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There’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.
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.
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.
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.