Rusty Truck (with Rhett Miller): Hill Country BBQ 7 January 2016

So when Rhett Miller posted that he was playing a gig with Rusty Truck at Hill Country BBQ for free – for free – I knew I had to be there. Rhett and BBQ – what could be better?

Before the show I needed to use the restroom and imagine my surprise when I went downstairs and there was Rhett doing his soundcheck. violaleeblue, rtb, Peter, and I showed up early and got a great table right in front of the stage. Then started the confusion on how we get our food. They hand you a small folded piece of cardboard that has some of the menu on it before you go to your table. We placed our drink orders with the waiter and he took the cards from us. Knowing we needed the cards to get our food, violaleeblue ran after him only to find out that the waiter needed the cards to record our drink order. Then he gave them back to us. Then we had to go back upstairs and place our food order. A half-pound of brisket is a lot of food but it didn’t stop me from ordering three sides (cornbread, bourbon mashed sweet potatoes, and cucumber salad). Then we had to walk downstairs, balancing our trays, to our table. A busboy whisked away our trays so we would have more room at the table. The meat is served on paper so I was glad I asked for the bread to soak up any grease before it hit the paper and bled through to the table. The food was delicious. It may have been a pain in the ass to get the order but it was worth it. And I was too full to move but I still ordered an apple crisp for dessert. The dessert you get from the waiter. I was disappointed with the first special margarita I ordered. It included a smoked orange (smoked right in their backyard) and I couldn’t taste or smell the smoke. The second special margarita was better – it was rimmed with hot pepper.

Rhett hit the stage at 8pm and he barreled through all his songs. We heard old and new songs – some of his solo stuff and some Old 97’s songs. We sang along. Some people at the table next to us kept shouting out requests. Coincidentally Rhett played “Question” right after the guy yelled it out but I’m sure it was just next on Rhett’s set list. I missed Rhett’s stories and banter but, as the opening act, he couldn’t waste time. He did invite Kendra from Rusty Truck to join him on “Fireflies.” Rhett forgot he had a partner and started to sing her part at one point. There were a couple of missed lyrics but it was a great Rhett set. For the last song, Rusty Truck joined him on stage.



Rusty Truck simply continued to play after Rhett was done. The band is fronted by well-known photographer Mark Seliger. I always loved Seliger’s photos in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and GQ. He is not as good a songwriter as he is a photographer but I liked the music. The pedal steel and mandolin players were standouts. I didn’t catch anyone’s name in the band except for Kendra, who did back-up vocals, and Michael Duff, who played guitar. I also now have a slight crush on Duff. The question is, “Would I pay to hear the band?” I don’t think so. It was enjoyable because of the venue (great sound and nice sized room) and because it was free. I certainly enjoyed my time with the musicians – all were excellent players. But Seliger’s songs weren’t strong enough to bring me into his world.




I am happy about finding a venue in NYC where you can hear music for free and eat great barbecue.

By Carene Lydia Lopez