Texas. Got back there as fast as I could!

IMG_0906Sitting here after making it through another USA to Australia flight, I am filled with the exhaustion that comes with liven large for a short time  in a place that just fills your senses, and the excitement of seeing my wife and boys, and all the Family centered chaos of immediate needs that comes with family life.

I tried numbing myself out with movies, American Sniper (love Clint Eastwood, what a talented life he has left, a true master of his art) CAKE (To much like work, and I aint back yet) and Stephen Hawking’s life story. He is an amazing man, he sure made Lemonade.

15 hours into to longest single flight in the world ( Dallas to Sydney), I knew I had to stop hiding, and start facing up. So Sturgill Simpson is the soundtrack to this verse. Every so often I forget, that music always starts flowing from and new and original source, someone comes along like Sturgill, and just blows your boat clear out of the water. He is the next big thing, of this I have no doubt. Seeing him live restored my faith in Country Rock and Roll! The perfect mix of Nostalgia and originality. Man I needed it, with all the replicators out there regurgitating Bro Country bullshit, Sturgill sure is kicking the shit out of that Barn door.

Coming back from Texas always has me feeling sad, I could live there in a heartbeat. I have felt right driving on the wrong side of the road there for over 8 years now. I love the Music, the people, the food, the way the place feels to me. Usually I am home based in San Antone, but this time around I was the House guest of Ruby Dee and Jorge Harada, from Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers. Finer hospitality you could not have hoped for, and as I get on in years, I am surprised when I make a new friend.

Sitting out on the back porch with Jorge as we shared our smoke of choice, me my Peterson’s pipe with a hometown San Marcos blend, and him, his stogies. Talking music, life, women and the road as only men hitting 50 can. Old enough to have seen dream’s come and go. Old enough to know who you are, and what’s likely to be. Old enough to still harbor fantasies it can be different. Young enough to attempt them.
Jorge put together the Snakehandlers for my early shows, and AJ Mac on Drums and Dylan Cavaliere on Country Bass were a great fit for Chucks Wagon tunes. Playing my Texas inspired music with Texans always ads something extra to the mix. For the shows that the Snakehandlers couldn’t do I have Stephen James from San Marcos on Guitar and John Duer on bass, with Tony Gloria on Drums. Different feel, same Texas magic.

This time around it was short and sweet. I was there for my day job, which in itself was inspiring, apart from my time at the Meadows with Master Craftswomen Pia Mellody, I was able to spend my downtime in Texas with John Lee (The Flying Boy). John is a Psychotherapist, Author, Men’s worker and Storyteller. I have been influenced by his work for over 20 years, so to spend so much face to face time with such a man was soul enriching, thought provoking , and thoroughly guidance providing when it comes to my future in that field. Him being a Texan,  well hell y’all, that was just cherry on top of the Pie. My work with John was about finding and living from my King, but that’s a story for another day.

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This trip had many surprises. Getting to see James McMurty , two weeks in a row, at Midnight, watching him get all his new material together, ready to roll put on tour, just standing in front of him, alone, enjoying the moment, like no other existed. When you write songs, and perform them, and then have moments where you stand in front of someone who is just in a different stratosphere, it’s humbling and exciting all at once.

You want to write songs and burn your guitar all at once. That being said on this night I just stood there, admiring, dancing, and belonging. Right place, right time. I wasn’t the only one. There was regulars that come to the church of James. Met another one right up front, never really spoke till after, but we shared a lot in common.

When she, Andrea, Light worker, Energy healer, asked me up to Willie Nelson’s Ranch to see her son who was making a movie, I just knew you do not say not to an offer like that. I was cool just walking around Willies. One of the original Outlaws. A man who believed in himself, believed in what he could do so much so, he turned his back on it all and did it his way. The rest is history. So just being up there, soaking it all in felt special.

Going to the Broken Spoke in Austin Texas, going early, and learning to Two Step. Getting out of my comfort zone. I really like to dance, but I get to comfortable just standing inside of myself, instead of getting in to the soul of my body, and then getting into the limbs, and moving to the music. It was stressful, it was fun, I was glad it was over, but then you had to practice, otherwise why do, so I did. Now it’s time to learn it with my wife, we need to dance more. It’s that simple.

I got to see older men, men that have spent their lives building their relationship with their craft. Heybale at the Spoke, seeing those seasoned veterans of the dance halls sending them folks around the floor nearly effortlessly, was amazing. Red Volkart, Ernie Poole Ball brothers in Honky Tonk arms. Seeing James McMurty’s band though was the same, generation or to younger, but grown men in the mastery years of their craft. Was special to watch. Seeing Cornell Hurd and Rosie Flores at Ginnys Little Longhorn was the same, and Casper Rawls with the Legendary Bill Kirchen on guitar was the same. Thankyou gentleman, and for the punters that keep going and hearing good music that comes from heart.

