Texas Twang #16: The Legend of Bill Haite
Bill Haite is a man of few words. Maybe it’s standoffishness or maybe he’s just shy like all the other greats. After all, when he takes to the stage, he turns his back to the audience like a lost Blind Lemon Jefferson or a young Johnny Cash unsure of himself. Or maybe he’s just saving all the glory for other deserving souls.
But the minute Haite straps on a six-string, he comes out guns-a-blazin’ and you’ll quickly change your tune. Right off you realize he’s deeply schooled in everything from Chuck Willis to Tom Waits, and lonesome afternoons. His gutsy brand of twangy blues with swaggering time-changes only helps add to the man and the myth.
His mastery of stomp rock roots is easily seen but at heart Haite’s a rambler, a gambler. His lyrics are a mess of bluesy prophecy and folk poetry with a side of exhaust pipe. Everything from amped-up riffs to love and hate slip in. It’s straight up jalopy blues, the kind you might have sold your soul to the devil for. It’s stark, and dark and dangerous, but you’ll like it anyway cause you ain’t seen nothing like it since the lost days of Stax and Chess.
Drummer Michael Stuart Allison is just as lost too. Mind you, he’s got mad chops but we wonder how he can keep a steady beat with a madman at the helm. Fear not though kiddos, Allison is schooled in all things jazzy beats too that somehow manages to keep the unsteady stream of homegrown guitar chops moving. He is the sane one after all or maybe they trade off. Who knows, it just adds to the legend of those lucky nights when you find yourself taking in a White Walls show.
And the thing is, you just never know when a show will happen. Haite might be in Texas or Louisiana or somewhere inbetween. You just have to be in the right place at the right time. Or you could just happen upon these young outlaws at your local watering hole down by a bayou somewhere or possibly in a tatted-up train station. You could get lucky and happen upon the duo in a dark alley or at a crossroads. Don’t be frightened. Just roll up a cig and take it all in, you might not get the chance again.
It’s history in the making, a story you’ll pass on to your kids on a distant Sunday morning reminiscing about the legend of man named Bill Haite and the thunderous time-keeping drummer who went along for one hell of a rockin’ good ride.