Marfa Myths brings psychedelic legend to town
By JOHN DANIEL GARCIA
MARFA – Austin psychedelic music icon Roky Erickson is scheduled to appear at 8:30pm this evening on the Marfa Visitor Center stage with his backing band, Hounds of Baskerville as part of this year’s Marfa Myths festival.
Erickson, whose long and storied 51-year career has been marked with drug addiction, mental health issues, and periods of virtually no musical activity, has rebounded in both his personal and professional life over the past decade. In that time, fans have seen a more active Erickson with gigs at Coachella and Austin’s Levitation Fest among other large venues around the world.
Though he may have been off stage through a bulk of the 1980s and 90s, his music – with and without his legendary psychedelic band The 13th Floor Elevators – gained popularity through that era with the use of their hit single “You’re Gonna Miss Me” in film and television.
His reemergence onto the music scene over the past decade has seen him not only play large festivals, but has also led to forays into European markets where he had never played, even at the height of the Elevators’ fame; as well as an induction into the Austin Music Hall of Fame and the awarding of Austin Musician of the Year.
“They make it real easy on me,” he told the Marfa Big Bend Sentinel of his return to the stage.
The past decade has also seen a revitalization of the music Erickson made famous, with psychedelic music enjoying a second wave with bands such as Austin’s Black Angels, who have backed Erickson on several occasions, culminating with their 2014 joint effort, Thank God For Civilization.
Erickson and The Black Angels also released a DVD, Night Of The Vampire, in 2010.
“I like all these new bands,” said Erickson of the modern psychedelic scene, adding that he tries to keep up with new music. “I’m always finding good stuff … I listen to KUT a lot and there’s some radio you can listen to on cable now.”
For the past couple of years, Erickson has also begun performing with his son Jegar’s band, The Hounds of Baskerville, despite decades of estrangement.
“It’s good [playing with Jegar]. He really likes it. There’s a lot of family here right now,” he said, asking his son how he likes playing while on speakerphone.
“Yeah, it’s perfect,” Jegar said.
While on the road, Erickson looks to a steady supply of books, movies, and relaxing activities to keep his mind at peace and gain inspiration for new music.
“I heard Marfa has places that are very heavy, like, on the atmosphere. So long as you don’t get lost,” he laughed, adding that he looks for musical inspiration while on tour. “We bring a lot of books, getting ideas for [new music]. I have a theory that books – [the writers] are studying the same things, using the same ideas, working together. I use that to get new ideas for songs.”
One recent idea, he added, came from the 1988 horror film Child’s Play, which introduced the world to a child’s doll possessed by a dying murderer’s soul.
Erickson is also looking forward to his time in Marfa, which will extend beyond his time on stage.
“We’ll be down there two nights. Jegar is driving us down in his swank RV. I’m really looking forward to doing the relaxation thing,” he said.
For Jegar Erickson, performing alongside his iconic father has been a blessing.
“It’s been incredible. One moment where it really hit me was when I was playing harmonica at the Elevators’ reunion. I looked at him and saw, like, 30 seconds of his youth. It was priceless. You can’t put into words how it felt getting a glimpse of him in his youth,” said Jegar.
The fact that he’s back in father’s life, however, has been the best part of Jegar’s time performing with Roky.
“It’s been really awesome, especially after I became a father,” he said. “I cook a lot and he loves my cooking. We often get together and we have family meals. It’s just cool.”
Limited tickets for Roky Erickson and The Hounds of Baskerville will be available at the door of the Marfa Visitor Center for $30 tonight.