I want to be Sergio Webb. I want roll up my world like a sleeping bag for a night, and step into the life of one of Nashville’s great guitar-toting sidemen. I want to be Sergio Webb.
I want to be unassuming in a flat-brimmed cowboy hat and a neckerchief, without looking like I’m in costume. I want to sport a footlong, gunmetal-gray beard and call people “amigo,” and say “adios,” and sound sincere and kind and trustworthy.
I want to be the father of “Irish twin” daughters, now grown, one of whom is the principal dancer in the Houston Ballet and the other is enjoying a successful career with an international news agency. And I want to meet up with my beautiful wife in cities around the world when my tour schedule brings me near where her job as touring wardrobe manager for KISS and Rod Stewart carries her.
I want to sit on a barstool in Nashville’s old Vesters Hotel next to cowboy-country legend Pinto Bennett when he suddenly remembers that five years prior he, left behind the ice machine at that very bar, an unpainted 1979 Fender Custom Telecaster with “Preciosa” deeply, prominently, and permanently scrawled into its wood. And, after the bartender retrieves the once-forgotten dusty tweed case, I’d like Pinto to give me the guitar because “[I] would obviously take better care of it than [he] did,” as Pinto said at the time.
I want to stand on stage at The Ryman with Preciosa and look through darkened Vuarnet-brand sunglasses as the great Gail Davies sings into the centerstage mic “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)” before stealing a little spotlight of my own by taking a solo on Music City’s most-revered stage.
I want to tour in and around Amsterdam with Americana troubadour David Olney, and make otherworldly noises with a nylon-string guitar and a foot pedal while he growls through his song, “Titanic.” I want to back-up East Nashville indie artist Amelia White as she supports her 2014 release Old Postcard, or Irene Kelley as she bends eras and ears with her distinctive brand of latter-day bluegrass. I want to do a gig with Richard Dobson, who wrote “Baby Ride Easy” on Johnny Cash’s latest posthumous album.
I want to trek into the California High Desert with legendary tour manager for the Rolling Stones and other rock and country luminaries Phil Kaufman, aka “The Road Mangler.” I want to hear from the man who lit a fireball visible for miles throughout Joshua Tree National Park what was going through his mind as he poured five gallons of gasoline into Gram Parsons’ casket.
I want to be in demand in studios throughout Nashville by day, play gigs with my East Nashville friends at night, and grow vegetables the size of my hometown of Mexia, Texas, in my backyard on the weekend.
I want to be Sergio Webb.