South By Southwest

By John Lomax

"I'm 70 years old and I ain't never been drunk. Now I've been unstable from time to time, but the trick is, you don't mix anything with your liquor, you drink it straight." — Andre Williams

South Congress during SXSW is the coolest place you can be probably on earth. That's just where it's at. This afternoon I was hanging out in front of the Continental Club, talking to David Bebe. Andre Williams, the pimpalicious one-man Brat Pack, also known as the Black Godfather and the Father of Rap, was there. The man only drinks straight rum. Just this morning he'd been at breakfast with a bunch of English journalists. It was raining like a motherfucker, but Andre said, "I'm leaving, I'll see you cats in a little while," and walked down the street and bought himself a fifth of Bacardi.

David plays with Andre from time to time, and we struck up a conversation with him. Andre remembers me from a show he played at the Continental in Houston. I had bought him a shot of rum, but Crazy Mike put some ice in it, and Andre got all furious. That was an epic show. It united all the various Houston tribes. Even my neighbor's satanic ex-wife was there.

I told Andre that Allen Hill had told me he had some story about a horse, and he launched right into it. It was about Don Robey, who was the Matthew Knowles of the '60s in Houston...he sort of set the template for Motown. He was a big gambler, and he had a horse that had come in fifth place in the Kentucky Derby in 1962. He entered it in some piddly-ass horse stakes in Shreveport, Texas (gambling was legal at the time). He knew it would win, and he planned to bet a bunch of money on it. The horse won by 20 lengths, and Robey won so much money it had to be carried out in sacks. The feds ended up investigating, and when they asked him about the horse, he said, "Yeah, that horse. Goddamn, we were driving that horse from Shreveport and we stopped to let her take a piss and she ran away." The feds weren't buying it, but Robey just said that the horse was gone, nobody knew where it was. I don't always believe everything Andre says, but he said the whole time Robey was talking to the feds, he was sitting on a barrel of soap. I don't believe that, but I do believe that Robey had already turned the horse into soap by the time the feds talked to him.

Andre's full of stories like that. Another good one is about Little Richard getting beat over the face with a fish.

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