Archive for the ‘Highway 61’ Category

The Weary Blues

March 21, 2017

Highway 61 Blues

Highway 61 Blues–$500 matted

There is no adequate description for the weariness dragging down my body today.  The travel over the past week, accompanied by the adrenalin rush of getting things together for this weekend’s show opening are beginning to take a toll. But still, life is good and I’m excited.

Since I have a brand new blues-related watercolor going into the show, I have decided to pull out this one from my past.  It is matted and shrinkwrapped and will be in the bin rather than hanging in the gallery.  I have priced it at $500.  The setting is the old Silver Dollar Tavern in Old Appleton, Missouri. I watercolored it years ago and have an image to show below.  That painting has long since been sold.

silver dollar tavern

The site is a sad wreck these days:

silver dollar photo

My father danced upstairs in this tavern when he was young, before entering the Korean Conflict.  With the painting going into the show, I chose to pose myself with guitar on the steps of the old site which sits on historic Highway 61, the Blues Route.

blues

Here is my newest painting to enter into the show.  I’m still waiting to pick it up from the frame shop. Only a few more days before show time and still plenty of details to clean up. But everything is progressing nicely and I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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The Passing of a Local Blues Guitar Legend

February 9, 2011

Zeb Cash-Lane, holding his Fender Jazzmaster

My Watercolor Tribute to Zeb

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.

Return to the Silver Dollar Tavern, November 7, 2010

November 7, 2010

Silver Dollar Tavern

With a gallery opening this coming weekend, and another art festival running at the same time, I’m in a pinch to finish some paintings.  This one I abandoned a few months back.  Earlier photos of it have already been posted on the blog.  I am the guitar player–a friend photographed me playing at an art festival several years back.  The GMC pickup is from an abandoned site somewhere in New Mexico (I remember the summer but not the town).  The abandoned tavern is in Old Appleton, Missouri, alongside old Highway 61, north of Cape Girardeau.  My father frequented this joint when he was a young adult.  He recalls that the bar was on the ground floor, and the dance floor on the second story.  I haven’t visited the site since about the year 2000, and it was in bad shape.  I fear that I will return one day to find it gone, like so many other derelict character-laden structures I have painted over the years.

Thanks for reading.

Zeb Plays the Blues, November 7, 2010

November 7, 2010

Zeb Plays the Blues

I’m getting closer to finishing this one out.  I have another gallery opening and art festival next weekend.  I’m pushing hard, trying to finish watercolors in progress that have been dormant far too long.

Thanks for reading.

Zeb Plays the Blues, November 5, 2010

November 5, 2010

Zeb Plays the Blues

I’ve been engaged with this piece for about 3 days now.  This is Zeb Cash-Lane of Arlington, Texas.  A few years back, I played in a blues band with him that did regular gigs at the Peppermill Lounge in east Fort Worth.  Zeb is an outstanding electric bluesman, with a host of original songs to his credit and plenty of experience in the recording studio.  Hopefully I can finish this over the weekend.  I have another festival approaching in eight days, and the school schedule is becoming less flexible.  It’s getting harder to find quality time for plein air or studio work.

Thanks for reading.

Nearing Finish to Road House, July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010

I’m closing in on the finish of this one.  I need to finish out the pressed tin siding, and continue to work on the shadow at the top of the building, and finally finish out the foreground.  Almost there.  It’s been a long day in the studio and I feel it.

Thanks for reading.

Back to the Road House, July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010

Road HouseI’ve laid aside the fly fishing poured watercolor and returned to the road house scene on Route 61 in Southeast Missouri.  I needed time to compost the fly fishing composition–I’m not sure just what to do next on the exposed masked areas.

The pressed tile siding on this building is pitching me fits.  I plan to finish the center of the building with all those “dents” in the tiled surfaces.  Then I need to put boots on the guitar player and drybrush the ground cover around him.  The GMC pickup still needs modeling, and there is plenty of detail work to do on this remarkable building.  Looks like I’ll focus on this one today and hopefully post some progress by nightfall.

Thanks always for reading.

Silver Dollar Tavern (in progress), 4th of July, 2010

July 4, 2010

Silver Dollar Tavern

I’m excited to re-enter the studio at last.  The long hiatus can be best explained by a conference at Lake Tahoe, California, followed by travel weariness and the need to clean my studio.  Finally I have my energy back and a place to work.

While cleaning the studio, I came across a large watercolor I had begun about 5-7 years ago and abandoned, then forgot about completely.  I almost threw it away, but after looking at it over the past several days, decided that I could rescue what was earlier considered a botched attempt.

Last night I added the guitar player (myself), the GMC pickup (that appears in another watercolor of mine titled “Brian Plays the Blues”), and signage from some abandoned sites in New Mexico I photographed on a road trip three summers ago.  I think these props have greatly improved the overall composition of this piece.

This is much larger than I’ve grown accustomed to creating (about 22 x 14″).  I’m getting lost in the detail, but loving it.

The setting is what’s left of the Silver Dollar Tavern, a road house that my father frequented before he entered the Korean conflict.  It is located along old U. S. Highway 61 (the Blues route, hence the guitar player recently added) in the small town Old Appleton.  The place has great memories for my father–a bar on the ground floor and dance hall on the second.  It has memories for me as well.  Before Interstate 55 was created, we had to travel the winding Route 61 to visit my grandparents in rural Jackson, Missouri.  From St. Louis, the trip was 2 1/2 hours and dreary for me as a child, save for some of these relics that would catch my eye along the roadside.  Once I-55 was in place, an hour was cut off our travel time, so we no longer had to fret about weary two-lane travel.  Many decades later, I returned to old Route 61 and took quite a few photographs.  Finally I am getting around to painting some of these abandoned sites.

Thanks for reading.