virtualubbock - Interview

What's New?

About Us
Contact Us

buy the book

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

Chris Oglesby Interviews
Jimmie Dale Gilmore
Central Market Café, Austin; 12/1/00

Jimmie Dale Gilmore has been a central figure in both Lubbock and Austin music scenes for much of the last thirty years. Buddy Holly's father produced Gilmore's first record. As a "Hub City Mover" Jimmie was a featured performer at the Grand Opening of Austin's legendary hippie haven - The Armadillo World Headquarters. He was named "Country Performer of the Year" by Rolling Stone magazine three (3) times in the decade of the 90's. Today - reunited with his freinds Joe Ely & Butch Hancock for the 21st Century - this Flatlander is still touching souls with his mystical West Texas voice.

JDG: There’s a kind of a paradox in my own mind about Lubbock, because in certain respects I don’t think Lubbock is particularly singled out. I think that, because my view of history - and everything - is that so many factors are dependent on so many other factors – the interdependency of everything – that I think it’s always misleading and kind of "unreal" to say, "There was something special about this place in this time that produced this Magic." I just don’t think that it works like that.

Chris: One can identify what those elements are that created it, perhaps?

JDG: I do believe that it seems like a disproportionate number of really creative people have come from that area….
No, I shouldn’t say, "a number of creative people;" Rather, "a large number of people have become known that came from that area."

I don’t think any place creates any more creative people than any other place.

Chris: It seems like there are more people from there that have stuck with it.

JDG: Maybe that’s it.

Colonel Tom Parker – who I got to know just at the last of his life – He told me that to be a success in the music business – and actually, this applies in a lot of other places, too, but especially in the arts, in any of the creative fields – He said you have to have three things to become a success and retain success: You have to have "Talent"; that’s an absolute. You have to have "Really Hard Work"; and you have to have "Luck"; and if any one of those things is missing, you can be like a flash-in-the-pan kinda thing, but for any real on-going success to happen, all three of those have to happen.

Well, I think there’s a large measure of this Lubbock thing that’s "Luck." And that’s the part that you can’t explain. You can explain there being talented people and people that really work hard all over the place. There’s a lot of ‘em. I know lots of ‘em that nobody ever heard of.

Chris: Right. There’s maybe no more talented people in Lubbock than in other places, but why is it…What is that "Luck"?

JDG: I guess there’s kind of a cascade…Y’see, what I’m really gettin’ at is: I don’t think you can pick out a reason and say, "This is the reason." I don’t think it works like that. I think it’s more like…"So-and-so knew so-and-so who knew so-and-so…"

Chris: So do you think, when you see these groups of talented people like
"The Beats" – Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac - all that was "Luck?"

JDG: In a sense. Yea, I believe that. I absolutely believe that. And it could have happened with a different group, at the same time, with just tiny things going differently. That’s not to belittle anything that’s been accomplished by any of those people. But it’s just to say that…
I think it reflects a tendency on my part to think that just regular, everyday people that nobody ever heard of in general are every bit as interesting and as talented as people that get all this spotlight put on ‘em. I’m talking about in a general, universal way.

So when it comes down to, "Well, let’s talk about your hometown and why is it so special?" When I’m already thinking from a background of, "That’s all an artificial process to begin with," I don’t want to add to that artificial process of shining that spotlight. [Laughs].

It’s not bad, don’t get me wrong.

Chris: I do understand what you’re saying. Although there are people that live there in Lubbock right now - younger creative people - that see it, too. Maybe it’s just because they’re seeing a direction to go. Do you think that’s what it is? Because they believe that there’s something there?

JDG: If there’s something to inspire any young creative person, that’s wonderful. But I don’t think that in itself…I guess, what I’m saying is: I would prefer to see a premium be put on the simple love of whatever the art is, the music, rather than the fame that comes from it.

So there’s a chicken and egg thing. There are some people that become famous only because of a giant drive to become famous. [Laughs]. And then there are some people who become famous because they happen to be good at what they do and blundered into the right circumstances.

