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Archive for October, 2009

Tribute to a fine man Rusty Weir….

Rusty Wier Tribute
May 3, 1944 - October 9, 2009 

Rusty Wier told us early on that he didn’t want to lay his guitar down. And we most certainly didn’t want to let him.
We watched and prayed and prayed some more these past two years as he fought the demon cancer with that
 same sense of determination and commitment he brought to entertaining every time those big ol’ boots of his hit the stage. 

Joe Ables, who owns the Saxon Pub, home of Rusty’s regular Thursday night gig for 14 years, knows something
about that: “I use Rusty as an example to these younger acts, who get a little sniffle and then want to cancel.  Even before
it happens, I always tell ’em about him. I’ve seen him sicker ’n a dog, but hit the stage, and you’d never
know it. A true professional.”

And Margaret Moser told us about the time Rusty stepped up on that stage for one of those Thursday night shows less than
twelve hours after his mother had passed away. “She didn’t want me to miss the show,” he explained. “Just
make ’em smile. It’s what I’m there for. They’re not there to hear all my problems. And I do my best to make ’em laugh.” 

And, boy, was he good at that. Having discovered his inner ham at the tender age of three while charming patrons of his
father’s Austin restaurant by riding his stick horse between the tables as the pianist played “The William Tell Overture”,
Rusty fully embraced the joy of entertaining.

He banged on pots and pans with spoons until the age of ten, when his parents finally bought him a set of drums.
“Then they turned around and bought me a soundproof room,” he adds with a touch of that typical Wier humor.

Within three years, Rusty was defying parental and legal curfews to begin his professional career drumming for the Centennials.
Over the next ten years, he drummed his way through several rock and roll outfits, including the Wig with Benny Rowe and
Lavender Hill Express with Layton DePenning and Gary P. Nunn. Somewhere along the way, he discovered the blues clubs
of East Austin and began to broaden his musical horizons.

Rusty’s adamant stand against being pigeonholed into any one genre of music probably dates from this period in the Sixties,
when folk, rock, and blues all cross pollinated to produce new strains of music. And he was already looking to throw another
element into the mix. As he recalled, “I wanted to call Lavender Hill Express ‘the Blue Mountain Train.’ I was trying to go
country even then.”

But there was a different change of direction in Rusty’s immediate future. When Lavender Hill Express broke up, he put down
his drumsticks, picked up a Mel Bay book of guitar chords, and began teaching himself to play the guitar.

Heading into the Seventies, our budding Texas troubadour was right on schedule for a head-on collision with his destiny.
Just as Michael Martin Murphey, Jerry Jeff Walker, Steven Fromholz, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings were all busy
turning that Sixties blend of folk, rock, and blues into the “Austin Sound,” Rusty Wier came back from an ill-advised trip to LA
with the inspiration for a little ditty called “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance.”

The rest, as they say, was history. Recorded by artists as diverse as John Hiatt, Barbara Mandell, and Jerry Jeff, the song
became a monster hit when Bonnie Raitt’s version appeared on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, earning Rusty a double platinum
record for over two million sales. His signature song, it catapulted him to fame, fortune, and life in the fast lane. He suddenly
found himself touring with such artists as Ray Charles, the Charlie Daniels and Marshall Tucker bands, The Outlaws, Lynyrd
Skynyrd, the Amazing Rhythm Aces, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Pure Prairie League, The
Allman Brothers, Commander Cody, Asleep at the Wheel, Doug Kershaw, and Gatemouth Brown, among others. Sometimes,
as was the case with George Strait, they opened and he headlined the shows.

Rusty signed his first contract with ABC Records and later recorded with both 20th Century and Columbia Records, producing
more than a dozen albums during the course of his career. He also appeared on Austin City Limits on three different occasions,
delivering his unique brand of what Margaret Moser labeled “Rusticana.”

A songwriter’s songwriter, an entertainer’s entertainer, perhaps Moser summed up Rusty Wier best of all when she observed,
“Through rain, sleet, and dark of night, Rusty Wier delivers.” And now Rusty Wier has been delivered. And if that don’t exactly make
you wanna dance, do it anyway. It’s what he would have wanted.
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