FolkWorld #59 03/2016
T:-)M's Night Shift
Brian T. Atkinson and Jenni Finlay, Kent Finlay, Dreamer: The Musical Legacy Behind Cheatham Street Warehouse.
Texas A&M University Press, 2016,
ISBN 978-1-62349-378- 3, pp280, US$25.95
Nyckelharpa Tabulatures gives a hand to anyone who is interested in playing the Scandinavian keyed fiddle
and making the most of its keyboard, which allows to play chords.
Tabulature is the most efficient tool to grasp the nyckelharpa's polyphonic potential. Marco Suppo's tutorial
in both the English and Italian language for the chromatic nyckelharpa with European tuning (three rows and a drone)
features a collection of tabulatures and exercises for the most frequent chords.
Marco Suppo, Nyckelharpa Tabulatures.
Verlag der Spielleute,
2015, ISBN 978-3-943060-08-9, pp200, €29,90
Acoustic Americana singer-songwriter David Berkeley has written a wary narrative, comprising ten interweaving short stories.
The common theme is isolation and disconnection, still its characters find beauty and redemption in surprising places.
The Free Brontosaurus comes with a soundtrack, Cardboard Boat,
one song per story, loosely written from the perspective of the respective main character.
The music is available separately on harddisc, the book includes a free download.
David Berkeley, The Free Brontosaurus.
Rare Bird Books,
2015, ISBN 978-1-9402-0798-8, pp240, €13,32.
David Berkeley, Cardboard Boat. Straw Man, 2015
David Berkeley @ FolkWorld:
»The Finlays came from Scotland. They first settled
in Bee Cave and worked cutting railroad ties by hand out of cedar.
The Bradleys and Finlays saved enough money and bought that whole end
of the county. My great-grandmother nominated “Fife,” the name of the
Scottish town they came from, as the name for the post office and town name.«
Kent Finlay, born 1938, recalls his family history who crossed the Western Ocean from Scotland and made a new home in Texas,
the second largest state in the United States of America.
My mother’s brother, Uncle T. J., and mother’s cousins had a band
they called the Short Brothers Band, and they would play house dances
around ... Lohn Valley. A house dance is where someone takes all of
the furniture out of the living room so everyone could dance in there.
They’d set the fiddle and guitar players up in the corner. ...
Uncle Jim’s son, Clarence Short—his professional name was Sleepy—was in the
band. Sleepy was an incredible fiddle player. ...
He was in the Texas Top Hands, a great band based
out of San Antonio. ... It was a serious band, and they were one of the
top Bob Wills–like bands of the time. Most bands were doing a lot of
western swing at the time, Texas music people dance to. ...
Sleepy was definitely one of my heroes.
Watching him play was something else. He would sit back and close his
eyes and play from his heart. He could do double stops and harmonies
with himself and play all those songs from “Julida Polka” to “The Lone
Star Rag” and “Beaumont Rag” and “Orange Blossom Special” and all
those great tunes.
Kent Finlay began a teaching career, but also wrote songs and played at weekends himself.
In 1974, he leased an old warehouse along the railroad tracks in San Marcos and converted it
into a honky tonk, a type of bar that provides country music for entertainment.
We opened Cheatham Street Warehouse in June 1974. I had been wanting
to open a music venue for some time. I was teaching and playing on
weekends in Austin, but San Marcos didn’t have a music venue. There
wasn’t such a thing. There was no live music.
Looking back four decades later, it has turned out that Kent's creation has shaped the country
movement in Central Texas and has launched the careers of many an aspiring artist.
At the very beginning, we did mostly country acts: Joe Ely, Asleep at
the Wheel, and, of course, George Strait and Joe Bob’s Bar and Grill. It
was Gram Parsons country, not necessarily Nashville country.
Country music icon George Strait
played his first 50 gigs with the Ace in the Hole Band at Cheatham Street.
Kent drove him to Nashville for his first recording session.
George Strait went on to become one of the most successful recording artists in the history of country music,
earning the nickname King of Country.
Ray Wylie Hubbard, Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, Ernest Tubb and dozens more regularly stepped on the Cheatham stage.