Chris: Right. I understand.
But I don’t know if I am really necessarily talking about just the ‘famous’ people from Lubbock. I'm saying that there are so many people that just live there in Lubbock…
Like The Maines Brothers weren’t really ‘famous’ but they were having fun there. Or there’s people who just like to do it like Cary Swinney. I don’t guess there is any more there than anywhere else…

JDG: I doubt it. I think that’s the tendency to set one group against another population and saying, "This one is real special…"

Chris: I think a lot of what I’m doing, maybe, is talking about my environment; Because I’m equally excited about all the people that are still there in Lubbock that no one knows. So I think that’s really what I’m doing.

JDG: Exactly! Now, see, that’s really a different angle. To say that you were lucky enough to get to be aware of some really talented people that were to a large degree unnoticed - To me, that’s a whole different thought-process than saying [in a tone of mock-erudition], "Why does this place produce such special people." [Laughs].

Chris: You are right! But that is really what I’m doing - talking about this community of interesting, unique, creative performers - both the known & the unknown... Understanding this community of artists from my hometown.

JDG: That’s a whole different thought-process.

Chris: I was just amazed when I moved to Austin and learned about allkinds of artists from Lubbock who I never heard of when I lived there. I think it was about the time your After Awhile album came out; Rolling Stone magazine had a story about it because they were talking about that ‘regional series’ that that album was produced in connection with, and they had two little blurbs about "other records from this region you might want to check out," that they rated ‘five stars’ to And one of them was Terry Allen’s Lubbock: on everything. I knew the name Terry Allen because I had seen his name written as the songwriter on some Maines Brothers songs, but I had two degrees from Tech and was twenty-something years old, had lived in Lubbock my whole life and never knew that there even was an album out there called Lubbock: on everything until I moved here to Austin.

JDG: That’s one of my favorite albums.

Chris: It’s one of mine, too…Now! That was just one more thing in this whole string of realizations I was having about Lubbock.
Like when I would go see this band called the Ace Liquidators play in Lubbock and I realized that their saxophone player Bobby Keys, who I was watching just up there at that little stage at The Spoon or Fat Dawg's …Somebody at some point told me, "You know, he plays with The Rolling Stones."
That was truly astonishing to me, that my ‘boring’ town had all of these interesting people from there.

And maybe everybody has interesting people like that all around them. I guess this is just sort of my deal.

JDG: Uhuh. See, I love that! But like I said earlier when I was talking about the clichés: So many people already have this fixed thing of, "There’s this special magical fountain of great talent and genius…;" And they say, "Is it in the water?" ...Those are the clichés. The thing is; That’s based on some kind of unconscious presumption that there was some kind of a special magic in this spot that I just don’t subscribe to.

Chris: No. I was just more scientifically looking at: "I wonder what some of those elements were that created this observable phenomenon." But that’s the opposite side…

JDG: But see, when you say "created this" you’re presuming that there’s something…a "This"…What? You see? This kind of "aura…"

Chris: So the phenomenon is really just a product of the observer, not really anything else; Is that what you’re saying?

JDG: It’s a combination, I think. It really is. Like I said, I’m aware that there’s a disproportionate number of songwriters that I just really love that are from that relatively small area - people that don’t even know each other. I mean, people from several generations, now. But also, they’re generally within in the realm of a type of music that I personally am connected with.

So it is true that, for some reason, there’s a flavor in the stream of creativity from this relatively small geographical area. But it also may partly be that because they somehow had the vehicle by which to…That same thing might could have happened from any place if somehow the doors were open.

Chris: So what do you think the vehicle is - or was? Bob Wills, Buddy Holly…?

JDG: Well…It’s very odd because with me it always devolves into a philosophical conversation.

Chris: That’s okay. I would like it to be a philosophical conversation.

JDG: You see…When you say, "What do you think the vehicle ‘is’?"…And what I’m already saying is that the vehicle is made out of totally disparate…that it both "ISN’T" and "IS."

There isn’t a specific thing that can be pinpointed as "the Cause." It’s such a multiplicity of things.

Chris: Well, when you said, "The vehicle is there," I was just wanting you to say what is that vehicle that you’re talking about? Identify that vehicle.

JDG: But when I say "The Vehicle," it’s such a metaphorical term. It’s not meant like it’s a specific vehicle that they’ve got.

