Trio at Lucy’s Fried Chicken. Wait, the guy from X? Yes, the Los Angeles punk pioneer now calls Austin home, and he’s even started a new band to mark the occasion. It’s a damn good one, too, with Willie Nelson’s bassist Kevin Smith playing an acoustic upright, and veteran indie-rock drummer Cully Symington on a bare-bones kit. Lucy’s was packed to hear Doe’s still-soaring voice adapt songs from the X catalog to pared-down arrangements, with newer tunes and surprises as well (such as a Spanish-language tune he learned from the late Harry Dean Stanton). Welcome, Mr. Doe, the Live Music Capital is lucky to have you.

5:30 p.m.: Ed Miller & Rich Brotherton at Opal Divine’s South. Speaking of people (and places) we’re lucky to have, this duo has been helping local institution Opal Divine’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day for nearly three decades now. Opal’s recently closed its Penn Field location, but they’ve opened a new South Austin spot in the bar of the Best Western Plus at I-35 and Oltorf. Following the grand-parade entrance of the Silver Thistle Pipe & Drum Corps, Miller — host of Sun Radio’s terrific “Across the Pond” show focusing on music from the British Isles — teamed up with Robert Earl Keen guitarist Brotherton for a lovely set of traditional folk tunes that went down just right with a pint of Guinness.

8 p.m.: Jaimee Harris at Driskill Victorian Room. Back on the official SXSW grid for evening showcases, we began with one of Austin’s most promising young singer-songwriters, who’s finally on the cusp of releasing a debut album that may well turn heads far beyond the region. Backed by five talented players who’ve locked in tightly to her songs thanks to valuable woodshedding at One-2-One Bar, Harris came across like a tour de force — sometimes full-throttle, other times pin-drop hushed, always engaging and leading with her innate sense of a strong melody. Honoring a recently departed young Austin musician with a sign on her guitar and speaking out in support of local organizations HAAM and the SIMS Foundation, Harris eloquently addressed the serious stuff by with a cover of Peter Case’s late-’80s classic “Put Down the Gun.”

Little Mazarn performs at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room during SXSW on Saturday, March 17, 2018. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

9 p.m.: Little Mazarn at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room. Trawling the two blocks down Sixth Street for this one was an arduous ordeal of dodging barricades and masses of partiers, but the reward was an upstairs hideaway where Lindsey Verrill and Jeff Johnston were playing some of the most fascinating music I heard all week. Thumping bass vibrations drifted up from the cacophony below, a surreal juxtaposition to the duo’s otherworldly blend of banjo, bowed saw, droning keyboards and Verrill’s vocals. The space was perfect, a small open room lined with the most comfortable chairs at any SXSW venue. Little Mazarn’s set was a perfect bookend to Monday’s Max Richter “Sleep” show at Bass Concert Hall: How grand it would have been just to line the whole room with Beautyrests and let these two play for eight hours straight as we drifted in and out of consciousness/reverie.

READ MORE: Our review of Little Mazarn’s recent self-titled EP

10 p.m.: Monte Warden & the Dangerous Few at Elephant Room. We almost didn’t want to leave that Gibson Room escapist fantasy, but a few blocks away, country mainstay Warden and his new pop-jazz ensemble were making their Elephant Room debut. Fixtures at the Continental Gallery for a couple of years now, they’ve honed their chops with a fine set of songs that Warden boasted makes them “the world’s only all-original-material cocktail music band!” The crowd gave them a boisterous stamp of approval at the end of their 40-minute set. Now it’s just a matter of how and when these songs will appear in recorded form.

READ MORE: Monte Warden makes classic crooner pop fresh again

11 p.m.: Knife in the Water at Lamberts. The recent resurgence of this atmospheric indie band, which last year released its first new record in 14 years, has been a nice surprise. A five-piece ensemble that supplements a guitar-bass-drums core with female backing vocals and steel guitar, Knife in the Water gradually pulls you in. Their set started unassumingly, amid chatter in the upstairs room above the venue’s barbecue restaurant. But the more they played, the more entrancing their songs became. It’s good to have them back in action.

