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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Everything that was good about your old Texas heritage

My parents' college band gets a mention in the oral history of Willie Nelson in the current issue of Texas Monthly. From the article:
Bill Bentley,57, played drums for Lea Ann and the Bizarros in 1972. He is now the publisher of the Sonic Boomers web site and lives in Los Angeles. We played a George McGovern for President benefit in the summer of '72 at Austin's Zilker Park. Willie came on in the late afternoon, and it was still really hot, and he had [bassist] Bee Spears and Paul English, and Mary Egan from Greezy Wheels on fiddle. It was real quiet and informal. There were probably four thousand people in the audience, most of them hippies, and most didn't know who he was. He had on a black cowboy hat, and he played his first song, and it was like, 'Whoa, who's that?' His charisma was so instantaneous. Those longhairs in the audience were just completely pulled in. My feeling on that day was, that's when he saw that hippies dug him. It was ground zero for redneck rock.

James BigBoy Medlin,63, organized the music for McGovern benefit. He is a screenwriter who lives in Los Angeles. Everybody in the crowd felt like Willie was looking them right in the eye. It was like everything that was good about your old Texas heritage was suddenly coming out from this one guy's mouth and guitar, and people were just blown away. At the end he says, 'All right, we've got to go to John T. Floore's place in Helotes, so anybody that wants to go, come on down and join us.' and I swear it seemed like half the crowd was leaving. Just this parade up there following Willie.

My dad remembers the event this way: "This was the benefit where Ted claims we lent a teen-aged Stevie Ray Vaughn an amplifier, and where Bellamy nearly hit Phil Ochs in the head with a frisbee while he was up performing (possibly apocryphal, I remember Phil Ochs playing, I remember the frisbee, but I only heard Bellamy threw it many years later)."

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