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Bob Dylan Visits The Bluebird Niteclub in Fort Worth

Bob Dylan Visits The Bluebird Niteclub in Fort Worth

"As Long as He Paid His $2, He Can Sit Where ever He Wants”

Robert Ealey

Every city has several funky nightclubs that are in funky neighborhoods. Back in 1975, Fort Worth had The Bluebird Niteclub in the Como neighborhood. In order to get the full flavor of The Bluebird, one should purchase (from Record Town of course) The Ballad of Robert Ealey and His Five Careless Lovers by Joe Nick Patoski. Joe Nick is a hometown author who has made a career writing about off-beat topics. He was actually at The Bluebird during many of the tales he relates.

 I had started going to The Bluebird Niteclub in 1975. I had just graduated from TCU and had gotten my first car, which enabled me to make the scene at various clubs and also to make it to gigs should any arise. I was sitting in as part of the horn section. There were several horn players that would be a permanent part of the band and several that would come from time to time. I would come and be a utility player, which means that I would show up and sometimes play tenor and sometimes play alto saxophone. The rest of the horn section usually included Freddie Cisneros, Michael Pellechia, Johnny Reno and various players from the Como neighborhood.. Freddie was a great guitar player who had bought a C-Melody saxophone, which had gone out of style back in the 1930’s. He and Johnny Reno were trying to teach themselves saxophone by the Learn to Play On The Job method. 

I graduated from TCU in 1975 and then enrolled in what was then called T.C.J.C. South Campus to take Automotive Mechanics. In order to get enough hours to be a part-time student, I had enrolled in the Stage Band. I had played in the TCU Stage Band for two years and playing in the T.C.J.C stage band was a snap. The band director was amazed to have a slightly aging saxophone player in the band who could actually play. I asked to play the baritone saxophone, which is an instrument nobody wants to play. I chose to do this because the school let me take their baritone saxophone home with me. No one in the Robert Ealey band had a baritone saxophone so I was a welcome part of the band.

Gerard P. Daily playing in the T.C.J.C. Stage Band Feb. 16th, 1977
South Campus "Revelator" Feb. 16,1977​​

Gerard P. Daily playing in the T.C.J.C. Stage Band Feb. 16th, 1977

Bob Dylan had started the Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975 and one of the members was T-Bone Burnett, who is a Fort Worth native. He was good friends with the Bruton family, who owned Record Town, where I had a part-time job. The Rolling Thunder Revue was booked to play in Fort Worth in May 1976. The odds were great that T-Bone would bring Bob Dylan and others to local gigs and what better place to take Bob than to The Bluebird?

I showed up at The Bluebird on May 15 1976 and the rumor mill had already started that Bob, T-Bone and others were going to show up. The band started playing and then there was a commotion at the front door. Bob Dylan, T-Bone and others were seating themselves over in a corner and Bob was sporting a nice turban. T-Bone then came to the bandstand and said he would like to do a song.

Bob Dylan and The Rolling Thunder Revue including Fort Worth native T. Bone Burnette on guitar.
The RollingThunder Revue-Retrospect​​

Bob Dylan formed The Rolling Thunder Revue including T. Bone Burnett, Fort Worth native and close friend of the Brutons - founders of Record Town.

T-Bone announced that he would like to do what he called “the Fort Worth National Anthem.” This turned out to be a song entitled "Linda Lu", which had been recorded by an artist named Ray Sharpe. What T-Bone didn’t know was that the P.A. system consisted of what people could bring from home. The microphone stand that night had a clutch that wasn’t working right. For the uninitiated, the clutch is the part that tightens down and allows the height to be adjusted. So, as T-Bone began to play guitar and sing, the microphone would slowly slide down. T-Bone, being a trouper, continued to sing as the microphone slowly sank down. He had to bend his knees to do this until the microphone reached a certain depth  and then grab the microphone and pull it to the full height and start the process again. No one on the stand could help him because most people are using two hands to play their instruments. This went on until the song ended and T-Bone sat down.

After this display, T-Bone and his party left The Bluebird and Robert and the band continued until the evening was over. The topic of conversation was T-Bone and Bob Dylan. Robert Ealey (Bluebird Niteclub owner) knew who T-Bone was because T-Bone had produced the Robert Ealey Live at The Bluebird album (which has been reissued by Record Town on vinyl). Robert had no idea who Bob Dylan was. That was when the conversation became the following:  “Hey Robert, did you see that Bob Dylan was here tonight? “He was the guy wearing the turban sitting in the corner.” Robert’s reply was immortal… “As long as he paid his $2, he can sit wherever he wants.”

Hear what some "regulars" have to say about the Bluebird Niteclub and see what Bob Dylan might have experienced the night he visited.

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