River City ~ Dispatches from Austin

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Our "Raging Texas Tour" finally hits a resting point, as we return to Austin - but not before a last romp "where the West begins." We take you on location in Fort Worth on Sunday, where Sundance Square was sectioned off for a day and night of music, drinking and more drinking. Of course, the Texas lineup was a guaranteed success, including Robert Earl Keen and Charlie Robison. This reporter stumbled in late, just in time to see Keen close the show, and what a scene to stumble into. Cowboy hats, snuff tins, shirts that weren't funny (sporting slogans like "BEER INSIDE," lamely playing off the Intel logo, we think).

Keen tore the place up after he settled down. At first, the half-frat boy, half-rodeo crowd was just scary. But after a few beers slammed as quickly as possible, the drunken, sing-along frenzy was somewhat contagious. Keen, for his part, played favorites like "Feelin' Good Again," "Fourth of July," and "Headin' Down that Dusty Trail," and the sound was good. Not sure if those are really the titles of the songs, but who cares? I wasn't going to interrupt anybody's singing or vomiting to ask them.

The daylong festival was hosted by a country radio station called "the Wolf." Keen made sure to mention the station often; at times it felt it was being drilled into the crowd's head. But then, interestingly, he went on to ramble about the fact that a lot of people were mistaken about him: he doesn't play country music. The confused looks and drunken stirring of the crowd was finally replaced by more foot-stomping tunes. That's right, Bob, just play. Don't try to explain anything to these guys or yourself.

I was pleased to learn we had missed an earlier act, Cross Canadian Ragweed. The Oklahoma band may have built themselves a strong (and baffling) following in the North Texas area, but their cheap, recycled "roots rock" (or whatever they might call their bad music) hopefully won't go over in Austin. Time will tell.

In other news…

reallyrather, a UK site, has published some latest info about L.A. band Gingersol. And reallyrather has been following several of our favorites recently, including Wilco and Grand Champeen.

Coming soon: The inevitable first of the "summer blockbuster" reviews. Probably Star Wars.

For more about our complicated relationship with Texas music, read Texas Music: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

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