Wheel Hoss and I played the Paluxy River Bluegrass show at Oakdale Park in Glen Rose, TX on July 20. This is a place I’ve performed at several times. As with every time I’ve been there, I saw familiar faces, familiar sights and heard familiar sounds. There was one thing that was notably missing on that Saturday, the Rooster that roamed the grounds and crowed no matter what hour of the day it was.
My first encounter with this animal was when I was playing with Philip Ferguson & Texas True at the park in October 2017. We had been booked to perform at a three day bluegrass festival that was held there. As part of our contract, the members of the band were given cabins to stay in during the weekend. Every morning my Dad and I were awoken by the sound of this Rooster crowing. As the day would progress you would see it walking around and crowing like it didn’t have a care in the world.
The interesting thing about this Rooster was that it didn’t mind people walking straight up to it and vice versa. It was one of the friendliest animals I’ve ever encountered. The only time I ever saw it run away from anyone that weekend was while we were on stage one afternoon. A little boy wearing a cowboy hat was attempting to lasso it with a toy rope. It was one of the most entertaining things I witnessed! I asked around to see if anyone knew where this Rooster came from. No one seemed to know. The only theory that people had was that it showed up looking for food, one or two people fed it and then it never left.
The next time I played Oakdale Park was in April of last year when Wheel Hoss and I were booked to play the Paluxy River Bluegrass Association’s monthly show. When we got there, we decided to get our instruments out and run through some of our set that night. As we were warming up, the Rooster comes strolling right up to the stool where I was sitting. At this point I was very nervous. For starters, I have a high startle reflex due to my Cerebral Palsy. I knew I would jump if it crowed while standing right behind me. What also didn’t help was that I was holding my Collings mandolin. I’m always worried about falling with that instrument in my hands. Furthermore, I had a freakish experience with some birds at Disney World a few years ago which has made me paranoid of them ever since. I will probably write about it at a later date, but simply put it caused me to only enjoy birds if they’re fried and crispy.
The picture that my Dad took that day captures just how uneasy I felt in that moment. I’m sure I played “Pistol Packin’ Mama” much faster than I normally do. Eventually after two or three songs, the Rooster finally had it’s fill of our Traditional Bluegrass sounds and went off to go find some food or maybe a different variation of Bluegrass music, who knows.
When we returned to Oakdale Park a few weekends ago, I had a mixture of feelings about the Rooster not showing it’s presence there. On the one hand, I was slightly relieved. I could warm up for the show fully relaxed and with minimal distractions. On the other hand, it felt weird as the Rooster has been there most of the times I had performed there in recent years. Whenever I perform at a venue, there’s always something or someone that I associate with that place. The Rooster is one of the beings I associate with Oakdale Park.