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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."

buy the book

"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

Original essays by Chris Oglesby

Articles by contributing writers

  • Johnny Hughes' Lubbock gambling history
    Johnny Hughes, long-time Lubbock music insider and author of the novel Texas Poker Wisdom contributes stories about his experiences in the world of West Texas high-stakes poker.

  • Archival articles by Russ Parsons from 1980s AJ
    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.
  • New Mémoire: The Greatest Singer I Ever Heard
    by Tommy X Hancock
    : "I first heard her soon after the very first television programming began in Lubbock, Texas..."
    Read the story to find out who the singer is.
  • When the Dust Settles
    short fiction by Robin Montgomery

    "Since I’ve been away from Texas for several years, I’m surprised sometimes by what I miss. I miss wild thunderstorms, the most incredible sunsets and sunrises, chicken fried steak, real barbeque and many other foods, and believe it or not: dust storms. Dust storms happen to be very romantic. ..."
  • Kathleen's Corner
    Kathleen Nacozy is a law student at Texas Tech, by way of Austin. Sometimes it takes the searching eye of one from outside to appreciate Lubbock for its unique and hidden treasures, which may go unnoticed by local passersby. Like all of us in virtualubbock, Kathleen has learned that, while seemingly wrapped in plain brown paper, Lubbock TX has many buried jewels to be discovered. She wants to dig that treasure for us.
  • Flatlanders Homecoming - 2002
    Contributing writer Clarence Milam sums up the phenomenally successful 2002 Flatlanders reunion tour, which wrapped up at Lubbock's scenic Canyon Amphitheater. The Flatlanders received a great deal of national acclaim for their reprise album, Now Again.During an appearance on CNN's Larry King Live, talk-radio host Don Imus pledged to donate $10,000 to the favorite charity of the first major-market station to report that a single from Now Again had made it into the top 10. Despite little air-time, the album hit No. 22 on the Billboard country charts.

  • Poetry - "Terra Plana"
    These poems, submitted by writer
    Michelle Riddle Thomas (LHS '85), were inspired by the flat landscape around Lubbock. Says the poet: "As a kid growing up in Lubbock, I actually believed that roads HAD to be straight. When I reached the age of 11 or 12 and realized that roads aren't always straight, I was deeply shocked."
  • Poetry - "West Texas Sandstorm"
    by Connie Williams
    A charter member of the La Mesa Area Writer's Guild, Lamesa, Texas - Connie "Sage" Williams has captured the transcendent ability of the West Texas wind to inspire poetry. I love this poem.

Reader Mail - Some of the most valuable and fascinating stories we've collected have come from the suggestion of readers' comments.
Thank you for your contributions!

  • Lubbock Music Memories - from our friends on Facebook new Book Review - Kudos for "Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air"
    Doug Smith Benefit After Party - 2/14/08: Photos, video, and articles Lubbock All-Stars Reunion - 9/7/07
    Watch video from this historic music event
    in celebration of the one-year anniversary of Chris Oglesby's "Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air"
    Book Release Celebration at Stubb's - 11/12/06
    Wow! What a party! Hope you didn't miss it. View photos and read mail
    Jesse "Guitar" Taylor has passed away (3/7/06).
    Please share with us your memories of our beloved guitar hero.
    Natalie Maines
    Read what the visitors to virtualubbock have to say about Natalie's experience with freedom of speech. Fair warning: We're pro-Natalie in virtualubbockland.
    Letter and Poems from M.H. Hill
    M.H. Hill shares some good-time memories and beautiful poetry inspired by life on the Caprock. Letters from Dee Purkeypile
    Dee Purkeypile was a young band leader in Lubbock in the '70s. Read his first-hand accounts of the hey-day of Stubb's, the havoc of the May 11 Tornado, and the funky goings-on in the Tech Ghetto. These stories capture the essence of the free spirit we're trying to describe at virtualubbock. Thanks for sharing, Dee!
    Letters from Monty Newton
    We've received several e-mails from musician, geologist, archeologist, & air-pilot
    Monty Newton - formerly of Anton, now working and performing in Austin. Monty has generously shared many great stories about life and love in the West Texas Music Scene, including Stubb's, the Cotton Club, and the Lubbock Lights.
  • Letter from Mark Gunderson
    Memories of friendship with Stubb, Cuz, and Little Pete; jams with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Ely, even Muddy Waters; more tales of west texas bodhisattvas.

