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An Unusual Evening at Shady Grove in Austin, Texas

An Evening at Shady Grove in Austin, Texas
*This post has been updated since it was first published,  and I’ve experienced a whole lot more of Austin since then. However, nothing has happened that has made me laugh any harder. 

An Evening at Shady Grove

No one has ever called me a dumb blonde.  From time to time, that shoe just almost fits, but I prefer the word ditzy.  I really feel like it’s ok to be a little ditzy, and there can actually be some advantages to it.
  • Ditzy blondes may not always understand ditzy blonde jokes; therefore, they are never really offended by them.  That’s an advantage.
  • Also, it seems that ditzy blondes are married to very kind men.  Maybe they secretly feel sorry for us and feel as though we could use their help.
  • We ditzy blondes never take ourselves too seriously. Thing about it. What a great way to live life. We know we’re not dumb – but where’s the fun in trying to prove it to everyone all the livelong day? So, we just enjoy life. Really enjoy life.
Which is exactly what was happening when my friend and I spent an evening at Shady Grove. My smart friend. She decorates, she has two smart kids to show for her blonde-ish self, and she can do hard math. She comes prepared. She’s fit. All that good stuff.

Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a blue moon, a ditzy blonde like me lucks out and finds herself with a friend who knows about as much as she does about whatever is going on at the moment. That’s when things can turn a little Lucy/Ethel-ish. And that’s when the memories are made, my friends.
The memories are made on nights like this one at Shady Grove.

It’s an Iconic Place

Shady Grove is a happenin’ place in Austin.  The setting is so nostalgic in its settled-in spot off South Congress. Nestled under big shade trees, this is a restaurant where people go to sit a while and listen to the music. The food is straightforward, delicious, and there’s lots of space to enjoy it outside.
Up and coming musicians play at Shady Grove all summer long – and you can hear them for free.  This is where people go when they’re out to experience that laid-back South Austin feel.
An Evening at Shady Grove in Austin, Texas

Iconic photo of Unplugged at Shady Grove by Steve Hopson

Well-Known Musicians Play at Shady Grove

My friend, DeNise Merritt, heard that Bob Schneider was coming to play at Shady Grove on a Thursday night.  So, we met there, but we should have met there a lot earlier.  There was already a big crowd at 6:30 for the 8:00 appearance.  It was obvious we weren’t going to get a chair of any kind.
Oh, well, DeNise had brought a blanket, so we decided there was time to tuck it under her arm, go inside for a bite to eat, and enjoy the air conditioning a little longer before Mr. Schneider took the stage.

Shady Plates and Hibiscus Tea

Even the fonts and colors of the Shady Grove menu help set the mood for some no-frills relaxing. It’s a laminated design of small-town diner and upscale drive-in.  From hearty, tasty “Shady Plates” to fresh and healthy salads, there’s literally something for everyone.
DeNise had the meatloaf and I had a grilled chicken noodle salad with Thai peanut dressing.  Delicious! To drink?  We had hibiscus tea served in big red glasses with plenty of ice, and an even icier sangria for dessert.

Time for the Tunes

Just as we finished dinner, we began to hear the rhythmic bass as the band revved up outside.  We inched our way through the crowd, out the door, and set our sights on the tall, dark and handsome performer standing on the corner stage.
He had a lazy, sultry, easy voice – different, kinda soulful.
“Wow, this opening act is really good,” one of us said to the other.  He was so good that I felt a little sadness start creeping into my heart. I was beginning to feel a touch sorry for the old guy we had come to see.
I mean, really, Bob Schneider was all that and a bag of chips on the Dukes of Hazzard, but he had to be getting pretty old by now, right?  Could his voice possibly measure up to this amazing opener currently crooning on the Shady Grove stage? And what’s with this young crowd, anyway?   THEY like Bob Schneider from Dukes of Hazzard??
I told DeNise that while she was in the ladies’ room while we were waiting for our table, I had met two UT students and asked how they even knew about Bob Schneider, and they  said, “Oh, our mom loves him, and we’ve grown up on Bob Schneider.”

Austonians Know Their Music

Can you believe that? Man, these people in Austin are so much more cultured than we two panhandle peeps were, I guess.
DeNise and I launched off into discussing that whole music thing for like five minutes.  Can you believe while our kids were watching Barney every morning, neither one of us had ever, not even one time thought to introduce them to the music of Bob Schneider on the Dukes of Hazzard? Good grief! Maybe we should text our grown-up adult kids some You-Tube links of his songs when we leave here, we supposed.
I mean, we sure would hate for our own offspring to ever get in a situation like this, where it seemed like they were aliens from outer space who didn’t know nothin.’
All this mid-life-wishing-for-do-overs-information was swimming around in our heads, and then … here it comes.

There’s Always a Moment

This is it.  This is that moment. It always happens. It’s the split second when life goes into slow motion.  The voices blur as the thoughts are lining up.
DeNise, the smart blonde friend takes another look at the guy on the stage, tilts her head to the side like a cute little cocker spaniel, and asks her ditzy blonde friend, v-e-r-y slowly, “Do you think this is a different Bob Schneider??”

Might as Well Enjoy the Adventure

All of a sudden, we felt like two giggling conspicuous elephants in an outdoor room full of know-it-alls who knew it all. Those UT students’ mom had raised them on this Bob Schneider’s music. Not the one from Dukes! What ninnies we were!
Oh, well. (This is a very common phrase used by ditzy blondes.) With a collective sigh, we agreed that we both still have a lot to learn about this Austin music thing. But hey, this other Bob Schneider was very good, so we decided to just go on ahead and enjoy the adventure.
There was literally no place to sit, so DeNise nonchalantly kept her cute animal print picnic blanket securely under her arm, and we stood in the grass snickering to ourselves. What fun were having making this memory. We’ll try again sometime, we declared.
The real Bob Schneider probably has another tour date we can sync up to. But wasn’t this a delightful evening at Shady Grove anyway?

Time to Call Our Ride

When it was time to go home, I phoned up the very kind man who married me, and he hustled on over to pick us up.
We had a blast, DeNise told our driver. Yeah, I rattled on, but the guy we heard was a different Bob Schneider than the one from Dukes of Hazzard. He was GREAT, though, and we were secretly a little happy for the Dukes guy that he didn’t have to follow this one at one of Austin’s most iconic venues.
Before we actually pulled out into the traffic, Mike pulled out his phone. I thought he might not know the way home or something, but I was too busy talking to pay much attention.

The Punch Line

“Um, Ladies,” Mike said…


BOB Schneider...
An Evening at Shady Grove

Photo –

is not JOHN Schneider.

An Evening at Shady Grove in Austin, Texas

That’s Funny – I Don’t Care Who You Are

Ah ha! Now, we got it.  The crowd was there for the opening act, all right, because there was no other act.
BOB Schneider is a very well-known performer in Austin.  While we were probably the only two people there who had never heard of him, I bet we were for sure the only two who had heard of JOHN Schneider.
If ol’ John Schneider ever does make it to the Shady Grove stage, however, we’ll be there. Actually, now that we’ve heard the soulful, sultry Bob Schneider, we’ll go back to hear him, too.
Next time, we’ll invite the kids.
Encouraging a life filled with everyday intentional adventure, and maybe an update on your playlist,

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  • Danelle Barber

    This makes me miss you even more, Brenda; and the fact that you’re there with DeNise, well, it just makes sense that it’s really all a bit ditzy.
    Appreciate your kind men. They’re getting harder to find as you get older….kinda like my keys.