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Musical Savant T Bone Burnett Stakes His Claim To Fort Worth

Musical Savant T Bone Burnett Stakes His Claim To Fort Worth

Not sure how we missed posting this great article by our good friend Michael Corcoran when it first published.  But we are fixing that now - just in time to also celebrate T Bone Burnett's birthday, January 14th. 


Michael is a talented author who is very knowledgeable about the Texas music scene. This article appeared originally in Texas Highways Magazine.  We are also proud that our oldest daughter, Sarah Mecke was the photographer for the images used in the article.


Michael has an email subscription you may join for more insights on Texas music artists.

Musical Savant T Bone Burnett Stakes His Claim to Fort Worth

 

The new T Bone Burnett Boulevard leads the way to Record Town and the city’s rich musical history
 

michaelcorcor

Photos by Sarah Mecke

February 16, 2020


T Bone Burnett’s musical education began at Record Town, 

a shop owned by the father of Stephen Bruton, 

a childhood friend who worked with T Bone 

on the soundtrack to the movie Crazy Heart.

 

Famed musician and producer T Bone Burnett has won 13 Grammys and an Oscar, but there‚Äôs nothing like being honored in the city that raised you. ‚ÄúFort Worth is a golf town and Fort Worth is a music town: Let‚Äôs go play!‚ÄĚ the towering 72-year-old icon said Thursday at a ceremony unveiling ‚ÄúT Bone Burnett Boulevard‚ÄĚ in his hometown.


The commemorative street signs reside on St. Louis Avenue, on the block fronting the new Near Southside location of¬†Record Town, the shop where a 12-year-old T Bone first heard the songs he would later use in the multi-million-selling soundtrack to the Coen Brothers film¬†O Brother, Where Art Thou?¬†The renaming ceremony, which coincided with Burnett‚Äôs keynote speech to the Visit Fort Worth annual breakfast meeting, featured brief speeches by Robert Sturns, the city‚Äôs economic development director, and Ann Zadeh, a member of the city council. But since the honoree is still living‚ÄĒFort Worth officially renames streets only after the deceased‚ÄĒthe designation is strictly for show. Punching ‚ÄúT Bone Burnett Boulevard‚ÄĚ on the GPS yields ‚Äúno results found.‚ÄĚ


Burnett is an avid golfer who has become the Ben Hogan of the studio. He has produced the debut albums of Los Lobos, Counting Crows, and Gillian Welch, as well as the Grammy-hauling Raising Sand collaboration between Alison Krauss and Robert Plant in 2007, not to mention the music in several Coen Brothers films. And like Hogan, the links legend, Burnett learned to swing in Cowtown.


In a short post-proclamation speech, Burnett, who has lived in Los Angeles since the early ’70s, expressed giddiness with the strides Fort Worth has made in recent years recognizing its homegrown talent. This includes guitarist Stephen Bruton, whose father opened Record Town in 1957 across the street from Texas Christian University. Bruton’s final project before he succumbed to cancer in 2009 was working with childhood friend Burnett on the soundtrack of the Academy Award-winning movie Crazy Heart.

 

T Bone Burnett Boulevard is the honorary name for St. Louis Avenue.

 

Burnett, a graduate of Paschal High School, has long touted Fort Worth‚Äôs music history, but last week‚Äôs focus was on his hometown‚Äôs potential.¬† ‚ÄúIf you told anyone in New York City 20 years ago that Tribeca would be the hottest neighborhood, they would‚Äôve laughed in your face,‚ÄĚ Burnett said Thursday. ‚ÄúBut it‚Äôs the artists who went in there and fixed it up and created this enormous economic engine. And I see the same thing starting to happen in Fort Worth.‚ÄĚ


Brendon Anthony of the¬†Texas Music Office¬†lauded Fort Worth as ‚Äúthe shining example of a city that values, validates, and supports the creative class.‚ÄĚ The city‚Äôs Hear Fort Worth live music advocacy program was represented by creative director Tom Martens, whose organization has promoted the rise of nouveau R&B singer Leon Bridges, and was instrumental in bringing Burnett back home for the festivities.


Joseph Henry ‚ÄúT Bone‚ÄĚ Burnett III was born in St. Louis‚ÄĒcoincidentally, the name of the avenue that shares his street sign‚ÄĒbut he moved as a youngster to Fort Worth. There, he was called T Bone for his love of the blues. ‚ÄúWe became fast friends with T Bone,‚ÄĚ said Sumter Bruton III, Stephen‚Äôs brother and¬†

former Record Town owner, ‚Äúbecause his house was the only one in the [Arlington Heights] neighborhood that had a swimming pool.‚ÄĚ But music is what strengthened the bond.


‚ÄúGrowing up here, music was just a way of life,‚ÄĚ Burnett said in the record store, admiring posters and photos of such prominent Fort Worthers as King Curtis, Milton Brown, Ornette Coleman, Ray Sharpe, Lou Ann Barton, Leon Bridges, and Kirk Franklin. ‚ÄúYou learned to appreciate all forms.‚ÄĚ


Asked what Record Town meant to his career in music, Burnett said, ‚ÄúEverything.‚ÄĚ When he was coming of age in the ‚Äô60s, only record stores could order music. ‚ÄúThey had a big catalog on the counter and Stephen and I would spend hours going over everything that was available. We‚Äôd order Dock Boggs and the Stanley Brothers and Blind Willie Johnson. That was the first time I‚Äôd ever heard ‚ÄėO Death‚Äô and ‚ÄėRank Stranger‚Äô and ‚ÄėDark Was the Night,‚Äô‚ÄĚ he said of songs that he used in the films¬†O Brother, Where Art Thou?¬†and¬†Walk the Line. Another Record Town discovery was Nina Simone‚Äôs version of ‚ÄúI Got It Bad (and That Ain‚Äôt Good),‚ÄĚ which he used in¬†The Big Lebowski.


At night, teenagers Burnett, Bruton, and their friend Delbert McClinton would sneak into clubs on Jacksboro Highway to see the nascent bluesmen and honky-tonkers whose records they adored. It was quite a musical education. ‚ÄúIt may not seem like much to most people on the outside but, to us, Fort Worth was a magical place growing up,‚ÄĚ Burnett said.

 

This originally appeared in Texas Highways Magazine February 2020 by Michael Corcoran.

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