Written by Michael Pittman
Jun 18, 2011 at 08:00 PM
It’s hard to really know where to start telling you about this concert because it was so many things on so many levels to so many people. It was hello, goodbye, see you next time and thanks for the memories. Mostly, to borrow a Guy Clark song title, this was simply just Stuff That Works. If I was to sum up the entire show into one moment it would have to be when Clark kinda tilted his head and looked out at the sold-out house and sang the title line…’Stuff That Works’. Just that one phrase. Everybody has stuff that just works don’t they? This show did and totally without set lists of any kind. What we heard was what they had to tell US that evening..not New Jersey!!


First of all, to have Ramblin Jack Elliott and Guy Clark on the same show was historic in the sense that here are 2 musicians who are veritable national treasures pouring out years of stories and songs about life onto the stage of the historic Crighton Theatre in downtown Conroe, Texas. These two men have more awards and accolades and credits between them than I have room to write here, but having spent some time before, during and after the show with them I had the sense that none of that really mattered. What mattered were the story and the song and whatever narrow escape is fabled therein. Clark said his face was going to hurt for 2 days from smiling after having seen Ramblin Jack, and the huge grin and the bow Jack took from his seat in the audience after Clark recited the Driscoll Hotel story was priceless. All Verlon Thompson could do is smile and shake his head while Guy wound through stories and songs and whether HE remembered it all THAT way or not was anybody’s guess! Clark took a brief break during his set and left Verlon to entertain with 6 or 8 songs of his own. Verlon always does this very well and we always look forward to it. Verlon is a rare talent.


After the show Jack talked proudly of his daughter, filmmaker Aiyanna Elliott who in 2000, produced The Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack which is a film I’m going to make the effort to get a copy of. She highlights how in 1950, Elliott met Woody Guthrie and moved in with the Guthrie family, then traveled with Woody across this land for many years until he married and moved to Europe. He returned in 1961 and met the young Bob Dylan at Guthrie’s bedside and in the manner to which Guthrie had taken Jack in, Jack took Dylan in and mentored him, becoming a founding member of the Rolling Thunder Review. 1995 saw Jack get 4 Grammy nominations and a win for Best Traditional Folk Album. In 1998, President Clinton gave Jack the National Medal of the Arts.


Beginning in Houston in the late 1960’s, Guy Clark’s career has spanned more than 5 decades and is as steeped in Texas music history as Lyle Lovett, Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Jeff Walker. His dry wit and ability to craft poignant vignettes of everyday life is legendary in Americana and Folk music.


Guy won’t travel and perform much this year..perhaps 6 or 8 dates total so his visit was special and a time for Conroe and the Sounds of Texas Music Series to thank him for 7 sold out shows and a wealth of inspiration. Conroe’s Mayor Webb Melder read aloud a proclamation awarding honorary citizenship to Guy and declared Saturday Guy Clark day in the City of Conroe. A misty-eyed Clark could only wave and bow to show his deep appreciation.


One really cool thing happened and it’s just one of those times where you’re just in the right place at the right time sort of things, but I had been taking pictures backstage when suddenly I realized I was in the room alone with Guy, Jack and Jack’s manager. Jack took the moment to pick up Guy’s guitar and sang Guy a song. On one level it was as comfortable as watching a friend pick up a guitar and play, but on another level…this was history and it’ll be something I’ll always remember.


On his way out and with his guitar on his back, Ramblin Jack Elliott stopped to thank Jay Martin and tell him that in his 60+ years of playing music, this was the most fun he’s ever had doing a show. Nice job everyone…another great Sounds of Texas and remember Delbert Mcclinton finishes out the season on August 6th. Info and tickets at http://www.thesoundsoftexasmusicseries.com/.