A Postscript: Our Saturday finale didn’t fit the local theme (except that he has a memoir due out on University of Texas Press next month) but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the gorgeous acoustic chamber-folk performance North Carolina’s Chris Stamey presented at the Driskill Victorian Room at midnight. Known largely as a producer and arranger — he was the music director for Alejandro Escovedo’s annual ACL Live show this past January — Stamey has written many splendid songs across a 40-year career that intertwined with the heyday of New York’s legendary CBGB club in the 1970s. (Stamey took part in a Friday SXSW panel about the CBGB scene alongside the Talking Heads’ Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, Television’s Richard Lloyd and others.)

Neatly sidestepping technical problems with his acoustic guitar, Stamey and his locally recruited cello/violin accompaniment wove magical spells with songs such as “Something Came Over Me,” “Lovesick Blues” and “27 Years in a Single Day.” Like Little Mazarn’s set earlier, it was a sweet moment of enchantment, right there in the heart of the cacophony.

One Night in Austin: Training for South by Southwest on a busy February night

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South by Southwest is just around the corner, and for many Austinites that means a series of serpentine dashes between venues to cram in as much music as possible from the smorgasbord that overtakes the city’s streets in mid-March. Spotting an unusually busy Saturday evening in February, we decided to get in shape for the big event with a mini-SXSW-type adventure.

The goal here wasn’t necessarily to try to see everything, nor was it a stay-out-all-night proposition: We caught about a half-dozen events between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., thus returning home by a quite reasonable hour. We got a little video at each stop (see above). Most of the action was downtown, with one outlier on the way home. Here’s how it went:

7 p.m.: Shinyribs “Austin City Limits” viewing party at the Mohawk. Kevin Russell’s big band o’ musical gumbo taped the renowned TV program in October, and to celebrate its PBS debut on Saturday night, they threw a shindig that started with a live screening of the episode as it aired on local station KLRU. Screens were set up both outside, where fans cheered on Russell’s stage antics in the cold, and inside, where a fireplace added extra warmth and ambience. Most revelers hung around for the band’s live performance that followed the viewing. But we were in SXSW training! So it was off to the next stop…

8 p.m.: Jerry David DeCicca at Beerland. We had to squeeze past a line that was wrapped around the block of Wild Child fans hoping to get in to the local indie-folk group’s free record-release show at Empire, but our destination was this Red River dive that’s usually a haven for punk rock bands. For this early evening show, the vibe was very different: DeCicca, who lives in the Hill Country town of Bulverde, was celebrating the release of “Time the Teacher,” a wondrously minimalist record. He delivered the songs with quiet beauty, backed by Eve Searls on piano and Don Cento on guitar. It was a good reminder that during SXSW, it’s often worth skipping the big lines and seeking out the hidden gems instead.

Jerry David DeCicca with keyboardist Eve Searls and guitarist Don Cento at Beerland on Saturday, February 10, 2018. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

8:30 p.m.: Delbert McClinton with Red Young & His Hot Horns at the Paramount Theatre. We’re fudging the reality of time a little bit here, because in fact we actually headed over to the Paramount before DeCicca’s show, hoping to catch a little of McClinton first. Turns out there was an opener, and a fine one at that: Keyboardist Young and his five-piece horn section play regularly on Thursdays at Antone’s, but they sounded great in the historic theater.

After dashing back to Beerland for some of DeCicca’s show, we returned to the Paramount just in time to find not only McClinton, but guitar great Jimmie Vaughan onstage. Delbert invited his longtime friend up for a couple of deep blues tunes, and it was clear from their embrace at the end that both were treasuring the moment. Like me, Vaughan had another gig to go to, though his destination was different than mine: On my way out the door, I heard Delbert tell the crowd, “Later on after this show, we’re all going to C-Boy’s!” It appears I wasn’t the only one in SXSW training.

