Page Two

Page Two
At first, Jon Dee Graham was just this friend of Dennis Nowlin (one of the herd of music writers cluttering The Daily Texan some time back in the early Eighties). Graham was from Eagle Pass and played stinging electric guitar, always with a cigarette clenched in his teeth and an easy smile. Later, after stints in the Skunks, the Lift, and with Lou Ann Barton, he was a well-regarded player in a town where, as Rollo Banks once pointed out, every goddamn bartender is a guitar-playing genius. It wasn't speed -- though he had that -- it was taste in what to play and when not to play that marked his work. By the time he left the True Believers, Graham had become a bit of a local legend. His playing kept getting better, richer, and more basic, the smile stayed (as did the cigarette), though one would no longer call it easy. (Which explains the cover; no, this is not payback for tobacco advertising nor mindless vice advocacy, this is simply Jon Dee Graham). When we talked about putting Graham on the cover, the older staff nodded, smiling and enthusiastic; as is often the case, the younger staff didn't really know who he was. In a town of journeyman legends, it is always hard to celebrate one person without noting the list of those who too often go unacknowledged. Happily, we have Graham's first solo release after twenty-some odd years of playing, a reminder that good things really do come to those who wait.

There was a time when the True Believers were one of the most exciting bands in town, capable of unleashing all the power and thunder of untainted rock & roll. The limelight was often on the charismatic Escovedo brothers, but Graham stood there solidly, aglow with the sheer physical pleasure of making this music. It was quite a time both for the band and its audience. Now, it is a different time, one of work and children. Watching Graham play is still a pleasure, a professional, expert at his job, playing with passion, skill, and taste. We didn't ask Andy Langer to write about Jon Dee Graham simply because he was Nowlin's friend or because he played in bands we loved in our younger days. Graham has ascended with the kind of career that gives the Austin music scene its incredible depth. Graham's story is that of all working, quality talents who may not have big names but supply the texture and tone to music. There are many great musicians in this town, some more famous than others. But what's central, as Graham's career demonstrates, is not the bullshit but the work. What is most important to musicians such as Graham and to this town, when all is said and done, is the music.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Page Two
Page Two: Row My Boat Ashore
Page Two: Row My Boat Ashore
Louis Black bids farewell in his final "Page Two" column

Louis Black, Sept. 8, 2017

Page Two: The Good Songs We Need to Sing Together and Loud
Page Two: The Good Songs We Need to Sing Together and Loud
Celebrating love and resistance at Terry and Jo Harvey Allen's 55th wedding anniversary

Louis Black, July 14, 2017

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle