Dallas, TX 1998
‘The Flat Tire’
I borrowed $3500 from my Uncle and made a self release entitled “Blues From Dallas” (which a few people said I should have changed that title)…enter: Ron Levy. He was founder or co- founder of Rounder Records (I wasn’t real clear on that..Rounder and Bullseye have their own story and you will have to look that up). Of course I didn’t know anything about labels all I knew was what Chuck Nevitt told me about distribution until my head would spin. Hash Brown told me it was a good opportunity and then I knew that Ron played piano for BB King for several years and I figured it was a good thing. I remember Ron saying about this new label he was manager of called Cannonball: “I’m tired of being the target… (a reference to Bullseye and Rounder) I want to be the weapon!”
So, I sold the rights for $5,000 (not bad for no manager, probably the first and last time I actually made a profit after paying back my lenders)…He repackaged it and we added a couple of numbers in Audio Dallas and he re-titled it ‘Burnin’ Up’…The best song on there was actually omitted because I didn’t sing it…was a number called “Shake a Hand” in which my wild bass player John Williamson sang the heck out if it. So, then we do a photo shoot and I was wondering why I was taking pictures in tight jeans that I would never wear and in a ‘wife-beater’ shirt? Then I saw my posters and saw how silly I looked…the first example of being too trusting to people that might not have your best interest at heart. I ended up pouring lighter fluid on the last stack of posters I had and lighting them on fire.
The label release party was happening that year in Memphis at the New Daisy Theater. But the problem was there was no budget to bring a band. Luckily my friend and bass player Jeremy Fuller took the trip with me in which I was to be paid in product. (In essence I was being paid by being given some CD’s up front and if I was to make anything it was going to be what I sold)…Then I get down to Memphis and find that this release party had a change of venue : The Flying Saucer. Yes. I had to use a drummer that I didn’t know…I won’t name names but he was a drummer from one of the other bands that was on the label that had been able to make the trip with his band. (hmmm SMH) I remember I was ashamed to tell people I was from Oklahoma at the time because I wanted to be a Texas guitar slinger…and when I was introduced by an already half- in- the- bag- Levy by him saying: “Now I want to introduce a young man from…What part of Oklahoma are you from again?” I wanted to strangle him right there and I hadn’t played one note yet in front of my debut release.
Shaking that off I went into a mean Texas E shuffle. Sometimes in the East they call it a ‘Lump’ I didn’t know that ….I just figured the guy that Levy had set me up with would figure it out…I mean ..it’s basically Jimmy Reed right? I played a few bars (You can envision something like the intro to ‘Take Out Some Insurance’ by Jimmy Reed)…waiting for the drummer to come in and he finally does…playing a FLAT TIRE!…Some people call it a BACKWARDS SHUFFLE but anybody that knows anything about blues at all knows that you don’t play a backwards shuffle to a Jimmy Reed!!! An example of a backwards shuffle is the beginning of the song by Bobby Bland ‘Further on up the Road’…
So my “career” starts without a bang…more like…a flat tire.
To Be Continued—