22 Questions about rock, writing & other stuff

Jesse by Rhonda McDonnell

Thanks to Tim Abbott for doing his latest “22 Questions” interview with yours truly, just in time to publicize next Saturday’s (Jan. 16) gig at Evangeline Cafe with Jon Dee & Jesse’s Murder Ballad Show. You can go to the link or see the interview below.

I’ve been swamped with work on the Lubbock book and have not had time to post anything new here, but hope to catch up next week. Happy New Year!

Crazy Heart, the novel by Thomas Cobb. See the film, read the book. Period.

PS. Just caught the new film “Crazy Heart.” I’m sure you’ve heard the Oscar buzz for star Jeff Bridges on this one and he surely deserves it. Maggie Gyllenhaal is fabulous, too, and so is Robert Duvall, but no surprise there! I was a huge fan of the novel by Thomas Cobb and wanted to put in a plug here. It was published in 1987 and is now out in paperback again. The film is really good, but it would not exist without this fine novel. Last year when I was wading through the submissions for best Texas related books of the year for the Texas Institute of Letters awards, I was considering calling in sick, or dead, or imprisoned, when I finally stumbled across a couple of very good entries, and Cobb’s Shavetail was the best of the lot. It’s a fine book, set in Arizona territory in the 1870s.

The road from Mobeetie in the Texas Panhandle to old Route 66 is a lonely one. I've been spending a lot of my time there, working on the Lubbock book.

22 Questions With Jesse sublett
Written by Tim Abbott

Jesse sublett has been a musician and media writer in Austin for as long as I can remember. Our paths first crossed back in the early 1980s, when an old girlfriend Geneveve Glidden turned me onto them. Their energy was immediately addictive and they were one of my favorite Austin bands to see live. Years later,our kids went to the same school for a spell, and our paths crossed again. I have worked in surgery over the past 13 years to support my musical career, and our paths crossed again, as I know his ENT surgeon,Dr. Melba Lewis, quite well from many cases we scrubbed together at Childrens Hospital.Small world. Awhile back I caught his Murder Ballads act that he does with Jon Dee Graham,and recommend you do,too… it’s not like anything else in town,and that’s saying alot.

1- I got a notice saying drummer Terri Lord is now playing with you and John Dee Graham . Tell us about that whole approach musically,and the inspiration behind it.

Jon Dee & I do the Murder Ballad Show usually with Kory Cook on drums. We love Kory. He’s one of the best drummers in town and perfectly suited to what we do. In fact he’s been doing the Skunks gigs with us since Billy more or less decided to “sit out” the last couple of shows, so he’s perfect for that, too. But Kory is busy a lot, since he’s so good and he’s in several bands, most of which, I feel, actually take advantage of him because of his looks. Most drummers, frankly, are not the focus of the band and for good reason. You don’t want a drummer hogging the show and in my opinion, you don’t want him or her to sing, except on rare occasions. It just isn’t right. Fuck the Dave Clark 5, even tho they had some good songs. Charlie Watts, now there’s a DRUMMER. Anyway, Kory is without a doubt the most handsome drummer in town and this really puts a big strain on him. A lot of bands hire him simply because of his looks. It makes him unavailable much of the time. But I digress. WE LOVE TERRI LORD! We go way back. She’s an awesome drummer and a really fine musician. She was in the Jitters, for chrissakes. She’s practically our kid sister. She’s one of the power hitters. Google her, she’s been in scores of bands. Anyhow, when Kory got this hot date, we called Terri. And we’re looking forward to having her. We also, by the way, have Tom Lewis on drums sometimes. He’s another great, great musician but mainly we like to have him in the lineup because, when standing up, it brings our average height way over six feet. If we were the slightest bit athletic, we’d be a mediocre basketball trio.

2- I loved the murder ballads I heard you and Jon Dee play 6 months ago at a bookstore opening. Where do you guys play at on a regular basis? Who is writing the music?

