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'Pickin' & singin' at Bandera Music Hall of Fame

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

As a child, I eschewed listening to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights with assorted aunts and uncles at my Grandma Heck's house in Barrackville, West Virginia. Imagine how gratified they would be to look down and watch as Little Judy Heck listened with rapt attention to Gary Lewis offering a Lefty Frizzell homage to Arkey Blue and Doug Livingston.
The afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 21, members of the Bandera Music History Project Hall of Fame celebrated the 2012 induction ceremony by honoring the Silver Dollar as Legendary Venue; Laurie Gibson, Musician; Lisa Beck, Songwriter; Art & Lisa, Duo; Carol Livingston, Vocalist; and Doug Livingston, Living Legend. The eighth annual induction ceremony, musical performances and always-anticipated jam session took place on the informal stage behind the Bandera County Public Library with Ed Hodges acting as emcee. Bandera Music Hof President Mike Murehead also served as chairman of the event and Mary Schenk went into overdrive as publicity chairman.
Arkey & more
When the "sawdust settled" Arkey Blue received a third Texas-sized limestone star as his entertainment venue, the Silver Dollar, took top honors as Legendary Venue. In 2005, he was named the first Living Legend, and in 2011, he was selected the Songwriter of the Year.
For almost 45 years, the Silver Dollar has served as Bandera's most iconic honky tonk, playing host to more tourists, musicians, celebrities, politicians and "grateful locals" than any other watering hole - or "entertainment venue" as they called in today's politically correct parlance.
After receiving the Musician of the Year award, the extraordinarily talented Laurie Gibson thanked all of her instructors who laid the groundwork for her career, which spans Chopin and Cole Porter to bluegrass and kickass country.
Her past musical experiences included fiddling contests from Kingsville to Nashville, USO tours and event a stint in Vegas. "If I'd taken a straight path, I'd have missed out on the kaleidoscope that came with playing with so many talented musicians," Gibson said. In 2010, as the Gibson Sisters, she and her sister Sallie received the Duo-Group award.
Before being selected as 2012 Songwriter of the Year, Lisa Beck came to Bandera from Atlanta, Georgia, "with her guitar and a soul filled with songs to write and sing." Beck's "Learning to Breathe Again" became the title cut of Art & Lisa's inaugural CD, produced by Lloyd Maines.
After accepting her award, Beck grinned and said, "Mama always told me I was a 'star'!" Lifting the award to heaven, she added, "This is a special thanks to mama and grandmother. This is for y'all." Fittingly, Beck's performance included one of her songs, "Mama's Prayers.'
Hall of Fame Band
Beck remained on stage to pickup her next honor as 2012 Duo-Group winner with partner, Art Crawford. As Art & Lisa, Beck and Crawford's covers and original music runs a continuum from soft story ballads to driving classic and southern rock with rousing gospel sets thrown in.
After accepting the awards, Crawford quipped, "Lisa told me I had to talk this time." He thanked Doug and Carol Livingston for 'breaking ground for us"; Arkey Blue for "giving us a place to play"; and even the "older Gibson sisters back there. We're the young ones; it's nice."
Backed by the Hall of Fame All star Band - Jesse Owen and Johnny Miller, guitars; Byron Zipp, filler; Sallie Gibson, stand-up bass; Steve Vidro, drums; and Gary Lewis, guitar and vocals - Art & Lisa launched into their signature gospel medley that included, "I'll Fly Away," "This Little Light of Mine," "When the Saints Come Marching In" and Do Lord, Remember Me."
"I want to remind everybody, we have the world's biggest dance floor right behind us," said Hodges, pointing to Sandidge Park.
The Livingstons
As Vocalist of the Year, elegant Carol Livingston thanked Arkey Blue for giving her a place to sing in and her husband, Doug, "for telling me what key to sing in."
Stepping behind the microphone, she joined Kitty, Patsy, Loretta, Dottie and other queens of country music of incredible poise and unique musical stylings.
One of Livingston's selections was "I Don't Believe I'll Fall in Love Today," a classic written by the great Harlan Howard. It's safe to say, on that Sunday afternoon, Bandera fell in love with Carol Livingston all over again.
This year, Carol's husband joined Arkey Blue, Larry Nolen, Kinky Friedman, Dusty Britches, Rudy Robbins and Johnny Miller as the Bandera Music Hall of Fame 2012 Living Legend.
Additionally, Bandera Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Schumacher proclaimed Sunday, Oct. 21, as Doug Livingston Day in the Cowboy Capital of the World. Aside from his musical prowess, Doug has apparently also "fixed more lawn mowers and chain saws than any other musician in Bandera." (In the interest of full disclosure, Doug once fixed El Guapo's lawn mower).
The proclamation concluded: "His accomplishments as a musician are exceeded only by how beloved he and Carol are by this community and all who know and work with him."
Accepting his award, Doug observed, "I also fixed a motor home for Arkey in Corpus." Described as "the backbone of the Blue Cowboys," Doug fronted the Silver Dollar house band for 35 years. Of his friendship with Arkey Blue, Doug noted that he "grew up in the Silver Dollar" - first as a member of the Blue Cowboys and then as its bandleader. He and Blue became friends in 1972.
'Hell, yeah'
About his long musical career, Doug said, "When starting out, all pickers would travel 50 miles to play for nothing. When they got a little better they'd travel 50 miles and get paid, but no one would show up. But, you'd do it all again. Hell yeah, you'd do it again!"
Before everyone adjourned to the after-induction party at the Silver Dollar, Laurie Gibson and the Bandera Music Hall of Fame All-Star Band sent them on their way with what has become Gibson's signature piece, the "Orange Blossom Special."
If the devil had come down to Texas, Gibson would have that fiddle of gold today, and those of my relatives who have crossed over to the Grand Old Opry in the Sky would have approved mightily.