To most people, Tuesday nights are just another night. But to a few up-and coming musicians from Texas Tech University, Tuesday nights at the Blue Light have made all the difference in their careers.
The Blue Light is located in the Historic Depot District in Lubbock, Texas, and has featured now famous artists including Pat Green, Randy Rogers, Gary P. Nunn, Billy Joe Shaver, Cross Canadian Ragweed and Wade Bowen. Others such as Josh Abbott, William Clark Green and Cruise Duke have all started their careers at the Blue Light. They did it the hard way, pickin’ a guitar and singing their life lessons every Tuesday to a crowd, jam-packed with Texas Tech students.
Abbott, Green and Duke have more in common than great Texas country music. Abbott and Green have graduated from Texas Tech, and Duke will graduate in May 2011. All three owe much of their success to fellow classmates at Texas Tech who still support the artists by attending shows no matter how far the drive.
Josh Abbott grew up in the small town of Idalou, Texas. Upon high school graduation, Abbott packed his things and headed to Stephen F. Austin University, but something was missing. He wasn’t experiencing the college life he had imagined. Abbott transferred to Texas Tech a year later and immediately felt Lubbock was where he belonged.
On a Monday night in February 2006, Abbott and three of his fraternity brothers assembled in a garage and practiced three of Abbott’s original songs and four other popular songs. The next night, the Josh Abbott Band was scheduled to play at the Blue Light as an audition.
“We had some talent,” Abbott said. “It was not great, but not bad.”
Regardless of the music quality that night, the Josh Abbott Band packed the bar before they even took stage. The owners of Blue Light, David and Stephanie Brooks, knew if Abbott could bring a huge crowd in on his first performance, the Tuesday night slot would permanently belong to the Josh Abbott Band.
After they were awarded their own night at the bar, the band took the show very seriously. They fine-tuned the show and continued to draw large crowds every Tuesday night for an entire year.
“I learned way more than how to perform in front of a crowd at the Blue Light,” Abbott said. “Mr. and Ms. Brooks taught me the business part of the music industry.”
Since then, the Josh Abbott Band has extended far beyond Lubbock. Although Abbott can now boast hit singles like “Taste,” “She’s Like Texas,” and “Oh, Tonight,” he is not one to forget where he got his start.
“From the first night I played at Blue Light, the Brooks accepted me,” he said. “I know this may sound corny, but the Blue Light holds a special place in my heart. It will always be my home bar.”
William Clark Green grew up in Flint, Texas. After his family moved to College Station, Texas, Green played his first gig at 15-years-old. He invited all his friends from school to watch him open for his cousin’s band.
“The bad part was I was playing all original songs that I wrote and I forgot all the words,” he said “It was pretty brutal but I got through it.”
During his time at Texas Tech, Green pursued a degree in agricultural economics, but aimed to further his music career.
“It was hard to find gigs,” he said. “I was always too shy to ask for one.”
Green finally got his start when his college roommate, who played at the Recovery Room every week, asked Green to join him for a performance. From then on, he played the Recovery Room every week for three years.
“Right after I turned 21, Josh Abbott’s drummer invited me to a band practice,” Green said. “Josh asked me to play one of the songs I wrote, so I played Wishing Well.”
Soon after, Abbott asked Green to take over his Tuesday night spot at Blue Light.
“I definitely owe it to Josh Abbott for getting my foot in the door at Blue Light. He is a great person and has always been there for me” he said.
Like Abbott, Green said he attributes his early success to the support of the Brookes and the devoted fans of the Blue Light.
“I love the Blue Light because the Brookes gave me my start,” he said.
While Lubbock is far from home for Green, he said that the Brookes always serve as a second family and a helping hand.
“Mr. Brookes is the guy you call when you’re broken down on the side of the road or you don’t have enough gas to get the van to the show,” Green said.
Green extended the same hand of friendship to current Texas Tech student, Cruise Duke, when the two met outside of Blue Light.
“I met William Clark Green on the bench out-front of Blue Light,” Duke said. “Will was always willing to answer my questions and give great advice.”
Duke grew up in a Texas Panhandle town called Lipscomb and will graduate from Texas Tech in May 2011 with a degree in agricultural leadership and a minor in animal science.
In the same fashion as Abbott and Green, Duke got his start playing small bars in Lubbock with a handful of people at the shows. His break finally came in the form of a strange text message.
“You know, the funny thing is, I got a weird text from Will Green earlier that day that said ‘Hey buddy, I hope you have a good night,’” Duke said. “A couple hours later, I got a phone call from the Blue Light, asking me to play because there had been a cancellation.”
Since then, Duke has continued to play at the Blue Light and grow as an artist thanks to the support of Mr. and Mrs. Brooks.
“You can really find appreciation in a bar owner that will sit there and listen to the music that is played on their stage,” he said.
Josh Abbott, William Clark Green and Cruise Duke are just a few songwriters that have achieved stardom thanks to the unwavering support of a local bar and its loyal and encouraging owners.
“The Brooks and The Blue Light are always there for me,” Green said. “They’ve always believed in me, and that’s the coolest thing of all.”