For his unequaled acts of kindness and hospitality, I would like to officially nominate Keith Stanglin for Brother of the Year. If there is such a thing, my brother should be considered. Keith surprised me last night by taking me to ZZ Top’s 50th anniversary concert at the Circuit of the Americas amphitheater in Austin.
I’m in the capitol city this week for the annual Sermon Seminar at Austin Graduate School of Theology. As is my custom, I am staying with Keith and his family, enjoying Amanda’s cooking, and getting caught up with my niece and nephews. We typically attempt to do something fun together during this week — usually it’s a Round Rock Express baseball game. And we are doing that this Tuesday night. But last night was completely unexpected and over-the-top cool.
Keith kept telling me we were going to have an outdoor activity Sunday evening, but he wouldn’t tell me what. He told me to wear shorts and a T-shirt, but he wouldn’t tell me what we were doing. So we all piled in the car and started driving. As we got closer to the venue, it became obvious that we were attending something big. Lines and lines of hundreds of vehicles were pouring into the racetrack and I still couldn’t figure out what we were doing.
Even as we pulled into the parking lots I couldn’t guess. Until I stepped out of the car and was approached by a man selling bootleg T-shirts. “$40 inside, $20 right here!” And he shoved the T-shirt in my face.
ZZ Top. 50th Anniversary Show.
Not some local cover band. Not an art festival. Not disc golf. ZZ Top! It was right there on the shirt!
That’s how I found out.
So, yeah, last night I got to take in ZZ Top, which is always special. But Cheap Trick and Bad Company were also on the bill! Cheap Trick opened up with an ear-splitting 45-minute set. And then Paul Rodgers took the stage with his bandmates and played Bad Company’s classic arena staples for a little over an hour! I had seen Paul Rodgers at Reunion Arena in Dallas back in 1986 when he was fronting The Firm with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. And I had seen Bad Company at Tulsa’s old Brady Theater in 1987 when they had a different lead singer. But I had never seen Bad Company with their original vocalist until last night. And it was awesome. His voice is still so clear, he still sounds so good. And then they closed with Free’s “Alright Now,” which I always forget is a Paul Rodgers song. What an incredible highlight. And then ZZ Top. I don’t know how they get so much out of two guitars and a drum, but they do. It’s at least the fifth and possibly sixth time I’ve seen the little band from Texas live. Their voices are running out of gas — Dusty Hill turned 70 yesterday — and they don’t move around at all on the stage. But, man, can those guys play!
I am really looking forward to this particular Sermon Seminar because of Mark Hamilton, Jim Reynolds, and Harold Shank. As good as they’re going to be this week, they are not the same Tres Hombres.
I go to concerts now and it’s different. The crowds are older. Maybe even old. I noticed during the show that people were passing french fries and sharing funnel cakes — not exactly the way I remember the last time I saw Cheap Trick. But it’s really cool sharing the music and the bands you love with your niece and nephews. And your brother. The Brother of the Year.