Review – Luckenbach! Compadres! (Various Artists)

The Magic of Luckenbach Re-visited

Palo Duro Releases Luckenbach! Compadres! (Songs of Luckenbach!)Time warps at any given moment you drive down the dirt road into Luckenbach, that is, if you haven’t blinked and missed it. The tiny but infamous town is tucked tidily away in the back-roads of the Texas Hill Country. Once there you’re instantly transported back in time when life was much more simple; when it was about having friends, sharing good times and above all else the music.

While most of this generation associate Luckenbach with Waylon Jennings’ mega-hit of the same name, luring its listeners to the laidback, rustic simple-ness to recapture the basics of love, it was Jerry Jeff Walker that first put Luckenbach on the map with his now legendary “Viva Terlingua” album in 1973. It’s reported that Walker deliberately chose Luckenbach as the background because of its laidback aesthetics. 

Taking over the town for those infamous sessions, Walker and his band stacked hay bales for sound baffles and sat around writing songs during the day. Each night, they recorded in the dancehall and the end result was nothing short of magic.

The album spawned numerous Texas cult classics including Sangria Wine, Desperados Waiting for the Train, London Homesick Blues and Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother.

On the album’s 20th anniversary Walker once again returned to Luckenbach and recorded “Viva Luckenbach” as a follow-up.

Today the town’s almost-mythical ambiance and familiarity still readily reaffirms the sentiment that “everybody’s somebody” in Luckenbach. January 19 and 20th in the tiny hamlet of Luckenbach, Texas Palo Duro Records set out to recapture the magic of 1973.

Although they recaptured the magic they were smart enough to try to not recreate it. A stellar roster of new generation Texas artists and bands paid homage to the album that influenced many of their careers while steadfastedly maintaining the independent creative edge that they wear with unabashed Texas pride.

Two Tons of Steel brought the crowd front and center into Sangria Wine while taking the classic and adding their own hallmark touch of energy infused swing. The magic of Cory Morrow’s rendition of “Red Neck Mother” was captured superbly and the Derailers nailed “London Homesick Blues” for a new generation of music fans and their Palo Duro label mates Morrison-Williams were joined by Gary P. Nunn for “That’s What I Like About Texas.”

Thanks to the innovative creativeness and vision of Palo Duro records another generation of country music fans will experience the magic of those infamous nights in 1973. Viva Luckenbach!

Laurie Joulie  Take Country Back October 2006
Photo credit: R.W. Shamy, Jr. and Chris Thomas

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