Sam's Burger Joint and Music Hall...my home away from home.

Over 80 live music shows in 2011…about one show every 4 days. Wow!

When I started compiling this list I never dreamed it would be this extensive. There are even a few shows that aren’t listed here because…gasp! I didn’t have a camera with me!

There are a few three-days-in-a–row runs, and even a couple days where I went to two shows in one night.

January started out strong but then I got a bout of the crud in mid-February and my nights out went on an extended hiatus. I really hit my stride in July and things haven’t slowed down much since then.

I’ve got to give big props to Sam’s Burger Joint and Music Hall, my home away from home. Since I’ve become their house photographer, my life has never been the same. There are plenty of reasons Sam’s is always voted the No. 1 live music venue in San Antonio – great acts, both touring and local; awesome sound system; a super friendly wait staff. I love being a part of the Sam’s extended family! Many thanks to Keith and Eric for their support!

Wendy Colonna has the most incredible, beautiful voice. I first heard it on
KSYM 90.1, and now I am a fan for life.

Have you ever been to Luna? A cozy little place on San Pedro Avenue that brings to mind the lounges of yesteryear…but without the cigarette smoke. Luna has great vibes and fantastic shows. Without them, I would have never seen Soul Track Mind or Wendy Colonna, and they are both at the top of my Musical Artists I Love list. Plus, they have free food – I love when I’m there for their killer meatballs! Thanks, Marcus and Pam!

I really enjoy seeing shows at Tycoon Flats. Great set-up under the trees and plenty of seats. Fantastic food menu, too. They’ve had some really great shows on Sunday afternoons…the perfect way to end your weekend. Except for those days where it’s scorching hot, it’s a great venue.

One place I really need to go more often is the Phoenix Saloon, just up the road in New Braunfels. Beautiful historical building – the place where chili powder was born! An awesome selection of beer and equally impressive menu – you must try the baked sweet potato wedges! 

Ruben V -- the shot that became the shirt.

The award for Artist I’ve Seen the Most in 2011 goes to Ruben V, whose music I enjoyed at least 12 times this past year. I never get tired of watching or listening to Ruben…he is the consummate performer. Every show is different, and I love to see him interact with other musicians. I was honored to have one of my photographs of him selected for a T-shirt of his…how cool is that?

I’ve listed a couple events on my timeline that aren’t actually shows, but certainly have everything in the world to do with music. On Aug. 15, I met with Robert Brink, the director of “Devil Deal Blues.” This short dramatic film will take an imaginative look at what happened when Robert Johnson crossed paths with a hungry music promoter in San Antonio in 1936. Brink, a grad student at Columbia University in New York, is still acquiring funding for the movie. I’ll have more info on that in an upcoming blog post, and you can learn how you can help make this film! 

I also had an incredible opportunity Oct. 23 when I got to photograph Room 414 at the Gunter Hotel, the room Robert Johnson used to record his famous San Antonio sessions. Many thanks to Rick and Lisa at the Sheraton Gunter for making this happen!

In June, I started The Groovy Gringa blog – what a life-changing event! At that point, I had been shooting photos for Sam’s Burger Joint about nine months. One of my high school friends, Bob Ewing, posted a comment on my Facebook page: “Why don’t you ever write reviews of these shows?” Hmmm…why don’t I? I love to write, and I always wanted to have a blog but I didn’t know what to write about…so like peanut butter meeting chocolate, The Groovy Gringa was born.

A day without KSYM is a day without music, as far as I’m concerned. KSYM, San Antonio College Radio, takes the top spot on my radio dial. Who needs to pay for radio when you’ve got everything you need here? My personal favorite is the Third Coast Music Show, and I got to be a guest DJ on April 30 with my longtime friend, Dan the Cake Man. It was so much fun I went back a few more times and had a blast. Would love to work some more of those gigs into 2012, so stay tuned.