9 p.m.: Phoebe Bridgers at Antone’s. The kind folks at the home of the blues allowed me to duck in for a brief glimpse of this decidedly non-bluesy sold-out show. Bridgers, from Los Angeles, is a fast-rising young singer-songwriter whose music, she suggested, could be called “folkcore. That might be my genre; I’m not sure yet.” Whatever it was, the few songs I heard were mesmerizing, and made me wish I could stay. I pressed on to fit in my full agenda, but it was another good lesson for SXSW: Sometimes the best thing to do is let the FOMO slide and just soak in the moment of something great, when you find it.

9:40 p.m.: Little Mazarn at ABGB. This one meant getting back in the car, and the drive-time between venues resulted in catching a lot less of Stephanie Macias’s band, who were playing the songs of 1990s mood-masters Mazzy Star on this night. Musically it was a great segue from Bridgers, whose songs cast a similar melodic spell. The down side: We arrived only in time for the last song. The up side: That song was “Fade Into You,” easily the best thing Mazzy Star ever did. The room was a bit noisy for a moment of such hushed reverie, but Macias and her band still struck the mood perfectly, leaving me to hope there would be another chance to hear them do the full set sometime.

A footnote: It seems “Fade Into You” is in the midst of a revival of sorts. Local singer-songwriter Jonathan Terrell recently recorded a stunning version of the tune with guitarist Tony Foster of the English band Spiritualized. It’s pretty special, and it’s on Spotify now:

One Night, By the Numbers: As with most SXSW nights out, this one was more about walking than driving. All told, I covered about 2 miles on the ground before hopping in the car for the 2.6-mile drive from downtown to ABGB. Admission charges: Mohawk $17-$20, Beerland free, Paramount $28-$63, ABGB free. (Not sure how much tickets were to the sold-out Phoebe Bridgers show.)

‘A great night to be in Austin’: Labor Day in the Live Music Capital

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It was nearing midnight on Monday at the Continental Club, and a friend whose evening itinerary had coincidentally overlapped a bit with mine shared a thought: “It’s a great night to be in Austin.” That’s exactly what was on my mind, too.

For music fans across town, Monday felt like one of those days when we totally lived up to our Live Music Capital of the World reputation. For me, it started well before sundown, when Patty Griffin packed the house at Waterloo Records for a 5 p.m. in-store performance benefiting the American Red Cross and its Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

Patty Griffin packed Waterloo Records on Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, for a Hurricane Harvey benefit. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

Performing with guitarist David Pulkingham plus Michael Ramos on accordion, Griffin played an emotional 45-minute set that included a couple of especially poignant numbers: her own 2002 song “Rain,” and a cover of Bessie Smith’s 1927 song “Backwater Blues” about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.

Waterloo presents another fundraiser on Tuesday, this one benefiting the Austin Food Bank and featuring Israel Nash, Matthew Logan Vasquez and Folk Uke (5 p.m., $20 suggested donation). They’ll get back to their regular in-store schedule on Wednesday with an appearance by Dallas band Texas Gentlemen, whose auspicious debut is out this week on New West Records.

For Folk Uke, Tuesday’s show will be their second hurricane benefit in as many days. They played on Monday evening at Threadgill’s, a last-minute-announced event that was among fundraisers seemingly popping up like mushrooms over the weekend. Singer-songwriter Jaimee Harris, who attended Griffin’s show at Waterloo, was on her way to to play another benefit Monday evening at Lemon Lounge.

RELATED: Austin stands with Houston: Scenes from weekend Hurricane Harvey benefits

Beyond the benefits, plenty of previously scheduled shows dotted the downtown landscape. At Antone’s, Derek O’Brien and his Blue Monday crew were backing up legendary Nashville songwriter Gary Nicholson, who’s lately been donning an all-white suit for alter-ego “Whitey Johnson” gigs that lean more toward his blues interests than the chart-toppers he’s written for countless country stars over the decades.

A healthy crowd that included Austin treasure Marcia Ball heard Nicholson tell a few tall tales, including one about going camping with George Strait that may have just been a long setup for a punchline. On the other hand, Nicholson certainly travels in circles close to the likes of Strait and Willie Nelson, whose new album includes Nicholson’s beautiful tribute to Merle Haggard, “He Won’t Ever Be Gone.”

