“I’m the kind of guy who can’t be satisfied
With only an acre or two;
I prefer a place got plenty of space,
Nothing short of Texas will do.” (J. Lilly 2012)
Texas is indeed a big place, and I’ve had a big time here for the past week. I arrived late Sunday night/Monday morning, October 21/22. The drive from Louisiana was extended near Houston when I-10 was inexplicably closed, and traffic was diverted to some unmarked and arbitrary artery. I had an interesting hour or so finding my way back to the highway – the GPS lady simply didn’t understand what was happening! The only good part was discovering the coolest neon sign for a Mexican restaurant I have ever seen.
I arrived at Tom and Elizabeth Pittman’s house about 12:30 a.m. – glad to be back in Austin! Monday was all about recuperation. That evening I met up with Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz – friends from West Virginia – who were in Austin to see Tracy’s son Peter and family. Tracy and Peter played Cajun music at Evangeline’s Monday night, which made for a nice transition after my stay in Louisiana. I played at Evangeline the following night, sharing the bill with the totally wonderful Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay. Everyone really enjoyed their set and their original songs. My set included several numbers with Brennen on mandolin and harmony vocals. What a treat!
Wednesday was the busiest and best day of my week in Texas. I spent the afternoon rehearsing for the evening show at the Cactus Cafe, with Floyd Domino (piano), Joe Manuel (guitar), Beth Chrisman (fiddle) and Melissa Carper (bass). I don’t know about anyone else, but I enjoy rehearsing! Afterwards Floyd and Joe and I shared war stories. They have both had great careers playing with people including George Strait, Merle Haggard, Asleep at the Wheel, and others. I was honored to visit and share the stage with them! The show Wednesday evening was a highlight of the tour, also one of the most enjoyable nights I’ve ever had as a performer. The sound was perfect, the musicians were stellar, and I was grinning from ear to ear. The Carper Family played a fine opening set. And it didn’t hurt to have my old buddy Bill Kirchen get up and join us for the last few songs.
Thursday Elizabeth and I rode out to Marble Falls to see Elizabeth’s father, Dr. Ivan Shepherd.
Friday afternoon I went to the huge Austin Record Show, where I found a super-rare Willie Nelson double-LP. Sweeeet!
My Friday night house concert was at a beautiful home in northwest Austin, hosted by Daren Appelt. It was a glorious setting, and Daren was a terrific host. The people who came were a great audience, though I think we all wished there had been a few more folks in the house. Good show, nonetheless.
On Saturday, I took a day trip to the famous Luckenback, Texas. It was a fine fall day, and the drive was very scenic. Luckenback is a bit of a low-key tourist trap, but worth the trip. I decided I needed a cowboy hat. What do you think???
Saturday night I went to the Broken Spoke for a dance lesson, then went downtown to the Driskill Hotel, where I sat in with Floyd Domino and Rick McRae. This was a lot of fun!
Sunday was busy, busy. I packed up from the Pittman home and drove to Dripping Springs, where my old friend Bill Paige and his wife, Claudia, hosted an outdoor house concert. Brennen and Noel played the opening set and sounded great!
Then I drove back into Austin for our show at Threadgill’s. Once again, Brennen and Noel played an excellent opening set, and Brennen joined me for a few duets. Threadgill’s video tapes and streams these shows, so we were on TV! I received a copy of the footage, so hopefully I can post a few clips to YouTube. Stay tuned!
After the show, I went down to the Continental Club and sang a few songs with the band Heybale – some heavy hitters in that band, as well! Nowhere else but in Austin can you find this much classic country music!
I hated to leave, but Monday was a travel day. I drove to Dallas and spent a couple of hours at the Kennedy assassination museum at the former Texas Book Repository – the supposed vantage point of Lee Harvey Oswald and his “magic bullet.” It was fascinating, troubling, and deeply moving to see and walk around this horrible and hallowed place.
Someday I’ll come back to Texas – hopefully before too long – but tomorrow I start my homeward swing. First stop, Memphis!