-May 1998-

Other Fein Messes

 More on SXSW? I must.

Had a great time there, arriving Wednesday night with P.F. Sloan and heading to the Waterloo Brewing Company in time to see Harvey Sid Fisher's dynamic, well-received perf. Sloan followed, singing alone with a guitar, and did an hour to an enthralled pack of worshippers. That boy can sure sing. Hope next year they put him on in a more favorable time slot. (Wed. nights are fully-packed official entertaiment nights now, but a lot of people, accustomed to the former Thurs-- Sun routine, aren't yet aware of it.) John Wesley HardingWith Sloan I went to another club and saw the end of the Ray Price show (the opposite of "down-home," with full ork.), and ran into John Wesley Harding, whose show we attended the next night.

 We also saw Floyd Tilman sing "I Love You So Much It Austin Music AwardsHurts Me" at the Austin Music Awards show, prompting me to phone Skip Heller, Skip Hellermy L.A.-transplanted Philadelphian friend, who has the first bars of that song tattooed on his arm. Hope Skip'll play here next year, too.


Weather was beautiful, music was great.

 The convention is not too big, I tell ya, it's just right.

Nick LoweThe next night I ran into

Nick Lowe,Antone's the SXSW "keynote speaker", at a reception at Antone's, and we discussed Dave Edmunds' whereabouts. Edmunds had lived in LA, in Sherman Oaks, for a couple of years, but Nick has heard Dave is returning to Wales, which Nick opined does not fare well in comparison to LA

Dave Edmunds


 Johnny Cash

 Because of Nick Lowe I have a pair of Johnny Cash's cowboy boots.

Or I know where they are.


In the spring of1982 I was tour manager for the The BlastersBlasters' first overseas tour, six weeks in England followed by short jaunts to Paris, Amsterdam and Capri. They were the opening act on Lowe's English gigs, unbilled: the posters said "Nick Lowe and Support."

The Blasters first Slash album was released by Warner Bros. there with lukewarm enthusiasm and extremely limited distribution. (Record stores buy from the manufacturer outright, or did then, so few were taking a fly on an unknown band. When after the six week concert tour we left for Europe I enquired at WEA about sales thus far and was told they'd sold fifty. Naively, I brightened and said "Fifty thousand? Really?")

 The tour was fascinating for all of us, but especially for me when I climbed aboard the Lowe tour bus. Carlene CarterNick, whom I'd met a few times, greeted me warmly, but then his wife Carlene Carter said, "Art Fein, what are YOU doing here?" and she turned to Nick and said "Art and I had a passionate affair a few years ago."

"No we didn't!" I protested, but Nick chimed in "There, there, son, there's been many others like you, don't be shy about it."

"But nothing ever happened" I said.

"Sure, don't you worry a bit" Nick said. "That's all in the past now."

The maddening thing was that I TRIED to go out with her, in early 1978 when I worked at Elektra in L.A. as a bio-writer. She came in with her manager on some Elektra business (his: she wasn't on the label) and I introduced myself and led her to the record stacks to grab some vinyl. "Want to go somewhere tonight?" I asked with unusual forwardness. "Sure" she said. That night she called at 6 and said she had to wash her hair, or one of those. And that was it. Now here she was telling her HUSBAND that we were intimate!

 What you want in life is a girl who kisses and doesn't tell.

What I had here was a girl who didn't kiss, and told!

"You know the funny thing, Art?" Al Kooper said to me about five years later. "She did the very same thing with me."

Paul CarrackBack to the boots. The night before the band left for Yerp, after the English tour, we all went first to the home of Paul Carrack, once of Ace,Squeeze now (then) in Squeeze, and had dinner while he watched soccer on tv. Then we went to Nick Lowe's place where he got pretty sloshed -- a normal thing, as we knew it -- and took his gold record for Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True album off the wall and handed it to Dave Alvin saying "When you get YOUR gold album, you'll

 give Elvis ALbumme one."



I was watching this largess from the bottom of the staircase, and Nick interpreted my blankness for sadness and said, "What size shoes do you take?" I said ten, and he said "Wait here, I'll be right back." A minute later he handed me a pair of Acme boots in a box and said "Johnny Cash gave these to me in Tennessee. He's a spokesman for Acmeacmeboots and they give him all these boots. They're too small for me so why shouldn't someone have them who can wear 'em? Try and sneak them out, though, OK? Carlene would kill me if she knew I gave them away."


I kept them in my closet for about 15 years, then gave them to my friend Don Misraje here in LA, who wears one size smaller than me. The boots were a little tight, but I never considered giving them away because, heck, Johnny Cash gave them to me, indirectly. But during the ensuing years I'd ceased wearing cowboy boots altogether and my feet had re-accomodated to the wide, comfortable cloth-sided shoes and loafers I now wear. Getting into the Acmes was impossible.

 So it was time to pass the boots to another guy who'll have a great story to tell, that nobody will believe.

Five years later I had Nick on my tv show, along with Billy Bremner, and L.A. music writer Todd Everett, but it didn't work out well. The show didn't click; you could see the sweat forming all over me as Lowe and Bremner sidestepped my questions and played to each other. It was as if I had wrenched them out of two comfortable barstools to do this stupid tv show. Which I had.

Maybe Nick was put off early in the show when in answer to the question "What act do you feel you ought to like but you don't?" Todd said too frankly, "You know, I never much liked Elvis Costello."

 * The Sprague Bros., whom I plug now and then, have parted ways temporarily, so Frank Sprague is hitting the road in late May, leading his band called The Ripsnorts. Rockin' Ronny

* English rockabilly fan and writer John Kennedy is preparing a book on Ronny Weiser and Rollin' Rock Records. I'll be contributing a few reminiscences to him. You can, too, if you have any.

* Watch this column for the forthcoming diatribe, "Why Have Rock Critics Become Such Creeps?"

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