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."
Tom X: Well, I made a discovery one time I moved to Mexico and lived there for three years. And I discovered, being out there without my wife, that there was a sexual satisfaction available in dancing that was pretty karma-free; It didnt get you in trouble. You can dance with somebody, and have some real good lovin without it causin anybody any trouble.
So that was the commercial aspect of my book: Turning guys on to what I call Cool Sex - that is, where theres no body fluids exchanged. Cool Sex has a satisfying sexual aspect to it that is generally not recognized.
Most guys think of dancing as foreplay for Hot Sex. But Im saying that Cool Sex is an end unto itself and its worth doing And under some circumstances, its a better idea than Hot Sex.
Chris: Yea. [Laughs.]
Tom X: So that's the thrust of my book. I use dancing
as a metaphor to hang my philosophy of life on. I take that opportunity
to tell other men - not only to turn them on to this secret about
dancing - but teach em how to do it
How to get along
with women, and things like that.
Chris: Boy, I think Ive lived that book. I mean, going to see The Maines Brothers... I mean, it was all happening out there on the dance floor. After high school, I quit doing athletics and so that was about the only exercise I ever got.
Tom X: The Maines Brothers used to play a regular Sunday afternoon/evening dance gig at The Cotton Club on Sunday afternoon. That was a great party. Theyd get a helluva good crowd out there on Sunday. It was so funny to be cruisin the quiet streets of Lubbock, and cruise out to The Cotton Club and walk in there and five or six hundred people were all in there dancing away.
Chris: They were kinda the "house band" out there for awhile? I mean, they were the best dance band in town. So how did The Maines Brothers get started playin out there? Have you known them pretty much their whole careers?
Tom X: Yea. Ive known em all their lives. They played out there because there wasnt but two places in Lubbock to play; And the guy that had the other club didnt get along with The Maines Brothers; or didnt get along with their father. The Maines Brothers Band that you know - Their father and uncle didnt get along with the guy that had the other club; And me and the Maines family has always been good friends. So it was about the only logical place for them to play.
Chris: And you had said that their daddy played and their uncle played. Did they ever sit in with you?
Tom X: Oh yea. They both sat in with me a lot.
Chris: But they were just casual players? They didnt really work as professionals?
Tom X: They werent professional, no. There were very few real professional musicians in those days in Lubbock because there wasnt enough work.
I had the town pretty much sewed-up. The Maines Brothers gradually took over from what I was doin and then they became "The" band. The way they were for your generation, thats they way I was for mine.
Chris: Did The Supernatural Family Band play in Lubbock mcuh? Or was that when you and your family were off living in New Mexico?
Tom X: That was when we was off. But we came back to Lubbock and played once in a while, when wed come back to see the family.
The way The Supernatural Family Band worked is; Its me and my wife and five kids. And I knew so many musicians that I'd just get some of the pro musicians to help me on certain jobs when I needed em; also, theyd sit in with me on certain jobs when they werent workin.
So my kids were getting to play music with the greatest musicians in the world-- which is what I was doin it for--was to let my kids play with professional musicians.
Chris: Do you wanta talk about your kids as musicians at all?
Tom X: Yea. The whole idea for The Supernatural Family Band for me was for my kids to learn my trade. I wanted them to get to where they could book a job, and get the equipment ready to play it, rehearse the songs, play the job, do the business end of the job - Learn the whole thing.
The Supernatural Family Band wasnt out there to get rich and famous per se like most bands were - even though I had a really strong commercial band.; Because I had two sons that were nice looking guys and four beautiful women, we were really a commercial band. But I wasnt doin things like they should be done to make it successful because I was wantin to teach my kids to be musicians and professionals.
An example that will illustrate the point is that when we would learn new song, we would learn new songs on the job. Me and Charlene would come up with the songs, and then we would just start playin it and let the kids do whatever they liked to do with the song. That was the way we taught em.
Chris: Thats fun.
Tom X: Wed just let em play whatever they wanted to, and me and Charlene would carry the job. Once they learned the song, wed quit playin it and started playin something we didnt know. So that was an ongoing thing. As soon as we learned one song we wouldnt play that one anymore and wed play something else more interesting.
Chris: Were yall traveling a lot or were you staying in the Southwest or what?
Tom X: We traveled a lot. Mostly the Southwest because thats my favorite part of the country. But we traveled all over the United States. We lived in Denver most of the time, or around the Denver area We worked mostly in the Rocky Mountains and the Southwest.
Chris: Did yall have a pretty big following? Or did yall just play to whoever would show up?
Tom X: Yea. Well, it wasnt so much as a following in that sense as it was: We was damn-near the only "good-time, country, party band" out there. There was a few hippie bands here and there but we were a big happening when we would come to town.
Chris: Who were your fans, would you say?
Tom X: It was all hippies Mostly just a bunch of hippies. But there was a lot of big-money jobs. Of course, the biggest time we had was when we were in Colorado. We were "The" barbecue band in the whole state. Any big companies would throw a barbecue, theyd hire us to play because we looked like people wanted us to look. We looked like "Coloradans."
Chris: Yea. Definitely. Ive seen a couple pictures of the band from then.
