Lookin’ Back On Luckenbach

est.
1982

Crazy Hearts
09/10/2023 Wesley Dean
View Article Crazy Hearts Diary

A musical baptism.

It was a million degrees when we arrived at Luckenbach Texas to join in on a picker’s circle.  A picker’s circle is a group of musicians that get together to play. Their instruments are varied, and I was interested to see different styles and techniques. I taught myself how to play guitar and piano, and I’m told I have a unique style. I only use two fingers while picking, and it’s certainly been a talking point with other players after my shows.  I’ve always been interested in how others approach their craft, so a picker’s circle in middle Texas sounded like a great place to watch, learn, and share.

Unfortunately, the picker’s circle was cancelled due to the extreme heat. None of the regular players showed up. I mentioned to the manager of the local bar there that I had a PA and guitar with me. They offered me a show on the spot. Five minutes later, I was loading my gear onto their outdoor stage and I ended up playing for over an hour. It was another “hottest day on record,” but I still played like I was at Wembley Stadium. There were 3 people in the audience when I started, but as I started playing, people came from all over…and by the end of the show, there were a lot of people there..  I had no idea where they all came from, but they were there! It was a core memory of the trip for me. I’d love to go back and take the band one day..

The dance hall was built in 1887, and you could imagine the cowboys and the Comanche people who once frequented there.

I also imagined Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings setting up on the stage playing their music. I thought about the song Luckenbach, Texas (basics of love) and imagined it was written on the same stage I just played! But then I found out that apparently Waylon hadn’t even been to Luckenbach when he recorded the song!

I started to feel like the Crazy Hearts tour was like a musical initiation for me. A musical baptism of such.

When I moved to America  I wanted to get into the trenches and experience the rich history of American art and music. I wanted to work on my craft and be the best I could be, and experience in real time, the vast American country, where modern music was born.

For me, music isn’t just about writing a few chords in a room full of fancy chesterfield chairs, vinyl couches, and cheesy shabby chic coffee tables. Music has never been about how clever you can be. To me, music is a sacred art form that can change a whole landscape and unite people, and it’s truly the universal language. I wanted to immerse myself in these incredible landscapes and places, and feel the stories I’ve heard and read about my whole life. Being able to play in Luckenbach gave me that very experience. I got a feeling that Luckenbach had evolved through a musical heritage in its own unique way. There was magic at Luckenbach. From the days of the 1887 dance hall to Waylon and Willie’s song in Luckenbach, Texas, there was so much rich history, and it was an honor to see it with my own eyes. Showing it to my two boys meant the world, too.

Next stop and on the same day was Fredericksburg, where I was booked to play a private show for the good folks at Texas Wine Collective. I arrived dripping with sweat from the Luckenbach gig but no one seemed to care. A quick change of shirt and hat, and we connected with Dave and the team. We were floored with some of the best wine I’ve ever had to date! (Big call) I played completely acoustic and told some stories about the new songs off my new record Crazy Hearts, which will be out next year.

I was born very close to the Australian wine country, the Barossa, and it reminded me of being there. The landscape was so similar and so was the wine, I felt at home immediately. We had a beautiful early dinner to soak up all the red wine and we stayed there the night. Thanks to Dave and everyone at Texas Wine Collective for having us.. I’ll never forget the wines and conversations Dave and I had about creating and craft. Seriously, this day was one to remember.  They were so generous for letting us stay there the night.

I’ll never forget waking up to the beautiful Texas morning sun, rising over the vines.. after coffee we were off and headed to Marfa, West Texas. It was another long drive and as we drove further into the barren desert, it was as if we were driving to the end of the earth. What was to come,  no-one could prepare for..

Wesley Dean