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I was worried when 10:00 rolled around and the Star Bar was easily half empty. What the hell? How many chances are you gonna get to see Dick Dale? And in a venue as small as the Star Bar? Yeah, it's a school night but damn...
The Penetrators came on and did a good long set of classic, clean surf. By the end of their set my fears proved to be for nothing as the bar was packed wall to wall. A couple of guys hefted up onto the stage a wall of speakers, barely leaving room for the drum kit and a place to stand. A thunderous soundcheck later, Dick Dale came around the corner, piercing eyes under a black headband, thick hands sticking out of a black leather jacket, black jeans and boots, a man that exuded an aura of power and confidence. And somehow it all came out through his guitar - badASS.
Oh lord, what a badass.
Such a badass that often the fury that he released into the room seemed effortless. A kid in long dreadlocks at the edge of the stage just stood shaking his head back and forth with a huge grin during the entire performance. Women in the room were turned into epileptic snakes. Men stood agape. It wouldn't have surprised me if the place spontaneously caught on fire. And it wouldn't have surprised me if nobody would have left, we'd have just held out as long as we could.
Way back in '96 I spent 9 weeks in Italy in a painting class. I studied the Italian Renaissance masters for hours and used them as inspiration for my meager skills. But then at the end of the quarter I headed up to Amsterdam and stumbled into the Van Gogh museum. I hadn't been a big fan of the man's work, but then I'd never seen it in person, only the tiny images in my art history books. But when I sat down in front of Wheatfield with Crows I was stunned.
"You bastard" I said.
I sat for twenty minutes, defeated. I'd been working my ass off all summer just to get a tea cup to look like a tea cup in paint. And here he was showing me that no matter how hard I tried I'd never come close to what he could do, never have his bravery or creativity.
For a few songs during Dick Dale's set I felt that same sensation.
"HOW did you DO that?!?"
At one point he started on a surf version of The Munsters theme and wandered around a galaxy of sound until he came around to Smoke on the Water. How?!? You had to be there to believe it. Somehow it tied together seamlessly.
"You bastard" I said.
As if that weren't more than enough, he then picked up a pair of sticks and played drums, while the drummer played along with him. Then he played the bass with the drumsticks. Then he whipped out a trumpet and blasted out some killer old style jazz. Back to the electric guitar fury, then stopped for an acoustic set of blues and Spanish guitar, wrapping the "unplugged" set with Folsom Prison Blues before going electric again and practically slaughtering the crowd wholesale. At one point he hopped off stage and continued playing, thanks to the wireless unit on his guitar, as he walked out into the street and stopped traffic for a Moreland Ave. guitar solo, then back in the doors and back on stage.
Jack, one of the guys from Pink Torpedo Productions that used to book Dottie's, said "I may never go to another show again." And I know what he means.
I've seen some fantastic shows at the Star Bar. I've danced until my feet throbbed, I've laughed until my stomach ached, and I've grinned ear to ear for hours, but never has my brain been so warped after a show. It was the best show I've seen at the Star Bar ever. Which I have to say means it may be the best show I've seen anywhere ever.
Why bother seeing another? When you've seen the best, why bother with the rest?
And how did this towering god of guitar, a man in his 60's who'd just played a blistering two hour set end the night?
He handed his guitar to a roadie and whipped out his own pen, "I'll sign anything you like."
You bastard. You fantastic, glorious bastard.

Saturday we returned to the Star Bar for Kelly Hogan and Alejandro Escovedo. Kelly opened the show with just her and guitarist Andy on stage. They did a set of the usual excellent stuff, her voice as strong and clear as ever, Andy's fingers nimble and peppy as they covered some country and pop tunes from decades past, as well as a bunch of their own tunes, softened by the lack of drums or bass. Good stuff.
Alejandro followed, starting off with some moody, quiet stuff for several tunes then working his way into almost punky PJ Harvey sounding rock. Very good, but I didn't have the gusto to stick it out until the end and beat a retreat.

I forgot to mention the photos from the Dick Dale show, as well as a few other treats!
The Dick Dale pictures are here:
And here's new Immortal Lee County Killers:
And nothing says Star Bar like a crushed PBR can in a clogged toilet!
If you've got Netscape you can cruise through our handy slideshow:
I ain't got the techno savvy to figure out why it doesn't want to work in IE 5 on the Mac, but you can give it a shot.
Otherwise you can just cruise the gallery by file name:

Several people have expressed some interest in the Truckadelic reunion show at the Star Bar for New Year's Eve. Nobody voted Graceland.
Degenerate MH suggested renting a cabin up in the hills so we could throw our usual New Year's. Not a bad idea! My only worries are:
1) we'd have the cops there in no time and spoil our degenerate fun
2) the possibility of damaging a rental unit is high
3) getting folks to show up to yet another new venue in the boonies ain't gonna be easy
Any other votes for this idea? An overwhelming response would calm my fears.
Otherwise the DP staff may consider yet another new suggestion. Since SW and I will be in Texas for consumass we may just stick around an extra few days and party hardy in Mexico for New Year's. Rumor has it the border towns are absolutely nutty on ANY day of the year and the idea has all the elements we've come to expect in our traditional New Year's Eve festivals - cheap liquor, strange music, crazed, drunken poor folks launching extreme amounts of explosives while terrified tourists look on! And for once we're on the tourist side of the fence!! If anyone is interested in this idea let us know. We'd launch the expedition from Austin, head south for the border Dec. 30 or 31, then head back New Year's Day.

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