Friday, May 26, 2017

Little Texas at the Fredericksburg Crayfish Festival

Fredericksburg, Texas is a medium sized town located along US Highway 290 in the Texas Hill Country. Although it is the county seat for Gillespie County, it is best known as a tourist destination. Its German heritage is on display, with a number of German and Austrian restaurants, along with a store where it is Christmas all year long! Its Western heritage is also on display with several western clothing stores, the ironworks store and several stores with large John Wayne decorated items for sale. Fredericksburg is also the heart of the Texas Hill Country's wine industry, with several tasting rooms in town and another dozen or so within a few miles of town.

It is also the home of one of the largest World War II museums in Texas (and Texas has several). Admiral Chester W. Nimitz grew up in Fredericksburg. The hotel that his parents owned is now a part of the National Museum of the Pacific War, located right in the center of town. The museum takes up an entire block, and these are not small "city blocks." If you plan to visit, it will take several hours to quickly explore the museum. It is filled with photographs and artifacts from the War in the Pacific.

Today, we went to Fredericksburg for the annual Crayfish Festival. It is a charity event, sponsored by the Jaycees, and running from May 26 through May 28 in the center of town, just across the street from the Gillespie County Court House. This year, one of the bands that will perform is Little Texas. Pay for admission to the festival, and the music is free.

When we got there, we had the perennial problem of finding parking. Most of the parking is street parking and its usually filled up, even the handicap spaces. We wandered down Main Street (US 290), doing a little window shopping. When we got to the festival, they had to look us up and issue us our attendance wrist bands.

We wandered through the booths. There was crayfish and shrimp any way you want them cooked. There was various German cuisines. There were handcrafts and assorted other "festival vendors." We found a familiar vendor and bought ourselves bratwursts for dinner. Once we got our food and beers, we headed to the music tent. We had already missed the first band of the day — the Bush Holloway Band.

After a short break, the Bayou Roux band took the stage. They were from Louisiana and their style was Cajun. They also had "Marti Gras" beads – lots of them &ndash: which they handed out liberally.

A solo performer took the stage while they change the stage. I did not catch his name.

Next, and for us, the main event:

They were pushing their new album, playing a number of songs from it.

They also played a number of their older songs, including:

  • Amy's Back in Austin
  • Kick a Little
  • What Might Have Been
  • God Blessed Texas

We had a great time!

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dallas Drivers are C R A Z Y ! ! !

We just got back from a trip to the Dallas and Fort Worth area of Texas. Drivers there are crazy! Totally bonkers! Insane!

We rented a hotel room in Dallas, just off of Interstate 635. They had great amenities and also (most importantly) the best price. We had tickets for two events at Billy Bob's Texas - located a reasonable distance away in the Fort Worth Stockyards. To get to the hotel and between the hotel and Billy Bob's, we had to use the freeways and the Metroplex has a whole herd of them. Looking at a map, the freeways look like a rattlesnake nest!

Every time we were on the road, no matter what time of day, we either passed an accident or were detoured because of one! The minute traffic was even a little congested - not even enough to cause most drivers to slow down below 65 miles per hour - some drivers started aggressively changing lanes, cutting each other off and even running up the inside shoulder! These morons made Los Angeles drivers seem relatively sane!

I am glad we decided to take one of the ranch trucks, rather than the car. The shear size of the truck had an intimidator effect on the idiot in their sedans and convertables.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Montgomery Gentry at Billy Bob's Texas

Today, we headed back to Billy Bob's. Tonight, Montgomery Gentry will take the stage.

Yesterday, I tried to describe Billy Bob's. Here are a couple of photographs I took...

This first one shows the window to their famed pizza kitchen, along with several of the seemingly hundreds of neon signs. The one at the left says "Showroom" with an arrow to the right below.

This shows a view from one corner of the main room. Immediately in front is a bar. To the left of the bar is a passage leading to a dance floor. In the background on the left is another bar, clear across the room. Behind the bar is another dance floor and behind that dance floor is the bar in the middle of the room.

Beyond what you can see in this picture are the pool tables, two additional kitchens, tables, their retail store, and much more! The place is huge!!

Promptly, at 9:30 PM, Montgomery Gentry took the stage in the Showroom. They covered many old favorites, including:

  • My Town
  • Something to be Proud of
  • Gone
  • Hell, Yeah!
  • Long Line of Loosers
  • She Couldn't Change Me
  • Where I Come From

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Friday, May 19, 2017

The Bellamy Brothers at Billy Bob's Texas

Tonight, I took my family honky-tonking. The Bellamy Brothers were performing at Billy Bob's Texas. This is a famous western-style bar, with a large dance floor and stage located in the Fort Worth Stockyards area.

