John P. Meyer - Pegasus News
At the Magnolia last night, fans of Texas country music legend Jerry Jeff Walker were treated to an in-person appearance and commentary by the man about whom the film OK Buckaroos was made.
Filmmaker Patrick Tourville was there, too — along with Jerry Jeff's wife Susan, who figures prominently in both the film and Walker's life story.
DALLAS International Film Festival Chairman of the Board Michael Cain provided introductory comments to the packed auditorium, advising everyone to actually turn ON their electronic devices and tweet about their attendance before kicking back to enjoy the show.
The kicking back part went a whole lot easier thanks to product sponsor Stella Artois, whose representatives passed out free beers from ice-filled buckets. (STE-lla! STE-lla!)
Tourville's film proved to be an insightful and nuanced (and lengthy) biopic, chronicling Walker's career right from its beginnings in rural New York state, where he was born as Ronald Crosby. He spent a good many years on his grandfather's farm before taking to the road, playing as a street musician, meeting colorful characters, and of course writing songs about them (ref. Mr. Bojangles).
Walker's big break came when a New York City free-format DJ broadcast a live performance of Walker singing "Bojangles"; he played it over and over again in the next several days, and its appeal spread like wildfire.
Todd Snider, Bruce Robison, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Susan Walker each provide their insights on camera, but undoubtedly the most entertaining parts of the film are the vintage concert footage, with Walker performing many of his most beloved songs live on a variety of stages, from SMU's McFarlin Auditorium to the Luckenbach Dancehall (where ¡Viva Terlingua! was recorded) to an open-air stadium in Round Rock, where on July 4, 2009, Jerry Jeff wowed a whole new set of fans with an Independence Day performance they'd never forget.
Most appreciated by the audience members (judging by the volume of laughter) was a segment featuring a late '70s vintage Austin live show in which Jerry Jeff takes the stage wearing what appears to be a pair of white gym shorts. (And a cowboy hat.) Oh, those knobby-kneed legs!
As Walker explained during the Q/A which followed the film, he had just come to the stage after doing a 4K fun run that morning; the live performance (which gets wilder and wilder as the day, and then the evening, wears on) continued into the wee morning hours.
One audience member expressed his starry-eyed appreciation for Jerry Jeff in particular and all things outlaw country in general, eventually coming around to a question: Where was the actual Green Frog Cafe sung about in the Guy Clark-penned opus, "Desperados Waiting for a Train"? (The man reported visiting Green Frog Cafes in Archer City and several other Texas towns, on each occasion wondering whether or not he'd reached the font of "Desperados" inspiration.)
Jerry Jeff stated that he seemed to remember Clark saying it was in Monahans. But to settle the matter once and for all, he pulled out his cell phone and proceeded to dial up Guy Clark from right up there on stage. "He's recovering from knee surgery," Jerry Jeff commented as the ringing commenced.
"Hello?", we could hear, as Jerry Jeff held the mic up to the phone.
"Guy Clark? It's Jerry Jeff Walker."
"I'm at this film festival here in Dallas. And a guy wants to know where the Green Frog Cafe is."
"Well, I think there's one in Monahans..."
(Cue crowd applause, cat calls, and whistles.)
Just another laid back evening with Jerry Jeff Walker.
See the movie's trailer here: http://www.okbuckaroosthemovie.com/main/About_the_Film.html
Excerpts from the film OK Buckaroos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2Y5nP-TW-w