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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A New Navasota Tradition: Concert Hopping!

World famous entertainers have often been in our midst. If you want to know about some of them, visit the Navasota Public Library this month and check out the display in the back. You will be stunned and pleased to know who some of our neighbors have been. And here’s the point: Nobody ever knew or cared, and that was our loss.

But I want to tell you about the here and the now. Regardless of how people in the old days responded to rare talent that passed through small towns like ours, we can only benefit from our own choices. And let me tell you, we have some great choices these days. Friday, music enthusiasts were able to hear two excellent female vocalists at the Corner Café. Season Ammons very ably opened for Susan Herndon and they both charmed the crowd. Both very talented young women, I dare say Navasota has rarely seen this class of female vocalist performing live, much less a pair of them. Herndon had an impressive quiver of original songs, written and delivered with easy flair. At then end, the two joined into an impromptu version of a Fleetwood Mac song that made us realize we had only experienced the tip of the iceberg.

But that was not the end of it, and I ran over in the balmy night air to the Filling Station to catch Navasota’s favorite son Randy Pavlock. Randy was slicing the night air with his usual fare, Grimes blues-rock, and a nice crowd came out to see him. He is a popular opener for big time rock groups these days, and we are lucky to get him anymore. The recent rains had cooled things off and it was pleasant out. I walked up just in time to catch him using an old blues trick, playing slide on his guitar with a beer bottle, out on the streets. That’s sort of a Navasota tradition.

Blind Willie Johnson, credited as the progenitor of the slide guitar, used a sawed off bottleneck and taught Mance Lipscomb, who improvised and used his pocketknife. Blind Willie played for nickels at the intersection of Tenth and Washington Ave. Right here in Navasota. Who could have guessed that someday NASA would send one of his songs on the voyager space ship, along with a few others, on a golden CD of the most important songs of Western civilization.

Local restaurateurs Phil and Sarah Hiebeler have taken a daring leap. They built a stage, put in lights and sound, and scheduled an exciting line-up of Texas songwriters, who come and dazzle us every Friday night. The show comes with the meal. So far we have heard a treasury of song, delivered up by Texas songwriters, good ones who actually sell their songs. Bob Livingston is one the original Lost Gonzos, has written, played and recorded with Jerry Jeff Walker, Gary P. Nunn, and Michael Martin Murphy. He is a heavy hitter. He was right here in Navasota. He opened for Mance Lipscomb a long time ago and loved our Blues museum and was eager to reminisce.

Kevin Robinson, sure to be a force in Texas country music, played a few weeks ago. His day job is expediting for Hassell Construction. He has an unforgettable, mature voice, and writes the kind of songs you want to hear again. Right here in Navasota. So far the musicians are impressed with our charming little town, and want to come back. And there are more to come. It’s neat to say you just played in the “Blues Capital of Texas.” It’s even better to say you live here!

Note: The Navasota Examiner did not have room in their publication to include this article, so I offer it here. The musicians and restaurateurs deserve all the exposure they can get.

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