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
Jimmie Dale Gilmore
has been a central figure in both Lubbock and Austin music scenes
for much of the last thirty years. Buddy Holly's father produced
Gilmore's first record. As a "Hub City Mover" Jimmie
was a featured performer at the Grand Opening of Austin's legendary
hippie haven - The Armadillo World Headquarters. He was named
"Country Performer of the Year" by Rolling Stone magazine
three (3) times in the decade of the 90's. Today - reunited with
his freinds Joe Ely & Butch Hancock for the 21st Century
- this Flatlander is still touching souls with his mystical West
Chris: One can identify what those elements are that created it, perhaps?
JDG: I do believe that it seems like a disproportionate
number of really creative people have come from that area
I dont think any place creates any more creative people than any other place.
Chris: It seems like there are more people from there that have stuck with it.
JDG: Maybe thats it.
Colonel Tom Parker who I got to know just at the last of his life He told me that to be a success in the music business and actually, this applies in a lot of other places, too, but especially in the arts, in any of the creative fields He said you have to have three things to become a success and retain success: You have to have "Talent"; thats an absolute. You have to have "Really Hard Work"; and you have to have "Luck"; and if any one of those things is missing, you can be like a flash-in-the-pan kinda thing, but for any real on-going success to happen, all three of those have to happen.
Well, I think theres a large measure of this Lubbock thing thats "Luck." And thats the part that you cant explain. You can explain there being talented people and people that really work hard all over the place. Theres a lot of em. I know lots of em that nobody ever heard of.
Chris: Right. Theres maybe no more talented people in Lubbock than in other places, but why is it What is that "Luck"?
JDG: I guess theres kind of a cascade Ysee, what Im really gettin at is: I dont think you can pick out a reason and say, "This is the reason." I dont think it works like that. I think its more like "So-and-so knew so-and-so who knew so-and-so "
Chris: So do you think, when you see these groups of
talented people like
JDG: In a sense. Yea, I believe that. I absolutely
believe that. And it could have happened with a different group,
at the same time, with just tiny things going differently. Thats
not to belittle anything thats been accomplished by any
of those people. But its just to say that
So when it comes down to, "Well, lets talk about your hometown and why is it so special?" When Im already thinking from a background of, "Thats all an artificial process to begin with," I dont want to add to that artificial process of shining that spotlight. [Laughs].
Its not bad, dont get me wrong.
Chris: I do understand what youre saying. Although there are people that live there in Lubbock right now - younger creative people - that see it, too. Maybe its just because theyre seeing a direction to go. Do you think thats what it is? Because they believe that theres something there?
JDG: If theres something to inspire any young creative person, thats wonderful. But I dont think that in itself I guess, what Im saying is: I would prefer to see a premium be put on the simple love of whatever the art is, the music, rather than the fame that comes from it.
So theres a chicken and egg thing. There are some people that become famous only because of a giant drive to become famous. [Laughs]. And then there are some people who become famous because they happen to be good at what they do and blundered into the right circumstances.
Chris: Right. I understand.
JDG: I doubt it. I think thats the tendency to set one group against another population and saying, "This one is real special "
Chris: I think a lot of what Im doing, maybe, is talking about my environment; Because Im equally excited about all the people that are still there in Lubbock that no one knows. So I think thats really what Im doing.
JDG: Exactly! Now, see, thats really a different angle. To say that you were lucky enough to get to be aware of some really talented people that were to a large degree unnoticed - To me, thats a whole different thought-process than saying [in a tone of mock-erudition], "Why does this place produce such special people." [Laughs].
Chris: You are right! But that is really what Im doing - talking about this community of interesting, unique, creative performers - both the known & the unknown... Understanding this community of artists from my hometown.
JDG: Thats a whole different thought-process.
Chris: I was just amazed when I moved to Austin and learned about allkinds of artists from Lubbock who I never heard of when I lived there. I think it was about the time your After Awhile album came out; Rolling Stone magazine had a story about it because they were talking about that regional series that that album was produced in connection with, and they had two little blurbs about "other records from this region you might want to check out," that they rated five stars to And one of them was Terry Allens Lubbock: on everything. I knew the name Terry Allen because I had seen his name written as the songwriter on some Maines Brothers songs, but I had two degrees from Tech and was twenty-something years old, had lived in Lubbock my whole life and never knew that there even was an album out there called Lubbock: on everything until I moved here to Austin.
JDG: Thats one of my favorite albums.
Chris: Its one of mine, too
Now! That was
just one more thing in this whole string of realizations I was
having about Lubbock.
And maybe everybody has interesting people like that all around them. I guess this is just sort of my deal.
JDG: Uhuh. See, I love that! But like I said earlier when I was talking about the clichés: So many people already have this fixed thing of, "Theres this special magical fountain of great talent and genius ;" And they say, "Is it in the water?" ...Those are the clichés. The thing is; Thats based on some kind of unconscious presumption that there was some kind of a special magic in this spot that I just dont subscribe to.