There was those though still keeping Austin weird . Thunderosa, AJ Macs “other” band. Nashville Pussy crazy rock and roll, was fun singing a punk version of Folsom Prison Blues with them.

When I first came to Texas to play 8 years ago, it was Jeff Smith of Hickiods Fame and Saustex Media that booked me. He still is booking me. Getting to see the Hickiods is always grinning material, Jeff always end up near nude, and when they played at the Women’s Roller Derby, and he could get away with getting a chant of “Whore”, in Mexican of course, going with the whole crowd chiming in. It’s a long story, but let’s just leave it with the Whore chant!
The other end of the scale was seeing Sturgill Simpson, young, charging, on fire, raising eyebrows, getting people talking. Exciting, humbling, Rock and Roll.

Being at the White Horse and seeing Bar Brawl 3, just rocking out, versatile, on it, people dancing. Awesome. Singing Humdinger with the boys just made it all a better kind of Texas evening.

Being at Luckenbach Texas, catching up with Darryl Magg,  Troubadour, Texas Red Dirt Aficionado. The hours I have spent sitting at his bar after closing as he turned me onto bands and songs I hadn’t heard. Well Darryl got me up on stage on the dance hall with Country Folk artist Kevin Deal. It was a cool as shit, playing Waylon Jennings at Luckenbach. Cheesy, but still cool as shit.

Still it was playing, seeing friends and new people enjoying my songs. Some new venues I had not played, Ginny’s Little Longhorn, what a legendary place, Giddy Up’s and Moontower, all great shows with the Snakehandlers. Triple Crown was the usual fun, Happy Hour show, but we still played load and proud. Beethoven’s at San Antonio is always a stand out. The worlds a funny place. Why a German beer Halle has taken a crazy Aussie under their wing I will never know, but I love the welcome I get there all the same. Wonderful.

The same can be said for the friends I have made over the years, whether they be older or younger, Christian or pagan, I have a great time in Texas. Thank you to the beautiful Cliff and Rita Leach and show me that loving lasts a lifetime. Dawn and Stefani Duke who are simply two of the best Texas woman I know. Billy Milano who just lives with a beating heart for all to see on the outside of his chest, love him like a brother. Thank you or believing in me Billy. To Andrea, a light worker, seeker and two step companion, it was a blast.

To my musical brethren, Chris Rhoades, Tony Gloria, AJ Mac, John Duer, Dylan Cavaliere, and Ruby Dee and Jorge Harada. Thank you for laying down the swing so this cowboy from downunder to sing to. Without it I would be a lonely voice.

So, one hour to go till this flight touches down in Sydney and life will become all to real to fast, and driving around Texas and staying up all night will be but a dream.  I have had been able to listen to Sturgill and James whilst writing, and now I am onto Absent Father by Justin Townes Earle. Beautiful.

That’s enough for now, I will post this when I get some signal, put my head back into Willie Nelson’s new book, “Roll me up and Smoke me when I die!”  Will let Justin get me home.

See you on the road my friends.

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Tilba, The Dromadery Hotel, and Rock and Roll


Well Folks, I haven’t written for a while, I am fickle like that, ever since Tamworth I have had the wind knocked out of me. With the release of Family Man, I have seriously thought about calling it a day, “Chuck takes the Wagon of the road and becomes Family Man!” It has a certain ring to it. Having two small kids latter in my life has been a magnificent gift, one that just keeps giving. I have never missed being away more than I have when I go and play. If that makes me soft so be it. I heard Townes Van Zant say once that he was aware of the moment were he thought he could actually do this music thing, but he realised he would have to leave everyone behind to pursue it. When I started Chucks Wagon, it was my grumpy old man policy. I knew I had another shot in me, and that I wouldn’t be satisfied if I didn’t give it a royal old go. The rough plan was to do three albums in five years and then a live one to finish off, and then see where the lay of the land left me. Well it’s been 6 years, I’m three albums in and there’s the live one to come. I don’t count the Live in Austin, Texas, as it was an acoustic record, even though doing that tour with Kinnon Holt will remain with me till the day I die. That man is a true Outlaw.

The trouble is I just can’t seem to give it away that easily. We have Family Man out on the Radio tonight, and off this record, I Play Country, I know there are at least another single or two off it.

Tony Leach who did the film clip for I Play Country, has sent me the treatment for Family Man, and I know I have to do it.