The Murder Ballads Show is what it is. That is, we show up and alternate songs. No rehearsal. The whole Murder Ballad thing came up a couple or three years ago. I’ve always been a huge fan of the genre, and I read several books about it. Stagger Lee, St. James Infirmary, Long Black Veil, Streets of Laredo, Frankie & Johnny, etc., these songs are traditional murder ballads, and they go way back. Laredo goes back several centuries. What they are, is ballads, period. Death is a common theme in ballads. I was already doing a few of these songs in my solo show, and I realized that in a good number of my own songs, there were similar themes. I mean, I just don’t do the average love song. A lot of my songs are narrative, kind of mini-caper stories or crime fiction pieces. I did a couple of shows at the Scoot Inn called the Murder Ballad show. I invited Jon Dee to one of them and he said, Well, I only have a couple. I said, Hey man, why don’t you think that over for a minute? And he realized he had plenty of dark material. Like his own “Laredo”, with the line, “We shot dope till the money ran out…. the money ran out…” uh oh. So that’s the idea. We do some covers, we do our own songs. We do a lot of our brand new songs that we just wrote. Jon Dee and I have been sharing songs this way since 1979. Whenever I see him I say, Well, what you got? And he’ll play me a couple of new ones he’s working on, and I’ll do the same. He can be a cruel critic, but then again, so am I.

I will usually pull out at least 3 or 4 Howlin Wolf songs every show. Back Door Man qualifies easily, and Wang Dang Doodle, even tho no one gets killed in it (that we know of, but it could happen) is so hardboiled that no one has ever complained. Lately we’ve both been coming out with some gospelish tunes. One of my newer ones is called “Hey God” and although it sounds kind of inspiring, it’s more about the Old Testament God than the modern, touchy feely God. The chorus is “God don’t do kisses, God don’t do hugs/ once He done creation / He said, People, that’s enough.” (The capitalized Pronouns in there are purely … arbitrary) Lately I’ve been doing the BIind Willie Johnson song “God Moves on the Water” which is about the sinking of the Titanic, which I kind of ripped off for my song “The Revelator Bird.” We both have an affection for the Sacred Steel genre, too, and sometimes we do “Roosevelt, the Poor Man’s Friend”.

Really, you never know what we’re gonna do. But you have your “unplugged” bands and then you have us. When the sound man is unfamiliar, we tell him, hey, look, you see an acoustic guitar, lap steel, upright bass, don’t think we’re some wimpy folk band. We’re gonna play loud. Mix it like we’re a heavy metal band.” Usually about halfway thru the first song, they get the idea anyway.

3- lets talk past music. Do you miss playing “Cheap Girl” ? Name the top Five Skunks tunes for my jukebox.Nmae the top 5 murder ballads you want us to hear.

I don’t miss playing Cheap Girl, no. But it’s a thrill to have written a song that was such a hit. The song just really works. We used to play all over the country, lots of times in beer joints and discos, places where they had never heard of us, and they would immediately react to the song, holler, whistle, laugh, etc. I can modestly say it’s a perfectly crafted pop song, the awful lyrics aside. I remember pulling into a club in Nacogdoches, Texas, during happy hour, to set up. The locals were gathered there after work, drinking pitches, shooting pool. They didn’t want to hear of no punk band or heavy metal band from Austin, Texas. We played Cheap Girl and packed the joint later that night, had to play the song 4 times. Eventually, however, I just got tired of it.

but still, we have to put it on the Skunks juke box. Top 5 would be:

Earthquake Shake (which is just as old but I never get tired of that one),
Push Me Around,
Gimme Some,
Cheap Girl,
What Do You Want
Sister Ray

I know, that’s six.

a random 5 Murder Ballads you should hear by Jon Dee & myself:

How do you like me now? (Jon Dee)
St. James Infirmary (traditional)
When Death Comes Creeping in the Room (trad.)
That Bitch, The Sea (by me)
Big Canal (Jon Dee)
Bring me the Head of the Last Poor Fool (my me)

4- Hang ‘Em High…that was a short-lived but cool band. You have played in a number of other bands,too. Give us a quick rundown.

