FEATURE Texas Pickers Strum Germans to Set Record BY ROBERT MCCORKLE Luckenbach pickers lift their guitars in triumph. photo by Robert McCorkle 0 n an August afternoon hotter than Jerry Jeff Walker’s temper, two extraordinary things transpired: I played two songs with 1,867 other guitar pickers to set a Guinness world record. And I rekindled a subliminal inner joy buried for years. Heaven knows there were cooler, saner things to do on a Sunday afternoon than drag myself, and my old Yamaha six-string, into the dusty, 103-degree swelter of a mass guitar jam in Luckenbach. I’d never thought of myself as just a number, yet there I was, sporting a “Pickin’ for the Record” Tshirt with “No. 263” written across my chest in black marker. I’d become a true believer in a grandiose, record-breaking attempt. My capricious relationship with this legendary Texas Hill Country burg postdates by a few years the 1976 death of Hondo Crouch. Hondo presided as the “clown prince of Luckenbach,” putting the town on the map with his satirical Peter Cedarstacker newspaper columns and zany events such as the Return of the Mud Daubers, the Women-Only Chili Cook-Off and the Non-Buy Centennial. Like most visitors to this dog-eared postcard of a town, I occasionally popped by to sip a longneck under the live oaks and to listen to the ubiquitous pickers. A different vibe prevailed on Aug. 23. Hondo’s mischievous ghost must have whispered the wacky notion of a guitar fest to Abbey, Luckenbach’s social director, whose business card bears no last name, just her duties: “parties n stuff’ Her idea was to attract enough guitarists to the pastoral hamlet on Grape Creek to break a world record set by 1,802 Germans. In 2007 they gathered at the lake in LeinfeldenEctherdingen, Germany, to play “Smoke on the Water” in unison. Abbey figured not only could the Texans kick some German dingen, but at the same time raise money for the Welcome Home Project, conducted by volunteer group Voices of a Grateful Nation. The project uses music therapy to help U.S. war veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries. SEPTEMBER 18, 2009 TEXASOBSERVER.ORG 25
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