Category: Allan’s Journey (Page 1 of 25)

RIP Dusty Hill

We lost an iconic fixture of Texas music yesterday, a mainstay legend and master of our great state’s historic blues-infused rock and roll. Dusty Hill, the bearded bassist for ZZ Top, apparently died overnight at his home in Houston. He was 72. He had a broken hip. No one is saying what killed him. My gut tells me it probably had something to do with pain killers associated with the hip – that’s what took Tom Petty out four years ago – but that’s only my speculation. What I know for sure is that for 50 years Dusty Hill provided the low rumble beneath every ZZ Top song that made their music feel so gritty and dirty and real.

As lead guitarist Billy Gibbons said yesterday, Dusty Hill was the “monumental bottom to the Top.’

This is Texas Monthly’s story on Hill’s passing. This is from Rolling Stone magazine. And this the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s collection of tributes from the music world.

I’ve seen the self-proclaimed “little ol’ band from Texas” in concert at least eight or nine times, from the floor at Reunion Arena in the mid ’80s to their 50th Anniversary Show in Austin two summers ago. Carrie-Anne and I saw ZZ Top and Aerosmith at StarPlex in Dallas in 2009. Carley and I saw them in Amarillo in 2017. If you’ve lived in Texas your whole life – anywhere in Texas – odds are you’ve seen ZZ Top. They played all the time in cities and venues large and small.

I won second row floor seats to a ZZ Top show during the Afterburner tour by being the correct caller and singing the opening lines of “La Grange” on Q-102 in Dallas. Bo Roberts provided the “Hauw, Hauw, Hauw.” I bought a silver ZZ key chain just like the ones in those three “Eliminator” videos at that concert and kept it all the way through college. I wore that “Afterburner” concert T-shirt until it fell off of me in the late ’90s. But I bought a new one at the 50th anniversary show in Austin and I’m wearing it today.

The genius of Billy, Dusty, and drummer Frank Beard is the consistency: same three guys, same three chords. From the early ’70s to just a couple of months ago, you always got the exact same thing at a ZZ Top concert: a stripped-down stage, the bare minimum on lighting, simple chords, easy lyrics, understated choreography, fuzzy guitars, and lots of references to the greatness of the Lone Star State. ZZ Top shows are always super loud and super fun. I’ll never know how they got so much out of two guitars and a drum, but they always did. Those three also had a tongue-in-cheek, satirical, almost ironic sense of their own stardom, of their fans, and of the whole scene. The only subtle thing about a ZZ Top  concert is the way they poke fun at themselves and at us while they’re performing. That was always part of the joy of a ZZ Top show. Those 20-inch beards, the cheap sunglasses, spinning fuzzy guitars with the aid of a prop on their belt buckles – they knew it was absurd. Beautifully, wonderfully absurd.

Gibbons is being quoted today as wanting to fulfill Dusty Hill’s wishes that the show go on without him. But can it? ZZ Top was scheduled to play here in Midland in December with George Thorogood and we were planning to attend as a family. But Dusty Hill was ZZ Top’s center of gravity. I don’t think it’s ZZ Top without Dusty’s barrelling bass. His growling harmonies. His powerful presence. No offense to Frank Beard, but that’s just Billy Gibbons doing solo.



That Didn’t Take Long

The minute we left Amarillo, the Vermillion family realized they were losing a significant stream of steady revenue for their Blue Sky restaurants. And one of their most passionate advocates. So, they’re getting this one built as quickly as they can in Midland. I don’t know when this newest Blue Sky at Midkiff Road and Loop 250 will officially open, but the signs have gone up and we’re monitoring it closely.

Once this iconic Amarillo establishment opens up for business here, my whole world will again be at peace. I’m assuming they will make their buns on site every day and carefully build their burgers with the freshest beef and the perfect combination of vegetables just like they’ve done for years at 1-40 and Western. The hot ham and cheese sandwich will still be surprisingly excellent. The fried jalapenos and crispy french fries will perfectly complement the burger or the ham and cheese. And the hand-spun shakes will come with a massive pile of whipped cream on top.






By the way, this newest Blue Sky is situated exactly halfway between our new house here in Midland and our new church at GCR. The most perfect location anyone could have chosen. Thank you, Rex and E.A.! Now, hurry up and get this thing opened!



Thank You, Amarillo!

For a little over eight years, I’ve been blessed to write a monthly faith column for the Amarillo Globe News  – actually, it’s a little more than monthly; it’s every four weeks. Today’s column was my last word to the city of Amarillo, a big thank you and a reminder of how good we Christians have it in the Yellow City.

And. Of course. In the printed edition of today’s paper, my farewell column ran with my friend Gene Shelburne’s byline and mug shot instead of mine.

That sounds just about right.

Gene is already petitioning the paper to rerun the column, with an apology, in tomorrow’s edition in a “high exposure page position.” He’s very kind. We’d probably both be disappointed to learn how little this really matters. At any rate, the online version of the Globe News contains the column with my name and cheesy mug. You can read it by clicking here.



Dear Golf Course Road

I can’t adequately express to you the excitement we’re experiencing, nor the tremendous anticipation we’re feeling, for what our God has in store for us together. There’s no doubt in our minds that our Lord has brought us together at this time for very specific reasons. And we really can’t wait to join you in doing his work and his will together in Midland.

We’re so thankful for the faith and confidence you’ve placed in me and my family to represent our Lord and his church at Golf Course Road. That blessing and responsibility are not lost on us. We feel so honored by you and our God. It is sacred to us. We respect it. We cherish it. And we’re going to keep it.

