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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

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Benefitting Doug Smith
by Chelsea Roe, contributing writer - February 18, 2008.
Chelsea Roe is a contributing writer for virtualubbock.com. She lives and writes about her life in Lubbock. This article originally appeared in the Texas Tech University Daily Toreador.

The Invitation:
"You should really be at the after-party for the Doug Smith benefit. It's kind of a word of mouth invitation thing and there will be a lot of people there you should really know. I'm playing, Doug is playing….I'm sure even Nic will play too…"

"Oh yeah"

"Yup. You could write about it."

"That sounds pretty cool actually."

"Yeah and bring your camera because you'll get a lot of good pictures too."

"I just might do that. I do have an article to write this weekend."

It was the Friday before Valentine's Day and Andy Eppler and I had just been discussing the ridiculousness of the coming "holiday" over my daily mocha- God only knows the real bitch in me unsurfaces when I don't get my routine shot of caffeine. Sometimes I swear I should just shoot it straight through my veins. He suddenly interjected with the idea that it was okay that I did not have a date this year because I had better things to do than sit at home and dwell on the disaster that is my love life. It's the way that Andy can be so serious yet so lighthearted when approaching sarcasm that strikes me as the most likeable quality about him.

But being the naturally masochistic person that I am the first thing to run through my mind was that there was no way I would show up at a party where once again the only ones I knew were the band, especially since this one was at a private art gallery. Those people will just look at me like I am one of their girlfriends again and I have no real place there. However I then moved to the thought "who could blame them though? I am an attractive girl hanging out with nothing but musicians and I actually know something about the subject they study. I guess it's fair to say one can only assume."

This is when I realized that the past five years of blowing off school to catch a show here and there and social networking through Lubbock's art community might have actually paid off. I now understood that I had built a reputation amongst friends founded on the ability to think objectively and creatively at the same time- not to mention I do have damn good tastes. And it was here that I realized through their earned respect I had landed my dream job, or through the encouragement they had always given me at least. Andy's invitation would reach me on levels I had been stretching towards for quite a while. If there is anything to come of that night, it is him I give all credit to.

The Guest of Honor:

On July 25, 2007 the town of Lubbock wept for West Texas piano legend as his car ran off the road leaving him with a severe back injury. He had fallen asleep at the wheel and consequently suffered paralysis. After four months of intensive physical therapy at Colorado's famed Craig Center Doug found himself welcomed back to West Texas with open arms.

From the time that we are born, here in Texas people like to boast that no one will show you more love than the south. The idea that someone would perceive me as a southern belle had always been enough to make me regret that I was from here. When I began to see posters plastered on the walls of coffee shops and bars all over town advertising the benefit for Doug Smith and I started receiving invitations from more than just Andy to get in on the party, for once I actually felt proud to be where I was at the moment. It is still true that I have yet to find a place where musicians take more pride in their roots than here.

I read an interview once that author Chris Oglesby did at Montelongo's Mexican Restaurant with Doug and posted on his website and it was easy for me to see why people were charmed by the man. "I just feel like I can trust a man with long hair," Doug told Chris as he approached the table. I did not have to read any further before I realized that I too could be good friends with Doug Smith- after all we did share a fondness for men with long hair.

But like I said before I was not the only one who found the man charming. The extensive guest list was proof of that in itself: Nic Schute, Andy Eppler, Doug Haines, Austin Davis, Shad Daughtery, Terry Allen, Jay Boy Adams, Andy Wilkinson, Cary Swinney, Lesley Sawyer, Brian McRae, Curtis Peoples, Richard Bowden, Don and Todd Caldwell, Kendra Elliot, Joy Harris, John Chambers, Paul Bullock, Steve Williams, Jake Kellen, Junior Vasquez, Rita Box Reek, Angie Monroe and the list goes on for quite a while. And those were only the ones invited to play in the man's honor! Not to mention the place was buzzing with artists, writers, photographers, bar owners and a plethora of Lubbock's other most creative minds all there in support of the cause. It was an eclectic mix of characters for sure and I was disappointed I had only now met them. I was amazed that I was invited to join in the intellectual conversation at all though. There was a whole underground world here in Lubbock, Texas and I had just discovered it.

The Party:

The more I thought about it throughout the week before the more I knew I had to be at the benefit after-party. With as many influential people that were invited I had a sneaking suspicion that Chris Oglesby would be there too and I had eagerly been awaiting the chance to meet him since he released his book in 2007. It was called Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends of West Texas Music and it was about Lubbock's big dog musicians and the world here around them. I knew I had to talk to him, I just knew it.

I was sitting on the couches in the room off to the back where conversation and marijuana smoke were swirling all around me when a man I had never met before sat on the floor in front of John, the bar owner from Dallas, that I had been holding a conversation with for a good thirty minutes. It was now one in the morning and he had been telling me stories of people who had come in and out of his bars playing gigs since 1973. I was so intrigued to speak with a man who had met so many musicians I love. As the new face sitting in front of us randomly joined in our talk he mentioned a book he had recently written.

"Are you Chris Oglesby!?"

"Yes, I am Chris Oglesby."

"I've wanted to meet you for a long time! I am so glad you are here."

"Yeah? Well it's good to meet you too. And your name is?"

"Chelsea Roe. I'm a writer too. I've read your book and really wanted to hear more about it."

For the next twenty minutes or so we talked about music and he told me stories from his novel. I felt as though this man could read my thoughts and understood my intentions as a writer. I was in awe of this man's articulation on a subject I vehemently study. Being that I was so comfortable at that moment in time I decided I would be brave. I told him about my book idea. He loved it. Later on in the evening as I was talking to Nic for the few moments I saw him put his trumpet down throughout the entire night when Chris approached us and once again joined in my conversation. Nic had known as well that I should meet him and had told me he wondered if I would get the chance.

"I've already met Chelsea," Chris told him when he introduced us for what had been the second time that night.

"She's been telling me about her book idea. I told her the angle she needs to go for has more to do with the South Plains Music College and all of the guys that came out of that school that are making a living here more than just the Lubbock musicians. "

"I've been thinking a lot about all of my friends that went there and I kind of have the inside scoop so I thought I could do it justice."

"I've wanted to tell that story for a long time."

"It's my story!"

"Yes girl. It is your story to tell."

That last comment rang in my ears for the rest of the night. I would be walking around completely alone and inside of my head looking at all of the amazing art that covered the walls and that comment would still be at the forefront of every thought. I would be drinking beer from the keg provided and I was still only thinking about that. I could be having a conversation with the Art professor who was only slightly older than myself and who owned the studio we were in about the lack of studio usage in most art classes these days and I was still reflecting on my conversation with Chris. Not the large piece on the West wall that was done in charcoals of blacks, grays and pinks and left me mesmerized, not the sound of the slide guitar as Shad lost himself in the music, not even Nic blaring on his trumpet took that moment away from me.

Around 3am we were standing in front of the old studio building smoking our cigarettes in the freezing cold and I noticed that the party was beginning to wind down. Donations had been made, liquor had been flowing, and people had made fools of themselves on the dance floor and in front of the mike alike. I had made my friend who I brought along with me cry at the beauty that was one of her best birthdays ever. It was beautiful because now I had found a place where I belonged. It was beautiful because we were swimming in a sea of some of the most interesting art I had ever seen. It was beautiful, because now, maybe Doug Smith will play the piano for us once again. It was simply beautiful.

More Articles by Chelsea Roe - Chelsea Roe is the music critic for the Daily Toreador at Texas Tech University

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