So QANTAS are gunna strike .... not today! - we jet out of Brisvegas at 11am Wed headed for the US - a brief pit stop at LAX & we arrive in Austin about 3pm Wed - 23hr transit - it's a quick nana nap at our B&B accom and then on to the Continental Club to catch a friend of ours, Dave Gonzales (ex The Paladins) play in his new band Stone River Boys. Ten bucks in and $2 Lone Star stubbies and it's a good lead in to Dale Watsons birthday party starting at midnight. Dale is in fine form and plays a mega set complete with hilarious comedic banter and finishes up about 3.30am. Great breaky the next day and it's off to shop South Congress St - about 2 miles of cool collectable & retro shops & galleries - and, as with the rest of the trip, we see heaps of cheap, cool stuff that is impractical to lug with us for six weeks - one day we'll get a shipping container - it would be so easy to fill!!

While we are in Austin we see bands every night including Scott H Birrum, Junior Brown, James McMurtry, The Blue Flames (which was a pleasant surprise as I have loved those guys for a long time and we didn't know they were playing 5 min walk from our hotel) and also caught up with Jaems & Bryan - muso friends we met in Memphis a few years back. One day we rented a car and drove to San Antonio for a night and checked out the Alamo and a lot of the old missions, our B&B had a chandalier in the bathroom! and we ate at a great mexican restaurant that has been there since the 30's.

Click the photos for larger versions

We fly out of Austin bound for Vegas baby! We check in to a cool renovated 60's joint with pool and mini casino and head off to find the 4 venues where the Las Vegas Shakedown is happening, each venue has a different style of music rocakbilly, psychobilly, garage and flat-out rock. Freemont St, the old part of Vegas, is a total freakshow - so many crazy people hangin out down there and neon everywhere! The first night of the Shakedown sees a great set from Drag Stip Riot amongst others and fiinshes up with "the scariest band in the world" Deadbolt, as pissed as they are they manage to play a few favourties and we get to meet them after the show - for the "sacriest band" they sure are a bunch of sweethearts!

Friday night we check out a few of the other venues and decide that we don't have the correct haircuts for the rockabilly & psychobilly shows so head back to Las Vegas Country Saloon for some flat out rawk & roll with the likes of Electric Frankenstien, the White Barons (who along with the Hookers are probably our favourite of the whole weekend) the night finished off with a ear punishing set from Zeke.

On Saturday we wake about 11 and they are setting up outside our room for the Varla Magazine Pool Party (Varla magazine if the official magazine for large breasted, tattooed women) - so by noon there are tits & tats everywhere, we get bloody mary's and score sunlounges to enjoy the spectacle. There about 150 or so people there and on a raised podium by the pool we get rockin performances from the White Barons, Electric Frankenstien & The Hookers. As the music and beer flows everyone has a great time, then an hour off to go and get some dinner and it's back to the Country Saloon & the Beauty Bar - tonites entertainment highlight are Muck & the Mires, Wooly Bandits, Patt Todd & the Rank Outsiders and the finale of a killer set from Flamin Groovies - those guys can still really rock!!. So Sat was pretty much a full 16 hours of drinking and rock'n'roll which made our Sunday excursion to "the Strip" a little lethargic to say the least, but we got to see some of the over the top glitziness Vegas has to offer.

There was a sting in the tail end of the festival however as it was announced the promoter had split town leaving many venues & bands out of pocket, but all the bands played great sets despite this. We're glad we saw Vegas but i must admit it will take another very good rock & roll show to get us back to there.

Varla Magazine Pool Party

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Flamin' Groovies


On the Monday we fly to New Orleans, pick up a car and head out for 12 days driving around the deep south. After a restful night (and a great meal) in Baton Rouge we head to Cajun Country - man, do they love their food & music down there! We spend 2 nights in a tiny place called Breux Bridge "the crawfish capitol" (pretty much every town there is the capitol of something, zydeco, smoked meat, rice you name it) then its off to Lafayette - it just so happens we stumble into 3 food festivals in 3 days! Our first night we are treated to a Gumbo Festival (all you can eat for $5), the next day the Crowley Rice Festival where the small town of about 1200 swells to 12,000 with a parade, cajun bands, carnival and food stalsl as far as the eye can see, and on the day we leave Louisianna for Mississippi there is a Boudin cookoff (Boudin is unique to the area and is a spicy rice & pork sausage that has to be tasted to be believed!) Music wise we saw some Cajun music, went to an accordian blowoff with mellow cajun and rockin mexican & zydeco performances. We were also lucky enough to see one of Jen's discoveries & a recent favourite of ours Drew Landry - a great songwriter and activist for the Gulf Coast region.

