In the Flesh: Houston Musicians Talk About Their Tattoos

Categories: In Print

Texas Throwback
Bart Maloney, 
The Belmont Five/Nick Gaitan & 
The Umbrella Man

Bart Maloney is an old soul.

A throwback vibe is written all over the steel guitarist, from his old-school, slicked-back hair to his staunch aversion to technology. Even his instrument of choice is a blast from the past.

But what really drives home the point of Maloney's hip-to-be-old vibe is the vintage tattoos that line his arms and chest. While simple in their clean lines and Sailor Jerry style, they amount to a complex nod to his Texas musician roots.

"I got the Alamo tattoo with the lyrics from Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys' song 'San Antonio Rose' about five years back," Maloney says. "It says, 'Deep within my heart lies a melody.'"

A tattoo like that fits a guy like Maloney. He's the quintessential Lone Star musician, nodding in ink to the city he loves to play, San Antonio, and the Texas musicians who came before him.

A barber by day, Maloney has built his whole tattoo scheme around that '40s vibe. A barber pole snakes up the back of his forearm, right in the midst of those music tattoos, while a B-17 flies into cartoon-blue clouds at the top of his chest.

Maloney has now been playing steel guitar for 13 years, and the guitar for eight more. He has graced the stages of venues across the state with his band The Belmont Five and is a regular on the Continental Club/Big Top circuit with Nick Gaitan & The Umbrella Man. His style fits in well with artists like Gaitan, who incorporate a bit of that nostalgia into their sets.

Most of Maloney's tattoos are somehow built around his love of music: the accordion on his forearm, the lyrics to the 1940s song "Sentimental Journey" on his chest and even the Texas tattoo on his upper arm -- a bold, baby-blue testament to his undying love for his home state, surrounded by the words "Western Swing and Zydeco."

He's even incorporated that trusty steel guitar into his ink. Maloney's most recent addition, a pinup model on his forearm, is playing his favorite instrument.

Touch-Up Man
Jared Green, 
Old Crow Parlor

"Jared's awesome," laughs Bart Maloney. "He's done most of my work. He's fixed all sorts of terrible stuff when I went other places, too."

It's Green's job to fix those messes, at least part of the time. The owner of Old Crow Parlor is constantly reworking other people's art that needs a tweak or two.

Maloney has gone to Green for years. Both men trust Green's knowledge -- and his experience -- with those more important pieces: the ones that represent Maloney's music.

It was Green who tattooed that accordion on the steel guitarist's arm and those Texas music tributes around the big blue state on his bicep. They've since taken it further, adding airplanes and stomach pieces. Green is the artist Maloney goes to time and time again as new art ideas pop into his head.

Luckily for Maloney, Green is a pretty convenient walk from his barbershop. Old Crow is located upstairs from Big Kat's, making it all too convenient for Maloney to pop in and add yet another piece or two to the mix.

Story continues on the next page.

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