By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
I'd like to comment on your Robert Smith interview ("What ails him?" February 17). I think it reflects well his relationship to his audience -- little participation or involvement. My three favorite songwriters are Robert Smith, Ian Astbury, and Jay Aston, all '80s peers with a similar underlining of darkness to them in different contexts. Jay Aston's is "I understand your pain," Ian Astbury's is "You understand my pain," and Robert Smith's is "You don't understand my pain." To me there's always been a sense of detachment and inaccessibility about Robert Smith in terms of his connection to his fans, and perhaps the collective worship of his many followers alienates him from them. My own inability to purchase tickets for his show is symbolic to me of all this.
Your Jim Schutze is sooooo right about Monorail Max ("The girl can't help it," February 10). Not only was Max Goldblatt cheated; Dallas was cheated in that election. Central Expressway would have a wonderful monorail service to downtown if the City Hall machine hadn't run over Max. We probably would have a good downtown civil defense shelter in the abandoned Santa Fe tunnel, instead of goofballs from City Hall filling it with cement. And the city would have a good, healthy, and fair percentage of ticket sales from any sports center. And the DART (Democrats Always Raise Taxes) bunch wouldn't have tried ripping out the Katy Railroad tracks from Highland Park to downtown, lest someone realize the ready-to-use tracks would have been great for a train-like trolley to carry commuters from the Park Cities to downtown.
With Laura Miller hope springs eternal. I can't see a gang of hoodlums with shotguns taking over a school board meeting with Miller as mayor, or anyone shouting "racist, racist" every time a white member has a contrary opinion about something.
I really enjoyed, and read with great interest, your article featuring the old Dallas "barn-dance" program "The Big D Jamboree" ("Good rockin' last night," January 6). It certainly brought back a ton of memories. I am originally from Fayetteville, Arkansas, but have recently moved to Texas to attend school and possibly try to put together another rockabilly band.
I played in a western swing/honky-tonk band for years back home as well as abroad, and we often played in this area. I know that we used to hit the Sportatorium every time we were in town. Although I can't honestly say that we ever performed at the Big D Jamboree (we used to play 365 days a year, sometimes two matinees and two evening shows in one day, so memory sometimes is not as clear as it should), but we certainly saw a lot of great shows there! I remember seeing the late Doug Sahm when he was just a rascal, The Rondels (a band that featured a very young Delbert McClinton and Ronnie Kelly), Bob Luman, Howard Crockett (writer of the Johnny Horton hit "Honky Tonk Man"), Leon Russell, and in later years, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, plus all the greats you mentioned.
We rarely made it to Dallas in those days other than to catch those shows, because most of our gigs were in Fort Worth. We mostly played at the NCO Club at Carswell Air Base, Casino Beach, the Cowtown Coliseum, the Masonic Mosque, Will Rogers Coliseum, and later on The Cellar Club and Harlow's. It wasn't until later that we played Dallas at places like The Pirate's Nook, The Studio Club, and Market Hall, and even then, they were few. We met all sorts of odd and wonderful people back then. Jack Ruby; Candy Barr; Dewey Groom (owner of the Longhorn Ballroom, home of Bob Wills and the Sex Pistols...only in Texas!); Gordon McClendon, who used to do fake "live" concerts over the air; local producer Phil York; Ron Chapman (who used to host a television music show not unlike American Bandstand, yet the name escapes me), who is now a Dallas disc jockey; a teenage Johnny Nitzinger; all the cats over at KFJZ radio (which was the hip station at the time); and oh so many others.
I really enjoyed the pictures and the interviews as well. You mentioned in your article that "Dallas seems to think that history comes with an expiration date...paving over its yesterdays," and I have noticed that it's unfortunately true all too often. Its residents scarcely seem to notice or remember all the famous Big Band leaders that performed at all the downtown hotels way back when, or that the area known as Deep Ellum was a hotbed of musical activity (twice!). Thanks to your article, a lot more people will now know. Thank you for stirring up some wonderful memories.