One of Austin’s most intriguing musical tribes over the years is what can be best described as the folk outlaws—a fringe element that drinks and drugs too much and lives on the street just this side of homeless, all for the sake of the song. In this realm, where Townes Van Zandt is the father figure and Calvin Russell is the success story, Blaze Foley is the heart and soul. He wrote and sang story songs so vividly full of ache, sadness, reflection, and the naked truth that I believe he may have attained that level of direct realism that songsmiths such as Kristofferson, Dylan, and Haggard are always trying to reach. He paid the ultimate price at the age of 39, shot and killed trying to protect a friend’s welfare check. Live at the Austin Outhouse documents Foley in performance a month before his death eleven years ago. It would be easy to frame it in the usual tragedy-festered what-might-have-been context, but consider it as a fresh CD that holds up remarkably well. The guy can write, and no one covers his material better than he does. All the right ingredients to become a new sensation. by Joe Nick Patoski (Also available at