A little later, on the indoor stage at Stubb’s a few blocks away, the new 60 percent Texan lineup of North Carolina band American Aquarium made its Austin debut to a sold-out crowd. Opener Matthew Ryan’s excellent 45-minute set reminded why he’s been one of the best rock singer-songwriters of the past two decades.

American Aquarium at Stubb’s on Monday, Sept. 4, 2017. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

He’s a tough act to follow, but American Aquarium leader BJ Barham was up to it, playing tunes from a decade’s worth of albums with a solid new ensemble that includes Austinites Joey Bybee on drums and Shane Boeker on guitar. This was just the fifth show for the new lineup; they’d played a pickup gig in San Angelo on Sunday after a planned Houston concert was canceled amid hurricane recovery efforts. They’ll wrap up their string of Texas shows at Gruene Hall on Saturday.

RELATED: American Aquarium’s BJ Barham played the summer tour of a lifetime

Making a final stop at the Continental Club is almost always worth it. Some in the crowd arrived there from other previous stops: Local musician/soundman Paul Minor shared impressive scenes from the sold-out Thee Oh Sees show on the patio at Hotel Vegas. But the Continental provided a perfect finale, as local hero Charlie Sexton was holding forth with a killer band featuring drummer JJ Johnson, keyboardist Bukka Allen and bassist John Michael.

When he’s not on tour playing guitar with Bob Dylan, Sexton occasionally pops up around town sitting in with other artists, and he’s often called upon to act as musical director for special shows. (Coming up on his docket: tributes to journalist Margaret Moser and bassist George Reiff, details TBA.)

But this night served as a much-needed reminder that it’s worth hearing Sexton play his own music whenever the opportunity arises. “Charlie’s voice sounds great,” affirmed no less an authority than Bay Area rocker Chuck Prophet, chiming in via Facebook after viewing a posted video.

Mostly it was the spirit Sexton and his band conjured onstage that made this nightcap special. By the end, when Sexton had switched to a second keyboard alongside Allen for the final two songs, the legs were literally coming off — two members of the crowd, one of whom just happened to be noted Texas country star Jack Ingram, jumped onstage to hold Sexton’s keyboard stand together when it started to collapse beneath him. Charlie didn’t miss a beat, smiling and singing and thanking his helpers profusely when it was done. It was a great night to be in Austin.

Charlie Sexton, with a little help from his friends at the Continental Club on Monday, Sept. 4, 2017. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

One Night in Austin: MVP, young upstarts, old favorites and more

We featured both the new group Milligan Vaughan Project and longtime troubadour Ray Wylie Hubbard in this week’s American-Statesman, and it happened that both were performing at iconic Austin locations on Thursday. We added stops at a few more local hotspots on the south side of town to spontaneously revisit our “One Night in Austin” series with a late-afternoon/early-evening tour that wrapped up just after sunset. A bonus: All six of these shows had no cover charge.

5 p.m.: Milligan Vaughan Project at Waterloo Records. Singer Malford Milligan and guitarist Tyrone Vaughan, joined by their three-piece backing crew, treated a sizable crowd of after-work blues fans to a blazing half-hour set of songs from their debut album “MVP.” Catch these guys while they’re hot, and before they start hitting the road for national and international tours. Upcoming shows include Aug. 13 at Ernie’s on the Lake and Aug. 18 at Threadgill’s.

READ MORE: Malford Milligan and Tyrone Vaughan team up for a double-shot of blues

6 p.m.: Leddy Bragg at the Broken Spoke. A teenager from the small town of Graham near Wichita Falls, Bragg has been making regular trips to Austin lately, including this month’s run of Thursday early shows in the front room of the famed South Austin honky-tonk. She’s mainly covering country classics at this point, but she has a pleasant voice, and her “Somethin’ to Bragg About Band” is well, named, with a couple of ringers in former Don Walser fiddler Howard Kalish and deep-resume pedal steel guitarist Herb Steiner fleshing out the melodies. An early snag with the vocal mix eventually was sorted out, with those ace players helping to carry the music along in the meantime.

