Saturday Night: Butch Hancock & Jimmie Dale Gilmore At The Mucky Duck

Photos by Jason Wolter
Butch Hancock & Jimmie Dale Gilmore
McGonigel's Mucky Duck
August 4, 2010

Even with a cover charge, spending an evening with Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, who have known each other for so long and written so many songs enshrined in the Texas-music pantheon, feels a lot like eavesdropping. Not just on the two men onstage, either, but on the thoughts you hardly ever admit having even to yourself.

Great fun, in other words, with the occasional knife to the gut or the heart. Or both.

Aftermath arrived at the Mucky Duck Saturday just in time to see Hancock, Gilmore and a stray wife or kid or two exit their touring vehicle (a silver VW station wagon), and got inside just in time for our photographer to point out former Astros manager Larry Dierker just down the bar. Tuning up, they bantered about negotiating "Kirby Lane" during the post-Rice/UT game traffic and how much the Duck reminded them of the living room of their house off 14th Street in Lubbock.

"We will do requests if we know 'em, and possibly if we don't," Gilmore said.

Accompanied only by their acoustic guitars and Hancock's harmonica, the duo opened with a sunny cover of the Carter Family's "Hello Stranger," one of the few times all night they harmonized; much more often, they either traded verses or one simply let the other sing all on his own. The rounders and ramblers of their shared opener, though, would revisit all night via both men's songs - sometimes carefree, sometimes careworn, but almost always on the move.

Just like in the next song, Hancock's "Just A Wave, Not the Water," warbled by Gilmore as memorably Saturday as on 1993's Spinning Around the Sun:

Well I followed her far and wide with all of my will
Water on the move you know it never stands still
And I moved every muscle just to prove it can be done
Then up some old sad river where snow white lilies float
I came to her for mercy but I hardly rocked the boat
She seemed surprised that I had caught her
But she said babe, you're just a wave, you're not the water

"You should sing that one at every gig, Jimmie," Hancock said softly, causing a few of the moistened eyes in the room to twinkle with laughter.

"I generally do. I have impeccable taste," replied Gilmore. Laughter. Hancock countered with another account about a woman (the same woman?) as hard to capture as water on "Baby, Do You Love Me Still?"

There was water in the well and fire from the first
Were ya burnin' me out or were ya quenchin' my thirst?
How could it go so fast from the best to the worst?
Baby do you love me still?

After singing his own pensive, ethereal "Treat Me Like a Saturday Night" ("Glad to see you comin'/ Glad to see you go"), Gilmore commented on his friend, "He's kind of like Townes [Van Zandt], except he's still alive." Naturally - and exactly as planned, we're sure - that sent both men to the Townes songbook, first Hancock for a dark and stormy "Waitin' 'Round to Die"...

I came of age and found a girl in a Tuscaloosa bar
She cleaned me out and hit it on the sly
I tried to kill the pain, I bought some wine and hopped a train
Seemed easier than just a-waitin' 'round to die

...and then Gilmore for the much brighter "No Lonesome Tune":

I ain't gonna sing no lonesome tune
Ah, babe, I'm a-comin' soon
I cannot believe i stayed so long away
But a man must look around
And you're the sweetest thing I've found
Your lost high roller's rollin' home today

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