In 1970, I had the excellent fortune of meeting and befriending Manuel Conde, Jr.; otherwise known far and wide as Pussycat. Pussycat was one of the few native born Austinites I met in those early days…everyone else was from someplace else. His parents were itinerant farm workers who followed the harvest around the country. Pussycat was educated, maybe, through the 5th grade, but was one of the wisest humans I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing…He was my housemate for many years through the early and mid 70’s…He sure expanded my Whiteboy frame of reference. He died about 4-5 years ago. Gentle spirit that he was, someone in prison (he had repeat DWIs) just didn’t like him and beat him to within an inch of his life. He got out but was never the same…physically. His Spirit lives on in me and everyone who met him.
This is one of the oddest , and most disconcerting, images I’ve ever recorded with a camera. I have no idea about what happened to anyone in the shot. All I can tell you is that no one was hurt, that I know of….
I want to include this shot because it’s one of my favorite photos of Willie Nelson. In 1972, my friend, Peggy Underwood, dragged me to a show in Round Rock, at “Big G’s”, where this “renegade Country-hippie coming back from Nashville” was holding forth…Since then, probably one half of my professional earnings were directly, or indirectly, due to the fact that Willie was in Austin. He made so many things happen just by being here! Austin City Limits wouldn’t be in it’s first, much lest 31st year, without him and his creative energy …. Willie is truly the best Texas has to offer. I’m proud to have been able to convey his image to the world. It’s been my pleasure, and honor….
Ok, the creative lamp is lit…I’m on a roll…Here’s what happens when I set off on a creative safari into the Wilds of the Front Yard…. This is a study into how even the everyday and mundane can be brought to Life with the Miracle of Backlighting! For those of you who don’t know lighting, here’s the deal: if you can’t make the image sing, put a light behind it!… That’s enough secrets for now.
This is the front cd cover shot for “Bloodless Revolution”, her most recent release. (Shot during live performance at 1/30th of a second)… Carolyn is my current favorite Austin performer who isn’t famous, yet. She’s the best woman lead guitar player I know of, right up there with Bonnie Raitt, Sue Foley and Susan Tedeschi. She’s a great blues singer, to boot. And on top of that, she’s as fine a person there is.
There’s a streak of irreverence and intelligent fun that runs through many Texans and much of Texas. This is not widely known outside of the state, where it’s assumed that everyone who resides here is a loud, obnoxious, belligerent yayhoo. Well, everyone who lives here isn’t necessarily all that bad..(said Scott, defensively)… There ARE some surprisingly colorful and original characters here, for sure. One of them was Hondo, dead almost 30 years already….(Yikes!)… A champion swimmer in his youth, he became the ringleader and Mayor of All Things Fun at his little town of Luckenbach in the early 70’s. Here he is Holding Court at his own Country Store and Post Office at Jerry Jeff and Susan Walker’s Wedding, December 1974. His influence lives on at every Chili-Cookoff and Spam-o-Rama and Cow-Chip Throwing Contest, and any other oddball event Texans seem to love so much. What a Legacy….
Of all the musicians who laid down The Soundtrack for us Boomers (we know who we are), Neil has probably stayed closer to the ideals of the ’60’s than anyone. I salute him for that, and for his constant search for newness, freshness, and vitality. Neil has done it the way it should be done. Neil’s been an inspiration of mine ever since I found his first two solo albums in a used records bin at a second hand furniture store in Dallas in 1969. “Hmmm”, I thought, “didn’t he used to be with Buffalo Springfield?” No one in Dallas had heard of him then, so it was like all those great songs were for me, their discoverer, alone…and I continue to feel that way. It still seems, for example, only I know about his early song, “The Loner”, one of the true Classic rock songs. Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World, Neil….some of us are still rockin’ right along with you.
20-25 years ago we taped many now-legendary country music icons at Austin City Limits. One of my favorites was Loretta. Loretta is one of those rare “stars” who is as authentic and vulnerable as she seems. She really cares if the audience likes her. Here, everyone can see, and feel, her Joy .
Long ago and far away I grabbed this shot during twilight, riding in an old jeep, on a dirt road on the way to a country wedding…and I haven’t been able to get the image out of my head ever since. I see this image, and others like it, in my dreams. This one time I was able to photograph it.
This image has been haunting me lately. Jumbo, the black dog in the shot, (a wonderful dog) has sufferred an apparent stroke, becoming completely paralyzed, on 2/23/05. My son Zane, a trained medical technician, has been treating him with an experimental (at least to ME) brain wave device which has actually restored much of his function. Where before he was limited to breathing, moving his eyes and slightly wagging his tail, now he can sit up and literally drag himself around the yard. We’re all praying he will soon walk again, and retake his station at the top of my driveway. Flash! Jumbo now gets up and walks! (3-20-05) Amazing! More, later….. Jumbo has retaken his place. (3-24-05) Amazing…we had his grave dug, and the vet thought we should “put him down”. Seemingly hopeless situations sometimes resolve quite well, in the end…I must remember that.