Nestled deep within the very heart of Hill Country, Texas, is the tiny town of Luckenbach (Loo-kin- bahk). There are just 13 residents living inside the town’s borders. But, don’t let the population size fool you. The unincorporated community that sits about 50 miles north of San Antonio has a lot more going on than you’d expect. Here are three things you need to know about Luckenbach, Texas, before heading over for a visit.
- It was founded by German farmers – The community was first named Grape Creek (perhaps really a faulty spelling of “Gap Creek”), a tributary of the Pedernales. The literal meaning of the creek is “Luckenbach” in German. It was later renamed after Engel’s husband, Carl Albert Luckenbach. Luckenbach was first established as a community trading post, one of a few that never broke a peace treaty with the Comanche Indians, with whom they traded.
- Its main thoroughfare still includes a working saloon – Its oldest building is a combination general storeand saloon reputedly opened in 1849 by Minna Engel, whose father was an itinerant minister from Germany.
- It’s a country music mecca – According to Southern Living, “In the 1970s, the entire town went up for sale. But, rather than see it sold off to some outsider, a local legend by the name of John “Hondo” Crouch, along with a few partners, plunked down the cash to buy it. He purchased the town for a mere $30,000. And all he wanted to do was make it a place where country music and a little bit of magic could happen. And boy were his dreams fulfilled. The town was on the map when Waylon Jennings recorded Luckenbach Texas:
recorded by Waylon Jennings
written by Chips Moman and Bobby Emmons
There’re only two things in life that make it worth living
It’s guitars tuned good and firm feeling women
I don’t need my name in the marquis lights
I got my song, and I got you with me tonight
Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of love
Let’s go to Luckenbach Texas with Waylon and Willie and the boy’s
This successful life we’re living got us
Feuding like the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s
Between Hank William’s pain song’s and Newberry’s train songs
And Blue Eye’s Crying in the Rain
Out in Luckenbach Texas ain’t nobody feeling no pain
Southern Living says, “Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and Waylon Jennings have all performed in the town. Now, Luckenbach’s tiny dance hall often hosts popular live music events and festivals throughout the year. And truly, it’s a welcoming place for visitors to roam in and spend some time. As the town’s motto states, “Everybody’s Somebody in Luckenbach.”
On Sundays, it is common for visitors to bring instruments and take turns performing informally with others in the crowd. Occasionally, local and regional celebrities drop by.