Johnny Falstaff And Friends Make Quite A Spectacle At Blanco's

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Photos by Melissa Noble
Left-right: Johnny Falstaff, Jo Bird, Carly Wolf
Lonesome Onry and Mean is a huge fan of Elvis Costello's Spectacle TV show. It would be wrong to say there was a "best" night, but our favorite is the Renee Fleming episode. Fleming, New York's reigning Metropolitan Opera diva who released the pop-covers album Dark Hope earlier this year, and Costello talked opera before bringing out Rufus Wainright to talk some more about opera and sing an aria.

Then things took one of the kinkiest musical left turns LOM has witnessed on television in ages - if ever. All three began to talk about their love for bluegrass. And after an introduction for Kate McGarrigle, before you knew what had happened, monster guitarist Bill Frizzell had quietly plugged in in the background of the scene and Costello, Fleming and Wainright were singing a blue-jurassic version of Leadbelly's "In The Pines."

LOM certainly wishes Costello, Fleming and Wainright had been at Blanco's Thursday night when Two Star Symphony's Jo Bird showed up to jam with Johnny Falstaff. Bird had just completed the first of three nights of Synethesia, a multi-media show running at Rice University's Hamman Hall through Saturday. And if you haven't heard (or heard of) Two Star Symphony, let's just qualify them by saying they've now won multiple Houston Press Music Awards in the category of Most Unquantifiable Band.

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When LOM saw Bird stride into Blanco's with her fiddle case, we asked, "Are you going to sit in?"

"Nah," she said while sipping a vodka tonic, "I just didn't want to leave my violin in the car."

But after the midnight band break, when even Blanco's vets like Steve Fox, Rick Guerrero, Vivian Wise and Hank Schyma began to wonder if Falstaff was ever going to play again, we noticed Bird getting her instrument out of the case, unraveling cords, looking like she was doing a little more than keeping her instrument out of the hands of crack heads.

And, of course, she played the whole last set, through Johnny Cash and June Carter's "Jackson" and any other damn thing Falstaff wanted to play. Ending with Jimmy Lloyd's rough-and-rowdy rockabilly romp "Rocket In My Pocket" seemed like the only possible finale.

We know we have nothing on New York, but frankly, Falstaff and Bird are a bit more legit than Elvis, Renee and Rufus. Just sayin'... You think the Houston honky tonk scene isn't sizzling? Spectacle that, Elvis.


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