Hang Em High was an R&B band I formed in the 80s with some guys I’d never played with before, all of them real pros. I wanted to do my favorite songs by Al Green, Wilson Pickett, etc. It was a great experience, while it lasted. It was good for my singing voice. Some of those songs, you move so much air to get the lines out, your head feels full of pure oxygen, or something, afterward. I swear, I always felt high after a gig.

I was in a couple of bands before the Skunks. One was called Nasty Habit, then Fazz Eddie & I were in a band with Danny Coulson called Jelly Roll. It was a flashy, glam blues band. Kind of like Stevie Ray Vaughan but faster, more Stonesy. More like the Werewolves, another great 70s Texas band. Just before we started the Skunks, I played with the Violators, an all girl band except for me. They were all good friends of mine anyway, Kathy Valentine, Carla Olson & Marilyn Dean. We always hung out together and they couldn’t find a girl bass player, so it was a no brainer. It was fun. We were Austin’s first punk band, along with the SKunks. The Skunks & VIolators played a prevue show at Soap Creek on New Years Eve 1977. Then we played Fort Worth & Dallas and then Raul’s, in Feb 78. The Secret Six was my 80s band, taking my Bryan Ferry turn, mostly not playing the bass but singing only. It was a challenge, very rewarding, but inevitably, very frustrating because in Austin at the time, everybody wanted to hear the new Charlie Sexton or or SRV or True Believers, not the Austin Bryan Ferry. The locals were that way and so were the record companies. They heard Austin was hot, it was original. So they flocked here and all they wanted was that Big Texas Sound. Nothing wrong with those other bands, but that’s just not what I was doing. I had another band, Flex, which put out an EP, we had big hair, then moved to LA at the behest of my old friend Kathy Valentine who had just left the Go Go’s. We started a band called World’s Cutest Killers. Played a lot of cool gigs, mostly in California. Did a demo for Mike Chapman, Blondie’s producer. Next I played with the Carla Olson band, which had evolved from The Textones. Mick Taylor, the only guitarist to quit the Rolling Stones and live to tell about it, joined us. We recorded two albums. That was a great experience. Also in LA I had my concept band, Cloud 19, which played a bit. Mostly we did songs that I wrote while writing my mystery novels. I also wrote about the band, fictionally, in the novels.

5- what other new musical projects are on schedule for you for 2010?

I’d like to record a CD in a real studio. I record all the time in my project studio in my office, because I’m always writing new stuff and recording. However, I have several very intensive writing projects right now and I can’t begin to think about much more musical activity until those are nearly finished. I basically quit booking gigs last fall because of that, which is why I’m really looking forward to the January 16 gig at Evangeline, which will be my first gig out in a couple of months. The one gig I do have on the books and which I am hugely looking forward to is the Howlin Wolf Birthday Tribute Show at Continental Club in June. This year the Mighty Wolf would have turned 100. I put together the tribute show last year and had a lot of great guests playing the show and it was a huge success, despite the fact that we had a flash flood right before it started. So, anyway, look for that.

6- ok, you are a sorta Austin Renaissance guy, with a career in other creative arts. Tell us about your other adventures in media. For example, you have written scripts, as well as written some crime novels ala Martin Fender character ,and a cant -live-without autobio about your life and times. Elaborate for us.

