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Life in the Lone Star State

Posted by FretlessinTexas on Monday, July 18, 2011


Well, what can I say? I moved to Texas back in December from northern Indiana, which never quite suited me. Can't say exactly why. I sure hated those long-ass, bone-chilling winters. But I always felt like a stranger in a strange land in the three years I was in Fort Wayne.

But we escaped and made our way to Texas, where just about everything is bigger. Soon after arriving here, I purchased a pair of Justin cowboy boots, which are remarkably comfortable. I also got a cowboy hat and some western shirts.

My sister in law bought me a belt buckle the size of a dinner platter. When I am all gussied up and wearing my western garb, I have to admit that I feel kinda cocksure of myself. Hard to fully explain. My wife, however, says she will not be seen with me in public dressed as such.

I live in Red Oak, about 25 minutes south of downtown Dallas when the traffic is flowing nicely. Soon after arriving, I started making contact with old-time music makers, but soon learned that there was no standing jam. (I have since moved to Plano, which is a whole lot different from Red Oak.)

So I started one. We meet at the first and third Saturday of the month at Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park. We play only old-time music. Here's just a snippet of what I say in a email that goes out on a regular basis:

"Bear with me with what follows. I include this in all notices because it is important to understand what we are trying to accomplish, which is to play old-time music. With all due respect to other genres, we won’t be playing bluegrass, Irish, or old country and western. Wonderful music, but not our focus.

Old-time music is the precursor or the parent music to bluegrass and is typically rooted in fiddle tunes from the 19th and early 20th century. It is ensemble music in that everyone plays together, sorta like in an orchestra. No solos, no pressure. It’s also dance oriented as many of these fiddle tunes were featured at square dances. The bulk of the tunes we will play come from southern Appalachia and the Ozarks.

And as we are playing fiddle tunes, let us allow our experienced fiddle players to lead. Better results typically follow. Note: We always need fiddle players.

We have no expectations on anyone's level of playing. All comers are welcome. If you don’t know what old-time music is, no problem, come and learn."

So it blathers on and on, but you get the point. The jam has been going on since February and I think will sustain itself whether I leave or get hit by a bus. I may have jump started the thing but the thing now has a life of its own.

We got some real talent here, far more than what I was experiencing in northern Indiana, which was close to being a musical wasteland, but like I said, I've escaped that place so there is no looking back. Some good folks in Fort Wayne to be sure, but thankfully I'm long gone.

I'm trying to start a consulting business, and I trust in the Lord for all my guidance as I know that I am not smart enough to make it happen on my own.

Well, that's the news from Red Oak. Summers are hot as hell here in Texas. Big state. Big heat. But there is an optimism here, a hold-my-beer-and-watch-this mentality that keeps me sufficiently interested and entertained. I do intend to make a purchase of a ball cap at the Alamo one of these days. It says this:

“You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas”. -- Davey Crockett.



9 comments on “Life in the Lone Star State”

Aonach Says:
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @12:39:05 AM

What a worthwhile thing to do!As well as nailing what "old-time"is-I go to a similar local session and thoroughly enjoy it,no pressure -just good tunes and help on the learning curve.
All the best with your new venture too.

RatLer Says:
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @5:02:51 AM

Sounds like you've adjusted fairly well!! Congrats on the old-time jam. And Justin boots are hard to beat, just got my second pair of Justin work-boots. Now I have a pair of black and a pair of brown, set-up for all occasions, now!! You'll have to post a picture with your Texas out for the "glare" on that belt buckle, though...LOL

GSCarson Says:
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @6:14:39 AM

Good report Dean, I've wondered how things are going. Also appreciate the insert from your jam email. I am not home much, but have been stewing over starting an open old time jam in the area. There are four good OT jams within driving distance every Sunday afternoon but none are public and they seem to be filled with grey haired folks like me rather than young people. I figure if they don't hear it or know where to go they will never have a chance to learn the music. I may borrow some of your thoughts as they are good and I've been thinking about how to set the tone right up front (once I find a good spot to hold it). I guess no Clifftop this year? In any case hang in there, keep trusting and best of luck and hope to see you again. Glenn

RWJonesy Says:
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @7:05:39 AM

Just like Glen I myself have wondered how you have been. Glad to hear you have "taken the horses by the reigns" considering starting the old time jam. They play old-time music here in central NY, but not the Appalachian Fiddle Tunes. This slow sleepy non fun type of music flows from the majority of fiddles around here. Sorta like slow country from the 50's. Good to hear you are well Dean. Like you said, Proverbs 3:5-7.

beetlegeist Says:
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @8:48:16 AM

Lucky, lucky you. I have always wanted to see Texas. I think it is one dream that will always remain a dream but I am glad that others are there to enjoy it.

erikforgod Says:
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @11:25:29 AM

My dad who recently passed away...he was a hoosier from Fort Wayne..really miss my dad :( Good luck with Texas and happy frailin!

dannnjo Says:
Saturday, August 13, 2011 @11:04:46 AM

Hello from Ohio Dean, glad u r liking the Big State and keeping the BANJO alive
and your commenting of the affairs facing us
bet you'll take a trip to Alaska soon, or some cool mountains near by

Tom Meisenheimer Says:
Saturday, October 29, 2011 @6:00:22 PM

Sitting here (in Branson, MO) with my friend (a spoon player from Bandera, Texas) Listening to what I say is one of the better if not best, outlaw songs. Get to Bandera and the 11th street cowboy bar and get in touch with James at Riverside RV park, he actually tolerates us claw-hammerers and can add hours of fun to sessions with his spoon playing.
You guys do a good job!! FRETLESS FOREVER!!! Tom Meisenheimer.

Dock Jekel Says:
Friday, November 18, 2011 @6:49:23 PM

Wow. I have visited every state in the union, save Alaska and the ones in the real south of things. What an adventure for you. I am jealous about the slow BBQ possibilities in your neck of the woods, not necessarily the cowboy boot stuff.

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