I’ve been going down to Jo’s Hot Coffee since 2006 to watch Andrew Nafziger and the Jo’s House Band play originals and assorted covers—everything from Muddy Waters to Michael Jackson, and a little Merle Haggard in between.
Sunday afternoon, 12:30 to 3:00, rain or shine. They do have a theoretical 58˚ rule, but I’ve definitely seen them play with their coats and hats on, wearing wool gloves with the fingers cut off. And, they will shut it down for solid rain, but a drizzle doesn’t count.
I met up with Tina Rose in the lobby of the San Jose Hotel. She brought her dog, Lulu, and we talked for a while. It was supposed to be about Sinner’s Brunch, but we strayed a little here and there.
How did you get started with Jo’s Hot Coffee?
Liz Lambert was building the hotel, and I think she needed coffee to make it happen; so, she opened Jo’s with her brother. A friend of mine was helping with the hotel and said, “You should meet Liz Lambert—she’s looking for someone to manage the coffee shop. “ So, I just came over here, and I think she hired me on the spot because I brought my dog to the interview. I didn’t know that she loved dogs; I probably just had a dog with me like always.
We remain friends. It was kind of the best thing that ever happened to me, you know.
When was that?
October 31, 1998…it’s been a long time.
At some point you decided to host music. Was Sinner’s Brunch the first thing you did at Jo’s?
What happened was Liz was doing SXSJ even when she was still trying to get a loan to do the renovation. She would have that guy the King play–remember him? He used to sit down on 6th Street, play his guitar; he wore a crown.
Yeah. He’s one of the tenants featured in the documentary, The Last Days of the San Jose.
Once Liz opened the hotel as it is now; she would have Tosca play just in this little lobby. This wasn’t a big deal down here
I decided we should have something at Jo’s for SXSW; and, Gary Primich, my husband at the time, was tired of all these gospel brunches that were going on. There were all these different bands, but I think the big one was the Asylum Street Spankers. They were doing a gospel brunch; then, all of a sudden everybody else was doing a gospel brunch. And Gary said, “Let’s do a sinner’s brunch. Let’s do Sinner’s Brunch and play the devil’s music,” which is the blues.
Was blues the original format?
It was country blues because I was more of a country singer, and he was a blues guy. So, that first gig was just for SXSW. It was me and him, and Andrew Nafziger, Libbi Bosworth, Marvin Dykhuis, and Ron Erwin on drums.
That was 2000. We just had so much fun, I asked Liz if we could do it every Sunday. She said do whatever you want, you know, so we started playing on the little stage…it was just dirt…and that tree was puny. I begged them for bricks because we would inhale so much dirt.
For a long time the core was Lindsay Greene on bass, Andrew on guitar, but we went through quite a few drummers. Gary always wanted Jim Starboard, but Gary and Jim were on the road together. They could only do it when they were in town.
We recorded the live CD maybe in 2003, and at that time, Eric Hughes was the drummer. I don’t even know…is he still around? I haven’t seen him in forever…and Seth Walker was in the band at that time because Lindsay was playing with him; so, Lindsay brought Seth in. Seth has one song on the CD.
That was really fun. I still like that CD because I think it really captures what Sinner’s Brunch is like. And, it was Dale Watson who said, “You got to record that, you just got to record it, and you got to do it outside.” There are birds in it, and motorcycles. I don’t know, it just really came off well. I feel I can listen to it and go, “That’s a little piece of history that got recorded right,” you know?
Kind of like a million special guests have come through.
Chris Miller was in the band for a while. Dave Biller, Karen Biller, Ethan Shaw…he was in Chili Cold Blood. It’s pretty much always either been Lindsay’s gig; or, when he’s not there, Nate Rowe or Randy Glines. The drummers are always Jim Starboard, who doesn’t go on the road anymore; and, Corey Keller. And, oh, for a long time we had Damien Llanes.
And then Willie Pipkin, who’s one of my favorite people on earth, was playing with Gary when he died; and, I just felt like it was a natural that he would come in at that point. He has just been a really important part of that band. I would say he is my brother…my brother from another mother.
And Greg is a huge Gary fan–you can hear it in his playing, he’s a disciple. The crazy thing was the last vacation Gary and I took together, I think…we went to Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT. We’re in a bar, in Burlington, and this guy comes up and goes, “Are you Gary Primich?”
Gary says, “Yeah.” And, the guy goes, “Hey, my name is Greg Izor and I am a huge fan.” Greg was living there at the time, you know; and, he says, “My band’s playing tonight…you guys should come hear it.”
