Monday, January 4, 2010

Back at Work

First day back at work after the holidays (actually, I worked a few days each of the last two weeks, but it seems like forever that I'd been out). I was listening to my iPod on shuffle on the bus and had a good mix of classic rock and a few other personal favorites (John Lennon, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, the Beatles, Jimmy LaFave, Richard Thompson, Bruce Cockburn, and Paul Simon (solo)).

I'd like to talk a little bit about Jimmy LaFave here. Jimmy moved to Austin just about the same time that Laura and I did. I first heard him play at the Open Mike at Chameleon's in January of 1986 (can it really be 24 years ago!!!!). That night (with guitarist extraordinaire Gene Williams at his side), he did his songs Only One Angel ("in hopes that you could hear that sound, in streams of magic colors painted across the ground") and Minstrel Boy ("where roman candle people explode across the night so beautifully"). Both are personal favorites, along with Deep South 61 Highway Blues ("I've been everywhere baby, but I've never been nowhere with you") and many more. It took a few years for Jimmy to put the right band together and really break out, but he's now almost (if not) an Austin institution. He's recorded quite a few CDs, including at least an album's worth of Bob Dylan covers. He played at a Woody Guthrie tribute at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (where he reportedly shared the stage with Bruce Springsteen and other luminaries). He's played at Folk, Rock and Blues festivals across the country. He's played at the Kennedy Center Millenium Stage. He's played in Europe. His music has maybe acquired a bit more of a country edge as the years and the miles have rolled along (or so it seems to me from the CDs). Unfortunately, we haven't had the chance to hear him perform live in several years. I caught him at an acoustic showcase he did at the Birchmere a few years back (with Tish Hinojosa, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Terry Hendrix), but he's been on the road the few times we've been back to Austin.

Anyway, back in the late 80's, he and I and Betty Elders (there I go, name-dropping again) shared rotating hosting duties at the Open Mike at Austin's Chicago House. We shared the stage a few times and it was always a treat. Wherever you are today Jimmy, here's to "rolling down the highway in the neon night."

Just read on Betty's page that Glynda Cox, one of the proprietors of Chicago House, died last January (about a week before my dad died, though she was quite a bit younger). I hadn't kept up, especially after Chicago House closed and then after we left Austin, but if the world has been a little less bright this past year (and who would argue that it hasn't been), then that is one of the reasons.

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