Category Archives: Music

Hillbilly Music–Man of Constant Sorrow

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Musica Latina–El Sol No Regresa


“Across the Universe” sung by Luis Sabor


Help Make My Dream Real

 

       My big dream then, is to travel through Central America playing my music in exchange for room and board, until I arrive in Lima, Peru.  Once there, I hope to get a good gig in a fine hotel, where I could live for a couple of months and be able to spend time with my son.  This is a pretty outrageous dream, I know, and that’s why I need your help.  In fact, this is the main reason I put together my website and started this blog.  I need help of various kinds, from friends and acquaintances.

 

            First of all, I need to sell my inventory of oil paintings (can’t take ‘em with me) or perhaps find a business who would like to display them for several months.  I would be willing to drive several hours from Tucson to deliver these paintings, if anyone knows of such a place.  While I travel I plan to try my hand at watercolors—they take up much less space.

 

            Secondly, I need contacts throughout my route—in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, and most importantly Peru.  Any contact is super, but especially valuable would be folks in the hospitality industry—hotels, restaurants, tourist agencies.  Also, if anyone has visited these countries and knows of a groovin’ spot where I might play, or where tourists “in the know” like to gather, this would be great  information.

 

            Lastly, and this is so easy for all of you.  Favorite my website (not my blog) or otherwise attach www.artbylowell.com to your site.  This is crucial for my site to show up in searches, something to do with Search Engine Optimization.  I need people to find my site, buy paintings and video downloads, follow my blog, help with all of the above, and become part of my Great Dream.  I am most humbly yours, Lowell  (aka Luis)


My Great Dream

            Some of you may be wondering if I’m going anywhere with this Dream Reality stuff, and the answer is: YES.  I’ve had many grand dreams I still want to share with you, but this one is persistent and imminent.  For years I’ve dreamed of traveling from Mexico through Central America to South America, not just once, but several times along the same route.  My dream is to become a human bridge—connecting cultures throughout the Americas.  Later, but still for several years now, I added to this dream the desire to establish mini-bookstores along the route, for the promotion of literacy.  But first things first.

            The reason this dream is now imminent I will explain.  My ex-wife, who is Peruvian, has moved back to Lima, taking my 8-yr old son with her.  I don’t blame her, she has a very supportive family there, and I think my son will benefit in many ways.  But I want to live there too, to be near him, at least for a few months out of each year.

            I have an idea that I could defray the costs, if not support myself entirely, with my solo music act—Luis Sabor.  Getting good gigs will not be easy, however, so here is my plan:  If I could travel through Central America on my way to Peru, performing my music in hotels and restaurants all along the way, I believe I could become a phenomenon! 

            Well, perhaps that’s too big a dream, but at least I could gather enough references and experience to make an impressive resume.


Working at Austin Records

            One slow Sunday morning, Herschel Cunningham came to Chuys for breakfast.  I sat down and told him I was majoring in sound engineering and he responded just as everyone in the music industry did, “You can take classes in that?”  Well, he let me intern at the studio for free, mostly cleaning up and taking out the trash.  I did find some interesting items in the ashtrays, in fact I got the feeling that the musicians were leaving roach offerings for “the kid.”  There was some great rock’n’roll music made there, and the occasional country act came through, but most of all it was a blues scene. 

            Austin’s Riverside Sound, at the far end of Riverside Drive, on the edge of town, was basically created as a playground for Richard Mullen, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s engineer.  It was his gold albums that hung on the wall, from Stevie’s first two, that made the studio, and Richard was part owner.  Richard Mullen never got the credit he deserved for Stevie Ray’s success, although he really enhanced the music with the same pristine, other-worldly sound he had given Christopher Cross, of “Sailing” fame, years before.  Later, Richard was Eric Johnson’s main engineer for over a decade, which says a lot.  It was incredible watching and listening to Richard meticulously craft every nuance into those tracks.  He charged $70 per hour at the time, and he took all night, slowly slurping down a 12-pack of Miller Lite, to make every project as perfect as possible.

            Most of the acts that recorded at Riverside were blues players that would hang out at Antone’s, the greatest blues club in Texas.  One time Clifford Antone brought to the studio some old guys from Chicago that used to play with Howling Wolf—Hubert Sumlin and Co.  The drummer (E.G?) derided me for keeping “our” beer in the fridge, where “that bassplayer” could get to it.  “Can’t you drink warm beer?” he asked. 

  My first album credit was on Trash, Twang, and Thunder—Big Guitars of Texas.  That was a very impressive experience, and it made a huge impression on me.  The producer basically just gathered six of the best players he could get ahold of and put them in the studio together.  In four days they came up with what turned out to be a Grammy Nominee.

Of course the band I was most involved with was Omar and the Howlers, a jamming blues rock act that packed Austin clubs on a weekly basis, when they weren’t packing stadiums in Sweden, where they were treated like gods.  This was an Austin Records group and I was doing anything and everything needed to release their albums, and later to get them signed with CBS.  Those guys were good friends and I really enjoyed hanging around with them.  Omar has always been an inspiration to me as a model of how to focus on what you do best and putting your all into it.

Click on the links to see videos of these performers.


