Thursday, December 12, 2013

Well, some people have reacted negatively to my last blog that raises questions about the killing of Outlaw artist Wayne Mills.

I can only say that it was meant to raise questions and not ire.
Most of it it, as you as readers can see, is conjecture, and that is why they are posed at questions. And I can say that a number of people have asked the same questions.

There are a few statements that I present as "fact."  These are from the standpoint of what sources told me.  Those sources could be wrong, but none of the persons named in the article have agreed to speak with me, so it is hard for me to get a complete view.

I want also to say that unless the trial is a sham--which I have no reason to believe that it will be--I have no intention to investigate what went on.  Let the legal system takes its course.

Again, all I am doing is raising questions that hang on a structure of information that is woefully begging for someone to talk.

Both Shooter Jennings and Jon Hensley strongly disagree with the picture of the activities they were engaged in the night of Wayne's death.  Jon called me today quite angry about what I had written.  I would be happy to state what he said in more concrete words, but he told me that that would be inadvisable.  As of this writing, Shooter doesn't want anything to do with me, which is sad but understandable.

Again, what Wayne, Shooter, and Jon were engaged in that night was related to me by one or more sources. Also, the photos that were forwarded to me--one of which appears on the Internet--do exist and have been related to me as being important to what went on.

I certainly do apologize to anyone and everyone who might take offense to the blog.  I will have more to say in the near future but need to get my thoughts together.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dallas Moore, Me, and Desperados

He played the Red River Valley
And I sat in the kitchen and cried
Running my fingers through many years of living
And wondering, Lord has every well I've drilled gone dry

And so I drove up to this roadhouse, the Bent Wrench, near Nashville.  And there was Dallas Moore and his band. In the book, I tell of how Dallas, when he was a teenager, came upon Outlaw pioneer Billie Gant in a honky tonk. Dallas, young as he was, was so excited that, he later said, "we might as well have been in the Superdome"--he though it was that great.

The Bent Wrench was my "Superdome." That's how much Dallas' music meant to me.  "Outlaw Country" might as well have been the Holy Grail.  But certainly he couldn't grow beyond that. And then comes the CD "Blessed Be the Bad Ones."

And our lives were like some old Western movie
Like desperados waiting for a train

And so the tracks were laid before me, as if handed to me as a gift, to keep me moving; towards the completion of the book and ever deeper into my life.

Dallas might just as well have been in a Superdome near Nashville.  He might just as well be in a Superdome today.  There's no need to lie about our lives as he plays.

Well to me he's one of the heroes of this country
And we were drinking beer as he played Moon In '42
Just like a desperado waiting for a train

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Outlaw Trail

I will miss that Outlaw trail that I rode for 2 years to write "Outlaws Still At Large!"  Don't use that exclamation point some people said.  Why not? The original Outlaws did. "Don't listen to that old roots music," others said.  Why not?  The original Outlaws did.

I was saddled by expectations and driven by a dream.  A lost art in some parts of society.  But so were the original Outlaws.  And the road took me through fogs of cannabis smoke and alongside rivers where whiskey and rum flowed and people on the banks cheered for their heroes.

I knew what it was like to be an Outlaw artist in a life set not to a musical score but etched in my own mind by the prose of experience, memory and fantasy.  The honky-tonk came alive, and I danced as I never had before.--Neil
Harder than writing a book . . . promoting one.  That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is a challenge to get people to jump from talking about a book to putting the money down and actually buying one.

Fortunately, I am still meeting some great Outlaw country fans.  During my trip to Ohio to do a book singing with Dallas Moore, his followers were exuberant about his music and about the book and especially kind in helping me promote it.

Bert David Newton and his fans in Fort Payne, AL couldn't have been nicer as we sold copies amid rain storms and tons of mud during an outdoor show.  At one point I felt like doing a Woodstock takeoff and sliding through the muck, but I decided my bones were too old for the acrobats. Bert kept calling me "hippie," though, I think that's what fueled my imagination.

I got together with J. B. Beverley in Valdosta, GA, at a small venue.  Yet several people there were eager to talk about the book and one young fan in particular said he felt it was a long time in coming.  Moreover, J. B. later posted a favorable review of it, and I got to once again meet Buck Thrailkill, a tremendous banjo player and exuberant supporter of roots country.

