Maggie Montgomery (center) reigns over the music and mayhem at Banker Smith, Texas. She recently recorded a CD of her tunes, with help from the Banker Smith Abnormal Fishing Tackle Choir (pictured) and a very, very, very special guest - her son Monte. Photo by Phil Houseal
Pickup Truck, Texas
by Phil Houseal
Magnolia Thunder Blossom was just destined to be part of Luckenbach.
Growing up in Alabama - before she became Magnolia - Maggie Montgomery marched to her own thunder.
“I was a pretty rebellious teenager,” she said. “I always sang, that kind of set me apart. It was the 60s, there were hippies, and everybody was playing guitar.”
She wanted to play music, but she couldn’t find a fit.
“In Alabama all you heard was bluegrass,” she explained. “That was people standing around in a circle, tapping their feet, with no expression on their faces, playing the same thing over and over.”
Montgomery had some friends who were in love with Texas. They told her about the hill country, Luckenbach, and Hondo. They told her to go - just go.
“I wanted to drink a Lone Star beer and be part of the music scene,” she said. So in 1975, she went. “I drove straight to Luckenbach, and sure enough met Hondo.”
As soon as she saw the place, she became “completely hooked.”
Luckenbach became hooked on Maggie Montgomery too. Over the intervening decades, Montgomery has woven herself into the tapestry of that legendary town. She became Magnolia Thunder Blossom, regular contributor to the Luckenbach Moon, songwriter, picker, and a founder of the Luckenbach Ladies Lynching League Chili Cookoff Team. Her song “Pickup Truck, Texas” was recorded by Gary P. Nunn, and of course, her son who followed her to Luckenbach a few years later as a teenager, became Monte Montgomery, guitar legend.
But the title she is most proud of came from Hondo.
“Hondo named me the Luckenbach Songbird,” she said, adding, “People around here are real big on titles, whether they earned them or not.”
With all her accomplishments, she considers herself most of all a songwriter. “If they said all songwriters move to the left, I moved to the left.”
Maggie now lives just a pickup ride from Luckenbach at the one-house town of Banker Smith (Montiac World Headquarters). She just finished recording her first CD. It was a long, long labor of love that she just never seemed to get around to finishing.
“It took forever to get Monte to find the time to do it,” she said. “We were shopping studios to do it. I finally booked a studio in Austin at 10:30 at night. Monte said, Mom, this is not what you want to do. He said let’s just do it with you and me like we used to.”
So one day in Monte’s living room, using two mics and two guitars, the duo knocked it out in 10 hours. The result is “Pickup Truck, Texas”, with Maggie Montgomery singing her songs backed up by her very special guest guitarist.
The only “produced” song is a redo of Pickup Truck, Texas that they recorded at Arlen Studio with the help of the Banker Smith Abnormal Fishing Tackle Choir providing background voices.
The result is pure Maggie.
“Monte said it sounds like you are singing on the back porch or around the campfire,” she said. “People think since it’s Monte’s mom, it will be rocking. But it’s more like rocking chair.”
They just started playing, left in the little comments, and sometimes made it up as they went.
“We were amazed we remembered every single note and every single word, just like we used to play it,” Montgomery said. “It sounds like back when I was the star!”
Maggie loves to recount how Monte started out next to her, strumming his guitar.
“One night he said, I think I can play some lead. I said, go for it. Then he started playing my songs, then he started playing his own set, then he got gigs on his own.” She laughed. “Now he is in Italy playing for thousands and I’m still in Banker Smith. But I’m just as happy sitting here at Banker Smith as he is traveling the world.”
One night he called her from Nashville and she asked what he was doing.
“He said he was in the hotel, waiting for a limo to pick him up to take him to the recording studio. I said I’m waiting to see if my car will start!”
Maggie’s self-deprecating humor is part of her appeal, along with her twisted view on the world and her joy in making music. It is hard to see where the real Maggie stops and Magnolia begins. It’s all the same to her.
“This is really and truly me - I couldn’t make that kind of stuff up!”
So what’s next? More music, of course.
“I have a whole passel of songs I haven’t recorded, so I may do more. Just now I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to wear when Monte plays for the Queen at Albert Hall.”Seems to me he has already played for a queen at Luckenbach Dance Hall.