Oh Sweet Texas

Most people that know me, know that Pensacola Florida is where I was born and is home. Although I have been forcefully displaced a few times in my younger years, I am a Floridian, pure and simple.

I have a friend and native Texas son, who when we were talking about heritage, he listed his blood lines among others as Scots, Cherokee and Texan. I got a kick out of that! I know how much he loves his home state and that his connection runs deep in his spirit. It’s almost how he breathes, inhaling her beauty and soul, and then exhaling sweetly that beauty and soul, into songs and stories.

Here is a pic of Austin native Walt Wilkins and Sherman native, Jim T Graham.

I have spent time in the Lone Star State and must say I feel like an adopted son.  I think the flip flop wearing, Country-Soul of Austin, despite Las Manitas  no longer serving up its Megas and coffee, would be a good fit for me if I ever had to flee.

Cunningham native and Tamra’s Aunt Neva

Itasca’s favorite Son, Sam Baker and I at Kellers Store in Mason Texas somewhere around 2005.

Tamra with our friend and the eternal Mayor of New Art Texas, Bill Worrell

They have an old saying in the Lone Star State,  that goes like this ” I wasn’t born here but I got here as quick as I could”.

The above picture is Tamra’s Bagota native Father Doyle Howell. Below is the always and forever cowgirl from Euless Texas, Tamra Simmons

and just a few years later…Bucko the horse is also from Texas but not the motorcycle !!

So fly your home state flag, wear her in your heart, sing her songs and remember her as fondly as you might your first love ! And if you ever get a chance to slip on down Texas way, she is waiting, arms open and eyes a shinning !


Shine A Light: John Anderson

It must have been around 1980 or so, when I saw an interview by Ralph Emery with a new artist and fellow Floridian, John Anderson. The record was called ” I Just Came Home To Count The Memories”. I was knee deep in Willie Nelson, Bob Marley, and even guys like Gino Vanelli !, but I was young and missing my family, and the heartbroke strains in the absolute unvarnished country voice of John Anderson hit me right square between the eyes and knocked me on my ass ! I loved that entire record and wore it out !

Scoring early with a great Billy Joe Shaver tune called “Old Chunk Of Coal” and “1959”, then rolled over the Country charts with classics like “Wild and Blue”, “Black Sheep”. “Let Somebody Else Drive”, and the monster “Swingin”. For a while he was the man….no pinup cowboy… I remember seeing him in Mobile Alabama where his bass player was spitting his dip while playing ! I know gross maybe, but man back then after too much Kenny Rogers and fluff country, this was bad ass ! One of my other favorites for any weepy eyed, love lost young man was the sad “Down In Tennessee”.

Years later John bounced back with maybe one of the greatest songs ever, and one he wrote himself called “Seminole Wind”as well as “Straight Tequila Night”. I saw a show in Pensacola when that was hot and he sang Seminole Wind twice….they just couldn’t get enough….Just amazing.

If your looking for some grit, some of the real stuff, give John Anderson a shot..He’s one of the good guys !!

Music listened to while making this post, who else, John Anderson’s “Chicken Truck” and “Would You Catch A Falling Star”.


All Of That From An Egg !

I suppose when you start speaking about how little moments in life are special, some would say you start to sound old. Well, I don’t care what folks think, and my opinion of that would be that you grow into age just like you grow into wisdom. The young ones just haven’t been on this earth long enough to articulate these things. But, they feel them, everybody does if they are listening. One day they will know how to listen.

The other night around 930 pm, I was standing at the stove cooking some eggs for a late supper. This great feeling came over me almost as if I were in a movie. But it was my movie, my life and some random memories that it holds. One of those sort of deja vu moments. It was just a re-member…..My Grandmothers kitchen, paneled walls, indoor/outdoor carpet, gold appliances, a pair of ceramic praying hands, and the smell of not only grits, eggs and bacon cooking, but it was the smell of security and love. The late night conversations, guiding me through life, reassuring me that everything would be ok.

Kitchens have always been the heart of the home. It’s where the richest parts of life seem to happen. Where we break bread, build friendships, find our nourishment, give sweet kisses of hello and goodbye. Kitchens make all the senses come alive, don’t they?, like they have their own heartbeat.

So standing there reflecting on those memories and thinking of my children and the paths they are on. Worrying some, wondering, being proud and knowing they will find their way to healthy worlds full of love, connection and peace one day gave me much satisfaction. For a moment everything in this crazy world seemed ok, if even just for a moment. A moment was good enough, as the smell and sounds of eggs frying connected me to years gone by and gave me a warm feeling of the ones to come… It was just a little moment…. but it all came from an egg !!!!!

I was listening to Kevin Welch’s song “A Letter To Dustin”  and Sam Baker’s “Waves” during the writing of this post.

Shine A Light: An Experience

Perhaps music is like many other things in the way that whatever you put into it, is what you can get out of it. I’m not sure I’d totally agree, maybe you just have to remain open to the possibilities that it could really move you.

I was at the famed Bluebird Cafe in Nashville Tennessee the other night, and had church, or what I think church should be like! It was a moving experience that seemed to bring the room together.  I’ve had church with this person before, so maybe a little of it was anticipated. It’s hard to explain because it’s easily an accumulation of the connection of artist and audience, as well as the quality of songs. Never for this artist, to be underestimated, the voice and inflections wrapped around his own words is a power all its own.

And the singer begin to sing:

When the sun hits it right on its way down- it was the prettiest thing in our little town. We’d all sneak a glance over at the plastic frame and cracked glass that holds the picture of Ruby’s two sad daughters. Last mill closed when I was nine and Daddy left and Momma cried again, I spent my nights cleaning Ruby’s floors, just another cafe on a wind swept highway- the farmers bitched, were no good football anymore.

In this land that knows no laughter -in this land that hold no water- we were all in love with Ruby’s two sad daughters.

We were there with him, like we knew Ruby’s daughters. We were there on that windswept landscape, where there ain’t a lot to look forward to, where life is hard, but like everyone, those living there it was all they knew. Hungry to move on maybe but knowing they would never be able to outrun their soul.

One went way out west, one went way wrong, one left at seventeen and the other couldn’t wait that long. Neither went anywhere with me, not to the games or the Dairy Queen. Both split with the first boy who lied sweet and looked vaguely mean.

And the guitars hit sad, reflective chords, lamenting a world gone by. An age that comes only once. An age that doesn’t have a big enough view to realize the perfection of the moment.

why so pretty and forlorn- why so permanently blue- I guess ours wasn’t much of a kingdom to rule. Now when the sun hits it right on its way down, it’s still the prettiest thing in our little town. Every hour I sneak a glance over at the plastic frame and I fix the glass that holds the picture of Ruby’s two sad daughters. Why did hope leave town with Ruby’s two sad daughters?

And so we moved on through other songs. Other vantage points of life and the journeys that bring us all together if even for a moment. The rich textures and fleeting moments that belong only to time and memory, but the moments that we cherish and connect us. The hugs of friends where a touch has something extra. Not the backslapping kind of hugs or greetings, but the ones that slide into our spirits quietly and become part of the fabric by which we navigate this life. These are the riches my friends, these are the moments and experiences to cherish.

If you find yourself out around Luckenbach Texas on this beautiful 4th of July, you can hear these songs and find this richness. Go see our friend Walt Wilkins, go let the words wrap around your soul like a gentle golden thread that tugs you into community, love and harmony.

Gracias !