RELATED: 50 years later, the Broken Spoke still stands

Whitney Rose and band at the Continental Club on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

6:45 p.m.: Whitney Rose at the Continental Club. Mentioning that she’s near the two-year mark of her move from Canada to Austin for a Thursday residency at the city’s top roots-music venue, Rose explained how a short-term plan became a long-term reality: “I thought it was only going to be two months, but then I couldn’t leave.” That’s Canada’s loss and Austin’s gain.

A gifted singer, Rose has improved by leaps and bounds since somewhat tentative shows after she first arrived. She’s also hooked up with a great four-piece backing band including guitarist William Meadows (who doubled on pedal steel), guitarist Mike Molnar, bassist Andrew Pacheco and drummer Chris Sensat. Covers of Lucinda Williams’ “Changed the Locks” and Delbert McClinton’s “Two More Bottles of Wine” spiced up the set, but Rose’s own material stands out. She has a new record coming in October.

7:30 p.m.: Armadillo All-Stars at Threadgill’s. A low-key new Thursday fixture at Eddie Wilson’s restaurant that partly occupies the former site of Armadillo World Headquarters is this assemblage of young local players that’s designed to echo the days when groups such as Greezy Wheels and Balcones Fault frequented the Armadillo in the 1970s. Bassist Kris Wade leads a cast that on this night included songwriters Grant Johnson, Wilson Marks and Jacob Jaeger mixing originals with covers such as Bob Dylan’s “Isis” and Cream’s “Politician.”

RELATED: Eddie Wilson delivers the definitive history of the Armadillo World Headquarters

8:15 p.m.: Ray Wylie Hubbard at Shady Grove. KGSR’s “Unplugged at the Grove” series regularly attracts top talent to the spacious patio at the Barton Springs Road restaurant every Thursday in the spring and summer. Hubbard, a favorite of many Texas music fans since the 1970s, drew a huge crowd, no doubt there to hear him sing the likes of “Snake Farm” and “Drunken Poet’s Dream” (both of which he played early on).

The “Unplugged” series is in some ways a victim of its own success: So many people show up that the music can be hard to hear over constant crowd chatter. The event becomes more of an Austin-place-to-be than a quality listening experience, which can be frustrating if you’re there specifically to hear the performer. Hubbard took it all in stride, of course, providing colorful introductions to older favorites as well as “God Looked Down” from his upcoming album “Tell the Devil I’m Gettin’ There As Fast As I Can.” He’s at Waterloo Records on Aug. 15.

READ MORE: Ray Wylie Hubbard tackles Lucifer, God and more on new record

9:15 p.m.: Erik Hokkanen at Radio Coffee and Beer. Hokkanen exemplifies the many world-class players who often get taken for granted amid Austin’s deep well of musical talent. I hadn’t seen him in years, perhaps decades, but it took no more than a couple songs of him holding forth on fiddle and guitar to be reminded of what a joy it is to hear him play.

Judging from the healthy crowd at the small but very inviting South Austin venue, plenty of Austinites thankfully don’t take him for granted; it appears many music fans are hip to the magic of Hokkanen’s regular Thursday gig. Performing with a guitarist and an upright bassist, he provided a perfect capper to a club-hopping run that was finished by 10 p.m., even as the music continued on into the night at Radio and many of the other spots we visited earlier.

One Night Extras: 10.3 total miles driven from stop 1 to stop 6 (not counting to/from office/home). A quick stop at Home Slice on South Congress made for a fine and dandy quick dinner at the midway point. And a quality listening accompaniment in the car between stops was Chris Fullerton’s “Epilepsy Blues,” released this week on local label Eight 30 Records. We’ll have more on the album later today in our Austin360 On The Record roundup.

