Still smiling…

“Jumping for joy is good exercise.” That quote crossed my path first thing Saturday morning and I decided to make that my mantra for the day. I had plans to head to a concert in Fort Worth at Billy Bob’s in the Stockyards and I knew it was going to be an event.

A week ago, a reader of one of my blogs posted a comment:

“September 5…Billy Bob’s Texas…Junior Brown.

You need to be there, Annie.”

I logged into YouTube and searched for Junior Brown, I’d never heard of him before. I replied in a comment back:

“I did s search on YouTube for Junior Brown. Wow… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jonJu6-XpWU&feature=related

Another comment from my friend:

“Oh, Annie darlin’…you’ve got to see and hear the man in person.”

I pondered for a bit, and called BIly’ Bob’s and ordered 2 tickets. I figured if I didn’t have someone to go with I’d have a place to put my purse and I wouldn’t be so crowded. The tickets were only $15 each, not that expensive for a concert.

I headed over to Cowtown around 7 and arrived at the time I would usually be leaving on a Saturday. It was my first time to experience Cowtown on a Saturday night. I parked the car and made a beeline to the downtown section of The Stockyards. The streets were buzzing with excitement. All sorts of tourists, cowboys–the rodeo was about to start–guys on Harleys, a real mixed bag of people with smiling faces. I was a woman on a mission, I knew exactly where I was going to have dinner.

On my very first trip to The Stockyards about 7 years ago my friend JD recommended that I eat at the Star Cafe. I still remember my friend Carol’s skepticism of the place, but as promised we had some amazing steaks there. We sat in the front window and watched people go by and enjoyed one grea meal. When I arrived last night it was nearly 8 and the place was packed. The waitress lead me to the extra dining area and there was a table for 2 in the front window. I sat there and settled in to watch the view of people walking past with the biggest smile on my face. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, my favorite there, and fresh cut fries. It came out of the kitchen super fast and was just as good as I remembered it.

I couldn’t pick up my tickets at the will call window until 9, so I mozied down the street. (What else would one do in Cowtown?) I stopped in a few shops just to look and was sad that my favorite jewelry store has been replaced with a woman’s clothing store. My hope is that they have just relocated to a different area of The Stockyards.

On the street a Southern Rock band was performing. I found a bench nearby and sat out under the starts listening to them until 9. Of course they have a web site: http://www.twistedpistols.com/Home.php I enjoyed their music and I loved their enthusiasm. You could tell they truly loved what they were doing. I wondered how many of the other artists that played at Billy Bob’s got their start playing on the streets for tips in a jar.

Time to head to Billy Bob’s. I’ve been there before on a Saturday, but just during the day and it was pretty tame and quiet. I’ve been to a concert there once during the week, and it was fun, but the excitement of the place on a Saturday night was intoxicating. But, I still needed a drink. :). When in Texas…I decided I needed to order a Texas Tea. I strolled around the bar taking in the art work, the guitars hanging on the wall, and was in the moment absorbing all that I could.

There was a band playing in front of the dance floor, and I found a table at the edge and hopped up to watch the show. I am in awe of country dancing. To me country dancing in the cornfields was line dancing that was popular a long time ago…at the honky tonks the dancing that they do is like a ballet. People dancing, almost floating across the floor in time to the music. It is so different from the dancing that I grew up with. Couples face-to-face feet shuffling and moving around in a circle. This dancing people glide around the floor as if on skates. Amazing…

At 9:45 I made my way over to the live bullriding that was to start at 10. There are no mechanical bulls at Billy Bob’s they ride the real ones. They introduced the cowboys for the night, babies really–ok, they were 16 I think there are probably laws that prevent babies from riding bulls! It was my first time at a live bullriding event.

HOLY CRAP!!! They were just trying to sit on the bulls and the bulls were flipping around tossing them in the chute and I was skeeered for these boys. What a rush of excitement as they pulled the rope and opened the chute. It was exciting and scary at the same time and I loved it. I am looking forward now to seeing a rodeo. Maybe it was because I was so close to things in that small arena that it seemed so frightening. It was a rush and what a hoot!

By that time it was nearly 10:30, it was time to make my way to my seat. I needed another drink and some water before heading to the table. I walked up to the bar and asked the barmaid for a Texas Tea.

“You will need to order that at the other end of the bar. When you do, ask her to make you one with the sweet tea vodka, it’s new, you will love it.”

I moved down to the opposite end of the bar and placed my order. The waitress smiled.

“We just got this in last week, taste it and let me know what you think?”

I loved it, it added a great sweetness to the drink that has now made that my favorite. Ahh, the small joys in life you know?

A drink in each hand, one was water silly, I headed toward the stage and my seat. At Billy Bob’s you are seated at long tables, with 8 people on each side. The tables are packed in there, so once you are in your seat, you are probably there for the night. The tables aren’t that wide, so it’s an intimate experience with people across from you. Someone showed me to my seat and as I was sitting down and getting settled in the guy across from me looks at me and with a straight face says:

“We’ve been waiting for you.”

You know me I didn’t miss a beat.

“Thanks for saving me a seat, I had to get a drink first.”

He laughed…and I then looked across the table at him and said. “I sure hope you behave better than you did the last time.”

We all laughed at that–you know me I can’t resist a well placed zinger now and then.

Junior BrownThe concert started in minutes of that exchange. There was a bass player, a drummer with a snare drum and out walked Junior Brown. I had a perfect view of him the entire night. He was funny, entertaining and amazing with that guitar/steel guitar combination. I was so glad that I had been listening to his music all week. It made the songs that he played seem like old favorites. He went from song to song for 9 minutes, never stopping in between for the applause.

It was 90 minutes of pure love. Once again I was experiencing someone doing something that they loved and the vibrations that such a performance pushed out into the room. At times it was old school country & western music, there was rock in there and there were times that it was just a jazzy blues feeling type music. I didn’t stop smiling the entire time.

Sometime during the performance I found myself back as a kid. Memories of dancing around the living room and the kitchen to country music popped into my head. Maybe it was the Ernest Tubb song, something struck a chord and even though I was smiling, I felt my eyes fill up with tears. Not tears of sadness, but tears of happiness. In my heart I could feel my guardian angels smiling down at me and laughing and dancing to the music. It made a perfect evening even more special.

In the last 10 years, I’ve done a lot of things to honor my mom, one of my guardian angels. She always wanted to see the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC–I did that. She loved scenice vistas and wildflowers–I came to Texas to see the bluebonnets. There were so many things in life that she wanted to do, not that she didn’t live a full life, but she worked–worked hard her entire life. Looking back I realize the things that she sacrificed because we needed something, school clothes, or just money to put food on the table for 4 kids. I marvel at what she accomplished as a single mom with 4 children and very little support from 2 ex-husbands.

That’s probably part of what drives me to try new things, to not rule out options, and to hug the stuffin’ out of life. My life could be over in an instant and I work every day toward living a life I love, and giving back. I don’t want there to be regrets, should haves or could haves when my time is over.

I would rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not. Lucille Ball

One thought on “Still smiling…

  1. I’m delighted to know you enjoyed Junior Brown. Sorry I couldn’t join you, but I’m sure you were a stranger at the table for less time than it took to sit down.

    The bull riders ARE special at Billy Bob’s. If you ever have occasion to walk down the alley behind the building (yeah, right, like Annie’s going walking down an alley in the Stockyards) you’ll see the sign “Bull Riders Enter Through VIP Door.”

    Please let us know more about your adventures–past and future–and the unique individuals you encounter as you hug-the-stuffin’ outta life.

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