virtualubbock - Jo Carol Pierce & Guy Juke, page 2

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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."

buy the book

"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

-continued from Page 1-

Guy Juke, A.K.A. Blackie White, has just arived at our table in the dining area of the original North Lamar Threadgill's. Juke has just indicated the painting on the wall behind the stage here at Threadgill's; Like much of the other art in this establishment and elsewhere around the traditional parts of Austin, Guy Juke painted the mural, as well as a portrait or Kenneth Threadgill himself, hanging on the same wall, just to the left of the stage backdrop mural.

Juke: What I meant is that I painted that wall actually, of all things. Just as a house painter. Just the blank wall itself. I went to a great deal of trouble. I don't know why.

JCP: And then he painted the picture inside the diamond. [indicating the artwork behind the stage]

Juke: I just did it for the hell of it, y'know…'cause they needed a better background for the stage. 'Cause they do lots of shows. That's a stage and they do live performances there.

Chris: Yea? And you painted that portrait, also? [a lifelike portrait of the late founder and proprietor, Kenneth Threadgill]

Juke: Yea.

Chris: Well, we were just talking about how one could just see your art around town for decades.

JCP: How I got a crush on you.

Chris: And how it's just really diverse…all your art.

JCP: It is really diverse…Quite a number of styles there…Fully developed styles…

But then when I met him, he was just like "a Lubbock-guy," y'know. I mean, he acted like a Lubbock-guy, just the mannerisms and everything, so he fit in with what I thought a guy should be like…very much "THE Guy"…"THAT Guy"…

Juke: What time is it?

JCP: I don't have any idea. You don't wear a watch either, Chris?

Chris: No.

JCP: I don't either.

We stopped the interview while we finish our margaritas. It is now time to head back south to Jovita's, where Guy Juke is to perform as his alter-ego ego Blackie White.

Blackie is a featured member of The Cornell Hurd Band, a local Austin honky-tonk country western band. The Cornell Hurd Band plays every Thursday night at Jovita's on South First Street in Austin.

The following discussion takes place as Jo Carol drives us through traffic, back to South Austin. I'm riding shotgun and Juke is in the back seat.

We were having a discussion about a form of aesthetic which I am defining as "Lubbock Ugly."

Lubbock Ugly can be defined as:
"a paradoxically compelling artifact placed in a broad open space with arrogant disregard for creation of an aesthetically pleasing image -- possibly an extension of opting for function over form-- which creates in the mind of the perceiver a feeling of twisted humor or amazement." [I just made up that definition -
chris; 9/4/00] We all knew exactly what "Lubbock Ugly" is when we coined the phrase.

Chris: Richard Bowden told me he gets excited seeing the trash blowing down the street.

JCP: [Laughs] I know it! And see the trains that are so long…You can see a WHOLE train.

Chris: Well, we had come to some sort of epiphany earlier I think, about the "friendship" thing.

JCP: Oh, yea. That is what we were talking about.

Chris: But I don't know if we hadn't worn that subject out.

JCP: I don't know either. But you know…We've had our differences over time. And some of those were probably pretty hilarious.
[Pause] We sure do know a lot about each other. [Laughs] And then there are always big ol' chunks that we're amazed to learn.

JCP: Jukey, what do you have to say about the friendships from Lubbock?

Juke: Only that they are just the most binding and lasting and marvelous and golden and…

JCP & Chris: [Laughing out loud]

Juke: I don't know…Who do I know from Lubbock? Well, let's see…Yea, I've gotta few friends from that ol' Lubbock crowd…I guess, the best that I knew in Lubbock would be the Flatlanders: Butch & Joey…Joey most, Joe Ely.
And Eddie Beethoven…But it's not like I ever talk to him, y'know. It's been years since I've spoken to him or called…I don't call him on the phone every now and then and say, "Hey, Eddie! I just called to say I love you, Baby."

JCP & Chris: [More laughing out loud]

Juke: And David Halley. But see, I never knew him in Lubbock. He's an Austin friend but he's from Lubbock. He's actually probably my closest friend of anybody from Lubbock: David Halley…And Jo Carol…Jo Carol is, of course, my Best Friend.

But you know, you can't always say that about your wife. You can "love" your wife but to really like her is another thing altogether. I actually like Jo Carol. She's probably my "actual best friend."

Chris: Y'all are very easy to like. Your relationship seems to be fairly functional.

Juke: We think a lot of each other. Yea, it's functional…in our own twisted way.

Chris: What is this thing you were doing today? That you were on TV?

Juke: Oh, God…See, I just thought I always wanted to be on TV…

Chris: A new experiment?

Juke: Yea. I just called and said, "Can I be on TV?" And they said, "We'd be happy to have you!"
No, I got called and asked to do it…I have a publicist working for me right now, and she's calling around getting me spots like this; That's why. I'm going on the radio later tonight.
It's all because of my art show coming up on Saturday night…To publicize it in sort of a Rock-n-Roll sense, rather than a "going to the gallery" kind of thing.

