Barksdale: “Listening to other musicians helps me a lot.” Photo by D. Anson Brady

In November 2016, Brent and Clara Barksdale were traveling through the scenic Texas Hill Country on vacation with their two children. Along their route, they stopped in Luckenbach, the small rustic town immortalized in song by Waylon and Willie (and the Boys), to grab a souvenir t-shirt. Their 9-year-old son Jack was a classic country music obsessive, like his parents, and he wanted to have his picture taken in front of the sign marking the city limits while holding his beloved Seagull guitar. A local, observing the impromptu photo op, remarked to the family, “You must be here for the pickers’ circle.” 

The Barksdales had never heard of a pickers’ circle, the cheerful tradition that takes place at dusk behind the town’s 150-year-old general store/post office, but they were intrigued. The family soon found itself sitting beneath an ancient live oak in a ring made of gray-haired, denim-clad, guitar-wielding townsfolk. The group of eight or so all played together in a chorus of acoustic guitars, taking turns at solos and singing timeless country, folk, and bluegrass tunes. Before long, young Jack found himself in the middle of the circle, leading the others in the only song he claimed to know, Johnny Cash’s “Give My Love to Rose.” Onlookers snapped photos, took video, and cheered as the young boy performed, impressively holding his own among the experienced pickers. 

The Barksdales were eager to get back on the road after the song was finished, despite the other players egging on Jack to play another number. Then, much to his parent’s surprise, Jack began strumming again, this time, a song unknown to them.

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8pm on Sat w/Keegan McInroe, Jackie Darlene, Tommy Luke, and Gary Grammer at Fort Worth Live, 306 Houston St, FW. $5. All ages. 817-945-8890.