Chris: You’re just referring to the function that is going forth at that point?

JDG: If everything were just truly equal, if the radio really and truly played all the ‘genuinely talented people’ instead of somebody who happened to be the brother-in-law of somebody that had a hit song last month…See, those are the kind of vehicles…When I say ‘vehicle’ I’m talking about those flukes that can’t be pinpointed…

Chris: Sure, sure, sure. Okay. That makes sense. And there just happens to be a chain of events that carries on for awhile. Sure, I get that.

JDG: Yea. And I think there has been historically…Something did happen that a string of really interesting, talented, creative people came from this unlikely seeming place.

I just didn’t want to start out from the beginning saying, "Oh Yea! I really believe in this!" I just don’t believe in the normal picture of it - "the cliches". Even at the same time, not saying that it isn’t true that there are a bunch of really talented people that came from there.

Chris: Right. So there are some things that I don’t know about you, that I would like to know, just in my own interest about some of these talented people from my hometown.

Could you tell me a little bit about Al Strehli? I’ve just learned little bits about him. I don’t know that much about him.

JDG: He’s Angela’s older bother. Al was a huge inspiration on me because already back then…He’s a few years older than me…and even back then, in his early twenties, he was writing music that, to me, stands with Bob Dylan and The Beatles to this day; And they weren’t influences on him. He wrote his stuff before they came along. He had already developed his style. He was a poet; more than "a songwriter." He is a Poet.

Al was a huge influence on me and all of our circle of friends because his songs were so great and interesting and different.
He and Angela, their family lived only a few blocks from Joe, so they were real close friends when they were younger. But they had kinda gone into such different music fields that they didn’t do music stuff together.

Chris: A lot of people probably don’t even know that they know each other.

JDG: Right, and they’re very close friends. Angela and I were real close friends.
A lot of people in Austin never realized that we had the connection way before…
’Cause Angela was extremely influential in creating the whole Austin music scene.

Chris: Okay. In what way? The Lubbock people really have greatly influenced Austin.

JDG: Angela was so important in the development of Antone’s; And the whole existence of Antone’s became the beacon for the Blues people and the Rock-n-Roll people.

Chris: So she was one of the original people that played there a lot?

JDG: She played there, but she also helped run the place. She booked the acts. She also used to run sound there. Angela was massively important in the whole creation of Antone’s.

And later on…Angela became fairly well known but, to me, never as well known as her talent and capabilities merited. But in lots of ways, Angela was as much a scholar of the Blues. She was so deeply interested and so knowledgeable about the Blues, It became part of her thing - cultivating awareness of the Blues …I don’t know if she would describe herself in this same way that I’m describing her but that’s my perception of it.

Chris: Just briefly, was their family musical, too? I mean, how did they get so knowledgeable about music?

JDG: They studied music. They learned, I believe, Argentinean folk music, maybe even Brazilian, when they were much younger. Al in fact was pretty proficient Spanish guitar player. He learned a lot of South American folk music.
Their father was a professor at Texas Tech, and they spent a lot of time in South America. They used to entertain like foreign dignitaries who visited Texas Tech.
Angela and I were interested in folk music, and we were in a folk music club together. But she specifically was into the Blues and became more and more obsessed with the Blues and became just extremely knowledgeable about it.

Then around that time…There are so many overlapping stories!…But the T. Nickel House Band: Joe and I - beginning around that time and ever since, in a way - have sort of been partners. We’ve been either explicitly, actually recording together, performing together…We traveled around, hitchhiked around and played just as a duet all over the place. And both of us ended up spending a lot of time in Austin, both together and separately.

At one point I had sort of moved to Austin, and Angela moved out to San Francisco; I had a lot of friends out in San Francisco and Berkeley. I’ve spent a lot of time out there and hung out with them in that period; that was in the period at the beginning of…Oh, it was when Powell St. John was out there and had a band with Tracey Nelson...There’s a history of Austin music intertwining with the Lubbock musicians that is kinda what creates the backdrop of all of this.

go to page 2

home Interviews Stories video What's New?

About Us

Copyright 2007 Chris Oglesby
All rights reserved