Drew Landry - Family Farm

From Lafayette we fire up our Lincoln (gotta love a free upgrade!) and head 4 hours up the road to Hattiesburg Mississippi to catch Grayson Capps (another Louisiana local and favourite of ours) - we arrive in Hattiesburg only to find the hotel we had booked had been foreclosed on and closed down the day before we arrived and, with it being "homecoming" weekend at the local uni, it was a hard job to find somewhere to stay - we ended up in a quite adequate room for just $50 - we called a cab to get to the show and when it arrived belching smoke and backfiring we weren't sure we were gunna make it the 10 miles to the gig at "Benny's Boom Boom Room" ... but we did. We met some great people who were amazed we were from Australia and hangin out in the middle of Mississippi, Grayson & his band The Lost Cause Minstrels played for ages a finished about 3am when we called a cab, the guy behind the bar asked us if we'd called a cab and said "if it ain't here by the time I've cleaned up, I'll give you a ride home" so an hour later we climbed into Benny's pickup (yes, he was the club owner) and he dropped us back at our hotel.... southern hospitality strikes again!

Sunday we head back to New Orleans for a night to watch the televised NFL game of the New Orleans Saints vs Indianapolis Colts which the Saints won by one of the biggest margins in NFL history so the bars were jumpin all night.

Monday we head east via the coast of the Gulf of Mexico about 3 hours to Mobile, Alabama, expecting it to be pretty ramshakle but we are surprised by how beautiful the place is with giant oak trees (some 300 years old) and stunning mansions in the cites 5 historic districts. We hang the expense and stay one night at Kate Shepard House which has lots of historical significance with a lot of Civil War related history and we also had, without a word of a lie, one of the best breakfasts we have ever eaten.... triple smoked, peppered bacon with pecan-praline french toast, scrambled egg and fruit. Being on the coast Mobile has great seafood and one hell of an oyster house - a platter of 15 oysters (3 each cooked 5 different ways for $15) which was delicious washed down with $4 Jamieson & soda and some local micro-brewed beers.

On Monday we go to the Satori Coffee House to see Charlie Parr - it's a really small room and we end up sitting in the front row on a big comfy lounge. Wednesday we hit "the Brick Pit" for lunch - seriously good BBQ with the meat being slow roasted over hickory wood for 36 hours ....sooooo tender! Thursday night we head off the the Alambama Music Box - a great little dive bar in the center of town and catch Shonen Knife, Shannon & the Clams & the wackiest Japanese band we have ever seen called Peelander Z - these guys are crazy!!!


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Charlie Parr

Lyndsay Zaorski - DBA New Orleans

Peelander Z - crazy!!!

Friday its back west to new Orleans for the Halloween weekend - everybody should spend a halloween weekend in New Orleans - it's wild - all the houses, shops & bars have great decorations - cobwebs, pumpkins, skeletons, black cats... anything goes as longs as it's spooky. We lucked out with accom as it's pretty hard to get a reasonably priced place that weekend but we booked early and scored a little self contained cottage right in between the French Quarter & Frenchman St (Frenchman St is way better that Bourbon St - better music and less yobs) We have a good schedule of bands we like over the next few nights including the guys from Morphine and some local bands we discovered on previous trips to the Big Easy so we are in 2 minds whether to pay $60 each to go to Voodoo Festival (a huge music fest in City Park) and then Jen sees this competition to win tix, so we enter & win a double pass to add to all the cool New Orleans bands we are gunna see we get to see Social Distortion, American X, Gordon Gano & a few other local favourties of ours and then finish up the night at Checkpoint Charlies (a 24 hour bar / laundrymat) with a mega set by Ryan Scullys Rough 7 playing till 4am.

