Todd Snider

Show Review: Todd Snider, Jack Ingram and Halleyanna Finlay in Luckenbach

Show Reviews

Todd Snider, Jack Ingram, and Halleyanna Finlay played a show in Luckenbach

Christmas lights line the walkway leading into Luckenbach, the well known geographical oddity on the outskirts of Austin that boasts a population of three.

The ceiling is adorned with Christmas wreaths and a cool breeze floats through the propped open plywood windows.

A warm fire burns in a large cage pit. The outdoor stage used for daily picking circles is empty and the site is closed for the evening’s performance.

A Guide

A guide for tourists in Luckenbach, Texas. Photo by Sarah Jondreau.

Halleyanna Finlay gets the crowd rolling with “Tattoo” after opening the set with an acapella song. Finlay sings that she’s “looking for a man who loves me enough to get my name tattooed on his chest.”

Finlay recounted the time she hosted a picking circle just outside the dancehall doors and finally got called up to the main stage. Her mother watched on as she told the crowd about her late father Kent Finlay’s J-45 Gibson that was hanging on the stage with his signature red bandanna tied around its neck.

“This song has a couple of bad words in it, is that ok?” Finlay asks the crowd while singing about her first date with her husband at a Neil Young concert. “I want to thank Jim over at the sound board for offering to set up the chicken wire on stage just in case this didn’t go too well.” It was all in jest as Luckenbach was the inspiration for her father’s songwriting Mecca in San Marcos and the crowd was full of supporters.


Halleyanna Finlay performs in Luckenbach. Photo by Sarah Jondreau.

“I haven’t seen this many of my friends since 2020 started,” Finlay said, “so I’m really happy that we’re all here together.”

Jack Ingram took the stage and told a wild tale about his father moving off to Mississippi.

“I didn’t know what to write about when I first started playing music,” Ingram said, “because Willie Nelson said you’ve got to write what you know and you have to tell the truth… I was in private school and I didn’t know $#!&.”

Ingram was living on a golf course at the time, trying to connect to the stories he was hearing from Robert Earl Keen and other outlaw songwriters.

“You know those songwriters I showed you when you were growing up?” Ingram’s father asked him. “They all have a song about their old man…. That’s the first time I realized what a perfect storm meant.”

After some convincing Ingram wrote a song about his father and his brother was the first person to hear it.

Jack Ingram

Jack Ingram performs in Luckenbach. Photo by Sarah Jondreau.

“I played it for him and when it was done he goes ‘you’re never going to play that song for anybody ever again are you?’” Ingram said.

At that year’s Christmas, Ingram’s divorced parents got together and his father asked if he ever wrote a song about him. His brother tried to stop him from performing it, as well as Jack himself.

“Play the damn song,” Ingram’s father demanded.

The entire crowd teared up as Ingram sang about his father running off on his family and moving to Biloxi.

“Did you really find more than you left behind back home in Houston,” Ingram sang. “We all felt the loss, hey I don’t mean to break you down, but I still wonder what you found there in Biloxi.”

Ingram said when he looked up his brother was steaming… that he had only seen that look one other time, and his sister was speechless.

“My Dad was crying and my Mom was like ‘this is the best Christmas ever,’” Ingram said as the crowd erupted.

Todd Snider came on to headline the evening. This was one of the moments where a lightbulb appeared over my head. I had watched hours of Snyder performing on his Covid livestream, but he’s one of those performers that only translates in person. He’s a comedian with a guitar and holds the crowd in the palm of his hand from start to finish.

Todd Snider

Todd Snider performs in Luckenbach. Photo by Sarah Jondreau.

“If you keep your life in a situation where you can pack up everything you own and be moved out of wherever you are inside of fifteen minutes, and more importantly if you can keep your life in a situation where some $#!& like that may happen to you every once and a while, and you be forced to execute that maneuver,” Snider recounted from some advice he heard in Nashville, “your life may never really come together for you, but you’ll always be getting better at making up songs.”

These road-worn performers gave a lesson in how to be a songwriter, how to connect to those sitting in front of you and tug on their heart strings, how to stand on stage with a guitar and a story and leave people in tears of joy.

Leave a Reply!