ZZ Top, Willie's Fourth of July picnics, Texas Jam, etc. So much awesome music.
My cousin, the lucky fucker, stopped in to a small beer and BBQ joint south of San Antonio one day after he finished his tour on a drilling rig south of there and was waiting on his brisket sandwich when ET and the TT's walked in the door, fresh off the bus. That's Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours for those who don't know. They came inside and took a booth and had their supper. By then a crowd had gathered after seeing the bus outside and they were treated to an impromptu jam session of several of his hits - Faded Love, Waltz Across Texas, etc. you get the idea. Very approachable guys who just loved to play.
We drove thru an ice storm one winter to see Willie Nelson in Dallas for a New Year's show. Two carloads drove more than a hundred miles. There was no way we were gonna miss that show come hell, high water, or icy roads. Eight of us in two cars, Olds Cutlass 442 - maybe a 72 model, and a 68 Mustang Fastback. Not really your icy road automobiles and being from central Texas, we weren't necessarily the expert level ice road drivers but we managed to get to Dallas only to find the last icy overpass before the venue clogged with cars that couldn't make it across. We had a surplus of people so we left the two drivers and the rest of us walked gingerly up the line of stuck vehicles to the front and positioned ourselves on each side. The roads were slick enough that all we had to do was gently pull on them enough to get them moving and they could roll across the overpass onto the street leading to the venue. They just had to have a nudge. We cleared cars from our path and finally made it in to the show. It was inside an auditorium and once we got inside and seated and Willie came out singing Whiskey River, the place lit up with hundreds of red glowing embers from hundreds of joints and other cigarette-like objects and a cloud rose to the ceilings. Damnedest thing I had ever seen, with Dallas cops walking the aisles ignoring all the dope smokers and just to Willie and Family sing in the new year.
I saw so many acts myself, ZZ Top was just one of them. Songs from Tres Hombres, and Rio Grande Mud albums really rocked us out. We all knew the stories of the Chicken Ranch, the Mexican Blackbird, the X. Real Texas stuff there.
We went to Willie's picnic at the Pedernales country club and I still have a t-shirt from that show. The back is mostly holes since I wore it working long days on seismic crews, but the front still shows just how many different acts he would bring to the stage over the course of the show - Willie, Waylon, ET and the TTs, the Geezinslaws, etc. We picked a spot about 200 yards from the stage on a rise in the fairway and started drinking beer. The sun blazed and baked us as we watched the artists play their gigs - all day long. That big-ass cooler we toted was emptied of beer when we were done. At one point a guy next to us just stood up, stepped out of his pants bare-assed commando style and pulled on a pair of Willie's trademark Texas flag jogging shorts. Then he sat back down like nothing happened. Back in those days the Hells Angels handled security for Willie's picnics.
You could watch Austin City Limits and catch so many great singers and songwriters - Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie, and dozens more.
Since we lost John Prine last year and Jerry Jeff Walker too it seems like the weight of the years is becoming more noticeable. All these people played the soundtrack of some of the best years of my life. On long drives, especially if I am alone, I bust out singing anything and everything that pops into my head. I don't need no radio, no Pandora, or Sirius. The melodies are right there triggered by some smell, a familiar route, a classic vehicle like one I used to own, or by a random memory of an old friend.
RIP Dusty Hill. If there is a next life and if they have a band they just got themselves a great bass player.
Old enough to remember them blaring out of every car's 8-track player at the beach.
I wonder if they were trying to retcon their style?
Later removed for legal reasons -