Friday, May 27, 2005

Only The Good Die Young

Sorry if you were looking for Billy Joel content. You'll find none.

It really is true that the best bands die long before most get a chance to hear them. I wouldn't have believed it had I not seen it happen a half a dozen times or so. It's usually a local band you've put your heart and soul in to, either as a member or a fan, only to see them dismantle like the Space Shuttle over the Everglades. I'll do my best to scrape the plaque off my brain and give a few recollections of just such a phenomenon.

Before I joined the greatest band that you never heard live(Horseshoe), several members were in a band called Tab Jones. This band would inspire me for years, even after their demise. Greg Wood, Scott Daniels, Chris King, Eddie Hawkins, and Devon Fletcher were the mainstays of this group. Scott on his white Stratocaster blew my mind with every live show. I saw them a number of places here in H-town, but most notably at the Edge Bar on W. Alabama. Stuck back in the corner and adjacent to the pool table, the band tore a hole in my head each time they fired up their amps and did their thang. Sitting on the wooden bench behind the pool table, I was in awe as Scott shot rapid-fire notes from his axe and twisted my brain with his volume control nuances. His work with the volume control is mainly the thing that sticks out in my mind. Now, I've seen some professional musicians tear up the fretboard, but Scott had a way of really taking you on a melodic roller coaster ride as he went up and down the neck with precision attack and tasty waves of joy. Greg, on the other hand, was like a sweaty, gin soaked bear ripping through your mothers lingerie closet. A tidal wave of painful lyrics full of humor, razor wit, and down right genius. Always in your face or stealing your beer, you just couldn't help but see yourself in this hulk covered in hair. Always loaded and always full of the truth you were too afraid to face. But inside those dark greasy bars, he made it somehow okay for you to face those taboos and spit whiskey right in their face. A bonafied rock god, if ever I saw it. A gentle giant with a bottomless pit of despair at his fingertips. I love and respect him more than he'll ever know. I hope he lives to see the fame and fortune he so rightly deserves. Chris King would be my roommate several years later, his best years are still before him. I wouldn't learn of Eddie Hawkins musical genius until I was asked to join Horseshoe. It was there that I discovered I had the east Texas equivalent of Brian Wilson within my sight. When it comes to music, there's nothing this cat can't do. Writer, producer, composer, arranger, singer, you name it, this guy is the total package. Another friend who has yet to see his most productive years. With him, there is no ego. It's all about the music. He will do whatever it takes to get "the sound". I've had the pleasure of seeing him do his magic in the studio and boy is it a sight to witness. A Buddha of music. I hope he gets his chance to make another masterpiece(Horseshoes' King Of The World being the first) sooner rather than later. I'm lucky to call him friend. Devon basically wrote the soundtrack to my 20's. That's all.

As a member of Horseshoe, I had the chance to witness many great musical acts on the same bill with us. However, the band that stood head and shoulders above the rest was a little country punk rock act known as The Sundowners. These guys were really a breed of their own. From their suburban refinery roots, they brought to town a unique hillbilly sound and vision. The lead singer, Johnny Wolf, was part Hendrix, part Hank Williams, with all the sex appeal of Jim Morrison. A statuesque 6' 5", this guy was all nitty-gritty rock 'n roll who just walked out of the backwoods. With the volume on his Marshall half-stack turned up to bleeding ear volume, he stood like a Greek God over the microphone and rocked it just as hard. On drums was an unassuming cat named Red. With his "praying hands" tambourine by his side, he laid down a rock steady beat very reminiscent of Charlie Watts. Never flamboyant, always in the pocket. Their bassist, Hollywood, looked like he was country music royalty. Always decked out in the smartest country garb in fashion, his silver glitter-faced Precision Fender spat out a walking bass line that would get even the most jaded hipster barfly to shake their booty. I think an album was in the works when the whole thing blew up like the Deathstar.

Finally, there was this little ole band called J.W. Americana. Comprised of J.W. Americana on guitar and vocals, C.C. Dupree on bass and vocals, L.C. Dupree on drums, and J.C Dupree on saxophone. These sewer rats were the best thing to happen to this lousy swamptown in a decade. The sum of their parts added up to something much bigger than their individuals. The drunken singing Irishman, the gutter dwelling hero, the sloppy raging idiot that we've all buried beneath a facade of social graces stood up and whipped it out whenever these guys plugged in. A band that slapped you in the face and then made you wanna pogo dance until you puked. The party DID NOT begin until these guys made an appearance. With an arsenal of songs like I Fuckin' Love It, Man, Larry, and We Got No Hotdogs(In My Hometown) they broke all genre molds and made rock 'n roll their bitch. Their no holds barred live performances took you by the shirt collar and kneed you in the dick. And all the while you had a shit-eatin' grin on your smarmy mug. True hedonistic rock at it finest/worst. Again, an album was in the works before the wheels came off.

It's called Rock 'n Roll tragedy, my friend. All shooting stars that would fizzle and die before their day in the sun. Nothing is built to last. Nothing. So goddamn it, support local music. If you're smart, you'll record it, bootleg it, and send it around the world for others to worship. Do yourself a favor, dance and jump around like you've got a red-hot poker up your ass because before you know it, somebody has a baby, gets a job, drug problem, or ego that stomps out the embers before their flash fire can catch. It'll happen again, and dammit I hope I'm there to hear it!

4 Comments:

Blogger Kilian said...

Amen

8:11 PM  
Anonymous kathy king said...

I'm sorry to flatter you publically, but you're a really great writer. Aside from that, thanks for writing it. Houston's graveyard of amazing music is dumbfounding. Great Eulogy, Cary.-

3:14 PM  
Blogger ehaw12gs said...

thanks alot cary for the awsome compliment. coming from you is a privlege of knighthood stature.

your encyclopedic knowledge of music showed me the direction i never knew i wanted to go.

thanks for that.

sorry i never got to produce your brilliant songs. i will some day. your kind words are inspiration to do the best i can. you'll be proud of next album. i promise.

love you and miss you.

7:24 PM  
Blogger ehaw12gs said...

oh, and next time. watch out for the goddamn self referential blog titles!
you bastards!

7:26 PM  

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