As I sit here and struggle trying to choose the right words to describe the relationship that existed between me, the Saxon and Stephen, I am flooded with so many memories that it’s difficult to start somewhere. Too many memories as he would say, but, not nearly enough as it turns out.
I will never forget the day many years ago when he called and said he wanted to come by and meet me and talk about playing the club. It was a hot weekday afternoon and he came through the door with a tee shirt and running shorts on. He had just been on Town Lake doing his daily run. He grinned the whole time we talked. I was ecstatic that he wanted to make the Saxon his home base and he laughed when I offered him a key to the place! It was the beginning of a beautiful realtionship as the old line from the movie would read. We would go on to have good times and sad times.
Over the years Stephen brought all his wonderful friends by to “drop in” and play with him. As you all know, these “friends” were huge names in the industry. He loved to call me and say , ” Hey Joe, I got a little surprise for you tonight!” I never knew who would drop in next. The great thing about all these friends of Stephen was the way they looked at him and how happy they were to be with him. You see, HE was the huge name to them and it showed. He was so loved by each and everyone and to see him on stage with these fantastic artists was special, to say the least. When I asked to put a little band together for Sunday nights he said , “let me think about it and get back to you.” Well, he got back to me a few weeks later and grinned when he told me about a new drummer (Hal Ketchum) he had for this Sunday night band along with Jon Dee, David Holt and Keith Carpis. “We’re gonna call ourselves The Resentments, ” he said.
When the Saxon chose to drop out of SXSW in the mid 90’s, Stephen flashed that big grin and told me that we would be just fine and we would create our on “thing”. Well, we did, The Friday night Stephen Bruton slot at the Saxon during the South By South Lamar festival was always exciting and a mystery as we, once again, waited to see who would drop in. He grinned a lot those nights and on Sunday when The Resentments always brought closure to the festival for many.
I feel very fortunate to have known Stephen and to have had his tremendous help and influence with building this music venue we have now. I simply wouldn’t be where I am now without him. I always told him I could never repay him for all that he did. He would just look at me, hit me with the big grin, and say. ” Hey man, just give me a gig every now and then.”
See you at the next gig my friend. We love you.
Joe Ables (owner Saxon Pub)