I need to do better at this, but I started off with such strong lineups that I really feel a need to save up until I have some experiences worthy of your time. The time has come.
I’ll start here and work my way back. Easter Sunday – Luckenbach. I’ve never been there until maybe 6 months ago. This trip, I found it without relying on anything but memory. On stage – indoors at the dancehall, another first for me – was Brian Keane (“She Likes the Beatles,” “Barlight,” “I’ll Sing About Mine,” former RRB member, former Heathen, etc.), Matt Powell (“Dragonfly,” “Dandelion,” better songs that aren’t as catchy), and Walt Wilkins (Pat Green’s respectable hits, rain dancer, hill country shaman). This is one that, if you’re a fan of songs that play just as well on paper as they do on stage, needs no more words. Done.
Back it up a Sunday on the calendar, and I’m seeing Walt again. This time, we’re on the rooftop of the newly renovated River Road Ice House in New Braunfels, TX. If you’ve been before, it was sort of run down, in a warm by the river sort of way, but that was starting to give way to a different feel. Nick, P.J., and the guys have made it much more communal. Johnny Burke usually hosts these Sunday afternoon “Rooftop Rambles,” but he’s off in LA with the Turnpike guys and Jaida Dreyer. It’s all Walt – and I’m okay with that. It’s also free links on light bread and free bacon as part of the bloody mary bar. There’s dawgs wandering around and even a parrot who almost falls victim to canine intervention. Smilin’ Al Barlow is up front, too. Walt does a fantastic acoustic show, the weather is phenomenal, and he pays tribute to the founder of the Kerrville Folk Festival as well. I’d say more, but I’m trying to keep things short. Oh well.
After the early show, we head down to Phoenix Saloon for Jordan Minor and Shad Blair – solid songwriting for the depressed. And I mean that in the nicest of ways. Promise.
Back it up another week and I run into Big John Mills at Callahan’s in Austin (Saturday), Jamey Johnson and Billy Joe Shaver at John T. Floore’s in Helotes (Friday night), the now freshly defunct Sons of Fathers joining The Dirty River Boys on stage at Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, TX, and Gary Floater no-showing at LoneStar Music (both Thursday).
Aww, what the hell, let’s go back one more Sunday for Luckenbach and bring this thing full circle. Kent Finlay, proprietor of Cheatham St. and songwriter (most notably RRB’s “Call It The Hill Country”) is fighting cancer – a battle he’s won before. His daughter, the Cheatham St. crew, the LoneStar Music crew, and Abby worked up a great lineup to benefit him out at outdoor stage. Another day of beautiful weather. Last I heard, over $8,000 was raised in donations and silent auction items. Thanks for coming, those who did. The day ended with Ray Benson, Bruce Robison, and Cody Canada harmonizing on Luckenbach, of course.