Damon Bramblett should have been playing his music at the Dry Creek Cafe 45 years ago today. The Dry Creek itself wouldn't have looked much different...the old tables and chairs would still be there. Sarah would have been a spry lass of 49. Her green trailer still would have been parked out back. The contents of the 45s on the jukebox would be the same. And the bar itself would still have been, as I understand, only slightly less rickety. The only problem with this whole scenario is that Damon Bramblett wasn't born yet. I would put Damon somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 trips around the sun.
The first thing I noticed about Damon when I first heard him sing was that he sounds a lot like Johnny Cash. Well, an other-worldly version of Johnny Cash who never smoked a cigarette and never had a proclivity for popping pills. With the timelessness of Johnny Cash's music, Damon transported my wife and me back to 1962 there on Mt. Bonnell Road back when the Dry Creek had live music on a more regular basis. Warm, humid evening. Cold Lonestar. No A/C. A great little band with some great songs to play.
The band on this evening consisted of Damon on acoustic guitar, harmonica and vocals, Tom Lewis on drums and Kevin Smith on upright bass. Tom and Kevin play with Heybale here in town. The guys did a bunch of Damon's tunes as well as covers of "I'm Gonna Sit On The Porch And Pick On My Old Guitar" and "Busted" (both Cash tunes) as well as Townes Van Zandt's "Loretta" and a cover of the classic "Sea of Heartbreak".
One thought I had while trying to wipe the huge grin off my face was "this must be what old Austin was like." I don't know that it's possible to miss something I never experienced first hand, but given my taste last night, I badly miss old Austin.
They created a fantastic semblance of the steady-like-a-train, sharp-like-a-razor sound that JC & Tennessee Two made famous. I closed my eyes several times and just basked in that "this is what 1962 felt like"-vibe. Moments like that are priceless but being that it came to me essentially free made it ever more sweet.
If you get the chance, go check out Damon live sometime. He's got a record floating around somewhere. Buy it if you can find it.
Damon's myspace: www.myspace.com/damonbramblett
This show on archive.org: www.archive.org/det..tt2007-08-30.ds70p.flac
ps....Damon's version of "Loretta" was fantastic. Completely not sad in the way that TVZ's interpretation can be.