Catching Up With Tish Hinojosa
The first person I ever met from Austin was Tish Hinojosa. It was late 1989 or early 1990. With guitarist Marvin Denton, who later reverted to his real name, Marvin Dykhuis, she was touring the Northeast with her debut album, Homeland. One Saturday they visited the Long Island radio station where I worked for some conversation and a live performance.
Weirdly, on my first trip here – August 1990 – she sat next to me on my connecting flight from Dallas. I don’t think she remembered me at first, but I eventually jogged her memory. I recall she recommended I visit Las Manitas (R.I.P.). I went there nearly straight from the airport and managed to return to the late Congress Avenue Mexican eatery every day of my visit.
Hinojosa’s career has been quiet as of late. Now, she’s begun a free Thursday night residency at El Sol y la Luna on Sixth Street. If it seems she’s been missing from the scene, that’s because in 2004, while touring Germany, she met Andreas Sedlmair, who a year later became her husband, and she moved to Hamburg.
“Sadly, since I moved to Germany, the singer-songwriter scene has died down,” she explains. “It’s really weird. It’s not as respected as it was in the Nineties. Back then, there was a wave. Everyone I knew was touring over there and doing well. I mean making money and getting paid.
“After I met my husband, things had already died down, but I still moved there optimistically, thinking, ‘I’m a musician, my husband’s got a great job, and it would be hard for him to leave Germany.’ I was flexible and thought I would play more in Europe than in the U.S.
“I found there’s not a lot for American singer-songwriters there. I really gave it a good shot from 2005 to last year.
“Of course, Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle are playing good circuits, but smaller clubs and listening rooms just aren’t booking those kinds of acts anymore. People are going over there and playing for the passing of the hat.
“We’re not getting the respect that we were getting in the Nineties.
“So we decided I should come over here. He could support me, but I want to be actively doing my music. I don’t just want to be a hausfrau in Germany. I’m based in Austin again, playing locally where I can. Hamburg, unfortunately, does not have a good acoustic live music scene.”
Now that one of the top Latina songwriters anywhere is back in town, she’s also resumed playing with Dykhuis. Occasionally they’re joined by Chip Dolan on keyboards and accordion, recalling the trio Hinojosa employed at her peak. Dolan joins them tomorrow evening at El Sol as a special guest, with Rosie Flores filling that spot next Thursday. The residency continues through April.
Hinojosa also mentions a new album to watch for, her first recording from Germany.
“Hopefully we’ll have it out by the end of the summer,” she says. “I recorded in Germany, but Marvin came over and played on it too. It’s a nice bridge between my German self and my Austin self.”