Friday, August 03, 2007

"The Office" (Workstation series 10)

From the front table on a very overcast and gray day: spitting little bits of rain (more atypical Gulf weather). View of the designer-caffeine menu board. It's actually a nice room: while the back room was an art-films house, the front looks like it was retail space (maybe a video rental store?): pockmarked dyed-concrete floor, floor-to-ceiling retail-style windows on the north and west walls, high ceilings, exposed duct-work. One reason I like the Hickok chair (aside from the neurotic back-to-the-wall issue) is because you can both people-watch--as they come in to the counter, in the southeast corner of the room--and also weather-watch--out the north windows (over my left shoulder in this shot). And, on the South Plains of Texas, what a damn pleasure to look out at the rain. Also the top of Dharmonia's head (Dharmonia's home!).

These are the kinds of days, 'round here, when I'll ring my flute-playing buddy Steve and propose a "guerrilla session." That's where we'll just grab our instruments and head out to some local bar we like the looks of. If the vibe seems right, we'll strike up a conversation with the bartender, and ask if we can play. Sometimes we don't even have to ask: this is one of the only places I've ever lived where, when you walk into a bar with an instrument case, the patrons turn around on their barstools and say "Are you guys gonna play?!? Can we unplug the jukebox? Lemme talk to the bartender about getting you guys set up. You want a beer?" And it's one of the only places I've ever lived outside Ireland where, if the patrons tell the barman, "these guys are gonna play some music," the barman says "OK, lemme unplug the jukebox and turn down the TV. You guys want a beer?"

Despite the constant and tiresome dissing which inhabitants of both Left and Right Coasts direct towards us, commiserating that we "have to" live "someplace like that," the region has an absolutely pristine record, both condemnatory and supportive, vis-a-vis live music. For 100 years, the fundamentalists have condemned music (along with dancing, gum-chewing, television, movies, you name it; old joke: "Why don't Baptists screw standing up? Because people might think they were dancing") and the young kids driven nuts by the region's social conservatism have created great underground music. As Waylon Jennings said: "Around here, you either had to play music or go crazy."

The region birthed Eck Robertson, Bob Wills, Tommy X Hancock, Waylon, Roy Orbison, Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and a host of others, and everyone from Charlie Christian to BB King to Stevie Ray Vaughan played the local juke joints and barbecues. 'Course, most of 'em left as soon as they could (hence Mac Davis's "Lubbock in the Rear-View Mirror"). The music is top-notch, the bar-band musicians are bad mothers, and the bar-owners and bartenders know that music is good for business, not bad. Thus the welcome for the guerrilla sessions.

Raining harder now. Goddamn but this reminds me of Ireland: need to go play tunes tonight!

Now playing: Josh Graves; Kenny Baker - Step It Up And Go

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