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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

Country Style was an entertainment column written by Russ Parsons for the Lubbock Avalanche Journal in the 1980s, a fertile time in Lubbock music history. He has graciously shared many of his articles with us at www.virtualubbock.com for our readers' enjoyment.
Russ Parsons currently is the food editor for the Los Angeles Times.

(posted on www.virtualubbock.com by permission of author)

And then there's Larry Welborn.
Of all the musicians that played with Buddy Holly, by his own admission his is the least successful. Bob Montgomery is a record producer with a Grammy award his credit; Jerry Allison is a studio musician in Los Angeles; Joe B. Mauldin is studio engineer and music publisher; Sonny Curtis is a successful songwriter (he penned the theme song for the original "Mary Tyler Moore Show"); Tommy Allsup is one of the leading record producers in country music; Waylon Jennings is, well...
And Larry Welborn is a guitar and banjo teacher in Durant, Okla., playing only on weekends
"Everybody made money but me, I think," he says, without rancor. "They were a bunch of good guys and there was a bunch of talent too."
Welborn, who was a couple of years younger than Holly and Bob Montgomery, joined the duo as a bass player and played with Holly from high school to just before "That'll Be The Day" hit the charts.
"Buddy and Bob were in high school while I was in junior high," he remembered. "But I'd been playing for a long time, since I was about 13"
"I was playing a little club at the time as a solo act; I was only 16 years old really too young to do it legally. Buddy and Bob came out and saw me and that is when I started playing, with them"
"We started playing the radio show, a half-hour gig on radio station KDAV on Sundays at 2:30, and we did that for a while. We also did stuff like playing super market openings and car lots and stuff like that, basically just learning what we were doing.
At the time we played bebop, or what was called bebop. I don't think Buddy was a rock'n'roll type at first. When we started he was just doig country music. Then when Elvis came out, Buddy got into that stuff and that's really where his style came from, singing like Elvis, trying to sound like Elvis.
"After a while he got his own style and that's when he started trying to use that hiccupping stuff, after that."
All the hoopla surrounding Holly since his death has turned the singer into something of a rock n roll saint -- with as much depth of character as the lead in an Elvis Presley movie
That's not how Welborn saw it. His Holly is an average Lubbock boy with a lot of talent and even more drive.
"He was just a guy who was out on the road and trying to make it, that was the main thing," Welborn said. "He was just trying to do good.
"The last time I saw him was right before he went out on the last tour, lie was trying to look good. He'd gotten his teeth fixed and his hair done. He'd gone from a country boy to more of a slicker type, wearing tight pants and all.
"I don't think he was putting on a show, he just realized that to do better he had to look better. He was setting styles. I think he matured into that. I think the main thing I learned from Buddy was to be gutsy.
"Buddy was a hustler, he was after it all the time. Buddy didn't have the kind of hang-ups that people seem to get nowadays about playing. He went in there with the attitude that if you wanted to watch him that was fine and if you didn't want to that was fine too
"That's the way it should be because you're playing for yourself anyway.''
Which brings us to the heart of the Larry Welborn matter. Why hasn't he achieved the same sort of success as the rest of his contemporaries? It's not lack of talent or ability, as the common opinion seems to be that he is as good or better a musician than the rest of the crew.
That leaves drive. Maybe the reason he isn't "successful" is because making music is reward enough for him, making a living from it is kind of an afterthought.
The idea that you have to be poor to be artistic is just so much sour grapes. but on the other hand there doesn't seem to be much to support the idea that the best picker is the one who has made the most money
"I guess I never really hustled it like I should have if I was going to do it," Welborn said of his musical career. "I'm really not one to go out and push that hard. It gets to where it's too much work.
I'm just kind of slowing down here, teaching and enjoying it really. Pay is not all that important anyway and I think I could enjoy staying in it all my life. I think about those days with Buddy quite a bit but I try not to linger on them too much. Something like that is nice but it doesn't really seem important to me.
"What is important? That's a tough question. I guess living with yourself, being satisfied with what you're doing. I enjoy playing my guitar even if I'm sitting around the house, if I'm doing something that I couldn't do six months ago. '
Some of those people coming down for Friday night's Buddy Holly Memorial Concert at the Civic Center almost seem like they'd be a lot happier if they never heard of Buddy Holly again. After 20 years, a ghost becomes a heavy weight to carry around. Does Welborn resent the constant connection with Buddy Holly?
"Oh no, not at all. If we were talking about me, we wouldn't have much to talk about, would we? In fact, I think I'll call a friend of mine down there. If can talk to some of the guys I might come down."

More articles by Russ Parsons
Butch Hancock - Joe Ely, Buddy Holly & Joey Allen - Jimmie Gilmore - David Halley
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