Yesterday evening at the reception following the seminar about Buddy Holly's musical disciples, I snared some shrimp and fruit and a huge chocolate-covered strawberry at the buffet, then sat down in a room with tables and chairs to eat.
At the next table, a guy even older than me in a pristine white cowboy hat said hi and how are you as folks do here. This is Dixie, as my buddy David reminds me. The guy, Larry Welburn, and I'm not at all sure about the spelling, is an old Lubbock musician now living in Oklahoma in what I hope is comfortable retirement.
Turns out Larry played standup bass with Buddy in '55 and '56, made maybe 25 of the early records with Buddy. Records we've been listening to for 50-plus years, records that are anthems. That was Larry playing bass.
Larry remembered that in '55, Elvis and his little group, not yet popular, came to Lubbock to do a gig at the Pontiac store, in the service department. Elvis played and Buddy played. Before the gig, Buddy and Larry and another guy hung out in Elvis's motel room while they were waiting for the gig time.
Larry says Elvis was a really nice guy. He remembers sitting there in the motel room and hearing Elvis singing in the shower.
The old country musicians I've met here in my three trips to Lubbock have been gentlemanly and gracious, never impatient. They never give the impression that they've heard all the questions before and answered them ad nauseum. You don't feel that they learned that politeness but that it's a part of how they were raised. It's Dixie here, folks are friendly.
As we are assembled here, a larger group is assembled in Clear Lake, Iowa, the site of the plane crash 50 years ago plus 8 hours. That town has adopted Buddy as its own, with a shrine at the crash site and an annual festival. Brits and Aussies especially love Buddy and come to the States to remember.
A thirtyish guy at the gathering here, Adam Barnard from London, does a "Buddy Holly Tribute Act" for all occasions in his area. Super nice guy, as fascinated as I was by the reminiscences of Larry Welburn. If you'd like to learn more about Adam Barnard:
The Buddy Holly center is screening Paul McCartney's movie The Real Buddy Holly Story twice today. I'll watch it once, attend the seminar and reception this evening, and tomorrow I'll be headed home. Wish me warm weather and winds from the south...