When I first starting going to Fred’s Texas Café, there was just the one location – a dive diner in a depressed area where you could get great food and hang out with weird people. Cowboy Chef Terry Chandler ran the place, and they didn’t even own a credit card machine. They used to have this rubber rat on fishing line they could drop on tables at random just to scare the bejesus out of unsuspecting diners.
But times change, and after being featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (and with the 7th Street corridor becoming the center of the Funkytown universe), winning a table to get a Fredburger and fries became a bit of a challenge. Luckily, Terry added two more locations.
Saturday I decided to give the new TCU edition of Fred’s a try. Ginny Mac was doing a free show and I really needed a Fredburger. Where the original Fred’s was a tiny diner, with a large outdoor patio, the new place is huge. There is no rat on a string, but they do have surfboards, and bicycles hanging from the rafters. They even have pool tables and a real indoor stage. And on that stage we had Ginny Mac and her band.
The band consists of Ginny Mac (vocals, accordion), Kent Shores (guitar), Alex Brown (bass), Arjuna Contreras (drums) and Aaron Schumacher (keyboard, vocals, trumpet, and kazoo).
Ginny started out with Misery by Bob Wills, then they did a gypsy jazz number while a silver-haired cowboy in the audience did rope tricks with a lasso. This place may have surf boards hanging from the rafters, but it’s still Fred’s.
Ginny continued with the Patsy Cline number I Fall to Pieces. With Ginny Mac, you never really know exactly what you’re going to get. She does vintage country, Texas swing, jazz, and polka. Her vocals are awe-inspiring, and as I’ve said before, she can play an accordion in such a way that makes you actually want to listen to an accordion.
In between songs, we had a marriage proposal between two members of the audience (she said yes), and Ginny performed the Dorothy Fields song Exactly Like You for them while they danced – and then the cowboy lassoed the guy to make sure he didn’t break and run. She performed the Buck Owens tune Act Naturally, followed by Aaron singing All of Me, then back to Ginny doing Patsy Cline’s Walkin’ After Midnight.
We then got a shockingly good performance of Roy Orbison’s Blue Bayou. I get chills just thinking of what Ginny Mac does with this song. Then we got some polka tunes (with yodeling), a Russian folk instrumental, Slow Boat to China by Frank Loesser, and finished out with Secret Love by Doris Day – and those were just the ones I recognized.
The only downside to the evening was the drunken college kids who were hootin’ and hollerin’ and demanding someone play Boot Scootin’ Boogie on the jukebox. But this is in TCU’s neck of the woods, so this kind of thing comes with the territory. Most of the room appeared to be as enthralled as I was with the live music. Fred’s is a great edition to the TCU area, and give that grill another 50 years to season, and it’ll feel just like home.