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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

Crossroads Music Archives showcases West Texas' prolific musical heritage
by Chelsea Roe, contributing writer - October 20, 2008
Chelsea Roe is a contributing writer for virtualubbock.com. She lives in Lubbock and writes about music. This article originally appeared in the Texas Tech University Daily Toreador.

The 1999 closing of Brazos Studios, owned and operated by producer Alan Crossland, spawned one of the most interesting projects in Lubbock to date: The Crossroads of Music Archive at the Southwest Collections Library.

The original master tapes produced by Crossland were moved from Don Caldwell Studios, where he was renting. Archivist Curtis Peoples, after finding out a year later that the tapes had no proper storage, created the idea of the music archive as a means of promoting the preservation of West Texas music.

"In 1999, the 76th Legislature of the State of Texas passed House Concurrent Resolution No. 65, designating Lubbock and West Texas as the Music Crossroads of Texas," Peoples said. "The West Texas region has produced a copious number of musicians, artists and entertainers that have had an undeniable influence on music, art and culture throughout the world. In the spirit of House Concurrent Resolution 65, the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech decided to create the Crossroads of Music Archive."

Peoples said the first order of business was to create an advisory board to help facilitate the project. One of the original board members was Andy Wilkinson, who now serves as the Artist in Residence at the Southwest Collection and co-director of the Crossroads Music Archive.

Some of Wilkinson's more prolific findings added to the music archive include works from Texas Shorty, Buck Ramsey, Nolan Porterfield, and David Box (probably the one West Texas musician who should have been more famous than Buddy Holly) and Rita Box Peek.

Peoples and Wilkinson are working on several projects for the archives, including procuring and preserving collections from Bob Livingston and Tommy X Hancock - the grandfather of Lubbock music. They both recently have taken an interest in Weeds, N.M., a small town outside of Ruidoso.

"Really interesting things are happening with their music there," Wilkinson said. "When these people die, there won't be anything left to remember them by, so we see this as our job to capture these things. It's become a small Lubbock."

Everyone who has been added to the Crossroads of Music Archives are or were people with their own careers, but it was just how many other careers they touched that made their work so important.

"We shouldn't waste so many resources on people that are famous," Wilkinson said. "Rarely in this archive are things given to us. Most of it we seek out. I make a decision ahead of time who's important and who's not."

To date, the largest and most important contribution to the archives remains to be the Don Caldwell Collection, which consists of mostly analog tapes. The collection is made up of several different genres of music: country, rock, jazz, Tejano and gospel.

The advertising pamphlet for the archive details the mission of the organization and its means of accomplishing those goals:

"Our Mission is to collect and preserve music-related materials drawn from the southern Great Plains and the greater Southwest," according to the pamphlet, "to facilitate the scholarly, interdisciplinary study of the creation and development of art occurring at the crossroads of human cultures; to make materials available to the wider public through exhibition, performance, publication and access to the collection of information and artifacts.

"We accomplish that mission by: The collection and preservation of music materials of enduring value; the collection and preservation of music-related interviews, symposia, lectures, performances, exhibits, readings, presentations, and while drawing on a board of advisors that includes scholars, musicians, artists and writers."

Many years in the music scene have shown me that there really is no place like West Texas. No place is better prepared to take on projects like the one Wilkinson and Peoples continue to tackle today.

And it seems I'm not alone in this belief. The Crossroads of Music Archives has become the premiere choice for depositing valuable music-related materials for West Texas artists.

I challenge you to visit the archives sometime. I'll bet you'll come away from it intrigued.

It's like walking down a hall of champions that touched the formation of West Texas music in so many ways.

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

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