My concert-going days may well be over, because I don’t much care for huge crowds and I’m not too keen on the exorbitant ticket prices that apparently are now standard.

But I always have and still do appreciate a good, live musical performance, and I had the pleasure of witnessing just that last Saturday afternoon when the Texas County Troubadours laid down a few sets at the Piney River Brewing Company’s iconic BARn. And just enjoying the trio of Troubadours (bass and mandolin player Rock Gremillion, of Yukon, acoustic guitar and harmonica player Kurt Heine, of Columbia, and St. Louis’ own Shamus McPherson on the electric guitar) would have been enough as they navigated through a repertoire that included everything from The Band to The Beatles, but the also show featured a wonderful twist when Summersville resident John Dalton Worth came out of the audience and joined the much-younger boys for some rousing renditions of Tom Petty classics and other tunes.

It was as if the foursome had played together before, and not literally just met.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

But as I sat getting lost in the series of worthy musical moments, and again after the show was over and the instruments were all in their cases, my mind wandered into the distant past (when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and I was a young buck with seemingly limitless energy) and I reflected on some of the more memorable live music occasions I’ve seen. As many people can attest to who have witnessed first hand their favorite musical artists in action, seeing a good concert creates a lasting impression.

A couple of my favorites both took place in the old Paramount Theatre in Seattle, a cozy little place at the corner of 9th and Pine with a few more than 2,800 seats and fantastic acoustics. On separate occasions, I saw the Eagles and U2 play there before either of them reached stadium popularity.

It was August 1975 when I saw the Eagles. They still had all five original members (Don Henly, Glenn Fry, Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon and Don Felder) and had recently released their “On the Border” album.

The show concluded with an unreal rendition of “Best of My Love,” with all five guys standing shoulder to shoulder at the front of the stage playing acoustic guitars as Henly made everyone in the place melt with his spot-on, raspy vocals (yep, even drummer Henly and bass-player Meisner joined the guitar-fest). I can still feel the ultra-pleasant atmosphere.

It was May 1983 when U2 played the Paramount. They had just released their “War” album and were still on the road to the big-time.

I don’t remember the song that was playing, but at one point about two-thirds of the way through the show, Bono held a finger to his lips and did the “sssshhhh” thing to the crowd. Other than The Edge’s guitar softly keeping some sound going, the place went silent.

Bono then stepped to the front of the stage, turned his back to the crowd and calmly fell back onto many awaiting hands. As if the scene was choreographed, he sang while lying facing the ceiling as hundreds of people carefully passed him around the bottom level of the three-story venue.

Again as if planned, the people moved him back to the stage and pushed him upright just as the song ended. Needless to say, a huge ovation erupted. With a big smile on his face, Bono was like, “Wow, folks, that was awesome. Thanks.”

I can still feel the surreal atmosphere.

But perhaps my best concert memory is one I can safely say is shared by about 11,000 people who happened to be in Pullman, Wash. in October 1979.

I was a junior at Washington State University and Mount St. Helens hadn’t yet dumped six inches of volcanic ash on the Palouse as happened the following May. But the mountain had shown it was ready for action by producing a few warm-up eruptions, so to speak.

Anyway, a Jimmy Buffett concert took place in Wazzu’s Beasley Coliseum. Already being a Buffett fan, I would have gone to the show even if the circumstances had been different.

But his current album was – wait for it – “Volcano,” and it and the single by the same name were not surprisingly slightly popular everywhere in the proximity of the Cascade Mountains’ newly famous overgrown fireworks cone. Getting a ticket was a no-brainer and they sold out in a hurry.

I’ll never forget the air of anticipation that existed throughout the show as everyone enjoyed all of Buffett’s other good tunes but collectively waited for the inevitable. Then it happened.

As soon as the steel drum began sending its Caribbean beat around the big room, the crowd went nuts. And every time JB came to the song’s famous refrain, he was joined by 11,000 volcano survivors in singing “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know where I’m a gonna go when the volcano blows.”

Absolutely unreal. And what are the odds?

To make things even better, Buffett had a broken leg and did the whole show propped against a tall stool wearing a full leg cast. Again, what are the odds?

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

As the Texas County Troubadours played several sets Nov. 8 inside the BARn at the Piney River Brewing Company in Bucyrus, they were unexpectedly joined by Summersville resident John Dalton Worth, left, who borrowed a band member’s guitar and proceeded to fit right in with his younger cohorts as if they hadn’t only just met. Troubadours accompanying Worth in a rousing rendition of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” are, from left, Columbia resident Kurt Heine (who played harmonica while his guitar was occupied), Yukon resident Rock Gremillion and St. Louis resident Shamus McPherson. The ensemble will likely return to the BARn in February.

