At the Czech Heritage Museum in La Grange. This is in the building they have restored as a general store.

How lucky can one gringa get? As years go, 2012 stands out for a number of reasons.

ZZ Top's Dusty Hill on bass (with Frank Beard on drums) -- one of the shows I shot for the Majestic Theatre.

On a professional note, my photography rose to new levels. In September, I became the house photographer for the Majestic Theater. I’m still stunned by that job title and count myself so fortunate to be associated with this amazing venue.

My photo of Ruben V at the entrance to Sam's Burger Joint and Music Hall.

And at Sam’s Burger Joint and Music Hall – where I was first given the opportunity to shoot live music – my photos are hard to miss. Over the summer, they displayed four poster-sized prints on the back wall of Ian Moore, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Gary Clark Jr. and Carolyn Wonderland. Then, just a couple of weeks ago, they installed a monster-size print of one of my Ruben V photos. It feels great to be able to point at these artists’ photos and say, “I shot that.” A big shout out to Sam’s for giving me my first big break and for continuing to earn the title of best live music venue in San Antonio!

I submitted a portfolio for consideration as a volunteer photographer for the 2013 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. It would be such an honor to be selected! Of course, being a volunteer in this case could be a pretty pricey venture since I’ll be on my own as far as lodging. Wish me luck! I’ll write another post if I get picked and I’ll ask for your assistance to find a place to stay at a reasonable cost.

Karen Briggs of the Lao Tizer Group, shot at the 2012 Jazz'SAlive Festival.

One of the aspects I’ll be graded on for the Jazz Fest is my previous experience with music festivals. For that I have to thank the San Antonio Parks Foundation for selecting me as their official photographer for the 2012 Jazz’SALive Festival. San Antonio is lucky to have such a premier music event every year at Travis Park … and it’s FREE!

I also became a volunteer for the Office of Historic Preservation as they ramped up for their inaugural Preservation PROMenade in October. I've always had a passion for architecture -- I guess it comes from growing up in a house that was built in 1870.

Former Mayor Lila Cockrell at her beloved Japanese Tea Garden in Brackenridge Park. She's sporting
a temporary tattoo for the Power of Preservation.

Working with the OHP was a wonderful mixture of preservation, architecture and people. To be able to photograph such notables as Mayor Julián Castro and former Mayors Lila Cockrell, Phil Hardberger and Howard Peak was an honor.

To get to run around the abandoned Mission Road Power Plant was a thrill. It may sound geeky but I was like the kid in the proverbial candy store when I was let loose to take photos.

I’m looking forward to the 2013 event…and hoping for another historic architectural setting where I can get my geek on.

On a personal note, I made the decision to finally get healthy and get fit. After years of making excuses, I finally got serious. I didn’t go on a diet. I changed my lifestyle, and in the process, lost 77 pounds. I feel great! I walked my first half-marathon in November and have another one coming up in January. A year ago I could barely walk a mile without aches and pains, and now I can do four miles without breaking a sweat. Thanks to Weight Watchers for getting me on the right path, and to my friends and family for all the encouragement and support.

And then of course, there was the main reason I started this blog – live music! I went to approximately 80 shows this year – about the same as 2011. It started with Guy Forsyth at Gruene Hall on Jan. 1, and it will end with Mingo Fishtrap at Sam’s tonight.

Butch Hancock at The Bugle Boy in La Grange. Butch, Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore
make up The Flatlanders, who I'll finally get to see in Austin next month at the Paramount!

2012 was also the year I discovered a new type of venue. When I first heard about The Bugle Boy in La Grange, I was intrigued. A place where no cell phones were allowed, where people weren’t allowed to talk, and where the audience actually got to listen to the artist without distractions. What a concept! And it really works. Should you have the opportunity, check out The Bugle Boy, a place known as a listening room. It has 80 comfortable theater-style seats in a renovated World War II Army barracks. La Grange is more than the song by ZZ Top. It’s a cool little town with all kinds of historical spots and good food.

It was also through The Bugle Boy that I discovered a group that has become near and dear to my heart. It’s not a band, but it does revolve around music.

This group is called SoldierSongs and Voices, and it’s a nonprofit group that offers free guitar and songwriting lessons for veterans of any era. When I heard that The Bugle Boy was offering an informational meeting, I attended along with fellow Air Force veteran Michael “Maestro” Aurora. We figured that if a little town like La Grange could support a chapter, we certainly could start one in San Antonio, often referred to as Military City USA.

Thanks to the generosity of Sam’s Burger Joint and Music Hall, we have a place to meet the second and fourth Sundays of every month from 1-3 p.m. Along with Maestro, our volunteer musicians are Jimmy Spacek, Patrick Sigel and Lonnie Folshinsky – all veterans themselves.

We partnered with the San Antonio Blues Society a few weeks ago and had a benefit at Sam’s. For a first-time effort, I was pleased, but certainly not satisfied. There’s so much more we can do! I hope you’ll help me in spreading the word about this worthwhile endeavor.

If you know of an active-duty member or veteran who would be interested in getting free guitar or songwriting lessons, just have them email me at sanantoniossv@gmail.com. We’d love to see them at our next meeting at Sam’s Jan. 13.

And so there you have it – the year that was 2012. As busy as it sounds, there’s still more going on. Look over my blog posts from this past year to see what I’ve missed. I hope there’s something that catches your eye, and brings you back for more.

Happy New Year, y’all!


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