The wall to which I leaned boasted a mural of a 1960’s couple canoodling by an outdoor fountain and a ceiling fan hung above me and I feared it may unhinge. Spinning with such gusto, it was rattling on it’s base.
The stage was 5 feet in front of me and in red were the words “The Continental” across a sign spanning the back curtain. They blended right into one another but you didn’t need to read the back wall to know this monumental dive on South Congress in Austin, TX. The bar lined the opposite wall and every seat in between was occupied.
Jon Dee Graham was set for the ten thirty pm Wednesday residency him and his boys have been playing for the last twenty-two years. I had been tipped from a friend to catch these guys and couldn’t wait for them to get started. They came out blazing, electric guitar erupting in my ears, the base rattling my ribs up to my chest cavity. “He’s like a punk-rock John Prine,” my friend Blake declared. I could see it too. His words were well thought out, he had intention and his craft was solid from his years of hard work. He not only brought down the house with his “blood thirsty rock,” as he put it, but he got the entire room to hold quiet as he sang a tear-jerking ballad. Applause.
It was eleven thirty and I was more than tired from shenanigans that had taken part the evening prior. A distant gig had ended in an early drive home. However, I was not going to miss James McMurtry in his famous residency slot up next. Midnight at The Continental. My three hours of sleep waltzed up to the bar and ordered Maker’s Mark on the rocks; a homage to my good friend Chloe who could not be with me that evening. Maker's Mark her favorite drink and James McMurtry her favorite songwriter. Mark did the trick and I was ready to rock out to “Bayou Tortue.” He followed with more of his common numbers including his latest “How Am I Gonna Find You Now” and my favorite “Every Little Bit Counts.” Wrapping the night up with what started it all, “Painting by Numbers.” Thanks James.
My friends and I had paid $8 a piece to catch three hours of some amazing music. These artists are dedicating their lives to their craft and to be able to see it first hand for eight bucks was pretty great.
Once the show came to a wrap it was time to settle up at the bar and head to the famous Magnolia Cafe. Nothing like some good friends and good food at 3 a.m. to follow beautiful music marbled in Makers.
The Continental was a dream that evening.