READ MORE: Check out previous episodes of our “One Night in Austin” video blog series




One Night in Austin: Americana adventures in the summer heat

We wrapped up our yearlong “One Night” series back in March, after checking out dozens of local acts on monthly smorgasbord tours of Austin music hot spots large and small. Occasional revisitations of the theme will happen, and here’s one: Friday night, great shows at two very different venues offered an ideal sampler of top local Americana talent.

READ MORE: What’s live music in Austin like? A “One Night” recap

At Hogg Auditorium on the University of Texas campus, KUTX held its “Summer Set” concert with singer-songwriters John Fullbright and David Ramirez plus the father-son team of Kevin Welch and Dustin Welch. Sharing the stage for the full two-and-a-half-hour show, the four musicians performed guitar-pull style down the line, each taking turns while some jumped in to accompany others from time to time.

Both Kevin and Dustin performed songs of their own, usually accompanying the other, and for one number they brought out a special guest. Savannah Welch, who lost a leg in a freak accident at the Wimberley farmers’ market last fall, joined in for Kevin’s song “When the Sun Shines Down on Me.” Introducing the song, Welch noted he’s been playing it recently because it was a song he once heard the late Jimmy LaFave sing.

The memory of LaFave, who died last month after a nearly yearlong battle with cancer, was on the minds of many. Fullbright, who lives in Oklahoma butvisits Austin regularly, dedicated a beautiful piano ballad called “I’ve Seen Stars Before” to LaFave and George Reiff, the renowned Austin bassist who died on the same day as LaFave.

Ramirez, a rising-star on the indie-folk scene, mentioned that he’d only just met most of his stage-mates earlier today. Playing some songs from a record due out this fall, he noted that when he moved to Austin nine years ago, UT campus institutions such as KUT and the Cactus Cafe were among the first to give him a chance. “So thanks,” he concluded, “for giving a guy who was new in town the old college try.”

Jonathan Terrell and his band perform at the White Horse on Friday, June 23, 2017. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

Twilight had turned to darkness when the show ended at 10 p.m, but over on the east side the music was just getting started on a sweltering night at the White Horse. Austin’s hippest honky-tonk had booked arguably the three best alt-country acts in town right now for a dynamite triple bill: Harvest Thieves, Jonathan Terrell and Croy & the Boys. The first and last of those three both had turns as Austin360 Artist of the Month last year.

READ MORE: Austin360 Artists of the Month for 2016

Croy & the Boys opened, packing the set with memorable tunes from their debut album “Hey Come Back” while adding a couple of smartly chosen covers from George Jones and Arthur Alexander that kept the crowded dance floor swinging.

Croy & the Boys at the White Horse on Friday, June 23, 2017. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

Terrell and his band have been on fire lately, and Friday night was no exception to that. A veteran Austin musician with hard-rock cred from his work with Not in the Face, who almost broke through to the big time a few years ago, Terrell has proven to be an ace songwriter of country material that could cross over into indie-rock. Tunes from his latest EP “Color Me Lucky” stood out, though he also dropped in a couple of great covers with John Anderson’s “Seminole Wind” and Elvis’s “Little Sister” (done up Dwight Yoakam style).

Harvest Thieves took the stage well past midnight, but the White House crowd was still buzzing and dancing. Songs from last year’s debut album “Rival” attested to their stature as one of the city’s most tuneful bands in both indie and roots genres. And like their predecessors on the bill, they understand the crowd-pleasing value of a sharp cover song, serving up Uncle Tupelo’s “New Madrid” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” in the first half of their set.

Harvest Thieves at the White Horse on Friday, June 23, 2017. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

We headed out just past 1 a.m., with the band still playing, the dancers still dancing, and the sweat still rising from the east side streets. The temperature had hit 102 earlier that afternoon, but some of the hottest action in Austin still occurs after the sun goes down.

Outside patio at the White Horse on June 23, 2017. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

One Night in March, the grand finale: Music in Austin is a true gift, on any given evening

When we began this series in 2016 with “One Night in April,” the goal was to visit at least six Austin music venues in a single night once a month for a full year. Mission accomplished. For the grand finale, we went into overtime, checking out shows at eight different spots around town, from north to south to downtown and beyond.