Thank you so much for the warm welcome you’re already giving us. The texts and emails from our new family at GCR are such a source of strength and encouragement, a lot of them coming from people we haven’t even met yet. Even this morning, the offers of assistance and friendly ‘hellos’ keep coming in. We can feel the excitement out there all the way up here. And it gives us great hope while we dwell among the moving boxes and the sad goodbyes.

There’s a weird thing that happens to any preacher who makes a decision to leave one congregation and move to another. It happens the day after the announcement is made and everything’s official, and it continues for at least a couple of weeks. A little doubt. Some questions. Am I doing the right thing? Am I truly following God or something else? Is this going to be better? Or maybe not as good?

It’s funny. You can pray and talk and discern and be very holy with the Lord and your family and come to a godly decision, but something happens right after it’s official. Human nature, probably. In the hours and days right after the announcement, you’re overwhelmed by all the people you love so much. They call you, email you, text you, and come by your office to see you. You’re reminded of all the really great memories and wonderful men and women you’ve had the honor to serve. You’re surprised by some of the things God was doing through you that you didn’t even know about. It’s all really very good and it’s almost disorienting.

But our Father keeps reminding me through the calls, emails, and texts from Midland that he is the one moving us west and the way is already prepared. He’s way out in front of us on this. He is ready. The timing is his. GCR is prepared. The shepherds there are humble and honest men who have hearts for loving God’s people. GCR’s folks are committed to the congregation and to each other and to what God wants to do in Midland and beyond. I’m equipped and experienced, by his grace, to help make a Kingdom difference there. The fit is right. And his will is to do something magnificent in us and through us together. So, we’re going to roll up our sleeves and work really hard and love really well and have an absolute blast in the flood of his blessings!

We’re trying to get to Midland as fast as we can. Each trip out there, every person we’ve met, has been a great blessing to us. Your kindness and generosity is overwhelming. We’re so ready to meet more of you – all of you! – and start returning the favors. And we’re looking forward to many years of faithful service together at Golf Course Road.

“We are delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but our lives as well, because you are becoming so dear to us.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Be assured that I am in constant conversation with our Lord about GCR and Midland and our new partnership together. Please be in fervent prayer for us as we prepare to join Golf Course Road Church of Christ. May our God bless us richly. And may his will be done at GCR and in Midland, Texas just as it is in heaven.

Your servant in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ,


Congratulations Sherri Coale!

Sherri Coale, the legendary women’s basketball coach at the University of Oklahoma, has announced her retirement after an incredible 25-year run. Coale is the story today. But the point of this post is to direct your attention to me and to my admittedly loose connection to this rock star of a hoops coach.

Sherri Coale was Sherri Buben when we were in college together at Oklahoma Christian University. She played point guard for the nationally ranked Lady Eagles basketball team, winning Sooner Athletic Conference championships and competing for NAIA regional and national titles. She was a relentless competitor, a fiery defender, a fearless driver of the lane, and she saw absolutely everything on the court. She was a leader in every aspect of the word.

Sherri was two years ahead of me in school. By the time I became Sports Director at KOCC and began handling the play-by-play for OC sports, I was a sophomore and Sherri was a senior. We didn’t know each other very well at all. But I was on the sidelines and voiced the call for every single dribble, drive, and shot of Sherri’s spectacular senior season. In this picture of Sherri that OC likes to use, you can see me in the background on the left at center court. That’s little 20-year-old Allan calling OC basketball at the Eagles Nest. Sherri looks like she’s about to steal an in-bounds pass or take a charge. I look like I’m about to miss it.

Sherri had coached Norman High School to a couple of 6A state championships when OU came calling. The Sooners women’s basketball team had been famously abolished six years earlier for a lack of wins, a lack of players, and a lack of any real interest. She took the gig as an incredible underdog and quickly rose to the pinnacle of the sport, guiding OU to the national championship game in 2002. All told, Sherri recruited, promoted, and coached OU to 19 national tournament appearances, three Final Fours, six Big XII regular season championships, and four conference tournament titles. She and her long-time OC teammate, friend, and assistant coach Jan Ross coached 14 WNBA draft picks at OU, including six first-rounders. And Sherri was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

It was a thrill for me to run into Sherri once or twice a year while I was Sports Director at KRLD in Dallas. Back then the Big XII women’s tournament was held at Reunion Arena and I would make it a point to attend at least a couple of their games. It was cool to walk across the floor and greet Sherri and Jan while their team was warming up. Again, we don’t know each other very well at all. But we had the OC connection and we both were genuinely pleased with the other’s career successes.

Congratulations, Sherri. I’m very happy for you and proud of all you’ve accomplished. You’ve positively impacted each of the hundreds of young ladies you’ve coached and the countless numbers of others who watch you from afar. You are to be commended for the positive Christ-like influence you have on everyone you meet. I don’t know what’s next for you, but your spirited grit and determination make anything possible.



Spring Break in Amarillo

I was enjoying my iced tea outside on the front porch at Roaster’s yesterday afternoon. Sunny and 75-degrees. Not a cloud in the sky and not any bit of wind at all. Short sleeves. Sunglasses. One of those perfect Amarillo days. But we were under a blizzard warning for the following day. Sure enough, the clouds started rolling in at about 6:00 last evening. The lightning and thunder and sleet started at 4:00 this morning. Right now it’s 31-degrees and the heavy snow is blowing sideways in a 40-50 mph North wind that’s gusting to near 60. The wind chill is minus 17. Visibility is an eighth of a mile.

By the way, we had seven tornadoes Saturday night. And it’ll be sunny and 70 again this weekend.

Unlike the cartoon cat, I’m not complaining. I actually enjoy the crazy swings in weather up here. This is the only place in Texas where you truly get all four seasons and, sometimes, you get them in the same week.



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