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Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends of West Texas Music
by Christopher Oglesby
Published by the University of Texas Press:
"As a whole, the interviews create a portrait not only of Lubbock's musicians and artists, but also of the musical community that has sustained them, including venues such as the legendary Cotton Club and the original Stubb's Barbecue. This kaleidoscopic portrait of the West Texas music scene gets to the heart of what it takes to create art in an isolated, often inhospitable environment. As Oglesby says, "Necessity is the mother of creation. Lubbock needed beauty, poetry, humor, and it needed to get up and shake its communal ass a bit or go mad from loneliness and boredom; so Lubbock created the amazing likes of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, and Joe Ely."

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"Indeed, Oglesby's introduction of more than two dozen musicians who called Lubbock home should be required reading not only for music fans, but for Lubbock residents and anyone thinking about moving here. On these pages, music becomes a part of Lubbock's living history."
- William Kerns, Lubbock Avalanche Journal

Chris Oglesby Interviews
Bruce Jaggers
Lubbock; 9/15/00   

Bruce Jaggers was the co-founder of Main Street Saloon & the former owner of Fat Dawg’s, both long-lamented, legendary Lubbock live music venues.

Bruce: John Kenyon and I were partners in Fat Dawg’s; We purchased it at the very beginning of ’78…And a couple of years later, all of a sudden, we have all of these regional bands – from Lubbock, Austin, Dallas, and a few Blues acts; We were playing Koko Taylor at that time; Stevie Ray Vaughn
That was really the first wave of when people were starting to get back into Blues artists. There were all these tremendous Blues artists that had been around for a long time but basically we Anglos didn’t know much about ‘em. So we tapped into that with Fat Dawg’s.

Chris: Like what Clifford Antone was doing in Austin?

Bruce: Exactly. We were doing Roomful of Blues [cranes his head to look at the many black & white glossy photos of bands who had played Fat Dawg’s which decorate the walls], Johnny Reno, all these folks up here…There was NOT a venue in Dallas for all this.
Lubbock was way ahead of Dallas, as far as addressing these tremendous regional acts that we were playing on a real regular basis.
And so we went to Dallas and also opened up a place on Lower Greenville - that was an "up & coming" area at that particular time - because…like here Stevie Ray Vaughn was from South Oak Cliff and he didn’t have a venue in Dallas to play!

Chris: So that’s why Stevie Ray Vaughn was hanging out here in Lubbock so much in those days? To get experience playing the Blues?

Bruce: Well, he was basically just a regional act. But you could tell right off the bat that there was something real special going on. I mean, people would come in to Fat Dawg’s and just go, "My God! Listen to this guy!"

And the crowds were small - in the early going.

Stevie Ray just flat would NOT turn down the volume. Jim Casey was the manager - We’d have 8 tables in there and Stevie has got it full-blown - as if there’s a full house goin’ on! Casey asked him to turn it down a bit and Stevie was like, "Nope. That’s the way I play it, either like it or not."

So in a way, we introduced a lot of this talent to Dallas. That was just kinda the norm - what we had a steady diet of here in Lubbock.
Dallas was way behind the curve on that.

Chris: Fat Dawg’s had been around for awhile before you and John Kenyon bought it, right?

Bruce: Fat Dawg’s was opened by 3 guys in 1972. They were 3 law students. Kent Hance was one of ‘em; I don’t guess there’s anything wrong with talking about that now. It had been just a little project when they were in law school at Tech. They all graduated and got on with their careers; Hance was getting ready to run for US Congress, and needed to not own a bar anymore. So in ‘78 Kenyon and I purchased it. But it had been operating prior to that. They had owned it, and leased it out to a couple of other people prior to us getting it; Carlo Campanelli ran it just prior to us buying it.

Chris: Carlo Campanelli owned a lot of stuff in town?

Bruce: At that time, I believe he owned Rox-Z's right down the street. He did a lot. We competed somewhat. He had Abbey Road, which is right down from Mamarita’s right now. [Mamarita’s is an order-at-the-counter Mexican food place currently owned and operated by Jaggers; It resides at the opposite end of the strip shopping center at Slide Road & Loop 289 where Abbey Road used to be located. - c.o.]

