Adios to a Longtime Friend
I know. Yes, I know. It has been too long since the last blog. By now the pandemic has likely affected you, your business, or someone close to you, as it has my family and circle of friends. These are a few of my experiences regarding these times. First, I will share the story of my friend, Maurice, who, along with his brother Frank, was at one of my last shows with an in-person audience before the shutdown. The three of us are pictured below. Secondly, I will discuss my winning battle with the internet, my recent Academy of Western Artists award, and how tennis and the pandemic tie into all of this.
Last month Covid-19 took the life of a longtime friend, Maurice Docherty, or Moe, as we all knew him. I met Mo, a Scot who came to Texas by way of Blackpool, England, at the Boardwalk in Horseshoe Bay Resort shortly after I graduated from college. Moe was a strong athlete. He and I would occasionally hit a few balls on the tennis court. He rose from waiter to owner of the business in only a few years; he would hire me to play music for the general public 3, 4, and sometimes 5 times a week. The venue sat on Lake LBJ, the largest constant level lake in Texas, so it quickly became a hotspot for a mix of locals, tourists, retirees. Moe would often have me perform for a private group from 6-8 p.m. then perform for the public from 8 to 2 p.m., just me, my guitar, and my drum machine. I cannot tell you how many times I sang "La Bamba" for tips during those evenings as the movie by the same name was wildly popular in Texas. The crowd would turn over regularly. The new faces kept requesting it. The weekend gigs at the Boardwalk molded me into a real musician and a professional entertainer. The slower weekday shows allowed me to share my original music with more quiet, listening audiences. Thank you, Moe, for your significant role in my development as an artist. Moe always loved this song of mine.
Rainy, Rainy Clouds
Sitting by the staring window
Sailing through uncaring limbo
The rainy day sure can sway
A young man’s heart
The rain’s a never-ending fountain
And through the glass the desert mountains
Browned-palm trees, chinaberry leaves
You regret the things you said last night
And swear that soon you’ll set things right
You say you will
Your heart beats—still
The truth still hurts
It’s a blues song in Tucson
When the rain stays for too long
The cities blind
When the sun’s behind
Rainy, rainy clouds
But, the rain has always been a friend to you
You don’t mind it when the skies are blue
You love the rain
Through the pane
Beneath the blue-cloud shroud
And you love the rain when it stings your face
And fills the rivers full of grace
And gives you drink
Makes you think
And cleanses guilt
It purifies and it satisfies
When you feel the tears the sky cries
But Tucson’s blind
When the sun’s behind
Rainy, rainy clouds
The weeks and weeks of COVID-cancelled events and venue closures forced many fulltime musicians to rethink our business models. Virtual online concerts on platforms like Facebook and Youtube became the new normal.
So many Americans began using the internet at once, so these online concerts were not without glitches. I live in Cottonwood Shores, 45 minutes west of Austin and an hour north of San Antonio, in an area without high-speed internet. I was forced to use HughesNet. The upload speeds and latency times were so slow that I was unable to use HughesNet for my Facebook concerts. I had better success using my iPhone as a hotspot. I questioned, "Why should I continue paying HughesNet for poor services if I was already paying Sprint for hotspot fees." Sprint saw my longtime history with them and said I qualified for their free Sprint Magic Box to boost my reception. Since I began using the booster, I have a steady flow of LTE/4G. After a little digging, I learned that Sprint has a dedicated wifi product called the Mifi800, which allows me to access the internet using an added Sprint/TMobile line. Even with the added monthly fees to my phone bill is still well below the amount I was paying for satellite internet. It's not the 5G lightning speed that some of you can access, but it certainly has made it to where I can conduct my music business, update my website, reengage with fans through my blogs and social media, and share news like the recent award given to us by the Academy of Western Artists for Western Swing Song of the Year. Due to the pandemic, there was only a small audience at the awards show in Fort Worth; the Academy posted the winners online as the awards were announced.
Moe's death occurred just before the current reopening of the state, and subsequently, Marble Falls Schools. As you would expect, it hit his son Connor very hard. Connor had played high school tennis with my daughter, Mariah. He needed help with his new coaching assignment as the high school tennis coach as he was dealing with so many emotions, so when my friend asked if I would help, I did so gladly. Inspired by my work with the kids, I have since begun teaching tennis lessons to supplement the lost income from show cancellations.
During Connor's first practice with his team, he asked me about my time with his father. I told Connor about how his dad would come into the music area during the slower times at the restaurant to request his favorite song, "Rainy, Rainy Clouds." He would listen to every word. In fact, Moe soon after began learning the guitar on an instrument he bought from me, a beautiful, burgundy, Fender, acoustic-electric guitar that he always admired. Here is the song one more time for Moe.