Category Archives: Texas

Town Lake Country Series

Rockin RiverCountry music has always gone hand and hand with warmer weather and water. As summer begins, country artist begin to release new albums and singles made for the season, and things that go along with it. Songs are filled with lyrics about cold beer, the scorching summer sun, bathing suits, and great times out on the water with friends. Summer country songs are usually up beat and high-spirited, and the good ones will make you want to roll the windows down as you sing along. Around this time of year all I want to do is float the river or hop on a boat at the lake with friends and listen to country music. Fortunately enough, my hometown of Fort Worth has recognized the relationship between country music and water. They have done so by bringing a concert series called “Rockin’ the River” to town.

“Rockin’ the River” is a concert series held on the Trinity River in Fort Worth every summer from June to August. Each Thursday an up and coming Texas country artist will preform at Panther Pavilion. This is an elevated stage that sits on the riverfront, and the downtown skyline serves as a backdrop for the stage. Past performers include The Damn Quails, Cody Jinks, Brandon Rhyder, and I have even witnessed a performer do a backflip off the stage into the river.

Admission to this event is free, all you have to do is rent a tube to float in the river if you don’t bring your own. Backwoods is also there so fans can rent kayaks and paddle boards to relax in as they listen to the concert. Of course there is beer and food available for purchase when you arrive. Don’t feel like getting in the water? You can grab some lawn chairs to throw out on the lawn by the water. Lastly, the night is ended with a small firework show. It makes for a great summer evening.

The reason I bring this concert series up is because I love it so much, and have enjoyed it many summers in the past. My only question is why does Austin not hold a series similar to this one? Yes, there is Blues On The Green in Zilker Park during the summer, but that’s just not the same. Austin needs to take advantage of Town Lake. I propose a developer comes into the Zilker Park/Town Lake area and build a stage that hangs over Town Lake. Then we to could float in the lake and listen to our favorite Texas country artists here in Austin. If fans did not want to get in the water, the developer could also make a lawn area near the stage so lawn chairs could be laid out. Just as Panther Pavilion has the skyline as a backdrop, the Austin stage could use the Austin skyline as a backdrop. After all, Town Lake is located in the middle of downtown Austin.

Not only would this be good for country music fans, it would be good for the city as a whole. Local businesses could sponsor the concert series, and benefit off of it. For example, Austin Kayak could be there to rent out kayaks and offer demos. A local brewery such as 512 Brewing Company could sell beer at the event. Local food trucks could find parking on the lawn to serve hungry fans. Yeti could rent out coolers and show new products. At the end of the night you have happy country fans, and local businesses that have advertised and profited off the concert. How would y’all feel about an event similar to the one I described?


Filed under Austin, Austin Food, Blog Post 4, Concert, Live Music, Texas

Grass is Much Greener is Gruene, Texas

gruene-hall-texas-lIf you do not know what Gruene Hall is, you probably didn’t grow up in Texas. So for those of you who don’t know, Gruene Hall is a historic staple of country music in Texas and is known as a small utopia full of southern vibes, southern cooking, and classic southern music. Gruene Hall is located in Gruene, Texas, a tiny town outside of New Braunfels right off of I35. Built in 1878, Gruene Hall is known for being Texas’ most famous dance hall. Today, Gruene is the center of the Texas entertainment scene, and the epitome of unspoiled country music talent. Live music performances happen every night, with artists that range from the Dixie Chicks, to Willie Nelson, to George Strait. The list is never ending, but no matter who the performer is that night, there is a universally accepted fact that the music will never dissapoint. Gruene is a staple of my childhood as this was the place that truly taught me to love country music.

My relationship with Gruene has been so strong throughout the years because the family of one of my best friend’s actually are the current owners of the entire city of Gruene and have devoted so much time and effort in creating such a magical place. Without their efforts to help conserve the historic town, I don’t think it would be as recognized as it is today. The town started out with only the dance hall, and has now evolved to be recognized as a very functional city that consists of several good restaurants, a general store, an antique shop, and of course, the signature water tower.


The two main restaurants are the Gristmill and Mozie’s, which was named after my friend. The Gristmill is the more popular of the two, as it can accommodate up to a couple hundred of guests at a time, with a fun Texas-style atmosphere, staple homestyle cooking, and classic southern hospitality. Going to the Gristmill for lunch is more of a day-long activity than going to any other boring restaurant, because it is such a fun reminder of my southern roots. Whenever I have friends in from out of town, this is my go-to place for an afternoon of tourism. Even if I’m from San Antonio, I would choose to take someone to Gruene, Texas over visiting the Alamo any day.