While hanging out at Sam’s all those many nights, my photos came to the attention of the San Antonio Blues Society. One thing led to another and now I’m also a writer and photographer for this great organization. They are a nonprofit group that promotes the blues at a grassroots level, doing great things like Blues in the Schools and the Sam Baird Scholarship Program. You can support them by joining or by attending any of their hosted events at Sam’s.

Jimmy Spacek, without whom there would be no Groovy Gringa!

Last, but not least, I would not be writing this blog or taking any photos were it not for my friend, blues musician Jimmy Spacek. He is the last person to take any credit but it all started with him. I’ve know Jimmy for about 18 years, and you just can’t find a nicer guy in the music biz. A super talented blues musician who has opened for B.B. King, he’s always there to mentor others. Thank you, Jimmy – I am proud to call you friend!

Roger Blevins and Mingo Fishtrap are ringing in the New Year at Sam's Burger Joint for the second straight year.

So, if you’re so inclined, listed below is a fairly complete list of the music that made my life so much richer in 2011. Not on the list yet is tonight’s show at where else – Sam’s Burger Joint – as Mingo Fishtrap rings in the New Year. A wondrous and groovy 2012 to all!

2011: The Groovy Year in Review

Jan. 7: A Night with Ruben V, Sam’s

Jan. 13: Bob Charles, Luna

Jan. 22: Suzy Bogguss, Sam’s

Jan. 27: Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Sam’s

Kevin Hernandez and Bob Charles, two of my favorite musicians in San Antonio, during a show at Luna.

Jan. 27: Bob Charles and Kevin Hernandez, Luna

Jan. 29: Soul Track Mind, Luna

Feb. 3: Ruben V and Rick del Castillo, Sam’s

Feb. 11: Junior Brown and Rodney Hayden, Sam’s

Feb. 12: Joe Ely and James Vives, Sam’s

March 9: Elizabeth Cook, Sam’s

March 12: Band of Heathens, Sam’s

March 18: Pedro Moraes, Luna

March 19: Ruben V, The Cove

March 31, Ruben V, Del Castillo, Monte Montgomery, Sam’s

April 3: Catherine Denise, Blues Hall of Fame, Sam’s

April 16: Ruben V, Harmon’s BBQ

April 26: Ruben V, San Antone Café

April 28: Bob Charles, Luna

April 30: KSYM, guest DJ, Third Coast Music

April 30: Al Stewart and Michael Martin, Sam’s

The first time I saw Charlie Cruz, he played this cigar box guitar. FAN. FOR. LIFE.

May 4: Blues Jam hosted by Charlie and the Cool Cats, Sam’s

May 11: Blues Jam hosted by Jimmy Spacek, Sam’s

June 1: Raul Malo, Sam’s

June 11: Ruben V, Alex Ruiz, Jimmy Spacek, Sam’s

June 12: First blog post, The Groovy Gringa

June 20: The Swing Commanders, Sam’s

June 24: Wendy Colonna, Luna

June 25: Ruben V and Del Castillo, Sam’s

June 30: Charlie and the Cool Cats, Quarry Golf Club

Chris Taylor, an artist surrounded by his art. So talented!

July 1: Chris Taylor, Fralo’s Art of Pizza

July 2: Soul Track Mind, Sam’s

July 6: Meagan Tubb, Sam’s

July 13: Blues Jam hosted by the Reverend Blues Band, Sam’s

RIP, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. I felt honored to have seen him perform twice.

July 15: Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Sam’s

July 16: Mingo Fishtrap, Sam’s

July 21: Seth Walker and Eric Lindell, Sam’s

July 22: Charlie and the Cool Cats, Tucker’s Kozy Korner

July 23: Sweetmeat, Luna

July 27: Adam Johnson and the Pay Me’s, Phoenix Saloon

July 29: Ruben V, Rolling Oaks Grill

July 30: Charlie and the Cool Cats with Omar and the Howlers, Sam’s

Sauce Gonzalez -- a living legend.

