The Passing of a Local Blues Guitar Legend

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.

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11 Responses to “The Passing of a Local Blues Guitar Legend”

  1. lesliepaints Says:

    I am sorry to hear of the loss of your close friend, David.

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    • Justin Says:

      For years I rented a rehearsal room right next door to Zeb; I remember he always had a whole Milwakees Best for breakfast everyday… He also taught me alot about music and he was a good friend… he was a free spirit and he did what he loved until the day he died… I will miss him… Thank you so much for writing this for him…

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  2. Jim Farmer Says:

    David…thanks for this beautiful description of that night. It was quite an experience to play with Zeb when he was “on” wasn’t it?! Another blues man done gone.

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  3. lindahalcombfineart Says:

    Your painting and words are beautiful. Is Stormy Monday a song? I have a CD titled Blues for a Stormy Monday that has a lot of old blues by the original artists. Just curious.

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  4. davidtripp Says:

    Thanks, all of you. We always feel that our words are not enough to capture the fullness of these moments spent together. Thanks Jim for being pivotal to that special night, and for inviting me to participate. Yes, Linda, “Stormy Monday” is my favorite blues song among them all, and it was the first song we rehearsed on that first night in the studio. My favorite cut of that song is by Eric Clapton on his 2-CD “Blues” collection. One CD is live, the other studio. This song is first on his live CD and is delightfully long (12:49)! Another great live cut of “Stormy Monday” is by Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughn on their live CD collaboration.

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  5. James Haney Says:

    I shared that very same jam room with Zeb for about a year and a half before you two collaborated. I can’t begin to describe how influential Zeb was to me as a musician and how amusing he was as a friend. I’m going to miss that crazy bastard an awful lot. He always had nice things to say about you Mr. Tripp. And about most everyone come to think of it….. To those who loved him: Listen to his music. That is the most fitting tribute I can think of and I bet Zeb would agree. RIP Zeb. Should heaven or hell exist, one of the two just got a whole lot louder!

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  6. davidtripp Says:

    Thanks so much for the good words, James Haney. I have enough personal anecdotes of Zeb to last a lifetime, but am always glad to hear others. I’m glad he spoke well of me–I chose to leave his band, and hated the thought that he could have harbored hard feelings. I just couldn’t continue the gigging on top of my high school and university teaching load, plus continue painting. Too much. And frankly, I’ll never play the guitar as well as I paint, so I’ve decided to put some quality time into what I do better. Appreciate you, good friend! Thanks for the message.

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  7. Shelley Allison Says:

    I am so sorry to hear about Zeb. David and I were in another band together, so after David teamed up with Zeb he invited me along as a vocalist. Zeb promptly dubbed me “Songbird,” a moniker I will always cherish. It evokes memories of Zeb’s straight-from-the-hip but warmhearted persona, and of jamming and performing alongside him, David, Jim and an excellent bassist and drummer at the Peppermill, which is also gone. It was truly an honor for me to sing, and even play a little rhythm guitar, with this caliber of musician. The venue didn’t matter; where else could a Jersey girl have played Patsy Cline wannabe to an amazing band and put in harmonies for two accomplished blues guitarists/singers? I might add, thank goodness for mikes because otherwise no one would have even heard any harmonies! Zeb didn’t need no mike.

    Although I left the band after a few short months when David did, I regret not ever having retraced the long drive over from the Dallas area to pay Zeb a visit, or getting his mailing address. He was definitely rough around the edges but wouldn’t have hurt a flea. He was also one of the most candid, no-nonsense, intelligent souls I’ve known. He earned his blues stripes the hard way, but now . . . RIP, Zeb, and may your memory be for a blessing.

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  8. davidtripp Says:

    You’ve brought to light so many memories, Shelley, thank you. The Peppermill definitely opened a new dimension for us in music. So glad you took the time to post your sentiments. Keep singing!

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  9. davidtripp Says:

    Justin,
    Thanks for posting your memories of Zeb. Omar spoke well of you while we were at the studio tonight, looking at the room Zeb used to occupy. Plenty of musicians came in to pay their tribute tonight, and to play music. Lots of food served as well, and of course, plenty of great conversation. Thanks for joining in.

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  10. nelson luty Says:

    Is very great your job!!!!!

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