Thursday, January 7, 2010

'Way Down Here in Texas, Bob Wills Is Still the KIng'

It's Thursday, and I'm feeling a little beat up today. It's been a long week of running here and running there--the wind is blowing in Austin, and the allergies are raging. There is an arctic 'blast' coming through Central Texas, and the temperature has dropped into the thirties. I haven't heard back yet from any of the 'follow up' contacts, and I'm feeling a little anxious about next week. We have to be out of this apartment a week from Saturday, and I don't know how I'm going to do this... today. The very next day, Sunday, the 17th is our tech rehearsal, and there are several items I need to hustle. I still don't know how I'm going to get the screen working in this new space with higher ceilings, I need a screen that I can backlight, but they cost nine hundred dollars. Maybe I can rent one. I'll figure it out somehow. My check has still not arrived from Samuel French, and there are a couple other people who said they sent mail that has not arrived. Even the mail is becoming obsolete.

Today I'm going to send out some query letters to agents and publishers, to see if there are any possibilities there. Two days ago, I started the book. It's writing itself, but I noticed it's a complete departure in style than blogging. Still, through this strange public journal, I have tapped into memories and material that I had forgotten about, and the story is coming out. The one thing I can say about having the support to explore my artistic endeavors is the time to place my energy to create. I left teaching because it was no longer feasible for me to do both. I just couldn't do two full time jobs anymore, which is what I was doing. I knew the transition would be tough, the exchange rate from teaching to artist is sixty to zero in eight seconds. And trust me, teaching is no rich man's game. I hate begging for support, as I feels like I'm an art prostitute, hustling. There are days when I think of working in a convenience store and just writing a book. The problem with me is that I would go work in a store and want to run the place within a couple of months. I'm naturally inclined to want to grow in any situation, even when I'm stuck in a tunnel. Or I would want to turn the store into a theatre, and I would talk the owner into it. Funny thought. When I've had to, I've never minded a menial job to survive, but in this economy, in Austin, those are even hard to come by. I've never been homeless, maybe that would be another adventure I could pursue. A homeless theatre, there's an idea! Eugene O'Neil under the bridge! Really, though, I'm not destitute, I come up with new ideas everyday to support my creative habit.

I'm thinking of going up to Waco to book a few shows, it's a Texas town much like Bryan, and I'm sure in need of some entertainment. Before I do, however, I have to get from here through January. I've been assured an audience for the four shows in the Frontera Festival, but that doesn't solve my immediate problem. The universe has been really good at providing me with a means of support while I do this, but usually, its been in the final hour. Is this faith? I guess so. Is it destiny? I don't know that either today. I'm learning about 'trusting in God' (sorry if this freaks you out), but I've always believed in a creator, I just didn't always want to collaborate with him. Of course, if I'm in a jam, I'm always ready to collaborate. Maybe this is it. Maybe if I wasn't so stubborn, I wouldn't have to wait until that final desperate hour. I'm powerless today. Okay, crazy talk, get on with it Ramon.

Oh, there were a couple of exciting things that happened. I went to the Broken Spoke, (Austin's most famous honky) to meet Carl, my crazy Viet Nam cowboy connection who wanted me to do the show for aliens, Afghanistan, and generally, everyone in the universe. Of course, he didn't show, so somehow the owners, James and Anetta White, (I'm sure they won't mind me mentioning there names) started to talk to me as I waited alone. As fate would have it, it just so happened that they were having a 'wake' for the sound man of 'Asleep at the Wheel' that night. (For some of you who don't know them they are a long standing Texas country band) So, Annetta, took me right in and introduced me to Ray Benson, the front man from the band. He proceeded to tell me about a play they have been doing about Bob Wills (who made Texas swing music famous), and how successful its been all around Texas. He was gregarious and fun to talk to. Success is usually fun and gregarious, I suppose. You never know who you are going to run into and meet here in Austin, which is why I want to stay here as long as I can. Knock on wood. Afterwords, both Annetta and James talked my leg off, they have been in the honky tonk business for forty three years. James told me about the early bands that played there, Hank Thompson, (who was from Waco, just died last year), Willie Nelson, of course Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys, Jerry Jeff Walker, etc. It was interesting to hear about their 'dear' friend, Robert Duvall, and how he stops in and sees them whenever he is in Austin. So, I made a couple of new friends in James and 'Netta' White. James says he books all the bands and told me to send some of my music. In my mind I was thinking of that quote, "luck is when preparation meets opportunity". (I'm only having trouble with the preparation part.) My new friend from Rozone Entertainment told me to also send him my music, and if he likes it he will give me thirty minutes at the Dwight Yoakam concert. (I didn't mention this last time because even I didn't believe it at the time) Yes, GOD IS testing me.

"So, you think you're ready for Austin, Raymond? here ya' go!" says God, chuckling.
"Uh, could I just wait a year, first, God?" says Raymond, worried look on his face.
"Wait a year? You've been complaining how I always give you things in the final desperate hour, what's up with this waiting??" God says, merrily.
"I'm not ready for something like that, I was thinking more on the lines of a coffee house gig." Raymond says, sheepishly.
"Well, you better git ready, son, this is Austin, Texas, and I'm in full control here." God says with authority.

I have to admit, getting myself into a jam like that is finally being somewhere where the jams are at high tide. I really didn't know what to say to him about the Dwight Yoakam thing, I just smiled, and tried to hide my fear and the horror of this opportunity. I guess I'll get ready. What a ride this is turning into. I do feel, however, that I'm riding a horse with a very loose cinch, and the saddle could turn at any corner. Not only that, but the horse is at full gallop and I'm holding on for dear life. Where is the pick-up man?

Perhaps the years and years of doing this work and talking with people is paying off, at least in the 'talking' part of things. The 'work' part of things is a little more suspect, and I'll have to get more of my music chops on. I have to figure out a way to stay here, this is where I belong, at least for now... Off to meet this afternoon. Adios, mi amigos...


Gerry said...

I fear that quite a few theater people have lived as you do, always scrambling for money and opportunity in an uncertain world, but maybe that is the nature of getting live theater up! I know this much, you will work hard to survive and even triumph as the show must go on, and so must life! I am very interested in your day to day struggle close to the edge. We have to read to see what will happen next, and if your chestnuts will be snatched from the fire just in time.

Chuckh said...

Raymond, go to the post office and complain. I remember I was told by the postman, if he doesn't know the new name, you don't get the mail. Maybe they are holding it at the post office, maybe they sent it back or maybe somebody is taking it. Either way, you lost some currency in the mail. I'd find out why, Pardner.

Rebecca Gray said...

I think I mentioned "big cheap theater" as a movement, a manifesto, a radical alternative at some point... but this begs a reintroduction!, in particular a piece by Erik Ehn, Theatrah Persona, "A Proposal and an Alarum" (linked this to my name here). Also was just listening to Terry Gross memorializing Vic Chesnutt, and oh, what would you think!!! CLOSE to the BONE...