A Girl Named Kevin

A Girl Named Kevin

Actually it was spelled Kevyn, she didn't feel the need to tell me that, she just said her name was Kevin and left it at that. Dave thought I was joking and had to confirm it with her friends who said it was Kevyn with a Y. This was at the world famous Broken Spoke honky tonk saloon dance hall and Kevyn was my "lucky" first 2 step dance partner in the dancing lesson. It turns out I'm not a natural...

I'm getting ahead of myself though, The Broken Spoke wasn't until Saturday and I've not told you about all of Friday yet.

I got a falafel and headed up to The White Horse to see Silas and wait for Dave. Silas was the guy I'd met in Bristol, TN and who gave me the low down on the music to see while in town. The White Horse is his favourite bar and he was playing from 7. I thought it'd be rude not to go along. It turned out that I'd forgotten how good he was when i saw him in Bristol and that he should have been at the top of the list of things to see while I'm in town anyway.

First off, the bar. Amazing. It's so dark in there it's hard to tell where the bar is. There's a pool table, god knows how you're supposed to play with those light levels though. There are about 30 tables, a big dance floor and a low stage in the corner and maybe another bigger stage behind a curtain for bigger bands. There's a half indoor half outdoor area with another pool table and a big yard with tables and a truck selling tacos. Outside is parked the longest car you've ever seen, it's about 3 blocks long (that was Dave's line).

So Silas starts just after i get there, before I get a chance to say hello. he starts with great a song about the Mexicans - "our brothers" in i.e. quit hassling migrants and goes on to cover industrial disaster and class war. All in a classic country style with a double bass, fiddle, mandolin and electric mandolin band. Amazing. There isn't a lot of country music about class war, not so openly anyway.

When I was starting to fear jet lag had gotten the better of Dave he arrives, hooray! Another familiar and friendly face. We watch and enjoy Silas' second set (Silas Lowe, look him up, buy his stuff). Dave needs food so we set off into the night, possibly to return for the next band.

The touristy 6th Street bars end at an interstate flyover and The White Horse is further along there. In between there are loads of street food stalls so we head back that way. Dave demolishes a disappointing burrito before we hear a brass band and head for the bar they're playing in, expecting to have to pay, but it's free! They're really very good. White guys playing New Orleans brass style music including covers of pop songs. Very good. This bar has a truck selling various vegan delicacies, I get a hot dog and Dave gets something better than the burrito he'd just had. The band play on and we are happy. But eventually they stop and Dave wants baccy so he head off, wanting to check out 6th Street at it's peak.

If that was it's peak it needs to try harder. None of the bars grabbed our attention and were at the end of it all before we knew it. I'd found another honky tonk on the internet though and he headed there. It was pretty bad. They had a mechanical bull and a big dance floor with a handful of couples showing off and a mix of country music which could all add up to fun but it was pretty soulless so we drank up and left. To dance another day. The bus was full of frazzled festival goers but the journey was easy. Phew!

Saturday pretty slowly and continued in that veign. I hung out with Rich, tinkering with his bike and rearranging his sofas. Somehow that made the day seem full and productive so i felt quite justified in heading to a bar in town to meet Dave at 4.30.

The Continental Club showed up in Silas's recommendations and the music started at 3 there so we headed there. The band were called The Rockabilly Blues Band which I think is a terrible name. The best thing about them was the fact that the drummer was wearing PJs. They were an above average cover band but they still murdered some classic songs. Without the aid of gmaps Dave had got lost (in the rain) on the way there so I was lucky enough to see half of their second set before he arrived.

We did a lot of faffing around before finding a couple of beers and a Mexican - ska-ish band that I quite liked until they veered dangerously close to playing salsa. We decided to head to The Broken Spoke early and eat there, before the dancing lessons began. Dave thought I wanted him to take responsibility for us going for dance lessons but I'm happy to take the credit / blame.

Dave was as disappointed with his "best in Texas" chicken fried steak as I was with my chilli cheese burger and immediately the lessons began. I should have known I'd not been a natural. Pushing girls around just isn't my style and that's kind of what you've got to do. The men all got to practice the move - step step step together step together solo first. Unfortunately the teacher thought Dave's shuffle required extra attention and I fear this destroyed any confidence he had. The next massive hurdle was to ask a girl to dance. If I was any good at this I might not have been single for 5 years before I came away.

It's different here in America tho, asking someone to dance is totally normal and fine, and we're all here for dancing lessons, and there are girls without partners and it's just a dance. OK, do it. And so I meet Kevin. We dance with varying degrees of success, pretty good on the straight, bit more trouble on the congested corners all good tho. Dave watches on, taking tips I guess. Not from me though I hope. It's pretty hard work, quite stressful but kind of fun I guess.

The lesson continues after the dance but gets way too complicated so I end up joining Dave taking a seat and spectating. It's a bit of a weird place. Soon enough and without any introduction that I hear the band start. Now I know how good the band (Dale Watson and The Lonestars) are so it's pretty weird seeing them play but take a back seat to the dancing. The whole place seems like a for tourists even which is pretty disappointing. We got chatting to Kevyn and her friends and eventually I manage to get Dave up trying the waltz while I do the same. I thought the waltz was supposed to be easy but it's even harder and more stressful than the 2 step. I'm glad I tried tho. I'm not sure if my partner was tho...

Kevyn and her friends were driving back downtown so Dave and I bummed a ride, back to The White Horse! It was pretty different from last night, the bands rawked rather than twanged but it was still a great place. The first band were called Megafauna and I thought I'd heard of them from home. I spoke to the bass player after who suggested I was mixing them up with Megafaun. I assured him he was wrong but later research showed him to be right. They were great though - slightly crazy looking guys on bass and drums and a girl singing and playing guitar - rawk!

The next band were too young and pretty to play what they were playing, 4 too slick guys with perfect tattoos screaming and shouting and trying to look rough. Meh. The girls headed off and we headed back to the bar that had the brass band playing the night before. Annoyingly they closed immediately after selling us a drink. And it turns out everything in Texas closes at the same time, 2am! A party was our only option and we were drunk enough to look for one, and find one.

It was a weird party. I thought it was one of the barmen and some randoms. It was just all randoms. The host whispered to me and Dave that there were some Mexicans coming and he would only give them Bourbon, he was keeping the Scotch for us. Hmmm. The best bit of the night was at the gas station when looking for a cab. There was what I assume was an impropmptu party there with about 8 phat cars playing hip hop etc and folks hanging out and dancing. It didn't last long tho, the cops turned up and everyone fled.

The party was OK I suppose, everyone was friendly and the booze was flowing but we were pooped. Fortunately it was walking distance to Dave's "apartment" where I slept long and heavily on the floor.

p.s. to avoid any confusion, Kevyn was just a dance partner, a lift into town and a good blog title. I left all my romantic intentions in Brighton...

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Until your 'p.s.', I thought I was in luck... Life ain't easy, you know!

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