But what? The dissolution of the band
had left a musical vacuum, and I couldn't imagine accomplishing
anything with a different group of players that I hadn't already
with my guys. I
had been fooling around again with the pedal steel, on a cool
1965 ZB that a friend happened to give me, and this much-needed
fresh outlet soon became a passion. The challenge was incredibly
stimulating; my affinity for this instrument was a revelation.
I went to Nashville to study with the late Jeff Newman, which
provided a good foundation, and also learned a lot from Russ
Wever, who was in New York with the Hank Williams musical
Lost Highway. My good friend John Widgren has also provided
invaluable guidance and technical assistance from day one.
Within a few years the Debonaires
reconvened as a country covers band, with me on steel, fronted
by a series of vocalists; first as Lonesome LTD, with George
Gilmore on rhythm and lead vocals, and then as the Lonesome
Billys, with a couple of different female singers. Over
time we evolved into a sort of dusky Memphis hayride revival
combo, with Miss Monica on vocals and pizzazz, along with
Mike, Chris, Nat, and yours truly dragging the bar.
In mid-2008 Miss Monica decided to move on, and the Lonesome Billys folded, thereby ending my long association with my old Debonaires mates. Chris and Mike still play together with our dear friend Stan Mitchell as his Band of Buddies, and I sit in with them from time to time.