Sugarland-Austin-Grand Prairie 6, 7, 8, September

6 Sept.

After a restful day off at our hotel, the converted brewery of Pearl Beer built in 1894, we flew 45 minutes to Sugarland, Texas. The town feels new and is a suburb of Houston. However, to fans of the legendary Leadbelly, it is home to the former prison, work-farm penitentiary opened in 1909 that once housed him. It was 100 degrees today and I could only imagine him and the other inmates shackled together on work crews overseen by prison guards on horseback looking for any excuse to torment and punish the prisoners. Today, however, Sugarland is a brand new city, it’s old prison closed for a number for years now. Tonight’s show was in one of those new structures, a theatre called Smart Financial Centre seating 4,500+ . A beautiful theatre that sounded great. It was such a relaxed show tonight that it felt like playing to a living room. Great sound, great show, great audience. No more to say. A short flight back to our brewery hotel and in bed by midnight.

7 Sept.

Lunch with Danny and Tom at La Gloria near our hotel. A menu that represents all the states in Mexico and different than the usual Tex-Mex fare. I’ve managed at least one meal each day that we’ve been in San Antonio and today was no exception. It was a 19 minute flight from home base to Austin and we spent more time getting to the venue than we did in the air. Tonight’s show was at The Moody Theatre where they tape Austin City Limits… the longest running, televised music show going back to 1974. Originally broadcast from the university public television facility the show has moved to a purpose built theatre-television studio with a capacity of nearly 2,200, located on West Willie Nelson Ave…. of course. A full and appreciative house tonight and a great sounding room which was no surprise as it was made specifically for music. The flight back to San Antonio broke the record for our shortest flight… coming in at 17 minutes. Still enough time to have a drink and devour loads of Austin tacos. Back before midnight in San Antone.

8 Sept

Decamped San Antonio’s Hotel Emma (Pearl Brewery) and flew to our show in Grand Prairie, Texas just outside Dallas. The Verizon Theatre is another newly built venue with a capacity 6,300 seats. Like most of the modern theatres, it was built with acoustics in mind and convenience of bringing large shows in. In other words, the load in areas are large with easy access to the performing area. They do not have the ambience or ornate decorative features of the old theatres we’ve played on this leg dating from the 1920’s. While those old theatres are wonders of old world artisanship, they are awful for the crew who must fight loading in and out of a show, cramped backstage areas and several stories of “walk up” dressing rooms. Top gig tonight all the way around from the venue and sound to the sold-out audience, not to mention MK & Co. A memorable evening followed by a Texas barbecue fuelled flight to Denver, plenty of ribs, chicken and pecan pie. We gained an hour heading west and landed in the Mile High City at 10:30 with a day off tomorrow.

Richard Bennett