Sunday, July 23, 2006

Music Scene in Jackson Hole

When Dirty Jack’s band was assembled in 1976, it was much like a group of blind dates. Doc Holt was tasked with melding the different talents and styles into a cohesive unit. So the early days were spent in introductions and rehearsals as Doc “felt us out” and learned what he had to work with. Some of us had never seen Jackson. So part of the gig was getting the lay of the land after hours, and getting to know our fellow musicians. The most famous of the local watering holes was the Cowboy Bar. Done up in burled and varnished wood, with saddles for barstools, the Cowboy had live music and catered to the locals, the tourists (or “turkeys”), and those of us with “seasonal reason.”

Tarwater might have been the Cowboy’s favorite band. One of their near hits was “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw,” which had made it to several juke boxes around the country. One of the bartenders at the Cowboy was a musician—the pedal steel player for Tarwater: Mickey Wells.

Mickey taught himself to play steel after playing guitar and bass in some Californa "surf bands" early in his career. He bought a single neck steel from the legendary Red Rhodes and the steel soon became his primary instrument. His ability to slide from an E9th chord to a C6th (one of the most daunting tricks for a steel player) became a trademark.

Post Tarwater (and post Jackson), Mickey reunited with Tarwater’s lead, Pinto Bennett, and did some time with the “Famous Motel Cowboys.” The last info on him is that he’s semi retired in Glendale, California and playing live or studio gigs every now and then. (His last email seems to be defunct).

Tarwater has a recently dusted Web page at:

Monday, July 17, 2006

Saving The Playhouse

We recently recieved an email from Vicki Garnick (of the Garnicks who run the Jackson Hole Playhouse). They are encouraging those who appreciate horse opera, to contact the investors who are on the verge of turning the historic venue into another Ripley's, believe it or not.
They are asking that we send a message to Front Street Productions, in care of Dom, Jeff, and Cutter. They are asking us to phone (307) 690-4857 or send an email to
The message:
"...the Jackson Hole Playhouse has established itself as a historic family theater for the past 28 years...we ask you to withdraw your offer of sale...decades of work invested to promote fine, family entertainment...we are devoted to the longevity of this special building and keeping it a part of Jackson's history...we want the Jackson Hole Playhouse to continue it's fine tradition of entertainment."
Well, it's not Dirty Jack's. In the summer of '76, I remember the Playhouse as "Brand X" in that friendly, but competitive relationship between the two groups of cast and crew and musicians. (Dirty Jack's band had no competition--no one could touch us--and that was a matter of pride for Jon Stainbrook). Years ago, after Dirty Jack's closed, I found some Web information that the Playhouse was using the stage script for Paint Your Wagon that Jon and Kathy had adapted. And I recently ran across a tourist travelogue photo of a couple of the Playhouse's cast members in Paint Your Wagon. The lead had borrowed Jon Stainbrook's costume down to the buttons.
So the Playhouse is part of the legacy. I'm sure the Garnick's would appreciate us weighing in.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


I finally gave in and put up a MySpace site for my blues band:

There is not much there yet, but it will grow over time. I still need to find a cool skin for the site.

If you are on MySpace, hook me up as one of your friends!

UPDATE: Since MySpace is so easy (and free) I put up a site for Dirty Jack's Band of 1976. We are bad, baby! We are nationwide.

Go check it out...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Brilliant Days of Color

Thirty years ago today I had a heck of a good 4th of July in Jackson Hole. Read about it here and here.

Today won’t be quite so exciting. I moved to a new condo over the weekend and my life is strewn about in boxes and cartons. All the lugging and toting made me feel my age.

The 4th of July holiday was the heart of the summer season and the town was packed with families on vacation, bikers, hippies, and cowboys all crammed together. Much has changed since then: There were far fewer motor homes on the road. The bikers were gritty rebels on greasy hogs, not aging yuppies sporting new tattoos. The cowboys were genuine, and they were easily distinguished from the wannabes and wankers.

Where can a young man go today to find such brilliant days of color and people with such keen edges? For that matter, where can an old man go? I have gone back to what drew me to Jackson Hole in the dazzling summer of 1976: The music.

A bluegrass band has asked me to record and produce their demo album, and I am avid to do it. The joy of collaborating with others and creating meaningful music is the same now as it was in 1976. It brings focus and happiness. Like the spice melange, it expands consciousness and extends life.

Happy 230th Birthday to the United States of America. And happy 30th anniversary to all the bandmates and cast members who made that summer so memorable for me.