Jessie Williams, the legendary madam of the Chicken Ranch brothel in La Grange Texas

Nine years ago today we ventured down to La Grange, Texas. Inside the old Fayette County Jail we found a tribute to the Chicken Ranch, a long-shuttered brothel located in rural Fayette County. Faye Stewart aka Jessie Williams was the first madam of the brothel (est.1915). Ms. Williams was a no nonsense type who ran a clean house and forbade the use of alcohol. Continue Reading

Pitboss Scott Morales At Taylor Cafe

Scott Morales has been the pitboss at Taylor Cafe in Taylor, Texas for over a decade. We go here for handmade Bohunk sausage and briskets cooked over post oak fires. Vencil Mares is the owner of the old joint (est. 1948) but it’s Mr Morales who shepherds the meat from raw to a state of extreme deliciousness.

Morales runs through a half ton of brisket per week at the old smokehouse, and just like any other barbecue restaurant, Taylor Cafe has its good days and its bad days.

Here’s our field report from last summer.

We’ve been fortunate to live in Kentucky, the birthplace of Bluegrass music; Alabama, the cradle of Out-Jazz via the compositions of Sun Ra; Texas, the Mesopotamia of Outlaw Country, and now, Louisiana, the nursery for a genre of music that would become known as Jazz.

On February 26th 1917, an all-white group of musicians known as The Original Dixieland Jass Band, stepped into a studio at Victor Talking Machine Company in New York City, and recorded “Livery Stable Blues.” This marked the first time that jass had ever been committed to wax. The cut would sell over a million copies (.75c retail)

Writer Christian Blauvelt, in an article for BBC, ably explores the origins of Jazz, and we highly recommend his work.

Players for The Original Dixieland Jass Band
Nick LaRocca — cornet
Eddie Edwards — trombone
Larry Shields — clarinet
Henry Ragas — piano
Tony Spargo — drums

Franklin Barbecue’s Original Food Trailer

Before moving to New Orleans we lived two blocks from Aaron Franklin’s barbecue trailer in the French Place neighborhood of Austin, Texas. When the wunderkind first opened for business we quickly became regulars. Then Shaggybevo got on board, and the scene slowly became unnavigable as lines grew to previously unseen proportions.

On this day in 2011 we paid one final visit as the Franklins had announced they would be moving into the former Ben’s Longbranch down the road apiece on 11th Street.

Six years go by in a flash but if memory serves we cleaned the trailer out of their remaining brisket, and may have had a stray pork rib or sausage link.

We may have even shed a tear or two, and read some Thornton Wilder. Six years is a long time but it does pass quickly.