Bojangles Music School
By Lance Scott Walker
SINCE 2007, BOJANGLES MUSIC SCHOOL HAS OPERATED AS A FLOATING NETWORK OF INSTRUCTORS GIVING PRIVATE LESSONS ALL OVER HOUSTON, BUT NOW FOUNDER SHAWN PARKS HAS OPENED A BONA FIDE MUSIC SCHOOL RIGHT ABOVE THE STALWART ROCKIN’ ROBIN GUITARS AND MUSIC ON SOUTH SHEPHERD, WITH OLD SEATS FROM THE ASTRODOME IN THE WAITING ROOM AND EACH PRACTICE ROOM NAMED AFTER A LEGENDARY TEXAS-BORN GUITARIST.
Of all the people you named the rooms after, who has been the most unknown entity to the students?
Probably Johnny Winter. Not a lot of them know who Johnny Winter is, or Lightnin’, which kills me. Go home and listen to Lightnin’ Hopkins, man!
Are kids going home and looking him up?
Oh, yeah. It’s great, man. They come in and they wanna learn a Lightnin’ Hopkins song, which we’ve got to clear with their parents lyrically before we teach it to ’em! But that’s a good problem to have.
It’s interesting, because Lightnin’s songs were just a few chords, but the way he plucked around on the guitar was very sophisticated, so you’re almost teaching kids to improvise in a way, right?
It’s like anything – you gotta learn the rules and follow them until you can break them. Music’s that way, and Lightnin’ was the king of that, playing a little out of time, a little out of tune, but it just worked. It was just magic. And a lot of the stuff that he wrote is so metaphorical that kids understand it on the face value end, but to me, if they keep these songs with them, later on they’ll get the deeper meaning – a lot of times, a sexual meaning – behind a lot of the stuff that he wrote, and that stuff will be valid later on in their lives.
It’s all an investment in their futures.
That’s it. I’m in a real cool place where not only do I get to influence the next generation of Houston musicians, but at the same time I can put some really steady money in the pockets of the guys who are out here trying to do it right now that should be doing it. That are doing what they’re supposed to do on this planet – playing their instrument. I think about that every day. That’s one of the coolest things for me, to have some influence and some impact on the Houston music scene. This is my hometown. I love it here.