In January, legendary contemporary bluesman, singer-songwriter, and hometown hero Stephen Bruton had no idea he had cancer until his wife shined a flashlight down his throat — she had been checking her own pipes in an attempt to self-diagnose the cause of a sore throat but needed another set for comparison.
Enter: her husband’s. She looked into Bruton’s mouth and saw something that just didn’t look right. A few days later, Bruton discovered that he had cancer of the tonsils and needed surgery and extensive treatment pronto. In May, while still in recovery, Bruton, who’s 56, played The Road to Austin, a huge daylong celebration of Texas blues that also featured Delbert McClinton, Bonnie Raitt, Joe Ely, and a slew of other, similar artists. “[Bruton] barely made it,” said manager Ken Kushnick, who added that Bruton had agreed to do the show a couple of months before he got the diagnosis and did not want to pull out. “He did [chemotherapy] and radiation at the same time,” Kushnick said, which saved time for Bruton but, naturally, wore him out. Doing both at once, Kushnick said, is like having a doctor say to you, “OK, I’m gonna punch you and hit you on the back of the head at the same time.” But Bruton played, and, by all accounts, played well. “He got through and did a great show,” Kushnick said. “The whole week [of rehearsals beforehand] was just a joyous celebration.” At the end of August, Bruton went in for his 90-day check-up and received a clean bill of health. He’s touring the West Coast now and has plans to swing back through the Fort some time soon. Kushnick said that Bruton is almost at 100 percent. “His voice has been well enough that nobody has noticed,” Kushnick said. (The manager also noted that Bruton used to smoke but hasn’t in decades.) Kushnick believes that Bruton’s happy accident is a testament to early detection, which it is. I’m sure I’m speaking on everyone’s behalf by saying I’m just glad he’s on the road to recovery and to his home turf of Cowtown.
Wall of Sound This Saturday
There’s just something about emaciated, pasty kids dressed in black on a baseball field that is, y’know, a little funny. But when they pile into LaGrave Field this Saturday for the annual Wall of Sound Festival, they won’t be singing any “chin music” (jock-talk for a fast-ball high and inside), just some pretty killer indie-rock. Onstage will be Explosions in the Sky (Austin), Midlake (Denton), Ghostland Observatory (Austin), Spectrum (Australia), The Books (Brooklyn), Pinback (Brooklyn), Bobby Bare Jr. (Nashville), Om (San Francisco), and more, including locals Black Tie Dynasty, 1100 Springs, Baptist Generals, Calhoun, Dove Hunter, Oliver Future (LA-via-FW), Tame … Tame and Quiet, The Burning Hotels, and 100 Damned Guns. Special note: For all of the people here who bitch about the local scene’s lack of an entertainment district or, more importantly, a nationally recognized festival, time for you to either put up or shut up. Visit www.wallofsoundfestival.com.
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