Off the Record

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BioWillie (Photo by Gary Miller)

On the Road Again

Freddy Powers
Freddy Powers (Photo by Gary Miller)

Pulling into Willie's Place at Carl's Corner feels like hitchin' a post on the set of Deadwood, except everything's branded by the Red Headed Stranger. The newly renovated, 30,000-square-foot truck stop houses a booth for its XM Satellite Radio show, a bar at every corner, and a Nelson impersonator, not to mention BioWillie diesel. ("Fuel from the Heartland. Not the Holy Land.") On Monday night the cosmic cowboy mecca commemorated its grand reopening with a private benefit for the Freddy Powers Parkinson Organization that found the nonprofit's namesake rattling off as many jokes as hits ("Natural High," "Let's Chase Each Other Around the Room Tonight"), while Willie Nelson & the Family Band chipped in a generous 90-minute set anchored by a priceless medley of "Funny How Time Slips Away"/"Crazy"/"Night Life." The ceremonies continue through today (Thursday), with a free show at the Whiskey River Saloon, headlined by the last of the breed: Powers, Nelson, Ray Price, and Merle Haggard.

Take Me Out to the Ball game

Down in tha Dirty: Paul Wall and Willy Braun
Down in tha Dirty: Paul Wall and Willy Braun (Photo by Doug Freeman)

Perhaps more entertaining than the Boston Red Sox's casual disposal of the Astros on Friday was witnessing Houston's Paul Wall notch a flawless victory on Guitar Hero over Reckless Kelly's Willy Braun with an effortless reading of ZZ Top's "La Grange." "I can't play guitar, but I know the tricks," confided Wall, sans grill, during pregame warm-ups. The People's Champ, who headlines the Travis County Expo Center July 19, proved eager to talk chalk about his new album, September's The Fast Life, which features cameos from Too Short, Devin the Dude, and his reunion with Chamillionaire ("Diamonds Exposed"), but OTR was more interested in his previous collaboration with Brooke Hogan ("About Us") and subsequent publicity tour, managed by pro wrestling's Mouth of the South, Jimmy Hart. "It was Hulkamania; he's the main attraction," Wall rapped. "He kept telling me I should get in the ring with him in a tag-team match against K-Fed and John Cena. I was like, 'Are you crazy?' I'm too out of shape."

Still on Top

Pinetop Perkins is older than sliced bread (invented 1928). Raised in the Mississippi Delta and a prominent figure in the postwar Chicago blues scene with Muddy Waters, the local pianist is the living embodiment of the genre, its traditions and history ingrained into his rough hands and trademark cane. He still knows how to boogie, too. The ladies' man blows out the candles for his 95th birthday at Antone's on Monday, with special guests Gary Clark Jr., Derek O'Brien, and Marcia Ball, among others. "I'm just trying to make it," nods Perkins, returning from an appearance in New Jersey for the filming of The Perfect Age of Rock 'n' Roll, with executive producer Spike Lee. "I'm more of a squawker than a talker. ... I pray to the Lord all the time. I do the best I can. I'm just trying to make people happy." To convey the scope of Perkins' life and accomplishments, OTR compiled this helpful capsule of the past century.

1913 Joe Willie Perkins born in Belzoni, Miss., on July 7.

1914 Establishment of the American Society for Composers, Authors, and Publishers.

1915 Einstein publishes theory of general relativity.

1916 Invention of the light switch.

1917 Original Dixieland "Jass" Band records the first jazz record.

1918 End of World War I.

1919 Leon Theremin invents the theremin.

1920 Mamie Smith records the first of the "race records."

1921 First radio broadcast of a baseball game.

1922 Abolishment of the Ottoman Empire.

1923 Time magazine hits newsstands.

1924 George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" first performed in New York City.

1925 Scopes Trial.

1926 First demo of a mechanical television system.

1927 Blind Lemon Jefferson records in Dallas.

1928 Pinetop Smith records "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie."

1929 Wall Street stock market crash.

1930 Houston-born Bukka White makes first recording for Victor.

1931 "The Star-Spangled Banner" becomes the national anthem.