And that was back when there was NOTHING out in that part of town. That was a real kinda unusual location for him to go into. He since has had a bunch of different clubs here in town. He’s an interesting guy; There is no doubt.

But so... Fat Dawg’s - at that particular time - was more of a "college tavern." Occasionally we would have a band. But for the most in the early goings, it was a straight tavern that would have a band only every so often. After we operated for about 6 months, we started putting bands in there.

At that same time we had Main Street Saloon. We booked live entertainment there for some time.

Chris: Were you booking Joe Ely when he first started playing over there?

Bruce: As a matter of fact - The way I remember this, anyway – and Joe may have another recollection of it…
Y’know, Main Street Saloon was a real interesting place. It was right across the street from The College Inn which was an off-campus dorm. There was a real international community - a lot of Africans and guys from South America and Puerto Rico - So being right across the street, we had an interesting mix of folks at the Main Street Saloon.
But we noticed this guy come in and kinda walk around in a Barnum & Bailey circus jumpsuit...
We had first started booking bands with Jay Boy Adams. We had a deal that was a 3 or 4 day run, 2 or 3 weeks out of the month. And Jay Boy was for some reason out of town and he couldn’t do the gig. That year - It was probably ’74 or ’75 - Tech's football team was nationally ranked, about 6th in the nation, and they were playing Texas up here.
...And this guy in the jump suit says, "Hey, I’m a musician. I can put together a band for ya’." We didn’t know him…We did not know him At ALL. So we were like, "Well, we don’t have anybody else. That sounds good;"  And it was Joe Ely.

As far as I know, this was the first band that he put together that ended up being the original Joe Ely Band. The band had Don Caldwell in it playin' saxophone. And it was "Joey" Ely then. I’ve got a poster somewhere that has "the Joey Ely Band."

So Tech beats Texas and this town just goes BERZERK! They just go crazy! There happened be this tremendous energy around the town, and here's this new band playing that just everybody thought was tremendous!

It was a REAL positive thing for Joe Ely and a REAL positive thing for Main Street Saloon.

Chris: Like a baptism. The way he tells it - He played Main Street one weekend; The next weekend more people came; and by the end of the year he had a contract with MCA.

Bruce: Not long after the first few shows, John Hughes came in and started managing Joe, relatively early on. He certainly did a lot for promoting Joe Ely; There is no doubt about it.

Johnny is a character; There was kind of this scene in and around that Broadway Drug there. It had an old drug store fountain, and you’d see him there a lot. That was quite a gathering place. I guess it’s kind of "your old corner drug store" type thing. That was a neat place.

So that was kind of the early goings of Joe Ely. That’s when I first got to know Joe and first start to see him.. At that particular time I wasn’t aware of the Flatlanders. I had just moved to Lubbock so I wasn’t around when all that stuff was goin’ on.

Chris: How did you end up coming to Lubbock to own Fat Dawg’s & Main Street Saloon?

Bruce: My partner is from Lubbock, and we were fraternity brothers in college down there; We had always talked about opening up a bar in Austin. Kenyon sat out a semester, and he came back up here. And he was like, "Listen – If we’re thinking about owning a bar, Lubbock has just turned wet and there aren’t very many bars up here. We’re much better suited doin’ something like that here in Lubbock."
I had never been to Lubbock before in my life; I came up here one weekend and said, "Okay! Let’s do it!"

Chris: It was a perfect place for it! [Laughs]

Bruce: Yea! [Also bursts out laughing]

Chris: Fat Dawg’s was an oasis not just for Lubbock but for a big region of the country…a HUGE chunk of the country, pretty much.

Bruce: Oh Yea! So we opened up the Main Street Saloon in '73 and operated it ‘til '79. For a little over a year we had Main Street and Fat Dawg’s, and they were kinda competing with one another a fair amount so we sold Main Street. Peyote was a popular band there at Main Street. That was the Tenneyuque brothers and Junior Vasquez; they had a real solid following at Main Street.
We just had Fat Dawg’s until ’80, then we went to Dallas in ’80. I was overseeing Fat Dawg’s here, and Kenyon was overseeing Nick’s in Dallas.

Main Street operated until 1998 as Main Street Saloon. It was one of the clubs with the oldest name intact in Lubbock. Originally, our rent was $175.

Chris: What was there before you put that there?

