Austin Blues Weekend-Day One-4/13/12…Omar & The Howlers @ Anderson Mill Tavern

Anderson Mill Tavern

Anderson Mill Tavern

I decided to have my own extended Blues weekend.  It all came about when I was choosing my venues.  Coincidentally the venues that fit best into my schedule were all offering Blues bands…nothing wrong with that.    Last night, the first stop in my Blues excursion, began at Anderson Mill Tavern.  As close as this place is to my house (less than five minutes), I had never been there before.  I sure drove past it enough times though.  Omar & The Howlers were scheduled to play at 9pm.  Once I got there (around 9ish) I was told they didn’t go on till 10!!  UGH!!  Ok, fine, so I would endure the opening band for an hour.  I was quite surprised by a hefty cover when I walked in.  I don’t remember seeing ANYWHERE that there would be a cover.  Oh well…all in the name of live music.  The opening band was also very blues affiliated, so I happily people watched while they played.  The bar is decent sized, not huge.  When you walk in, the main bar is straight ahead.  They also set up a beer tub with a lady manning it right in front of the entrance, closer to when the main band went on.  Smart move.  As you walk in to the bar, to your left is the main stage/dance floor area.  There’s a couch section directly in front of the stage and behind that are two rows of long wooden tables.  There are also a few highboy tables, so plenty of seating.  The bar has four pool tables all the way in the back.  So you can listen to music, dance, and play pool.  Good options.  The one thing I noticed while I was people watching is that this bar (at least on this particular night) attracts a more mature crowd.  I barely spotted anyone under 30.  This is where the older folks can get their groove on.  ;0  Right before Omar & The Howlers took the stage (and btw they went on closer to 10:30) a woman approached me to see if there was anyone else sitting at my table.  This place began to really fill up at around 10, so she was scoping out her “spot”.  She & her buddy did end up sitting with me (oh joy).  Wow, what a character.  She started spilling her guts to me literally 30 seconds after she sat down.  Guess she never heard the phrase TMI!!!  I was mostly amused by her when she almost got into a catfight with two other women because they stood in front of her when the band started playing.  She complained, “I’m too short.  I can’t see.”  When she aggressively approached the ladies to ask them to move, the impeding ladies gave her one look (the look that said “you’re crazy”) and continued chatting.  The “crazy” lady took further measures by jumping out of her chair, squeezing around the ladies and plopping herself directly in front of the ladies as a way of “showing” them how they had blocked her view.  I was ready for a full-on blow out, but the ladies let me down.  They seemed to resolve the issue by sliding down a bit, out of “crazy” lady’s way.  DAMN!!  Show over.  Oh, woe is me.  BUT…thankfully…I was not to be let down.  Oh no!!  The band brought the colorful people to the dance floor.  The two that really stood out to me were Mr. Prancey Pants and Grandma Shuffle.  Mr. Prancey Pants was putting on a show for Omar by doing ballerina type moves, shaking his butt, and throwing in his take on modern dance.  It was quite a sight.  Once I got bored with his performance, I noticed Grandma Shuffle.  She was doing her version of the Hokey Pokey, or so it seemed, putting one foot in-one foot out and so forth.  She would do her little shuffle for a bit in front of the stage, then she’d come shuffling over to the bar (maybe for a refill?) then back she’d shuffle to the dance floor.  Everyday she’s shufflin’…Grandma Shuffle’s Theme Song.  Anyway, back to Omar & The Howlers.  They’re an old school, 3-piece, Texas blues band:  guitar, bass, & drums.  And they were great!!  I especially loved Omar chilling in his chair, with his guitar resting on his big belly.  LOVED that, as a matter of fact.  He was doing crazy things with his guitar too.  WOW!!  Not only was Omar fantastic on that guitar, but his gravelly heartfelt vocals added so much to the songs.  I appreciated that the band focused on authentic blues.  And they changed it up too, not staying on one particular style.  They had the slower numbers, more honky-tonk, and even some mainstream stuff.  And man did this audience love it.  They were dancing the whole time.  It was obvious this group of people came out to see THEM.  Which made me wonder if it’s always more of a mature crowd or was it only because of this particular band?  It really didn’t matter because I was just happy to hear some real blues.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the whole set as I had to work early the next morning.  But I definitely enjoyed what I did see.  Nothing better than some good blues, real blues on a Friday Night in Austin.

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