Words and Photos by Laura Roberts
It’s the last song of an hour-long set for a sea of ants on a hill on a Texas night in mid October…
Lincoln Durham has one string on his guitar.
And enough dirt in his voice to clog seven sinks in Louisiana.
“This is about a girl who can’t quit killing men,” he spouts, mic bumping up against his lips. His voice goes into a dog snarl.
Annie lay your six-guns down
Lest you find you’re six foot under ground
The sides of his head are shorn close and one piece of his slicked-back middle keeps falling in his face. He’s got a twisted, monopoly-man mustache and an overgrown soul patch. His sweat is making his forehead and cheeks shine like wood off a basketball gym floor.
Put on your rouge
Powder your nose
Hide your bow-legs under knee-high hose
You done shot a man, girl
His voice is a bit Ryan Bingham. A bit Tom Waits.
A bit New-Orleans-had-a-one-night-stand-with-Memphis.
Lincoln’s hand is slapping the thick one-string against the square box as his left hand climbs up and down the broomstick neck.
Red drums are strewn on the stage.
Like the crew took a smoke break during load-in and never came back.
Lincoln’s foot is kicking a drum with a lever—hard to tell how in the sea of drums.
But the one-string beat is steady as a White Stripe.
One…two…three, put him out of misery
Four…five…six, just to please them wicked kicks
You been burnin’ powder
You better burn the breeze
Forever legend as Annie Departee
The one-string continues to bend this way and that, as Lincoln’s voice and pores pour sweat.
Annie lay your six-guns down
You’ve been spreadin’ lead all over town
His thin red tie struggles to free itself from the wedge of his black button-up and git-fiddle.
Better take your black hat and paint it white
‘Fore a buscadero puts you in his sights
You done shot a man, now
Lincoln lets the chorus seep through his teeth once more, than drops the broomstick guitar neck and grabbles the silver mic with his mouth.
Let me tell you a little story about Annie now
His pulpit is littered with brimstone and fire from the audience of ants.
You see, Annie was known for her nasty reputation
Born with a short fuse already lit, and suffered from a chronic frustration
Most men would cower underneath the persecution of her pistol point
But every now and then, there’d be one seeking fame and find her at a local jip- joint
His left hand stretches out to the ants on the hill. His ring finger wears a thin anchor tattoo.
Somehow Annie always knew, and her eyes’d turn red
And all of a sudden there’d be a bullet in the belly of Fred,
or Steve, or George, or Rick
It don’t matter
The string bending beings to build.
Oh Annie, you done done it again, girl
You better change your evil ways
The fire pulpit vocals glow out the October night air, and make their final brand on the ant ears of the hill.
“You been burnin’ powder.
You better burn the breee-zeee!
Forever legend as…