Austin’s Loving and Caring Music Community
What’s it like to live in a community of musicians and music fans who care and support each other? I can testify on that.
Meaux Jeaux, my wife and bassist extraordinaire, live in the boonies near Austin. When not touring, we play music in Austin sometimes 8 or 9 times a week, never less than four times a week.
On February 24, 2012, after the Jitterbug Vipers, my band, played at the Elephant Room, our second gig that night was at the Gypsy Jazz Jamboree at Volstead Lounge at Hotel Vegas on 6th Street. If you’ve heard much about Austin, you’ve heard about 6th Street. It has so many music clubs that the streets are barricaded from 9 PM ’til 2 AM to protect the club hoppers who walk down the street. But the Volstead Lounge is way out on the East Side and the streets aren’t barricaded.
For what happened I’ll say only what I remember then fill in the blanks. I had put my guitar and amp in the car and decided to load Meaux Jeaux’s stand up bass, a nice hand made Czech bass. My next memory is waking up in the hospital.
So here’s what happened. I was run over by a big SUV. There were lots of witnesses. The witnesses I talked to said it was a Ford Expedition. The witnesses Sarah, vocalist for the Jitterbug Vipers, talked to said it was a Cadillac Escapade. All agreed it was a big SUV, It was a hit and run accident. Several persons tried to step in front of the SUV to stop it and had to jump out of the way to avoid being run over. The SUV had paper dealer tags, with lots of small numbers and letters. The back tags were flapping in the wind. The car or driver was never identified.
So this driver left me in the street for dead, unconscious and bleeding. The bass was splintered and was said to have saved my life. Sarah was the first band member to reach me. She held my bloody head in her lap and told me that Meaux Jeaux was there and I needed to come to. I don’t remember any of this, but I opened my eyes tried to raise up and asked if I had been hit by a car. I apparently asked it several times.
Fast forward. While I was in the hospital, there was a benefit held at the Volsted Lounge. This was one of the few Jitterbug Viper gigs I missed though I was pretty messed up with a deep gash in my hear, a brain concussion, injured right knee and hip and cut up hands. No broken bones but the long term results were loss of hearing and a slight loss of vision in one eye. But I walked as soon as I got out of the hospital. Because of the brain concussion, I had a balance problem. It was hard not to look drunk when I walked. Ha! Friends would ask me if I was back 100%. I avoided the long detailed answer. Sarah would say, he never was 100%, and I would just smile.
A fine guitarist, jamming buddy and friend, Greg Harkins, played at the benefit at the Volstead Lounge and subbed for me at a gig in Houston. I played my first gig after the accident at Jo’s Coffee, siting down this time! There was a high profile gig coming up in Dallas at the Kessler Theater. Meaux Jeaux was set on my not playing, and I was set on playing. I played a 4 hour gig at Z Tejas to prove I could and she relented. The Kessler gig was just one set and the ride was a little tortuous but otherwise the gig not that challenging. Except, after the sound check I lost my balance and fell off the stage. I knew how to fall and wasn’t hurt. Luckily, Meaux Jeaux was in the green room and missed it. She would have had a heart attack!
But this story is about the Austin, Texas community of musicians and music fans who care and support each other. I had medical bills for the hospital, EMS, doctors, anesthesiologist and the ongoing doctor bills after I got out. I think we paid EMS first and started on the hospital bill which was about $55,000.00. Did I say we had zero insurance. That’s true enough although our car insurance eventually was some help because of my uninsured motorist option, which they stretched to take care of a new bass, my leather jacket and some odd bills.
Friends, Ted and Linda Branson, organized a benefit at Threadgill’s that was huge. Eddie Wilson said he hadn’t seen so many hippies in one place since the Armadillo closed. There were other benefits and everywhere I played, for a while, folks would give us money. And a famous Austin cartoon artist, Jeremy the Artist, who saw the accident, made a hip drawing of me in a super man shirt with the caption, “Takes a Lickin’ and Keeps On Pickin’”. We used the drawing to make posters and T-shirts and raised oodles. And all my medical bills are paid for.
Local news video of after accident.
Article shared by Slim Richey, guitarist for the Jitterbug Vipers.