By Mike Scott


It's hot in Austin, and after landing at our hotel, Wickham and I go for a stroll in our shirt sleeves. Denny's and Starbucks are across the street. No contest. After our coffee and croissants, we stick our noses into Denny's anyway and smell the cooking fat. It's the tang of the Fifties, I imagine, and it's reassuring, in a kinda comforting-cum-bonkers way, that it still exists somewhere.

Later, we hook up with my Twitter pal, Austin's own Kathy Valentine, for an Italian meal, and go from there to the Continental Club, where Kathy's playing a three-song set with her band the Blue Bonnets. Before they do, a Nashville trio called the Howlin' Brothers takes the stage. Banjo, 'monica, and upright bass. They're good. Damn good. The banjo player has a sweet voice and looks like Ezra, the Waterboys' American drummer.

I'm digging the Club with its old-school decor and funky shack atmosphere; a real love grotto for live music and good times. In the deliciously scuzzy poolroom that doubles as a dressing space, Kathy introduces us to her Blue Bonnets bandmates, and then they hit the stage in an explosion of retooled Chuck Berry-meets-punk riffs. Kathy and fellow guitarist Eve trade machine-gun-burst solos. Singer Dominique, a one-woman charisma army with a smile calibrated to waste every male heart in the room, drills to the center of the Earth with her bass, while skinbasher Christie gives the drums the thorough hiding they deserve.

As I listen and look around me, I'm struck by how incredibly American the scene is: club, band, sound, songs, the feeling in the crowd. The real America, or at least some sweet, souped-up, fun-hungry version of it, is right here – right now.

11am, Yahoo! Music taping, Brazos Hall (badge holders only)

1pm, Industry of Music presented by Blurt & Dogfish Head, Ginger Man (free and open to the public)

Artist / Band: Mike Scott

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