Will Billy Gibbons get nostalgic and drop by to see the guitarist who opened for him at the Teen Canteen?

There was no moment more jubilant in the fledgling days of the humble South Texas Popular Culture Museum than the day ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons walked through its doors to take in the Teen Canteen exhibit.

In the earliest days, ZZ Top played Sam Kinsey’s teen club, and TexPop had on display the canceled check for the blues-rock band’s very first gig. Board member Jeff Smith had cajoled Gibbons with the tantalizing thought of seeing that $150 check once again.

It’s possible Gibbons could walk through those doors again for the new exhibit produced by retired music journalist Margaret Moser – “Standing at the Crossroad: Robert Johnson in San Antonio 1936.”

“Exhibit marks Robert Johnson’s S.A. sessions,” Hector Saldana, San Antonio Express-News, November 18, 2016

an exhibit at the South Texas Popular Culture Center

an exhibit at the South Texas Popular Culture Center

I didn’t bump into Billy Gibbons at the opening of the Robert Johnson exhibit at the South Texas Popular Culture Center, but that was okay because I was with the Mister.

“So….?,” you might be wondering.

Well, the Mister was in a band, Captain Midnight, that once opened for Billy Gibbons at Sam Kinsey’s Teen Canteen.

Sam Kinsey's stable of bands in 1969, collection of TexPop Culture Center

Sam Kinsey’s stable of bands in 1969, collection of TexPop Culture Center

There’s no promo poster displaying this connection, but TexPop does have a copy of Sam Kinsey’s roster of bands in 1969. And Captain Midnight is there.

There are no known photos or recordings of Captain Midnight playing during the Mister’s high school years. The Mister thinks might be a good thing, similar to the way a mercy killing can be viewed as positive.

The Mister’s career has come a long way since then; the blues band he plays with definitely rates seeing. So plan to kick off the New Year with the After Midnight Blues Band at The Pig Pen behind the Smoke Shack on Broadway.

Who knows? Maybe Billy Gibbons will be overcome by a wave of nostalgia and show up to see the guitarist who opened for him at the Teen Canteen.

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After Midnight Blues Band at The Pig Pen

The Blues Be Good News

 

“Some men get new wives when they turn 40,” said Lamar.  “All I want is an electric guitar.”

He is a practical man.  Probably had weighed out the economics of the situation pretty carefully.  Happy I made the cut.  Probably was a close call.

Even I could see the equation clearly.  Amazing I made the cut.

Fine.

Even though I thought I had married an acoustic man who had wooed me sitting on the front porch in the mountains of Virginia listening to records (did I mention we were old?) of the exotic (hey, I’m not from Texas) Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker and Willis Alan Ramsey.

My husband kept his electric roots repressed for two decades.

But this is a man who had played the Bonham – not today’s gay Bonham – when it was the USO.  Captain Midnight headlined a St. Mary’s Hall dance; that was when the band found out Jeff Richmond only had one harmonica in one key that he played discordantly throughout the evening.

The high point must have been opening for ZZ Top at the Teen Canteen.  Neglecting to mention Captain Midnight, Margaret Moser wrote in The Austin Chronicle:

Forget the cute, silly name – the Teen Canteen was the staging ground for San Antonio’s vibrant rock & roll scene, from before the Beatles until the dawn of punk. Owner Sam Kinsey opened the first Teen Canteen in 1960. It moved around to several locations, including a ballroom dance studio, settling at Wonderland (now Crossroads) Mall in 1963. In 1968, the Canteen moved to its last location on Bitters Road across from Northeast Stadium, the place it would occupy until it closed in 1977….

Local bands like the Pipelines, the Outcasts, the Spidels, the Stoics, the Swiss Movement, and the Virgil Foxx Group, plus touring bands of the day such as the Strawberry Alarm Clock (“Incense and Peppermints”) and the Syndicate of Sound (“Little Girl”) played there. More importantly, it was one of the places for Texas psychedelic bands such as Sweet Smoke, Zakary Thaks, Bubble Puppy, Shiva’s Headband, the Moving Sidewalks, and Lord August & the Visions of Lite. ZZ Top played their first gig at the Teen Canteen; others who got their start there include Mike Nesmith of the Monkees and Chris “Christopher Cross” Geppart.

Talent, and perhaps a smidgen of nepotism, continued to boost the band’s profile.  Band member Galvin Weston, whose royal lineage can be substantiated online, managed to get the band booked on the family’s cruise line.  Don’t know why Captain Midnight did not get an offer for a second summer cruise.  Surely people our parents’ age were into songs by Cream or Spirit’s “I Got a Line on You?”

Even nepotism must have its limits.  Alas, college dispersed the members of Captain Midnight to far corners of the map.

But fast forward past forty.

One electric guitar gets lonely.  The first black guitar led to a red guitar.  And then a woody-looking guitar.  And now a really cool Teye (Guitar men are rolling their eyes in their heads over my superficial descriptions.  If Captain, or After, Midnight’s band members want to get the details right, they have to get their own blogs.).

Plus, one does not play the electric guitar alone.  Lamar had to seduce our friend Richard Nitschke off the acoustic.  And Richard’s first electric guitar seemed to procreate as well (People, ducks, guitars.  Does just say no ever work?).

Strangely, it turned out our CPA is an amazing drummer, Karl Yelderman (whose drumsets reproduce like ducks as well), and he brought along bass player Daryl Chadick (with his multiplying bass guitars).  Now the band even has a keyboard player, Steve Chase (whose wife must have had his keyboard spayed).

Then there is Claytie.  Claytie Bonds has the type of voice capable of singing the national anthem a cappella at a chamber of commerce gathering when she was only nine.  She can belt out the blues.

Which finally brings me around to the point of the blog (guess I’ll never learn to tweet).  After a bit of a lull, the After Midnight Blues Band is playing four times in April.

You can catch the band this Saturday, April 17, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Alamo City Pizza and the following Saturday, April 24, at from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. at the King William Fair.

Someone asked me if the band stuff drives me crazy.  The answer is no.  I love the blues, and, even without nepotism to help, in my unbiased opinion, After Midnight is great.

The blues are great therapy, and, Lord knows, living with me, Lamar needs large doses of that.  So I’m standing by my man.

Update Added on September 5:  No reunion performance of the members of Captain Midnight is planned for today’s Canteen Fest at Floore’s Country Store in Helotes.  The band’s glory days are yet again overshadowed by ZZ Top.

According to Hector Saldana of the San Antonio Express-News:

ZZ Top made its first public appearance there.  “The scene was that of a drugless rave,” Kinsey said. “We had black lights; we had strobes and overhead projectors. It was fantastic.”

Admission was 25 cents in the ’60s.  Imagine “Where the Action Is” and “Hullabaloo” incarnate, albeit amateurish and fresh out of the garage.

Seeing the vintage photo of the Pipelines in the paper made me yearn to see a group photo of Captain Midnight, but, if he ever possessed one, my husband must have destroyed all evidence prior to our marriage.