Catching up with "Wheels" a girl from Los Angeles who we met last year was a treat too. Sunday and Monday Halloween is in full swing with tens of thousands of people, all in crazy costumes running amok all over town. Jens Zombie Air Hostess and my Steve Irwin zombie outfit (complete with plastic stingray thru the gut) go over well as we stroll from bar to bar with a drinks in a "travel cup" - you can buy a drink anywhere and, as long as its in a plastic cup, take it onto the street and into any other bar - wish you could to that in Oz! Monday nite is huge as it's the offical halloween night - we catch New Orleans legends Morning 40 Federation at DBA and party into the wee small hours (we also fit in some more eating of that great southern food down there)

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American X

Social Distortion @ Voodoo Fest

Members of Morphine

R Scully's Rough 7


Morning 40 Federation

Tuesday arvo we fly to Nashville & pick up a car to spend the next week driving thru Tennessee & North Carolina. Nashville is pretty cool - but you'd enjoy it more if you liked mainstream commercial country music as it's everywhere. Anyhow, we got to see American Aquarium, a Americana style band we have seen a few times on other visits to the US and went to the Ryman Theatre (the old home of the Grand Old Opry) and did a tour of the theatre & backstage areas - walking in the footsteps of Hank Williams, Minnie Pearl & Johnny Cash was pretty special. Nashville has some great restaurants too so we didn't hold back on the vittels.

On Wed we had to drive to Knoxville (about 2 hours away) only problem was it was pissing down raining and the most direct route, the I40, is notorious for trucks - what a nightmare journey - driving rain and huge speeding trucks leaving you in a white cloud of spray with almost zero visability - 3 1/2 hours later, white knucked, we pulled up at our hotel in Knoxville where we are going to see The Reverend Horton Heat & The Supersuckers. Before we left home I did research for any old Tiki Bars along our way and there was one in Knoxville "by appointment only" so we gave them a call - turns out it's in this couples house and they are more than happy to have us visit - in fact they came and picked us up from the hotel, showed us their supercool house, old bullet trailer & tiki bar, made us cocktails and then drove us to the show .... southern hospitality strikes again! The Rev Ho & Supersuckers Show was in an awesome large venue with plenty of room and cheap booze and we met some really fun people.


Heading off towards our next stop, Asheville, North Carolina, famous for the Blue Ridge Mountains, gourmet restaurants (and I mean gourmet!) and, for a small town, a hell of a lots of boutique breweries and live music so we took advantage of ALL the town had to offer - it was seriously cold up there zero at night and top of about 4-5 degree's C - which gives one a healthy appetite, did I mention we ate a lot on our trip?

As it happened a famous TV chef, Anthony Bordain, was doing a show in town one night and most of the restaurans kicked up a notch with their specials of the day, just in case he came in - we went Tapas just around the corner from the theatre and they had a list of over 20 specials - all super creative - probably the best being "slow roasted pork belly w/ candied yams, pimento stuffed marshmallow, nutella and roast hazelnuts" - kinda like a main and dessert all in one!

Asheville is also famous for one of the most beautiful drives in the US - the Blue Ridge Parkway - especially this time of year with all the laves changing colour - simply amazing!!

After 2 days & nights pigging out & seeing a few bands in Asheville we head off for a night in Charlotte NC as we had an early flight to New York the day after. Charlotte has some killer retro shops that we spotted last year but they were closed at the time so we headed straight for them and were not disappointed picking up some nice trinkets.

Tuesday night we hit the Big Apple - holy shit ..... is it BIG! We got a nice hotel in Brooklyn and head over to Manhattan to see a friend play in her one woman band (Two Tears) - we have some great, locally recommended french food - it was great to see Kerry again after about 4 years and she put on a great show. The next day we did the tourist thing and caught one of the many open top double decker busses (a great way to see any city as you can hop on and off anywhere you like) and saw all the majors sights of NYC.

We also get in touch with another NY friend, Tom (many of you Brissy folk will know him as Elea's friend) - we meet Tom and his two Brazilian friends and head out for dinner followed by Reigning Sound at the famous Maxwell's in Hoboken, New Jersey - just across the river from Manhattan. The room is quite small and pretty crowded but Jen and I manage to get a good spot and Reigning Sound did not disappoint rockin out with new songs and some old favourties. The subway ride home was pretty crazy - so glad we had Tom with us as it's very tricky navigating the myriad of stops.

