#SundaySpotlight – Tommy Alverson (Alverson 5 and 10)

Welcome to another Spotlight Sunday, where I feature talented music artists. Today, I want to introduce you to a Texas music legendary singer/songwriter, Tommy Alverson.

Tommy Alverson could easily be called the permanent face of the independent Texas country music movement. He embodies all the hallmarks of the sound, and the mindset. Rick and I first met Tommy in 2006. Tommy and his band were playing at the Comanche City Park, and a mutual friend had commissioned Rick to do a pen-and-ink-drawing of Tommy. We took it to him that day and heard him play live for the first time. We were hooked!

Pen-and-ink drawing of Tommy Alverson by Rick Sikes 2006

The next day, Tommy and the band came to our home in Coleman and visited with Rick. I’ll never forget the kindness and respect they showed to Rick that day.

At any rate, Tommy has a new CD release that I want to tell you about. When I asked why he felt compelled to release it in the midst of this pandemic, here’s what he had to say:

“I just thought it was time I put something out. It’s been a while. The songs have all been released on other projects but I thought these needed a little more attention. I felt like they fell through the cracks and I haven’t really promoted anything in along time. All this time at home has given us a lot of time to think about what we wanted to do next. We had already backed off on touring anyway, so from that aspect, the pandemic didn’t affect us that much. Our Facebook live shows have really worked out well, and we’re grateful for the support everyone has shown.”

The CD kicks off with If I’m Dreamin’. Written by Roy Robinson, Earl Musick and Mark Meritt, it talks about those times in life where the impossible happens, and if it’s a dream, don’t wake me!

Welcome To Paradise is a ‘take me back to the island’ song. And the song proves that you can have an island party anywhere. All you need is good music, good friends and good food.

One of my favorite tunes on this CD is Be Back Tuesday. Tommy’s father was a barber in the tiny town of Itasca, Texas, and this song is a childhood recollection of when Mr. Alverson would put a sign in the window of his barber shop saying, “Gone Fishing. Be Back Tuesday.” He’d load up the family and head to the coast.

Hard To Say For Sure is a Texas swing tune that will get your toes tapping. “We may have had the time of our life last night, but it’s hard to say for sure…”

A tribute to the road, Lonely Texas Highway always takes you home.

While most Texas songs about liquor consist of beer and whiskey, Tommy sings a Wine Song.

The first time I heard Troubles, I fell in love with it. The emotion, the raw grit and honesty tugged at my soul. “I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I’m walking around blind. I think about you darlin’ nearly all the time. I haven’t punched the clock in three weeks or more. And my ol’ boots are full of holes from walkin’ the floor. Troubles, I’ve got ’em, they’re all over me…”

But my number one pick from this album is How Good a Bad Woman Feels. This song could easily be the intro to a western movie. The powerful imagery the words provide is a rare and beautiful thing. When a writer can depict such a strong scene with just a few well-placed words, it’s pure magic. “Well, his voice was gruff and his boots were scuffed as he entered those swinging doors. With a back that was bent he ordered whiskey straight up, drank it down, wanted more. With a stare as sharp as a razors edge, his vision was not all clear. But he said, “Boys, I’ve got memories of how good a bad woman feels.” If you listen to nothing else on this album, click over and listen to this one! While this is a version from another CD, the lyrics are the same.

Tommy has had the privilege of playing shows with Willie Nelson, and his song, Watchin’ Willie’s Hands shows how far back his love for this man goes.

Another favorite of mine, Lucky Ol’ Sun always gives me a carefree feeling. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just roll around heaven all day like that lucky ol’ sun?

There are love songs and then there are Tommy Alverson kinds of love songs, and Fallin’ Off a Log is one of them. “It’s like a one, two, three, abc, Sunday morning, you and me, it’s so easy, it’s so easy, like fallin’ off a log, it’s so easy…”

Take a trip south of the border for a steamy love affair on Tequila Rose, another of my favorites, and another written by Roy Robinson (aka Amos Staggs.) This song has that same powerful imagery that I talked about earlier.