5:15 p.m.: Lili Blessing at Waterloo Records. Celebrating her debut album “Lifeline,” Blessing continued a whirlwind of release-week activity that included morning shows on KEYE-TV and KUTX radio by performing four songs at the city’s landmark record store.

READ MORE: Review of Lili Blessing’s debut and other recent local releases

Accompanied by guitarist Lev Baker, Blessing chose three songs from her album plus a newly written tune called “You Can’t Divide Us” that addresses the current political climate. At 20, Blessing is still finding her way onstage, performing only as a singer without playing an instrument. Her four-song mini-set felt perhaps a bit too short; “Lifeline” is a spectacular first record, with highlights such as “Submarine,” “Salvador” and “Gravity” begging to be heard.

Barbara Nesbitt and band perform at the Saxon Pub on Wednesday, March 29, 2016. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

6:15 p.m.: Barbara Nesbitt at Saxon Pub. Formerly of rootsy rock band the Whiskey Sisters, Nesbitt struck out on her own a couple of years ago and has worked up a solid set of original material that leans more toward country and pop. She and her four-piece backing crew also threw in a thoroughly enjoyable bluegrass tune at the end, with fiddler Eddie Dickerson stepping up for a duet vocal.

“It’s really good,” someone in the crowd remarked about the music early in the happy-hour set, prompting a great comeback from Nesbitt: “Why are you so (expletive) surprised?” One of Nesbitt’s strengths as a performer is her repartee with the audience. She gently cajoled them to make use of the tip jar when a fan dropped in a couple of bills: “She’s showing y’all how it works.” And at the end of the first set, she deadpanned, “We’re going to take a 5-minute break that’ll probably last 11 minutes.”

Noel McKay and pianist Dan Walton perform at the original Threadgill’s on North Lamar on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

7:15 p.m.: Noel McKay at Threadgill’s North. Working this one into the itinerary seemed a stretch, given the long distance from the Saxon’s South Lamar environs to the far-North Lamar location of the original Threadgill’s. But good fortune weighed in: Rush-hour traffic had abated, and the drive took less than 20 minutes.

The reward was probably the best overall musical experience of the night, at a venue that really needed to be included in this series. One of Austin’s oldest restaurants, Threadgill’s boasts a musical legacy that includes some of the first public performances of Janis Joplin in the 1960s, as well as the heyday of Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Champ Hood’s “Sittin’ & Singin’ & Supper” Wednesdays series in the ’80s and ’90s.

Performances still happen on Wednesdays, and this one was a gem. McKay, accompanied by pianist Dan Walton, churned out one great song after another, from co-writes with Shawn Camp and Richard Dobson to a sterling cover of the late Guy Clark’s “My Favorite Picture of You.” Mentioning that he’s taking part in next weekend’s Guy Clark tribute at the Paramount, McKay humbly suggested that compared to others on the star-studded bill, “I’m the least famous of them by a long shot.” Perhaps, but hearing McKay play on this night, it was easy to see why Clark counted McKay among his friends and peers.

RELATED: Rodney Crowell, Joe Ely and more to play Guy Clark tribute at Paramount

8:30 p.m.: Tony Kamel at Cactus Cafe. A late add to a songwriters bill featuring former Austinite Anthony Da Costa and native Texan Emily Elbert, Kamel was an ace in the hole. As leader of local outfit Wood & Wire, Kamel has played a key role in strengthening the presence of bluegrass in Austin’s music scene.

He played just four songs in this cameo opening set, but he set a wonderful tone for the night. Going back and forth between guitar and banjo, Kamel showed his instrumental versatility while hitting the high lonesome vocal notes that are a hallmark of class-act bluegrass singers. And if he was a ringer on the bill, he also seemed just happy to be at the Cactus: “It always means a great deal to me to play this stage,” Kamel said sincerely before his final number.