We arrived in the Dallas/Fort Worth "metroplex" early to give us time to check into our hotel. We live a fair distance away and since we planned to attend the Bellamy Brother's show tonight and a different show tomorrow night, we sprang for a hotel room. We reserved at a Wyndham Gardens Hotel in Dallas. The place caters to business travelers during the week with rates to match, but on weekends the rates drop to something very reasonable. It is a beautiful hotel with an excellent, though expensive, restaurant.

After checking in, we headed over to the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. It has changed since the last time we were there about fifteen years ago. It always was a tourist destination, but it has become much more of a tourist trap. For example, free parking has become difficult to find. They have added some "street shows," including a gunfight. Here is the touristy welcome sign...

The "station" has a number of shops and restaurants under one roof. For dinner, we decided to go with Mexican cuisine and selected the Habanero's Grill and Cantina. The food was very good, the portions were ample and the prices reasonable.

Billy Bob's has lots of pool tables, about half a dozen bars, their own retail store, bull riding, a pizza kitchen, a steakhouse kitchen and two stages. One with a large dance floor and small tables. The other, the main stage faces a large group of long tables with reserved seating for concerts.

The Bellamy Brothers took to the main stage at 9:30 PM and played 'till eleven, covering many of their greatest hits, including Let Your Love Flow, For All the Wrong Reasons, Kids of the Baby Boom, and one of my personal favorites (mostly because I AM one, complete with long hair and a full beard) – Old Hippie.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

In Flanders Fields

On this day, one hundred and two years ago, a Canadian soldier, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, penned this poem. He was on the front lines at the second battle of Ypres in Belgium. The day before, his best friend had been killed by an enemy artillery round. Later that day, under the cover of darkness, his friend was buried.

On May 3, Lt.Col. McCrae wrote this poem to describe the scene and his feelings:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place: and in the sky The larks still bravely singing fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago, We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved: and now we lie In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe To you, from failing hands, we throw The torch: be yours to hold it high If ye break faith with us who die, We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields

Let us not forget the sacrifices forced upon our soldiers, sailors and pilots by the stupid blunders of politicians, demigods and despots of bygone years. Let us think long and hard before we commit more of our young people to be sacrificed on the altar of the god of war.

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Monday, May 01, 2017

May Day, 2017

Here we are again, May 1, International Workers Day.j As usual, there are the parades in cities around the world. Here, in this country, in addition to the pro-union speeches, Americans are taking to the streets to protest immigration enforcement. As they have throughout the last two Presidential eras, they are protesting the arrest and deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Why? These street protests are just a waste of energy. My generation learned that back in the 1960s.

All of the anti-war protest and pro-environment protest of that era accomplished nothing! Change came only when the protest moved from the streets to the offices of our members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate. Once our elected representatives saw the light, President Johnson had the rug pulled out from under him. President Nixon may have run on ending the Vietnam War, but Congress was already telling the military to shut the war down.

This is what needs to be done about undocumented immigrants: Congress must be pressured by ordinary citizens to tackle comprehensive immigration reform. The piecemeal approach of the last few decades since the last comprehensive reform has left us with the mess we have today. The power lays with Congress - according to the Constitution, only Congress can change the immigration laws to fix this mess.

If you feel strongly about any issue affecting our nation, call or write or email your Representative or Senator today!

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Friday, April 14, 2017

John Michael Montgomery at the Melody Ranch

One of our local honky-tonks is the Melody Ranch in Waco, Texas. Back in November of last year, John Michael Montgomery was scheduled to perform. We "bought" a small table for four people, giving us a place to sit and to hold our drinks. But, at the last minute, had to cancel due to illness.

Today, on Good Friday, he performed. (My mother-in-law will have a cow when she finds out what we did on Good Friday! :) ) We got there at about 7 PM and found our table. The Melody Ranch honored our tickets from November. A local DJ was filling the place with music, so I took my wife out on the dance floor for several tunes.

John Michael Montgomery took to the stage at 9:30 pm. Unfortunately, with only my cell phone and the distance to the stage, the photographs are poor quality. The range of brightness in the lighting was more than my cell phone camera could compensate for.

Here is a close-up of John Micheal Montgomery from the photo above. Unfortunately, the detail is all washed out.

A shot of the whole band...

It was a great show!

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