Lost Tuneage

Strap in for the Cowpunk Ballad of T. Tex Edwards

The gig is flying a bit under the radar, but Saturday the Big Top hosts T. Tex Edwards, one of the legends of early Texas punk. Known as one of the earliest cowpunks, Edwards was butchering George Jones songs when Jason and the Scorchers were still sloppin' hogs in Iowa.

He has always specialized in goofball eccentricity and exhibited a big jones for country murder ballads done in a spirit of deranged delight. As a teenager, Edwards was the vocalist for the now legendary Nervebreakers, a post-garage Dallas ensemble that feared no band. Although they never hit the big time nationally, Nervebreakers are probably best known for backing Roky Erickson at Dallas' Palladium in 1979, a performance eventually released as Erickson's Dallas Live album in 1992.

But young as they were, the Nervebreakers were already seasoned pros by the time punk hit big time. When the Ramones played Dallas in 1977, the Nervebreakers were there opening and showing the New Yorkers that the world wasn't just their oyster. It got better, according to Frank Campagna as he described the band on the discogs.com Web site.

In 1978 the Sex Pistols set out to swindle America but it was the Nervebreakers who stole the show at the Longhorn Ballroom. In 1979 when the Clash were calling here at Dallas Palladium, Nervebreakers let them know they weren't in London anymore."

While the Nervebreakers -- Barry "Kooda" Huebner, Bob Childress, Carl Giesecke, Michael Haskins and Edwards -- would dissolve before fame could find them, they remain under-recognized heroes of an exciting musical period in Texas.

Hickoids front man and Saustex media honcho Jeff Smith says the Nervebreakers should have been much bigger than they were.

"If Texas had had the fanzines and scene that New York, San Francisco, London, and L.A. had, those guys would probably be much bigger than just an historical footnote in the whole punk revolution," Smith surmises. (Smith, who resides in San Antonio, says he missed the Sex Pistols/Nervebreakers date "because my brother swiped my tickets.")

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William Michael Smith