I don't ever go in the front door, anyway. I'm kind of a backdoor kind of a guy.
This is my way of publicizing an art show; having an art show at a club. 'Cause it's music art.
It's a definite little niche. I'm associated with drawing pictures of musicians. No one in an art gallery is going to go out and by "musicians."

This is to appeal to people - and they pocketbook - the middle-class hippies of South Austin. And it's also reaching out to West Lakes Hills and trying to appeal to people who just moved to town and say, "Hey! Don't you wanta' get some of that 'Real' Austin flavor in your house?"

Chris: Super-cool. Yea.

Juke: Like I'm hitting everyone…I hit the young people and the old people with this same routine...It's like I'm saying, "Be like ME!"

I used to would be much too shy to do this but I'm getting over my shyness, apparently, and turning it into an act. I get to play different characters. I just realized that, "Well, I'm not Guy Juke; I'm not Blackie White, so…I'll just play them, y'know…"

Chris: Well, your art is definitely recognizable as "Austin Art."

Juke: Yea, I look like all the other ones. When I came here, I would sit down and look at Jim Franklin posters and draw them, y'know, copy them. I copied Priest, and I'd copy everyone else until I kinda got my own style.

Then there was the Armadillo World Headquarters. They had this challenge…The problem was is all the Armadillo posters were starting to look alike. So one month, they had this big meeting and Ramsey Williams said, "I'm gonna assign you all a different poster for this week…" It was for the Armadillo "something-special-anniversary-week" of some sort. "I want you each to turn in something that's completely different from an Armadillo poster." So that was the big challenge.

I turned in an Asleep at the Wheel poster that week. That was probably my first "weird" poster. It was "a sheep at the wheel." It's got all these little angular things...It was my first kind of abstract work I did, as a poster.

Then I kept departing even further, and I was always afraid to turn posters in. "This is just too weird." And those are the ones that everyone liked, y'know, the ones I was scared to turn in. Like, "They're just not gonna get this one." Like Louden Wainwright with his own face on the end of his nose…Stuff like that.

JCP: [Laughs] I loved that one!

Chris: Now, were you doing this because you were getting paid for it, or were you doing it because you just had the creative energy to want to do it?

Juke: Mostly the creative energy…Just to be recognized. I have a HUGE ego, apparently.

Chris: Right. Okay, I get it.

Juke: I think the most I ever got paid for an Armadillo poster, if at all, was maybe $100…Once. Ordinarily, you'd get about between 30, to 50, 60 dollars…

JCP: You're kidding? Really? Wow. I didn't realize that.

Chris: So it was just the contest of it? Getting your stuff seen? Making something better.

Juke: Yea. It was just something to do.

Chris: Now, did you go to Tech to get an art degree?

Juke: Yea. I guess so.

Chris: That's how you ended up in Lubbock? [Laughs]

Juke: Mostly to get away from my mother. A had a domineering mother of sorts, and we didn't get along too well at the time.
But I went to school in my own hometown [San Angelo], the first three semesters, a year and a half. I ended up making the Dean's List twice, if you can imagine that. That was because I became friends with my teachers. And plus, it was like, "College! Gah, if only high school had been this interesting." You got some smart, entertaining teachers and stuff and suddenly it's interesting. I started studying and making good grades kinda, just to prove that I could do it.

And then I went to Tech and just flunked out, 'cause all I did was just run around. It was the first time that I had any freedom in my life. I just spent it like Monopoly money, you know. Running around with venereal diseases, of course…

JCP: [Laughs] I never knew that one, Juke!

Juke: …Smoking dope…

Chris: So that's when you met all these musician guys like Eddie Beethoven
and Joe Ely…

Juke: Yea. Eddie lived across the alley from me, so we got together every morning at five o'clock, get up real early and play ragas on our guitars; All this semi-mysticality that was running through everything.
Everything had an eastern, mystical edge to it at that time; Macro-biotic eating.
I was a vegetarian at that time.

Chris: That would have been hard in Lubbock.

Juke: Yea.We had long hair, beards.

Chris: And Lubbock had a good dose of that?

Juke: Oh, yea! It was actually a very hip place…to me. I mean, I ran into people who were considerably smarter than most of the people I ran into around San Angelo, so it was like a Hey-day for me. It was like, "There's people here who get my jokes, people here who understand me. They don't know that I was a bad football player. They don't know that I was a nerd in high school. They don't know any of that, and then if they did it wouldn't matter."
'Cause y'know, when you're in your hometown you've just got this 18 year legacy of being a dolt. Not that I really was a dolt but I didn't fit in; I wasn't in the "mainstream."

JCP: He didn't play sports…in a real "sports town."

Juke: In San Angelo, you play sports or you're a queer.

Chris: So the crew you ran into in Lubbock was a pretty remarkable crew.

Juke: Joe Ely was the first one I met of that bunch, and I hung out with him, for some reason, a whole lot.

Chris: Now, where were you going out or what were you doing when you say you were "going crazy?" I mean, what was going on in Lubbock that was so hip then?

Juke: Oh, yea, those crazy nights…

Chris: Where were all those crazy people going?

