Tom Russell's Return to Texas, October 2023
OCTOBER 22 - OCTOBER 29, 2023
EL PASO - ALPINE - BIG BEND - TERLINGUA - FREDERICKSBURG - SAN ANTONIO - AUSTIN
with TOM RUSSELL, BUTCH HANCOCK, JIMMIE DALE GILMORE, BILL KIRCHEN, ROSIE FLORES, AUGIE MEYERS, and ANDREW HARDIN
Texas. A mythic land, with a mythic history. Join Tom Russell and an extraordinary lineup of legendary Lone Star musicians as we waltz across Texas on an unforgettable journey.
From the quintessential border town of El Paso, at the far western tip of the state, we journey east by rail, crossing the Great Divide over Paisano Pass at Marfa, and pull in to the dusty former cattle town of Alpine as evening falls. Two nights in Alpine, with a day trip to Terlingua (hello, Butch! Hello, Jimmie Dale!) and Big Bend National Park. Then we travel by chartered motorcoach (two coaches, to ensure plenty of space) across the Big Empty to the Hill Country and the German-American community of Fredericksburg. From there, we head to Luckenbach, the LBJ Ranch and then to San Antonio, home to the Alamo and the storied Riverwalk. Then north, stopping in New Braunfels with a stop at Texas' oldest dance palace, Gruene (pronounced "Green") Hall, and finally Austin, the "Live Music Capital of the World." We bookend our journey with a second rail trip - a ride on the Hill Country Flyer, then back to Austin for a final grand finale night of music.
And joining us along the way is a veritable super-session of Texas all-stars.... singer/songwriters Tom Russell, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock; guitar-slinger and songwriter Bill Kirchen (he of "Hot Rod Lincoln" and so much more); Rosie Flores - the queen of Rockabilly, Honky-Tonk and Texas Swing; Augie Meyers - whose Vox organ sound propelled The Texas Tornadoes and The Sir Douglas Quintet; and Andrew Hardin, guitar ace and beloved veteran of many Roots on the Rails journeys.
You can travel in your own vehicle, or let us handle everything and ride in safety and comfort. They say everything is bigger in Texas; this is one big trip, with one big lineup of talent, and once word gets out, it's going to fill quickly. One thing that is not bigger, though, is our group size - our trip is limited to 65 people. We hope you'll be one of them.
THE ITINERARYSUNDAY, Oct. 22: GROUP ARRIVES EL PASO. We gather in the late afternoon for a trip check-in and get together – meet your fellow travelers and join us for an informal music program where Tom will orient us to the route ahead, talk about El Paso’s rich music and cultural history and his own roots in this corner of Texas. Overnight at our downtown hotel.
MONDAY, Oct. 23: MORNING IN EL PASO, AFTERNOON TRAIN RIDE TO ALPINE. The morning is yours to use as you like, but we’ll be organizing a downtown streetcar tour and exploration of El Paso. In the afternoon, we’ll board the eastbound Sunset Limited and head out onto the vast expanses of West Texas, traveling through a region rich with the history of Spanish conquistadors, Tigua Indians and Franciscan friars. If we’re lucky, we may get a glimpse of the famous Marfa Lights as we roll through, and we’ll definitely get a glimpse of the ironically weird Marfa Prada store. We arrive in Alpine, our home for the next two nights.
TUESDAY, Oct. 24: TOUR BIG BEND, DINNER/SHOW IN TERLINGUA, OVERNIGHT IN ALPINE. No visit to this region would be complete without a visit to Big Bend National Park. The park's varied array of habitats support more than 1,200 species of plants (including some 60 cacti species), 11 species of amphibians, 56 species of reptiles, 40 species of fish, 75 species of mammals, over 400 species of birds, and about 3,600 species of insects. The park boasts more types of birds, bats, butterflies, ants, scorpions, and cacti than any other National Park in the United States.
From 500-million year old rocks at Persimmon Gap to modern-day windblown sand dunes at Boquillas Canyon, Big Bend preserves tremendous geological diversity. Marine sedimentary rocks, continental sedimentary rocks, volcanic rocks, and evidence of the three great North American mountain-building episodes are found within the park boundaries.
We round out the day with a visit to Terlingua’s famed ghost town, followed by a concert, then head back to Alpine for another night’s stay.
