I agreed with two stipulations. There had to be ample opportunities for sustenance (you know...large quantities of fattening foods, preferably fried, and, hopefully, funnel cake) and, this was a deal breaker, I could be in charge of something not just be one of the grunts. To his credit he said there would be a great barbecue guy there with the best BBQ ribs around (more on that later) and that I would be the senior helper and would be in charge of all the crew. My pride swelled as I listened and cheerily asked who would be on my crew. Doug said it was just me and him and I would be supervising myself. I suddenly realized he had not been referring to any seniority I may have had among the other helpers but a backdoor reference to my advancing age. That Doug, he's a cagey one.
The gig was a small venue in Boyd, Texas (Go Yellow Jackets!) a forty-five minute drive west of Frisco at a place called the Boyd Fun Fest where the owner, Toby, was running a "Pumpkin Patch" for the local residents. As part of this, each Saturday, Toby booked bands to play on the stage of a converted box truck-trailer.
The county, comprising 922 square miles, is divided from north to south between the Eastern Grand Prairie and the Western Cross Timbers regions of Texas (who knew?). Approximately 40 percent of the total area is quality farmland, and 60 percent is forest and grazing land. The first known inhabitants of Wise County were probably Wichita Indians, a nomadic plains group that depended upon the buffalo for food and other necessities. In 1540, when the Coronado expedition came through the area east of the site of present Decatur, there were several Indian villages between the Trinity and Red rivers. During the antebellum period, Decatur was a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail route from St. Louis, Missouri, to San Francisco, California. Many Wise County residents fought in World War II; the Lost Battalion of 1941–45 was composed largely of area citizens.
Boyd is on State Highway 114 seven miles south of Decatur in southern Wise County. In the early 1890s farmers settled at the site, in the curve of the North Fork of the Trinity River. The community was originally referred to as Greasy Bend because the area was used to fatten hogs (I love that). After the Rock Island line reached the town in 1893, the settlement was renamed Parkhurst in honor of a railroad executive. Sometime later, railroad officials complained that Parkhurst might become confused with Park Springs, a town just down the line, and Parkhurst citizens selected the name Boyd for their town, in honor of H. S. Boyd, another railroad executive (really.....they couldn't think of anybody more important than that guy?). The Boyd community incorporated in 1895 and soon became a retail point for area farmers. Until the 1940s cotton and livestock were the area's principal agricultural products; afterward Boyd became a center for melons. In the late 1950s the town began to serve as a bedroom community for citizens working in Fort Worth.
Residents of note are Billy Joe Tolliver, former Texas Tech and San Diego Chargers QB. Bo, the First Dog to Barack Obama, was bred in Boyd (I bet the natives love that factoid). And Peter Mayhew (7 ft 3 inches tall), most famous for his role as Chewbacca, currently resides in Boyd (how cool is that Star Wars fans?).
This is no Rolling Stones road show with convoys of support vehicles with pyrotechnics and stadium size big screen TVs and flying speaker systems run up by cherry picker lifts. This is two-wheel dolly, muscle it up onto the stage and hang it with a Home Depot aluminum ladder. I like to think of it as the Economy Class of stage production. It's steak and Champagne on a beer budget. But a lot of bang for the bucks.
There were two acts playing. A relatively new three piece band called The Hotheads would open and a more experienced regional act, the four piece MKB (Matt Kimbrow Band) would be the headliners.
When they started their set, Mom and Dad and a couple of uncles and an aunt were seated front row center (well...it was actually a dirt lot) to watch their little boys play along with a small number of girlfriend-groupies. They were very enthusiastic yelling and applauding often to encourage these young men. For what it's worth, they did try real hard and although both the bass player and the lead guitarist couldn't carry a tune in a bucket (I'm in Texas now...I can say stuff like that) the drummer actually had some skills and I firmly believe he's wasting his time with these guys. I put forth the notion the lead guitarist was a cross between Bob Dylan and Willy Nelson. Doug was kinder and only remarked that it was the most unique voice he had heard to date. It was a very long and arduous 90 minute set. They kept looking over at us and asking to do "just one more." I'll let you decide for yourself:
Matt, the bands leader, is an accomplished singer-songwriter in his own right and has really surrounded himself with some other accomplished musicians. They have their own unique sound and aren't trying (like many other cover bands) to emulate anybody else. It's quite refreshing to listen to them and their original numbers. Here's a sample:
The highlight of the evening was when they did an extended set and had Matts little boy Ryder (and future Country Music Hall of Famer) come up on stage and joined him on the number. Kid's got possibilities and may have a record deal in the making.
Now let's talk about the BBQ. Calvin Thompson brought his "Bama" giant smoker to the event and provided some of the finest smoked chicken and pork I've had the pleasure to sample. This was some tender stuff. Slow cooked in a custom three-chamber rotary smoker heated to about 350 degrees by a wood fired burner. Calvin confided in me he had put on his competition rub on the meat and slow cooked it for about four hours.
See, there's this little known fact about Doug. He's always hungry. Because of this, he has several eateries he frequents when he's out on jobs. On this trip, we had to visit the #912 QuikTrip Food Mart convenience store at I-35 and Highway 380, the highway that would take us home. There, Doug insisted I try one of their Sausage Dogs. Now, I am not a big fan of fast-food, but I will try anything once. Doug raved about the Sausage Dog and it's many iterations. QT has several self-serve products from breakfast items to hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches all waiting patiently on warmers and high-tech roller/heaters which ensure the dogs are cooked through with beads of fatty sweat adorning them. This close-up display forces you to approach and simultaneously invites you to pick one up and drop it into one of the cool steamed buns lodged in their custom little clear plastic locking boxes in drawers below the warmers.