As the Texas County Troubadours played several sets Nov. 8 inside the BARn at the Piney River Brewing Company in Bucyrus, they were unexpectedly joined by Summersville resident John Dalton Worth, left, who borrowed a band member’s guitar and proceeded to fit right in with his younger cohorts as if they hadn’t only just met. Troubadours accompanying Worth in a rousing rendition of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” are, from left, Columbia resident Kurt Heine (who played harmonica while his guitar was occupied), Yukon resident Rock Gremillion and St. Louis resident Shamus McPherson. The ensemble will likely return to the BARn in February.

Texas County Troubadours playing Nov. 8 inside the BARn at the Piney River Brewing Company in Bucyrus, are, from left, Columbia resident Kurt Heine, Yukon resident Rock Gremillion and St. Louis area resident Shamus McPherson.

Texas County Troubadours playing Nov. 8 inside the BARn at the Piney River Brewing Company in Bucyrus, are, from left, Columbia resident Kurt Heine, Yukon resident Rock Gremillion and St. Louis area resident Shamus McPherson.

I enjoyed a wonderful phone conversation the other day with a woman who is an experienced livestock producer, has been active in 4-H for decades and volunteers with both the Texas County and Dent County fair boards.

I learned a lot from her in a relatively short time. She spoke of how county fairs like the ones in Texas and Dent counties are “terminal fairs” with regard to shown livestock. That basically means all livestock at such events can go nowhere other than to slaughter once they’re shown and sold. If they don’t make weight or fail to be sold for some other reason, their next stop must be a sale barn.

She said things were different in the past, and grand champions at country fairs could actually advance to a regional competition and winners there qualified for a big showdown at the state fair.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

Man, I wish it was still that way. The competition must have been awesome, and as the woman said, livestock at the state fair were the best the state had to offer, rather than just animals brought by “any joe,” as is the case these days.

Not that my wife and I are going to make a habit of getting a table every Saturday at the Piney River Brewing Company’s BARn, but we did go there again last weekend to see “Deep Fried Squirrel,” a Springfield band.

Don’t let the name fool you. If you like bluegrass (or the current version, “newgrass”), these five guys are worth seeing, just as several people had told us.

Their music blends smoothly and flows naturally from five string instruments – banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar and stand-up bass. Every player is truly talented, and they obviously love what they do, and the three guys who take turns singing can more than adequately deliver a good melody or contribute a nice harmony.

They have great original stuff and can do justice to many a classic from the bluegrass genre. And I’m here to tell you, Lionel Richie would be proud to hear the Squirrels’ bluegrassed-up rendition of his dance-pop classic “All Night Long,” as would the members of Duran Duran when they heard their take on “Hungry Like the Wolf” or Tom Petty if he listened to the way they make “American Girl” all their own.

I’m glad Deep Fried Squirrel had CDs available (for a mere five bucks). They sound about as good recorded as live.

Keeping up with the tomatoes in the garden hasn’t been easy this year at our remote Texas County high country outpost, and I figure the same is true for many area residents who tend gardens.

While we might be in the throws of a hot spell right about now, the weather has surely been relatively mild so far this summer and the ’maters seem to be enjoying that fact with gusto. As a result, we’ve gorged on some of the meatiest and tastiest beefsteak fruit I can remember ever seeing, let alone eating.

And I’m glad a vendor at the Houston Farmers Market introduced me a couple of months ago to black cherry tomatoes. I’ve always liked cherry tomatoes, and these little buggers (with their sort of black striping) have a bold and yummy flavor. They also pretty much grow by the millions, so our three plants have proven more than enough.

Our banana pepper plants keep producing big-time, too, but our squash has for some reason kind of taken the year off, and it has been known to go wild – even during the drought years of 2011 and 2012. I guess you never know.

I’ve been waging a war of wits with a trio of adolescent raccoons that have decided to invade the cat station in the shop building on our property for several nights in a row.

It’s hard to get mad at the little critters because they’re so dang cute (see photos accompanying this column on the blog page at the Houston Herald’s website). But I figured I had to take some sort of action because the cat food they’re after is supposed to be for Pete, LuLu and their mother Tree Cat, who for about seven years have been the three feline members of our outpost’s populous menagerie.

I tried a few things that didn’t work, so the other night I told the outbuilding’s rightful residents that until further notice I would on a nightly basis be forced to remove the ’coons’ temptation (a.k.a. the bowl of cat food that remains stocked at the station and the bag stored nearby inside a covered barrel). I also told them they could take matters into the own paws and chase the intruders away when they showed up again.

They looked at me as if to say, “that’s OK – we’re good.”

Last night I could tell the raccoons had returned because there were little footprints on the cement floor next the cats’ water bowl. But I believe they’ll give up and move on once they realize their meal ticket is no longer being punched.

My oldest daughter, Roxanne (she’s 23), said to me the other day, “I want to shoot something and eat it, like a rabbit or a squirrel, just so I know I can.”

The Ozarks is apparently made significant headway in her mind, heart and soul. That’s what I’m talking about.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

 

A trio of adolescent raccoons is busted while intruding at the cat station in an outbuilding at our remote Texas County high country outpost. Too cute to be mad at!

