Monday, June 24, 2013

Well, CRAP!!!

Instead of doing what I should be, I’ve been doodling around on YouTube this morning listening to some old stuff and a comment I came across said “RIP Tony Douglas” (aka Mr. Nice Guy). I was unaware he died this year, for he never became the “Star” artist he could have, and his passing was of scant interest to most folks; even some of those who follow country music. But… today’s revelation certainly hasn’t helped my day.

Let me tell you a little about Tony Douglas. Back in the mid to late 60’s and into the 70’s ALL country musicians toured the various Honky Tonks and Dance Halls throughout the South. They had a tour bus and touring was the vehicle they all used to increase their popularity and air play while inching their way to stardom. TD was one of those folks; however, when his break came (and it did), he chose home and family over relocation to Nashville and that big contract. That’s right, Tony chose to remain in little old Athens, TX and keep running his bus up and down the road for his fans, because he loved his music more than a shot at the “Big Time.” For you see, when you contract with Nashville, they direct your life, career and music and Tony just wasn’t up for that.

One of my life’s regrets is that though the opportunity presented itself more than once, I never got to see Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in person. It seemed that each time Bob was somewhere nearby; Tony, or perhaps Ray Price were playing even closer and though we really loved Bob’s music we loved Tony, and Ray more. We always thought we’ll catch Bob next time but then he had a stroke, and such was not to be.

On the other hand, it was one more “show” from TD and the Shrimpers, and man,..they…were…great! They loved their audience and their audience loved them. Tony did chart three songs, most notably His & Hers back in ’63. One of my favorites was their theme song Shrimping.” Another was Did I Say Something Wrong which is a GREAT video on YouTube, BTW. Tony also did three years on The Louisiana Hayride where the Grand Ole Opry frequently found its future stars; but I suppose, ultimately, he just wanted to be that same “Mr. Nice Guy” his fans had come to know.

I’m going to miss you, Sir. Godspeed

Friday, June 21, 2013

Slim Whitman

Another Country Music great from way back when passed away Wednesday. Slim was 90 years old and had been performing professionally since 1948, a good long career. He never reached the level of success in the U S that some others of the era did but 'ole Slim charted a bunch of hits. One of my favorites, while not a real "biggie" was Bandera Waltz. It holds a special place for me. At the age of two or three, about the time Bandera Waltz was most popular, the parents, grandparents and I were frequent visitors to Joleta Guest Ranch in Bandera, TX and for several years thereafter, too. Among other life experiences, that time in Bandera was perhaps most instrumental in my becoming a cowboy and a creature of Texas and the West. Though I don't remember it in particular, while there one time, one of the wranglers gave me my own set of "kid" spurs. Unless you're a cowboy the importance of the gift of one's first pair of spurs is hard to explain. I guess those in the gun culture would liken it to receiving your first rifle or shotgun. It was your entrance into the "Club". In other words: "It was a BIG DEAL! An acknowledgement that you'd do to ride with."

Until the last day or so, following Slim's death and listening to Bandera Waltz more than a few times, I've only begun to realize how formative those times at Joleta were. Life hardly ever moves us where our early expectations lead us to believe we will go, and while I've considered myself a cowboy my entire life, I've spent much too much time in the workplace, and precious little time with horses, saddles and in open country. Not that it's a bad thing, mind you; it's just not what I expected. But then, life plays all sorts of tricks on us as traverse it and in my case early expectations have been seldom met. I suppose one could feel a great deal of regret in what could have been, but I don't. Life has been much more generous to me in terms of family and situation than I deserve, and for that I give thanks.

So, Peace & Grace, y'all; and rest in peace Slim Whitman, you earned it man.