I will do a few more book signings this summer and fall, and hope to meet more Outlaw artists and fans.  The road won't be going through Nashville, but it will be winding amid the terrain blazed by Steve Young, Billy Joe Shaver, David Allan Coe, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Paycheck and company. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

One of the frustrations in writing is the delay that sometimes occurs in getting a book released.  For me, my nerves have been jangled by a real delay and a feared delay.

First the real delay.  A problem with the page formatting kept the book from being released on May 24, which I had originally projected as the publication date.  Those problems are being resolved, and it looks most assuredly that the book will be available at Amazon on June 10--but that could shift by a couple of days, one direction or the other.

Second, the feared delay.  And it involved Outlaw artist Shooter Jennings--and a lesson about different strokes for different folks.  Back last December I asked Shooter if he would write the foreword to the book, and he graciously said yes, and even insisted that he would be quite happy to do it. Fast motion to late January and still no foreword from Shooter.  I texted him and told him I would need it by mid-March to stay on schedule, and he said that he would get it done soon.

Then came mid-February, and still no foreword.  So I decided to head northward to North Carolina to meet with Outlaw artist J. B. Beverley, whom I had interviewed over the phone for the book but had not yet met in person, and at the same time to see Shooter, who was going to be visiting with J. B.

Shooter again was most gracious and said that he was sincerely glad to see me.  I told him that time was getting short for the foreword--especially since I would need a few days to review it and have it edited--and he said that he understood and would get it to me soon.

Mid-March came, and nothing.  And now Shooter wasn't even answering my text messages because he was so involved in finishing his new CD, "The Other Life." Finally, I laid down the law for the Outlaw: I would need the foreword by April 1, no later.

Shooter's silence worried me.  He had been so true in keeping to his word before, what was wrong now, at this critical juncture, I wondered, with his name already prominent on the working book cover.  I began to doubt myself--maybe I had offended him in some way, I thought.

Finally, Shooter answered my panic-strewn text message sent on March 30 and said he would have the foreword for me that night.  Darkness came and went, and still nothing except my own blackening attitude. One last text message: I told him I couldn't wait but more than a day longer.

The night of March 31, the foreword came in.  Theoretically, Shooter could have sent me a short piece of crap.  The foreword, however, turned out to be lengthy and beautiful . . . a work of art.  It was filled with Shooter's personality, his enthusiasm for the book, and  his appreciation for the work I had done.  Bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the ninth, and Shooter hit it out of the ball park.

In the foreword, Shooter lovingly calls me "insanely neurotic."  It was indeed that personality that had run into Shooter's own modus operandi.  As he told me, "I have to be right up against a deadline to do my best work."  And best work he did. Thank you, Shooter.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It was like a magical night for me last Saturday.  I never thought I would have four of the Outlaw artists who are featured in the book with me on, of all things, the Shooter Jennings tour bus.  But so it happened.

First it was me and Shooter and Joey Allcorn on the bus, waiting for Shooter to begin his 10:30 show at the Cut Bait Festival in Columbus, Georgia.  Shooter surprised Joey by asking him to sing with him on the "White Trash Song" from Shooter's new CD, "The Other Life."  Joey did a helluva' job especially given the faulty sound system.  "This is where I was meant to be," Joey said to me right before he took the stage.  He is oh so right.

After the show, I was sitting in the tour bus speaking with Shooter and Joey when Outlaw artist Bert David Newton, aka "Chigger," knocked on the door and immediately sat himself down next to the bottle of Jack.  Chigger is fun to be around, a great conversationalist, and thoroughly immersed in the history of 1970s Outlaw.  His band is four-on-the-floor powered right at you.

A strange scratching at the door followed.  In came Wayne Mills. I tell a story of an adventure I had with Wayne during the book interviews, and it helps reveal why his nickname is "Moonshine." No moonshine this night, but good times that allowed me to live a dream.  Thanks, guys.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

In war or politics its called an "interregnum."  It means a gap in the social order or the government or something like that.  But right now I am feeling my own interregnum, my own gap connected to "Outlaws Still At Large!," for I am in the situation of having turned in all the work, all the photos, all the changes in the manuscript and am anxiously awaiting the printing of the book.

There's not much that can be done save work on promotion and on the release party (the Outlaw Bash), but as I do so I hear the drumbeat of anticipation and behind that the marching feet--tromp, tromp, tromp--of an army of readers, small or large, I have no clue, who I hope will enjoy but will certainly pass judgement on what I have written.--Neil