How to Live in El Paso: Joe Ely at Bowie Feathers

Joe Ely at Bowie Feathers
Legendary Texas troubadour Joe Ely performs at Bowie Feathers on Thursday, October 8.

Once upon a life I ran a little dive bar on the lower west side. Wildhare’s was as close as I could make it to a roadhouse, and we would provide succor to itinerant musicians as they traveled I-10.

One day Davis McLarty called me up and said that some friends of his were having their wedding anniversary party in El Paso, and were looking for a place to gig.

Sure, I said. Why not?

His friends were Terry Allen and his wife Jo Harvey. The guest list was a who’s who of the best and brightest stars in Lubbock’s musical firmament, including Butch Hancock, Lloyd Maines, and Will and Charlie Sexton. Also Dave Alvin and Tom Russell and a whole lot of other people you’re not hip enough to know about.

That’s okay. Sometimes you just gotta fake it.

They also drug along with them some other notable talent, including Cormac McCarthy and James Drake.

If a bomb had gone off in Wildhare’s that night, it probably would have set Western civilization back about fifty years. Or, given the retro nature of all these people’s talents, maybe forward.

Joe Ely showed up in a custom-fitted, spangled mariachi outfit, with silver conchas running down the pants leg, and a charro hat.

You missed that show. Don’t miss this one.


  1. If El Richyboy favors you with his biomysticalfrackadeliocious wisdom whether it be on the evolution of JUAREZ or the thunderous musicalical impact of a true Texican iconic musician….you might outta sorta listen. Besides, why would you ever pass a chance to be thrilled by the likes of Joe Ely! Lean forward, press on, be there.

  2. I was lucky enough to have been at Wildhare’s that night that Rich writes about here. (I’m one of those notable talents Rich mentions that you aren’t hip enough to know about.) My buddy Steve McKagan (Duff’s little brother) got Joe Ely to sign his guitar that night.
    Will Sexton videotaped most if not all of the show, and I have always hoped that one day the video or audio recording would surface.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *