Friendly Advice on Just About Anything from the Hill Country’s Happiest Songwriter

By Al Barlow

(LSM Oct/Nov 2010/vol. 3 – issue 6)

Dear Al,
In light of this issue’s super natural theme, the rest of your LoneStarMusic Magazine family was wondering if you had a favorite ghost story to share — or any Al Barlow true tall tales of the paranormal or unexplained variety? — 
The Editor, San Marcos, TX

Oh, yes. One of the most inexplicable experiences happened to me and my fellow friend (and entertainer), Bret Graham. He and I were hiking in Big Bend National Park a few years ago. It was a beautiful afternoon, and we had hiked to a beautiful waterfall in the Chizos Mountains. There, we discussed how amazing this small oasis in the desert truly was, and stuck around quite awhile. Then, as we were hiking out of the verdant enclave of sparkling water and maidenhair ferns, we turned around at just the right time to witness a most unusual sight. There were thousands of magical, twinkling lights hovering above the enclave where we had just been. They sort of resembled the sparkles that emit from Mickey Mouse’s magic wand. Anyway, the sparkles slowly began disappearing, one by one, until at last only two or three remained. Then there was just one little light, and it disappeared. Maybe it was some kind of insects, I reasoned. No, it wasn’t insects. Birds, maybe? No, it wasn’t birds. Bret Graham was sure we had actually witnessed angels with our own eyes. Perhaps it was. But it was something like I had never seen before, and have never seen since.

Dear Al,
Whatever happened to Humble Time, the old radio show you used to be a part of? My husband and I used to attend the taping at the Freiheit Country Store all the time. — 
Linda, Boerne, TX

Hi Linda,

I’m so glad you remember the old Humble Time radio showcase we did for almost 10 years. It was one of the best experiences of my live. According to radio personality and show host Mo Humble, Humble Time simply ran it’s “natural life cycle.” It was very time consuming to tape, edit and produce the show, and donations and sponsorship were sparse. He is currently working on a Facebook page for Humble Time, and doesn’t completely rule out an eventual return. For more information about Humble Time, contact Mo Humble at

Dear Al,
A few years ago at one of your shows in New Braunfels, I picked up something very usual at your merch table: A can of Rose Brand Pork Brains with Milk Gravy. I can’t remember if they were an official Al Barlow sponsor, or if you were just selling their brains for a chuckle. I kept my can o’ brains on my mantle piece for years (guests loved it!), but recently threw it out when I noticed it was ballooning and looked like it might explode. Anyway … my question is twofold. First, if Rose Brand Pork Brains was in fact an official Al Barlow sponsor, how did that happen in the first place? And, second … what do pork brains in milk gravy taste like, and what would you serve them with? — Curious, San Marcos, TX

Dear Curious,

I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t eat your pork brains. They are simply delicious, especially when stirred in with scrambled eggs for breakfast. Yes, I was a sponsor for Rose Brand Pork Brains, but it wasn’t really official. Mainly, I just wanted everyone to have an opportunity to try the very best pork brains on the market! MMMMMmmmmm!

Dear Al,
A lot of young talent often ask me where they might get a “break” in this wonderful area. With so much talent around, they have difficulty getting onstage. What advice would you give these younger musicians? — 
Jeff, Gruene, TX

There are many “Open Mic” nights around New Braunfels and San Marcos. Many musicians have begun successful careers here in the Texas Hill Country. If you’re a budding musician or songwriter, there’s simply no better place in the state to showcase your talent. For example, Oma Gruene’s Secret Garten in historic Gruene has an open mic every Tuesday evening. Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos has a “Songwriter’s Showcase” every Wednesday evening. Check your local newspaper, or check out the different venues in your area and go get yourself heard.

Dear Al,
How come there are no baked potatoes in Gruene? When a man wants a baked potato, he wants a baked potato. Not fancy red ones with green stuff on top. Not already mashed potatoes, but a big monster potato with lots of butter and a gallon of sour cream. Gruene River Grill, Oma’s, the Gristmill, Mozies, Adobe Verde, Casa Del Rio — no baked potatoes!!! What’s up with that?? — 
Scott, New Braunfels, TX

Sir, this is a very good question! I guess I knew there were no baked potatoes in Gruene, but never really thought about it — until now! It’s shameful, really. There’s just no substitute for a big ol’, Texas-sized baked potato, especially when you’re sitting down to a meal at one of those fine restaurants in Gruene! Folks, let’s let them hear about this! Order a baked potato with your meal next time you visit a restaurant in Gruene (even though it’s not on the menu). Maybe, if we turn up the heat, they’ll bake a potato! Keep your fingers crossed.

Dear Al,

Sure miss seeing you at Oma Gruene’s on the weekends. Where are you playing these days? Do you have any regular gigs in the area? — Billy, San Marcos, TX

Thanks, Billy! I’m glad you asked!! As a matter of fact, I’m doing a show every Sunday afternoon at the Phoenix Saloon in downtown New Braunfels. It’s a great place, and we’ve been having a blast. My nephew, Barlow Maxey, works as bartender there on Sundays, and he’s much funnier than I am. Lots of my old fans and friends have been showing up, including a surprise visit from Terri Hendrix! Terri was gracious enough to sit in and do a set for the lucky audience. Come see me this Sunday, Billy. And bring a friend!