Complete text -- "Something Is Happening"

14 September

Something Is Happening

Paisley Robertson, Denton, TX, October, 1967
(Guest Writer**)

But something is happening and you don't know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?" Bob Dylan

I was barely 18 in 1967 when I drifted into singing with a bunch of Jazzers from the jazz department at North Texas. But these jazzers were unique because they were sneaking into Dallas to play rock and roll instead of jazz. Make some bucks, after all. Of course, they didn't want to tell their fellow students because, at that time, rock was extremely looked down upon.

The first group which I played in was "The Day Before." It consisted of Valdo Garcia and myself sharing vocals. Doug Burandt was on guitar although he had originally come to North Texas studying drums. He still maintains a very popular band in San Antonio called Max Class & the Class Act. Terry Collins played bass and Dickie Thompson, who would later play keyboards with the Steve Miller band on some of their best efforts, was on organ. And, of course, there was Billy Bucher on the drums. (ed: please see notes about Paisley at the end of the story.)

The very first club where I ever performed for a paying audience was at the biggest gay bar in Dallas called "Elvira's." Shortly thereafter we were under contract to a manager in Dallas who booked most of our gigs. One weekend I remember he booked us for the first time in Fort Worth. We were told that it was a club so the band drove the 45 minutes to the location. I had dressed in one of my casual outfits: black leather pants, boots, a jacket over a red Mao shirt, topped off by a serape and a cigar. I occasionally smoked cigars, preferably while drinking beer.

Much to our chagrin, when we finally arrived at the address, we found it wasn't a club at all but a hotel. We immediately assumed we must be playing in the hotel's club.

We were directed up to the fifth floor. When the doors of the elevator opened onto a huge flower filled and candle lit room. The room was filled with young men in tuxedos and girls in evening gowns, each holding a perfect red rose. When they saw us they grasped the roses tighter in their gloved hands and collectively gasped. It was the Debutante Ball. We were surprised, too, but we just strolled across the dance floor and began to set up on the stage and as we began to play I decided I should probably put out my cigar.

The Debs and their Beaus stayed as far away from us as possible without actually leaving the room. They danced to the two slow songs that we played each hour, otherwise they completely ignored us and never applauded.

We did suddenly realize, though, that we actually did have an audience, after all. We noticed quickly that the help loved us. All the people who were working in the kitchen and the waiters in their white gloves who passed around h'our doerves and soft drinks, were listening and swaying with the music. We could also see their faces through the swinging kitchen doors, smiling and singing along.

As the evening progressed, they became even bolder and began dancing in the kitchen. And when I sang some Wilson Pickett, they totally forgot where they were and who they were and began really dancing and singing and applauding us.

The Kens and Barbies in the back of the room discretely ignored this display of emotion, embarrassed by the hired help's glee and they left as early as possible without making a scene.

The aborted debutante ball turned into a real party after they had left. Music can bring down walls: literally and figuratively. We, also included under the umbrella of "the hired help," came close together in the music which we shared and loved.

(**ed. note: Yes, all my exes live in Texas, and Paisley is no exception. A Denton native, Paisley was a drama student who performed with The Day Before in Denton and later sang with Eber (named after her father) in Austin. Still later still with Paradise Special which contained Tary Owens and David Hough, among others. Paisley went on to manage the highly acclaimed Uncle Walt's Band for a time and after each Walter Hyatt died in the ValveJet crash of 1996 and later Champ Hood died of cancer, she was instrumental for having memorials placed along the Colorado River on the shore of Lake Austin in their honor. She also has been responsible for getting her home designated an Historical Site. It was once the home of artist Seymour Fogel and is now the Seymour Fogel House (aka Southwind).
It has been a battle proving that even a city once as hip as Austin is subject to a decline into the mundane abyss of suburban boredom. Thank heavens for residents such as Paisley Robertson. BB


Posted by billybucher at 15:21:00 - Category: General
Comments

Ms. Claudia wrote:

And by golly, one of the first people Connie and I met when we moved from Commerce to Denton was none other than the Fabulous Ms. Paisley! I was all of 19, the "older woman!" And here we are, living not a 1/2 a mile from each other in Austin. And EVERYBODY remembers those black leather pants--they sure showed up in the Hob Nob from time to time...
09/14/04 17:52:50
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