Some of you may know that I managed Steve from 1983-1986, a period in which he recorded for Epic Records, then MCA and signed a new publishing deal with Silverline/Goldline Music, then owned by the Oak Ridge Boys and run by Noel Fox, a former Oak who decided lo be a music exec rather than a performer. Steve and I parted ways just before GUITAR TOWN was released; it was not an amicable parting, in fact I was a mite peeved and sued to recover expenses and deferred commissions. This was resolved out of court, we agreed on a sum he was to pay and he did, in fact, he paid it off early.
Fast forward to May when we reconnected as I wanted him to hear FOLK and so got a mailing address from his management who also provided me with his # and said he wanted me to ring him. I did and we had a nice chat which concluded with him inviting me to come hear him perform at a live rehearsal for his late June Ryman Auditorium show which will be one of the first shows following the release of SO YOU WANNA BE AN OUTLAW.
So I went over to a large rehearsal studio at SoundCheck here to find it was actually a special show for his XFM radio show, "Hard Core Troubadour", heard on the Outlaw Channel. It was a full band performance lasting a bit over 90 minutes and I was quite charmed as I had forgotten just how talented this Texan was and is. It was great to hear "Guitar Town", "Copperhead Road", "Someday" and other gems of his and I was floored by one I had not heard before, "City of Immigrants", a song as good as any he has written.
I also noticed how much better he sounded, how much better he sang. Then I thought to myself, "well how long has it been since you've heard him sing live"? Uh, well 31 years. He's capable of singing softer now and doesn't mumble nor make weird faces when he played as he did in the '80s. And I felt a jolt of pride that I had helped him gain a toehold here and in the industry back then and realized that, by gum, he should be recognized as one of America's best singer-songwriters, on a level with John Mellencamp and perhaps only a shade beneath Springsteen, Fogerty and Seger.
My big surprise came when he told me he had sung ay a couple of Houston Folklore Society shows, opening one featuring Mance Lipscomb and also opening a show for Mance at Sand Mountain, Houston's premier folk club in the late '60s and early '70s, a bridge between The Jester and later Anderson Fair and the Old Quarter. He told me a story about hanging out with Mance once when the blues master had indulged in a few pops from a bottle, rare for the clean living Lipscomb. Steve said, "so I asked him what the thought of Lightning Hopkins as a guitar player". "Well," said Mance, "I think he's a great guitar player . . . . . in E. Now I play in all five chords".
So that was my first blog, there will be more to come.
June 15, 2017 (one day following what would've been my dad's 107th birthday)