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     LaFeria, Texas…..”OK, I admit it.  I’ve been making a living, supporting my family, paying my taxes, traveling the world, …..from “music.”  Going right into 60 years now, that alone is probably a little unbelievable.  When I was younger, my dad would ultimately complain…why don’t you get a real job?  Yeah, I know, a real job.  It kind of is a ‘real’ job playing music for money in the Rio Grande Valley.  Attendance is down just about everywhere, and earnable money is not easy to come by.  Sheila and I got signed to do the Onion-Fest in Weslaco, for quite a large sum of money, which just blew away our booking agent, and just about anybody else we talked to.  Apparently the ‘agenda’ in the valley is to perform in jam sessions, the more the better.  Never for pay, and obviously never for ability or talent, because that comes up in short supply at many of these gatherings.  On the other hand it’s a great opportunity for ‘learners.’  But the vogue here seems to be, after playing three or four jam sessions its time to strike while the guitar strings are hot, and demand money to play.  The fact that only three songs and three chords are the ultimate, never dampens the enthusiasm of trying.  Then of course comes the ultimate ‘talk this over’ situation.  If you play for free in the jam sessions, why would anyone want to pay to see you elsewhere? That in turn creates the situation we’re in.  Not because we play in jam sessions (we don’t), but because we are being paid a large sum to perform at the Onion Fest, and every jam session in the Rio Grande Valley wants part of it, but the question remains….if you play for free in a jam session, why would anyone pay to see you anywhere else?  Needless to say it’s created quite a controversy.”
      Sheila says, “Now don’t be getting on the oratory box Bob, you do that often you know.”  Yeah, I know, but I just can’t help quoting from one of my favorite authors Carlas Ruiz Zafon, who wrote ‘Shadow of the Wind.’  Here goes….”Envy is the religion of the mediocre.  It comforts them, it soothes their worries, and finally it rots their souls, allowing them to justify their meanness and their greed until they believe these to be virtues.  For them, it is a widely held belief that achieving any measure of success in any profession, especially the entertainment world, as irrefutable proof of ones lack of skill or merit.”
     “Budget lunch? Are you kidding,” Bobbie Lhea, Bob & Sheila’s daughter announced haughtily, “dad hasn’t got time for that.  But Jim Hughes of the One on the Mountain Gang took us to a most remarkable restaurant for lunch.  Harold’s Country Kitchen is in Weslaco (or nearby) and it’s a really neat place to eat.  It’s a huge big old rambling southern mansion style house converted into a remarkable restaurant, all home-style cooking, and all inexpensive.”
     “We’ll really see Carlas Zafon kick into gear,” Bob added.  “Bobbie Lhea is studying French now, and getting quite good at it.  We knew she was going to do this a couple of years ago, so we asked her where she would like to spend her 16th birthday.  You guessed it, Paris, France.  She now gets all the money we get from selling CD’s to pay the way.  Her birthday is in October, so that’s where we’re setting up some gigs now.  For pay, can you believe it?  Amen.”

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