‘Million dollar’ musician
Buxton played with Texas legends
Huey Buxton picks up his fiddle and turns on Lamar’s NPR station in Beaumont.
He practices to the classical music.
“Didn’t you play with the Million Dollar Band?” his barber asked him one day.
Huey thought for a moment. “Well, I played with Johnny Gimble so I guess you could say it was close.” The Million Dollar Band, featured on “Hee Haw” for many years, included Gimble, Floyd Cramer, Chet Atkins, Boots Randolph, Roy Clark and Danny Davis.
Buxton and his son Steve own a recording studio, Soundstage, at Texas 12 and Aery Road in Vidor, filled with memorabilia such as the “Reserved Parking For Hank Snow” sign; and the stories Huey tells about Bob Wills, George Jones and others.
“George and I were playing at the Fox Theater … and he and I were walking one day and Carl Belew had this song out called, ‘Am I That Easy to Forget?’ And George said, ‘Boy I wish I could sing like that guy.’ Well, nobody remembers Carl Belew, but they sure know who George is.”
Huey plays fiddle from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursdays at McKenzie’s Pub in Beaumont with Tracy Byrd bandmates Britt Godwin and Bubba Moore. Sometimes “special guests” show up. “You never know who’s going to stop by,” says Huey, 74, who adds of his age, “I tell everybody I finally made it to the big “5-0” – 24 times.”
Huey is driven to McKenzie’s by his friend Gene Brown because Huey can’t drive. He’s had macular degeneration since 1995. He can still see, but not when he looks at something straight on. If he looks off to the side he can see a little better.
Huey once applied for disability assistance but decided it wasn’t worth the trouble.
“I’ve been self-employed all my life,” he says. “The extra money would only be about $100 more a month, and Medicare costs more than that. I just don’t have time for that stuff. I’ve got things to do.”
Huey’s stories feature Yvonee’s on 11th Street, the old Showboat club on the Sabine; and musicians such as Slim Watts, Charlie Tyler and Buddy Quillen.
Or Jimmy Dennis, who played with Ray Price. Or Casey Dickens, who went on from Huey’s band to play with Bob Wills. Or the Light Crust Doughboys, where Wills got his start.
“I used to play [the Swamp Pop standard] ‘Mathilda’ but Jimmy Dennis didn’t like that kind of stuff. All the country guys called me a rock and roller, and all the rock and rollers called me country.”
Huey himself played with Wills in the ‘70s. “He was the greatest bandleader who ever lived,” Huey says. “Because he promoted his musicians so well. He didn’t consider himself no ‘big meat.’ He was just one of the guys and everybody loved playing with him.”
Steve, a drummer, spent time playing around Nashville and had a job ready with Jake Hess, who had played with Elvis. But something happened and the band broke up. Steve returned home and the Buxtons started Soundstage in the early ‘90s recording with “DAT” tape, the popular form about 15 years ago.
Now they record directly to a computer hard drive, which allows for more tracks and a fuller sound. They offer ‘demo’ recordings for considerably less than a Nashville studio would charge.
The studio suffered flooding and other damage from Hurricane Ike, but is recovering.
In addition to Steve, Huey and his wife of 54 years, Wanda, have a daughter, Melody; and another son, David.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have played with a lot of good musicians,” Huey says.
For more information about Soundstage, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or call 769-6332.