I have found it remarkably difficult to fully convey my most recent task of putting into typed form just what my experience in Texas was, and what it means to me today. While I have a strong grasp of the English language and a thesaurus, I can also admit when I am overmatched and acknowledge to myself and to you the reader, I am no Dave Pilot. He’d do it justice. I’ll do my best.
You see, the trip marked the first time I took my music to the Lone Star State. I was very unsure of what to expect, yet still had enough optimism in me to maintain high hopes the Texans would accept me and my songs.
So let us start at the beginning.
I flew into Austin on a Wednesday around noon to find that my suitcase almost made the entire trip. It fell off the baggage train somewhere between the plane and the carousel, resulting in being caught underneath a tire and drug against its will the rest of the way. While some would consider this a bad omen, I chose to find it particularly hilarious to see what was left of my bag. Nothing was damaged; Southwest Airlines replaced my bag, so no harm no foul.
Rental cars. I never seem to be able to pry open my wallet enough to get something that fits. Instead, I choose the cheapest available, put it on, and then go down the road. Seriously, it took me thirty minutes to get out of the car simply trying to recall the steps I got in, in reverse order. I would equate the car to a potato with four tires and a seat. One that I got for a great price, it got me where I was going. The end.
For those keeping score, the first gig I had in Texas was in Marble Falls at the R bar. Our fearless leader here at Outlaw Magazine and supremely gifted artist, Brigitte London, had graciously offered me a bed to sleep in and place on her bill that night. Also, for future-trivia-contest-winning-answer purposes, the first song I sang in Texas was the late George Jones’ “The King Is Gone (And So Are You).” I met some fantastic people who welcomed me as I could only hope. To those of you who were there, thanks so much for allowing me to be comfortable. We were even surprised with a visit from John Arthur Martinez after he finished his show a few blocks away.
It was a good night.
My next destination was one that I had looked forward to for about thirty years. Waylon told me to make the pilgrimage to Luckenbach when I was a young boy. Being a person who tends to live life on an even keel, I’d be lying if my emotions weren’t getting the better of me. You see, I had always inferred Luckenbach was more a state of mind than a destination. A place in the world where a kid with a guitar could connect with the spirit of those who came before him in the name of the music, not himself, but still could discover something he may not have known or reconnected with something he’d lost along the way.
I was going to be joining Brigitte London’s Thursday night pickers circle later in the evening, so I decided to go introduce myself to the place first. The instant I got out the car, I was overcome with reverence, much like that which I felt visiting Arlington National Cemetery for the first time. Much like that trip, I did not speak, I just walked, looked, and listened. There are stories that can be relayed to us when we choose to open more than our ears. Friends, that piece of land has plenty. When you listen closely, the rustling of the leaves contain the voices of all who have at one time shared a piece of their souls with those found themselves sitting on an old picnic table beneath the Comanche Moon in Central Texas. If you’ve been there, you understand. If you have not, give yourself this gift.
As evening set upon us, I found myself leaning against a giant cottonwood. The locals refer to it as “The Portal.” With no other explanation offered, I soon discovered none was needed. Everything I thought I was as an artist was proven false. I was offered the opportunity to shine like I had never allowed myself. No inhibitions, no doubts, just me in my purest form sharing myself in full humility and vulnerability with those chose to listen. From an individualistic point of view, this was the greatest gift I have ever received.
I had the distinct honor, and pleasure, of meeting the great Luckenbach poet, Mr. Walt Perryman. A more humble man the world had never known. A storyteller molded from when villages gathered around the fires at night to hear where they came from and where they are going, Walt had every one of us there hanging on his every word. We smiled, we laughed, and we considered. Gifted is a word one may use to describe Walt, but in reality, I do not think the word has been spoken to human ears yet that accurately represent his contribution this world.
He and many others took particular interest in my hat. Like me, it’s just not all there. There’s a story to it, but that’s for another time. The group I recited the tale of my hat to took great pleasure in the story. Walt, though, surprised me by commemorating the hat and myself with a poem the next morning. Even now, weeks later, the emotion of the moment still manages to find its way to the surface. It’s a combination of feelings I can’t quite describe. I resign myself to simply saying one more time. Thank you Walt. I’m deeply honored, humbled, and moved.
I cannot honestly tell you if Luckenbach kept a piece of me when I left, or if I just left a piece of myself behind, but a part of me is still there and will remain. And, maybe, just maybe my voice was added to those who tell their stories on the wind to those inclined to listen for it.
There’s more to my Tale of Texas….next time.
~ Seth Turner
Seth Turner is a full-time father of five, husband of one, college student, and singer/songwriter for Seth Turner and The High Desert Drifters. When not pursuing any of that, he is most likely sleeping or investigating the mysteries of the elusive Facebook “like.” He lives in Las Vegas, NV. You can find more information than you thought you needed to know at www.sethturner.com.
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