Squeezed into a crook on a bluff on Barton Springs Road, across the river from and just South of Austin's entertainment district, Flipnotics Coffee House is the hip South Austin hangout for artists, musicians, and students wanting to grab a hot cuppa.
One Murder Ballad (you'll never hear on Austin City Limits)
Located upstairs over the Flipnotics clothing store, the coffee shop has a small room tucked all the way in the back, smaller than my first apartment, that serves as one of Austin's most intimate music venues. A great room for one-on-one sets, the venue only holds about 30 people, and it's perfect for an artist wanting to showcase new material before moving on to larger audiences.
That was both the setting and the premise for Jesse Sublett's solo acoustic performance on a rainy night last week. Invited by Jesse, I arrived just in time to get my video camera out and set up. Jesse wanted to try out some of his new songs, and play a few old ones as well.
Sublett, former frontman for Austin's locally legendary Skunks punk band of the 70s/early 80s, has of late been doing a lot of writing, and needed a small audience to work out the kinks on a few songs. That said, it was understandable that some of the polishing was still going on and dropping a line or two, or fumbling the fingering once in a while was to be expected.
Starting out for the first songs on an acoustic guitar, he launched into "The Ballad of Jean Harris," "That Love Thing," and "Razor Blade Man." I have always though that Jesse's vocals sounded like a cross between David Byrne, Lou Reed and Bryan Ferry, and in an acoustic solo environment, those similarities are magnified. He also did "Her Heart Belongs To Crime," and one of my new favorites, "Who Put The Sting On The Honey Bee."
Switching to an enormous stand up double bass that barely cleared the ceiling, Jesse covered an old Skunks tune, "Earthquake Shake," and then a modified version of the old blues/jazz standard "St. James Infirmary."
Moving back to guitar, he started to close out with a new song, "One Murder Ballad (You'll Never Hear on Austin City Limits)," a scathing tune about growing up punk in small town Texas, that, although not autobiographical, certainly draws on his own personal experiences growing up locally in the 70s. The songs "S-O-L" and "Pissing in the Wind" ended the set after roughly an hour.
It's good to see Jesse out and about in Austin's music scene again.