US Road Trip Epilog: 15th July 2005

There's not much choice of routes today, so it's 180 miles south on Interstate 35. Not the most interesting drive, and made worse by the heavy traffic on a dual carriageway that really should be three or four lanes wide in each direction. The Austin road system is as much of a nightmare as ever but we find the motel we'd pre-booked (a La Quinta, which is a first for me) without any problem.

6th Street in Austin
6th Street in Austin. In the evening it's blocked-off and full of people.

After a decent meal on 6th Street we return the few blocks to the motel for a rest before heading out for the evening. After my experiences last time in Austin (in a motel out of town and including one homicidal cab driver) it's nice to be in a downtown motel, even if it does mean paying a bit extra for the room.

In the evening we return to a very different scene. There are many bars with live music, and the streets are packed. Most of the live bands we find aren't up to much, including Forty Thieves at the Chuggin' Monkey (though that may just have been the terrible sound system and acoustics). I think that part of the reason that the streets and bars are so crowded is that there's a convention in town.

A convention, that is, of supermodels. If there's a city in the world with more beautiful women out on a Friday night then I've yet to find it.

The Eric Tessmer Band at Maggie Mae's
The Eric Tessmer Band at Maggie Mae's.

Eventually, at Maggie Mae's, we find some decent music (you really don't want to know about the Latino guy with a guitar in a previous place singing Billy Joel's Piano Man). The The Eric Tessmer Band are great. Their website may claim that they play Texan blues, but to my ears this is an old-fashioned power trio - along the lines of Cream or the Jimi Hendrix Experience - complete with a hotshot lead guitarist and a rhythm section that can adapt and follow his solos. It could be just the acoustics where we're perched, but it doesn't appear that any of them can sing to save their lives. Despite this they even manage a storming version of Voodoo Chile, including bits from Hey Joe. A very talented band, and the rest of the audience seem to appreciate them as much as we do.

In the early hours it's time to find our way back to the motel. On the way Alex get's talking to a bouncer at one of the clubs - a big black guy who looks like he'd sooner bite your head off than have a chat. Turns out he's a Londoner, here in Austin to shoot a film about Waco - which has lead to a run-in with the FBI - and a genuinely nice guy with a great sense of humour (even if he is an Arsenal fan). Never judge a book by its cover, as they say.

US Road Trip Epilog: 16th July 2005 >