Whoa Ely – a one man, West Texas soundstorm

| April 19, 2008 | 0 Comments

texas music #flyfishing photography
Joe Ely at Dans Silverleaf

Joe Ely is on the move, from status as a West Texas troubadour, and into the rare air of Texas Music Legend. Ely wove his story telling magic in between the clouds of cigarette smoke (which drove him hoarse a couple of times) into a visual Texas tapestry that includes fighting cocks, a rendezvous with Jesus in the form of a gun toting hitchhiker and many other uniquely Texas threads.

Ely, who I have seen three times now, played solo at Dan’s Silverleaf last night, proving to be, and sound, as lean and hungry as the first time I saw him (headlining Denton Arts & Jazz Festival) with a full band, and the last time I saw him when it was only Ely and Joel Guzman (a masterful accordion player). Standing alone, with only a guitar for cover, allows an artist like Ely to paint pictures of outlaws, vast landscapes, love and life – without the distraction of being framed by musicians and their potential idiosynchrasies. At the end when it gets all boiled down, what showed was the essence of a musician, and Ely who takes requests, works as hard as anyone who’s graced Dan’s stage, and left no doubt about the soul from which his music flows.

The photography, part of an ongoing book project about Dan’s Silverleaf, was as usual – difficult and overtly frustrating. Live shows with little or no cooperation from light sources, are a crapshoot at best, nightmares that carry into the wee hours with the hangover of looking at hundreds of images and (if lucky) coming out with at most a hand full of useful shots. It has been about two years since last photographing Ely at Dan’s, and since then, I was able to find the lighting that now graces the rafters there, and that of course helps somewhat in the pursuit of images for the book.

We are starting to tie a few up for the journey to Gulf Shores next weekend, and in a few calls made in that direction, we’ve learned the Pompano could be running and some of the sweet spots on the Ocean side. Given my druthers, I would be content to chase fish in the Bay ALL DAY LONG. However, where the fish are is where I really want to be.

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Category: Music

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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