Luckenbach Tales

The Luckenbach Pickers’ circle is a living, breathing soul.  There are connections made under the big oak tree that one can only imagine without having experienced it for themselves.

 photo:Brandy Lee Dixon

Everybody is Somebody In Luckenbach Texas. The Luckenbach Pickers’ circle is a living, breathing soul.  There are connections made under the big oak tree that one can only imagine without having experienced it for themselves.


This past Sunday started as every other Sunday in Luckenbach.  The bar and general store opened.  The sun came out, the bikes rolled in.  Butch Morgan and the Hix were scheduled to take the outdoor stage at 1pm.  The Feed Lot served up pulled pork, curly fries and cherry limeades.  The weather has been great all year, we have been very fortunate.  This Sunday afternoon seemed to have something special moving through the air.  The vibe was good, Butch and the Hix played their set and moved the crowd to their feet.  Butch is always good, but today the Hix were spectacular!

The crowd thinned as a cool breeze took over Luckenbach.  The light coming through the trees was perfect, calming and subtle.  The roosters and chickens headed for the tree tops.  On this particular night we had 2 very special guests, Jimmy Davis and Jed Zimmerman.  These guys are from Memphis.  They are incredible songwriters and performers.  We always find a place for Jimmy when he comes our way.  I think Jimmy Davis is the biggest STAR to ever play Luckenbach.  I don’t mean that he is the most popular musician in the country or has graced the cover of every music rag in the business.  I mean to say that he is the most talented.  He can write a song, sing it and make you feel it.  If you are not smiling or engaged in an all out hysterical laugh before the night is over, well, you just don’t get what life is about and you probably never will.  Jed is a good friend of Jimmy’s and of equal talent.

Jed has a huge voice and a sweet presence.  Mid-way through their set, Jed announces that he should sing a ½ Sunday song.. Jimmy chimes in and says “Let us Baptize you in Beer and Song”.  It is Sunday in Luckenbach, why not!  In between the heckling of the Rooster (they have impeccable timing) I notice that Jed’s beautiful voice is very well suited for Gospel music.  I’m sorry to say I do not remember the song, but I do remember how his voice lingered in my head for quite some time.  The night progressed and the pair from Memphis continued to hold our undivided attention until the end.  I always hate to see the first cord being unplugged.  It’s a sure sign that within minutes the stage will be empty and the sights and sounds will once again be a memory.  This happens way too often in Luckenbach!  You would think I would be used to it by now but I am not.  The silence that lingers after a really good performance in Luckenbach is almost like death.

To cure our insatiable musical appetites on this evening, a few locals, Bill Lewis, Roger Moon, Jake Martin (Luckenbach’s Oklahoma Prodigy) start a pickers circle.  Jed and Jimmy decide to sit in for a few more songs.  The pickers circle is a sacred place.  It’s spiritual, it has its own language and it spawns imagination, creativity and connections. You here strange things like “This is suppose to end in A minor, let’s end it in F minor”.   A harmonica comes out of nowhere and chords are being yelled out.  I hear someone say “This guitar’s never been in a pawn shop”.  The motto of the pickers’ circle could be “We break strings, we forget lyrics, but we still play!”

I have sat in close proximity to the “circle” numerous times –  listening, laughing and being moved beyond words.  I had no idea what I was about to experience on this beautiful July evening. They say Hondo’s spirit is everywhere in Luckenbach, sometimes more so than others.  Jed Zimmerman looks at the guitar being played by the guy next to him, it’s our house guitar and someone wrote “Is anybody going to San Antone” across the bottom.  Jed is inspired and starts singing “Rain drippin’ off the brim of my hat”. The circle is tight on this night. We are squeezed together on the log and in the chairs under the big oak tree.  Jimmy is on my right, Jed on my left.  As Jed is playing his perfectly tuned and broken in Gibson, I felt his right arm brush against my hair. The vibration from the strum across the strings on his guitar traveled through his arm and swept across my face, ever so gently. I moved closer and found my head resting against his back.  The sound of his voice resonated from his lungs, through his back and through my body. I have never heard, much less felt, such a beautiful thing. The sound of music will never be the same for me, ever.  I have felt music now. There is no going back.

I had my journal with me on this magical night and I scribbled all sorts of things on the pages – sideways, upside down and barely legible. I opened the journal this evening (3 days later) and tried to read what I had written – “I was one with another soul for just a moment. We joined through 2 bodies, 6 strings and a box of wood.”

Luckenbach Picker Circles are held almost every night of the week and sometimes on Saturday and Sunday in the afternoons.  Check our website for scheduled hosts and times.

Be “Somebody” wherever you are and always support LIVE music!


~Abbey of Luckenbach

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