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 25: ALPINE TO FREDERICKSBURG. Today we begin to appreciate the vastness of the west Texas landscape as we head east, stopping at one of the legendary hole-in-the-wall BBQ joints, and make our way to the historic town of Fredericksburg, founded in 1846 by German immigrants, which explains the decidedly different architectural and cultural feel of this unique place. We’ll also be at the epicenter of Hill Country wine production, so time permitting we’ll do some sampling before heading out to our evening’s music program. A hotel overnight in the heart of this charming town ensues.
THURSDAY, Oct. 26: FREDERICKSBURG TO SAN ANTONIO. We’ll start the day with a visit to the LBJ Ranch and State Park, home to the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm, 1.2 miles of walking trails, American bison, Texas longhorns, wildflowers, creeks and historic cabins. Then we’ll head to Luckenbach (we sort of have to, right?) and then to San Antonio in plenty of time to visit the Alamo and explore the famed Riverwalk district, all easily walkable from our downtown hotel. Another fine evening of music awaits.
FRIDAY, Oct. 27: SAN ANTONIO TO AUSTIN. On our way up to Austin, we’ll have a chance to visit the /early evening show at Gruene Hall, Texas’ oldest and arguably most famous continuously operating dance hall. We’ll roll into Austin with time to check into our downtown hotel and those who wish can head out to one of Austin’s late night music offerings. Overnight hotel in Austin tonight.
SATURDAY, Oct. 28: RIDE HILL COUNTRY FLYER TRAIN. AUSTIN OVERNIGHT. This is our last official full day of the trip, so we are going to make the most of it with a full day’s excursion on the Hill Country Flyer, a 66-mile round trip from Cedar Park to Burnet in a consist of lovingly restored vintage rail cars (our favorites)! The train tarries in Burnet for a lunch break, then retraces its route to Cedar Park. We head back to Austin for a grand finale evening concert with all the artists we’ve picked up along the way! Austin hotel overnight.
SUNDAY, Oct. 29: Departure Day. Sadly, today we bid you all a fond farewell, but for those desiring to extend their stay in Austin on their own, we’re happy to get you our group rate at the hotel.
THE ARTISTSNever one to shirk productivity or creativity, Tom Russell has released 35 critically-acclaimed records, published 5 books, paints prolifically and exhibits in galleries around the world. His early days playing the skid row bars of Vancouver honed his performance chops and laid the groundwork for an astonishing breadth of meticulously crafted songs, many of which have been covered by the likes of Johnny Cash, Doug Sahm, Nanci Griffith, Ian Tyson, Joe Ely, and Ramblin’Jack Elliott and countless others. He is widely regarded as one of the seminal songwriters of his generation, whose creative output only gets more interesting and thought-provoking. This will be Tom’s 15th trip with Roots on the Rails!
Jimmie Dale Gilmore has been writing and playing songs for more than 50 years. His music eludes categorization, blending elements of folk, rock, country, blues and bluegrass. His recordings have earned three Grammy nominations in both Contemporary Folk and Traditional Folk categories and he was named Country Artist of the Year three years running by Rolling Stone Magazine. His high and lonesome vocal style, coupled with sometimes mystical and poetic lyrics, has led to musical brandings such as Sagebrush Soul, Zen Country and Western Beat. Along with Joe Ely and Butch Hancock, Gilmore’s legendary band The Flatlanders has been credited as fathers of the Alt-country movement. And who could forget his iconic role as Smokey in the cult classic film, The Big Lebowski!
A world traveling troubadour with a long string of recorded songs and albums, Butch Hancock has been called "one of the finest songwriters of our time" and is acknowledged by his peers and critics alike as one of the premiere singer songwriters Texas has ever produced. His tunes evoke mystical visions of wind swept dry plains and his lyrics are profoundly imaginative, often displaying for his listeners, the miracles that occur in the ordinary through creative irony and metaphors. His lyrical style has often been compared to that of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie and his songs have been covered by the likes of Emmylou Harris, Jerry Jeff Walker, and The Texas Tornadoes. Hancock is also a member of renowned alternative country supergroup, The Flatlanders, along with his lifelong friends, Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, a band they formed in 1972.
