"Honky Tonk Visions"
One of the few night spots for dancing in Lubbock during the fifties and sixties was the Cotton Club. The clubs later days (in the late seventies) were associated with Tommy Hancock, billed (among many titles) as Tommy Hancock and the Supernatural Family Band. Hancock is referred to affectionately as "Lubbock's original hippie." The no-longer-existent dance hall was commemorated by Milosevich with a watercolor of the old sign left standing to blow in the wind above the bare ground.
For decades, Lubbock, the self styled "Hub of the Plains" drew musicians to its center; these musicians then fanned out over the country watching the cotton gins disappear in their rearview mirrors. The early generation included such names as Plainview singer Jimmy Dean, the late Roy Orbison from Wink, producer Norman Petty from Clovis, Texas Tech architectural student John Deutchendorf -- better known as John Denver, Littlefield's Waylon Jennings, Mac Davis, and many others. The list comes full circle with the mention of that founding father of rock 'n roll, Buddy Holly and the Crickets.
It is with the new generation, however,
that this chapter is concerned. This goes back directly to the Flatlanders, a Lubbock band of
the early 1970s that brought together Butch
Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore,
Tony Pearson, and Joe Ely. Other well -knowns include
Ponti Bone, Davis
McClarty, Jesse Taylor,
who are, or were, members
of Ely's band.
Terry Allens attitude towards Lubbock has changed in the last few years. He admits:
Terry Allens song "Amarillo Highway" leads south to
Lubbock. Terry says that as long as it's possible to get out
in a car on a starlit night, on a straight road with the radio
turned up high, no one should ever need a psychiatrist.
Trucks, pickups, cars, and the sun overhead are signs and
symbols that set wheels in motion and circles spinning. One of
Butch's songs says, "This old world
spins like a minor miracle." Woody Guthrie's
"Car Car Song" is one of the "modern lullabies"
Ely has recently recorded for his daughter. It is no mystery
Byrne chose to open and end the film True Stories with frames of a red
convertible parked on a road that stretched from nowhere to nowhere.
Both beginning and ending are left open ended to reach out to
infinity: "Enlightenment doesnt care how you get there!"
...Another [Paul] Milosevich painting, this time of a truck,
was a pivotal point of an exhibition hosted in the fall of 1984
by The Museum, Texas Tech University. Future Akins, interim curator
of art, was one of the forces behind the idea of bringing together
artists and musicians in an unexpected three-dimensional, multimedia,
foot stompin tribute to West Texas music.
The Cadillac's pink fins pointed towards the heart of the exhibition, a tribute to C.B. Stubblefield of the famous Stubbs BBQ, and another of Milosevich's friends. From 1969, when the small place on East Broadway was opened, it was a haven to almost every musician worth his beer, whether from Lubbock or just passing through. Stubb's Sunday Night Jam Sessions offered a platform, a bit cramped in size but big in soul, to those on their way up and those on their way down. A musician could always count on Stubb's words of encouragement offered with humor and hot ribs and cold beer. A few years ago, when Stubblefield was approached by the Internal Revenue Service, rumor has it, he responded to their charges of failure to file income tax returns with the severe logic, "I never made any money, why should I pay taxes?"
One of the legendary events that took place at Stubb's will challenge generations of folklorists. This is The Great East Broadway Onion Championship of 1978. It inspired a Tom T. Hall song by the same name which appeared in the album, Places Where I've Done Time. It was also the subject of a black-and-white painting by Milosevich and Jim Eppler. According to the painter, it all began one evening when Hall, Paul, Jim Eppler, and "a guy named Al" were sitting around drinking beer and talking. Hall had never met Stubb; to remedy this they drove out to East Broadway. When they got there, Joe Ely was shooting pool in the back room, and before anyone could say "eight ball," Tom T was in the game. "Smoke was hangin low and thick"; as play accelerated, it got hotter and hotter, and later and later. Joe's girl friend Sharon, who is now his wife, was tired and disgusted, so she pounced on the cue ball and carried it off. Refusing to be discouraged, Ely reached into a bag of Stubb's onions, took out a big one, and put it down on the felt to the disbelief of the kibitzers standing around roaring with laughter. He announced that he was going to play with a broom handle, which he did. Milosevich explains that this "cue stick" really sliced up and punctured an onion pretty badly, which meant that the onion had to be replaced from time to time. When the game ended, the table looked like a green hamburger covered with chopped onions before the catsup is added. Tears were streaming from the competitors' eyes as they battled on, until finally Tom T. was declared the winner of the championship title. Magnanimously, Joe Ely offered a rematch the following year, but Hall said, "No. There are a lot of good onion players out there, and they deserve a shot at the title, too' " In Milosevich's and Eppler's painting, Tom is grinning on the left. Ely is easily identifiable by the broomstick he holds. In the background, Jim Eppler and the painter, drinking beer, are back to back with profiles facing in opposite directions like the Roman god Janus.
In 1984, when Stubblefield locked the door of his barbeque
parlor for the last time before moving to Austin, Future Akins
and Clyde Jones, the University Museum director, were on hand
to salvage as much of the history-making memorabilia as possible
and to organize the mementoes into a three-dimensional display
for the Nothin Else to Do exhibition. The tribute to Stubb
occupied a display area where the booths and posters were arranged.
Gazing down upon the old piano was a deer's head, glass eyes
staring through dark glasses. Hanging on a wall, the famous sign
announced "There will be no BAD talk or LOUD talk in this
PLACE," and another
placard carried the instructions "Equal
time for all musicians. No more than 2 guitars at a time. Thank
Honky Tonk Visions
invited live performances by musicians and art inspired by the
honky-tonk theme. Among those participating, Terry Allen built
a three-dimensional environment that was a tribute to old friends