Another most memorable night was when Townes Van Zandt and
Guy Clark played. It was Townes’s gig, and Guy and [his wife] Susanna
were in town and came out. In a few minutes, Guy was up there,
and they were swapping songs and everything. This is back when we had
a twelve o’clock closing time. It came closing time that night. Nobody
wanted to leave, so we just made a deal with everybody. I told them if
everybody chug-a-lugs, they could drink Cokes and coffee or whatever
they’d want. They just couldn’t have any alcohol. So everybody did, and
we just stayed and stayed and stayed and stayed there nearly all night.
It was just incredible. It was one of the most magical nights of all time,
even though Townes never drew a crowd. Maybe there were forty people.
That’s okay, you know. The best crowds for a songwriter night are small.
Kent Finlay pushed the career of blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan as well as punk rockers The Skunks,
but most importantly of Texan singer-songwriters such as Adam Carroll
(a tribute album to Adam Carroll is currently produced by Eight 30 Records to be launched later this year).
I heard Adam Carroll on the radio. I had to turn it up it was so good. ...
Adam’s voice had a quality that just draws you in, and
the way it was produced was so wonderful. It kept you interested in
His Live at Cheatham Street is one of my favorite records still. It was
such a great performance of “Red Bandana Blues.” The harmonica is
phenomenal. It was like he was just playing off of the top of his head
and making it up as he was going. Everyone’s heart reaches out to him
when he’s on stage. He’s got that magic thing. I can’t describe it, but
he’s definitely got it. He’s so genuine.
Especially, Kent hosted an open mike every Wednesday night
to provide songwriters with a chance to showcase their original songs.
Back in the seventies, we started songwriters’ night. Songwriters just
didn’t get any recognition at all. There wasn’t any place to go and be a
songwriter. You just had to write songs and maybe play them in the band
like they were cover songs. ... We
just started off sitting around the woodstove, like it was a campfire. That
woodstove was a centerpiece. We would have the warmth of the stove
and the magic of the stove, the wood fire, and we would just pass the
guitar around and around and do all original songs. Then it got a little
bigger. We started meeting to bring in a little PA and setting up a couple
speakers and a couple mikes. Eventually, really important writers started
coming out of there, and it began to get a good reputation.
The Class of 1987 was really a good group. The regulars in ’87 were
Terri Hendrix, James McMurtry, Tish Hinojosa, Hal Ketchum, John Arthur
Martinez, Al Barlow, Aaron Allen, Ike Eikenberg, Todd Snider, me,
and a couple others. ... They say greatness inspires
greatness, and I think that’s true.
used the Cheatham Street stage as a springboard for an internationally acclaimed career.
Terri Hendrix is the hardest-working songwriter I’ve ever met. She
works so hard at everything she does. She’s very deliberate. When she
decides that something is going to happen, she makes it happen. She
decided—back when she had that little Applause guitar and she was
first getting started—that she was going to make it as a songwriter. She
did. She said, “Okay, this is what I’m going to do.” She made the jump
and made it happen. Absolutely. She was not going to be denied. No one
could stop her. That’s just the way she is.
Terri slowly developed the unique style she has now. It was fun to watch
that happen. She was always an intentional songwriter and did everything
purposefully. I think she was always intent on learning. Honing
her skills. ... She was always coming up with sweet, fun songs that just made
people feel good. It’s what she specializes in, making people feel good.
... My favorite quote: “The harder I work,
the luckier I get.” That’s the way it works in the music business. She’s
one of the luckiest people I know.
If he were doing it for money
He’d be doing something else
All he wants from life
Is a chance to give himself
To some future generation
Who’ll be touched when they’ve heard
His rhymes and his rhythms
And the wisdom of his words
Additionally, Eight 30 Records has released the accompanying Dreamer album,
featuring more than a dozen Kent Finlay disciples and their takes on his original songs.
• Terri Hendrix
• Walt Wilkins
• James McMurtry
• Brennen Leigh and
Various Artists, Dreamer: A Tribute to Kent Finlay. Eight 30 Records, 2016
• William Clark Green
• Adam Carroll
• Randy Rogers and
• Steve Poltz
• Owen Temple
• Jon Dee Graham
• Slaid Cleaves
• Matt Harlan
• Jamie Wilson & the
Hill Country Choir
To honor the important role that she believes Cheatham
Street has played, Terri Hendrix recorded her "Live in San Marcos" here in 2001.