Aug. 3: Johnny Cockerell, Sauce Gonzalez, Spot Barnett, West Side Horns, Sam’s

Aug. 5: Jimmy Spacek, West Side Horns, Sauce Gonzalez, Sam’s

Aug. 11: Charlie and the Cool Cats, Quarry Golf Club

Aug. 11: Ruben V and friends, Sam’s

Aug. 12: Chris Taylor, Taco Garage

Aug. 15: Robert Brink, director, “Devil Deal Blues”

Aug. 18: Lightning Malcolm and the Ian Moore Band, Sam’s

Aug. 24: Blues Jam hosted by the Larry Trub Band, Sam’s

Aug. 26: Karl Morgan, Luna

Sept. 2: The Lavens with Charlie and the Cool Cats, The Cove

Sept. 8: Charlie and the Cool Cats, Quarry Golf Club

Donovan Keith, the high-energy lead singer of Soul Track Mind

Sept. 9: Soul Track Mind, Luna

Sept. 14: Catherine Denise with Gary Clark Jr., Sam’s

The Zach Harmon Band -- I love these guys! It's awesome when a band has fun up on stage.

Sept. 15: Zach Harmon Band with Ana Popovic, Sam’s

Sept. 16: The Mighty Orq with Carolyn Wonderland, Sam’s

Oct. 2: Catherine Denise with the Bluebucks, Tycoon Flats

Oct. 5: Blues Jam hosted by the No Refund Band, Sam’s

Oct. 13: An Evening with Ruben V, Bob Charles and the West Side Horns, Sam’s

Oct. 14: Far From Since When and the Karen Wells Band, Boehler’s

Oct. 18: Peter Frampton, The Majestic Theater

Oct. 20: Blues Jam hosted by the Bob Bass Band, Sam’s

Oct. 21: Wendy Colonna, Randolph AFB Eberle Park

Oct. 22: Charlie and the Cool Cats, Dirty’s Texas BBQ

Oct. 23: The site of the Robert Johnson Sessions, Room 414, Gunter Hotel

Oct. 27: Mark Junger with Scott Biram, Sam’s

Oct. 29: Mitch Webb and Michael Guerra with the Texas Tornados, Sam’s

Nov. 3: Tommy Castro Band, Sam’s

Alex Meixner at Wurstfest...who knew the accordion could be so sexy?

Nov. 5: Alex Meixner, Wurstfest

Nov. 18: Ruben V with friends Chris Taylor and Pedro Constante, Luna

Nov. 19: The Robert Johnson SA Sessions, featuring Rich Del Grosso with Jonn Del Toro Richardson and Rory Block, Sam’s

Nov. 20: Bluebucks, Tycoon Flats

Nov. 20: Chris Taylor and Ruben V, Sam’s

Nov. 23: Soul Track Mind, Sam’s

Nov. 25: Bluebucks on the Patio, Mike Zito and Bugs Henderson, Sam’s

Nov. 30: Blues Jam hosted by the Texas Saints, Sam’s

Dec. 4: South Texas Popular Culture Center Tribute to Doug Sahm, featuring Mitch Webb, Salute’

Dec. 9: Paul Thorn, Sam’s

Carolyn Wonderland...the voice that will not quit. Just amazing.

Dec. 10: Guy Forsyth and Carolyn Wonderland, Sam’s

Dec. 14: Rodney Hayden with Ray Benson, Sam’s

Dec. 15: Michael Burks Band, Sam’s

Dec. 16: Ruben V, Sam’s

Dec. 18: Robert Earl Keen, The Majestic Theater

Dec. 21: Blues Jam hosted by the Emergency Blues Band, Sam’s

See you in 2012!


Kim Ayers said…
I love reading about the SA music scene. I'll have to come visit again so we can go out.

I just want to know one thing; when do you sleep?

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