MUSIC: Much of the music in Austin can be traced back to the blues. So when you hear Paul Oscher play in a small club, his unadulterated blues come as something of shock to the system. Oscher, who played with Muddy Waters and comes with a barrel full of stories about the greats, has settled into a Thursday residency at C-Boys Heart & Soul on South Congress Avenue. Thanks to a tip from his manager, Nancy Coplin, I joined the throngs bobbing and weaving to the 7 p.m. gig. Bearded and gruff-looking, Oscher played harmonica and keyboards with the softest touch, then sang with a purity that could be heard from Chicago to the Mississippi Delta. Thin, young, very tan men, alongside overdressed women of a certain age, google-eyed bar regulars and others worshipped at his feet. Coplin tells me Oscher is off to Europe for six weeks soon, so be sure to catch his last dates in Austin for a while.
NIGHTLIFE: The story comes full circle. American-Statesman photographer Rudy Gonzalez took a portrait of Coplin at C-Boys while Oscher played. Then he set off down South Congress Avenue to document nightlife on a hot August Thursday. I had already made the reporting rounds of a dozen nightspots earlier on two excusions with Carter Wilsford, plus an add-on date with James Bilodeau. Here’s how the story starts: "South Congress Avenue is for daytrippers. Right? Families with children on holiday. Locals looking to scratch the retail itch. Flâneurs lounging in the shade of more than 100 eateries, shops, coffee houses and watering holes. After the sun sets, however, SoCo gradually shifts gears. The children scatter. The sidewalks clear out. The cognoscenti slip into darkened rooms to do what adults do. Not that! (Well, maybe that, too, but not in public. Life is no longer as louche as it once was along this former red-light district.)" Returned to the bar at Vespaio with Ian Carrico later last night to dip back into a crisp Arneis from the Piedmont and the city’s best calamari.
FOOD: Thai from two. From Matthew Odam’s story in the Statesman: "If Ek Timrerk hadn’t already worked at a restaurant named Spin Modern Thai, he could have used the moniker for his new venture. The Uchi veteran and one of three founders of East Side King takes his Thai roots and Southern-fries them at Kin & Comfort, with the help of chef Bonnie Wright, a Richmond, Va., native with a résumé that includes East Side King and the stellar Alinea in Chicago and Maison Premiere in Brooklyn. After mismanagement (not of Timrerk’s doing) led to the shuttering of the excellent but short-lived Spin in the summer of 2013, the imposing chef with the effervescent voice helped his younger sister, Titaya, reopen her eponymous restaurant on North Lamar Boulevard. Then he turned his focus to his own project. The food court at Hana World Market on Parmer Lane doesn’t have the aesthetic appeal of most new restaurants, but the low overhead provides Timrerk an opportunity to experiment and develop his latest idea. Timrerk, who moved with his family to Central Texas in 1994, had initially considered returning to traditional Thai food but found inspiration in the idea of blending culinary cultures." http://shar.es/1nj9mC
SCHOOL: The ultimate résumé. From Rose Cahalan’s story in the Alcalde: "What does it look like when one of the nation’s top military leaders applies for a high-level civilian job? Pretty darn impressive, as it turns out. A Q&A document filled out by Admiral William McRaven, BJ ’77, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus, and obtained by the Houston Chronicle, provides a rare and candid look into the closed-doors hiring process for the position of UT’s next chancellor. McRaven is the sole finalist for the position, which Francisco Cigarroa will soon be vacating. McRaven’s thorough answers to questions about his leadership style, his accomplishments, and his ideas about how to run the UT System paint a picture of a future chancellor who will need to be diplomatic and balanced when entering the fractious and scandal-filled world of Texas higher education politics. Below are some highlights…" http://bit.ly/1rdxXgZ