Chris: No. I was just more scientifically looking at: "I wonder what some of those elements were that created this observable phenomenon." But thats the opposite side
JDG: But see, when you say "created this" youre presuming that theres something a "This" What? You see? This kind of "aura "
Chris: So the phenomenon is really just a product of the observer, not really anything else; Is that what youre saying?
JDG: Its a combination, I think. It really is. Like I said, Im aware that theres a disproportionate number of songwriters that I just really love that are from that relatively small area - people that dont even know each other. I mean, people from several generations, now. But also, theyre generally within in the realm of a type of music that I personally am connected with.
So it is true that, for some reason, theres a flavor in the stream of creativity from this relatively small geographical area. But it also may partly be that because they somehow had the vehicle by which to That same thing might could have happened from any place if somehow the doors were open.
Chris: So what do you think the vehicle is - or was? Bob Wills, Buddy Holly ?
JDG: Well Its very odd because with me it always devolves into a philosophical conversation.
Chris: Thats okay. I would like it to be a philosophical conversation.
JDG: You see When you say, "What do you think the vehicle is?" And what Im already saying is that the vehicle is made out of totally disparate that it both "ISNT" and "IS."
There isnt a specific thing that can be pinpointed as "the Cause." Its such a multiplicity of things.
Chris: Well, when you said, "The vehicle is there," I was just wanting you to say what is that vehicle that youre talking about? Identify that vehicle.
JDG: But when I say "The Vehicle," its such a metaphorical term. Its not meant like its a specific vehicle that theyve got.
Chris: Youre just referring to the function that is going forth at that point?
JDG: If everything were just truly equal, if the radio really and truly played all the genuinely talented people instead of somebody who happened to be the brother-in-law of somebody that had a hit song last month See, those are the kind of vehicles When I say vehicle Im talking about those flukes that cant be pinpointed
Chris: Sure, sure, sure. Okay. That makes sense. And there just happens to be a chain of events that carries on for awhile. Sure, I get that.
JDG: Yea. And I think there has been historically Something did happen that a string of really interesting, talented, creative people came from this unlikely seeming place.
I just didnt want to start out from the beginning saying, "Oh Yea! I really believe in this!" I just dont believe in the normal picture of it - "the cliches". Even at the same time, not saying that it isnt true that there are a bunch of really talented people that came from there.
Chris: Right. So there are some things that I dont know about you, that I would like to know, just in my own interest about some of these talented people from my hometown.
Could you tell me a little bit about Al Strehli? Ive just learned little bits about him. I dont know that much about him.
JDG: Hes Angelas older bother. Al was a huge inspiration on me because already back then Hes a few years older than me and even back then, in his early twenties, he was writing music that, to me, stands with Bob Dylan and The Beatles to this day; And they werent influences on him. He wrote his stuff before they came along. He had already developed his style. He was a poet; more than "a songwriter." He is a Poet.
Al was a huge influence on me and all of our circle of friends
because his songs were so great and interesting and different.
Chris: A lot of people probably dont even know that they know each other.
JDG: Right, and theyre very close friends. Angela
and I were real close friends.
Chris: Okay. In what way? The Lubbock people really have greatly influenced Austin.
JDG: Angela was so important in the development of Antones; And the whole existence of Antones became the beacon for the Blues people and the Rock-n-Roll people.
Chris: So she was one of the original people that played there a lot?
JDG: She played there, but she also helped run the place. She booked the acts. She also used to run sound there. Angela was massively important in the whole creation of Antones.
And later on Angela became fairly well known but, to me, never as well known as her talent and capabilities merited. But in lots of ways, Angela was as much a scholar of the Blues. She was so deeply interested and so knowledgeable about the Blues, It became part of her thing - cultivating awareness of the Blues I dont know if she would describe herself in this same way that Im describing her but thats my perception of it.
Chris: Just briefly, was their family musical, too? I mean, how did they get so knowledgeable about music?
JDG: They studied music. They learned, I believe, Argentinean
folk music, maybe even Brazilian, when they were much younger.
Al in fact was pretty proficient Spanish guitar player. He learned
a lot of South American folk music.
Then around that time There are so many overlapping stories! But the T. Nickel House Band: Joe and I - beginning around that time and ever since, in a way - have sort of been partners. Weve been either explicitly, actually recording together, performing together We traveled around, hitchhiked around and played just as a duet all over the place. And both of us ended up spending a lot of time in Austin, both together and separately.
At one point I had sort of moved to Austin, and Angela moved out to San Francisco; I had a lot of friends out in San Francisco and Berkeley. Ive spent a lot of time out there and hung out with them in that period; that was in the period at the beginning of Oh, it was when Powell St. John was out there and had a band with Tracey Nelson...Theres a history of Austin music intertwining with the Lubbock musicians that is kinda what creates the backdrop of all of this.
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2007 Chris Oglesby
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