Posts Tagged ‘tavern’

The Passing of a Local Blues Guitar Legend

February 9, 2011

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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Last Night’s Dance, January 28, 2010

January 28, 2010

The Silver Dollar Tavern, Old Appleton, Missouri

Still working on the “Hunt” scene, for anyone still curious.  Trying to make the hounds look right.  Will probably work on that watercolor well into tonight.

Here is an old one from the files.  This tavern was still standing ten years ago when I last saw it.  It was situated on Old Highway 61 near Old Appleton in southeast Missouri.  My father took me to this site about twenty years ago when I was out with a 35mm camera looking for nostalgic sites to paint in watercolor.  I could see by Dad’s demeanor that this place held many memories for him, as he continually walked about the property and peeked in windows.  He said he visited the establishment regularly during his youthful days, before shipping out to Korea,  and that there was a dance hall on the second floor.

I find it significant that it is located on the Blues Route, north of the Mississippi Delta.  I still hope that one day, I will return to this site, and then continue southward on 61 into rural Mississippi, and see if I can continue to spot road houses, juke joints and the like.

Thanks Dad, for bringing me here.

Captain Jug’s Tavern, January 22, 2010

January 22, 2010

Captain Jug's Tavern

I’ve received favorable comments on my compositions arranged from various sites and photographs.  This one is comparatively clumsy, and it precedes the one I posted two days ago.  In fact it is one of my first “composites.”  The hotel is along historic Route 66, west of St. Louis.  It no longer stands–even the sign has been removed.  I looked at that place for twenty years on my travels back and forth between Fort Worth, Texas and St. Louis, Missouri.  I’ve watercolored the hotel several times, and may post some other renderings of it in the future.  The derelict brick building covered in growth was my Uncle “Jug’s” tavern called Riverview Inn.  It faced the Mississsippi River front at Neely’s Landing in southeast Missouri.  The tavern was backed up against a limestone cliff, and the cooler room where beer was stored was actually a hollowed-out cave in the face of the cliff.  The building had no back wall of its own–it was the stone bluff itself.  Of course the building is gone now.  My uncle has been dead for decades, and the river flooded it enough times that it finally came down.  But everytime I look at this painting, I still smell the stale cigarette smoke and the beer, and remember the blinking lights and bells sounding from the miniature bowling lane that operated when you put dimes in the vender.  I spent many a night on the Mississippi River dike across the railroad tracks from my uncle’s tavern, fishing for catfish and alligator gar.  Occasionally I would cross the tracks for Cokes, candy, popcorn, and to listen for a few moment’s to one of my other uncles playing steel guitar in the band that played there every weekend (first time I heard “Your Cheatin’ Heart”).  I don’t know what the liquor laws were, back in those days, but the remoteness of Neely’s Landing guaranteed that the music would go on and the beer would continue to pour long past 2:00 a.m.  I know that because I always fished the river till the sun came up, and sometimes the last of the cars would be leaving about then.

Because of the railroad tracks that were there, and because Neely’s Landing is probably now completely gone, I chose to add a switcher locomotive I found at an abandoned mine in Pacific, Missouri.  So–the hotel from Route 66, the switcher from Pacific and my uncle’s tavern from southeast Missouri combined for one of my first attempts at creating a fictional environment.  I don’t find this composition as convincing as my later work, but at least it marks for me an early attempt at creating a space that could appear to the casual viewer as real.  Thank you for pausing to look.

Oh!  One more thing!  For any of you who have been following my recent blog entries, I just looked at this watercolor, and there is something else–my uncle’s tavern has a wing attached to it in this picture.  It doesn’t belong there.  If you will look, you will find this wing attached as a front porch to an old two-story house in my entry about my “First Gallery Sale.”  The house near Union, Missouri.  The wing attached to this tavern actually was the front porch of that house inUnion.  So–this picture combines Route 66, Pacific, Neely’s Landing, and Union.