Thursday Nov 10th - a day we've been looking forward to for months now - the first night of the Norton Records 25th Anniversary. Our hotel is in Brooklyn and only a 5 min walk to the venue past some really good restaurants… convenient! First night is headlined by the 5,6,7,8's from Japan who are pretty good but the real highlight tonite is Phantom Surfers - while we're not too big on "surf music" these guys are simply amazing the guitarists twin neck guitar gets a real workout. Dex Romweber Duo are great too. I walk outside and spot Andre Williams (who we got to hang out with last year) and he spots me and points and say "it's great to see ya'll here" we have a big hug and this woman standing near us says "Wait a minute....are you Brett?" - it's Darlene, Andre's wife of the past 32 year and it's the first time she has gone on a tour with Andre - she has been our email contact with Andre the past year - so I go back inside and get Jen and it's hugs all round again.

Andre says "hey, we gotta meet you guys for breakfast tomorrow" so we set a time to meet them at their hotel the next morning - we meet them at 10 and walk to a nearby cafe and have breakfast and talk about all sorts of stuff for a couple of hours - we feel really privileged to have done this.

That nite Andre is one of the headliners at the Norton Show and is also doing a reading from his book "Sweets" that he wrote while in rehab. He is intro'ed for the reading to a crowd of about 200 people and proceeds to thanks Billy & Miriam (of Norton Records) and then thanks Darlene his wife and then …. no shit, says "I also ran into two friends from Australia today and they have been following Andre for a long time and I am so proud of them and I love them so much" which just blew us away - it also gave us minor celebrity status that night with a lot of people (some famous muso's too) coming up and saying "hi". The music tonite is high calibre again with Reining Sound doing a killer set of old and new stuff and the Alarm Clocks doing a great show and the Norton Soul Revue featuring an all star band with a string of 70+ year old vocalists is just amazing. These old guys have so much energy and you can see how happy they are by the rapturous response of the crowd.


Saturday we meet up with Lori Lee and Johnny from Brisbane who managed to get tix for the Sat & Sun shows and have a great tex-mex meal before heading to the show - Daddy Long legs play early and Roy Loney & Cyril Jordon from the Flamin Groovies get up and do a few songs with them - the next few bands on tonites bill are rockabilly style acts which we're not really into so we spend a lot of time outside chatting to people from all over the world and the consensus seems to be that this is the best lineup most of these people have ever seen and we have to agree, we also catch up with Mark Sultan (aka BBQ) who remembers us from a night in Brisbane earlier this year - tonite we are treated to headline act "Question Mark and Mysterions" - the singer Question Mark is in his late 60's but looks like he hasn't hit 40 yet - and man what energy - they play for almost 2 1/2 hours, have a few guest vocalists and bring the house down with some for their hits from the 60's like "96 Tears"

Question Mark & the Mysterions

Daddy Long Legs

Sunday … our last night of music for the trip as we fly home on Tuesday. Tonites headliners are the Sonics and their much anticipated set of classics does not disappoint. Tandori Knights do some really crazy shit & Bloodshot Bill snorts & hollers his way thru his one man band set. Real Kids were a no show unfortunately - but the substitute band was The Swingin Neckbreakers who we've wanted to see for a long time so another bonus! Another 3.30am finish and lots of emotional goodbyes as everyone is on such a high after 4 nights of such amazing music.

Monday is recovery day - we get a cab down to the base of the Brooklyn Bridge which has great views across the East River to Manhattan and just chill out before going back to town and a well needed massage, dinner is some tasty Peruvian delicacies at our favourite Brooklyn restaurant, Coco Roco .

Tuesday morning we get another foot massage and then head to the airport via a hilarious cab ride with a driver who gave us a running commentary on everything along the way .... 28 hours later we pull up at Rancho Relaxo and are welcomed by the lovely Tracy (our house sitter) and cuddles galore from our cat Sassy.

Now we gotta start planning next years adventure!

Reigning Sound

The Sonics

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