The Real Deal


Sal Valentino

If it’s real you can touch it, hear it, see it. If it’s real it’s like a bird in your hand. If it’s real you can find it on a fretboard, maybe. If it’s real it’s a comfort, if it’s real it’s something you can depend on. If it’s real you can bet your bottom dollar, if it’s real you can bet your life on it, if it’s real you can marry the damn girl. If it’s real you can do it again in real time.

If it’s real you can ask your songwriting friends to show up in the mountains of New Mexico. In Texas everything is big, in New Mexico they don’t talk about big, because things are so big you can’t see that far.

If it’s real you trust it like a tuned up guitar. If it’s real you always come back for more. If it’s real you might even applaud so they play another song. If it’s real you might do it all year long, but not much in the summer. If it’s real you might just hang stage curtains and play music for a decade where you park your car.

If it’s real you’ll have to rent the chairs, every time. If it’s real you’ll have to put on your gloves and stack the chairs you put out. If it’s real you’ll have to take them back, every time. If it’s real the writer stays in the guest room. If it’s real they’re playing tomorrow night in Taos, or Albuquerque, or Los Alamos.

If it’s real there is no sound check, if it’s real there are great lights. If it’s real there’s not another seat in the house. If it’s real everybody brings food.

If it’s real all the money goes to the musicians, real money, and you don’t charge for the room. If it’s real it’s worth being the best gig in the state of New Mexico. Somebody’s gotta do it. How come when you say that, it sounds like you’re talking to me?

If it’s real you gotta sell their merch. The real writers, the real authors, the real players, the real people that would appreciate them, sounds like a dream. Good gig is just a good gig. If it’s real you have to make room for all the parked cars, if it’s real it won’t snow the night of your show (The only cancelled show: Peter Case…too much snow).

If it’s real enough people will show up, if it’s real you sweat enough people will show up, every time. If it’s real your act won’t break a string, if it’s real you’ll have to do the first set after putting out the ice, and the chips, and the free beer, if it’s real that won’t matter. If it’s real you’ll probably trade tunes later.

If it’s real that won’t stop you, if it’s real you can do it your own way. If it’s real it might just be gooder’n hell. If it’s real it might just be how it has always been done, simple, ingenious. No smoke, no mirrors. Just the music, and the road. The Real Deal, 2003-2013. Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Don & Victoria Armstrong
The Banded Geckos


Eric Brace & Peter Cooper

Bill Browder
Scott Cadenasso


Dana Cooper

Layton DePenning


Jerry Faires


Steven Fromholz & Tommy Elskes


Butch Hancock

Bill & Bonnie Hearne


Michael Hearne


Sarah Hickman

David Moerbe


Geoff Muldaur & Bob Neuwirth

David Olney


Mark Olson & Ingunn Ringvold


Chuck Pyle


Sam Richardson

Donald Rubenstein


Shake Russell


Keith Sykes

Eric Taylor


Trout Fishing In America


Sal Valentino


Ben Zeller

If it’s real you can also put on a Writers in the Round and read from books, recollections and cowboy poetry, and you can take the Real Deal to Hyde Park Theatre, in Austin, before all was said and done: Geoff Muldaur, Bob Neuwirth, and I got real on stage together, and Austin’s Denim and I did an encore date after that. Oh, yeah. Got real if you want it.

One thought on “The Real Deal”

  1. You’ve always been real my friend. Kept it real from the 70’s in Houston and throughout your incredible journey. I hosted a series of house concerts in Brooklyn for a couple of years, right after 9/11. It was so important to give back, bring the community together and provide the opportunity for others to tell their stories, both from the stage and in the crowd. Respect and Love always my dear friend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *