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Deep in the Heart of Texas

Here comes the summer again. School will be out in a few weeks, and 'tis the season for touring. As a working mama, the summer months provide an opportunity for me to pursue music in a way that's simply not possible the rest of the year. This summer I'll be joined again by one of my best friends, and fellow singer/songwriters, Rheanna Downey (, for a week-long trip to Texas.

Aside from airport layovers, the last time I was in Texas was eight years ago when I passed through the northern panhandle en route from VA to CA. I kept the windows up and the car a/c cranked, but for a brief 30 seconds, to feel the hair dryer heat on my fingertips, for novelty's sake. The last time before that, I was three, living in the basement of a pottery shop in Austin with my quazi-hippie parents and 5 year-old brother, Neil.

Despite being so small, I believe I have the faintest of memories of a place with beautiful blue and green glass jars and vases lining a window sill as I walked down a flight of stairs, on a dusty hot day. Maybe I dreamed it, but I mentioned that fuzzy "memory" to my mom once, before I knew we lived in a pottery shop in Texas, and she said (surprised), "When we were in Austin, we lived in the basement of a pottery shop, and the little window along the top was lined with all kinds of colored glass bottles..."

Family legend also has it that my pre-sober, guitar-picking dad used to jam with Townes Van Zandt and a bunch of other local songwriters and drunks. Drinking and smoking who knows what, they shared original songs, and folked out together. Funny how I don't remember that part of my early Austin experience ---repressed much!?. :) Nah, doubtful mom allowed us anywhere near Townes or that motley crew. How I wish I could jam with them now!​ In any event, we didn't stay long, and I never have asked my parents why, though my best guess is that my mom, already pregnant with my younger brother, longed for the security of family, and wasn't thrilled with the vagabond lifestyle we were all, at that time, living.

The few stories, and the pottery shop memory (or dream, who knows?) have long influenced my feelings about Austin. I'm a little scared to have my perceptions of the magical place in my mind be altered in any way by new, adult experiences, but the city has been calling me for some time, and I guess it's time to respond. Everyone I speak to about Austin has something great to say. Apparently, the place is flooded with music...I have this vision of me walking around town, tunes trickling out of each bar and restaurant I pass... old hippies with thinning, long hair, faces as leathery as their beat-up cowboy boots, weighted down with RAD turquoise jewelry, meandering about...I imagine the place having not changed much since 1970. I'm probably wrong, but I hope not. I'm even a little afraid to google images! Ha.

Rheanna and I are still looking for gigs in Austin. Houston seems an easier town to book, as I hear musicians pay to play in Austin. Not this one, I can assure you. Not that I need to be paid, but if I can't find someone to provide a 3X5 square foot space, I'll gladly just listen. :) If you're reading this, and know of a great venue, and have some connections there, shoot me an email, will ya?


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