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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.) With 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 Hurts Me" at the Austin
Music Awards show, prompting me to phone Skip
Heller, my 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.
is not too big, I tell ya, it's just right.
The next night I ran into
Lowe, 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
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 Blasters' 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
was fascinating for all of us, but especially for me when
I climbed aboard the Lowe tour bus. Nick, 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
"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!
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."
Back 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, 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 me 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 Acme 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."
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.
* 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?"