The Passing of a Local Blues Guitar Legend
Zeb Cash-Lane passed away yesterday, February 8, 2011. He had taken me under his wing back in 2006 when I was trying to find my way as a blues guitarist. I played side guitar for him at the Peppermill Lounge in east Fort Worth, Texas for a few months spanning 2006-2007. Zeb’s health was failing then, and when news came this morning that he had died, I could only hope he hadn’t suffered. I had seen him on many days when it was a struggle just to draw a breath. I’ll always remember with gratitude what he taught me about guitar, music, performance and a host of other matters relative to the music environment. And I will always recall the sensations of his Fender Stratocaster shrieking in the night as he belted out his original blues compositions.
I close by posting recollections recorded in my personal journal the morning after I met him:
Friday morning, October 13, 2006, 7:50 a.m., Martin High School Philosophy Class:
Last night, I had a life-altering encounter at a recording studio in east Arlington. I met for the first time Zeb Cash-Lane, an aged blues musician, specializing in harp and searing electric guitar (Fender Jazzman played through a Fender tube amp). It was a night to remember always and I now attempt to record the visions . . .
7:00 p.m. Thursday found me pushing my Jeep westward on Abram, with temperatures dropping, a chilly October evening and a sun sinking large, flooding the western sky with color. Looming silhouettes of tire shops and tattoo parlors paraded down the corridors of my peripheral glances. Finally, the cinder block building came into sight. Jim Farmer waited outside on the parking lot with a slender, rangy man sporting a Rasputin-like full white beard, faded jeans, suspenders and a gray-blue “Charley Guitar Shop” T-shirt. I was introduced and shook hands with Zeb Cash-Lane.
Inside the dim studio room that doubled as Zeb’s dorm room, we heard the searing electric blues that Zeb ripped. It was an authentic Blues environ: whiskey bottles, ashtrays, Zeb rolling his own cigarettes, scattered amps, guitars, a cello and even an upright piano. The room had the clutter of a maintenance shed or electrician’s shop, but it was a music room. A Blues room, a three-dimensional photo gallery of where Zeb was and where Zeb had been. Jim Farmer played his new electric bass, Zeb played his Fender Jazzman and I played my Martin D-35. The Blues seared, screamed and moaned late into that cold October night. Inside, the guitars cried while outside, the winds answered with a chorus of mournful, yet affirming howls. Stormy Monday set the tone for the Blues night in the studio.
After hours of playing, we sat outside on the concrete steps, weary but full of hope about our musical collaboration, and shared stories over cold beers. I drove home, late in the night, numbed by the experience.