Gainesville, Texas, Saturday, April 16, 2016, 9:20 a.m.
I don’t have too much to say this cloudy Texas morning. Everything went fine on Friday. Classic Recall, a local band of musicians who play rock and roll from the 1960s and early ’70s, got a good reception, most obviously from three tiny kids who danced nonstop during the two-hour set.
Today’s music begins at 5 p.m. This guy came all the way from South Carolina to be the emcee, and he’s opening the indoor acoustic show at the State Theatre with a mix of old country tunes and a few he wrote himself.
So as to stop referring to myself in the third person in a blog, I’m really looking forward to it.
Of all places for an emcee from out of state! Texas, where there’s a little bit of everything, and everything stretches for miles and miles.
One of the reasons I’m here is that Vince Pawless, maker of splendid handmade guitars, and I are friends, dating back to the music book, True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed, which was published in 2007. While I was roaming around Texas, interviewing singer-songwriters, Vince, with whom I’d grown acquainted via our joint participation in an email exchange of Jerry Jeff Walker fans, offered to put me up for a night at his shop. We stayed up half that night talking music and guitars, and I wound up writing a chapter in the book about him.
That book, in turn, led me to teach myself how to play a little guitar, and learning how to play by ear led to the notion that I might be able to write songs myself. True to the Roots was also my last non-fiction book and the only one that wasn’t about sports.
People frequently tell me they like my songs. What I’ve been awaiting is for someone to say, “Hey, I’d like to record that song.” Lots of songs are out there, though. Most of those who like mine write their own.
Another reason I’m here is that, before this event is held each year, I write NASCAR contacts to ask them to donate items for use in the silent auction. It’s fun to look at all the other items up for charity sale. Two airline seats. An “Ornate Cross,” which I speculated onstage was a relic of the ancient Ornations. Paintings. Hand-painted chairs and benches. A year’s worth of farm-fresh eggs. Every item has its own story to tell.
Friday was the prelim, I suppose.
My job is to get the meter running, a little with my music but mostly with announcements and spontaneously witty remarks, the kind that may or may not actually be witty, such as my creation of the Ornations, who, in my imagination, lived in Asia Minor from the seventh through fifth centuries B.C. It was much easier than writing a novel about them.
Mexican food from the Shorty’s truck, parked out front of the theater, helped get me off my diet. Shorty’s is back tonight, so I expect I’ll stay off it until I begin the lonely trek home on Sunday. I doubt I’ll take my time. Traditionally, by the time this shindig is over, I’ve got a hankering for home. I may stop for yet another minor league baseball game. I doubt it, though. My definite intention is to be home in time to cover the Union County at Clinton baseball game on Tuesday night.
The faces are familiar. I’ve been coming to Gainesville a long time. My fifth novel, which is close to completion of its first draft, is a modern western set in a town a lot like this one. The Janus, Texas, of my story is the way I imagine this one at the end of World War II.
Following me onstage today is David Byboth, sound man and songwriter extraordinaire. Then Tom McElvain, who has historically made the biggest impression year after year, through Pawlessfest, the original name, Concert for VISTO at the indoor rodeo arena and now in the VISTO Days festival’s uptown locale, is sharing the State Theatre stage with Shayne Wimmer.
After I draw some pieces of paper out of hats, the concert moves outdoors, around the corner and down the street, for Bonedoggie and the Hickory Street Hellraisers, a group that is really original and uses instruments, such as the bazookie and the trombone, that are seldom seen in such affairs. Then it’s the rock virtuosity of the Oliver White Group. Oliver, by the way, is a fantastic performer and a great guy. I look forward to seeing him.
As a general rule, everybody gets along out here.
Several years ago, I wrote a song about Vince Pawless and his guitars: It’ll ring like a bell / Sing like a bird / Put in your hands / Be Merle Haggard …
Merle’s gone. Be whoever you want to be. Somebody’s got to take the reins.
It’s out. $3.49. You can’t afford not to!
Forgive Us Our Trespasses fell eight months and eight days after the release of Crazy of Natural Causes. Eight is my lucky number, and this is pure luck. Apparently, my speed is about eight months. It’s a good pace I’m setting. You can order Trespasses here.
I have a new volume of short stories, Longer Songs, which you may examine and preferably purchase here.
Crazy of Natural Causes has been out since late July of 2015. It’s about colorful coach who loses everything and reinvents himself. Take a look.
The Intangibles (2013) is based on boyhood memories and is set in a small Southern town amid the tumult of the 1960s. Sample it. The Audacity of Dope (2011) is a freewheeling yarn about a pot-smoking songwriter who somehow becomes a national hero, and that comes with complications. It’s a trip.
Crazy and Trespasses are my third and fourth novels. I’m working on a fifth, Cowboys Come Home. Most of my books can be examined and purchased here.
My short fiction, reviews and essays can be found here.
Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing) and @wastedpilgrim (more humor and opinion). I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and Instagram at Tug50.