Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Boyd, Texas

As some of you may recall...I did a brief stint as a "Roadie" for my friend and co-worker Doug's sound production company. Always keeping myself in reserve in case Doug was desperate for help for a last minute gig that came up, an opportunity arose when a mutual friend, Brandon, was placed on injured reserve. Not anything that he did working for Doug (although I could see how that could happen in Doug's employ....hey, the guy's a slave driver). No, Brandon had a terrible motorcycle accident a while back and conked his head pretty good and had to have a follow-up surgery. The "quick" recovery didn't happen as planned and Brandon had to beg off. Then came the magical call-up from the minors to move to the "Bigs" and off the bench I went. Well.....it wasn't all that magical. Doug called me and asked if I had Saturday free. He caught me at a weak moment....I had been working overtime and was a little sleep deprived and hadn't had a second cup of coffee that morning. After much thought, with a little trepidation (still recovering from my two prior gigs where I had to sleep for a week and take massive doses of Aleve), I accepted.

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.

Boyd is in Wise County. Wise County was officially established by legislative act on January 23, 1856, and was named in honor of Henry A. Wise, a United States Congressman from Virginia, who, during the 1840s, supported the annexation of Texas. The county seat, Decatur (originally named Taylorsville), was selected by a countywide election and has remained the seat of government to the present.

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?).

Boyd is a neat little rural town with a very small town feel. So imagine my lack of surprise when we arrived to what initially looked like a car lot with a kids zone of inflatable slides and bounce houses amidst the pumpkins greeting us. We drove around back to our venue, the converted box trailer stage. It was pretty trick in that the entire side folded open providing a 40 foot stage with an overhang protecting it from weather (well...sort of) and allowed us to hang some of Doug's new cool LED lights for the evening show dodging the open holes in the wood deck flooring.

Doug and I dutifully began our setup by unloading all the necessary gear from Doug's trailer of death. Lots of large and small objects needed to produce music and lighting. Some heavy...some very heavy, some with tentacles which reach out and threaten to cut off limbs or at least put out an eye. Add to that several hundred watts of electricity, well you get my drift.

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.

Now when I say the Hotheads were new, I'm talking green. These guys had just graduated from their garage (and, I suspect from High School). When we had our briefing for what they needed, we learned they had failed to bring their own amps (a must for electric instruments to produce sound.... Hey, even I know that) or even their own drum set. We ended up negotiating with the members of the MKB band to let them utilize MKBs stuff. They were very gracious to the new upstarts and let them have the run of their stuff and even did a little mentoring as well. Very cool...it could easily have gone the other way. As one of the band remarked," Everybody has to start somewhere."

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:

The MKB band was a completely different animal. You can always tell experienced stage performers from the rest. These guys were polished and were well versed in the art of stage production. They had brought most of their own stuff and spent a lot of time with Doug refining their sound and look.

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.
The smell generated by the curling smoke rising through the shade tree he was parked under had mouths watering for miles. Calvin is a competitive BBQer and has won some awards for his stuff. He's there every weekend for Toby's events and will be participating in the Boyd Fun Fest BBQ Cookoff competition this coming weekend. Oh yeah, there was no one making Funnel Cake. I have lodged a complaint with my International Brotherhood and/or Sisterhood (we are a very politically correct organization) of Roadies Union and may have to break out the picket signs to protest the unfair working conditions I have had to endure.
After MKB did their ninety minutes, we began the tear down to reduce our handy work and stuff it back into the trailer. Because MKB utilized most of their own stuff, we were able to put away all of our stuff in record time. Now it was around midnight when we left Boyd behind but the night would not be complete without Doug's appetite being satisfied.

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.

Ok....it's not gourmet cooking but if you're hungry, the instant gratification of holding a perfectly prepared sausage dog is hard not to like. Yeah...I know, probably lots of meat bi-products, preservatives and most likely strange and unpronounceable ingrediments along with Red Dye #4 and Yellow #6 for coloring. But, I must say, a tasty little dog. A bead of yellow mustard and washing it down with a Dr Pepper (in Texas all things are consumed with a DP) did complete the experience...... but if I ever get back to a QT during a moment of weakness, I may indulge myself again. Let's face it, like a handful of other things like apple pie, football (not that damn European stuff), baseball and the Fourth of July, hot dogs are..... an American tradition and we need to embrace them for what they represent....America.

1 comment:

  1. I now know you are becoming a real Texan. Hot dogs at QT?????????.