I like having a good intro. I started off my story with an invocation of the great Son House.
Here’s the whole story on YouTube, when I was speaking at All Saints Episcopal Church, Austin, TX, during Lent, as part of their their Autobiographies of Redemption series.
I was booked by Stephen Kinney, who gave a dynamite introduction, see it here. The concept for this series was very much like very cool Moth series (“True Stories Told Live”) of which I’m sure you are familiar.
I never actually gave the title of my talk, but it was “How to Fly with a Heavy Heart.” My themes would have been familiar to readers of my memoir, Never the Same Again: A Rock n’ Roll Gothic (some notes on that on my Books page, along with a link to an excerpt) as I wanted to go back to those themes: how to survive when the world is crushing you down, as I’ve felt in my worst hours, including when I was 22 years old and I came home to find my girlfriend, Dianne Roberts, had been murdered by a serial killer, and later in life, when I was a happily married father of a four year old, and was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer, with less than 10 percent chance of survival. Solution: Learn to fly.
Which is, of course, a metaphor.
The experts believe flight evolved as a means of escape from predators. Creatures built for swift running developed to the point that they could actually escape from the tyranny of gravity for longer and longer periods, which adds new dimension to the term “flight,” as in, making a timely egress from threats and troubles, including creatures who want to hurt, imprison or otherwise negatively impact one’s existence. The first creatures who actually became airborne had an ungainly appearance, as were the first powered flying machines developed by man.
By the way, an ancestor of mine from the Hill Country, Jacob Friedrich Brodbeck, is claimed to have built one of the first powered aircraft (although calling it that might be a stretch, even if the wildest claims success were true), which he tested either in San Antonio or near Luckenbach in September 1865, just after the end of the treasonous rebellion of the Southern States known as the Civil War–40 years before the first successful flight by the Wright brothers. Like many German immigrants, Broadbeck was a sour looking fellow, at least in the images I’ve seen, such as this one below, and you have to wonder, did his expression change any when/if his invention “lifted the surly bonds of earth?”
Well, ahem, back to my speech. I spoke about my experiences growing up Johnson City, a mean little town back in the 1960s, but LBJ was from there, and LBJ was and still is my hero. I talked a bit about how I became a musician, and that ghoulish encounter with a serial killer in 1976 and how I had to deal with that in 1997, some 25 years later. At the time I was struggling, with the help of my beautiful and superhumanly strong wife, Lois Richwine, to overcome the odds of 4 percent chance of survival with throat cancer. All this may sound depressing, but there was a lot of laughter during my talk, and I think it was the first time that I, Jesse Sublett —surrealistic blues singer, punk rocker, visual artist, crime writer, radical leftist liberal bird lover — have EVER filled the pews of a Christian church! Might be the last time, too. I dunno. I really appreciate being invited by Stephen Kinney, with some urging from congregation member John Burnett… They treated me well. Nice people. And the video was shot by Chris Green. Love the lighting! My face looks like the map of a forbidden continent!
UPCOMING GIGS / EVENTS: May 1, Tertulia at Continental Club Gallery, 7:30 PM…
May 12, Noir at the Bar with Jesse Sublett + Ace Atkins, Jim Wilsky, George Weir, at Opal Divine Penn Field 7 PM…
BTW, if you’d like to order a copy of my memoir, Never the Same Again, send a message on the contact form below.
And you can read about my other books, including my most recent noir novella, Grave Digger Blues, by accessing the pull-down menu at top under Books.