9:20 p.m.: Jeff Lofton at Four Seasons. The riverfront luxury hotel doesn’t have the reputation for live music in its lobby bar that the historic Driskill has built up over decades. But the recent addition of a Wednesday residency with jazz trumpeter Jeff Lofton is a welcome addition.

We caught the second set of Lofton’s 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. performance with piano accompanist Damian Garcia. If some in the comfortably outfitted space were there mostly for conversation with background music tucked into the shadows, Lofton and Garcia also rewarded those there for a closer listen, touching upon classics such as “Comes Love” or “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and creatively taking them to faraway levels of the jazz universe.

RELATED: Jeff Lofton’s 2016 holiday video in the American-Statesman studio

9:50 p.m.: Christy Hays at the Blackheart. It’s a short walk of a few blocks from the Four Seasons to Rainey Street, where the Blackheart has for years been the primary champion of quality music in a district that’s largely overrun with hipster watering holes. The bar has a larger stage outside in back, but on many nights (including this one), the music happens up-front in a dark but warm room.

Hays recently left Austin but returns regularly, and she’s kept up ties with songwriters such as Bruce Robison, who recorded her tune “Lake of Fire” on his upcoming record. It was one of several first-rate new songs Hays performed, mentioning that she hopes to record them in May on a new full-length album. Judging from this set, that’ll be a record well worth hearing.

Suzanna Choffel performs at Geraldine’s on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

10:15 p.m.: Suzanna Choffel at Geraldine’s. Normally we end the “One Night” series after six stops, but this addition was too easy, and too good. Just around the corner from the Blackheart, on the fourth floor of the Hotel Van Zandt, is Geraldine’s. One of the most valuable additions to the Austin music scene in the past couple of years, the bar and restaurant features local performers six nights a week plus a Sunday jazz brunch.

RELATED: Geraldine’s elevates live music on Rainey Street

Choffel, a longtime Austin singer-songwriter and veteran of NBC’s “The Voice,” has a new album coming out in May. Performing solo on electric guitar, she mixed newer tunes with smart covers such as Willie Nelson’s “I Never Cared for You,” as well as older originals (including a memorable one she said she’d never recorded). For a bonus addition to the night’s itinerary, this one was well worth it. And it might have been a great closer, but…

11 p.m.: Jon Dee Graham at Continental Club. The drive home took us right by the beating heart of Austin music, where one of the club’s finest residencies, Graham’s Wednesday show with his ace three-piece rock ‘n’ roll band, was in full swing. Who were we to pass that up?

A recent discussion with a well-traveled national musician in the Continental’s back room touched on this question: If Austin is in fact the Live Music Capital of the World, might it also stand to reason that we’re home to the Best Club in the World? Both of us concurred that the Continental is probably deserving of such a designation. And its heart is the residencies, from Wednesdays with Graham and James McMurtry (who was away on this night) to Toni Price’s quarter-century-running “Hippie Hour” on Tuesdays, to Dale Watson’s honky-tonk haven on Mondays, among several others both downstairs and in the smaller upstairs Continental Gallery space.

En route to the Continental on this night, we witnessed a building at 1011 South Congress literally being towed off its lot and down the street, part of a SoCo reshaping that also recently saw the demolition of Doc’s sports bar. Change is inevitable. But if the Continental ever goes, it’s over. It’s the best we’ve got. And it was the perfect place to end this yearlong series, with Graham and his band boisterously singing the Mexican standard “Volver.” Yes, we will return.

John Dee Graham and band perform at the Continental Club on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Peter Blackstock/American-Statesman

One Night, By the Numbers: 14.9 miles driven (from Point 1 to Point 8, not including to and from home; stops 5-6-7 all were in walking distance of each other). $1 spent on street parking (a meter near Waterloo, before 6 p.m.). Admission charges: Free at Waterloo, Saxon Pub, Threadgill’s North, Four Seasons, Blackheart and Geraldine’s (with tips accepted at most places). $12-$15 at Cactus Cafe; $8 at Continental Club.

MORE: Check out all previous installments of our “One Night In” series