Of course, we ended up getting drunk at that bar and never made it out of the hotel room that night, which I always wished we would have. But, then, now here Greg is carrying on the legacy. He’s really the only person I want to hear do Gary’s songs, especially his instrumentals on harmonica. They used to talk on the phone a lot after they got to know who each other was.
Gary had a lot of harmonica bromances, like Juke Logan was one of his best friends. They fell in love with each other. They would have gotten married, you know if it, I mean… just listening to each other’s CDs…then, they went on the road together. We stayed really, really tight. Juke always felt like my brother. It was really hard when he died… you know, I was like, “Now I don’t have Gary or Juke?”
Greg is a great person to carry on that tradition; the whole Peacemakers thing is awesome. Mike Keller, Willie, oh, everybody, you know.
Dale Watson used to come to Jo’s all the time. He would come with all his motorcycle pals; then, about 20 minutes before the gig was over, they would all take off at the same time. Remember that?
And then they would go and do Chicken Shit Sunday at Ginny’s…then, everybody would go to Heybale after that. It was like Sunday, Sunday, Sunday…you know, the tripleheader.
I have some shots of the motorcycles all lining up then taking off one by one—lot’s of shots of the dancers too.
I love it when there are dancers in the parking lot. When Seth was in the band, Seth Walker, you know, they would all go out to see him. That’s all part of it. Sometimes, I forget that people are dancing when I am singing; and, I turn around…it just makes me feel so happy. It’s like, “They are dancing in the parking lot!”
When I started Sinner’s Brunch, it was after the Wednesdays at Threadgill’s had ended. Marvin said, “If you are going to do that,” cause he played the first gig, “you could just take over that whole thing.”
Gary was so right. He said, “Now, I’m going to be on the road a lot. You got to get Andrew; you got to have a strong guitar player who’s in your corner. “ That’s exactly like he put it. And, it’s just attracted so many great musicians.
Andrew is the one member from the very first gig. He is the one who is keeping it going. I told him, “If you ever get tired of it you have to let me know because I don’t want this to end.”
No…we’re not talking to you (Lulu).
Maybe we should interview Lulu. Lulu, do you have any words for us?
…Do you anything to say about it Lulu?
You know, Lulu’s the next generation because she’s the first dog I ever had that wasn’t rescued by both me and Gary. We had six dogs and four cats. From that day, I am down to one dog and one cat.
Lulu never knew him, you know. I always tell her…I’m like, “You’re just a punk cause you never knew Gary.” He wasn’t here to train her—he was a lot better at that than me.
I sure do lover her. She’s an Austin Pet’s Alive Cargo puppy. She loves coming down here, that’s for sure.
Seems like Jo’s has always been super dog friendly.
That was me and Liz. We both love dogs. The first slogan…it’s still, my very first dog, Ruby, the one I brought to the interview, she’s still on the website. Next to her face it says, “All dogs welcome.” It’s nice because Liz always let me use Jo’s as a platform for animal rescue
I remember when you used to have the dogs down at Jo’s during Sinner’s Brunch.
We would do them here, and then Austin Pets Alive secured the corner on Gibson, so that was good. Gary also started this thing called Barkin’ the Blues which was like the third Friday of every month or something. His band would play during happy hour in support of Animal Trustees of Austin before there was even an Austin Pets Alive here. That was really fun. People would come, bring their dogs and train them in the parking lot.
It didn’t last long, though—we probably did it for about, maybe six or seven months. Then, it got cold; and, we didn’t start back up again.
So, you’ve been visiting us in Austin for a few weeks. What have you been up to?
I had a great experience the other day. I had not been back to the original Austin City Limits, the KLRU Studio in the old building. The last time I was up there, Gary and I went to see Merle Haggard. We used to go Austin City Limits a lot; we’d hang around the radio station if Larry Monroe was on the air.
So, I got an opportunity to go see James Carville and Mary Matalin on the Evan Smith show, Overheard. I drive down there…I was really excited, and I thought, “Well, I’ll just park across the street” where I always used to park. Then I realized, “Oh, that’s actually the new studio now.” So then, I was cruising around looking for a space and all of a sudden I didn’t know what corner I was on; I didn’t recognize any building.
I kind of almost had a panic attack. I was like, “wait a minute…wait a minute” because I was in Austin for 28 years, and I suddenly did not know where I was.
28 years? What are some of the things you did when you first got to Austin?
