Back to the Basics / The Story of Luckenbach, Texas

Have you ever been to Luckenbach, Texas? Back when Austin was becoming whatever it is that Austin became, Luckenbach represented the pastoral fantasy many Austin hippies, cowboys and cosmic explorers dreamed of. But Luckenbach was not a fantasy. It was/is a real place. Lucky for us a University of Texas film student, David Elkins, recorded what that fantasy looked like, how it got that way and why it is still sung about today. But let’s let David himself tell us how his film came to be. Then you can click on the link and see for yourself what the singing is all about.

Click on the image below to see film

Back to the Basics Backstory

Well, my girlfriend (now wife) and I were cruising around the Hill Country one autumn afternoon in 2003 and we sort of stumbled into Luckenbach. Neither of us had ever heard of it, and it was that time of day when the light was magical and the shadows long. As we drove through slowly, we heard the music in the air and noticed a wedding down by the creek. It was enchanting. We didn’t stop, but as we got back to the main road I distinctly remember saying that I felt what we just saw was a dream and if I turned the truck around and we drove back there it would all be gone. A strange sentiment that others have told me they felt as well. Must be the magic of that place.

Fast forward a few months and I was looking for a project for my graduate documentary film class at UT. I could not even remember the name of Luckenbach, but a little perusing of some maps and I found that magical place again. After a little research I decided that this was a story that I wanted to tell. I must say that everyone involved was so gracious with their time and eager to participate. I owe a great deal of thanks to Neal Brown who allowed me the access to come in and film and also facilitated many of the interviews. My timing was fortunate because the following summer Sheriff Marge passed away and I believe I probably have the last interview with her. Being able to include her in the film was critical because of her link to the history of Luckenbach, not just the Hondo and Jerry Jeff Walker days, but before that as well. Her passing also gave me the impetus to expand my initial five-minute project into the longer and more in depth film it is today.

‘Back to the Basics’ is 15 years old now, and I am just so pleased that it still gets traction. It goes to show what a special place Luckenbach is to many people. I am glad that I was able to put many of the stories together in one place to keep that history alive for future generations.

David Elkins

San Jose, California

May 2020

All projects on this website © 2016 by the named creator

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