Julie Bailey
and the
Texas Gems

Discovering the Honky Tonk

When I entered the Honkey Tonk on Wednesday, I felt my worst fears were being realized. It was very dark club, almost no light at all. And it smelled so stale. Beer - and I didn't want to try to figure out what else. We finally got some lights turned on so I could set up, and it still seemed dark. I set up my Yamaha Electric Baby Grand, my Korg C2, my Arp Odyssey on a fair sized stage for such a small club.

By the time I finished setting up, I was resigned to my fate. Sometime around that time, Julie showed up. I immediately recognized the husky voice from our phone conversation. From the beginning, she was a rowdy kinda gal. She joked around and laughed hard. In my state of mind, I really didn't want to like her. But I couldn't help it.

A couple of the other musicians showed up, but we didn't have enough to have an actual rehearsal. So, it would all be on the job training for me. At this point, I prefered that.

We performed that night and the rest of that week without rehearsals. Besides Julie, I cannot remember the names of those in the band at that time. Julie sang in a low register and did great renditions of the Judds "Mama He's Crazy". I remember the guitar player also sang and did very good Willie Nelson imitations of "Angel Flying To Close to the Ground" and others. I don't remember the drummer or the bass player at all. What I do remember is that everybody in the band liked to drink. Julie held hers okay, but some of the other musicians were pretty sorry. Don't get me wrong, I had always liked to party, but the music was always the main thing. I just didn't get that from these guys.

I don't exactly know how it happened, but eventually, we lost the guitar player, bass player and drummer. They were replaced with Brett Lowey on guitar, JR on bass, and Gary on drums. With Julie as the primary vocalist, Brett & I also sang some lead. It was a pretty good band, and I especially liked the way we all listened musically to each other. A lot of nice stuff going on when we played. Even if it was all still a party. We grew to respect each other as musicians, and I think it might have been one of the highlights of Julie's career up to that point - even at the Honkey Tonk. Around Christmas, she wrote me this note.

The band was good and was getting better each week. Unfortunately, we couldn't seem to get out of the Honkey Tonk mentality. We just coasted week after week, with little hope for getting to a higher level of gig. Eventually, by January of 1986, Gary decided he'd had enough and packed up to go back to Kansas, where he was from. I remember when he told me - as if he were sorry he was letting me down. And this was a bummer because he was an integral part of who we'd become.