Monday, June 7, 2010

Gruene, Texas & A Date With A Rambin' Music Man

Gruene Texas and Gregg Allman

Lord, I was born a ramblin' man
Tryin' to make a livin' and doin' the best I can
And when it's time for leavin'
I hope you'll understand
That I was born a ramblin' man
My father was a gambler down in Georgia
He wound up on the wrong end of a gun
And I was born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus
Rollin' down highway forty-one
I'm on my way to New Orleans this mornin',
Leaving out of Nashville, Tennessee,
They're always having a good time down on the bayou,
Lord, them Delta women think the world of me.
by Forrest Richard Betts

I wonder every time I hear this song if Gregg Allman ever wonders about his father when he sings this song.  His father did end up on the wrong end of a gun. Although not a gambler, he was a Sergeant in the United States Army. He was murdered by a veteran that he picked up who was looking for a ride after he had returned from a tour of duty. This ultimately led to his two sons taking in a show while visiting relatives in Nashville. They went to see blues legend B. B. King. They were so impressed with him that Duane told Gregg they just had to get into "this".  Thankfully, they did. And thank you B. B. King!

You know you've made it to the really small towns when the mail is delivered to the mail boxes at the end of the road  from the mail trucks.
Sometimes our travels are led by divine guidance and we end up in places we didn't know we were going. And sometimes they are planned. It may be a wrong turn we take, or Gizmo may send us the wrong way. Either way I'm a firm believer that we end up where we should be at any given time. Whether it be a delay from traffic, construction, or taking a look at an interesting site along the way, we'll get to the destination when we get there.  So many times our travels are led by music. I feel my soul is filled with music so it just seems right that we often travel where the music is. Have you ever stopped to think that almost every place you can think of has a song connected to it? Or maybe an artist? I used to think that I was the only crazy person who connected music with places or a musician. But recently I read a book where the whole subject was based on traveling to places connected to songs and musicians. The book Live Fast, Die Young, Misadventures In Rock-N-Roll America is based just on that subject. Chris and Joe felt so strongly about it that they traveled from England to America to take a road trip in search of the rock-n-roll adventure.  So, I guess us traveling across Texas to California is not so crazy after all.
This weeks trip is taking us to Gruene, Texas to see Gregg Allman. Of course there are other adventures along the way. It's never just a straight shot. We are after all, ramblin'.
Wesley Brethren Church ~ Wesley, Texas
We had decided to stop at one of the painted church's that we had not seen yet. It's in Wesley, Texas. If you want to visit, I guess I could tell you not to as it's not unlocked. I suppose you must make an appointment. There are no windows to see inside either. The building outside is pretty in it's own way and there is a cemetery there as well.
But all in all we could have skipped this one because it is really the inside we wanted to see. 
Smitty's Market
Along the way Big Daddy wanted to visit a famous BBQ place he had read about a while back. Apparently, Lockhart, Texas is quite well known for their BBQ.  He picked out a place called Smitty's BBQ. It's located right off the town square in downtown Lockhart. Big Daddy has taken me to some so called famously good BBQ places in our time, but I can say he really hit the nail on the head with this one. This place is real BBQ. The food is cooked in brick pits in the back with real wood. 

 It's hot as hell back there while you stand in line to order just your meat. You tell them what you want and how much and they just cut it right there in front of you. I wanted to order a half a pound of brisket and while the guy was putting it on the scale, Big Daddy pipes up and says "Make it a pound". Good grief! Half a cows ass for lunch?  Oh, no, let's add 1/4 a pigs side to that with some ribs!
We took the huge pile of animal inside and ordered potato salad, cole slaw and pinto beans. 
Although tempted to finish off all of the meat it just wasn't possible. It was outstandingly good. The owners there are very nice. He stopped by the table a couple of times to visit and on the way out we managed to jaw jack for about thirty minutes. We talked about the restaurant, Volkswagen's, motorcycles and life.

After filling up on delish food we walked over to the lovely Caldwell County courthouse just one block over. It's something I don't think anyone could resist if they saw it from afar.

We both know we have seen a similar courthouse in another county but we can't remember where. This one was gorgeous! Very outstanding.

