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FLASHBACK: A star will shine over Terlingua, always - Odessa American: Celinda Hawkins

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FLASHBACK: A star will shine over Terlingua, always

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Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2014 7:30 am

There is nothing to ease breaking hearts quite like a little music, a blazing Terlingua sunset and a massive group hug! Thanks for the memories, La Kiva

--Voni Glaves, Facebook post on the passing of La Kiva owner Glenn Felts

A star went out in Terlingua Tuesday and now shines over the La Kiva bar, owned by Glenn Felts, who tragically died Tuesday. And now his friend and local river guide Tony Flint is in jail charged with murder.

“It’s a Beautiful Day,” by U2 is playing as I write this, courtesy of the La Kiva bar, perhaps in memory of  Glenn. But for the citizens of Terlingua, Tuesday was not a beautiful day.

I like so many people who have read the stories and posted their condolences on the La Kiva Facebook page had never met Glenn, nor have I  been to the legendary cave bar located off of Highway 170 at Terlingua Creek just outside of Big Bend National Park. I have never sampled a signature drink or tasted the barbecue and apparently, I have missed out. But I want to go.

I want to go feel the spirit of this unique gentle, artistic guy who, by trade, was an electrical engineer, who apparently decided that drinking “Mind Erasers” for a living was way more fun. That’s the quirky quip on the La Kiva website, describing the blue-eyed, golden haired bar owner known for wearing “gimme caps.”

Folks from all over the country have gone to the little subterranean bar, known for its cool interior and as a hub for all things artistic. It was built in 1979 by his even quirkier uncle, Gilbert Felts, a former high school social studies teacher, who is described as an adventurous free spirit and as a guy who “did all the things everyone else wanted to do but were afraid to.”

The inside of the bar was built with California redwood and according to his brother Milton, the place was originally going to be a fat farm, with the cave room outfitted with a hot tub. Alas, “Ole Gil” would pass too early too — and in 1989, his nephew took over the bar and never looked back.

Glenn turned the place in to a cool spot to be and a cool spot to be in. La Kiva has been featured in books and a couple of documentaries — one titled “Ghost Town: 24 Hours in Terlingua,” which won an Emmy in 2009, and “Barbecue, A Texas Love Story,” nominated for an Emmy in 2007. It was named one of the “50 best bars in America” and a place GQ magazine called “the #1 most bizarre bar you must visit before you die!”

Friends remember his gentle spirit and his willingness to help anyone. Glenn is remembered as funny, witty and a great conversationalist. And folks said there was no stronger supporter of the Terlingua music scene than Glenn.

This past Wednesday, hundreds of Glenn’s family members bundled up for the 886th Open Mic at the bar. It was held outside the bar at the entrance near where he was found by one of his kitchen employees. Open Mic held for the past 17 years, was led by musicians Moses Martinez and Ted Abrogast and a bunch of other musicians.

“Always to be and never forgotten,” Randy Pavlock posted on terlinguamusic.com. “Glenn will shine over Terlingua always.”

“When pain and heartache are passed around between such a vibrant and loving bunch of folks, it is more easily absorbed and our burden becomes a shared one,” posted Eyeball. “From what I have seen and felt lately, the people who knew and appreciated Glenn will pull through and become and even more strongly bonded group. We’ll keep his fire burning.”

There were lots of musicians who played at the mecca of music — Texas greats like Butch Hancock, Steve Fromholtz and rocker Joe King Carrasco.

 “I am gonna really miss Glenn — He influenced my life in so many ways — through my music and art. I even built my house to look like La Kiva,” Texas rocker Joe King Carrasco posted. “You could always count on Glenn — He was so positive — He was a steady hand in this crazy life.  He was West Texas. I wrote a lot of songs just hanging out at La Kiva — Life just won't be the same without him — It is hard to imagine Terlingua with out him. Adios Glenn.”

Vaya con Dios, Glenn.


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