Upon tallying how many decades he’s worked as a professional guitar slinger, Telecaster master Bill Kirchen quips, “Well, they don't make 50 years like they used to.” They don’t often make careers like his, either. From performing with his Who Knows Pickers jug band in Ann Arbor High School’s senior talent show (also on the program: the future Iggy Pop), to birthing the Americana genre with the original “hippie country band,” Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, this affable Austinite has been everywhere, man, flying alongside some of the planet’s coolest cats — including the Jesus of Cool, Nick Lowe, and Lowe’s old protégé, Elvis Costello. Kirchen has toured the world with Lowe, who produced an album by Kirchen’s post-Airmen band, the Moonlighters, and Costello recruited Kirchen for high-profile gigs like the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival — and even named his festival band after Kirchen’s Hammer of the Honky-Tonk Gods album. Lowe appears on that 2006 album, and its 2010 follow-up, Word to the Wise, along with Costello, Maria Muldaur, Dan Hicks and other luminaries.
In a career that spans more than four decades, Rosie Flores has proven to be a musical chameleon. She’s jumped feet first into punk rock (with her ’70-era band, the Screaming Sirens), country of both the Bakersfield and Nashville varieties, the Texas singer/songwriter scene, alt-country, straight-up rock and rockabilly. So much so the latter that her onstage moniker for years was “The Rockabilly Filly.” But always and throughout, she has been the Chick with the Pick. Over the years, Flores has been profiled in Guitar World, Premiere Guitar and Guitar Player magazines. Venuszine cited Flores as one of the “Top 75 Greatest Female Guitarists of All Time” by Venuszine magazine. She performed at a tribute to Chuck Berry at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. She has worked with, and helped propel back in to the spotlight, pioneer female rockabilly artists Wanda Jackson and Janis Martin. In 2007, she won a Peabody Award for her narration of the rockabilly documentary, Whole Lotta Shakin’. Throughout, she released her own work. To name but a few, they include her solo debut, 1987’s Rosie Flores, 1995’s Rockabilly Filly, 1999’s Dance Hall Dreams, the acoustic live set Single Rose in 2004, 2009’s Girl of the Century and, in 2012, the aptly-named, self-produced Working Girl’s Guitar. Since then, her time has been spent on her labor of love—Simple Case of the Blues.
Augie Meyers' style and his Vox Continental has become one of music's most distinctive keyboard sounds around. Augie can be heard with the Sir Douglas Quintet, Texas Tornados, Meyers’ solo efforts as well as on landmark albums by Bob Dylan (”Time Out of Mind” and “Love and Theft”) and John Hammond (“Wicked Grin”). Echoes of the Meyers' style and sound can be heard in the music of the Doors, the Kinks, the Animals as well as the Beatles just to name a few.
Rolling out of San Antonio, Texas in the early 60's, the Sir Douglas Quintet, a musical partnership formed with Doug Sahm, brought such hit tunes as "Mendocino" and “She’s About a Mover”. By infusing Tex-Mex, Conjunto and soulful rock together along with the power of Meyers’ distinctive Vox organ, an impact that is still being felt in rock ‘n roll today. While the Sir Douglas Quintet never broke up and never succumbed to the lure of the oldies circuit, when Meyers and his musical cohorts decided to do something different, they did. That led to the formation of the Texas Tornados and a Grammy award-winning South Texas sound.
Andrew Hardin’s guitar style has been influenced by Roy Buchanan, Clarence White, Ry Cooder, Gabby Pahinui, and Grady Martin, with shades of blues, rock, R&B, country, tropical, and Spanish music. From playing progressive country in California in the mid-seventies, major-label rock with the Dingoes from Australia, and blues with ex-John Lee Hooker associate Eddie Kirkland, his musical path collided with Tom Russell’s when both were driving cabs in new York in 1980. Tom and Andy recorded and toured internationally, recording over twenty albums from the early 1990s through 2005. Andrew collaborates frequently with vocalist Jeannie Burns to compose, record, and perform as Hardin Burns. Their album Lounge was self-released in 2012. Down The Deep Well was released in 2014.
PRICING"Return To Texas" - Rail/Motorcoach: The full trip, with all transport provided: $3989 per person. Includes motorcoach and rail transport, hotel accommodations each night (shared occupancy, solo supplement is available), some meals as outlined in itinerary, and evening music programs.