Tom X: Theres a church up in Denver -Saint Thomas
-always had us for their Saint Patricks party cause
I could play Irish breakdowns on the fiddle. And we played a
lot of high-class business parties and these ski-club parties
and things like that.
Chris: Let me ask you this: You have a lot of Spanish-style music in your music. And you were talkin earlier about living in Mexico for three years without your wife. What were you doin down there? What is your connection to Mexico?
Tom X: Well, first of all, Id always like Mexican culture and Mexican music and the Mexican people. So this whole idea of Mexican stuff was comin from me, mainly. When we moved to northern New Mexico we were pretty much the only Anglos living in this little community of Cuesto north of Taos. My kids were going to school. My daughter had been exposed to the Spanish language by housekeepers we had in Lubbock, and she learned Spanish real quick.
Chris: Was that Traci?
Tom X: Traci, yep. She became fluent in Spanish, so she started learning Spanish songs off the jukeboxes in the cafes. Shed hear something and Traci would learn it. So we started playing a lot of Mexican music that way.
Chris: So what were you doin in Mexico? Do you mind me asking?
Tom X: After I stopped playin, The Texana Dames started; My daughter Conni kinda took over the band. She started to do things different - which is a good idea. As the kids got older, I encouraged them to do things their own way. So Conni kinda took over the band. Me and the Playboys stopped, and I started doin other things.
I went into stand-up comedy. I was doing a comedy routine
at one of the comedy clubs. At the intermission, my son had brought
a guest, a lady from the T.E.A., the Texas Education Association,
[sic]. And me and her were chatting and she said, "Is this
what you wanta do? What would you rather be doin
Presidio is a little ol town across the river. Its really just a little ol Mexican town but they pay American wages for teachers. So she got me teaching E.S.L., "English as a Second Language." She got me a job teaching there at that school. We had been out there, and I loved it out there.
I didnt like doing the comedy thing very much because
it had a similar pit-fall to music. As a party-starter with the
band, I noticed that I could be feeling bad and then the music
starts, and it kinda would make everything alright.
Chris: Yea. That makes sense.
Tom X: So I was not enthused about that. So I went
on out to Mexico and I lived in an ol trailer house out
at the edge of the desert out there and had a wonderful experience.
I did that for about three years.
Chris: So tell me - What is the "X" in Tom X?
Tom X: Thats for the "Unknown?"
Chris: Thats what I thought.
Tom X: Ive always had a love-hate relationship with Lubbock. We talked earlier about people that really like Lubbock and really dont And Im kinda two ways about it.
I could kick myself sometimes when I think about how long
I stayed in Lubbock; Because I didnt realize how deprived
in so many areas of life I was by being there. Because being
born and raised in Lubbock, I didnt really know what else
was out there.
The "South Plains Voodoo" is what some people refer to it as, whatever it is that brings you back to Lubbock and often holds you there.
My love-hate relationship with it is like this - And I dont think its fair to talk about Lubbock as if it had a persona of its own - But if it did, I dont like it.
Theres a certain mentality there that I didnt like. When I was a young guy, the city cops and the city mentality seen in the newspaper...I got a pretty hard time, a real hard time. The cops would come after me, I think out of boredom because I was the only thing happening there. The cops watched my band real close and hassled us. I was always, it seemed, just fighting with the city at that time.
Chris: That authoritarian side? Or that "pickin on stuff thats different"?
Tom X: Well, its kind of like when I was in Tech.
I was an actor in this play for the season. And my night-club's
competition planted whiskey in the ceiling of the restaurant
of the club that I was operating; My competitor planted it there.
And the County Attorney gone ahead and busted me. He just busted
me and took me off to jail in one of those big flashy Paddy wagons.
And then a few years later when I was in law school, friends
of that same county attorney passed the word to me that, "He
hopes I dont have any hard feelings about that."
That kind of thing. But yknow, I cant actually blame all that on Lubbock. Lubbocks just a physical place. But any town where Dan Quayle and George Bush are the political heroes That side of the town is what I don't like about Lubbock.
Thats what it is about Lubbock: Lubbocks polarized. So that mentality that exists there that I dont like is partly the cause of all of our own people that you and I know and love, that come out of that.
Chris: Maybe we could say the same thing about the whole world, looking on the bright side?
Tom X: Thats true. We could. Because thats really whats happening on the planet. Were in duality, and theyre always gonna exist side-by-side.
Chris: Well, I think thats the biggest sickness or psychosis or whatever that thing is that bothers people about Lubbock; That dualism almost worshipping Two things instead of One thing, yknow? Giving "the Devil" as much power as "God." Its like, "If its not you, then its The Other."
Thats a real thing in Lubbock that - I think; The people who express dislike for Lubbock - Thats a lot of it: That daulistic way of looking at the world. "If it's not what me and my kind think, then it must be wrong."
But the world's changing; Lubbock will change too.
Tom X: It is. Its a hell of a lot better place now than when I was growing up there. They got trees and water and beer, now.
Chris: [Laughs.] Yea, they do. All the beer you can
drink. Even though you gotta wait in line at the Strip.
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2007 Chris Oglesby
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