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: