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Kudzu appears to be creeping well over the Louisiana/Texas state line. Onward we drove through the swamps of east Texas, speculating on how long the endless I-10 bridges over alligators and turtles might last before Nature pulls them under. Darkness reminded us of our possibly out of reach downbeat as we cut northwest through La Grange. The outskirts of Austin finally greeted us.

We pulled up at the Hole in the Wall at 10:20pm, just a few minutes late. We piled out of the Yukon dazed and disoriented, were greeted by L.A. expatriates Gil T., Johnny Fargo, Laura I, Laura II and Todd, and Lacques brother Peter and his sweetheart Dr. Dana. We unloaded and set up quickly and gradually sunk our feet into Texas one song at a time. A grand time was had by all, two sets including an epic Humboldt. Stony steel guitarist Gary Newcomb (from Lil Capn Travis, more about them later) strolled by the club, came in and dug some tunes. Very cool club and we’re coming back soon. A late night of migas and other local cuisine at Kerby Lane, and the Hawks headed to the Holiday Inn and Dr. Dana’s graceful creekside Austin abode, to sleep perchance to dream.Next day was a free day. God knows what Rob and Paul M. did at the Holiday Inn, something involving herbally enhanced chocolate sludge. Shawn and Paul L. went down to the river with Dana and Pete at Red Bud park, paddling around in the shore waters. Dana and Pete decided to swim across the river, a 75 yard dash against a strong current. Caught up in the enthusiasm, Paul L. plunged in with them, and 2/3 of the way across realized he’s not exactly an Olympic caliber freestylist, and paused to catch his breath. The current dragged him downstream with impressive speed, to where the river opened up another hundred yards in width. Okay. No swimming back to the shore of departure. Noting Shawn’s helpless and quietly panicked expression on the distant shore, Paul briefly considered the public embarrassment of drowning in a municipal park, then flipped on his back and struggled to the far shore, the welcome sight of overhead branches signaling his reprieve from the meeting with the Maker.

Dana lent Paul her sandals, swimming back across with Pete, and retired swimmer Paul stumbled and cursed through native Austin Cliffside foliage, destination the distant highway bridge. A shortcut through eerie UT student housing lawnage, the shrieks of distant children at play wafting through the air, led semi-naked Paul, doing his best non-pervert imitation, to the highway. A sense of triumph took over, as cheating death usually does, and Paul’s step was downright jaunty as he rejoined his shoreline friends.The band and friends dined that evening at a legendary Austin eatery, which gets a

I, Chihuahua is a nouvelle TexMex joint opened by Doug Sahm and Roky Erickson of the 13th Floor Elevators in the mid-1970s. Buddy Holly’s eyeglasses and left femur are on display in a glass case, and a dobro signed by virtually all of Texas music royalty circles the log cabin walls on a model train track. The bar is simulation of the Brazos river, where giant beer schooners are floated downstream to the barstool sitters. A Ralph Nader video loops constantly (on Tuesdays it’s Noam Chomsky, on Wednesdays Jim Hightower) on monitors embedded in Lyndon Johnson toilet seats, and a petting zoo with pigmy bison keeps the kids entertained. In an interesting twist, the beautiful waitresses wear heavy dresses made of Austin limestone slabs. The 7 page menu includes a calf slaughtered and smoked at your tableside, unwashed homefries still caked with red clay, jalapeno meringue pie, and defibrillator stations for the 72 ounce steak eaters. We chose to sit in the universal smoking section, where Our Lady of Guadalupe (pronounced “Guada-loop”) candles cut through the thick haze. No one remembers exactly what happened next, but all agree it was a place worth returning to.

Next morning the Hawks rendezvoused at KUT, where a big league engineer set up a great acoustic sound in the studio, and DJ Jeff did a brisk, pro interview (other than describing the song “I See Hawks In L.A.” as a refreshingly positive song about Los Angeles, check out the lyrics closely, homie).That night proved to be a memorable highlight to the tour. The Hawks did an acoustic set to a music lover audience in the legendary Cactus Café on the UT campus, hallowed ground where Townes Van Zandt and Ralph Stanley posters gaze down like Emperor Constantine. Sound man Jeff (no relation) knows what he’s doing, and we reveled in the sweet acoustic sound. Wise booker Griff has put together another fine combination of bands at the Cactus. Quirky nouveau-waver Jerm Pollet followed with a tightly arranged and damn funny inwardly pointing shoes Elvis Costello homage, with a drummer Stacy looking on from her throne like a bemused aunt at the Jerm antics. Li’l Cap’n Travis then took and commanded the stage with a truly psychedelic country rock set, and the Hawks knew we’d found another musical ally for the slow but relentless assault on the Nashville death star: rich harmonies, sprawling arrangements, spacey and super creative steel and guitar, and low key humor throughout. LCT is a force to be reckoned with. Floating into the Austin balmy late night air (uncharacteristic norther cold front) on a spiritual lake of Shiner Bock, the Hawks returned to their abodes.
Rob’s fucking with my cell phone infrastructure, how’d he get in so fast.

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  • Peter August 18, 2004, 2:10 pm

    Two great shows in Austin – electric and acoustic – nice switch hitting.

    Many thanks to Pat Cosgrove for making the Austin shows happen.

    Other personal highlights, besides Paul NOT drowning — Brother Paul L.’s spirtied yet yet respectfull debate with a John Kerry fundraiser (in a wheelchair, no less) outside of Las Manitas (conveniently located on Congress & 2nd — great Tex-Mex breakfast served until 11:30 – try the Migas con Hongos), wherein the Kerry fundraiser basically admitted that there was really no reason to vote for Kerry other than he was not Bush. Classic Paul . . . Renting “Beyond the Valley of The Dolls” for a fantastic cameo of Paul Marshall and the Strawberry Alarm Clock . . . and by far, the most forgiving August weather ever experienced in Austin.

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