In Austin’s Rockabilly subculture, beloved 1950’s styles and sounds still reign, but with a modern, hipster twist. Tattooed gals with brows plucked into careful arches and Betty Page bangs spend nights in honky tonks swing dancing with greasers with cuffed jeans and white t-shirts.
Brendan Ryan, long a fixture in this scene, celebrated his 46th birthday last Sunday by bringing together his friends for a do-it-yourself backyard barbeque complete with music played by his crew of talented friends.
Lloyd Tripp and the Zip Guns rocked out first. Then, as dusk settled, Brendan picked up the upright bass to join in with several members Combo Mahalo, which plays traditional Hawaiian music. According to the band’s website, Hawaiian music was once the most popular in the world, and the country steel guitar often played today was directly influenced by the Hawaiian steel.
Brendan also plays bass guitar with Rosie the Riveters; and he formerly played stand up bass for Two Hoots and a Holler, a band I used to go see at the Black Cat Lounge when I was fifteen. Back then the $4 cover got you a night on the packed dance floor and as many hot dogs as you cared to eat. The Black Cat may have burned to the ground, but thanks to musicians like Brendan Ryan, the Austin Rockabilly scene is still going strong.