KGSR’s Blues on the Green is the largest and longest running free concert series in Austin. Last Wednesday (May 25) at 8 p.m., clouds of bug spray and smoke mixed in the air above Zilker Park, as people started flooding into the venue to celebrate Blue’s on the Green’s 26th inception since the concert series began years ago.
The first concert of the Summer featured Mike Flanigin with Billy Gibbons, Jimmie Vaughan and Charlie Sexton. Flanigin’s LP The Drifter had been released with the collaboration of many of the artist he shared the stage with Wednesday night.
Sponsored through Kickstarter, 308 backers pledged $41,671 to bring Flanigin’s LP to life. After The Drifter’s debut, the album was featured on Rolling Stone’s list of 30 great country albums you probably didn’t hear in 2015.
Coincidentally (or not) Flanigin and company decided to open Wednesday night’s concert with the title track: “The Drifter,” which features Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. While many well-known artists contributed to the LP, Flanigin’s expert Hammond B-3 shines through each track. What stood out the most on the LP was not just the amazing amount of talent that had been packed into the tracks, but how each performer shone in their own right without overshadowing the others. Flanigin wrote most of the album, and it listens like a walk through the major accents of Austin-based blues music. The Drifter manages to be airy, atmospheric, and rough at the same time.
The next band onstage was The Peterson Brother’s Band, two young men who at the tender age of 15 and 17 have taken the local blues scene by storm. The guitar prodigies’ take on blues melds genres with soul, funk and even disco. Frequently, the brothers compete and goad each other on stage, and the crowds love it. Originally from Bastrop, Texas, their sound has taken off and they’ve become a state staple. You can catch them at The Continental Club on Monday nights where they’re a resident artist.
The acts that kickstarted this year’s Blues on the Green provided an excellent representation of the different flavors of Texas blues had to offer. It’s an excellent way to spend some time in the middle of the week relaxing and listening to live music under the stars.
In fact, Austin has many concert series in the works — so you can spend your long, summer nights heading out to enjoy the weather and some live tunes. For example, check out Austin Symphony’s “Concerts in the Park” or “Music Under the Star” at the Bollock Museum.
The next installation of Blues on the Green will be held on June 22 and will feature indie-fivepiece Wild Child and singer-songwriter Max Frost. As usual, things will kick off at 8 p.m.–bring a comfortable blanket and some friends and family–we’ll see you there.