Entering the World of Music

          I said I would talk about my time working for Austin Records, so here you go.  First, I want to go back to when I dropped out of Biology, and therefore Pre-Med.  This was at the University of Texas at Austin, and I went to all the classes and studied, sort of.  I was flayling in the lab, but the turning point came when I looked at my mid-term, consisting of three or four essay questions, and I had no clue.  I shocked the professor by turning in a blank page after five minutes.

            So I’m sitting outside the Commons, enjoying the scenery, and wondering what will become of me, when up walks my friend Drew.  I complained that I couldn’t even major in Music because I wasn’t proficient enough at the baritone, which I didn’t want to play anyway (I wanted to learn Cello.)  “Why don’t you major in Radio-TV-Film?” suggested Drew, “Its so cool, there’s even an audio sequence for sound engineers.”  And that was the moment my life was given direction (the direction towards a cliff, a waterfall, and a wild ride, but never mind.)  I loved music, but I wasn’t a great musician, so becoming a sound engineer seemed to be just the ticket.

A Fun Funky Place to be

            I met Herschel, the owner of Austin Records, because his wife Judy was a waitress at Chuys, where I worked also (I’ll have to talk about Chuys another time, it was an awesome place to work.)  They had a big after-concert party for Stevie Ray Vaughan on the eve of a big European tour.  Everybody sat around and drank too many margaritas, then suddenly gathered around Stevie Ray for autographs.  Mine was illegible.  One girl asked him to write something personal, so he wrote “Greetings from Margaret.”  She asked what that meant and he replied “its personal.”  I heard that Stevie Ray left his car parked in front of Herschel and Judy’s house—six feet from the curb on a through street!  It was still in good shape when he returned from the tour six weeks later.                       Stevie Ray Vaughan “Lenny”  

Stevie Ray Vaughan


My Dream Studio

Let me tell you about a big dream I had, and how I made it come true. When I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in ’86, I started working full-time for Austin Records, managing the recording studio—Austin’s Riverside Sound. That didn’t work out. I’ll save the details for another day, but the result was that by ’88 I was bartending at Baby Acapulco and making money. For a few years I kept bartending, saving money, then taking long travel vacations (following dreams) to Europe, Mexico, Central and South America. By ’92 I was depressed—I didn’t like bartending, and I had discovered that travel was a short-term fix with no constructive advancement for my life. Then I got this dream, a crazy dream, really impossible for a man of my limited means. I wanted my own recording studio.
I thought about it a lot. I drew up numerous sketches of my dream studio. I even looked at some cheap real estate and tried to imagine how I could transform the dump into something. It was fun to think about. Then one day, Brian Hargiss offered me his 8-track recorder (not the cassette, the ¼ inch reels) and I started fooling around with it. I needed a patch-bay for all the connections, and decided to call Jim Gilbert, a professional carpenter I knew. I went to his shop, located in an industrial complex in South Austin, and my eyes went wide at the space. Suddenly I realized I could rent one of these spaces for the same amount I was paying to rent my apartment, and live there. There were already a couple of artists doing the same.
I did it. I fine-tuned my sketches, then went to Home Depot and bought all the supplies I needed to build my dream studio. All my friends got involved. It became a community project, and most of my clients came by word of mouth via these same friends. Thus was born Breakfast Surreal Studio. It was a blast. I made a lot of friends, helped a lot of musicians record for cheap, and eventually went bankrupt. I got so high from the experience that, when it all came down just three years later, I hit a rock-bottom depression. I was forced to re-invent myself, again. This dream made me who I am today, put me on the path to now. Dreams are serious stuff.

I now perform by the stage name Luis Sabor.


Make your Dream Real

            Alright, so you have this dream.  Maybe it came out of the blue, from God, or maybe its been gestating for years, or maybe its just always been there.  But this dream is far beyond your present self, so far it doesn’t seem possible, it’s just too fantastic.  Well, you need to think about it—a lot.  Decide which are the ridiculous parts and discard them, then look at what’s left, maybe pick one aspect that does seem possible.  Now here is the crucial part—think of one thing you can do at this moment that puts you just one step closer to your dream.  Do that thing.  Leave the next step to tomorrow’s self.  Just do something to commit yourself to achieving your dream.  This is how you make it real.

             I’ll give an example of how not to do it:  When I was in High School in Victoria, TX I traveled to Austin to see my first concert—Yes.  They were playing the Erwin Center on a rotating circular stage—it was awesome.  For some reason, I didn’t smoke or drink anything that day, and yet I got so high from the music.  It was the closest thing to a religious experience I’d had since my baptism.  I recognize the dream now—I wanted that, but I didn’t know what exactly.  I dismissed it as not practical and pursued pragmatic academics.  But the dream was still there, subconsciously drawing me towards that, first to Austin, then to the recording industry and various bands as a bass player.  But the dream was bigger than that—I wanted to be the music—be Jon Anderson letting the Muse carry the audience into another dimension.  Heh, heh, still got a long way to go with that.

check my art out at http://www.artbylowell.com


Remembering Cuba

In December ’98 I was lucky enough to travel to Havana with the band Ache’ Pa’ Ti for the Annual Jazz Festival.  It was so awesome, I stayed for a full month. We got to watch some world-class acts up close, even back-stage like Los Van Van here.   Here’s a great video.


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