Bruce: An X-rated theater.

Chris: Oh, that’s good. [Laughs]. Main Street was still kind of an X-rated theater. I’ve seen some strange things happen in that room; It got kind of rough in there sometimes.

Bruce: Oh Man! Kenyon and I were out at his house one night and said, "Let’s just drop in." So we walk in the front door and there were about 30 people around the bar like this [arms out in front in a defensive manner] Some guy was pretty darn drunk and was swinging his numnchaks around the bar. Man, these people are ticked off at this situation! He had pretty long hair so I sneak around and get behind him; I got him by the ponytail and took him down. The customers were ready to kill him. I mean, they were ticked off that the police came.
That was back when the bikers would come to the Main Street Saloon a little bit more than we would care for. It was kinda tough in those days.

Chris: So you moved over to focus on Fat Dawg’s. Do you wanta talk about the "Rise and Fall of Fat Dawg’s."

Bruce: Fat Dawg’s had a pretty darn solid run for 5 or 6 years. We had a lot of regional acts, a lot of the acts from Austin, spiced in with these Blues acts. Of course, the Planets were a really strong draw; the Planets recorded a "live" album at Fat Dawg’s. They were really great people. Strong draw.

Joe King Carrasco always put on a good show. Ultimate Force - from Dallas - was always a good draw.

After we opened the club in Dallas, we started getting to where we could tap into more national acts. The Los Lobos show was one of the BEST shows that was at Fat Dawg’s! It was a Tuesday night, which is a tough night to book anything. I think it was in November; There were several inches of ice on the streets, so you shouldn’t be out on the streets, much less going out to a club and drinking and listening to live entertainment. But it was a full-house, and I was just in awe of their musicianship.

Another time, Robin Williams was in town, doing a concert at the Lubbock Municipal Auditorium. Joe Ely was just starting out; He was playing the West Coast a lot, but he was playing at Fat Dawg’sthat particular night. Well, Robin Williams shows up at Fat Dawg’s.
There’s a song off of Joe’s first album called the "West Texas Waltz," where it's like a yodel of West Texas town names: "Idalou…McAdoo"... So Robin Williams gets up on stage and sings the "West Texas Waltz" and just really takes off improvising on these West Texas towns; It was just hilarious.

Chris: Around the mid-‘80’s, it seemed like the "live" music scene was getting rough, and that’s when you had to close up the place. That was a disaster for me. [Laughs].

Bruce: All these regional acts - Joe Ely, Stevie Ray Vaughn - They got too big for a venue that size. At the same time, a lot of these acts like The Cobras, that had been good solid draws, were getting older and then were starting to break up. So a lot of our solid draws were not available anymore. Then there was a Dance-craze coming on. And the "dance people" were less interested in Live entertainment and more interested in going to a dance place.

The combination of all of that made for an unhealthy Live music scene.

Chris: It was so sad. Everyone there who loved that place knew that we couldn’t replace it. For awhile some of the crowd were going back over to Main Street. And some of it kind of spilled over to "The Spoon."

Bruce: I think the Spoon ended up with the bulk of that clientele.

Fat Dawg’s was a real fun venture to be involved with. It’s interesting how it’s meant so much to a lot of people. You always hear stories of, "I met my wife there," or "I had my first beer there," [Laughs] But it’s real interesting how that place meant a lot to a lot of people.
It was an established place before we got it, and well thought of beforehand. We just took it more of a Live entertainment direction and were on the early side of getting a lot of memorable acts in there, at a time frame when people were real interested in Live entertainment. So people connected with it even more because of the Live entertainment

But it was also a place where you would see all kinds of folks….Like Willis Cooper… I believe Jack Burk was there more than I was. [Laughs].

Chris: [Laughing]. I’m sure he probably was.

Do you wanta tell your memory of the last night of Fat Dawg’s?

Bruce: God! You know, that is a blur to me! It was a real moving night. It was something that I didn’t wanta do but knew that it was time to do it. The turnout was tremendous, and people were there for real nostalgic reasons. People that had gotten a little older and didn’t go to the clubs quite as much were coming back for that last show. And I don’t remember what I said. I was quite nervous about getting up there…

Chris: Yea! It was almost a protest. [Laughs]. It was the first time I ever experienced anything like a sit-in.

