Luckenbach Texas by Waylon Jennings has always been pretty big. My Aunt Millie and Uncle Junior had lived near Freedom, Oklahoma and were friends and neighbors of the Schroeder Ranch and family. The ranch having put on several calf roping and bull riding ranch events, brought in major country and western artists for the rodeo concert events. During one of those evenings my friend Dennis Kephart and I had made our way out to the Cimarron Schroeder ranch event that my Aunt and Uncle were helping with. Sipping suds on our way and listening to the latest fm country music tunes while traveling out along the Cimarron River and viewing the beautiful country scenery we finally and slowly made our way to the location of the rodeo and concert site. Actually pretty fast and in no hurry, getting there on time. These events had attracted upwards of 10,000 or more people and some pretty famous Cowboys, Cowgirls, and musical artists. This was not my first outing to this event, and knowing who would be taking the stage I was pretty much excited and in for having a good time. Once before I had seen and listen to Juice Newton and Hank Williams Jr. and others play live on the ranch.
Many things were bound to happen no doubt that night. In and amongst the crowd we made our way back behind the security area passing my aunt and uncle. Dennis soon disappeared into one of the band buses and I had made my way up a slope to a roped-off area where a gentlemen who appeared setting alone and overlooking the artist that were performing down below, What a great view it was. The cowboy was wearing a white classy looking cowboy hat, wearing blue denim jeans, and a white cowboy snap-button shirt. I was not really thinking much about the situation and was more busy listening to the band sipping suds and so was my acquaintance the cowboy in the classy white hat. Striking up conversation we discussed mostly music and the artist playing down below while sipping a six pack of a favorite brew together. I had told him in our conversation about playing music and a few song I had put together and he gave me two Texas telephone numbers and said he knew Gary P Nunn. I had told him that I did a couple of Gary’s songs that I really liked and thought I was able to do then quite well. We must of talk for 45 minutes and I really did not know who he was at the time, but I was guessing he must know someone in the music business for he had given me the telephone numbers and said that he knew Gary and would like to listen to anything I had written. I was really impressed guessing that he had connections in the business. That’s about when he gets up out of his chair and says I must go down and play. Really Ok!
Within a few minutes my friend Waynoka, Oklahoma’s own WWLS. Norman, Ok AM radio station disk jokey Benny Bucklin who was Emceeing the event was front stage down below introducing the next Texas recording artist Jerry Jeff Walker whom I had just had a dear and fun conversation with. Next thing you know I’m side stage and on stage talking to Ed Bruce and Johnny PayCheck and Benny Bucklin whom I in my younger years had played music over at his folks home with his little brother Kelly. He was then on stage recognizing me as one of his old friends and acquaintances. I remember all or some of this and it was one of those special moments that you harbor for years, thinking back and realizing the fun and how the time will pass you by.
Sadly today, while checking my phone and Twitter account I learn from my Texas consulting firm that the white hat cowboy stranger acquaintance that I had encountered that night so many years ago had passed away. It was at Lake Thunderbird, Oklahoma that I heard the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band play one of his famous songs live, the song Mr. Bojangles along with a few other great songs and a few I later got to play in my own band. I know today why I love Waylon's Luckenbach Texas and those Jerry Jeff Train Songs. He will be missed, he is loved by many for what he was, what he became, the stories his music told, and the life he lived, an artist that will always be remembered.
Jerry Jeff Walker born Ronald Clyde Crosby, March 16, 1942 - October 23, 2020. An American Icon!