The CD comes to a close with I Wish I Didn’t Love You.

I sincerely hope my humble opinion of this compilation intrigues you enough that you send for a copy. I know Tommy would appreciate it greatly.

Tommy has not set a price for this CD. He is asking for donations – whatever you think it is worth to you. I’d suggest a price, but I’d rather you choose.

Order your copy of Alverson 5 & 10 through:

VENMO: @amy-alverson-2

PAYPAL: tommy.alverson@gmail.com (Don’t forget to select the “Family and Friends” option!)

Thank you for your support of Texas Music!

OUTLAW MUSIC

Merriam Webster’s Definition of Outlaw:

red-dead-redemption-20090512040307704

a person who has broken the law and who is hiding or running away to avoid punishment

1:  a person excluded from the benefit or protection of the law

2a :  a lawless person or a fugitive from the lawb :  a person or organization under a ban or restrictionc :  one that is unconventional or rebellious

3:  an animal (as a horse) that is wild and unmanageable

Hmmmmmmm…gives pause to really consider the meaning of the word.

Merriam Webster’s Definition of Music:

  • sounds that are sung by voices or played on musical instruments
  • written or printed symbols showing how music should be played or sung
  • the art or skill of creating or performing music

Put the two words together and you get a definition of music that is outside the law, unconventional, rebellious, wild or unmanageable.

Outlaw country

The first picture that comes to mind when I think of Outlaw Music, is Waylon Jennings. He dared to buck the Nashville suits and make a stand to play the kind of music he heard in his own soul, not what they expected

Waylon

Texas music artist, Tommy Alverson, depicts the outlaw attitude in the lyrics of his song, My Way or The Highway. “Well he told ‘em just what he thought. Didn’t give a damn if they bought.”  That says it all. This song is recorded on Tommy’s Heroes and Friends CD.

Then there’s that famous picture of Johnny Cash shooting Nashville the bird, although he recorded on some of the biggest labels in Nashville through the 90s.

JC_Flipping_Bird

They dared to speak out – dared to be different. I won’t attempt to list all of the music artists associated with the Outlaw Music movement. Instead, I want to go back farther; back before anyone ever heard of Waylon or Willie other than a few scattered songs here and there.

I’m going to get personal with this and tell you about a man most of you have never heard of who was a true and original pioneer in the Outlaw Music movement in Texas starting back in the early 60s. That man was Rick Sikes.

He drew hippies out of Georgetown and cowboys out of Round Rock together in one place with no fights and no problems, to hear his brand of music. Why? Because it was outside the law of how music was supposed to be played at the time. And folks were attracted to it, partially due to the social climate of the time and partially due to the value of the music itself.

Rebel Rick Framed

 

Rick had been a rebel and walked to the beat of his own drum his entire life. So, when it came to making music, he saw no reason to change.

He often performed at Big G’s club in Round Rock, and commented often on how each time, he had requests for the old Fred Rose song, Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, which was originally recorded in 1945. It was not uncommon to be asked to play it several times in the course of a night.

Rick and Band with Dean

In 1971, Rick was sentenced to a total of seventy-five years behind bars for alleged bank robbery. That ended his rising music career, at the same time when Tillman Franks promised to promote him.

Rick and Rhythm Rebels Framed

By 1972, Willie Nelson, left Nashville and moved back to Texas. He began regularly performing at Big G’s where Rick had been a regular. Rick wondered if Nelson’s decision to record Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain in 1975 came from his time of playing there. Even though he visited with Nelson a few times after he’d been released from prison, he never remembered to ask him.

Willie and Rick

We often assume the stars we associate to a certain genre of music were its originators. But, I dare to say that events way before they ever turned down a certain road helped pave the way and give them vision to see things in a different light.

This is just one example. If you’d like to know more about Rick Sikes and his two separate music careers, I invite you to read the books I’ve written about him, Flowers and Stone, The Convict and the Rose and Home At Last, or visit his website and preview his music.