Monday, April 16, 2007

Joe Ely Book Signing

The great Fort Worth writer Jay Milner once said about Joe Ely that just by looking at a picture of him and not knowing anything about him, he knew Joe was from West Texas. Joe just exudes that sense of place. And although I've seen him many times over the past 20 years, Joe's sense of authenticity never grows old.

On Saturday, I got to see a different side of Joe. Although he's best known as a musician and a songwriter, he's also a poet with a voice and a love of everyday life like Jack Kerouac. And although he will always be connected with Austin and Lubbock, he used to live in Fort Worth and still has connections to the place.

"I used to play in Fort Worth when I was just starting out," he said. "I played at the old Cellar club downtown opening for a band called the American Blues that later became ZZ Top. Well, I had some other opportunities and I decided I needed to be moving on, so went to talk to the manager of the Cellar, a guy named Bad Bob. He pulled a gun and pointed it at my head and said, 'No one quits the Cellar.'"

"He was one bad mother."

Still, Joe quit the Cellar and lived to tell and even come back to Fort Worth. He played a few songs, "On the Run Again" and "All Just To Get To You." He read from the book and talked about the process of keeping a journal, about losing years along the way when a cab drove off with several years while he unloaded equipment at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City or a few more years floated away during a flood in New Braunfels.

"But enough stayed together that I was able to put together a book." The result was Bonfire of Roadmaps. Check it out. What I've read so far is quite good.

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