A Very Austin Christmas: The Making Of A Texas Tradition [Part Three]

We Make It Big at The Paramount Theatre

Through the first years of the 2000’s, we did our little Christmas show in different places in town every year - Antone’s, The Cactus Cafe, etc. The clubs kept calling and we would say ok. The only year we ever took off was when Kelly was hugely pregnant with our twins born March of ‘03. But I remember when our agent called us up and told us that the Paramount Theatre had called and wanted us to do our Christmas show there. I myself was floored, the historic theatre is a treasure of the community, and it was such an honor when they called. You do realize when you are on that stage all the great artists who have played there and the time you get on it is an honor and a privilege. Kelly remembers being terrified every single year we’ve played there because it’s such a special place, and still gets butterflies playing there every time.


Dinner & A Show With My Musical Hero  

One year, we were having dinner at the Clarksville home of my musical hero, and crazily our dear friends, Jerry Jeff and Susan Walker. At some point the holiday show came up, and we asked Jerry Jeff to come sit in. He agreed, so I set to strategizing. I told Kelly that I knew our fans, and I knew exactly what we needed to do.


I am THE biggest Jerry Jeff fan, so I was beyond excited when he came to rehearsals with the band and agreed to whatever we asked for. He did a holiday song, then a sublime version of Mr Bojangles, and lastly, a special surprise for our fans. We rehearsed the song “Gettin’ By” from his iconic record, “Viva Terlingua” recorded at Luchenbach, to keep in our back pocket. Without any introduction, we jumped into the drum intro, and from the first words of “Hi Buckaroos!” the audience erupted. I knew in that moment this show that had started so accidentally and organically 10 years before had turned into a part of the community. It had definitely taken on a life at this point. We had started bringing on these special guests that were beloved pillars of the community which only strengthened that sense of some kind of institution. People would stop us then, as they continue to do now, and tell us they come every year. It truly is a humbling thing to be a part of, to play a small role in so many families’ traditions around the holidays. Also, doing the show there every year makes you aspire to try new things to keep it fresh, and another of our happy accidents was born.


A Magic Slideshow, The Bane of My Existence  

I thought I was just playing with the movie program in a new computer, but Kelly had corrected me on this one remembering best. She had wanted to add a slideshow to the show, but she wanted to be photos of the band members from their childhoods. We put it in the background of one of our most sentimental songs, and it went over so well that we decided we had to do something about it the year after. I started gathering all the video cartridges from the whirlwind years since we started having kids. Our first little boy Deral (or Dodie) was born in 2001, and his brother and sister, twins Ben and Abigail, were born in ‘03. Our fourth child, Joseph, was born two years later, and so our nine years with infant babies was a bit of a blur at the time. But looking back through the video footage I had taken, some of the moments, like any family, were just fall down funny to us. I had stumbled upon this golden footage of our kids doing the strangest things. What started as just looking through some old footage turned into making a full slideshow of the funniest moments from those precious years.

The little Hyde Park Methodist church that Kelly began attending before our first child was born had a Christmas pageant every year, one that the kids would be performing in as part of that community until the church discontinued it. After that little tradition ended, I think it was Kelly’s idea to show the slideshow at our own Christmas shows to bring in that family element of the holiday spirit. It was a really beautiful thing from the first time we showed it, but it became more and more difficult to bring it around to all the venues and keep it updated as years went on. Some years I wouldn’t bring it at all, but fans would complain and Kelly would make me bring it back out again and, well, it’s a core part of the tradition now! As our children grow as they do, the oldest is 15 now and the youngest 10, sharing a bit of our family holiday with the people who come out and share theirs with us is a really wonderful thing. We’re saving the full slideshow for those who come to the show, but have a little peek at some of the clips in the video above.