"Return To Texas" - Drive Yourself: You drive yourself between trip legs (El Paso to Alpine, Alpine to Big Bend/Terlingua and return, Alpine to Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg to San Antonio, San Antonio to Austin, Austin to Cedar Park and return). Cedar Park-Burnet-Cedar Park train ride is included. $3789 per person. Includes hotel accommodations each night (shared occupancy, solo supplement is available), Hill Country flyer excursion, some meals as outlined in itinerary, and evening music programs.
If you are traveling solo, we will pair you with a similarly-gendered patron, or you can purchase a solo supplement (see below) for your own hotel room each of the seven nights.
Pay in full for maximum savings! It makes our life much easier if trips are paid in full, and we pass the savings in time and bookkeeping on to you. 2% discount off the regular price.
- Rail/Motorcoach - Pay in Full: $3909.22 per person
- Drive Yourself - Pay in Full: $3713.22 per person
THEN: Within 30 days of deposit, pay your remaining balance through our online store:
- Rail/Motorcoach per person balance payment: $3689
- Drive Yourself per person balance payment: $3489
- or Contact Sarah at email@example.com or 802-258-1397 to set up a convenient monthly credit card draw.
Credit cards (Visa, MC, Amex, Discover) and checks accepted. Payment plans at no additional charge are happily accommodated. Payment plan must be agreed upon and set up within 30 days of sign-up. Deposits, whether paid separately or as part of a full payment up front, are non-refundable. Liability release signature required.
TRAVEL INSURANCE ON UPCOMING TRIPSSince the advent of Covid-19, and its impact upon travel, we feel purchasing travel insurance has gone from wise precaution to fiscal necessity. Going forward, we are requiring that all patrons must carry trip insurance that provides, at a minimum, coverage for the following:
- Cancellation for Covid-19 illness
- Trip Cancellation
- Trip Interruption
- Cancel for Medical Reasons
- Medical Coverage for Covid-19 (often included under Emergency Medical Care)
- Emergency medical care
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THE FINE PRINTOur customers are extremely important to us, and when travel disruptions occur, we are committed to working with you to minimize the financial impact. In the event that you need to cancel a trip for whatever reason, we will work with you to try and find a buyer for the space you are needing to give up. Often this works out well for all: the person needing to cancel recovers most, if not all, of their investment, and a person who might have been on a waiting list gets to go on the trip - however, there are no guarantees.
We understand that the new realities of travel are such that we need to be more flexible than ever before. We are also an extremely small business with many fixed costs that can't always be recovered if a trip needs to be postponed or cancelled due to health and safety concerns. We will be completely transparent if a scheduled trip looks like it needs to be adjusted in any way that might impact your enjoyment of the experience. Please read through our cancellation policy carefully and feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.
Cancellation policy: Deposits, whether paid separately or as part of a full payment up front, are non-refundable. Outside of deposit and credit card fees, full refund will be given up until 90 days prior to start of trip. 50% refund 60-89 days. No refund less than 60 days prior to start of trip. Reservations are fully transferable to another person.The payment of a deposit or any part or full payment for a reservation shall constitute consent to all the provisions contained herein.
Flying Under Radar, LLC shall not be held responsible for property loss or damage and/or any damages resulting from illness, personal injuries or death which may be sustained by reason of, or while engaged on, any trip or tour whether due to the ownership, maintenance, use, operation or control of any vehicle, hotel, common carrier or any other conveyance used in carrying out these tours. We can assume no liability due to any cause whatsoever whether caused by failure or delay or other irregularity, acts or omissions occurring during a tour under which the means of transportation or other service thereby is offered or supplied by owners, operators or public carriers for whom Flying Under Radar, LLC acts only as agent. Flying Under Radar, LLC reserves the right (at its discretion) to alter or omit any part of the itinerary, or change any reservation, feature and/or means of conveyance without notice or for any reason whatsoever and without allowance or refund and with extra costs, if any, resulting therefrom paid by the passengers. We reserve the right to cancel any tour prior to departure, in which case payment will be refunded without further obligation on our part. Flying Under Radar, LLC shall not be responsible for any injury to person (whether or not resulting in death) or damage to property.
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