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Tag Archive: Ft. Worth


First of all, in my life time, I haven’t spent much time in strip clubs – you can call them gentlemen’s clubs if you want to, but I didn’t see a lot of gentlemen when I was inside the clubs. My visits were in a couple of time periods.The first time period was when I was in high school. I would sneak my parent’s car out after they went to bed, meet my friends, and go downtown to the Cavern – before and after I had a driver’s license. There was a Cavern in Ft. Worth as well, but I don’t know if they were connected.

The Cavern in downtown Dallas was like a cave, particularly when you went inside, past the “ticket booth” and the bouncer. They didn’t check IDs. If you acted like you were supposed to be there, they didn’t argue. There were also rumors that the Cellar was “protected.” It was dark, obviously, and there were sayings written on the walls around the club. “Evil spelled backwards is live.” “You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” And so on.

The customers laid on mats in front of the stage. Waitresses (the dancers with clothes) took your drink orders and brought the drinks. I’m not sure the drinks had a lot of liquor in them. Liquor was not all we consumed, and being an inexperienced drinker, the issue was confused.

The stage was not really a stage. It was more like a riser for the choir from the elementary school. If there were two or more girls on the stage, when the red light went on, they had to follow each other off. The red light supposedly meant the cops were there. But I found it strange when there was an officer talking to the bouncer long before the light went on. Besides, it wasn’t like they took a lot off.

Crammed behind the stage was the band. I heard the dirtiest version of Rocky Racoon I have ever heard at the Cellar. Just a side fact in case you were interested. The band got to play their good stuff when the girls were off the stage. And there were often guest performers.

There weren’t comedy clubs back then like there are now. And popular strip joints often had comedians do shows. I saw a comedian at the Cellar one night that I thought was funny as hell. Turns out it was George Carlin with short hair. He had hired a new management company, and they had him play smaller venues around the country. I believe he played the Cellar in Ft. Worth as well. It was just before he grew his hair long. I didn’t know all that then. I just knew I laughed my ass off. There were others that night, but he stood out – as you can understand.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

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Platonic Mistress

Platonic Mistress

Mr. Troll’s birthday is January 18th, which means this year it was on a Monday and coincided with the Poor David’s Pub open mic, which is hosted by …wait for it … Mr. Troll. As usual Carlos Sanchez was on sound with Samantha Sanders behind the bar. Poor David and the Mrs. even made an appearance. Again – as per usual – Troll took the “dreaded first slot.”

The regular suspects were in attendance and on the list – myself, Baylis Laramore, Darren Rozell, Tin Man Travis, and John Mason. Joe the Bear and David Lavinette played for the first time. Mike Randolph with his Moog Etherwave Theremin, made his second appearance. Scott Thornton was in the Philippines on an Zen retreat and was unable to make it.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Troll!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Troll!

The featured artist was Platonic Mistress out of Ft. Worth. The trio of Fernando Page, guitarist and instigator, Rob Blevins on bass, and Dylan Rocamontes on drums played in-your-face rock and roll. On their Facebook page, they call it power pop or new wave with stinging alternative rock undertones, but, as Billy Joel said, “it’s still rock and roll to me.” Call it what you want, they did it well.

You can find their music on SoundCloud. At one point, Page told the crowd that he realized his finger was bleeding, and he apologized. Apparently a few days before he had played his fingernail to the quick. But why he apologized – and he apologized at least twice – I’ll never know. No one really noticed it before he said something. And after he mentioned it, it was all we could see. F.Y.I. to performers – don’t apologize – most of the audience will never know.

Regardless of the apologies, Platonic Mistress kept up the groove going and rocked the house. The trio has an undeniable chemistry combined with youthful energy. The singer-songwriters on the list provided an interesting counterpoint of age and wisdom. Not to mention the celebration of Troll’s birthday with two candles on a cookie cake (provided by Samantha) and a rousing Happy Birthday song. The evening ended – as open mics often do – with a jam.

Peace be with you.

Mark-Twain-Tonight-006-240x300 Cyndy and I had tickets to see Hal Holbrook’s “Mark Twain Tonight” performance at Bass Hall in Fort Worth last night. Unfortunately, we had to miss J.D.’s last game in the Fall baseball tournament at the Ballfields at Craig Ranch in McKinney. He plays on the Stephen F. Austin State University Baseball Club Team. They won the game Friday afternoon, but lost the two games Saturday, so they did not advance. But, with the exception of the game they won, the scores had only a one or two run differential. I was able to see the Friday game. Cyndy, Cameron, and I went to the 2 p.m. game yesterday in which he played more than in the other two games.