I do a lot of stuff. I’ve never been fabulously successful at anything but I get to do some cool stuff that I like to do. I started out writing crime fiction in the 1980s and ended up having three mystery novels published — Rock Critic Murders, Tough Baby & Boiled in Concrete — which (all now out of print but easy to find on the internet) feature a blues bass player and part time skip tracer named Martin Fender, and they take place in Austin. Those came out in the late 80s, early 90s. Around that time I also published a bunch of hardboiled short stories set in LA, called The Clapton Stories, because the protagonist was a guy named Clapton. I started writing screenplays when producers started optioning my stuff in LA, and I wrote a bunch of spec scripts and also a few for hire. It can be good money and it can be exciting, but ultimately it’s frustrating when you keep writing stuff that never gets made. I did write the adaptation for the play called In the West which was released as Deep in the Heart (of Texas). That was fun. I wrote dozens of shows for the History Channel and the old Disney Channel, mostly war documentaries. I had a show on History called Boneyards: The Secret Lives of Machines a couple of years ago. I’ve done other stuff, for hire, and some of the most fun jobs I’ve had were corporate writing. I wrote a book called History of the Texas Turnpike that I thought would be a huge chore but it was quite fun & rewarding. I’ve written for the Chronicle, Texas Monthly, Texas Observer and New York Times. One of my best pieces is called “Adaptation” and you should go to texasobserver.org and search for my name & you’ll find it. I’ve been working on a nonfiction book about the Austin underworld & white trash mafia of the sixties for several years. My best book is Never the Same Again: A Rock N Roll Gothic, which tells the story of my music career, my fight against stage 4 throat cancer and the murder of my first love, Dianne Roberts, in 1976 on the night of my first big gig. I came home and found her, and was immediately the number one suspect. This shattered my young life for a good while. Only when I faced death in 1998, as a father, husband, etc. did I decide to try & confront these ghosts which had haunted me for 25 years. It was ultimately a grueling and horrible job to write this book, but it’s a very good book. ANd there are many humorous parts. Especially the music parts are funny.

7- how does Jesse get inspired to write music? is it melody, is it lyrics, is it both, is it bolt-of-lightning inspiration that is akin to capturing lightning in a bottle, or is it more methodical than that?

I have no idea. It’s just out there. It comes to you. Although you have to work on your craft, of course. You do the work and it comes to you, if you are lucky.

8- and then,on the other hand, how do you get inspired to conventionally write your printed word?How did you create Martin Fender, for example?

Martin Fender was a no brainer. I was obsessed with Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe and Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade & the Continental Op. I had that world in my mind and I looked around at the smoky nightclubs and back streets I knew, and all the fucking weird characters I knew and I said, Hey, I can transpose this to my life. Some of the time, it worked pretty well.

9- you have Dashiell Hammett all over your styles. Have you ever read Damon Runyon’s “Trials And Other Tribulations”? Its his court reporting on several sensational murder cases and brutal divorces in the 1920’s that also seem connected to your style. Name your five recommended choices for the new Hammett reader.

I haven’t read much Damon Runyon except short pieces and I couldn’t tell you the titles. I remember movies based on his writing. I love AJ Liebling, which comes to mind when you mention Runyon. With Hammett, you should start with Maltese Falcon, because even if you’ve seen the movie a dozen times, you don’t know how great the book is till you read it. Very near the top of that list is Glass Key, which is also an awesome, amazing film. I love Bloodmoney next. It’s a novella, super hardboiled, and also quite funny. Red Harvest & The Dain Curse after that. Some of the short stories still hold up very well. I love to read about Hammett maybe even more than his fiction. He was an amazing guy. He could be a real fuckup, too. He was the first modern superstar, by the way. He made millions and he spent it quicker than he made it. He had a great time… for a while. And he told those idiotic right wing assholes to go fuck themselves, too.

10- you have a sweet family, I recall them well from our kid’s days at iseley School. [I was sad to see that close a few years ago.] Your son, Dashiell, is also a musician,correct? How long have you and Lois been together?are you politically active?

Lois and I hooked up, sort of, on New years Eve 1977 and have been together ever since. Our first date was the Sex Pistols in San Antonio. We got married in 1984 and Dashiell was born in 1993. He’s a hell of a musician. Technically and in theory, he is already light years ahead of me. Of course, I have style & mojo, which takes time. The Iseley School was a great place to send the kids. He got off to a good start there. I remember you commented on my 1988 Trooper, which was a fun car.

