Blaze of glory: Singer-songwriter Foley gets his due with new film, Gurf Morlix album

from Birmingham News on

He was Lucinda Williams’ “Drunken Angel,” a stubborn, fiery, truculent musician with a self-destructive streak.


But Blaze Foley, an Austin singer-songwriter (1949-1989), left an even greater legacy than this one indelible tribute song.


His memory endures in the minds of friends, colleagues and other songwriters. His original tunes have been covered by John Prine, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.


He’s the subject of a new documentary, “Blaze Foley: Duct Tape Messiah,” that’s set to make the rounds of film festivals. Also, a significant chunk of his catalog is being revived by Gurf Morlix, a performer and producer who knew Foley well.


“Blaze was a unique individual,” Morlix says. “I don’t think of him as a genius; he was almost tortured by choice. I saw him get kicked out of bars, with good reason. I loved him, anyway.”


Birmingham-area listeners should be able to hear that affection in Morlix’s voice tonight, when he plays some of Foley’s material at Moonlight on the Mountain. The setlist will pull from Morlix’s latest album, which features his renditions of 15 Foley songs.


The 7:30 p.m. agenda also will include a screening of “Duct Tape Messiah,” plus a question-and-answer session with director Kevin Triplett.


The documentary took about 12 years to make, Triplett says, with stops and starts due to funding problems, editing issues and the legal entanglements of Foley’s songbook. He conducted 127 interviews and shot about 345 hours of footage, eventually trimming the film down to two versions of 70 and 52 minutes. (The latter will be shown at the Moonlight.)


“I wasn’t really able to follow Blaze Foley around with a camera,” Triplett says. “All I had were his friends. The big question, when you’re making a documentary like this one, is who’s going to tell the story. I had to find five or six characters that the audience would come to know and trust.”

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