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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

Chris Oglesby
Colin Gilmore
Austin; 10/19/00

Colin Gilmore is Jimmie Gilmore’s second child and eldest son. Colin lived in Lubbock between the ages of 3 and 14, where he grew up around such Lubbock icons as Richard Bowden (once Colin's step-father) of The Maines Brothers Band , the Hancock family, Jesse Taylor, Joe Ely, etc.
After meeting through a mutual friend, Colin kindly agreed to discuss with me his unique perspective of growing up among the community of artists who made Lubbock famous.

Colin: I believe it was in the Lubbock Airport where I saw something on the wall talking about Lubbock’s history, saying that Lubbock has a legacy of being very socially conservative & traditional but progressive in technology.

You see a lot of rich people there. For a West Texas town, there’s quite a bit of wealth there. There’s one street called Quaker, and the school that I went to - Rush Elementary- is on the "rich side" of Quaker, might be one of the richer neighborhoods in town; But if you cross Quaker, the other side is closer to the project level. And there’s a big cotton field there - A lot of dirt and a lot of nothing. But there’s also a lot of poor people.

It was a crazy neighborhood when I was growing up. There was all kinds of child molesters running around, people walking around the neighborhood waving their arms in the air, crazy frat boys…
    I think some of my friends were the biggest troublemakers, too. One of them, this friend of mine, Joe – if you could call him a friend – I was pretty young and he was just a wild kid. His family lived down the street. When we were 8 or so he tried to strangle another friend with a shoelace…

Chris: Yea. There’s a lot of crazy people in Lubbock. My girlfriend wonders if everyone from Lubbock is crazy.

Colin: Just about.

Chris: Yea. I tell her that just about all of ‘em are.

But we were talking about Lubbock being "on the cutting edge of technology and yet conservative in a lot of ways," and I'd like to get back to that.
We were talking about something a minute ago in relation to that, and that was Buddy Holly…I thought that was kind of interesting…

Colin: Yea. Buddy Holly…There’s a parallel there: In some ways he was pure traditional. He sang nothing but love songs. I have yet to find a song he wrote or did that wasn’t some kind of love song.

Chris: And while it was real "cutting edge" music, it was really based on "roots" music.

Colin: It was based on "roots" stuff. But at the time – This was very radical what he was doing – basing it on the roots of the Black culture, Blues and everything, and also on "White" Country music, and also a lot of Mexican influence. 

Buddy Holly's music was "roots" but to combine all those things at his time was very radical.

Chris: And regarding technology - Buddy was really doing a lot of experimenting with the recording side of it, the engineeering and mixing. That was one of his major influences on popular music.

Colin: But the whole deal about Lubbock being technologically progressive and yet more socially conservative, I think it’s one of the things that might have given rise to all the artistic talent coming out of there, and yet at the same time it might have been the thing that drove everybody away.

Chris: Elaborate on that for me.

Colin: All I can say is for myself - I was always really turned off by it then. I lived in Lubbock from the time I was 4 to when I was 14; and by the time I got to be 12 or 13, I started listening to punk rock and all that good stuff, and I really just started looking around Lubbock and thinking, "This place sucks! I don’t want to live here. I don’t like the people here."

Chris: In what way?

Colin: See...A lot of it had to do with the school I went to, Mackenzie Jr. High. I had to hang around with the same guys I hung around with in elementary school, and a lot of those guys were just "rich assholes." 
I’ll try to summarize it like this…I would go to that Lakeridge Country Club neighborhood and I would be a little bit disgusted at how they seemed to be in the 21st Century technologically and materially – they had huge houses – But it didn’t seem to me that the mentality of the whole area had changed a bit since "way back when."

Now that I can look back at it and I can step away from it and I don’t have to go back, it’s kinda interesting and Lubbock does seem kind of mysterious. Kinda like when you’re watching a horror movie. You get this great feeling of "WOW!" but you’re really glad you’re not in it. You’re glad you’re not stuck in the middle of it.

Chris: You have a unique situation where both sides of your family have been in Lubbock for generations. Can you tell me a little bit about your grandfather? What was his name?

Colin: William Brian Gilmore. I got my middle name Brian from him. He was a really great man. He passed away about a month and a half ago. He grew up in Electra, Texas…He got his degree in "Dairy" – I can’t remember what the actual degree is called – But he taught classes at Tech and owned a dairy for a long time. 
One of the biggest things about him was that he was very active in A.A. He wasn’t an outspoken man; he was very humble. But a lot of people claim that he helped them achieve sobriety. He was an alcoholic himself but when he died, he had over thirty years sober, maybe even thirty-five years. But a whole lot of people credit him with helping them achieve sobriety and sticking with it. And I think he got Al-Anon started in Lubbock a long time ago.

Chris: I think one of the common things about people in Lubbock – and I think this is certainly common among many of the creative artists who have left Lubbock – is a deep sense of spirituality. Of course, that’s the backbone for someone in A.A….

Colin: Absolutely.

Chris: I think people who listen to your father’s music definitely hear a spirituality in that…

Colin: Yea. Definitely.

Chris: And the same with the music of Joe, and Butch, and Terry Allen, and the Hancock family; It’s all kinda coming from a different direction but that spirituality is the backbone of a lot of it.

Colin: Very much. I agree.

Chris: So that deep spirituality is a common thing in Lubbock. And you’ve had an interesting exposure to a lot of different sides of that.
This group of people we’re talking about - the artists & musicians - is a side of Lubbock that’s NOT like those "Lakeridge Country Club people" you were talking about earlier. Could you maybe share your unique view of all that? Like, what was your first exposure to the Hancock family and The Supernatural Family Band…

For more of this interview you have been reading on virtualubbock, Buy the book by author Christopher Oglesby
Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air:
Legends of West Texas Music

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