Home > Uncategorized > Junior Brown, T-Model Ford & Amber Digby – just another weekend in Austin

Junior Brown, T-Model Ford & Amber Digby – just another weekend in Austin

An eclectic mix of guit-steel wonder Junior Brown, Mississippi Hill Country Blues Musician T-Model Ford and country roots singer Amber Digby with Midnight Flyer took place within a mid-April weekend in Austin.

Having been a big fan of Junior since 1980 when I first saw him in an Alejandro Escovedo Austin band pre-Rank & File, I’ve always been amazed at the sounds Junior creates from his double-necked guit-steel (a combination of electric guitar and steel guitar he built). Junior plays real country music with tight and often funny songs.

Band members are spouse Tanya Rae acoustic guitar, Johnny Penner bass, and Pete Amaral snare drum. Imagine a blend of the pedal steel wizardry of Ralph Mooney and Sneaky Pete Kleinow with a hearty electric guitar dose of Les Paul and Jimi Hendrix.

I have heard Junior in many Austin clubs over the years but never at the best listening room in town – the Cactus Café. His July 16 show at the soon-to-be “repurposed” Cactus was the best show I’ve heard him play thanks to soundboard wizard Jeff Hoskins and the listening space itself.

Read about the upcoming demise of the Cactus Café on the second page of this blog.

Bob Kinney Photos

Dennis Kinney in 37 Chevy with friend Junior Brown

 

 

The Cactus’ wonderful sound system fed by Jeff Hoskins captured sounds I had never heard from Junior’s git-steel in other venues. Multi-layered riffs brought smiles of appreciation. Junior played so powerfully that long-time Cactus performer Townes Van Zandt woke up!

Twenty-four hours later, T-Model Ford, one of the last of the old-time Mississippi bluesmen, took the stage at Emo’s shortly before midnight. In an intriguing billing, Austin’s John Schooley, a one-man band who once toured with Ford in the 80s, and Austin’s Crack Pipes band, opened the show at Emo’s – well-known for its punk, metal and rock shows. See the Many Faces of Lips Anvil show at Emo’s further down this page.

 

T-Model

 

Enter T-Model who is estimated to be 90-years-old. He did not start performing till he was in his mid 50s. Fat Possum Records, the blues-centered label started by some white blues-loving guys in Oxford, Mississippi, began recording T-Model (aka James Lewis Carter Ford who lives downstate in Greenville) in the 1990s and now has five of T’s albums in its catalog.

Your Hoochie Coochie Man

T-Model’s son Marty accompanied his dad on drums. Seated on a metal folding chair throughout the two-hour show, T-Model played songs ranging from “Hoochie Coochie Man” to his “Chicken Head Man” – each song extending into wonderful riffs lasting several minutes.

 

T and Marty

 

The mostly young crowd packed around the stage was enthusiastic. An attractive woman jumped onstage in between songs and French-kissed T-Model with gusto for what seemed to be a minute. She then gave him a plastic cup of Jack and left the stage to roars of crowd approval and a slyly smiling T-Model.

 

T and Newest Friend

 

Noticeably wishing he could play past 2am closing time, T-Model stayed on stage when the music had to stop and shook hands with all who came up to him until the club was empty. In addition to being honored to see him perform, I most remember his wonderful smile.

T-Model Returns to Emo’s on April 29, 2011

 

T-Model closed down Emo’s

 

Bob Kinney Photos

About fourteen hours later, Amber Digby and Midnight Flyer began playing their real country music at Ginny’s Little Longhorn, the best honky-tonk in Austin … and beyond.

The band was making its first appearance at Ginny’s unique Chicken Shit Bingo, a Sunday afternoon tradition that packs the honky tonk and spills out into the parking lot. Ginny’s resident chicken is brought inside by Ginny and placed on a plywood board over the bar’s pool table. Every square on the board has a number on it. If the chicken poops on your number … you win!

 

Amber and Midnight Flyer play Chicken Shit Bingo for first time

 

Dale Watson and his Lone Stars always play CS Bingo unless they are touring or performing at a private party. Amber is reportedly only the third woman to play the fun event.

Amber and Midnight Flyer come from Houston to play Ginny’s about every six weeks. Amber sings like the 50s and 60s great country women singers I grew up listening to like Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline. Personally, I feel Amber can sing “I Fall to Pieces” better than Patsy did.  The most recent of her five albums is “Keeping Up Appearances.” On it she sings 14 traditional country songs with Justin Trevino who produced two of her albums for his Heart of Texas Records label. The Midnight Flyer band includes husband and guitarist Randy Lindley, Ben Collis bass, Dave Biller steel, Damian O’Grady piano and Tom Lewis drums.

 

Amber and Randy

 

Later in this blog there is a post with photos about Amber playing at Ginny’s on a Friday night last December before making her debut at the Grand Ole Opry the following evening. As the blog’s headline notes … she put Country back into the Grand Ole Opry. She returns to the Opry again in the hallowed Ryman Auditorium August 14.

Amber and band play the Broken Spoke in Austin August 6 and at Ginny’s August 28. Amber, Randy and Dave will be playing the annual Buck Owens Birthday Bash August 12 at the Continental Club.

I moved to Austin in 1978 for its music (read about it on this blog’s profile page). Shows like these have kept me happily here in Austin – smiling, writing and taking photos.

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