Monday, May 24, 2004

Live, From Luby's

For years my most memorable experience at Luby's dated all the way back to Oct. 16, 1991. It had nothing to do with the food. Me and about a thousand other reporters went to the Luby's in Killeen that day to ask whoever happened to be standing around what on earth would possess George Hennard to drive his pick-up through the cafeteria's plate glass window and then calmy shoot 23 people to death. Nobody had a very good answer.

Flash forward to May 24, 2004. We're at the Luby's in Lake Jackson. It's about 8 p.m., 30 minutes til closing. I ordered the chicken fried steak. Scooter ordered liver. Scout, home from college for the summer, chose a piece chicken that looked like it had been sitting out for a few hours, unable to entice anyone until we walked in, too hungry to give much thought to the big picture of what we would soon be stuffing into our mouths.

The cafeteria was pretty deserted. Maybe a dozen people scattered about the facility. I was well tucked into my CFS when Scooter remarked something about a wedding. I looked to my right, but only briefly because I was keeping my eye on the CFS, and saw two microphone stands and a couple guitars leaning against a pair of Luby's dining room chairs.
Yeah, must have been some kind of party or something. In Luby's? Uh, whatever. I refocused on the task at hand. There were mashed potatoes with gravy and fried okra also on the agenda. No pie, though, and that is always a tragedy.

A few minutes passed.

Then, off to the side, there was guitar strumming. Two people, a guy and gal, were playing the guitars, and the guy, dressed in black with hair greased back all Elvisy, started singing an old song once made famous by The King.

Holy mother of God, Luby's has entertainment? LIVE entertainment?

Why would this flabbergast me? I don't know. Because I've never seen it before? During any of the thousands of cafeteria meals from Tucson to Tucumcari to Tulleyville, during my entire life, there has been no "act" to entertain the diners. Because live entertainment isn't, well, a forte of any restaurant anywhere in the Greater Brazosport Area? Because the guy looked and sounded like The King? All of the above.

The singer? I've seen him once before. Over at the Lake Theater, where they have the weekend hootenanies and hoedowns. Heath is his name. Just one word. Heath. In my opinion, he has a fine singing voice. And you have to admire a performer who's willing to perform at Luby's 4 nights a week to pursue his calling. When he was a boy, envisioning his path to stardom, performing in a cafeteria probably wasn't in the dream.
Moreover, Heath has the snarly lip of Elvis. He's a little shorter than E was, but he's also not as fat as the old Elvis, which is a good thing for Heath, who used to live in Houston but now resides in Sweeny.

He followed the Elvis song with a Roy Orbison song, then an Everly Brothers song. Then he was finished. Some in the crowd applauded after each number, including us. Scooter applauded even though, as an LA girl, she professed astonishment at the spectacle of live entertainment in a small Texas town's cafeteria.

"I've gotta get out of here," she said, laughing. Not out of the cafeteria. She meant out of this town. It's a refrain that comes up from time to time.

Scout laughed through it all, too, thinking, more than likely, that her parents are weird, and that she can't believe she's gonna be stuck here in this one-horse town for the better part of a summer.

But, I'll tell you what. I'm happy to have a new and better Luby's memory to replace the last one, in Killeen. Heath takes the Luby's stage...Correction, there is no stage per se ... Monday through Thursday, 4:30 to 8:30. I'll be back and next time, I might just get up and dance, but probably not.

(P.S. Heath said he's performing Friday night @ The Lake.)


Anonymous said...

Heath has quite a following among the ladies down at the Lake Theater, in case you didn't know. But it's very good to know he's singing over at Lubys too. I LUV your webpage!

C.B. in Angleton

Kevin said...

Blame it on the Pappas family.

From overpriced, overrated Tex-Mex and Cajun food, to Luby's cafeterias featuring live entertainment (huh?! I'm with you), they've got you covered man!

Anonymous said...

So Banjo... how was the CFS? Last time I had dinner at Luby's I enjoyed the baked chicken. The green beans were a tad salty. PS...I'm a huge fan of the website but miss the old one. One suggestion: include more stories about your lovely wife Scooter and charming daughter Scout. Keep up the good work!

Anita Pea, Freeport