The grace of place; Jasmin celebrates everyone’s ‘Small Town’

Published 8:49 am Friday, September 7, 2018

“We’ve got the Old Mill, Oak Grill, Steve’s and George’s

There’s our homecoming queen

Isn’t she gorgeous?

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Hold my hand

As we walk around the Mill Pond

Kiss me just like the way you did way back at prom

Small town, small town, just enough room for you and me”

“Small Town Life” by Scott Jasmin

Scott Jasmin recalled a comment made by a friend after listening to a cut from Jasmin’s new “Small Town Songs.”

“Were you there when I was growing up?” the friend said, astonished.

Jasmin chuckled. It’s a common reaction, especially from those who grew up in Austin, like he did.

Jasmin celebrates that time in a musical love letter to his hometown with his “Small Town Songs” collection, performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Historic Paramount Theatre.

The Austin songwriter and musician – he is self-taught on both drums and guitar – spent many years writing and singing praise and worship pieces, recording two praise and worship albums, and writing a book. Along the way he joined Ventura Highway, a popular Austin group that plays 70s music.

While his bandmates will join him on stage Saturday — Mark Conway (electric guitar), Scott Anderson (bass guitar) and Peter Wangen (drums); Lilla Parada is also a guest soloist – this is Jasmin’s show.

The “Small Town Songs” sampler will be available for sale at the show on Saturday. Photo provided

“I guess every single song, in some way, is a glimpse into my life,” he mused while he spoke of the songs while sitting at B & J in Austin earlier this week. “I loved praise and worship, I still do; but I wanted to do something that had a little more broad appeal; something … to honor Austin. There is so much material.”

The songs speak of safe and happy days, of fishing in Turtle Creek, and walking to his girlfriend’s house near Skinner’s Hill (that would be his wife, Cindy); meals at the Tendermaid, or walking around the Mill Pond.

“We rode our bikes, we ran around barefoot, we played Ghost in the Graveyard and Kick the Can … every night in the summer,” Jasmin recalled of his childhood in southwest Austin. “We wouldn’t come in until our parents turned on the light so we knew we had to come home.”

The songs are a musical coming of age collection for Jasmin, who realized he had reached an age where he could effectively tap his deep pool of memories.

Scott Jasmin. Photo provided

A folksy blend of styles, with hints of vintage pop, rock, and even jazz, “Small Town Songs” invokes not only scenes from his childhood, but its music as well. The youngest of four boys, Jasmin enjoyed the music of the 1980s as part of his teen years. But he also – almost by osmosis – has found 1970s music “in my head, and in my heart,” thanks to his older brothers, who introduced him to the likes of The Eagles, Poco and America.

Three of his songs – “Small Town Life,” “Small Town Summer Nights,” and “Like Snow From Above,” will be offered on a sampler for sale at the show on Saturday; he hopes to record his entire album soon. Jasmin – a nurse – also operates his home-based Autumn Records.

He is already thinking about a second volume of “Small Town Songs.” He hasn’t come close, he said, to satisfying the need to record his reminiscences of his favorite town.

“There were so many things I couldn’t get into this (album) – I really wanted to write about … Ellis Junior High, the fair … Buffy the Cow,” he said with a chuckle, referring to the Holstein miss that sits at the Mower County Fairgrounds. “But I just couldn’t this time. But I wanted to. So bad.”