11- Let’s talk music gear. I love your work on standup bass with the murder ballads. What type bass is it, what type strings are you using, how do you amp it, with mic or direct line?

I recently sold my Christopher bass and bought a Troubador, which is made in Rumania at a former AK-47 factory. They have great wood there in the Carpathia forests of Transylvania. It has a great dark tone and good mojo. I am really enjoying it. The old bass was fine and had very good tone. This one is very different. I really, really love playing upright. There’s so much voice and character you can put into the notes. I think I’ll be digging this until I am too old to stand up. The bass is laminate, not solid, with a Full Circle pickup. I use either a Joe Meek FloorQ compressor/preamp, or a Fishman Platinum EQ/compressor, which goes into my Ashdown EVO ABM 500, a 570 watt monster with tube preamp, which sits atop a 4×10 Ashdown cabinet. For guitar, I have a Strat but mostly I play my acoustic Blueridge BG-160. It’s kind of a poor man’s 1950s Gibson J-45.

12- as a Skunk, you play electric bass. What kind of bass are you playing,strings you are using, and what is the rig you use to power it?

For rock n roll, a la the Skunks or whatever, I add a second Asdown 4 x 10 cabinet. My electric basses are Fender Precision. There is nothing like a Fender Precision. That’s a bass, brother. My number one bass is a Fender Precision 50s model, maple neck. It is totally badass. If you gave me a Jazz bass or a Jaguar or anything else, I don’t care how much it cost, I would sell it and trade it for another P-bass. I use DE Hi Beams, the hand made ones, which are bright and round wound. They cost more but they’re worth it. I have no use for flatwound strings. I don’t use a pick, just my fingers.

13- where do you prefer to record at, and who engineers your music?

I’m not particular. I’m not much of a studio rat but if Arlyn or somebody wants me to come down and record for free I’m available. I’d like to record at Top Hat. I do most recording in my little project studio. I just played on a Marty Robbins tribute thing with Jon Dee & Tom Lewis at a little neighborhood studio, but I forgot the name. Great little studio. I’ve done some cool sessions at KUT, actually, recording there after hours.

14- you have played all over the map for decades. Name your top 5 Austin clubs from the past you played at, and what you miss about them.

1. Continental Club, because it is the coolest, with the coolest people in the coolest neighborhood, & it has always been so
2. CBGB’s, which, although the one thing everyone hears about it is that it was a dive (restrooms were horrifying) but the sound system was first rate & the stage very good, it was great to play there
3. The Rat in Boston, also renowned as a dive, but the sound system was far superior to that in most Texas clubs of the time period
4. Slim’s in San Francisco, great room
5. Palomino in North Hollywood, great old joint, good history
6. Club Foot, Austin, big old cavern, lots of secret rooms, people danced, great, great club RIP
7. Raul’s, because they gave you chance & God bless Joseph Gonzalez, Bobby Morales & Roy “Raul” Gomez
8. The Island in Houston was just about the worst place we ever played in the country & in a feat of rare achievement, the place got worse every time we went back.

Oh yeah, I see you said Austin clubs. The Armadillo was great, though the sound was odd onstage, it was a blast to play there. Duke’s was OK. Nice big stage. Mother Earth was awful, but we liked playing there. The Back Room was a low rent, rowdy, often violent place with a tiny stage (when we used to play there, I think, every other Wednesday night), and we had to play four sets, which is a lot of work, for $250. But we got free drinks, the sound system was great, and we loved it. Soap Creek, when it was on North Lamar, was the best incarnation of that club. Had a great gig out there opening for the Fabulous Thunderbirds. I never played a Willie Nelson picnic but I was at the first one and by the way, it sucked big time and I don’t care what kind of mythology you have heard about it, but I’ll fight anybody who says otherwise. All the performers were drunk and horrendous.

15- you survived L.A… though it did it’s best to kill you. you are a survivor on a number of fronts,but most importantly, you are a cancer survivor. I know well your story, but many here do not. Tell us about how our mutual friend,Dr Melba Lewis, changed your life.

