Sunday afternoon I went to a tribute concert in honor of Stephen Bruton, who recently passed away after a two year battle with cancer. Bruton was one of Fort Worth's great guitarists (if Kris Kristofferson, T-Bone Burnett, and Bonnie Raitt show up at your funeral, you're a great guitarist and a great person. End of story.)
Here's an uncharacteristic Bruton performance with The Tosca String Quartet.
Lord have mercy, this was a good show.
Here's the announcement blurb from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Bass Performance Hall will pay tribute to Stephen Bruton on Sunday at 2 p.m. at McDavid Studio, 301 East Fifth St., with a free concert featuring many of his friends, including Johnny Reno, Dave and Richard Millsap, the Tejas Brothers, Gary Nicholson, Rollo Smith, Linda Waring, James Hinkle, Yogi Musgrove, Randy Case, Lewis Stephens and Bill Ham, along with special guests.
Make that lots of special guests. Add Monty McClinton. John Nitzinger. Sumter Bruton, Stephen's brother. Plus Mike O'Neill, a blues wizard from Wichita Falls, Tx (the gateway to Nowhere, Oklahoma)
It was basically a well-organized jam session, with Fort Worth and Austin's best musicians paying tribute to one of their own.
The gent below in the black track suit is Johnny Reno, formerly of The Juke Jumpers, The Sax Maniacs, and a band led by somebody named Stevie Ray Vaughan. By this time in the show, I had a serious case of Happy Feet.
Twenty years ago, I used to go hear Reno and The Sax Maniacs at The Red Parrot, a now defunct club just west of downtown. Good times. Johnny Reno is the guy below on the left who doesn't look any older now than he did then. He was kind enough to stop and talk for a few minutes, and tell me what it was like to be in a Quentin Tarrantino movie (Grindhouse).
And then I noticed the next drummer. See her head sticking over the cymbals?
The drummer was a she, not a he, which is unusual in North Texas. And she was laying down an incredible wall of sound. Nailing it. I'm talking head out on the highway, heavy metal thunder levels of nailing it. And she looked familiar.
Flashback to 6 months ago, when I'm playing guitar in my neighbors' back yard. Amy and Cheryl are the best neighbors anyone could ask for. They have a beer fridge beside the garage that is always stocked, and they've given me total access. They have great parties where world-class singer-songwriters show up. All sorts of guitars, fiddles, banjos, acoustic basses, and hybrids are passed around the campfire for hours.
On more than one occasion, a nice lady named Linda has shown up with her wooden drum box. She always played it well, but I've never paid that much attention to her when the music was going. She kept the eighth notes going nice and steady, but that's all. Mostly we talked about how bad the roads are on the East Side.
The next time Linda Waring shows up at Amy and Cheryl's, I'm only going to have eight words for her.... "Teach Me, Oh Master. Make Me Your Disciple".
Here I am with Linda. This was like discovering that your Mom has superpowers.
I think I heard the song below twice in the course of the afternoon. It had no direct connection to Stephen Bruton, but the artists who put the performance together thought it was appropriate.
This is "Fort Worth Blues", a song Steve Earle wrote after the death of his friend Townes Van Zandt. Beautiful, beautiful stuff.Fort Worth Blues by Steve Earle
In Fort Worth all the neons're burning bright
Pretty lights of red and blue
But they'd shut down all the honky tonks tonight
And say a prayer or two if they only knew
You used to say the highway was your home
But we both know that that ain't true
It's just the only place a man can go
When he don't know where he's travelling to
Colorado's always clean and healing
And Tennessee in Spring is green and cool
It never really was your kind of town
But you went around with the Fort Worth blues
Somewhere up beyond the great divide
Where the sky is wide and the clouds are few
A man can see his way clear to the light
Just hold on tight that's all you got to do
They say Texas weather's always changing
And one thing change will bring is something new
And Houston really ain't that bad a town
So you hang around with the Fort Worth Blues
It's a Full moon over Galway Bay tonight
Silver light over green and blue
And every place I travel through I find
Some kind of sign that you've been through
Well Amsterdam was always good for grieving
And London never fails to leave me blue
And Paris never was my kind of town
So I walked around with the Fort Worth Blues.
Click here for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's review of the show. Thanks also to FWST for the pic of Nitzinger, Reno, and Linda Waring. Thanks to the other Wichita Falls natives for the pictures.