She recorded all of her classic songs so far, produced by Lloyd Maines
(father of Natalie Maines, lead singer of the Dixie Chicks).
People knew that I had majored in music at Hardin-Simmons University,
and they knew that I wrote songs. Somewhere along the line,
someone said, “You should go to the songwriter night at Cheatham
Street Warehouse.” I did. People would sit around this [wood]stove and
play songs. I was really nervous [my first time]. I had a hard time getting
through my songs and was definitely not performing out at that time. ...
Kent knew I was nervous and just getting started. I
said one day, “You know, I really want to do this.” Kent said, “Well, you
have to be really hungry for it, and you have to be able to not do anything
else.” It took me a long time to realize what he really meant, but it’s true.
In order to want this career, you do have to be hungry and really work.
That was really great advice for me.
We did that Live in San Marcos record
in 2001 I had been playing for a long time and had a fan base built up
to warrant two sold-out nights to record it. I wanted to give people who
had been following my career a chance to be in on a recording. I picked
Cheatham Street because it was in my hometown, and Kent has been
really important about supporting songwriters. It felt like the perfect
home to sing my songs and record them.
Kent’s never booked artists based on their beer sales, and that’s always
been really appealing to me. He really cares about the people who
come into his building as long as they respect the songwriter. ...
When people talk about San Marcos, people
talk about the outlet mall and the river and the university and Cheatham
Street. Sometimes Cheatham Street comes in first before the outlet mall.
I could see a statue of Kent Finlay in bronze by it.
Finlay Kent kicked off every songwriter night with his "I'll Sing You a Story, I'll Tell You a Song."
It has often been overlooked that he was not merely a club owner but a formidable songwriter in his own right.
His finest songs (such as "They Call It the Hill Country") can stand their ground against the writer's he's championed.
He also has co-written songs with artists including Todd Snider, Walt Wilkins and
[Slaid Cleaves is] a likable, talented person. He is very
careful and thoughtful about what he writes. He doesn’t just jot down
the next line that comes through his head. He’s very deliberate. He’s no
craftsman. He likes a little humor, you know. He likes it to have a nice
twist. He likes the melody and the lyrics to jive. ...
I was looking for someone
else to work with. I’ve always been a teacher, schoolteacher, and that
kind of carries on into everything else like songwriting. You know, I was
trying to help somebody get the next notch up the ladder. I thought Slaid
probably needed someone to get in there with him, and I wanted to do it. ...
Slaid’s really turned into one of the leading songwriters of the world.
Kent Finlay passed away on March 2, 2015, aged 77. To mark the one-year anniversary,
his daughter Jenni Finlay (of Jenni Finlay Promotions)
and Brian T. Atkinson
(author of "I'll Be Here in the Morning: The Songwriting Legacy of Townes Van Zandt")
tell the story behind Texas' most celebrated honky tonk and its iconic venue owner in
Kent Finlay, Dreamer: The Musical Legacy Behind Cheatham Street Warehouse .
Jenni had thoroughly interviewed her father about his life and his music, whereas Brian questioned
some forty songwriters about the influence and inspiration that Cheatham Street Warehouse has had.
The title Dreamer refers to Kent's habit of daydreaming about music,
songs he's writing or songs someone else wrote.
I sometimes daydream about what Cheatham Street will be like in fifty
years. I want it to be sitting there looking just as it does but have a good
roof on it. I see it, for one thing, partly as a museum, partly a place to
develop songwriters with songwriter concerts. I also see it as a place to
develop steel guitar players and guitar players and also to have concerts
for all kinds of Texas music, from Texas swing to down-home country to
blues and any serious music. Pretty much what we’ve always been doing.
(1ff) Book/CD Covers, (5) Marco Suppo,
(6) David Berkeley,
(7) Townes Van Zandt,
(8) Kent Finlay,
(9) Slaid Cleaves,
(10) Terri Hendrix,
(11) Adam Carroll,
(12) Matt Harlan
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