Lifetime Achievement Award for the 2015 Music Hall of Fame
By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer
The Bandera Music History Project and Hall of Fame will honor Elmo Newcomer with a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award at a ceremony this SUNDAY, Oct. 25, from 2-6 pm at the Skyline RV Park in B andera. Newcomer, aka "The Pipe Creek Kid," wrote the words to that old favorite "Rye Whiskey," and, along with other Bandera County musicians, including son, Bill, was recorded by Johnand Ruby Lomax in 1939. The award will be accepted by his son, Charles Newcomer, of Pipe Creek. According to Newcomer's granddaughter, Cindy Newcomer, Elmo "played the fiddle in a Tex Ritter movie which is when Tex heard the song. Granddaddy held the copyright for 34 years, two 17-year stints. Then he let it lapse, which is when Tex Ritter adopted the copyright." Born April 25, 1896, Elmo spent his entire life in Pipe Creek, except for a stint in the US Army during World War I. In addition to honing his musical skills and happily teaching those skills to any young musician who expressed an interest, he ranched, raised a family and actively participated in his community. He died Dec. 6, 1970, and is buried at Fort Sam Houston Cemetery in San Antonio. Howard Rains and his wife, Tricia Spencer, are music historians who play Elmo's music at festivals all over the country. Howard saluted Elmo by saying, "To us, Elmo Newcomer is like a super hero, even though most folks have probably never even heard of him!" Another noted musician who credits his skills to learning at the feet of the Bandera County master is internationally known steel guitarist Jerry Blanton. Cindy reports, "Recently, I obtained a photo of Elmo with a teenager playing guitar. After a bit of research, I found the 'kid' in the photograph. It was Jerry. He's still playing guitar professionally and he's 78 years old. He says Granddaddy was a mentor to anyone who wanted to play music." She continued, "Come to find out, Elmo would break out the fiddle at just about any gathering, sit on a washtub or bale of hay, and would soon have everyone dancing. Be it square dancing or two-step, Elmo was the consummate entertainer. He won many fiddle contests across the state." For Cindy, however, the realization of how great a musician her grandfather was came later in life. Growing up, she remembers him as the man who "paid me a nickel to eat my green beans!" After spending several years researching her grandfather and his music, Cindy says, 'Music is good for the soul. There is no greater glue for humankind. My Granddad got it. He made people smile, every chance he got. He laid the foundation for Bandera to become known for its outstanding musicians." The Hall of Fame celebration will surely recall Elmo's joy in sharing great music. And just in case "Rye Whiskey" is played, here are a couple of verses: "Rye whiskey, you villain, you've been my downfall You've kicked me and cuffed me, but I love you for all. Rye whiskey, rye whiskey, I wish you no harm, Wish I had a bottle as long as my arm." The Skyline RV Park is located at 2231 Highway 16 North in Bandera. To listen to the amazing Lomax historical recordings, go to the Library of Congress' American Memory website at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html. The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip can be found at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/lohtml/lohome.html.