Selected archival articles, essays, liners notes, & stories

  • The Day The Music Was Born - Buddy Holly Meets The King
    From Texas Monthly's Sesquicentennial Collectors Edition - 1986
    "When a shy but brilliant four-eyed boy from Lubbock met a hyperactive trucker from Mississippi, the world was soon to be shaken at the foundation."
    Read how a brief encounter in Lubbock changed the world for us all.
    Lubbock: 'Her Teeth Are Stained But Her Heart Is Pure'
    by Molly Ivins
    When I first read this article written by Molly Ivins back in 1987 may have been the first time I started thinking about, "What's up with all the music coming from Lubbock?" - Chris
    Dancing in the Headlights
    Jo Harvey Allen wrote this entertaining piece for AAA's Westways Magazine.
    Honky Tonk Visions
    by Elizabeth Skidmore Sasser
    An excerpt from Out of the Ordinary: The Art of Paul Milosevich; Sasser discusses how visual and musical art blend together when young artists gather under the West Texas skies.

    Alex Ross - Portrait Artist to American Gods
    "Once upon a time a lonely little boy in Lubbock, Texas, turned to comic book heroes for friendship. And they did what they do best - they rescued him. But then, after a decade and a half of hard work and intense study, something amazing happened. He returned the favor. Does that sound unbelievable?"
    The Southwest Peace Festival of 1970
    "Lubbock's Answer to Woodstock" (selected Avalanche Journal articles)
    Read about what could have been Lubbock's most significant cultural event; However, the combination of the unpredictable West Texas Spring weather and over-excited law enforcement lead to a situation where
    nearly 20% of the attendees were arrested or spent the weekend in the Lubbock County jail.
    The Flatlanders
    by Colin Escott

    The album liner notes for the 1990 re-release of West Texas music recorded by "Jimmie Dale & The Flatlanders" in 1971. This remarkable and puzzling band featured Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Joe Ely, & Tom X Hancock.

    Advice To a Young Poet in the Wings (HA!)      
    By Butch Hancock 
    Read this mystical poem by Butch Hancock which gives a hint to where to find this creative spirit which inhabits the seemingly empty West Texas plains.
    C.B. Stubblefield: "Ladies & Gentleman, I'm a Cook" -
    An archival article from Lubbock's
    Caprock Sun published in conjunction with news of the development of the Stubb's Memorial; Read some priceless memories of this man who was an amazing influence on the inhabitants of Lubbock and beyond.
    Stubb: "A Captain Without a Ship" - by Michael Hall
    In 1984, due to troubles with the IRS, Stubb finally left Lubbock for Austin; However, Stubb never forgot his roots in Lubbock. In this article from the Austin Chronicle, Stubb says: "
    At Stubb’s BBQ we got to be multimillionaires in love and affection, but we didn’t make any profits – monetary stuff."
    Willis Cooper - "Fun at All Costs"
    Willis Cooper was one of the great genius enigmas of the Plains. A one-time singer and long-time sheepherder, Cooper retired to the bars of Lubbock. There, he manifested his uncanny ability to speak in verse and express poetry in everyday life. Anyone who frequented the bars on Main Street near Texas Tech in the '80s & '90s will remember an uncannily wrinkled old-man with bulbous nose, wearing shirt-sleeves and a gimme cap, getting up on stage to do his alcohol rambling "raps" with whatever band happened to have the stage that night. It was inspiring to see this guy living it up with the most untamed young people in town.

  • Home Run
    by Jo Harvey Allen
    Two-act, one-woman play about Jo Harvey's life growing up in Lubbock, this play examines the importance of the concept of "Home"; how that concept is a fuzzy one. It is a magical and poetic look at reality that truly strikes home for a Lubbockian.

* NOTE regarding "fair use" and copyrights: I have posted what I believe to be interesting archival material from old newspaper, magazines, liner notes and books. In many cases the author has granted permission to post the item here at virtualubbock; in some cases, for various reasons, no such permission has been soliceted or offered.
If there is any copyrighted material posted on virtualubbock.com which the copyright holder would like removed, please notify me and I will remove the article immediately. -

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