Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Conjunto and rockabilly in San Antonio

It's not often you go to listen to music and get applauded yourselves, both by the artist and the rest of the audience. But that's what happened on Sunday not once but three times when we went to local restaurant Carnitas Uruapan in San Antonio. We had gone to see accordion player Santiago Jimenez play his weekly conjunto session over breakfast, something we had been tipped off about by a friend of Noah's. Santiago is the brother of conjunto star Flaco Jimenez and has been playing at the family owned pork place for years. Most diners there are locals and when he heard that we were from England he led a round of applause and even insisted on us standing up while customers clapped. The welcome was fantastic but so is Santiago, who was recently presented with a National Medal for the Arts by President Obama. His music was highly enjoyable, as was his laid back and fun approach, and the food was good too.
In the evening we returned to the pretty town of Gruene for a Mexican meal, before moving to San Antonio on Monday. We had a look around the Alamo and the River Walk, which I've seen before but which are worth another look, but feared that the evening would be rather dull, given that it was a Monday. Far from it, as after an excellent meal on Grayson Street we went to Sam's Burger Joint and Music Hall where Ruby Dee and the Snake Handlers were playing. They are a really good rockabilly band who have been around for a few years and have played at Viva Las Vegas and in Europe but not in the UK as yet (they are hoping to go next summer). Ruby is a feisty singer with an interesting slightly stuttery vocal delivery who came across strongly on mostly original numbers, while guitarist Jorge Harada was great on several numbers and the whole band looked and sounded right. They got the jivers up on the floor all evening. Definitely a band to watch out for.
Next day, Tuesday, we had breakfast in the Pig Stand, an old style diner dominated inside by plaster pigs, which claims to have been the world's first drive in. From there it was to the Friends of Sound record shop, which opened in July, where I spent yet more money on 45s (I bought some at an antique store at a place called Geronimo the day before). We rounded off the day by visiting the Natural Bridge Caverns, where huge stalactites and stalagmites dominate huge caves and the humidity is 99 per cent. Tomorrow we are off to Louisiana.


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