Twice Born A Vagabond
A Novel [Copr.2008]
By D. DeWitt Thomas
I look out of the window and see pink, red, green, purple, and yellow flowers spraying color into my blurry eyes and wonder if they know that I am a musician playing the down-south birth of the blues chitlin circuit with Roky, Tommy, Stacy, and Danny. As musicians, we form a support group of kindred spirits to establish a colaborative environment which stimulates expression and inspires new ideas. I can testify to the truth of it because it is through that process that the 13th Floor Elevators continue consistantly to garner fans throughout the world with a wreckless abandonment. We are obsessed with the collective notion. We encourage people to re-think their pre-conceived notions, question authority, and invent alternative methods for survival. We personify the free thinking bohemian spirt, uninhibited by the conventions of tradition.
Tonight we will be performing in New Orleans at a roadhouse for average working Joes who make their living working themselves toward an early grave in back breaking jobs while making someone else rich. These week-ends at the local tavern give the working stiffs a chance to blow off steam and discuss life's injustices while steadily drinking their cares away. There is a trade-off between the audience and the band. The customers find a sympathetic ear of a friend and the band gets an audience that is ready and willing to listen to music. It's a nice arrangement.
We spend one more night playing the crypt ghost space music of Sam Lightnin' Hopkins, Theloneous Monk, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis in between 13th Floor Elevator tunes. Our producer, Lelan Rogers, handles the booking because most musicians tend to ignore this aspect of the business and expect someone else to handle it for them. The 13th Floor Elevators are lucky in this respect. Lelan is scheduled to fly into Houston from Los Angeles tonight to attend our next gig in Dallas along with Bill Dillard and Noble Ginther, the two attorneys who co-founded our record label, International Artists. Lelan lives in Los Angeles but he is planning to move to Houston soon to scout out new talent for the label. There have been alot of record executives in Houston lately such as Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records, Lou Adler of Atco Records, and Huey Meaux of Crazy Cajun Music. They are making the rounds of the Chitlin' Curcuit lately looking for bands and hoping that the next big act will appear on the horizon so that everybody can get rich.
We have already signed a contract with International Artists Recording Company and they have already released one album called "Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators". Lelan is planning to produce another album so the future is looking pretty good for now.
We had better get inspired for writing new material soon because no one knows what the next song will be. For us, a colaboration is required because everyone contributes to the writing process. Sometimes we come up with new tunes at gigs by presenting improvizational and spontaneous jam sessions. Any artistic presentation comes from a stream of consciousness state of mind. At live performances the audience requires an artist to sincerely expose the raw nature of emotion to acheive familiarity and vulnerability simultaneously. Performing at this level of sincerity takes its toll and leaves the performer feeling emotionally drained. In this way musicians and actors are the same. Both require the performer to be a sort of "sin-eater". We must fill ourselves full from the well of human emotions of good and evil. We then project them through the art form as a vehicle to reflect the human condition. This is by no means a mockery but an interpretation of the plight of mankind and is justified by artistic license. The performance is rooted in sincere compassion. In the long run that which stems from insincerity and egotism will not stand the test of time and be quickly forgotten or if not forgotten then ultimately resented. The intent of the true artist is compassionate understanding from an empathetic frame of mind. A performer should never use artistic license to take advantage of the circumstances of others in such a way that it may cause humiliation or embarrasment. Art should never by used to slander, shock, or destroy. Right now, a good jam at the gig tonight is all that really matters.
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