On our first day at this year’s Kerrville Folk Festival, I realized that I forgot my tube of toothpaste. It was then that I knew this trip was going to be a challenge. It meant that I was going to have to share my wife’s toothpaste. She tends to leave the cap off the tube, leaving globules of paste that have hardened to the consistency of Portland cement.
I know it may seem trivial, but according to the world-renowned Cajun think tank, Boudreaux and Thibodeaux Research Associates, LLC, toothpaste is among the leading causes for marital discord. The only way that my wife and I have been able to survive 28 years of marriage was to have separate tubes of toothpaste. Now, it looked like we might not make it to the end of the festival.
That would be 18 days—a marathon in the arena of toothpaste sharing. This year, for the first time, we were able to come to Kerrville, Texas, for the entire festival. We brought our camper out here to the ranch where they stage the event. Most people here camp in tents, and they are constantly chiding us RV’ers that what we’re doing is not, in reality, camping. I would be the first to concede them that point, if it were not for the condition of some of these so-called “camps.” Sure, they have tents and canopies, but if there is a pool table under the canopy, does that any more qualify as real camping as to what we RV’ers do? And don’t let me get started on their state-of-the-art ice chests, some of which are equipped with ten megapixel cameras. I bet that each one of them even has his own personal tube of toothpaste. I’ll tell you this—when they start taking pool tables along on mountain-climbing expeditions, then I’ll call that camping.
Friends always ask me what it is about the Kerrville Folk Festival that keeps us coming back year after year. Quite simply, it’s the music. Why else come here in the summertime for a folk festival, where the attendees collectively generate enough sweat to create a Texas version of the Dead Sea?
Here, I’ve found a place where I can play my guitar and sing in the camps to an appreciative audience. I know that, in my case, it’s a characteristic of people who’ve had a little too much sun. Here, I could stick a wicker cane in a fan and get polite applause for it.
But that doesn’t matter to me. What does matter is that, at any time of the day or night, I can easily find a circle of other musicians to join with in making music. On any given morning, all I need to do is set out a pitcher of Bloody Marys, and the musicians will pop up, seemingly out of nowhere. It’s like setting out feed corn for the deer.
Camps here on the ranch go by interesting names. The one that I like to play in most is called Tequila Mockingbird. It’s a camp that lives up to its name, insomuch as I have spotted a mockingbird or two there. But what’s more, I find that adding a bit of tequila to the mix makes for an especially receptive crowd, at least among the ones who happen to retain consciousness. Even my original material goes over well there. Take this lyric, for example:
“Well, my baby she left me (da-dah-da-da-dum!)
And the day that I got the news (da-dah-da-da-dum!)
I put mace in her hair spray (da-dah-da-da-dum!)
Now she’s the one cryin’ the blues”
Yes, I realize that it’s not a candidate for the New Folk Songwriters’ Contest that they have here every year, but it’s soaring up the charts at Kamp Tequila Mockingbird.
I’m thinking it’ll hit number one once I add the new verse about the toothpaste.