Picture of Willis Alan Ramsey from Wikipedia taken by Ron Baker.

Picture of Willis Alan Ramsey from Wikipedia taken by Ron Baker.

Cyndy and I had the good fortune to see Willis Alan Ramsey Thursday night at the Shipping and Receiving Bar in Ft. Worth. His wife, Alison Rogers Ramsey, opened for him. I saw him quite a few times in the ‘70s. One time in particular was at a club called Mother Blue’s on Lemmon Ave.

His throat was sore and he had a bottle of Chloraseptic on a stool with a glass of water. After each song or so, he would spray his throat with the Chloraseptic. About half way through the show, he appeared frustrated. After the next song, he looked at the audience, said “to hell with it,” unscrewed the top and chugged part of the bottle. He made it through the rest of the show.

Thursday night, Alison played as good a set as she could play with an injured knee and constant pain. She was quite funny and the audience was supportive since she was obviously plagued with pain. They both talked about the 900 mile drive from Colorado they had just endured – with a stop in Childress for auto repairs.

Then Willis Alan took the stage, with another round of applause for Alison.
He began with “Watermelon Man,” to the crowd’s delight. He played new songs and some of his classics, including Northeast Texas Women. He did not play “Muskrat Love.” Then again, no one in the audience expected – or even wanted – him to play it.

Ramsey did mention the song though. He said a teacher in college told him to write what he knew. At 19, he didn’t know anything. So he quit school to “go learn something.”

“I write songs about things I don’t know anything about. For instance, I didn’t know anything about Muskrats? Still don’t.”

Willis Alan talked about staying on Leon Russell’s land in Oklahoma soon after Russell had acquired it. It was while Russell and George Harrison, among others, were planning the Concert for Bangeladesh. Ramsey stayed in one of the small cabins on the lake – literally on the lake with a boat slip on the side – with his dog. At one point, he asked if anyone had a cough drop.

He took a short break, after which he returned to the stage to play a set of “mostly ballads.” The ballads included songs that were not on his first album, such as “Mockingbird,” “Desiree,” and “Boys Town.” Ramsey also played “Angel Eyes,” receiving a standing ovation, and ended with “Satin Sheets.”

Cyndy and I went to talk to Willis Alan and Alison where they were sitting on a couch. Cyndy had already talked to Alison when she went to the restroom. Alison had mentioned on stage that “in the ‘70s there was nothing to do in Dallas.” She went to Hockaday and Cyndy and I went to W. T. White which were not far apart, although not the same years.

“One of the only things to do in Dallas in the ‘70s was to hang out at the bowling alley at Preston Forest.”

“Oh my God,” Alison said. “I haven’t thought about that place in ages.”

When I got to the couch, Cyndy was talking to Alison again and introduced me to Alison. I told Willis Alan that I thought it was funny that he had asked for a cough drop, and I told him the story about the Chloraseptic incident. Alison got a kick out of the story. He looked at me with a knowing smile.

“I remember that, actually.”

Willis Alan Ramsey and Alison Rogers will be playing at Poor David’s Pub in Dallas on November 7 with Bob Livingston.

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