There was no stronger supporter of the Terlingua Music scene than Glenn Felts, the owner of La Kiva bar and restaurant.
When Glenn died Monday night, it left a huge, Texan leprechaun-sized hole in our community. Glenn and his friendly grin had presided at La Kiva for years, overseeing some amazing parties, out-door concerts, and 17 years of Wednesday open mics. He could always be counted on to slip a musician a plate of his prize-winning BBQ or a beer. He loved music and musicians, and every player who had the privilege to play his stage knew it.
On a personal note, last Wednesday’s open mic was pretty magical. Butch Hancock, Laird Considine, Charlotte Teer, Trevor Hickle and I played the first set to a full house. After our set, Glenn called me over. He had heard about my efforts to raise money for the local food bank. He offered to contribute $420 a month to buy groceries for the food bank to distribute. He had some great ideas, including opening up his restaurant once a month for a free meal for his hungry neighbors.
Since the food bank only needs $400 a month to meet it’s minimum goals, Glenn basically offered to fund the food bank by himself. I couldn’t help myself- I gave him a big hug and teared up. Terlingua people are a proud bunch. The people who need the food bank are predominantly children and disabled adults. Glenn was not going to allow hungry children in his town.
That was the last time I saw him.
Tonight, the community gathered in the parking lot of La Kiva to honor and celebrate Glenn. There had been music at La Kiva every Wednesday night for 17 years. Although the club was closed, musicians and friends braved the cold to sing, hug, cry, and tell stories about their time with Glenn outside the club.
The Sheriff’s department had cordoned off the parking lot. The crowd gathered on the shoulder of the road across the street from La Kiva. A decision was made, and the gathering walked across the parking lot and gathered outside the club. It was cold and windy, but soon that chilly wind was carrying the sounds of guitars, mandolins, bass, saxophone, viola and voices that weren’t quite ready to say a final good-bye to 17 years of music on Wednesdays – or to Glenn.