Friday, 28 March 2014 18:02

Me and Jerry Jeff

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 Me And Jerry Jeff

by

Arthur Scott

 

   Way back in the olden days,  early 70's, I was really into the folk revival and the "outlaw" country trends in music. Some of the folks I really  enjoyed at the time were Kris Kristofferson  (still a favorite for his poetic lyrics) , among the "outlaws" (those whom fled the Nashville record corporations  for the recording freedom of Austin, Texas; were Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, B. W. Stephenson, Ray Wiley Hubbard along with several others. A sort of cult favorite was Jerry Jeff Walker (actually from New York but adopted Texas as home as well as the name "Jerry Jeff Walker") and the Lost Gonzo Band.  He was a successful song writer and had written  "Mr. Bojangles" which was covered by many artists over the years.

    Santa Fe was  not then noted as a concert town. I do remember taking a date  in high school to a

concert/dance at the old  downtown civic center in Albuquerque to see the Platters. Then there was Seth Hall (Louis Armstrong and Perez Prado) and the outdoor amphitheatre at the Indian School where I remember, Willie Nelson, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Steve Martin when he still played the banjo with a fake arrow through his head and several other top acts. Most of these were benefit concerts for the Indian School arranged by some producer that lived, I believe, in Santa Fe.

 

   Two other places stand out in my mind in the day. First was the Sunday beer-drinking and live music at Shadoni community center when it first opened as an art colony. It was then a prime long-hair hangout with folk, country and blue grass in a barn-type structure. The other was the good old Golden Inn, home of Junior Brown and The Last Mile Ramblers out in Golden, NM.

   This was about the time it was announced that Jerry Jeff Walker was going to put on an open-air concert someplace about ten miles south of T or C. At the time it sounded like a cool place to be, so I bought a couple of tickets which were not cheap for the time. My ex-wife and I were going through a rocky period so I figured a night under the stars  with Jerry Jeff might help. Arranged a sleep-over for our kids with our neighbors and reserved a night at the motel in T or C that I had been using for years while doing field work  in the area.

    We drove to T or C, checked in to the motel and then drove out to the lake for dinner at the Elephant Butte Inn. At the time it was renowned for its steaks and rowdy bar. Then off to the concert venue which turned out to be a plywood stage with a generator in a barbed-wire fenced field of mesquite, grease wood, and occasional cholla.  Luckily coolers were not forbidden (remember a long time ago) so things were a bit more mellow since we had a six pack or two of Colorado Kool Aid with us. 

 

 

 

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    An amazing fact about this field in southern New Mexico was that the exact same odor that hung over the amphitheatre at the Santa Fe Indian School was present in T or C.  Most probably due to the deodorant worn by the large numbers of long-haired hippies at both venues. This is just a personal SWAG--Scientific Wild Ass Guess.

   I do not remember the advertis4ed starting time, however, I do remember that about an hour after the advertised time a local group showed up and played for the next two or three hours with one break. As they were running out of songs a large Caddie/Lincoln pulled up with a cloud of dust. Out emerged, with some difficulty and some argument , the star, Jerry Jeff and soon behind his road band.  After a lengthy period of "tuning up," the main show started. The star needed a mike stand to keep him vertical. I thought there was something wrong with the sound system. But then I realized that the lyrics were slurred and mumbled and for the most part  unintelligible because the star appeared drunk or stoned or both. We stayed for a couple of songs   walked out and made what seemed a long drive back to T or C. I was feeling burned and cheated by a Tejano  "star" that thought he was too good for New Mexico.

   I became more angry driving back to Santa Fe. I found the producer's name and address (Albuquerque) from the tickets. So I fired off a letter of complaint to whatever state agency was in charge of consumer protection at the time citing fraud and false advertising as, in my mind, neither the star nor producer provided what was advertised. I asked for reimbursement for tickets, motel, food, and gas. I thought it might provide some negative advertising ,irritate the star, and at least made me feel better. I soon forgot about it and moved on with real life.

   Several months later after going through a divorce I transferred back to our DC Headquarters. Another few months and I received an unexpected  letter from the State of NM. It contained the producer's response to my complaint stating that they were sorry I didn't like the concert and that having a lead-in band was normal for all concerts. As I had completely forgotten about it,  I was surprised and laughed for days as I proudly showed how I stood up to Jerry Jeff as I displayed my letter to our office staff. To paraphrase one of Walkers song, I knew I was "pissing in the wind" when I wrote the letter. It did, however, provide some unexpected entertainment. To take you back to the day, here is one of my favorite songs on You Tube sung by Jerry Jeff Walker and written by Ray Wiley  Hubbard: CLICK HERE.

 

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