The Terri Hendrix Band

The Paramount Theater
Austin, Texas

When she began her first song alone on the stage, Terri Hendrix did not need to introduce herself to the audience in the Paramount Theater. She offered up her voice and harmonica to a crowd which largely knew her, and as she continued the show with the rest of her band, it was clear she knew them just as well.

As she would go on to explain, she had played the Paramount about a year ago, and over and over she thanked the crowd for braving the cold outside to be with her again. The Grammy-winning musician, producer, and songwriter Lloyd Maines joined Hendrix, and when she told the crowd how they had been collaborating since 1998, the two musicians seemed to share a knowing smile. On the wide Paramount stage, Hendrix, Maines, and their two co-musicians were spread far apart, but with every song, whether stomping roots, contemplative acoustic, or swinging flamenco, they all drew closer together as their guitars, drums, and voices blended. When Maines sat to play a guitar tribute to “America the Beautiful,” Hendrix and her bandmates listened as closely as the audience did. After all, the Austin City Limits Hall of Famer admitted he doesn’t solo anymore. Hendrix’s lyrics suggested a tight-knit community of neighbors and relatives all there for one another, and the performances of her band put it in practice.

The neighborliness of her music enveloped the audience also. She talked easily between songs, relating anecdotes, recalling memories, and even telling one corny joke which her mother once made—and the audience laughed along with her. Through out the show, there was an engaging conversation between Hendrix and her fans. The spoken words of the conversation often recurred: Hendrix spoke introductions for her song like she was introducing a friend to everyone, continuing to speak after the first gentle chords had begun. She spoke throughout “If I Had A Daughter,” singing here and there but mostly talking through her vulnerability. For “Fifty Shades of Hey,” she gave the audience a recurring part to sing along with her: “Born to be wild!” She swayed with everyone’s voices as they filled the Paramount.

It was the kind of show where one would want a smaller venue, and a closer seat to Terri Hendrix, because her music brought everyone together.

by Kevin LaTorre

Carrie Rodriguez

The Cactus Café
Austin, Texas

Musician Carrie Rodriguez began her show at the Cactus Café with a casual, “Bienvenidos a nuestro laboratorio.” The crowd applauded her then, just as they would when she finished her set over an hour later. Most of them had seen her at the Cactus before, and everyone crowded the venue past its available seating to see her once again.

Then, keeping with the no-show-is-like-another design of the laboratorio setup, guitarist David Garza flanked Rodriguez for the entire night. He and Rodriguez are old friends, and they played that way, laughing between sets and leaning into one another where they each felt the music swell just right.

Together they explained their own upbringings between songs: Garza grew up in Irving, and Rodriguez’s family arrived in the Panhandle, in a spot called the Llano Estacado. Her history filled her songs, where women “sing the blues” in the Llano Estacado, where her great-aunt crooned to a majestic ballroom as “la novia de canción.” Spanish lyrics drifted in and out of the music and framed every song in Rodriguez’s sense of her heritage and family. Whether she played sultry swing, the roots twang, velvety acoustic, tender duet, and wavering flamenco, it all sounded like her own expressions. A new song for the laboratorio pleaded, “America, don’t break my heart,” and lamented that “la historia isn’t what we thought.” Not only did Rodriguez sing it sadly, but it blended with every other sound–she constantly let everyone in the room hear where she comes from.

That includes the Cactus Café as well, as Rodriguez has played there regularly. She noted that the venue celebrates its fortieth year in 2019 to cheers from the audience. “At least we still have the Cactus,” one woman informed her neighbor. And it seems when Rodriguez plays the Cactus again, her hometown family of fans will again pack the café to its brim.

by Kevin LaTorre