Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends
of West Texas Music
"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."
Chris Oglesby Interviews
Bruce Jaggers was the co-founder of Main Street Saloon & the former owner of Fat Dawgs, both long-lamented, legendary Lubbock live music venues.
Bruce: John Kenyon
and I were partners in Fat Dawgs;
We purchased it at the very beginning of 78
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
Chris: Like what Clifford Antone was doing in Austin?
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 Dawgs which decorate the walls],
Johnny Reno, all these folks up here
There was NOT
a venue in Dallas for all this.
Chris: So thats 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 Dawgs 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 - Wed have 8 tables in there and Stevie has got it full-blown - as if theres a full house goin on! Casey asked him to turn it down a bit and Stevie was like, "Nope. Thats 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
Chris: Fat Dawgs had been around for awhile before you and John Kenyon bought it, right?
Bruce: Fat Dawgs was opened by 3 guys in 1972. They were 3 law students. Kent Hance was one of em; I dont guess theres 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 Mamaritas right now. [Mamaritas 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. Hes an interesting guy; There is no doubt.
But so... Fat Dawgs - 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
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. Ive 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!
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 youd see him there a lot. That was quite a gathering place. I guess its 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. Thats when I first got to know Joe and first start to see him.. At that particular time I wasnt aware of the Flatlanders. I had just moved to Lubbock so I wasnt around when all that stuff was goin on.
Chris: How did you end up coming to Lubbock to own Fat Dawgs & 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 were thinking about owning a bar, Lubbock has
just turned wet and there arent very many bars up here.
Were much better suited doin something like that
here in Lubbock."
Chris: It was a perfect place for it! [Laughs]
Bruce: Yea! [Also bursts out laughing]
Chris: Fat Dawgs 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 Dawgs, 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.
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, thats good. [Laughs]. Main Street was still kind of an X-rated theater. Ive 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, "Lets 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.
Chris: So you moved over to focus on Fat Dawgs. Do you wanta talk about the "Rise and Fall of Fat Dawgs."
Bruce: Fat Dawgs 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 Dawgs. 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 Dawgs! 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 shouldnt 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
Dawgsthat particular night. Well, Robin Williams
shows up at Fat Dawgs.
Chris: Around the mid-80s, it seemed like the "live" music scene was getting rough, and thats 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.
Chris: It was so sad. Everyone there who loved that place knew that we couldnt 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.
was a real fun venture to be involved with. Its
interesting how its 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 its real interesting
how that place meant a lot to a lot of people.
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]. Im sure he probably was.
Do you wanta tell your memory of the last night of Fat Dawgs?
Bruce: God! You know, that is a blur to me! It was a real moving night. It was something that I didnt 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 didnt go to the clubs quite as much were coming back for that last show. And I dont 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 didnt wanta leave
that night. I remember that. But it was hard to get up there
and talk to the crowd. And I dont 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
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, "Theres 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 therere 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] Thats a good one! Its not profound but its pretty good.
Bruce: No, its not profound. Im sure therell be a lot of stuff, after you leave, that comes to mind. Gawd, we didnt 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. Ill let you fill in the blanks. [Laughs].
Chris: For people who had never been to Fat Dawgs, could you describe the venue? It wasnt a very big place.
Bruce: No it wasnt. 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
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
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 Id think, [snaps] "Whooee! That was Big Time!" But it was that first feeling I had like, "Hey, I can go somewhere and Ill know everybody there, and I know that itll be fun. Nobodys really gonna get on me, and if I mess up theyll 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; Theres no doubt. A lot of people felt really connected to it.
Chris: Theres a certain number of bars in Texas
that have kind of a legendary status
- like Antones is one of em obviously - I think Fat Dawgs does have that status.
Because of Lubbock being situated where it is, places like that are the only venue for people if theyre going through this part of the country. So I guess thats one fortunate fact of Lubbock geography. [Laughs]. Kind of like the Middle East: Its the crossroads for everybody travelling through this part of the country; Theres nothing there but a big desert right in the middle of where everybody needs to go. [Laughs].
Do you like the interviews you have been reading on virtualubbock?
Buy the book by author Chris Oglesby
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."
2007 Chris Oglesby
All rights reserved