The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips

By Gerald E. McLeod, March 14, 2008, Columns

Capt. Day Trips' magical musical tour. Music has been a major export of Texas for generations. Very few states have contributed as many sons and daughters to American popular music as the Lone Star State.

Thomas Kreason, director of the Texas Musicians Museum in Hillsboro, agrees with that sentiment, and his collection of memorabilia is a great place to get an overview of the state's musical history. A former purchasing agent for Hard Rock Cafes, Kreason has assembled a unique assortment of musical souvenirs and recordings going back to the "race records" of the 1920s and 1930s. The best part of the tour is his encyclopedic knowledge and interesting stories.

A short detour off I-35, Hillsboro is a quaint little town, where, legend has it, Elvis spent a night in jail. The museum is a couple of blocks north of the courthouse near three Mexican-food restaurants and an Italian cafe.

Among Kreason's musical exhibits is J.P. "the Big Bopper" Richardson's coffin. A Beaumont native, Richardson had a 1958 hit with "Chantilly Lace" but died in a 1959 plane crash. When his grave was moved a couple of years ago, he received a new coffin. His original casket became a piece of Texas history.

Also on that airplane with Richardson was Lubbock native Buddy Holly. The gallery at the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock tells the story of Holly's life and career and showcases a pair of his signature horn-rimmed glasses that survived the crash. You can have your picture taken behind the oversized glasses in front of the building. The center serves as an art gallery, hosts traveling exhibits, and has an excellent gift shop.

If you want to have your picture taken alongside the Buddy Holly statue, it's a couple of blocks north of the museum at Eighth Street and Avenue Q.

While you're in Lubbock, stop by the former home of C.B. "Stubb" Stubblefield's barbecue joint at 108 E. Broadway. The building where many area musicians got their start is gone, but his friends bought the property and turned it into a park with a statue of Stubb serving a plate of bronze ribs.

One guy who didn't get on the airplane with Holly and Richardson on that February day was Waylon Jennings. His hometown of Littlefield, about 40 miles northwest of Lubbock, renamed the main drag through town Waylon Jennings Boulevard.

Waylon, Willie, and the boys made Luckenbach, Texas, famous, but the village south of Fredericksburg is more than just a store with cold Shiners. The town also sports one of the oldest dance halls in Central Texas.

The oldest dance hall in Texas would be Gruene Hall on the northern outskirts of New Braunfels. Opened in 1878, the open-air hall has hosted a wide variety of talent. The historic district around the dance hall boasts a collection of shops and restaurants and is worth a visit.

The second-oldest continuously operated dance hall in Texas is two years younger than Gruene Hall. Schroeder Hall is about all that is left of a once prosperous German farming community between Victoria and Goliad. The hall attracts a great mix of bands, from the Subdudes to Pat Green.

If you want authentic Czech music, stop by the Moravia Store on any Saturday night. It's not much of a store anymore, mostly cold beer and hamburgers, but it's still a great little bar. Not on most highway maps, Moravia is on FM 957 southwest of Schulenburg.

While you're in Southeast Texas, you've got to stop by Janis Joplin's hometown. Besides great seafood restaurants, Port Arthur has the Museum of the Gulf Coast. The exhibits in the museum cover everything from dinosaurs to sports heroes, but Joplin's psychedelic Porsche and a note she wrote to her mother are featured in the music section. You'll also find the lighter, comb, and a pair of dice that the Big Bopper had in his pocket on that fateful airplane ride.

871st in a series. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips" 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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