Jitterbug Vipers at the Boathouse

Before the Jitterbug Vipers unleashed their Viper Jazz on a standing room only crowd in the Boathouse, Sharron and Jeffro had a renuptual ceremony behind the Boathouse.

What’s a renuptual ceremony? Well, first there was the “Frayed (fraid) knot ceremony where Jeffro and Sha promised to not get married. Then they got married. Then, yesterday, they did it again.

After the ceremony, the attendees all laid on the dance floor and watched the sun dogs in the sky. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a sun dog before- it’s a rainbow directly overhead, best viewed from a prone position after a couple of shots of sotol.

Viper music was developed in the 1940’s to celebrate the underground- specifically pot-smoking- culture that was developing then. It’s a fun, swinging genre that leaves lots of room for virtuoso soloing by the musicians. Greg Harkins, Beth Gallagher, and Cinco laid down some very impressive leads.

Popularized by the gone but damn sure not forgotten Slim Ritchy (The Most Dangerous Guitar Player in Texas), the current line-up of the Jitterbug Vipers keeps the spirit and chops alive and jamming.

The Boathouse was absolutely packed. Some of the tourists seemed confused, and left early. This was not what they expected. Their places were quickly taken by those who “got it,” and the crowd stayed to the end.

The Vipers will be back at the Boathouse tonight. Long-time Terlingua celebrity Uh Clem will be at the Starlight.

Here’s some pics from yesterday- enjoy.

Jacob Jaeger
Jacob Jaeger

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Sarah Burton + Open Mic

Wednesday night was another amazing night of music in Terlingua.

I met Sarah Burton at the Las Ruinas Campground, which I run and where she was staying for the night. She’s a Canadian singer/songwriter touring the Southwest U.S. for the summer.

She was late for soundcheck, so I cleaned the bathrooms and shower at the campground while she hurried to the Starlight Theatre, where she would be performing later that night.

Later, I joined her for dinner and then sat down to catch the first few songs, thinking I’d head for the Boathouse for Open Mic. Two and a half hours later, I was still sitting there. I turned to Buckner Cooke, who is entertainment manager and sound guy at the Starlight and said, “I would have paid for this show.”

Bucky informed me that he had just decided to charge a retroactive $10 cover.

Sarah is one of those rare performers who is able to take on the character of the protagonist of her songs. She becomes the song. Her show was mostly originals, with a few tasty cover tunes.

She played for a half-filled room, but people lingered over dinner and drinks and she held the crowd. I suspect that the next time she plays in Terlingua she’ll fill the room. I’ll certainly be there.

After Sarah’s show, she, Buckner, some of the staff from the Starlight, and I headed for the Boathouse, where Santa was hosting the Open Mic.

Santa sang. Chris Baker and Shanna Cowell sang and played. John Cronin, who plays with Ian Tyson, was visiting and he played and sang (Another Canadian!). Shannon sang and Trevor played. Trevor sand and played while I accompanied him. And then, Sarah played and sang.

Once again, it was just another night of amazing music in Terlingua.

Jeffro Greasewood is Santa
Jeffro Greasewood is Santa

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Community Christmas – Dana Idlet & Friends – Melissa Greener

The music started early yesterday with the Community Christmas Celebration at the Party Barn.

The primary school students started us off with “The 12 Days of Christmas Terlingua Style,” which was announced in English and Spanish. “And a rattlesnake under a rock…”

Then, older students performed on recorder and sang and danced to a carol.

Of course, Santa Claus showed up and was a huge hit with the shorter attendees.

Then, the community choir performed carols.

Through it all, the talented Ted Arbogast made it all come together: accompanying the recorder choir, leading the community orchestra, helping the youngsters who lost the melody find their way back. Continue reading “Community Christmas – Dana Idlet & Friends – Melissa Greener”

Help Santa Bring Christmas to Boquillas’ Children

For the last 12 years, long-time Terlingua resident Marcos Paredes has taken food and presents to the children of Boquillas on Christmas Day. Marcos and some of his friends and neighbors have bought presents for the children plus turkeys and hams for their families, and delivered them personally.

This is a wonderful tradition. For it to continue, we need to pitch in.

Although there is now a legal border crossing into Boquillas, tourism is way down from where it used to be and without our efforts these children will not have much of a Christmas.

This year, Santa needs some help.  He needs your help so that our less fortunate neighbors to the South can celebrate Christmas.

You can help by donating using the button below. Your money will go to Terlingua Cares, which is associated with the Big Bend Citizen’s Alliance (a 501.c.3 non-profit organization based in Terlingua, Texas), and all funds raised will go to pay for gifts and food for the children of Boquillas.

If you’d like written confirmation of your donation for tax purposes, contact me (Pat O’Bryan) at koanwrangler (at) gmail (dot) com.


Santa hands out presents to the children of Boquillas
Santa hands out presents to the children of Boquillas
The reindeer can't swim, so Santa has to paddle.
The reindeer can’t swim, so Santa has to paddle.
Ho, ho, ho.
Ho, ho, ho.


Butch Hancock and Bruce Salmon together at the Boathouse

Just another night in Terlingua.

A couple of locals got together at the Boathouse to sling songs.

Butch Hancock and Bruce Salmon got together for, as far as I know, the first time to trade tunes.

It wasn’t an intuitive match-up. Butch’s songs have a timeless West Texas by way of Dharamsala vibe. Simple chords, deceptively simple lyrics that are as precise as diamonds.

Bruce’s songs sound to me like they’ve been excerpted from an interesting play. Possibly a play set in Eastern Europe. Like Butch, his songs tell stories. His melodies, however, can be based on modes that are more Eastern than Western. Certainly not Country and Western.

They’re both folk singers, and the combination and juxtaposition of their songs and styles made for a fascinating evening of music.

Inevitably, dancing broke out during the last set. Jim Keaveny, who knows a bit about writing songs, added percussion on his tambourine. Stories were told, beer and chicken-fried steak were consumed, and when they played “What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding,” harmonies joined in from various places in the room.

Just another night in Terlingua.

Butch and Bruce
Butch and Bruce 

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Ojinaga – Shopping Day in OJ

Lots of Big Bend locals go to Ojinaga (OJ) regularly to shop and eat, go to the doctor, buy prescription drugs, get their shoes fixed… it’s a great resource.

I’ve lived down here over 2 years and I’ve only been once. I’ve got a passport- I think my reticence was that it’s different, strange. I don’t speak Spanish. Crossing back into the U.S. is irritating. And… aren’t there dangerous cartels in Mexico?

OJ is about an hour and a quarter drive to the West of Terlingua.  Today, I rode with a buddy who was going shopping and to the dentist.  It was a blast and a breeze.

The dollar is strong in Mexico:  1 dollar = 16 pesos.  I don’t think in base 16, so I flipped the equation: 100 pesos = $6.25. For some reason that made it easier for me to compare prices.

Getting pesos.
Getting pesos.

Our deal was that I’d buy our meals, and my buddy would drive and show me around. First stop was at the street vendor who sells shrimp cocktails. Because so many of the bank executives in OJ are from Sinaloa on the coast, they’ve arranged for fresh seafood to be delivered daily. Continue reading “Ojinaga – Shopping Day in OJ”