Waking up in San Antonio means one thing and one thing only, Pancho & Gringos…oh yeah, and The Alamo. But it was Pancho & Gringos first. Over 100 years ago, it must have been an old grocery store or any business that this once-small Texas town needed in 1910. It had one of those beautiful old tin ceilings, painted red, buckled in places and looking down on the goings-on below for over a century. There were no renovations in turning it into a breakfast restaurant, which was of course its appeal. No trendy staff, paintings, wallpaper, or $18 avocados on toast. A friendly, talkative Mexican man told us to sit down before he came over to take our order and sat down with us on a backwards chair to do so, immediately telling us stories. After our order was taken, another man came who had so little English that my Spanish finally became useful. Other happenings today is the release of Salim’s album A Nuclear Winter, that’s all I’m going to say till you have gone to find it and engaged your ears. I co-produced it and play guitar on it, search it out.
We left with the taste of Mexican coke (real) and a taste of authenticity and headed to our next destination, The Alamo. I’ve been before, but it’s always something to see, this 300-year-old fortress with so much history, and in which we were so exposed to as kids with the Richard Widmark film where they portrayed the Mexicans as the baddies (like the injuns). So the storybook history of the place lingers (apparently Phil Collins is obsessed with it). There are bullet holes in the walls, a reminder of a violent past, as we reflect on our own violent times.
We were on the way to Austin where the good old days of “Keep Austin weird” are sadly fading as the corporate entities take over, the rent is pushing out the creative people as it did in New York, a city that’s a shadow of its former creative self. This is how it works, a run-down area, the artists make it cool, they open galleries and great cafés, sell better food and attract people from the outside until eventually it gets so popular that the business people sniff opportunity and subsequently destroy everything that was good about the place until it becomes an empty clinical version of its former self.
We were playing The Parish, a place that 20 years ago would have been packed but as we play what I call “old beat”, the young aren’t interested and the old stay home, leaving us nutters to flounder in between with the few ‘dedicateds’ that put the effort in to see us. Artist youth is an intoxicating model, and only those who have been substantially successful as young Turks can comfortably continue through the autumn years. In reality, even the passionate have aching knees and making their way to a venue/bar to stand for some hours through 100 degrees of heat is challenging.
We on the other hand think little of the struggle. We love what we do and we do our best to do the best we can. In his enthusiasm, Salim had already almost fallen off the stage, knocking over three microphone stands and landing on his back between the monitors under the astonished gaze of everyone in the room. He was up before you could say Keith Moon and we were off. The night turned into a great show (sessioneer Fred and Gerri Ann came). Buttercup were great and for the rest of the night, I stood at the front of the stage and immersed myself in The Deathray Davies, as you do.
Music today has been Salim’s album A Nuclear Winter (2023), out today, designed for your ears.