Music at the Red Garter? It's a 99 Percent Perspiration Thing

When I learned the Austin, TX band Shurman would play a half block from my house in a bar that never has music, it seemed providential. Like cosmic UPS delivery. I almost expected a comet over the Red Garter, or roses raising its foundation.

Humble but mighty, the restaurant and bar has a main room clad in fake-blond-wood-paneling, covered with a neon, mirrored or animated sign for every commercial beer known to ESPN. It's right-sized and comfy, but who knew it could sound good? On Wednesday (a Wednesday!) Shurman sat at the south end on bar stools and played and told road stories for all the world like they belonged there.

Turns out a guy knows a guy. A local musician and friend of the band, who is also friendly with one of the Garter's owners, scored the gig for Shurman as a pit-stop on the road to Puerto Peñasco with Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers' annual Circus Mexicus tour. Luck had it that the stop was timely: The cost and inconvenience of a detour via Pep Boys for a new wheel bearing was a running joke through the set. Merch was moved.

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More words and music, and an essential list, after the break.