Music source of community pride

By Clyde Davis: CNJ Columnist

Before getting into this week’s column, I need to announce a route change on the Oct. 4 bicycle ride to raise awareness on domestic abuse.

The route change comes in response to readers who responded with a real intent to ride, so it seems worthwhile. The ride will now be to Portales, rather than Grady, due to safety issues.

In a couple of weeks, literally, Clovis will celebrate its music history, a history which is honorable and international in scope. People come on tour groups from the British Isles for this particular event, and those related to it. For us, all we need to do is set aside one or more days Sept. 4-6 for the Clovis Music Festival and save up some spare change for tickets.

This year I am paired with a music teacher, working with a learning community at Eastern New Mexico University focused on the theme of rock ‘n’ roll. Since one component of a learning community is community involvement, the festival offers my freshman students the opportunity to experience life as a roadie. No community event of this scope can function without willing volunteers, and volunteering gives my students a chance to learn experientially.

The question may arise — why? Why is it important to recognize, foster, and celebrate the importance of a small High Plains town in the history of rock music? The tempting answer is, if you have to ask, then it can’t be explained, but beyond that flippancy, let’s recognize community pride and historical significance.

That the blend of music sometimes known as rockabilly, morphed into country or southern rock, morphed into a number of variants today, was strongly interconnected with Clovis, is kind of amazing. Obviously, it was happening elsewhere, but a lot was happening here.

Let’s make a comparison. Seattle, a much larger city, also has a powerful music heritage — and not just grunge rock, though that is the first thing that comes to mind. Hendrix had his roots there. Gary Puckett and the Union Gap came from fairly close by. Though it has much more going on as a town, Seattle still considers that part of its life to be of major importance.

As I reminded my students the other day, we are on the third generation of rock ‘n’ roll. Put another way,” the music your grandparents listened to at sock hops is recognizably related to what you are listening to. The teenage culture of which they were a part is recognizably related to your culture as teenagers.

Much about our country is imported.

Last week, my wife, who had gone to Santa Fe, brought me a wonderful present from a new casino opening. The irony of this bison figurine, symbol of Native American prowess, is that he was made in China. Many of our foods, our music, our drama, etc., are also imports. On the short list of original American art forms are jazz, decoys, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Within the next couple of weeks, take time to become aware of the music festival. You will no doubt enjoy it. You can take pride in the role our community has played. You might even find a way to become involved yourself.


Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and a college instructor. He can be contacted at:

clyde_davis@yahoo.com