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.