When you hear the first licks of the Waylon Jennings standard “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean,” you know you’re at Kenney Store.
Four acoustic guitars launched into the classic from 1973 and Jody Booth began to sing. It was the first song of the afternoon from a quartet of well-known Texas musicians and set the tempo for the next two hours at the venue’s new concert series.
The event, to be held twice per month, is officially dubbed “Back Forty, Jody Booth’s Showcase Sunday,” but organizers simply call it their Sunday Funday show. Booth, a rising country music star from Livingston will host each performance.
“It’s a treat for me, for sure,” Booth said.
Before he struck the first chords of the Jennings cover, he joked that he was selfish and wanted to do the event because it gave him the chance to share a stage with the three men beside him: Daryle Singletary, Andy Griggs and Steve Murray.
Singletary and Griggs were on the bill from the beginning, but Murray joined the trio at the last minute, a feature fans should anticipate.
“Jody is going to host every month and bring his friends with him,” said Rita Krueger, co-owner of the Kenney Store. “He’s going to bring different artists and we never know who he’s going to bring until he has them booked.”
And unannounced guests could jump on board at any time. Laci Booth, Jody’s daughter, opened the show with a solo acoustic set that treated the crowd to an extra hour of music.
Rita and her husband Tony opened the “back 40” in April, a patio behind the bar and restaurant in the style that is popular at so many watering holes across the state. Assorted tables are scattered around the fenced enclosure, all pointing toward the stage in the corner.
A massive oak tree dominates a section of the yard and patrons who don’t reserve tables can bring their own chairs and hunker down wherever they please.
The Kruegers wanted to start a series of shows at their new venue and after some discussion, they decided Booth would be the ideal host for the recurring event.
Booth quickly said yes.
“I said, ‘Man, I’d love to host a show out there,” Booth said. “‘It’s like another Gruene Hall,’” referring to the historic stage in New Braunfels.
Booth, Singletary, Griggs and Murray took turns playing songs from their catalogues and pairing up for duets. The intimate setting allowed fans to interact with the performers and the casual banter of the four men with the fans gave the concert a backyard feel that was the goal from the get-go.
The Fourth of July holiday and a scheduled break in the action for maintenance will push the second show back to the latter half of July, but the Kruegers anticipate a return to twice-monthly offerings from that point forward.
“We’re starting it out with two Sundays a month and grow from there,” Booth said.
If Booth and his colleagues can deliver performances like the inaugural show on a regular basis, fans could be clammering for more than two Sundays per month in short order.