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|Motto: Everybody's somebody in Luckenbach.|
Location within the state of Texas
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Luckenbach is an unincorporated community thirteen miles (19 km) from Fredericksburg in southeastern Gillespie County, Texas, United States, part of the Texas Hill Country. Luckenbach is known as a venue for country music.
It consists of 9.142 acres (37,000 m2) between South Grape Creek (a tributary of the Pedernales River) and Snail Creek, just south of U.S. Highway 290 on the south side of Ranch to Market Road 1376. This location is roughly 50 miles (80 km) north of San Antonio and 69 miles (111 km) west of Austin. The Luckenbach website lists "412 Luckenbach Town Loop, Fredericksburg, TX 78624" as the physical address for GPS navigation.
On December 15, 1847, a petition was submitted to create Gillespie County. In 1848, the Texas Legislature formed Gillespie County from Bexar and Travis counties. While the signers were overwhelmingly German immigrants, names also on the petition were Castillo, Peña, Muños, and a handful of non-German Anglo names.
Its oldest building is a combination general store and saloon reputedly opened in 1849 (1886 is more likely based on land improvement records of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission) by Minna Engel, whose father was an itinerant minister from Germany. The community, first named Grape Creek, was later named after Engel's husband, Carl Albert Luckenbach, who was then her fiancé. They would later move to another town which became Albert, Texas. Luckenbach was first established as a community trading post, one of a few that never broke a peace treaty with the Comanche Indians, with whom they traded.
Luckenbach's population increased to a high of 492 in 1904, but by the 1960s, it was almost a ghost town. A newspaper advertisement offering "town — pop. 3 — for sale" led Hondo Crouch, a rancher and Texas folklorist, to buy Luckenbach for $30,000 in 1970, in partnership with Kathy Morgan and actor Guich Koock. Crouch used the town's rights as a municipality to govern the dance hall as he saw fit.
Today Luckenbach maintains a ghost-town feel with its small population and strong western aesthetic. One of its two main buildings houses the remnants of a post office, a working saloon, and a general store. The other is the dance hall. The post office was closed on April 30, 1971 and its zip code (78647) was retired. The general store remains active as a souvenir shop where visitors can purchase a variety of items, including merchandise featuring the town's motto "Everybody's Somebody in Luckenbach".include postcards, T-shirts, sarcastic and humorous signs, and the local newspaper, the 8-page monthly Luckenbach Moon.
Luckenbach's association with country music began in the summer of 1973 when Jerry Jeff Walker, backed by the Lost Gonzo Band, recorded the live album Viva Terlingua at the Luckenbach dance hall. The album became an outlaw country classic.
Four years later (and a year after Crouch's death), Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson memorialized Luckenbach with the song "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)", co-written by rock and soul record producer Chips Moman and keyboardist Bobby Emmons. In his 2000 book Are You Ready for the Country?, author Peter Doggett recalls that Jennings later told audiences that "he hated the song and (had) admitted 'The guys that wrote the thing have never been to Luckenbach. Neither have I.'" Jennings eventually played a show in Luckenbach on July 4, 1997. Country rock artists Kenny Chesney and Kid Rock later covered the Jennings/Nelson song as a duet. It has also been recorded by musician/actor Christian Kane.
Guinness World Record
"Pickin' for the Record" was a fundraiser held in Luckenbach on August 23, 2009, for the organization Voices of a Grateful Nation. The Guinness world record was broken for the most guitar players gathered at one time to play (continuously for at least five minutes). The Luckenbach record broke the standing German record by 50, with the official count at 1868. The day before the Texas event, Elvis Presley’s guitar player made a similar attempt in Louisiana but only signed up 800 pickers.
Luckenbach hosts live music events each weekend. On Sundays, it is common for visitors to bring instruments and take turns performing informally with others in the crowd. Occasionally, local and regional celebrities drop by. There are recreational vehicle camping spots nearby, along with a small creek. Areas are also set up for washer pitching.
- Lt. Colonel Alfred P.C. Petsch—(1887–1981) Lawyer, legislator, civic leader, and philanthropist born in Luckenbach. Served in the Texas House of Representatives, World War I, and World War II.
- Jacob Brodbeck—Teacher and reputed builder of a heavier-than-air flying machine well before the Wright Brothers. The flight-worthiness of his plane is disputed.
- The horror film The Naked Witch was filmed in Luckenbach in 1960. It was directed by Larry Buchanan.
- Luckenbach was the setting for the short lived sitcom Lewis and Clark, which co-starred town owner Guich Koock and Gabe Kaplan.
- "The Luckenbach website". luckenbachtx.com. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- "Texan Inventor Jacob Brodbeck Makes World's First Powered Flight". Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- Reid, Jan (2004). The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock. University of Texas Press. p. 92. ISBN 0-292-70197-7.
- "Luckenbach General Store". Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- "Read The Luckenbach Moon". Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- Doggett, Peter (2000). Are You Ready for the Country?. Penguin. p. 368. ISBN 978-0-14-200016-8. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- "Willie, Waylon, Kris and Johnny 12/31/84". Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- "In Luckenbach, Tex., Fans Remember Waylon Jennings". Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- "Luckenbach Events". Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- Watkins, Melanie. "Petsch, Alfred PC". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- Luckenbach from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Official site for Luckenbach and the Luckenbach Dance Hall
- Texas town rooted in country music, a November 2004 CNN article (from web archives)
- Luckenbach, Texas lyrics