The game went a little past the time it was “supposed” to end, so Cyndy and I did not have time to eat before getting to Fort Worth. We parked in the free (on weekends and for Bass Hall events during the week) parking garage next door. This was the first time we have been to Bass Hall. We went to see Brewer and Shipley in a smaller building run by Bass Hall. Which was why I received the email from them during the summer offering a pre-sale ticket price to see Hal Holbrook at something like half-price. With that deal, I figured, what the hell, “go for the gusto,” and I got seats in the orchestra pit. I knew we were close to the stage, but having never been there, I did not know how close.

I showed the woman at the door our tickets so she could scan them. We had a little time so we just wandered around. We came upon a bar and got a couple of beers. A lady came up to us and asked if we wanted to order and pay for our drinks for intermission then and have them waiting at intermission, bypassing the lines. Well, yeah!

When we finished our beers, it was about time to head on into the hall. I asked an usher in the hallway where our tickets were.

“Oh, you’re in the second row. Right down this way.”

We walked to an entrance of the hall and asked if we were in the right place.

“Yes, you’re on the second row. You’re on the other side and you might want to go through the seats where no one is sitting yet to get across.”

Which is what we did. We got to the other side and found that our seats were indeed in the second row. At which time I took a picture of the stage ( since pictures were forbidden during the performance). I posted to Facebook saying I was waiting for the show to start from the second row.

Before the show began, an usher walked up and asked if she could see my tickets. I said “sure” and showed them to her. Then I turned them right side up so she could actually read them.

“You’re in the wrong seats. You’re up here.”

We were in row BBB, seats one and two. According to the seats across the aisle, we were on the right row. But our section was lacking row AAA. Our seats were on the front row! Granted it was only a row difference, but I didn’t know we were that close anyway, and how often do you get to say you were on the front row? And that was not the best part!

We have seen Hal Holbrook’s performance on television and I have wanted to see the show for years. As a writer, humorist, and songwriter myself, he and Mark Twain were two of my mentors, so to speak. Although to be honest, I don’t think either one of them ever wrote a song, but you get my point. Hal Holbrook is also a terrific actor – I like every role I have seen him play (maybe not the character he played, but the way he acted the part).

He did not disappoint us, even though we were not expecting him to. Holbrook’s performance was precisely as good as I was expecting. Being on the front row really, really helped. There were only a very few times when we could not understand a word or two – which was another bonus. I do not know about the people in the back of the hall.

This is the actor’s 60th year doing Mark Twain. I am here to tell you that he puts as much into his performance and loves being Mark Twain as much as he has since he conceived of the idea in 1954. At 89 years old this year, he added three new “numbers,” adding another hour to the repertoire of material. It said in the program that Holbrook will not tell a venue what numbers he will do because he does not want to be limited. He often decides what is next during the performance.

Holbrook made eye contact with us – and others on the front few rows. I have been told that I am a good audience. As a performer myself, I try to watch everyone I see perform as I would want them to watch me. I rarely look away and I look intently – did I say I was a writer?

Cyndy and I popped up when they turned the lights on for intermission. We went to the east side of the building and, sure enough, our beers were waiting for us. The second half of the show was as excellent as the first. When he came out during the applause, he made eye contact with us again. Which I must say was not only thrilling, but the perfect end to a fine performance and a pleasant, intimate evening. And we finally got to eat when we got home.

Peace be with you.

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.

JD Pitching 1 I was in Fort Worth this past weekend with J.D. at TCU for a baseball camp. We were driving from one field to another and were driving down W. Berry from TCU. Coming down the hill, I spotted a man and a woman waving from a concrete platform that turned out to be the entrance to a church. They were not waving “come here” like parking attendants, but they were using a modified princess wave. Unfortunately, their signage was not sufficient for me to see the name quickly as I drove by. And time did not permit stopping to take a picture.

As I told J.D. later, if we hadn’t been on a schedule, I would have stopped and attended their service. But while I couldn’t stop, it was a bright spot in the morning. It was over 100 degrees for most of the weekend and J.D. had already played two games (albeit short games). In the picture, J.D. is the pitcher. It was a showcase camp before coaches and recruiters from numerous colleges and some major league teams. It was a high intensity weekend, which made the smiles and the waves all the more important.

When I saw them and realized it was a church, I said to J.D., “so simple, but effective. How cool is that?” I happen to be on the communications committee of our church. It was certainly a Jesus moment in which life is briefly in the background and God’s light shines like a beacon in the wilderness. One of those moments that reminds us that life may be tough at times, but something better awaits us.

Peace be with you.

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