I love LA & hope to live there again someday. My cancer probably began here, from the stress, grief and guilt over Dianne’s murder. I had a lump in my throat, just under the jaw line, beginning in about 1993 or earlier, but ignored it for a long time. Finally, an ENT there said, Let’s take it out and he did, and the pathology said it was benign. Got home from the hospital and the Northridge quake struck. Maybe my doctor was distracted because his home in the hills cracked in half, I don’t know, but he said I had nothing to worry about. THis was early 1994. Returning to Austin, I went to see a series of less that A list doctors. Finally, Dr. Hillary Miller of ARC did some tests (she’s fabulous) and recommended Dr. Melba Lewis, an otolaryngologist who did her residency with Dr. Suen (sp) who literally wrote the book on head & neck cancer. Dr. Lewis suspected immediately that the pathology in 1994 was wrong, and during the tests, had the LA lab send samples of the cells they had tested and sure enough, they were wrong, I had squamous cell carcinoma which began in the right tonsil. By this time it was spread thruout my neck, mouth, throat. The surgery took over 13 hours, removing the jugular vein, right tonsil, muscle, saliva glands and lots of tissue in my throat. Still the area was positive and of 80 lymph nodes tested, 48 were positive. I had about 4 percent chance of survival. Taking what was then a relatively unconventional protocol, Dr. Lewis sent me for massive chemo and radiation after the surgery. To make a long story short, it appears to have worked!

Melba is a ballroom dancer; her original plan was to become a writer or to pursue some kind of literary career. She’s a Skunks fan. She definitely saved my life and I love her to death. I’ve sent a lot of other guys to see her, many of them being people who would be known to our FB friends, and the ones who stuck with her are still alive today. I don’t want to make too big of a deal about this, but the guys who decided to go to MD Anderson are all dead now.

16- hearing news that you aren’t ,uh,supposed to be here must be pretty humbling.And yet, here you are,with vigor. I have always been amazed by your spirit, your drive. What are your spiritual thoughts…religious? agnostic? Many people reading this have been touched by cancer, or by the loss of a loved one to it. You should know that you serve as inspiration to them. You seem to have boundless creativity.What vitamins are you on?

That’s flattering. My memoir did not set any sales records, but I certainly have gotten a huge payback in the people who have read it and felt inspired, encouraged, etc.,from it. One part of it is grief, the awful black hole of despair you can fall into when someone close to you dies, whether it’s from violence or natural causes. We sort of learn that you go on, one step at a time, that things like this have been happening since the world began. The pain never goes away but somehow, you learn to deal with it. Then we have the surreal and unique pleasures of cancer and cancer treatment to the part of your body you use to eat, smell, taste, kiss, talk, sing, etc. It is extremely bizarre to have your sense of smell, for example, turn into a source of torture and dark humor. When hazelnut coffee smells like rancid bacon, when you can smell a friend coming a block away, and it isn’t a pleasant smell, when ordinary food tastes like rat poison, and even if the smell and taste weren’t an issue, your mouth and throat and tongue no longer work together, and swallowing a spoonful of mashed potatoes requires herculean effort. When you have no saliva. When you get ulcers in your mouth that burn like red hot pincers. When you worry that your teeth will fall out because of the radiation (always a concern). All these things… you get the idea. You begin to wonder, will life ever seem normal again? You think, what about 50% normal, I’d settle for that. And time passes and things get better. It’s a relief to talk to someone who’s bee there. I am so happy to be able to be that person.

I don’t think of myself as being particularly good at anything except electric bass and I am funny. I am a real monster on the electric bass,I don’t mind admitting that. I have some skills with words and I make pretty good crude drawings of naked women. Other than that I am mediocre at most things, however, I have been lucky that since a child I had a sort of criminal disposition. I used to lie about not having done my homework because I was too busy drawing in class and the teachers let me get away with it, or gave me extra time in art because I was doing something special. I’m talking about the first grade. I’ve been lucky that people have indulged me which has given me time to make stuff up.

