We were on a day trip out of Austin, Texas and we had visited some wineries, spotted some longhorns and ended in Gillespie County near Fredericksburg, Texas. We still had several hours before “bat time” in Austin so we decided that it would be fun to get “back to the basics of love” and visit Luckenbach…you know, the town in the famous song “Luckenbach, Texas” by Waylon Jennings. Yeh, that town!
We headed our Highlander east on Route 290 turned right on RR 1376. Five miles later we turned onto the Luckenbach Town Loop and we were there, Luckenbach, Texas: Population 3! The first thing we noticed were huge parking lots. We didn’t know it then, but Luckenbach is a major venue for country music with over 300 events held here every year. There’s also a large campground adjacent to the town proper so there’s room for lots of people here! However, our visit was on a quiet August Thursday afternoon and there were only a few cars parked by the General Store.
Some Luckenbach History
After parking we wandered around a bit. There’s not a lot here these days, basically just the General Store, a dance hall, and a few chickens roaming around. But, Luckenbach has a long history dating back to 1849 when it was establish as a Trading Post catering to local settlers and resident Comanches. The area around the Trading Post grew with the addition of a cotton gin and a blacksmith shop, a school and the post office. But, by 1970 the little town had declined so much that it was put up for sale.
Enter, Hondo Crouch, Guich Koock and Kathy Morgan; the population of 3. They had big imaginations and lots of fun. Hondo was the mayor and Kathy was the town sheriff. They turned Luckenbach into a destination for anything fun: a World’s Fair, Chili Contests, a Mud Dauber Festival and of course a venue for music with all kinds of guitar pickers coming here to play their songs. (The world record for people playing guitars was set in 2009 when 1859 pickers gathered here to play the town’s song “Back to the Basics of Love”!)
Hondo and his population of 3 built the new Luckenbach’s foundation on music and in turn, music made the town what it is today. Luckenbach took its first step towards country music immortality in 1973 after Jerry Jeff and his Lost Gonzo Band recorded their album Viva Terlingua here in the dancehall. And of course, Luckenbach’s immortality was sealed when Waylon and Willie released their hit song in 1977.
Honda and Marge are gone now. And these days the Post Office is the General Store and saloon. But Luckenbach’s music tradition carries on with live music every day and hundreds of concerts a year. It’s also a popular place for dances and weddings and it’s a destination for country music aficionados from all over the world.
Back to Our Visit
We were browsing through the General Store, checking out the hats and tee shirts when we heard music. We followed the sounds outside to the back of the store and discovered two guys playing guitars. These two, David Harris and Harlie Aaron, are the personification of country music! We sat down on the benches and blissfully listened to a couple of songs in this perfect country music setting. Perhaps it was too ideal to be true because suddenly there was a cloudburst and the rain started pouring down.
Cloudburst? No problem! David simply moved the concert into the General Store! There he continued to play for the rest of the afternoon taking requests and playing a few songs of his own choosing. He was never stumped by anyone’s song choice…I think he knows every country song ever written.
There were about ten of us in the saloon area. David, us, about six other tourists, and several locals who wandered in and out as the afternoon progressed. Everyone was very relaxed and friendly, just enjoying an afternoon of great music and a Shiner Bock or two! I guess you could say, “Out in Luckenbach, Texas, ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain”!
Finally, someone asked David to play the town’s namesake song. At last we were to hear “Luckenbach” while actually IN Luckenbach! David first told us that the song was written by two guys, Chips Moman and Bobby Emmons, who had never been to Luckenbach. Then the song was popularized by Waylon Jennings, who also had never been to Luckenbach! Waylon has since corrected that by performing at Luckenbach during one of Willie Nelson’s annual 4th of July Picnics.
David nailed “Luckenbach”, of course!
Where Everybody is Somebody
We felt like somebody while in Luckenbach. Of course everyone does because the town’s slogan is “Where Everybody is Somebody.” We can’t wait to return and get back to “feelin’ no pain!”
Here’s a clip of Waylon Jennings singing : Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love).
Here’s Luckenback’s Home Page: http://www.luckenbachtexas.com
And, finally, here’s a link to David’s page: https://www.facebook.com/dharrisroots86/
P.S. I can’t get that song out of my head!!!