1932 Amelia Earhart makes solo trans-Atlantic flight.

1933 John and Alan Lomax discover Leadbelly at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

1934 Laurens Hammond keys the Hammond organ.

1935 The Dust Bowl.

1936 Robert Johnson records in San Antonio.

1937 Daffy Duck debuts on Looney Tunes.

1938 Ballpoint pen a hit.

1939 First Automated Teller Machine.

1940 Billboard introduces the popular music chart.

1941 Sonny Boy Williamson broadcasts King Biscuit Time on KFFA in Helena, Ark., which later features Pinetop.

1942 Founding of Capitol Records.

1943 Muddy Waters leaves Mississippi for Chicago.

1944 Frank Sinatra goes Hollywood.

1945 Johnny Holmes opens the Victory Grill.

1946 Microwave oven heats up.

1947 Jackie Robinson enters Major League Baseball.

1948 LP begins spinning at 33 revolutions per minute.

1949 Clifford Antone born in Port Arthur.

1950 Pinetop on Robert Nighthawk's "Jackson Town Gal."

1951 Invention of oral contraceptive pill.

1952 Elizabeth II becomes queen of England.

1953 Pinetop waxes "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" for Sun Records.

1954 Elvis Presley covers Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "That's Alright Mama."

1955 Bo Diddley romps the Ed Sullivan Show.

1956 Clocks go digital.

1957 Continental Club opens.

1958 James Cotton joins Muddy Waters' camp with "She's Nineteen Years Old."

1959 Motown opens Hitsville U.S.A.

1960 JFK and Nixon debate live on TV.

1961 Columbia issues Robert Johnson's recordings on LP.

1962 The Beatles' first sessions in Abbey Road Studios.

1963 Martin Luther King Jr. leads the March on Washington.

1964 Broken Spoke opens.

1965 Dylan goes electric.

1966 Founding of the Black Panther Party.

1967 San Francisco's Summer of Love.

Antone’s 10th anniversary (l-r): Clifford Antone, Pinetop Perkins, Sunnyland Slim
Antone’s 10th anniversary (l-r): Clifford Antone, Pinetop Perkins, Sunnyland Slim (Photo by Susan Antone)

1968 Rolling Stones film Rock and Roll Circus.

1969 Pinetop replaces Otis Spann in Muddy Waters' band.

1970 Black Sabbath releases debut.

1971 Intel produces first microprocessor.

1972 First episode of Price Is Right.

1973 Miami Dolphins notch perfect season.

1974 Invention of the Rubik's Cube.

1975 Antone's opens at Sixth and Brazos.

1976 Pinetop cuts first solo LP, Boogie Woogie King, not released until 1992.

1977 Sex Pistols release "God Save the Queen."

1978 Triple Threat becomes Double Trouble.

1979 Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight."

1980 Pinetop appears in The Blues Brothers.

1981 The Austin Chronicle goes to press, Sept. 4.

1982 Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble play the Montreux Festival.

1983 Sony introduces the camcorder.

1984 Big Brother watches on.

1985 MTV's Cutting Edge visits Austin.

1986 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducts first class.

1987 Antone's Records & Tapes presses their first LP.

<i>Austin City Limits</i>, 2008
Austin City Limits, 2008 (Photo by Scott Newton)

1988 CDs outsell vinyl for the first time.

1989 Berlin Wall falls.

1990 World Wide Web surfaces.

1991 The Year Punk Broke.

1992 Original Dream Team dominates Olympics.

1993 Kurt Cobain unplugs for "Where Did You Sleep Last Night."

1994 Guns n' Roses starts recording Chinese Democracy.

1995 Glove doesn't fit O.J.

1996 Butthole Surfers sneeze "Pepper."

1997 Barack Obama's first term as Illinois state senator.

1998 Pinetop duets with Hubert Sumlin for Legends.

1999 Prince parties.

2000 Pinetop receives a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts

2001 Apple launches the iPod.

2002 American Idol debuts.

2003 Pinetop moves to Austin.

2004 Pinetop records Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live in Dallas, with the late Henry James Townsend, Robert Lockwood Jr., and David "Honeyboy" Edwards.

2005 Pinetop earns Grammy Lifetime Achievement.

2006 Rolling Stones play Zilker Park.

2007 Martin Scorsese finally wins Best Director Oscar for The Departed.

2008 Pinetop tapes Austin City Limits.

All dates only as accurate as Wikipedia allows.

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Pinetop Perkins, Willie Nelson, Carl's Corner, Paul Wall, Muddy Waters, Antone's, Freddy Powers

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