Friday morning, Andy and I woke up, showered, and headed to our first breakfast at the main house. We were greeted again by Willie, who led us in and toward the dining room. There was a lovely dining room and pretty place settings for our intimate breakfast for two. The candle was lit, juice served, and we anxiously awaited whatever would come from the wonderful smells wafting in from the kitchen.
Our first course was a bowl of fresh fruit. Strawberries, kiwi, pears, mango, pink grapefruit, and probably some I am forgetting. Next to arrive was the bacon and sausage, followed by wonderful buttermilk pancakes with real maple syrup. I decided I could get really spoiled to that! And what fantastic "service"! Our hostess made us feel truly welcome and special!
After filling up on the excellent cuisine, we ventured into New Braunfels to pick up some things we needed. We also drove around some of the side streets and the heart of downtown and decided it really was an interesting little town. We then went back to Gruene, and decided to visit some of the shops to scout out souvenirs for our kids.
One of our stops was at the Museum of Art and Music. It's free, but we chose to drop in a donation at the little box as we walked in. This was an interesting place, kinda cool and funky, and well worth a visit if you are in the Gruene area. Sometimes there is live music, this day was just for walking around and seeing all the interesting works of art on display. We were once again reminded from the large variety that "art" is definitely subjective........some of it I got, some I did not. Folks in the area have worked hard to get this place up and running, and I was one tourist who is glad they did.
We made another jaunt to Lone Star Music www.lonestarmusic.com and this time purchased Tom Russell's newly released CD, "Hotwalker". It's the perfect music shop for me, it's mostly all Texas/Americana type artists and everything along the fringes of that.
Early afternoon was settling in, and we decided to have a light lunch at Janie's. It's just down the street from Gruene Hall, and we'd heard good things about it. Full of outdoor seating, we chose a spot out on the deck with both shade and sun to enjoy the breezy, beautiful day. We ordered chips, salsa, queso, and BBQ sausage, and a pitcher of frozen margaritas. We enjoyed a very leisurely meal, and were pleased that the 'gritas were good too. During our meal, we got a call from our friends Michael McNamee and Vance Tilton. They invited us to join them for "happy hour" down by the river. What a perfect idea for a perfect day!
We drove to their accommodations, the Guadeloupe Outpost, and immediately spotted our buddies from the North Texas area finishing up some good lookin' grilled sausages. I think they were surprised to see us! We visited for a little bit, then headed down for a walk to the river. While walking down, Vance and Michael pulled back in from a "happy hour supplies" run. We introduced everyone to everyone, and spent the rest of the afternoon visiting with folks, meeting new folks, and sipping on margaritas on the rocks. It felt good to enjoy the sun and breeze, while watching ducks darting around on the river. I think we all felt life doesn't get much better than that!
Soon it was time to pack up and head to Saengerhalle for dinner and music from Fred Eaglesmith and the Flathead Noodlers, usually the predominately Bluegrass set, then a later set from him and the Smokin' Losers. Upon arriving at Saengerhalle, we began reuniting with more Fredheads, and meeting new ones as well. We got in line for BBQ, grabbed some Lone Star Lights, and settled in for the evening.
The Noodlers appeared on stage and did their thing with a bluegrass flair. For one who likes bluegrass in small doses, I like that they don't get toooooo bluegrassy. I'd categorize it as "Quality Bluegrass", not too flashy, not to crazy, and not on acid like some bluegrass bands think they need to sound. Whatever the technical classification, it floats my boat, so to speak. It was indeed a good show, but I was glad there was more a comin', because I wasn't "full" of music yet.
The opener for the second set was Brian Keane. He was another person I hadn't heard of, and had decided I would tolerantly sit through. Again, I was surprised to find I really, really liked his music. His is a name I think we'll see making the rounds in Texas music very soon. If you get a chance to check him out for yourself, please do so!
Now was really the time I had been waiting for. I had always heard of Bill Kirchen, and heard a few tunes on the radio, and heard of the legendary Commander Cody. I think the one new act I really wanted to hear was this guy. When this small built, older gentleman came out holding a guitar, with a bass player and drummer, I thought well, this should be okay. I can honestly say, I don't remember the last time I was totally and completely blown away by someone I hadn't heard before, but this guy did it.
From the time Kirchen and Too Much Fun took the stage, until their final tune, I think I was glued to my seat afraid I might miss something. Incredible guitar playing, awesome vocals, and very honestly if there is such a thing as "too much fun", they may be it! I would almost swear Kirchen was two people, playing multiple guitars! His fingers moved like lightening, yet his singing never missed a beat. At times he was all over the stage, and even playing the guitar behind his head. But my favorite, the last tune, was when he brought out Dan Walsh from Fred's band on baritone guitar, and Willie P. Bennett from Fred's band on harmonica, he picked up a trombone, and they took turns jammin'. It was unbelievable. Put this guy on your "don't miss" list!!! And if he's in Dallas, I'll see y'all there!!
It was time for Fred and his band to take the stage again. This show was a fun show with nearly everyone singing along. He pulled out some old ones, and played some new ones too. This was a "feel good" kind of night, just sitting and soaking in the music, and man what a great feeling that was. Several shows just once a year isn't enough when it's one of your favorite bands. I think others agreed. This night saw 'em dancin' on the sidelines, and it finished up as one of the most enjoyable Friday nights we've had in a long time.
Although we were invited to several after show gatherings, old folks that we seem to feel we are now, we headed back to our B&B and turned in for the night.
Beginning/Thursday of the Fred in Texas Weekend
Saturday of the Texas Fred Weekend
Sunday/Epilogue of the Texas Fred Weekend