Gary came down about a month before me. I packed up my stuff and followed him down here. The first night he said, “You’ve got to hear this band.” We went to the Flying Circus and heard Omar and the Howlers. It was great; and then, the next night we went to the Outhouse and saw Billy Joe Shaver. I was just in heaven. I was like, “I am never leaving.” Yeah, so, there’s a lot of good.
I remember the very first SXSW. It’s gotten so massively big, but I do remember the very first one—Gary played a gig with the Mannish Boys. It was Gary, and Omar and the Howlers, and, I think, maybe Luan Barton at the Flying Circus. That was actually my first job here, which was a blast. Just got to hear so much music.
Before Green Mesquite, there was a place called Pee Wees. Do you remember that? I worked there, living off the tips, and Gary. It was a really cool little joint.
I always thought it was interesting, probably just matter of survival, but a lot of musicians back then were carpenters or did some kind of trade on the side.
Yeah, Gary was an electrician, and he actually worked in the electric shop at UT when we first moved here in ’84. We always used to say, he was the electrician musician. Well then that guy Matt, the Electrician…I was like, “He probably really is an electrician.”
Gary started playing a lot, and he’d go into work really tired because they played in San Antonio all the time, or maybe Houston… His buddies that he worked with would let him go to sleep in the telephone room for an hour or two.
Walter, Champ, and Gary used to do some trio stuff at the Flying Circus. That’s how I met Randy Glines.
There was an Open Mic on Mondays. Rhythm Rats on Tuesdays. W.C. Clark on Wednesdays. Evan Johns on Thursdays; then, Friday, Saturday we would book different bands. And, then, Sunday was Mark Luke Daniels. I mean, for three years, it was the same.
Randy and Marvin Dykhuis basically moved here together from Wisconsin. We had a Monday night contest. Of course, the people that play Open Mic all the time had entered it. Randy and Marvin came in; we’d never met them. Gary was one of the judges. I can’t remember who else…maybe Mark Luke Daniels…
So, Marvin and Randy won…won it hands down. Some of the locals were all pissed off, like, “We come here every Monday, and these guys come in from wherever…” you know, but we became friends that night.
Randy and I have been friends ever since. He traveled with Gary. He came to Thanksgiving at our house with Annette when she was his brand new girl friend, you know; she and I became really good friends too. Yeah. Amazing. It’s a long time ago because I think they got married down here in ’85.
We had a band for a while…I don’t know if you ever saw us. It was Marvin, Randy, Rick Ward on drums, Scott Neubert on guitar, and me. Tina Rose and the Dance Hall Doctors.
We were doing really terrible gigs, playing in real dives all around Central Texas. The kind of places you would not want to play, where people got in fights, got stabbed. And every time Gary’s finally home and playing at the Hole in the Wall, I have a gig in Stupidville. I was like, “I just can’t do it anymore!”
But those gigs taught me a lot about performing. And I learned a lot from Libbi Bosworth. She’s a really good front person, a really good band leader. Watching her I kind of learned how to do it.
I enjoy Libbi’s posts on Facebook. She almost channels Ivins sometimes.
Everybody enjoys her writing. She’s a real Texan, and a real hillbilly. She and I have been friends forever, ever, ever. I always loved going to hear her. Randy was who said you got to hear this girl…way back in like 86. Do you remember Ravens on 6th Street? That’s where I used to see Libbi…and Tish Hinajosa.
Momo’s is really the only bar I’ve ever frequented on 6th Street.
Momo’s was a nice scene. I used to go there a lot for Warren. Such a gentleman, so much like his Dad. He was six when I met him.
I like that story about when Warren broke his arm, Champ worked a deal and got Gary to give him harmonica lessons.
I’d forgotten about that. That’s funny. Warren went away to school at Berkley, in Boston. He came back, his hair was like down to here (over his shoulders). So, Gary and I were at Egos…remember there was Ted Roddy scene at Egos for a little while? The Tearjoint Troubadours. It was Ted and Karen Poston, and Teri Joyce. Steve James would go down there a lot. Gary and Steve were really good friends.
It was so cute because I hadn’t seen Warren in so long. I didn’t recognize him. He had this long hair, and he goes, “Excuse me, are you Mr. and Mrs. Primich?” And we said, “Yeah…” And he goes, like, “Warren Hood.” Wow! What happened? He’s all grown up.
“How you liking school?” He says, “I hate it.” He did not like the weather…I was so glad when he came back. He belongs here. He got a lot out of it. He went from here to here (raising her hand). All of a sudden he was as good as is Dad.
Thanks Tina Rose! Come back to Austin soon.