Gruene-031-Large1The first concert I ever saw at Gruene Hall was the Dixie Chicks when I was about eight years old. I went with my family early and of course ate at the Gristmill, then took a classic tourist picture in front of the water tower, and then headed down the cobble stone path to Gruene Hall. The night was magical. The atmosphere of the dancehall is so full of life that it encourages even the old people to have a great time and dance all night. Because of the set up of the Hall, the audience is more encouraged to dance rather than to line up in rows to hear the performer. Unfortunately I wasn’t much of a dancer, so I chose my spot right in front of the stage and stared directly up at my idols for three hours straight. I am reminded of this night every time I return to Gruene, because the city and the Hall have been left untouched and innocent, and that is why it is so special.

12597-20130304_GrueneHall_131-608956ccAt Gruene Hall, it’s not only about who the performer is that night, it’s the traditional country atmosphere and pure Texas experience that the place has to offer. When people want to stereotype Texas and say that we ride our horses to school, I laugh because that would probably actually happen in Gruene. It’s all part of the experience, and if you haven’t visited the town yet, it should be the absolute next adventure you take.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Texas

Home With the Armadillo: Jerry Jeff Walker and ¡Viva Terlingua!

jerryjeff2I first became familiar with Jerry Jeff Walker’s album, ¡Viva Terlingua!, on the fourth of July a couple of years ago. I was playing in a band at a house party in East Dallas. We heard that there was a great group playing next door so we went over to check it out. There we found a grizzled pair of old men playing early rock standards such as Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” and Sam the Sham and the Pharoh’s “Wooly Bully.” At the end of their set, they played a song called “London Homesick Blues.” The drunken crowd seemed to already know every word.

“I wanna go home with the Armadillo,

Good country music from Amarillo and Abilene,

The friendliest people and the prettiest women you’ve ever seen.”

I’d never heard the song but it was impossible not to sing along. Afterwards, my friends and I introduced ourselves to the band and talked with them for a while. The leader turned out to be Bob “Cosmic Bob” Livingston who was a founding member of Jerry Jeff Walker’s band The Lost Gonzo Band.


The next day I woke up and listened to ¡Viva Terlingua!, the album that featured “London Homesick Blues” as well as many other songs the band had played the previous night. It instantly became one of my favorite country albums I’ve ever heard.


Jerry Jeff live with Guy Clark and Dave Perkins

¡Viva Terlingua! was a live album recorded at Lukenbach, Texas on August 18th, 1973. It’s often seen as the seminal album of the progressive country scene. This offshoot of country music occurred mostly in Austin in the 70’s when country artists started embracing the hippy movement. I think this “progressive” sound comes through in the album in its laid back, party feel. At times Jerry Jeff sounds almost drunk while singing as the crowd yells out in approval. The first song on the record,“Gettin’ By” is an autobiographical account of Jerry Jeff’s carefree, hell raising lifestyle he was living as a musician.

In the next song on the album, Jerry Jeff dips into the catalog of fellow Texan and folk musician, Guy Clark with “Desperadoes Waiting For A Train”

The song is about Guy Clark’s childhood mentor growing old and slowing down. The haunting violins and intensified drumbeat late in the song give it an eerie runaway train sound.

The next song on the album is “Sangria Wine” a fun song about drinking with friends. This is followed a sad song with an upbeat tempo, “Little Bird,” and the rock influenced “Get It Out.” Following these songs is the classic “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother” written by Ray Wylie Hubbard.

“Backslider’s Wine” and “Wheel” follow “Redneck Mother” and have a more somber feel.

c504bcfc582063df91a13b4ea519332bClosing out the album is “London Homesick Blues,” written by piano player, Gary P. Nunn, which is about a country singer feeling homesick for Texas while on tour in Europe. For me, this track sums up what country music and recordings should be. The band is tight but is at the same time playing relaxed.

The repeated chorus and howls from the crowd towards the end of the song left a huge impression on me that July 4th a couple of years ago and continues to resonate with me to this day.

Here’s the version from the album, which is my favorite one, as well as a later live version.

Track Listing

1.    “Gettin’ By” – 4:01

2.    “Desperados Waiting for a Train” (Guy Clark) – 5:47

3.    “Sangria Wine” – 4:25

4.    “Little Bird” – 4:10

5.    “Get It Out” – 3:37

6.    “Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother” (Ray Wylie Hubbard) – 4:32

7.    “Backslider’s Wine” (Michael Martin Murphey) – 3:34

8.    “Wheel” – 6:00

9.    “London Homesick Blues” (Gary P. Nunn) – 7:43

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Filed under Austin, Classic Country, Live Music, Progressive Country, Texas


It was the middle of the second semester of my freshman year at UT, and more importantly, only my sixth month living in Texas since I was two years old. I’d traded in my t-shirt and converse for a dress and boots on game days and started to pick up saying “y’all” instead of “you guys”, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into by going home with Ally Wild for the weekend. We had both somehow cheated the UT registration system and ended up with no Friday classes, and Ally had invited me to go back to Nacogdoches with her to see where she grew up.

