The Show in Houston with Guy Clark

Ahead of tonight’s A Night for Guy show, listening to his unvarnished but masterful worktapes on the recently released album Truly Handmade Vol. 1, I remember a date in 2001 when I was booked to open for Guy Clark at Garden in the Heights in Houston.

On the day of the show, storm clouds rolled in, and it looked like the show – set up outdoors in the biergarten – would be canceled.

The production team scrambled and moved all the gear to the little stage indoors. The indoor stage at Garden in the Heights was rarely used and felt more like the talent show stage in the cafeteria of your elementary school.

Before I started, Guy, Verlon, and I were standing in the tiny closet-sized backstage area, joking that, instead of singing, maybe we ought to put on a play – like Hamlet. We mapped it out- I would play Hamlet and Guy would be Polonious.

The show went on, more intimate in the small space as the rain poured down outside. It occurs to me that the clear-eyed observations, honesty, and dignity in Guy Clark’s songs – then and now – do advise us: “to thine own self be true.”

So this year, the song I chose to do at A Night for Guy (a Guy Clark tribute show in Houston) was an aspirational one. When I first got married two decades ago, I was not a “handy” fella around the house. When my wife would ask me to move the couch or hang a picture frame, I told her I was more of an “ideas guy.” Over the years, when something has broken or needs repairing, I have worked up the courage and the chops to grab a hammer or a wrench and just dive in. More than half the time I can fix it.

So I can sing this song now that has become true for me over the years, with a lot of sweat, banged thumbs, and persistence.