Bruce: [Laughing] Yea. People didn’t wanta leave that night. I remember that. But it was hard to get up there and talk to the crowd. And I don’t remember what I said. I wish I did. That night was really a blur. ‘Cause there were a lot of emotions running for me. We had put a lot of effort into that.
I mean there was probably a way to keep it going - to ride out the dance craze but it’s darn hard…particularly in a college town where you have beer promotions all the time; You have to discount a fair amount just to keep up with everybody else, so your margins are small.
But at the same time…It was a tough thing to do. It was really tough.
Were you there that night?

Chris: Yea, I was quoted in the paper about it. Remember: The weather was really weird that night, strange clouds and lots of lightning. And I said, "There’s something wrong with the gods tonight. God is mad" [Laughs]. That was a wierd night.

So do you remember any of the great graffitti that was on the walls at Fat Dawg's?

Bruce: No. [Laughs] I remember at Main Street Saloon, Jackson Browne came to town for some reason…We had this really nice looking blonde bartender, and there’re hitting it off pretty well, and he just got trashed. There was graffiti in there that said: "Jackson Browne threw up here." I remember that one!

Chris: [Laughs] That’s a good one! It’s not profound but it’s pretty good.

Bruce: No, it’s not profound. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of stuff, after you leave, that comes to mind. Gawd, we didn’t talk about The Lotions! They were a reggae rock band back when reggae was first kinda catchin’ hold out of Austin. Their lead singer was this tall, gangly guy, and he always wore short athletic shorts. [Laughs]...and he would do kicks. I’ll let you fill in the blanks. [Laughs].

Chris: For people who had never been to Fat Dawg’s, could you describe the venue? It wasn’t a very big place.

Bruce: No it wasn’t. It consisted of two rooms. We had the game room in the back; pool tables and "Pong," or whatever the video games where back then. [Laughs] A pinball machine or two. The front room is where we had Live entertainment, three to five days a week. Relatively low ceilings…It had very nicely done barn wood walls all throughout the place, so it had a real kinda "Lodge" type of feel to it; And the fireplace, as well. So it had a real comfortable feel to it.
And it was an interesting mix of people: a fair amount of Tech students; a fair amount of locals. I guess there was a fair amount of the "Cheers" sort of feel there, as far as camaraderie amongst the clientele.

Chris: That was my first coming of age experience. The drinking age was 19 then and I was 18 then, and Carolyn Croft was getting me in to see The Nelsons because I was a big fan. I always just had to see them, and so Carolyn would always let me in. And I was starting to get invited to parties and the Nelsons would be there and I’d think, [snaps] "Whooee! That was Big Time!" But it was that first feeling I had like, "Hey, I can go somewhere and I’ll know everybody there, and I know that it’ll be fun. Nobody’s really gonna get on me, and if I mess up they’ll get me in line, and let me come back tomorrow."

Bruce: It was a great place. I mean, a lot of people have heard about it; There’s no doubt. A lot of people felt really connected to it.

Chris: There’s a certain number of bars in Texas that have kind of a legendary status - like Antone’s is one of ‘em obviously - I think Fat Dawg’s does have that status.
The Cotton Club is another one here in Lubbock…But I guess that was a different kind of thing; that was more of a dance place.

Because of Lubbock being situated where it is, places like that are the only venue for people if they’re going through this part of the country. So I guess that’s one fortunate fact of Lubbock geography. [Laughs]. Kind of like the Middle East: It’s the crossroads for everybody travelling through this part of the country; There’s nothing there but a big desert right in the middle of where everybody needs to go. [Laughs].

Bruce: That’s exactly right.

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Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air:
Legends of West Texas Music
at University of Texas Press

"As a whole, the interviews create a portrait not only of Lubbock's musicians and artists, but also of the musical community that has sustained them, including venues such as the legendary Cotton Club and the original Stubb's Barbecue. This kaleidoscopic portrait of the West Texas music scene gets to the heart of what it takes to create art in an isolated, often inhospitable environment. As Oglesby says, "Necessity is the mother of creation. Lubbock needed beauty, poetry, humor, and it needed to get up and shake its communal ass a bit or go mad from loneliness and boredom; so Lubbock created the amazing likes of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, and Joe Ely."

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