We faced so much road construction on this trip.
Oh, man, was it hot just sitting there when they were down to one lane. We'd have to just sit while the other side came our way with the lead truck, then wait for the construction, then it was our turn to follow the truck. Bless the guys and women working on the roads. They have a damn hot job and dangerous too. My dad worked for the State of Texas on those roads for 30 years, now my nephew is out there. They definately work for their dollars.
The day of the show, Wednesday, we had some time to fill. Big Daddy suggested going to New Braunsfels as there was a restaurant there that was suggested by a friend and to look around downtown. For some reason I wanted to go to downtown Gruene and eat at the Gristmill for lunch. 
Remember earlier when I mentioned that sometimes you just end up where you should be? That day must have been one of those days. We got to Gruene and pulled in front of Gruene Hall which is right next to the Gristmill Restaurant.

Gregg Allman's equipment bus was already there and unloading.
There was a trailer there that was climate controlled.
THE organ, the Hammond!
We went on to lunch and were trying to look at the menu. A line of guys started walking by, and I was thinking that they looked familiar. Who were they? I knew them I thought.  Big Daddy said 'that's them'. Oh, my god!  It's them, the band, the crew.  At the freakin' restaurant.  They put them in the back room by themselves, but believe me, I had a birds eye view the whole time.

After that it was on to get fudge and do some shopping. Yummy! on the way in to Gruene. I had seen some beautiful wildflowers and they just happened to be in front of a church with a cemetery.
We decided to go by there and check it out. It was so beautiful there. They had apparently at some time covered up the original framing with wood but they had left part of it open and covered it with glass so you could see the original finish.
That was so great to see. They also had shutters over the windows and you could look inside. Two great options for allowing you to view the church while still keeping it locked. The cemetery was such a treat for me. There were very old trees as well as graves. But the most wonderful thing was the butterflies.
There were thousands just flying around. There were so many none of them were still for a second. The wildflowers were hip high and gorgeous. I had a slight hesitation walking through them as I have a fear of snakes but I just couldn't pass up the beauty of the moment.

That night on the way to the show it started storming. Lightning, thunder and the works. We made it inside the no air conditioned building just before the rain hit.
Of course, I went right to the front to await the arrival of greatness. And, of course, I had to stand next to an ass. He was fat and didn't want me there for some reason. So for 4 1/2 hours I had to stand there with him pushing on me and me pushing back. Oh, the joys of rock-n-roll. I LOVE it!
It was hotter than a two dollar pistol in that place and the humidity mixed with the cigar and pot smoke was overwhelming.

 The level of musicians working the Gregg Allman show is outstanding. I just love seeing them. At times Gregg really gets into the music and as he leans back, his right foot on the pedal of the organ, his left leg will go up to the left, and I imagine he may be riding on his Harley in his mind with his feet on his highway pegs.

Notice the new tatt work in the above photo. The photo below is when we saw him in 2007. (yes, i do notice things like that!)
 By the time we left it was still raining and we had to put on the rain gear but it wasn't pouring as it had during the show.
Unfortunately late that night and the next afternoon I suffered a concert hangover headache. We did make it to the suggested restaurant for lunch though.

 Wonderful food!

 We saw another beautiful courthouse, The Comal County Courthouse,  in downtown New Braunsfels and had a nice coffee at a coffee shop across the street.

That night while deciding the route home I thought it a good idea to go via Lockart.  Um, why not have BBQ two times in one week?
After going through the construction the other way this time we had great BBQ and a nice visit with the owner of Smitty's.  We told him we would see him next Thursday on our way to Austin for ROT Rally. Also, told him we'd have two more bikes and three more people with us.  He said "Come on, we'll be here!".

Well, I've got to run to keep from hidin',

And I'm bound to keep on ridin'.
And I've got one more silver dollar,
But I'm not gonna let 'em catch me, no,
Not gonna let 'em catch the Midnight Rider.

And the road goes on forever

Gregg Allman, L.Payne, Robert Kim


Mitzi said...

Great photos and article! Just one thing...Gregg doesn't sing Ramblin' Man. It was written and is the signature song of Dickey Betts.

juwster said...

Great point Mitzi. The song lyrics are credited to the writer on all of my blogs, this one to Forrest Richard Betts. Greg was an Allman Brother and still does tour with them. Ramblin Man was, I believe, The Allmans only top 10 single. My blog stories are written from my perspective. The song I chose was an Allman Brothers song. Music is infinite. It doesn't dissapear when a band member leaves or a band no longer sings it. It lives on in my mind forever with my memories.
Thanks for your Gregg updates via the Facebook Page!