Friday, March 19, 2010

Luckenbach, TX: Where the Cowboys and the Bikers Roam

Luckenbach, Texas seriously would not exist if it weren't for the music. And it was the music that brought me there. This is a one-horse town with only 3 buildings downtown...the original General Store (which was established in 1849 and which also houses the post-office and the town bar), the Dance Hall, and a restroom. Next to the restroom, there is an outdoor stage. Despite it's size, Luckenbach does have some fame to it's name, AND it has helped me to develop a deep appreciation and understanding of the value of Texas!

Nestled in the beautiful Texan Hill Country along the side of a little river, Luckenbach was originally developed as a trading post, one of the only trading posts that never broke it's peace treaty with the local native peoples. Eventually, the town became nearly abandoned. "An ad in the paper offering "town — pop. 3 — for sale" led Hondo Crouch, rancher and Texas folklorist, to buy Luckenbach for $30,000 in 1970....Hondo used the town's rights as a municipality to govern the dance hall as he saw fit." Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings started hanging out in those parts, playing shows, and soon wrote a song together about Luckenbach. Most recently, this town is known for being the site of Willie Nelson's annual 4th of July shindig, which drew in numerous musicians and music lovers, and for winning a Guinness Book record for the largest number of guitarists playing together at once. And these days, Luckenbach hosts live music and spontaneous jams nearly every day of the week.

Since I have been back in Texas, I have been to Luckenbach twice to see music. It is quite amazing to see the diversity of people who gather in this town. Elders, children, teenagers, parents, bikers, cowboys, people donning a stylish city flare, couples dancing the two-step, teens learning line dances from their grandmothers, and a rancher offering to take your picture with his long-horned steer for $7. Motorcylces and pickup trucks crowd the field. Leather jackts, cowboy hats, and dusty boots dot the crowd.

In the evenings, there is a surprising amount of security folk monitering the crowd's activity, for often when cowboys and bikers and alcohol mix, things have the potential of getting a little nasty! Luckily, I was not witness to such skirmishes! But, I was thrilled that I didn't need to wait to go to Mexico to have my cultural experience! Luckenbach and it's music scene is an experience of true Texas. I love love love how the music brings together so many different kinds of people in such an unpretentious atmosphere. Everyone can be comfortable being exactly who they are, no one is out of place, and most importantly everyone enjoys the talent shared through the music. It is hard to believe that I am actually starting to really like Texas! All of my assumptions and preconceived notions are being quickly dismantled by the good people and the beautiful land of the Texan Hill Country.

Please enjoy some of the music I have seen since being in Texas:

Stephanie Urbina Jones:

Jamie Wilson:

Terri Hendrix:

The Band of Heathens:

The Tejas Brothers:

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