By 'Rebel' Rod Ames
Back on December 31st, 1985, my wife at the time, Sue Ann, my good friend Tommy Brown and his wife or girlfriend at the time, were all sitting around contemplating what we were going to do on this festive occasion.
Were we going to go to see Rick Nelson at a venue in Dallas or take the cheaper road and attend the huge bash thrown by the Los Colinas Studios in Irving, Texas? Sue Ann [my wife] worked at the studios for a radio research firm and I was taking film-acting lessons from actor and mentor Adam Roarke at his Film Actor’s Lab, also at the studios.
An interesting unrelated side note to this – Lou Diamond Phillips was the assistant director and a student in the advanced class. It was only a year or so before he landed the role of Richie Valens in the film La Bamba (1987)!
As you may have guessed by now, free food, booze, and entertainment ultimately won out and off we went to The Los Colinas Studios for one of the most incredibly enormous New Years Eve bashes I have ever attended - past or present! It’s a good thing too. As most of you remember, sadly, Mr. Nelson never made it to Dallas. He was killed in a plane crash while in route.
Literally, anyone who was anyone in Dallas, Texas in 1985 was present, which made it even stranger that I was there.
Don Novello was there. You older kids may remember him as Father Guido Sarducci. He was one of the funnier components of the SNL years that unfortunately lived in the shadows of the previous cast of Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radnor, Bill Murray, Jane Curtain, and many other phenomenally talented performers. He made his rounds through the crowd, in character, accumulating hugs by the dozens from all the beautiful women in attendance, Sue Ann included.
The entertainment was provided by Joe King Carrasco & The Crowns. I had heard of them, but had actually never heard them until then! The short of It is this – I’ve been a fan ever since! His abundance of talent, originality, and energy were and still are among the best in the business.
I caught up with Joe King Carrasco & The Crowns recently in Port Aransas, Texas at a popular outdoor club called The Back Porch that sits right on the marina. Port A can be and is hot spot, both in popularity and meteorologically. However, this evening the humidity was down a bit and there was a nice breeze blowing in from the gulf, making the heat more bearable.
Joe, band, and a roadie or two got everything set up and ready for the show, then Joe and I retreated to his dressing room. In reality, the dressing room was beside a somewhat well worn Suburban that contained four adorable Jack Russell Terriers. I could tell there was unconditionally reciprocated love between Joe and his four-legged children.
Actually, three of the Jack Russell’s were Joe’s and the fourth belonged to his manager, Kim Galusha who appeared to me to be one of the hardest working managers in the biz! Not only had she set up my little chat with Joe, she orchestrated everything from the unloading of the trailer full of equipment to the setting up and selling of the merchandise, plastic tubs full of CD’s and t-shirts.
Joe said of his dogs, “I love them, the keep me grounded”.
He began changing and Kim said, “Twenty minutes to show-time”.
I told him about seeing back on that New Years Eve in Dallas, “Well I’m still playin’ man!”, he said.
I had intended to see him the evening before at The Lazy Days Canteen at Roddy Tree Ranch between Ingram and Hunt, Texas. As soon as I found out about Joe playing there, I called my friend and proprietor of the place, Keith Asbury to reserve me a spot. Obviously, I was unable to make that show, so I asked Joe how that show went.
“It was cool man, both places are very cool man. I really enjoyed playing there”.
As I watched him prepare for the show he said, “You get the full Joe prep man”.
“I’ve been living in Mexico for the last seven years, ya know”, he said
I asked, “Are you all living there?”
“No, I do, they [The Crowns] all live in Austin. I have a club in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico called Nacho Daddy. So, I’m always driving back and forth from there to do these gigs, with the dogs”.
“You drive back and forth all that way?” I asked
“Yeah, it’s pretty intense! I’ve driven back and forth since January four or five times, back and forth some 1200 miles each way!”, he said in almost disbelief.
“I play and write down there too you know.”
“A lot of inspiration”, I interrupted.
“Yeah, there is. It’s kind of crazy down there right now, but I’ve written a lot of songs down there. The Que Wow CD was based on Vallarta”, he explained.
I asked, “You’re from Dumas [Texas], you grew up there, right?
“Yes. Well, until I was 16”. Then my Brothers were all in San Francisco so I went from Dumas to San Francisco. I’d have to go to Fillmore West every night. That was pretty cool”
“As a 16 year old in Dumas what inspired you to do what you are still doing today? Were there a lot of garage bands resonating though the streets of Dumas, Texas back then?” I asked.
“Yeah, in Dumas there were, yeah”
“Oh yeah?” I replied a little surprised. I’ve been to Dumas.
“I think when I saw the Beatles and you know, and my Brothers were all into music and everything – and my sister’s boyfriend, he played really great guitar. He was playing at El Rancho in Austin in the early 60’s. You know, I just kind of got into it. When I first picked up a guitar and just started strumming it, you know and learned the chords, and then somehow, like in the seventh grade I got an electric guitar.”
He continued, “You know the first electric guitar I ever heard was Tommy Shannon who played with Johnny Winters and Stevie Ray Vaughan. You know he’s from Dumas too. All that had an effect, you know. Back then, you know, it was like Where the Action Is, Shindig, you know, TV programs like that, and I just thought , like wow man…and I learned how to play folk music, you know , like The Kingston Trio’s stuff, and then I’d seen The Stones and it was like wow man! You know what I mean?”
“Then I sort of stumbled into garage bands and started playing Midnight Hour, 96 Tears, Wooly Bully, Louie Louie, Gloria…and you know, I have not evolved much since then!”
I said, “That’s okay! I remember that music echoing though my little Garland, Texas neighborhood back then. Now that style of music appears to be making a coneback…”
“We’re trying. I made this CD [Que Wow] for play on the radio, but it’s getting play on Underground Garage…I think there’s a place for it…through the years I’ve played every style. I’ve dabbled in Reggae, I’ve dabbled in everything, and I think it’s coming back, but whether or not it does, I’m still doing it!”
I said, “Well, it never really went anywhere, Augie Meyers is still doing it in SA as are many others. You spent some time in San Antonio yourself back in the 70’s, right?”
(End of part I - To be continued)