A trio of adolescent raccoons is busted while intruding at the cat station in an outbuilding at our remote Texas County high country outpost. Too cute to be mad at!

A trio of young raccoons is busted while pillaging at the cat station in an outbuilding at our remote Texas County high country outpost. Too cute to be mad at!

A trio of young raccoons is busted while pillaging at the cat station in an outbuilding at our remote Texas County high country outpost. Too cute to be mad at!

It began last Friday evening with an epic meal, and concluded after a Saturday chock full of memories. And I’m here to tell you, it was a 28-hour stretch that couldn’t have happened the same way anywhere but in Texas County, Mo.

At about 6 p.m. Friday, my wife Wendy served me up a meal highlighted by grilled pork that I wanted to keep eating well after it was gone. Other than being cooked on a Weber grill rather pan fried or baked, the key to its flavor was two fold: The pig was of local stock and the meat was coated with sesame oil.

Thick, juicy and tender. Yum.

Saturday began slowly, as I tinkered around outside and generally enjoyed another nice summer morning. What with horses, chickens, a donkey and a dog to spend time around, I don’t need much else to be happily occupied at our remote Texas County high country outpost.

But as afternoon rolled around, Wendy and I readied ourselves and our little Corgi, Gertie (the Permapup), for a trip to the BARn. That’s the one at the Piney River Brewing Company in Bucyrus (a.k.a. Brewcyrus) that has been converted by Brian and Joleen Durham into both a place where dandy craft beer is crafted and one where fans of said libation can gather on Saturdays and enjoy good company a good pint or two.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

As we typically do when we trek to the BARn, we brought snacks and Yahtzee. I won’t go into how the age-old dice game works, but for the many of you who already know, I got smoked three straight times in a deluge of Yahtzees as I worked on a McKinney Eddy Amber Ale.

While I did little to keep pace, Wendy posted scores in the 400s in each of the first two games (and you Yahtzee veterans know how rare that is). The sweep was complete after game three, as I limped home with a lame score of about a buck fifty.

The whole time, Gertie does what she does at the BARn, walking calmly around visiting people at other tables, stepping behind the bar to see if she could offer any assistance, or lying in a prone position so as to exude maximum cuteness and spur as many smiles as possible.

At about 6 p.m., we had purposed to leave. But the stay extended when a friend showed up. Not long after that, we moved from the inside area to a picnic table on the BARn’s large deck where a group of people from the Hartville area were hanging out.

In no time, highly spirited and engaging conversation broke out over glasses of Black Walnut Wheat and Missouri Mule India Pale Ale. It was awesome.

The hosts were gracious as the talking went overtime, and didn’t kick anyone out even though we were there well past the standard 7 p.m. closing time. When we finally did leave, as we passed Highway Z, Wendy and I decided to follow the big pink pig sign to the annual McCoy hog roast.

Good decision, as another several hours of classic Texas County fun ensued.

Once we arrived at Granny Lane (I think it’s called), we were amazed at the number of cars, RVs and tents we could see. And when we parked and started walking toward where all the people were, we were even more amazed at what we saw.

It was basically a huge party, with a band, a dance floor surrounded by strings of lights, and row upon row of benches and chairs full of people. The players on the stage at “The Shed” were host Garold McCoy and the South 63 Band, who laid down a great set of country and hillbilly tunes as dancers ranging from old ladies to young bucks moved about the floor in every way imaginable way, doing everything from seemingly rehearsed line dances to flopping around on the ground with feet and hands pointed skyward and shaking.

Meanwhile, a long line of tables stood nearby covered with a gigantic food spread, including an entire pig whose life had ended for the purpose of becoming a fantastically succulent entree for hundreds of God’s top Earthly life forms. Dang, I’ve never had pig melt in my mouth quite that way. And the beans in the huge cast iron cauldron – wow, what flavor.

Naturally, Gertie and the few other dogs that were lucky enough to be on the scene also benefited greatly from the pig’s ultimate sacrifice. It’s always easy to tell when Gertie has food in her possession that she feels is better than average.

As for the whole event, I can’t begin to express how impressed I was realizing that Garold and his wife open it to the public each year. There were McCoys and McCoy kin from all over in attendance, but Wendy and I also saw several other “party crashers” like ourselves who we had just seen at the BARn (in fact, one guy asked who won at Yahtzee; that answer was clear).

Thanks McCoys for putting together such a fine gathering. Now that we know how good y’all are at having fun, we’ll be back – Lord willing.

Finally, my wife and I and the dog headed home at about 10:30 p.m. or so. But just to top off the day’s fun, we had to avoid hitting a critter on Highway 17 east of Houston.

Nothing unusual about that, right?

On the contrary – it was a porcupine. I’ve known they’re out there, but that was the first one we’ve seen like that.

Craft brew in the middle of nowhere, outdoor dancing, great pig and a prickly jaywalker. All in 28 hours, and all in Texas County.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.