Will Billy Gibbons get nostalgic and drop by to see the guitarist who opened for him at the Teen Canteen?

There was no moment more jubilant in the fledgling days of the humble South Texas Popular Culture Museum than the day ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons walked through its doors to take in the Teen Canteen exhibit.

In the earliest days, ZZ Top played Sam Kinsey’s teen club, and TexPop had on display the canceled check for the blues-rock band’s very first gig. Board member Jeff Smith had cajoled Gibbons with the tantalizing thought of seeing that $150 check once again.

It’s possible Gibbons could walk through those doors again for the new exhibit produced by retired music journalist Margaret Moser – “Standing at the Crossroad: Robert Johnson in San Antonio 1936.”

“Exhibit marks Robert Johnson’s S.A. sessions,” Hector Saldana, San Antonio Express-News, November 18, 2016

an exhibit at the South Texas Popular Culture Center

an exhibit at the South Texas Popular Culture Center

I didn’t bump into Billy Gibbons at the opening of the Robert Johnson exhibit at the South Texas Popular Culture Center, but that was okay because I was with the Mister.

“So….?,” you might be wondering.

Well, the Mister was in a band, Captain Midnight, that once opened for Billy Gibbons at Sam Kinsey’s Teen Canteen.

Sam Kinsey's stable of bands in 1969, collection of TexPop Culture Center

Sam Kinsey’s stable of bands in 1969, collection of TexPop Culture Center

There’s no promo poster displaying this connection, but TexPop does have a copy of Sam Kinsey’s roster of bands in 1969. And Captain Midnight is there.

There are no known photos or recordings of Captain Midnight playing during the Mister’s high school years. The Mister thinks might be a good thing, similar to the way a mercy killing can be viewed as positive.

The Mister’s career has come a long way since then; the blues band he plays with definitely rates seeing. So plan to kick off the New Year with the After Midnight Blues Band at The Pig Pen behind the Smoke Shack on Broadway.

Who knows? Maybe Billy Gibbons will be overcome by a wave of nostalgia and show up to see the guitarist who opened for him at the Teen Canteen.


After Midnight Blues Band at The Pig Pen

Postcard from Ravenna, Italy: ‘We three kings of Orient are?’

Detailed wish lists for newborns are commonplace online, but aromatic resins must have fallen out of popularity. Maybe because frankincense and myrrh are not stocked by retailers such as Babies ‘R’ Us. Most parents of today would welcome gold though.

These are the gifts presented in the manger by the three kings from the east who followed the star. The Mister’s mother, Virginia Hornor Spencer (1924-2000), would unroll handsome gold banners featuring the kings each year for the holidays, launching the annual trivia quiz to recall the names of the wise men.

The photo above eliminates the challenge by labeling them: Balthazar, Melchior and Gaspar. In this mosaic in Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, the kings are followed by a parade of 22 virgins.

This church was constructed for Theodoric the Great (493-526), who, in addition to his own baptistery, wanted a private Arian chapel near his palace. He is credited with commissioning the top row of prophets lining the walls. Some of his Arian Christian mosaics were altered after the Byzantine branch of the Catholic Church recaptured Ravenna from what they considered barbaric heretics. The parades of the virgins and martyrs were added by the more mainstream Catholics.

Saint Apollinaris was an early bishop of Ravenna who supposedly suffered through a torture and release program practiced by Roman emperors against the early Christians. He endured beatings, hackings by knives, forced walks over hot coals, time in the dungeon and numerous expulsions from Ravenna before his final capture resulted in wounds from which he did not recover.

Around the year 900, the martyr’s relics were moved to this church, which was renamed in his honor with the “Nuovo” tag to distinguish it from the first church to house his remains as it was near the sea and prone to raids by pirates. Most of Saint Apollinaris’ parts are divided between the two Apollinare churches of Ravenna.

The cylindrical bell tower was added in the 9th or 10th century, and the marble porch was tacked onto the basilica in the 16th century. The altar and its dome were altered much later.

Postcard from Villa de Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico: Chicken and turkey bagged to go

Etla, a word meaning “land of beans” in Nahuatl, reflects the fertility of the valley located only a few miles from Oaxaca City. The population of Villa de Etla is less than 8,000, and Wednesdays bring all of them and farmers from throughout the valley to market, crowding blocks and blocks with their regional products. Tuk-tuks zip in and out of traffic ensnared by larger vehicles seeking to score scarce parking spots.

So many more vendors than buyers. Rows of women hopefully wait to sell bushel-size bags of plate-size tostadas. Huge bags of dried chiles scent the air surrounding tables of beautiful fresh produce, flowers and dulces.

Pop-up restaurants were packed. The variety of dishes a woman can prepare over a single comal never ceases to amaze. Evidence of the Coke vs. Pepsi war invades the main market house.

The Mister wisely steered me clear of the animal market, knowing I’d want photos of all. But a few vendors of live chickens and turkeys ready for the pot were peppered in among the fresh foods.

The unprepped poultry reminds of my city-raised mother’s (Thelma Virginia Williams Brennan) brief exile to the remote Eastern Shore of Virginia at the beginning of her marriage. She said she would stand out in the backyard holding a squirming live chicken until finally noticed by a sympathetic more experienced neighbor willing to be the executioner.

And, of course, I, a major believer in the middleman enabling the purchase of boneless skinless chicken breasts, proved even less fit for the self-sustaining country lifestyle. Our organic vegetable garden kept caterpillars and deer well-fed. After a year of raising chickens and ducks whose only eggs must have been gathered by raccoons and possums, we found them all a good home before moving from Boerne into San Antonio.