You heard it. Yesterday was the perfect day. Susan and I made plans to check out Music on Market Street in the very small, very remote Winnsboro, TX. The town has made great strides in the past few years towards an active downtown area with lots of fun shops, arts, and culture. When we arrived we were afraid Music on Market Street was going to be a bust because there weren't many people around and hte bookstore was closed--gasp!--but as the afternoon progressed things got significantly better.
We started the day with lunch (catfish for me, steak for Susan), and we checked out some of the shops: Ladles to Linens, the Copper Leaf Spa, and a great bakery downtown. We took up a seat at the Lou Viney Winery and Bistro right across from the stage. Pretty soon the VooDudes took the stage, and my afternoon got significantly better. They looked like a bunch of scary burnouts, but they were pretty amazing. They did covers but they did 'em with style, so I couldn't complain. Some of my favorites: "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone," "Sweet Home Alabama," and even some Billy Idol! I almost dropped my vodka tonic when they whipped out "White Wedding."
We ran into Lynn Adler, one of the owners of the Crossroads Coffeehouse and Music Co., one of Winnsboro's main attractions. It's part of an ever-growing rural music culture in east Texas, and it was the highlight of the day. Lynn is a sweetheart--a talented singer/songwriter herself, along with her partner, Lindy Hearne. Crossroads hosts music every Saturday night, and sometimes Friday. Last night we got reserve seats for Rhett Butler (yep, that's his real name), a musician I feel sure will become a Texas guitar legend. I didn't know what to expect from Butler, and I sure as heck didn't expect the religious experience that it ended up to be. He's all instrumental with lots of joking in between, and well timed screams and funny faces if he screws up a note. He played a great mix of original compositions and covers. "Bohemian Rhapsody" was one of my faves, as was his stunning acoustic version of "The Cliffs of Dover."
I've always been a huge fan of great guitar players--Joe Satriani, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Vince Gill, and I could go on and on. Butler has a great signature style, playing the fretboard almost exclusively. And, even though it sounds gimmicky, he plays two guitars at once. While it was originally a gimmick, he's really taken the technique to a whole new level, and it fills out the sound of his music in a wonderful, breathtaking way.
When I was 9 years old my music teacher, Mrs. Rutland, took my elementary school class to hear the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the then newly constructed Meyerson Symphony Center. I remember that day perfectly, looking down from the balcony onto the orchestra, closing my eyes, and feeling engulfed by Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" and the other selections they played. I don't think I've ever felt so overtaken and involved in music, and it gave me an appreciation not only for classical music, but for instrumentals in general. I'm always pretty excited and impressed when mainstream musicians put instrumental selections on their albums. Some recent favorites are the Dixie Chicks' "Lil Jack Slade," Foo Fighters' "Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners," and most recently, Coldplay's "Life in Technicolor" from the Viva La Vida album.
Last night's Rhett Butler show was the closest thing I've experienced to that first symphony. Not because the music was at all similar, but in the way that it sort of snuck into my head and took over for a couple of hours. It's inspiring to watch a really incredible musician play their heart out. And at Crossroads you always get an intimate performance. The venue only holds 150 people, and we had a front row table. It was just stunning, and it's not a performance I'll soon forget. Butler will be at the Granada Theatre in Dallas soon, and you can bet I'll be there. Crossroads has some great performers coming up, and I expect I'll be back there to see Lynn and Lindy and whomever graces their stage.
And just in case you're wondering what all the Rhett Butler hooplah is about, check out his performance of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" below from the Dallas Guitar Show. While I prefer some of his original stuff (especially the two-guitar songs and "The Physics of Acoustics" and "We Can't Go Back"), this is still a great performance.
Visit him at http://www.rhettbutler.org
You can also visit Crossroads Coffeehouse and Music Co. at http://www.crossroadsmusiccompany.com/