Unforgettable: James Burton at the Continental Club, Austin, TX

From the “Nebbiolo meets the Hag” department…


Above: THE LEGENDARY JAMES BURTON has played on more of my favorite albums and tracks than I can count. Check out his discography here. Last night’s show at the Continental Club in Austin was one of the most amazing experiences of my life… literally… We had a blast. Photo by Tracie B.

It’s all thanks to my cousin Marty, who gave my number to Joe Pat, who used to be the wine director at Tony’s in Houston, where Marty is a regular (“John Kerry could be in the house,” said Joe Pat, “and if something was wrong with Marty’s salad, Tony would drop everything to take care of it.”) After taking a glance at my blog, Joe Pat knew what kind of music I liked: “The Hag and Barbaresco are two great things,” he once wrote me in an email (before we met last night), referring to Merle Haggard, “and why are there more references about wine in country music than all genres combined.” Friday, Joe Pat called me to tell me that James Burton was playing at the Continental Club in Austin, one of the greatest American honky tonks (in my humble opinion).


Above: James Burton is the father of a style of guitar playing called “chicken pickin.” A special gauge (thickness) of strings is used to allow the player to bend the strings easily with the middle, ring, and little fingers, while s/he holds a pick in between the thumb and index finger.

He opened his set with “Las Vegas” by Gram Parsons — the opening notes are one of his most famous riffs. What followed was a string of “hits”: he played everything from Ricky Nelson to Elvis and Merle Haggard, and everything in between, all the unforgettable riffs and solos that took some of the greatest songwriting and performances from A to A+. The number that moved me the most was “I am a Lonesome Fugitive” by Merle Haggard: if you’ve never heard it, check it out and you’ll see/hear why his guitar playing is so important in terms of how it shaped popular music in this country.


Above: Isn’t she gorgeous? I am simply the luckiest guy in the world to have found her. I mean, she is the sweetest girl in the world and she LOVES her some James! And she can cook… AND she can speak Italian! ;-)

Man, I love this town and I love that girl for bringing me here!

We’re heading out to a day at the Austin City Limits music festival…

Happy Sunday ya’ll!

6 thoughts on “Unforgettable: James Burton at the Continental Club, Austin, TX

  1. Oh you two are so darn cute, we just want to grill you both up and serve your between two warm slabs of sour dough bread.

  2. Sounds like a great gig. Who was playing in the band with James? He is definitely one of the guitar greats, although probably not as well known these days as he was 10-20 years ago.

  3. That was a great show!! We took our 14 yr old son to it and he’s the one that Casper dedicated “Working Man Blues” to. Casper and James took a lot of time to visit with Jes and give him encouragement as a young guitar player. James should be back with the Leroi Brothers at the first of April for the hot rod show. The gentleman(he truely is)on the keys was none other than Earl Poole Ball. Earl spent 20 years with Johnny Cash along with many others. You can catch him all over Austin.

  4. @Mary thanks for the comment and yes, such a great show! I remember you sitting along the wall and thinking to myself how cool it was that you were sharing that with your son. He looked so excited to be there…

    And thanks for the clarification re. Earl. Hope to see you at the Continental Club again sometime. We’ll probably go to the Redd Voelker show in November.

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