Juke: Playing music, just running around writing songs, being around other songwriters and stuff…

JCP: Or driving around the Hi-D-Ho naked. Stuff like that.

Chris: Just seeing if anybody would notice, or what?

JCP: Well, it was actually through Der Weinerschnitzel. And no, they didn't notice.
They didn't say a thing. They just said, "Yes, ma'am," and gave us our change.

Chris: [Laughs] We did the same thing at the Taco Villa when I was in high school!

JCP: You did? [Laughs some more]. There's just something about Lubbock that makes you wanta take your clothes off.

Chris: I like to go out to the country and go streaking.

JCP: It's the best place to do that.

Chris: I mean, we took out clothes off whenever we could when I was growing up! Just something about Lubbock…You wanta throw all your clothes off.

JCP: Yep. Or I remember people standing around lookin' at the sky and sayin' about the weather, "I just wish it would go ahead and do something."

That's kinda the way that I felt about Lubbock: "I just wish it would go ahead and do something…Anything."

Chris: I always love tornado weather, 'cause you can tell when it's about to happen. You can tell, "Ah! Something's different! Everything is starting to change!"
You can tell.

JCP: And the light's so different then.

Chris: It sounds different and there's different vibrations in the air. I always like it.

JCP: Me too. Any kind of storm, I love.

Chris: …Go outside and stand in the front yard and see what happens.

Juke: Well, we can absolutely verify now that you're from Lubbock…saying things like that; Things like, "We wrote a song or a play about it…'I wish it would hurry up and do something today'…Staring up at the sky."

Chris: When I go back now...I'm really amazed that I didn't really notice the night sky then the way I that do now when I go back.
When I was out at night, I was trying to go find something to do. But now when I go back I really have the time to look up at the sky and think how just really remarkably clear and broad it is.
I just wonder at how I missed that when I lived there, 'cause I don't have any memory of noticing that when I lived there.

JCP: We were always looking for flying suacers, hoping that they would come and pick us up. So we saw the sky a lot, looking for the Lubbock Lights.

'Cause that was the only thing to do: Lay out in the backyard and look for Lubbock Lights, wait for the flying saucers to come.

Or go to strange churches like the Four Square Gospel; The one where they have electric guitars…It used to be over on Thirty-fourth Street…It's probably not there anymore. It used to be kinda between Q and Indiana, but closer to Q; down there on 34th Street…
That's an interesting church. You had a very spirited sermon, and you all got out your handkerchiefs and waved 'em to - I don't know know, -try to attract Jesus' attention, I suppose. We did it enthusiastically.

Or just go anywhere. We used to go to fortune-tellers around there.

And Sharon [Ely] always knew where to find any foreign people who might be coming through, anybody from any other culture, 'cause she just was hungry for that. She met like Swiss watch-makers and Japanese; all these kinds of people. If any dance troupe was coming in from out of town, she'd go down to the rehearsal and get to know 'em and carry 'em around Lubbock and stuff, and take 'em to all the sights in Lubbock like Prairie Dog Town

Juke: Yea, like when Elvis Presley played in Lubbock she went out and met their band and drove around with Elvis' piano player.

JCP: When she met the Rolling Stones she said, "Those are nice outfits. I like those outfits, real good."

Chris: That was in Lubbock?

JCP: No, that was later…when she was with Joe somewhere.

Juke: Yea. Joe Ely warmed up the Rolling Stones on tour for a while. The connection between Joe and the Stones is Bobby Keys. So there is this Lubbock connection.

Jo Carol and I have dropped Juke off at Jovita's to warm up for his show. I have taken Jo Carol home so she can get ready for the evening out. As we're sitting out in front of their South Austin home, we conclude the interview about Lubbock.

JCP: Tommy Hancock always seemed to know about all those intersting, dark little places. Tommy Hancock was like a real thug back then. He always dressed in black. He always drove interesting cars. I had a huge crush on him.
He gave me rides home…There were a couple of things he gave me a ride home from. He was always really nice, and he never even knew that I had a crush on him.

I liked him because he always seemed to know about the underbelly of Lubbock. He seemed like he knew about places I had never gone into and stuff like that.

Chris: I was with Tommy one time, and he was introducing me around as "He's writing a book about the under-side of Lubbock. You wouldn't think anything so flat would have two sides would you?"
And then I thought, "Well, there necessarily are two-sides to something flat."

JCP: Yea, There is. That's right.

Chris: So it was some kind of Zen prairie-koan or something...

JCP: One place that was always intriguing…Do you know a place called TV's?

Chris: TV's? No, what's TV's?

JCP: It was this bootlegger place out East of Lubbock, an all-night club. He had these TVs lining the driveway…For what reason I never found out.
There was always a big bonfire, and you could see the lights of downtown. All the musicians would play there. There were pool tables…You could get anything you wanted there. This guy was a bootlegger.

There were guys with nicknames like "Schoolboy" and stuff like that. They explained all these nicknames to us once but we were too drunk for me to remember, I think. [Laughs]

Do you like what you just read?
Buy the book by author Christopher Oglesby
Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air:
Legends of West Texas Music

"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." - University of Texas Press

buy the book

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