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Grace Askew / Blog

The Texas Hill Country

Driving down to Lubbock, TX today. The skies are clear, crisp, and soaked in sunlight. We pass distant clusters of stocky, black cattle as the two-lane highway rolls beneath us. Horses graze in front yards of rusted, tilting shacks where hand-painted signs lean against barbed wire fences. "Pecans for sale." "Jessica's Gift Shop 'n' More." Clothes gently sway on a rope outside a stone cottage. I look down a long stretch of blacktop highway that runs alongside the house and it eventually disappears into a faded point at the blue horizon. This is the hill country. God's country Little purple flowers have taken over a cemetery. Cacti is bursting through the crusty, golden earth, declaring its position to the surrounding gentle wildflowers in abrupt, piercing gestures. I wonder if the cowboys of "the olde West" roamed these very hills? Did their spurs clink through these whipping, dry winds? Were the embers of a midnight bonfire ever glowing beneath these stars? Either way...I'll picture it that way...the Olde West rolls on outside my window.

April 5, 2012

Lydia Mendoza moans on the radio..."Sola"...alone. The winding country road seemingly bends with the swells of ache and pain in her voice. A longhorn switches its tail on a distant hill. The sun warms my skin and washes over my boots, thick and golden. An 18-wheeler is parked in the driveway of a cooper and rust-colored stone house. Butterflies flit about the weeds in dizzying ecstasy. Every now and then, you nose catches the honey-sweet floral dances from the fields. Hola Lometa. Adios Lometa.

Fresh Start Tour: Day 4

So..by 3 a.m. last night, we found ourselves at the bar drinking Tequila shots with the owners, Tony and Dee, and listening to Petula Clark on the jukebox. I talked to an older fella named Buddy for awhile. He reminisced about the old days of Overton Square and I lamented on the ghostly, vacant strip that it has become. The temperature outside dropped to frigid depths and the folks were rowdily huddling outside, smoking and shivering and cajoling us into their conversations. The entire evening the locals and tourists of Eureka were in fine form and geared towards doing exactly what we had hoped....cut loose. Whiskey shots were poured, rugs were cut, and cheers were met. A great ending to our first run of 2012. I can't imagine the tour going any better than it has gone these past three days. Jesse and Josh certainly helped to make things run with ease and light-heartedness.

Southbound this morning, we push down the highway, our bellies full of eggs and coffee and our spirits satisfied. Time to head home.

...so long Arkansas, thanks.

Fresh Start Tour: Day 3:

It's a crisp, cool day today with not a cloud in the sky...a perfect day for a winding drive through the mountains up to Eureka Springs. We stumble upon a crumbling, abandoned house and stop to take pictures and peek in through it's broken glass window panes and crooked screen doors. A true relic of what used-to-be for the town of Hindsville, Arkansas. Ghostly beautiful and sad at the same time. What happened and where did they go?

Eureka Springs was finally upon us and we stopped in at the New Delhi Cafe for their Indian buffet, which seems to have become a band tradition every time we are in town. Chicken Masala, Nan bread, and Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup. Yum.

The sunny afternoon had us wandering further up and down the cobblestone streets, perusing through tourist trap-shops and dive watering holes, eventually landing in Chelsea's (our favorite brew stop) for a Mason Jar of Belgian beer and a little chat with the colorful locals.

We lie in our hotel room now, a quaint nook with plenty of charm to spare and a friendly owner, Chris, who gave us the "starving artist" deal for our evening here. Then, it's off to Squid & Whale Pub, where Tony keeps the locals happy and the traveling musicians continually coming back. Tis' good to be back.

Fresh Start Tour: Day 2

Day 2: Fayetteville

We woke up to Mexican radio blaring in the parking lot and the distant hum of semi's barreling down the interstate. The room is soft, dark and cool, but I'm reeling to get out of bed, hit the road, and explore today. We make a pit-stop in one of my favorite western wear stores, "Tip Top" in Fort Smith. The boys wander through, ogling the fringed leather and studded bucket-sized hats. I find a faux-fur trimmed vest made in Montana and decide to splurge, after the successful night in Little Rock. The drive to Fayetteville needed some spicing-up, so we decide to take the scenic route through the Boston Mountains and wind the rest our way up to Fayetteville, overlooking valleys of lush forest and winding rivers.

We arrive finally in Fayetteville, exhausted and starving, my cold symptoms kicking in again, and seek a Red Roof Inn. Ahhh...

Mojo's, located next to a thrift store in a strip mall just miles outside of the center of town is packed with sport-hungry drunkards who begin filing out soon as the game is over. We waited...and waited...and waited..and finally we could play. An hour set...half a show, pretty much. But we feel grateful for the few stragglers who dance and really enjoyed the music. The night was certainly just enough for us..the owner was apologetic and asked to please keep in touch for another booking.

Still riled up from the show, we roll back to the motel, with the promise of food, comfort, and a good night's sleep.

The cool mountain air awaits us tomorrow....I can't wait to feel a true rush of winter in my bones.

Fresh Start Tour: Day 1

Day 1: Little Rock, AR

Holed up in a Motel 6 in North Little Rock watching the Dukes of Hazzard with Jesse Dakota (drums) and Josh Roberts (lead guitar). We got an encore tonight at Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack. I sold 10 albums and everyone by the end of the night was dancing their butts off. A true success, I'd say. And what a wonderful way to kick-off 2012. Goodnight.

Howdy there...

So, this is my very first installment of the Grace Askew blogging ventures and I just wanted to say howdy and welcome. It's been a long time comin'....'bout damn time I get to talkin' to you all...

Stay tuned for next week's installment...which will include an "Austin meets Memphis" night in Little Rock at the famed Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack.

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