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There was this one gig - our first as The Bodarks, actually - at a Little Elm lakeside dive called Schmitty's. I'd played there with Custer's Last Band, and a few others. Jason and I played it a few times as The Toe Brothers and wanted to put something bigger together. Now, thanks to a Craigslist ad, we had ourselves a hootenanny string band that needed a venue to cut its tooth on. We'd met an upright bass man named Brian, who by coincidence had been a student of mine at Collin College. And a fiddler named Shelly, who was looking to get out of the house more often, for reasons we didn't understand until later. And having met just two weeks earlier, we took the stage at Schmitty's.

The visibility at this place was 15 feet at best due to the smoke and lack of adequate lighting, and it was host to a swarm of health code violations. It weren't nothing to see someone get a tooth knocked out, or a barefoot kid walk through with a stringer full of catfish to fry up, or the local fourth-grade teacher make a pole-dance out of your mic stand.

In other words, perfect place for a hootenanny band.

When we loaded in, we were greeted by the usual critters, and by a mysterious videographer no one seemed to know. Said he was there to film us and he had himself a lot of fancy camera gear. No idea what this guy was about, and it only made our first-gig jitters even jitterier. But the beer was cheap and freely flowing, and everyone enjoyed our folked-up covers of "Little Red Corvette," "Dead Flowers," AC/DC, Steve Earle, Johnny Cash, and of course "Wagon Wheel," before it became cliche.

About a year later, they bulldozed old Schmitty's to make room for the wave of suburbia crawling northward.

To this day we still don't know who the videographer was or whatever became of the footage from that first show. I almost think it's best we don't see what's on there.


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