Sleep didn't come easy for me the first night in Dripping Springs, Texas. The insomnia thing is a gift from my mother’s side of the Family. Apparently, quite a few McKeowns spend a good portion of their nights staring up at ceilings. I’d had a little more whiskey than a I normally drink, so I thought I might shut my eyes to the world fairly easily, but sometime around 3 in the morning I was still awake. Then some rain rolled in and I finally rested. Rain on the canvas pop out section of a trailer is a mighty fine lullaby.
The next morning, there were bacon and eggs and really good coffee, and we all sat around a beautiful old table swapping thoughts and stories, slowly revealing ourselves to one another. At this point, we knew each other mostly through our songs, as the conversation progressed, the songs began to make more sense.
As the week moved forward, sleep came easier for me. One night, or early morning, I woke up in that state of mind that sometimes shows up when you’re a long way from home and you’re not sure exactly where you are. I was surrounded by wild sounds, the wildest being what was described to me as a “horny donkey” which basically meant a male donkey separated from the females, his painful moaning haw littering the surrounding country. There were also birds(I think it was birds, anyway) calling back and forth. At first the calls were sharp and responsive, as they continued, the signal strength became weaker and the responses more delayed.
Our gracious hosts, Gail and Thomas, always had something cooking for breakfast. And, we’d all find our way to the table at some point between nine and noon. Although, after that first Sunday, we were rarely all at the table at the same time. Each morning, after a little breakfast, I always found my way to the stream, maybe fifty yards away from the house. The days were warm enough to contemplate stripping down and jumping in the section of rocks where the blue green water pooled four or five feet deep, and looked cleaner than a swimming pool in some gated community. But one toe in, and I decided that would rapidly become a bad decision. But, submerged or not, I found time to pray and calm my spirit on those rocks daily.
The days were filled with songs, mostly new to me, melodies and guitar strumming coming from open doors and wooden chairs all around the property we were staying. And then, usually around 3 pm, we’d load up in my van, and hit the Texas back roads heading to places like New Braunfels and Wimberly and some tucked away little house concert. Those rides were more of a chance to get to know each other as we drove through the hill country and slowly opened up more and more on each drive.
On Thursday, we left Thomas and Gail’s property in Dripping Springs and were on our own. I took in a movie, something I used to do quite often, and mostly haven’t gotten a chance to after my son was born. Then we met up for a show at a Presbyterian Church in Austin. We played on an altar with backdrop of a wooden cross, and it felt spiritual, and certainly bested the backdrop of couple of football games on giant flat screens, as is often the case for my shows.
Friday, we made it to Fischer, Texas and participated in a parade, throwing beads and waving, then played in a beautiful barn style theater that was described to me before I got there as playing in a guitar sound hole. After playing Fischer Hall, I’d say it was that was an accurate description.
Saturday was the last show, in San Antonio. My dad surprised me, by flying in From South Carolina. The round was finished with Sarah Morris singing lead on a John R Butler song, “Corner of the Universe,” which was a fitting close to our Texas Jaunt.
We said our goodbyes and I drove to Rockwall, Texas, arriving around 3 in the morning. I was tired, but it took me a while to fall asleep. Eventually, I found a few hours sleep and was on the road back to Nashville by 9:30.
Coming in the door around 7pm and seeing my young son, and hearing him say "Hi Daddy!" and running to me, is as good as anything I've ever experienced. It is good to be home, but a signinficant part of my spirit is longing for the Texas Hill Country and my fellow Kerrville friends. I hope to be back and see them all soon. This is not something to be forgotten. Much love to all!