Gruene is My Favorite Color
My dear friend Rose, who has been a long time employee of Gruene Hall, was kind enough to get me tickets, along with our new found friend Blake. Rolling up to the Hall, the line was long. Rose advised we mosey to Mozies for a bite before the show.
Mozies, directly across the street from the Hall, is a long, stretched bar converted from what was previously the Gruene jailhouse. The windows above our seats were barred and the walls a thick concrete. Rose ordered a Reuben and we shared the sandwich as well as a round of tequila; hold the salt, take the lime. We were ready.
As we stood in the dwindled line, I noticed the outside wall was dusty and riddled with finger written messages into the dirt. I couldn't help but think about how many pairs of boots had walked through these doors and the numerous lives that have cycled through this wood. Beautiful history.
We grabbed a beer and headed to the front. Jamie Lin was already holding her own singing "Oklahoma Stars," the crowd fattening. She sang like a bird; Rose and I chirped along in harmony. Over 700 fine people crowded into Texas's oldest dance hall that evening.
Dos Equis flowed freely as Rose and I stood stage left, the soundboard stretched in front of us. Rose had pulled some strings. We took turns skating through the crowd to use the restroom and to buy one another rounds. We danced atop a sitting bench jutting from the wall, Blake on the floor in front of us.
Mike Harmeier strolled onto the stage, the intro to "Road Crew" repeating until the signal to begin. The Moonpies launched in, guitarist Caitlin Rutherfords hair as big as the music. They were on a roll, playing most songs from the recent album "Steak Night at the Prairie Rose" and some off of their previous, "Mockingbird." The crowd was electric.
During her opening set, Jamie had hinted a "jamboree" would take place between her and Mike's groups to cap the night. None of us could have prepared for this ender. They had arranged quite a number of 80's/90's country covers that included George Strait's "Blame it on Mexico" and Merle Haggard's "Working Man Blues.'' Patrons were singing along with every word; every song.
Between Mike & Jamie, harmonies flew through the rafters, three steel players crowded around a pair of steel guitars bobbing and weaving their melodies among one another, Jamie took a deep breath and wailed on her harmonica, Mike took a lead, Gracy took a lead, Adam Odor made a killing on bass; the venue was charged! At one point during the set, Mike sat down center stage, back to the crowd and watched his drummer take a dance. Laughter and smiles were endless, the energy so dense it was palpable.
As the show came to a close, everyone ran around fueled with enormous static...
There is no other means to describe it. I won't forget this one.
Blake, Rose and I ended the night at dive called Billy's Ice. It was cold as our energy began to resettle. We took our good memories as well as a ride home.
My favorite color is Gruene. What’s yours?
Words and photos by Montana based musician, Marcedes Carroll (blog).