Sunday, September 29, 2013

Let's Go to Luckenbach, Texas

Luckenbach is one of those uniquely Texan places that you can find scattered about the state, places like Terlingua and Uncertain. Usually a bit off the beaten path, these places create their own brand of culture and often attract the non-conformists among us. I'm glad we have places like this; we need to know that not everyone is toeing the line.

Luckenback has been a favorite place of mine for years, at least in my mind. Now, I don't hang out there, but I like to drive through whenever I'm in the Fredericksburg area and see what is happening there.

Luckenback was established just prior to 1850, mainly by German immigrants. It remained a small agricultural community until the 1960s, when it was more or less a ghost town. Responding to an ad, Hondo Crouch (rancher, entrepreneur, and unique character supreme) purchased the small community in 1970 and began marketing the old dance hall there as an entertainment destination.

This is about the time I learned of Luckenbach. In the summer of 1973, Jerry Jeff Walker, backed by the Lost Gonzo Band, recorded his breakthrough album, Viva Terlingua, in Luckenback and put the relatively unknown community on the Texas country music map. A few years later, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson performed a duet called "Luckenback, Texas" that did very well on country music charts.

Over the years, Luckenback has hosted numerous concerts and picnics, and today has a steady stream of performers taking the stage under the sprawling Hill Country oak trees along Grape Creek, which meanders behind the general store. On most afternoons, you can usually find a few locals and tourists stopping in for a beer, a photo or two, and maybe even a little food at the grill operated next to the dance hall. It's a good place to pause for a while, eat a BBQ sandwich, and have a cold one. There's just a little bit of the old days drifting through the air, whispering through the oaks, telling everyone to slow down and "get back to the basics of life."

On a recent trip with my brother Larry and his wife Nancy, we looped through Luckenback, stopping for a few moments to snap some pictures.

Donna in front of the old Luckenback post office.

Donna in Luckenback, with the outdoor stage behind and to her right. I love the oaks.

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