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COUNTRY ROUNDUP

Texas Legend Bringing Hard Luck Songs This Way : Jerry Jeff Walker, known for such hits as 'Mr. Bojangles,' will perform at the Ventura Theatre.

August 25, 1994|ROBYN LOEWENTHAL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Let's go to Luckenbach, Texas, with Waylon and Willie and the boys. This successful life we're livin's got us feudin' like the Hatfields and McCoys. Between Hank Williams' pain songs, Jerry Jeff's train songs and 'Blue Eyes Cryin in the Rain,' out in Luckenbach, Texas, there ain't nobody feelin' no pain.

--"Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)" sung by Waylon Jennings

It's a little far to Luckenbach, so consider yourself lucky: Texas legend Jerry Jeff Walker is coming to you.

Making a rare appearance in these here parts, Walker will perform at Ventura Theatre on Friday night.

No doubt fans of Walker's storytelling style will expect him to perform his classics, including "Up Against the Wall Redneck Mothers," "London Homesick Blues" and "Mr. Bojangles."

Although lounge lizards probably associate "Mr. Bojangles" with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band or think it's Sammy Davis Jr.'s signature song, it was penned by Walker. Walker is the Leonard Cohen of a gang of long-haired bohemians in pointy boots who made Austin, Tex., the headquarters of the progressive wing of country music two decades ago.

Although Willie Nelson was the only Austin alum who attained national stardom, it was Walker who got the whole scene rolling with the 1973 groundbreaking album, "Viva Terlingua," recorded live in the dance hall of the tiny Texas hill country town of Luckenbach.

Back then, the airwaves were full of Walker's tunes along with the sappy supernatural love song, "Wildfire" by Michael Martin Murphey, and pre-fame Vince Gill was singing with Pure Prairie League.

It was still the age of vinyl records. You could leave the turntable spindle arm off a record and it would play relentlessly. I owe my introduction to Walker's industrial-strength carousing songs to an old record player and a former roommate. That transplanted Texas beauty queen would party all night, fall in love, then play Jerry Jeff all day to make herself cry because it felt s-o-o-o-o good.

Walker's appearance with his Gonzo Compadres band will also give fans and the uninitiated a chance to hear songs from his 24th album, "Viva Luckenbach!" This new live album on the Rykodisc label was recorded in Luckenbach 20 years after Walker put the town on the map.

So dust off your golden oldie LPs. And wax nostalgic about the days when you could hold a cardboard album cover and read the liner notes while singing along with your favorite renegade country artist, Jerry Jeff Walker, chronicler of the Texas outlaw life.

Darlene O'Connell & the Dixie Flyers, one of the region's hottest country concert and club bands, will open the show. People who've seen their previous appearances opening for national artists Chet Atkins and John Anderson know the Flyers deliver the goods in spades.

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The Aug 17 opening of the Ventura County Fair with Hal Ketchum and Carlene Carter didn't stop lots of dance fans from turning out for some midweek live music at Camarillo's Crazy Bull.

They were treated to a late-night jam session when the aforementioned Darlene O'Connell sat in with the Rhythm Rangers.

Also dropping by the club with O'Connell were her hubby-manager Glenn, Flyer member John Styles, K-HAY radio's Charlye Parker and assorted friends. The party went on 'til midnight.

*

If you attended K-HAY radio's fund-raiser carwash at Newbury Park High School on Aug. 13 and liked the bands, you can find them elsewhere. Sweet Country is the house band at Ventura's Starting Gate and plays there every weekend. And the Rhythm Rangers are all over the map.

Aug. 13 marked the final appearance of Diane Lynne and the Stars & Stripes band at the Crazy Bull--or anywhere. Lynne and her bass-player-spouse, Gabe Lamog, are moving to Nashville to pursue their dream of getting a recording deal. She said you'll probably be seeing the guys in the band regroup and continue playing. And people on the mailing list will receive updates.

After leaving the Bull, I checked out Santa Barbara's line-dance haven, the City Line Club. I hung around long enough to sort-of recognize the Tennessee Waltz--as interpreted by the Twangin' Iguanas. That explained why the place was dead on a Saturday night.

Then it was a short hop to Goleta and the Galleon Room, which was high-energy, packed with couples and going strong 'til 1 a.m. closing. You'll soon read more about Art Green, the talented, silken-voiced cowboy who was playing.

*

Cousin's in Simi Valley changes schedules more often than most folks change underwear. Now you can enjoy live bands Tuesdays through Saturdays. And dance lessons are a great bonus. Drop in tonight and be introduced to clogging with Gary Howell from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Then on Sunday from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Pam will teach "Tropicana Parking Lot" and "Walkin' Wazzi," two must-know classic line dances. Miss Ila still presides at "Two-Steppin' Tuesdays" and Kathy Bailey rounds out Wednesdays with West Coast Swing. But forget about dance lessons on Fridays or Saturdays.

Last week you read that the Frontier Club in Santa Paula has gone to Latino or "Norte" music. But country dance die-hard Judy Rodgers reported that she and beau David "were still able to polka and West Coast Swing to the banda beat."

Dance teacher and life-of-the-party Kathy Culley missed the Country Lovers Western Dance Club's recent annual picnic. But she had a good reason. She and country singer Rick Tucker were recruited to spread the line-dance gospel at a local fund-raiser for Gov. Pete Wilson. Among the politicians attending were Elton Gallegly, Mike Huffington, Robert Lagomarsino and Cathie Wright.

Details

* WHAT: Jerry Jeff Walker concert.

* WHERE: Ventura Theatre, 26 S. Chestnut St., Ventura.

* WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday.

* COST: $18.50.

* FYI: Darlene O'Connell & the Dixie Flyers open the show.

* CALL: 648-1888.

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