Local Jazz and a Local Brew Serve up Homegrown Quality

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An ensemble of Brent Watkins (right) South Texas Jazz group laughs during a break at a performance during happy hour at Lüke, 125 E. Houston St.

An ensemble of Brent Watkins (right) South Texas Jazz group laughs during a break at L

Bekah S. McNeelThere’s no better time than the NBA Finals to remind ourselves, as a city, that we can hold our own on the world stage. Better than that, we can dazzle.

But Duncan-Parker-Ginobili isn’t the only trio in town with world-class talent. The Brent Watkins Trio, a South Texas Jazz band, brings its talent to the big stage Tuesday, June 11, at the Charline McCombs Empire Theater with “The Sound of the Trio: A Tribute to Oscar Peterson.”

In doing so, they have partnered with another noteworthy local brand, Alamo Beer.

While this is a stage debut for the trio, each member is already a veteran in their own right. Watkins, classically trained, has already played Carnegie Hall and numerous stages in Europe. Bass player Tyler Jackson’s resume includes the Grand Ol’ Opry and Radio City Music Hall as he has toured with the legendary Ray Price. Dean Macomber, veteran drummer of studio and stage, was named ” Best Unsigned Drummer in the Nation” by Modern Drummer Magazine.

Brent Watkins Luke Alamo Beer

Eugene Simor looks on as a South Texas Band ensemble plays during happy hour at Lüke: (From left) Curtis Calderon; on trumpet, Tyler Jackson; on bass, Brent Watkins; pianist, and Dean Macomber; drummer. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

But the magic is in the synergy with all of the South Texas Jazz bands, and the live concert promises a chance to see not only three talented musicians, but a true trio, with a contagious groove.

It’s no accident that Alamo Beer was courted as a premier partner for the band. Watkins has an abiding appreciation for the spirit of Eugene Simor’s brand: Local footprint, universal quality.

An ensemble of Brent Watkins (right) South Texas Jazz group laughs during a break at a performance during happy hour at Lüke, 125 E. Houston St.

An ensemble of Brent Watkins (right) South Texas Jazz group laughs during a break at a performance during happy hour at Lüke, 125 E. Houston St.

As San Antonio negotiates it’s evolving identity among the great cities in our nation, the debate can venture into “local vs. quality” – as though we either have to import or compromise on talent. These two brands stand in stark contrast to that dichotomy. They are fresh faces in a long but understated tradition of excellence.

Both Watkins and Simor are active in their communities, patiently navigating the ups and downs of a city that doesn’t always understand what they are doing, and the value added of having them here.

Simor’s planned brewery adjacent to the Hays Street Bridge has been a catalyst for investment on the Eastside, in spite of being opposition from a small group opposed to private investment. Watkins found his niche Downtown, where the band can be fresh and lively, without having to come up with ways to be trendy or traditional.

They are sticking with San Antonio, rooting their brands in the traditions of the city.

For those who do understand just how much they bring to the scene– the microbrew fans, jazz hounds, foodies, (and business people)– the brands are a breath of fresh air. An element of diversity in the cultural life of the city, and yet an appropriate continuation of our musical and brewery tradition. They are proof that good business doesn’t have to be available in a big box, and excellent flavor doesn’t have to be fusion. It can be here, it can be ours.

Eugene Simor; founder and president of Alamo Beer, Zac Harris; Geekdom member and entrepreneur, and Brent Watkins; South Texas Jazz artistic director. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

(From left) Eugene Simor; founder and president of Alamo Beer, Zac Harris; Geekdom member and entrepreneur, and Brent Watkins; South Texas Jazz artistic director pose for a photo. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

San Antonio has a lot to be proud of. As I traveled through Colombia last week, it was not uncommon for me to hear, “Spurs!” when I introduced myself as a San Antonian. We get behind the things we’re proud of, and listening to high-end jazz with a locally brewed golden ale in my hand sounds like a pretty brag-worthy moment to me.

 

Bekah is a native San Antonian. She went away to Los Angeles for undergrad before earning her MSc in Media and Communication from the London School of Economics. She made it back home and now works for Ker and Downey. She is one of the founding members of Read the Change, a web-based philanthropy and frequent contributor to the Rivard Report. You can also find her at her blog, Free Bekah.

 

Related Stories:

Kirill Gerstein and Brent Watkins: Two venues. Two styles. Two masters.

The Pioneers are Here: SAGE Talks with Eastside Businesses

Downtown Tuesday: “A Worthwhile Experiment”

After Beethoven, now Brahms: A Festival of Discovery

Brent Watkins Keeps the Talent as Happy as the Customers

After Dinner: San Antonio’s New Gentleman of Jazz

 

2 thoughts on “Local Jazz and a Local Brew Serve up Homegrown Quality

  1. Something about tis article is off. I think it’s because you are preaching to the choir, and by choir I mean San Antonio. Look, people in San Antonio love jazz and they certainly love beer. I don’t see why a jazz band would have any trouble finding an audience here. As for Alamo beer, I’m not a fan, but any troubles they have run into stems from a community of people who fear gentrification and feel duped by local government.

    And there’s the rub.

    What you are doing is drawing a line in the sand. You represent a group of people who desire a more refined San Antonio. We commonly refer to this group as young professionals or the new creative class. I read about it here all the time. All this talk about new development and the need for a more robust down town is heard loud and clear by the folks who have been here for years. Is San Antonio changing! Yes it is. I understand the desire to negotiate our identity, but I will say this. I moved here because after going off to grad school and traveling the country, I realized that San Antonio was the most unique and genuine place I could ever live. I don’t think we should ever compromise what is truly San Antonio and we certainly shouldn’t model ourselves after other cities. We should always be ourselves. In doing so we will surprise a lot of people who are willing to take the chance on us. We’re like a scary dude with neck tattoos who you’d never talk to, but if you did you’d find out he had a Phd. I don’t think we should make ourselves more inviting. We should simply reward those willing to take a chance on this quirky city of ours.

  2. The “people who desire a more refined San Antonio” are NOT limited to what is “commonly” referred to as “young professionals”, but it includes some old professionals too! Everyone who wants a better life, more & better opportunities is not under 40.

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