579148_10151874185234242_983078365_nWe had only known each other for a few months, but my family knew her as my 5-foot-nothing, blonde hair teasing, pink lip gloss wearing friend who lived by the motto “the higher the hair, the closer to God”. My mom said “Well, you sure didn’t waste any time finding a friend who’s a real Texas girl!”, and thought it’d be fun for me to see a real small Texas town. We took off early Friday morning in her little white car with pink license plates that read “A <3 WILD”, and a few hours later we pulled up the dirt road to her house in Nac. Ally’s mom, Miss Tracey, was waiting for us at the door holding their yorkie, Lily.

Later that night, Ally took me out to Banita Creek Hall with her high school friends who now go to SFA. Surrounded by thick accents and teased hair, I walked into a dance hall where the live band was playing their hearts out, singing The Everclear Song by Roger Creager. Before I knew it, every boy had grabbed a girl and started dancing, spinning and dipping her around the room. Ally took my hand and started dancing me around just like everyone else, and all I could do was try to keep up – this was nothing like the high school reunion parties I had gotten used to after going back to Oregon for winter break.

Apparently, The Everclear Song was ‘the song’ of Ally and her friends’ high school years, and they all convinced the band to play it over and over again throughout the night until I’d learned the words myself. We danced and danced all night long, went back and did the same thing the following night, and by the end of night #2 I had (sort of) figured out how to dance and learned every word to their favorite song.

Truthfully, I’d never even heard of everclear before college. When Miss Tracey found this out, she decided to take it upon herself to convince both me and Ally that we’d never want to really find out what Roger Creager meant when he sang “Until I wake up and I’m face down in the hall, / Hey, I’m completely naked, for a reason I can’t recall.” She poured some in a glass and offered us each a sip, but luckily for us, we both started coughing from the smell and turned away.

Two years later, I’ve still yet to experience a single thing more country than that dance hall filled with teased hair and cowboy boots. Just in case I ever forget, Ally and her mom still love to play that song to remind me just how terrible everclear is, and how much I missed out on by growing up anywhere that wasn’t the great state of Texas.


Filed under Blog Post 3, Live Music, Texas

Wasn’t Raised With It, but Wish I Had Been

1401x788-GettyImages-476930506“It’s only $25, and I guess I don’t have anything else planned that weekend”, I thought to my fifteen year old self when a friend of mine insisted that I go to a concert with her. I had never listened to much country music, but it was the middle of July and I figured it could be a fun way to spend my night.

I went online and bought the ticket, and a few weeks later we were on our way to the Sleep Country Amphitheater in Ridgefield, Washington, listening to “Country Girl” by Luke Bryan on repeat. I had no idea who Luke Bryan was, and the name Tim McGraw was only vaguely familiar. Little did I know, I was on my way to see two of the biggest names in country music. We walked into the amphitheater in our jean shorts and flannels, trying to fit in with the ‘country’ crowd, found a spot on the lawn to lay down our blankets and took our seats. Soon enough, everyone was on their feet singing and dancing along to each and every song throughout the night.

This was my first real exposure to the world of country music, and I never looked back. I started listening to Luke Bryan religiously, and found myself switching to the country radio stations in the car on my way to school. I had a couple of friends who would listen along with me, but more often than not, I was quickly shut down and someone else would switch back to the Top 40 or plug in their aux cord – anything to get away from the country they so clearly couldn’t stand to listen to. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I really learned what country music was.

I had spent the past few years listening to whatever I found on the radio, but I had never heard of Pat Green or Bart Crow Band. I remember it perfectly, standing in a crowd surrounded by my new college friends, wondering why I was waiting around on this hot day for someone I’d never heard of to come out and play (Pat Green). Even when he did come on stage and start playing, I thought he was great but didn’t know a single word to a single song. I had no idea how all of my friends from Texas knew every word and got more excited with every song he played.

The first true country song that I really loved was “Wear My Ring” by Bart Crow Band, but even then I wasn’t fully aware that I was listening to Texas country. Wear My Ring was just the song I’d learned from listening to it over and over again during football season on game days, and had eventually learned the words and started to sing along. Now, I go back home to Portland, Oregon over breaks and play real country for my family and for those friends who originally showed me the genre.

My mom is from Sweden originally and doesn’t have much interest in country music, but my dad was raised in Lubbock, and is unbelievably proud of being a Texan. He went to UT for undergrad and for law school, and couldn’t contain himself when I made the decision to come here myself. He can’t stop smiling when he comes to visit, and even in my third year here he still loves to take me around campus and around town to show me his favorite college hang outs – sometimes he’ll even bring his boots and take me two stepping. Although I didn’t grow up around country music and the idea of boys wearing cowboy boots and white wash jeans every day seemed like something from another universe, UT has absolutely shown me a new culture and what real country is, and I’ve learned to love it all.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Texas