I like birds & cats & nature. These things inspire me. I feel religious when I watch whooping cranes & herons.

17- how long have you and Jon Dee known each other? he’s been dealing with health issues,too,as I understand it.

Jon Dee Graham & I met when he tried out for the Skunks in February 1979. He passed the audition. The guy before him had a beard ( a big no no for the Skunks) and played Grateful Dead riffs (another big no no) and as we were packing up, wanting him to get the hell out of there, he sat on a stool and played and sang “Dust in the Wind.” Billy and Richard and I wanted to kill him. But back to Jon Dee, we are very very close. He’s the only guy on my speed dial besides Dashiell. He’s getting much better lately. He had a near fatal crash in 2008, losing his spleen, etc., then fell off a ladder & broke 16 ribs. Dealing with pain and related problems has been an epic struggle for him. Lately he’s been much better. He’s got a monster of a heart, so there’s always hope that he will overcome anything short of being run over by a bus or something.

18- give us your top ten list for books you read for 2009

The War that Killed Achilles, Caroline Alexander
Goya, Robert Hughes
Boxing Shadows, Kip Stratton
Nobody Move, Denis Johnson
Let that Bad Air Out, Stefan Berg (a wordless graphic novel about Buddy Bolden, who “invented” jazz)
Down & Out on the Murder Mile, Tony O’Neill
Moanin at Midnight, the life & times of Howlin Wolf, Segrest & Hoffman
Nine Dragons, Michael Connelly
I’ll Do My Own Damn Killin’: Benny Binion, Herbert Noble & the Texas Gambling War, Gary Sleeper
Hero of the Underground, Tony O’Neill & Jason Peter
Bird, Colin Tudge

19- early influences of yours were? and what morphed from that into the Skunks?

Rolling Stones, the Who, Iggy & the Stooges, Yardbirds, Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music. We started out playing Stonesy style blues & early rock n roll, and we played it loud & raw; and our band (Jelly Roll) broke up. We had no singer. Eddie & I decided we could do it, that a trio was the way to go, and we just did it. We already knew dozens of songs and weren’t afraid to play ones we didn’t know, either, but of all those, I knew very few that I could sing & play bass on, so this jumpstarted my songwriting like nothing else. That’s basically it. Plus, we wanted to get out of Austin, and we just wanted to start a band, play a few gigs, and move to LA and do it there. But I met Lois & decided to stick around. Eddie took off and Jon Dee took over.

20 – which was the best yr in music? 1955…1967…1971…1978…1981…or 1989?

I don’t have any opinion on that. They’re all good. I listen to the radio less every year, so what is going on currently doesn’t necessarily affect me a whole lot. I keep digging backwards, actually, lately seeking out more jazz and more old, weird Americana, like Sacred Steel, Mance Lipscomb, stuff like that. I’ve been on an extended kick with Modern Jazz Quartet.

21- who would you like to work with locally that you haven’t yet?

Somebody who would let me run a dinner club and set up a band to back me up so I could come in wearing my tuxedo, sing a couple of songs, then go around shaking hands with everybody, just like in the movies. I have been trying to get Lou Ann Barton to record with me for many years. We are good friends and we love each other but it hasn’t worked out yet. Somebody should give me a Saturday night bill that I could share with Izzy Cox. I’d like to do some duets with her, like “I’m just here to get my baby out of jail” and one of her songs, I forgot the title, but it’s a love song. She’s a helluva gal.

22- give me 5 songs you play on from any timeframe of yours for my pirate radio station….and what radio staions locally do you listen to?

You want the titles or mp3s? the titles would be, I guess, “The Sea”, “Baby Saw Red,”(solo) “Who Put the Sting on the Honey Bee,” (my song, playing with Carla Olson / Mick Taylor Band) “Telewoman” (Skunks) & “Beat the Devil out of me.” (solo) “That’s How the Devil Rolls” by me solo, about Jon Dee’s near fatal crash

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