Thursday, December 19, 2013

the jam hole is a lubbock tradition and has quickly won my heart, being full of down-to-earth, wonderful people some of whom drink too much or fall off the edge in one way or the other. it has some pretty reputable musicians coming through every once in a while and tonight i played with two of them, but also had a great time just playing, and traded phone numbers with the guy who runs the auto body shop that it's in.

that guy, one M.F., was suffering tonight because of a health problem of his step-mother's; he asked us all to pray for her and we did, and this was touching. it seemed he hadn't slept in a while; he was out of sorts. most of the musicians at the jam hole maybe didn't make it, or made it and came back, or made it and didn't want it, or never bothered making it. some touched fame in some kind of way. nobody i've met has mentioned natalie maines yet; one says his claim to fame was doing the sound check at a local willie nelson show. they generally, one could say, feel religious about willie nelson. i have stopped picking willie nelson songs, because i don't do them well enough, and that's a kind of sacrilege. shouldn't even touch them, if you're going to mess up.

so tonight this one guy started telling me he was buddy holly's nephew. buddy holly was maybe 14; he was maybe 3 or 5. he hit buddy holly on the head with a croquet mallet. he wanted buddy holly to take him to the movie; it was a john wayne movie. it was a movie in which john wayne said "that'll be the day" maybe five times. buddy holly came home and wrote the song "that'll be the day."

i told him, i wanted to run a tour bus, around lubbock, of buddy holly sites. this or that house that buddy holly lived in, or the schools that he went to, that my kids also go to, by the way. you can't do that, he said, because buddy holly's wife owns the name and the image, and she has it locked away, and anytime anyone wants to use it, she sues them big with all her lawyers, to make sure they can't use it. there's a feud, apparently, between the remaining family, and the wife.

this guy played backup to jenni dale lord, a local singer who apparently has made it big. if you look her up on youtube you can see her playing at sxsw, and with a band, now called the jdl band, and if you look back far enough, you'll find this guy, buddy holly's nephew. he's good. he sounds good as her backup. he, however, wouldn't leave lubbock, while she had to go make it big, i guess.

tonight the other fiddler walked in. he too was famous; his name is jimmy blakely jr., here singing a song called "Amanda" which i heard tonight. jimmy blakely, his father, was a famous old-timer who bought a club out on the east side and settled in lubbock. jimmy jr. has played fiddle around town for years and is very popular, but was apparently not in great shape, in a wheelchair. not fiddling at his best, apparently; he could hardly play whole songs without getting tired. still it was an honor to play with both of them. it was an honor, in fact, to play with the whole crowd, which is a diverse group of musicians from all over town. they've been real nice to me too, yankee that i am.

you occasionally hear stories there. one person got into a horrific accident recently. one has had a lot of health problems, in and out of the hospital. one was on the brink of making it, in california, but came back. one does gigs around nursing homes, a task i aspire to, actually. one's wife actually runs the symphony orchestra in town. i was thinking, guess that's slumming, hanging around this crowd, but he probably didn't think so; he's a regular contributor.

one thing i like about them is their consistent loyalty to music of any kind. they play on holidays, they're there almost every week, and if somebody doesn't call a song or start one up, they're pretty quick to move on to someone else who will. i've taken to passing my turn to someone else. tonight i sang "kansas city," though, one of my favorite songs to perform. i will sing, and i enjoy it, but i can't sing and play fiddle at the same time, and i get so nervous that i lose track of simple things like the natural progression of a song through the verses and chorus. people have trouble keeping up with me because i'm erratic especially when i'm nervous. and i'm not very easily picking up this ability to sing and play fiddle at one time, that john hartford could do so easily.

this crowd likes "tell me baby why you been gone so long" and they're ok with "kansas city" and a few others. one guy keeps singing "neither one of us wants to say goodbye" which makes me want to suggest marriage counseling. why does he have to sing it every week? he says he's practicing a supertramp song and will bring it soon. buddy holly's nephew says he practices two hours a day. i practice zilch except that i go to the jam hole whenever i can. i'm enjoying the place; it's lubbock at its best. i need good musical partners; i'm hoping i'll find them eventually, one way or the other.

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