Keeping a band together, when you don’t earn a lot form shows is one thing, keeping it all together , when you want to make records and film clips, and the band don’t earn much is a whole other story. When I got home from work my wife stated that she rang a budgeting company that advertises on TV to see if they would take us on, and after she explained were we are at, they were not interested. Now I earn money, good money, I had to take a day gig to keep the band moving forward, but now with dependants, spending all my money on Rock and Roll, well, that simply just can’t keep happening, so therefore I have to get myself out of this hole. So one last film clip, a farewell tour of the USA, and one last Tamworth and then I will have a good think about it. Well that was the plan.

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” John Lennon.

Chucks Wagon has had more drummers then Spinal Tap, and nearly as many guitar players. You can’t have that many players go through a band, and blame anyone else but yourself, so the buck stops here.  After Tamworth, when major changes happened again, it was hard to keep moving forward.

“ It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, just matters how many times you get back up” Rocky Balboa- Rocky V

But, it’s not in my nature to give up, so forward it was. My buddy Den Hanrahan said he would fill in, and before him I had the pleasure to play with the wonderful Jeff Mercer, a true gentleman with a master’s touch. Den, did finally get the call up. I have been a Den Hanrahan fan before; I actually knew I was a Den Hanrahan fan. I played the very first Ben Hall Biker Ball at Forbes a scary amount of years ago, and it was in a shearing shed, and I still remember this guy soloing, and it was Den, and the band was Saddle Rash. Den these days is a consummate Troubadour, a slave to the song, and it’s his passion that impresses most folks, you simply can’t take your eyes off this guy. He put’s everything he has into his music. I still think when he plays Ft worth Blues, Steve Earle turns around somewhere and says “Hang on a minute”.

Before the show’s on the weekend, we had played two shows as a band, both ok, some hit’, some miss’s, no use lying to yourself. On Saturday we played the Gerringong Bowlo, and I love it down that way, but, country music aunt everybody’s thing, and let’s just say Gerringong didn’t have their Cowboy boots on that night, not to mention that the local supermarket got held up with a Hammer just before the show, and the cops were everywhere, including the club. It was a cold night. As with music though, after the show, the Wonderful Sue Corbett had booked us into some accommodation, about 60 klms towards our next show, we found it in about 2am, and it was an oasis of the heart, in the bush, up against the lake, two stories of country lovin. In a band the most time you spend with each other is off the stage so the hang time is important. There’s not much to it, some beer, (in my case coffee!), some tunes, and some shit talking about some other gig, some other time, some other place. Tunes keep coming, beer runs out (everyone drinks coffee now) sun comes up, people go to bed. This night seemed just what the doctor ordered. When we did get up to a beautiful winters morning, Dave and Drummer Henry went off to get some Fry up, and after Mr Harding finished his cooking duties, we sat round working the tunes up, Den on Guitar, Dobro, Banjo, Henry on brushes, and Harding playing the  bass. It felt god, timing was right, and off we headed to Tilba Tilba.

Now this truly is Paradise on the South Coast. The Dromedary Hotel is a special place, frequented by music lovers, they listen, they dance, they buy C.D’S, they dance some more, and when the nights done, everyone is stoked. Music is a funny thing, and for no apparent reason, tonight, the line up kicked out the jams. No more worrying about getting it right, amps got turned up (told by the publican to play load!)I think is the warm atmosphere, we were amongst friends, and just let it rip. Mr Hanrahan was on fire. Harding and Henry were in the zone, all I had to do was whip out the songs. Easy! When finished a bunch of encores, and the fires were dying down, it was nice to relax, and feel like we turned a corner. It was less than 24 hours before this that I was sitting on the front steps of the Gerringong Bowlo, in between sets, thinking why I do this to myself.

What a difference a day makes…

Straight after the show, I packed up quick, and decided to do the five hours back to Sydney, easier at night. Just got to watch out for the roo’s, wombats, Hanrahan said he even saw an Emu. When I was driving through Gerroa, there was a white owl sitting in the middle of the road. Good Medicine.

Family Man’s last verse sums up why I went home. Mum and Baby Maverick were sick, and mum was getting exhausted. Even though staying and waking up at Tilba would have been good for the soul, my heart belonged at home.

So, where to from here? It’s at this point a Mystery. It was good to feel the music again, not worry, and be playing it with good men, on a mission. Film to come; looking forward to seeing what Tony Leach comes up with this time. Sydney Launch at the Botany View first week of September, and next weekend we are playing with our good friends the Chickenstones.

Texas, well Big John Duer’s booking that as we speak. Looking forward to a chicken fried steak at the County Line, trying to catch Randy Rogers in between shows, and then it’s getting ready for Tamworth. Hopefully one of these singles makes something out of the Band, but there will always be a night in Tilba Tilba were four men, balls to the well tore the house down!