Jerry Jeff Walker’s Texas Bash 2018

| April 5, 2018 | 1 Reply

Story and Photos by Axton Deary

Jerry Jeff Walker performed on March 25, 2018, at Gruene Hall for his annual Texas Bash.

Jerry Jeff Walker performs at Texas Bash 2018 – Gruene Hall

On the Dallas dreary and cold morning of March 25, my cousin Kris, and I loaded up our cowboy boots, Stetsons, and a cooler full of longnecks into my pickup and we headed Southbound I-35 until we reached the foothills of the hill country. About the time of Travis County, the skies opened wide and we were blessed by sweet smell of recent rain, glorious sunshine, and the perfect mixture of warmth and breeze. We pulled in to San Marcos, Texas, unloaded our bags and headed to my alma mater, Texas State University. Jerry Jeff Walker had donated many memorabilia to the Witliff Collections, located on the top floor of the Alkek Library at Texas State University. The exhibit was titled, “¡VIVA JERRY JEFF! – The origins and wild times of a Texas icon” and it featured how Ronald Clyde Crosby ventured his way from New York state, to New Orleans, and eventually on in to Austin and the impressions he left on music along the way to become Jerry Jeff Walker. The collection had handwritten lyrics, cowboy boots made by Charlie Dunn, photos of family and friends, and unheard recordings of Jerry Jeff Walker. The collection was well organized by Jerry Jeff Walker, The Witcliff Collections and Texas State University.

Texas State University’s Witcliff Collections

1974 Recordings of Jerry Jeff Walker

The next stop for us was Gruene Hall. Being in Gruene is always a special time for me, it’s filled with warm smiles and kind strangers who always keep the doors open for you as you walk behind them. Kris and I entered the hall, grabbed a longneck, and took in the crowd. The crowd at first seemed well-tamed, as patrons were seated and taking casually amongst themselves. I noticed Kris and I were the youngest concert-goers by at least 30 years, but that didn’t mean much to us or anyone else. We were there to support the icon who made Texas music what it is today.

Waiting in line for a beer, I saw Jerry Jeff walk through the front door, shake a few hands, slap a few backs, and walk in the hall. Jerry Jeff just stood in the middle of the hall, a few people noticed him, and the casual talkers grew quiet, eventually ceasing the entire hall to become eerie quiet. Jerry Jeff had the floor to himself, and he yelled, “Are you ready to party or what?” as he proceeded to the stage. The hall erupted with cheers.

Jerry Jeff Walker and son, Django, perform Guy Clark’s “The Cape.”

Jerry Jeff got on stage, strummed his guitar and looked at the crowd, and said “Ahh buckaroos,” and the band went to full show mode. The crowd went berserk. He opened with “Getting’ By” and followed up with the homage to Luckenbach founder, Hondo in “Pick Up Truck Song.” Jerry Jeff finished the with song and was talking about Hondo when he stopped mid-sentence, and asked, “Hey – who won the Duke-Kansas game?” A few patrons murmured out Kansas and Jerry Jeff called out one concert goer by saying, “Hey you old-timer, I want my money after the show.” You could tell the crowd was a close-knit group of people, whether they knew it or not. Each person there had probably seen Jerry Jeff a dozen times or so. One individual who I sat next to said his wife and he flew in from Ohio to see the show, and they’ve seen Jerry Jeff about 30 times or so.

Jerry Jeff was typical Jerry Jeff Walker. He talked, he laughed, and he even teared up. Jerry Jeff was joking about his wife said they were going broke and he needed to write more, so he wrote a song for his wife, “All Because of You” and performed it for the audience. After the song, Jerry Jeff joked even more about doing something that put him in the dog house with his wife and he said, “My wife then looked at me and said, ‘You know what, I should have let you die.’ – I began to think after so many years of marriage, she can say that after all the hell I put her through.” Jerry Jeff began to talk about his battle with cancer and nearly dying. Jerry Jeff was going more in-depth about near-death and he said he was asked if he saw “the light,” and he teared up and said, “I didn’t see anything… because I knew I had more left in me,” and Jerry Jeff strummed right in to Guy Clark’s “The Cape” for the most awe-struck performance I’ve ever seen Jerry Jeff Walker give – it hit everyone right in the feels. “The Cape” was bare-boned, stripped-down music full of every ounce of soul Jerry Jeff possessed.

The first recording of Mr. Bojangles

After the emotional-filled “The Cape.” Jerry Jeff went right in to “Mr. Bojangles” and with it being in the Hall, surrounded by some of Jerry Jeff’s closest followers, it was a magical experience. Jerry Jeff and his band rolled right in to “L.A. Freeway” and it completely changed the mood of the crowd. Beforehand, you had a tamed, meek and mild, older crowd who was simply enjoying the show. During and after “L.A. Freeway,” it was a completely different story. Patrons were standing on their feet, and were extremely loud – it drew remittance of old Jerry Jeff footage of this wild concert/party that lasted for hours.

Jerry Jeff’s band was amazing, his lead guitar player was playing killer riffs throughout the song. Towards the end of the song everyone was on their feet giving the band a standing ovation, but Jerry Jeff transitioned in to “Trashy Women” and it was a sight to be seen. There were 60-year-old women letting loose and standing on chairs, 60-year-old men were standing in their chairs and draining longnecks, some poor chap had to be told to get down from the rafters. It an absolute stellar performance and 100% crowd participation – something I had never seen before.

Jerry Jeff and his son Django perform “Texas On My Mind”

Jerry Jeff finished out his set in style with “Up Against The Wall”, “Navajo Rug”, another Guy Clark tune – “My Favorite Picture of You”, “Texas On My Mind” featuring his son, Django, and ended with “London Homesick Blues.”

Overall the show was one of the best Jerry Jeff Walker shows I have been a part of. While I’ve seen Jerry Jeff play Billy Bob’s Texas and a random festival, this was the most intimate show I’ve seen him perform due to it being Texas Bash, being played at the Hall, and one of Jerry Jeff’s first shows after beating cancer. For Jerry Jeff being 76, a throat cancer survivor, he proved why he was and still is one of the most recognizable artists in the industry – fortitude. While I could dabble in debate over Jeff Prince’s 2017’s Fort Worth Weekly’s music feature that called Jerry Jeff Walker the demise of Texas Music, I’ll wrap up by saying, if Jerry Jeff Walker is the demise of Texas Music, then why is he the most looked-up-to musician in all of the scene? Jerry Jeff was in Austin and Luckenbach before anyone else. So how can a man who created the scene, be the demise of it? Jerry Jeff Walker  love him or dislike him — is a Texas Icon who will forever be embedded in the Texas Music Scene.


Category: *- Features, Other venues

About the Author ()

Axton Deary is currently based in Dallas, Texas. He attended college at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. It was there that Axton grew an affinity for music -- with historical venues such Cheatham Street Warehouse, Gruene Hall, Joe T. Floore's Country Store, and Luckenbach just a stone's throw away. Axton saw the best that Texas' regional acts had to offer. Although currently employed full-time in Dallas, he frequents various venues scattered across the DFW metroplex during his free time. Axton currently pens album and concert reviews. He is excited to be a contributor to Scene in Town and is looking forward to the new journey.

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  1. Jeff Prince says:

    If you are going to reference the story I wrote that calls Jerry Jeff Walker the demise of Texas Music, readers might want to see the link for proper context.

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