But like all Texas rockabilly heroes, Poovey did not quite disappear into the shadows. That will never happen as long as the Brits are around to rescue one old single from oblivion. A tiny label in Sussex, but of course, reissued "Ten Little Fingers" and turned Poovey into a bona fide hero overseas in 1980. Same thing happened to the likes of Mac Curtis and Ronnie Dawson, who found acclaim in England when they couldn't even find a gig over here. Poovey started touring in England and even recorded a few tracks there, including a slap-and-tickle version of "You Are My Sunshine."
Poovey joined the Teamsters and eventually got a job as transportation chief for a number of the production companies filming around town. He worked on Dallas; Walker, Texas Ranger; and Born on the Fourth of July, often appearing as an extra. He wouldn't record again till 1990, when he and Freeze went into Freeze's home studio in Fort Worth and cut a few tracks, including "From the Jungle to the Zoo." They're sturdy enough recordings, but Poovey's voice sounds a little thin, like an old man trying to keep pace with a child's memory. By the 1990s, his voice had become better suited to straight country; he had aged...like 100-proof bourbon. He released his final single only last year--titled, eerily enough, Final Vinyl, which contained three tracks, including "Deep Ellum Rock" and "Deep Ellum Blues." He also performed at the Bar of Soap celebrating its release. It would be one of the last times he ever stood on a stage: Last August, he went to Parkland Memorial Hospital to have his blood pressure checked--and had a heart attack as soon as he stepped in the door. "He basically died, and they brought him back," Stamps says. "Somebody was lookin' after him." Unfortunately, not long enough.
A decade ago, Poovey told an interviewer that "it's probably best that not much happened" to his career, because he was able to glide through life doing whatever he wanted. "My neighbors came over the other night with a magazine. The story told about how most of the rockabillies never made it. They said, 'Gee, Joe, it's such a shame that nothin' happened. Aren't you sad you wasted your whole life?' Ha!...I always say that you'd better enjoy the music business, because you can't make a living in it. I've enjoyed it, though. I have no intention of quitting. Of course, I have no intention of being a star, either."
When it began in 1993, Wake Up, Dallas! was a great, essential idea. How could you not get behind two nights of local bands coming together at the Galaxy Club--for free, no less, with John Freeman acting as master of ceremonies? (Even better, bands played for just 15 minutes. If only.) But five years later, the adorable small-time rock-and-roll circus has evolved into an industry free-for-all called the North Texas Music Festival, which features not only two nights of industry showcases scattered throughout Deep Ellum this weekend, but also the NTMF Topaz Music Award Show at the Granada Theater on Thursday night, a $65-per-head dinner on Friday with producer-engineer Eddie Kramer (known for his work with the Rolling Stones and, gad, KISS), an industry softball game on Saturday, and a Sunday-morning gospel brunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Smells like...South by Southwest.
Now, we're a little skeptical of any event that calls itself the North Texas Music Festival and features at least 25 acts hailing from such places as Houston, Tulsa, and Little Rock. We're also a little skeptical about a North Texas music award that includes one Austin label among its nominees (Sandwich Records) while excluding the local-jazz haven Leaning House, and one that includes such categories as "Best-Dressed Band," "Best Stage Presence," "Most Likely to Succeed," and "Best Hair Statement." So is at least one nominated musician, who refers to the awards as a "circle jerk--what struck me was how it's like high school yearbook voting. Like, best-dressed band, best stage presence, most likely to succeed? Is that not high school yearbook shit?"
This is probably a good place to mention that the awards show ("a black-tie gala"--and John Freeman should go wearing only a black tie) is a real highfalutin affair. "Toni and Guy will give the look," reads the NTMF pamphlet, "internationally renowned choreographer Kent Whites will set the mood...and 50 of Dallas' hottest restaurants will line the walls" of the Granada. Like anyone will be able to eat. We can't go. Tuxes make us scrachity.