Sunday, May 10, 2009

RIP Stephen Bruton (and Poodie)

What a weekend. Started out with the news that Poodie Locke had died on Wednesday. Poodie was a bar owner, and Willie Nelson's close friend and road manager. He hooked up with Willie in 1975 and has been essential to his operation ever since.

I didn't know Poodie personally, neither do I know Willie, but I do know his daughter (as well as other friends of Poodie) so I felt like it was important to be at The Backyard for her show that was now dedicated to him (and collecting donations). That was on for Saturday night. More about Poodie, Willie and all here: Still is still moving.

Stephen Bruton with the Resentments, "Heart of hearts"

click to enlargeSaturday afternoon, we found out that Stephen Bruton had died. This one hurts a lot more personally. Stephen was so much a part of our local music scene, and we had seen him quite a few times. I even held his music up for him at the Saxon Pub one night when he needed a music stand. (Sometimes the seats in the clubs are very, very close to the performers.) Also, we've got most of his records, all his solo stuff for sure. His bio is long and amazing. He's a lifelong friend of T-Bone Burnett, and got in with Kris Kristofferson in the 70's, later with Bonnie Raitt and lots more [official bio]. Here he is with Kristofferson at the Four Seasons in 2006 (the woman is Jessi Colter, Waylon Jennings' widow).



They found the throat cancer in 2007. He'd been trying to fight it. He continued to play as many gigs as he could, kept on working. Last time I saw him, it was Dec 30, 2008, at Malford Milligan's farewell to Austin gig at the Saxon. Not long after that, T-Bone Burnett flew him out to L.A. for some medical stuff, and he got to finish his time out with Kristofferson and the record he's working on. An article from the LA Times written less than 3 weeks ago says this:
When Bruton, a fellow Texan a dozen years Kristofferson's junior, shows up about an hour into the proceedings, he walks into the darkened studio with the aid of a cane. He confesses to feeling less than in his prime, having undergone several rounds of chemotherapy for throat cancer since 2007. Earlier this year, he had a particularly rough bout, from which he's bouncing back, albeit more slowly than he'd like.

"How old were you when you started playing with me?" Kristofferson asks.

"Twenty," answers Bruton, now 60.

"You were the baby of the group," Kristofferson says.

"The funny thing is," Bruton adds, "I still am. Even though I don't look like it."

At one point, doctors told Bruton his chances of surviving much longer were pretty slim. On this day, Bruton's happy to be back in a studio, a guitar in his hands again.

"What are you gonna do?" he says to Kristofferson and Was, "just sit around till they throw dirt on you?"

Here's another video, this is "Too Many Memories" with Tosca Strings.


Austin 360 obituary
Stephen Bruton Slideshow
Road to Austin bash 2007
ADDENDUM: LA Times obit with more info

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3 comments:

ellie said...

I am sorry to hear about Steve Bruton. I first heard about his music around 2003 through you, my friend, and the release for charity Texas Guitar Slingers. One of the first acoustic songs I learned was Steve's 'Just One Step.' I'm glad I stopped by today I may not of heard this anywhere else.

Blueberry said...

He really was a big part of our community here. I am still grieving.

sosolobi said...

such a bloody shame Stephen is gone. Great singer and guitarist. In 2006, I saw him twice in Holland, on 2 consecutive days. It was a delight. One time was accoustic. That's when you know that someone's truly GOOD!
wherever you are out there on the bigger wheel Stephen, thanks for all the beautiful songs.
Sherill/Amsterdam