- Rick Mauch
Generations of local music lovers have gathered at Spring Creek Musical
Music has had a major influence in Tim Lewelling’s life.
And topping that list is the Spring Creek Musical, a monthly music festival at a tabernacle near his ranch between Weatherford and Granbury.
To Tim, 65, it’s more than a musical event. It’s an homage to his upbringing, a monthly reminder that the most beautiful things in life are often also the simplest.
There are no massive amounts of bright lights, no Grand Ole Opry stage, just good ol’ fashioned music designed to put a smile on everyone’s face who hears it with an accompanying challenge that you can’t help but tap your toe. And if you wanna get up and dance, with or without a partner, it’s not only welcome, but encouraged.
Tim has many great memories from his younger days. He played quarterback for Weatherford High, and was later inducted into the WHS Sports Hall of Fame. He’s a member of the “National 42 Players Association” in dominoes, having won both state and national championships.
But nothing compares to the special memories he has from watching the monthly Spring Creek Musical during his formative years. Now, he’s battling to keep the special event around so others can look back at their own special memories years from now.
Like many events, the Musical has been battling for survival because of Covid-19. Tim, who has been a coordinator of the event for years, has made it a mission to keep it going.
“Spring Creek Musical is special to me because it takes me back to the times of my youth. Remembering the ‘old timers’ there who have since left this earth is very dear to me,” he said.
“We are trying our best to fight through this Covid thing and have the monthly musical. We have had to cancel a couple of months, but are currently trying to have it. We make a month-by-month decision. Of course, we tell people to stay home if they are worried about it, and encourage people to take proper precautions if they do come.”
The Musical has been around for eight decades, first starting on the Pickard Farm in a barn and moving to the Spring Creek Tabernacle five years later. Over the years countless musicians, particularly local, have performed at the event. Numerous ones have gone on to greatness beyond the tabernacle stage.
“I have several friends who I consider to be great Texas music performers who are well-known in the Austin, Gruene, Luckenbach type areas of Texas. These guys and girls are my friends, and many have come here to perform,” Tim said.
Among those he is referencing are Slim Bawb Pearce, who Tim said plays Gruene Hall at least once a month and has been nominated for a Grammy. Charlie Bishop, Town Walsh, Proud Country, Steve Judice, Red Dvorak, Dean Ferrell and Danny Brooks, to name a few, are all recording artists who have played at Spring Creek.
“These are all great people and great friends. I met most of them via an event I hosted in Gruene, Texas, called Geezerfest,” Tim said. “It was a three-day music festival I started about 15 years ago. I have had probably 100 different people perform for me at that event. They are very talented folks.”
Tim loves to tell the story of how the community of Spring Creek and the Musical came to be. It began with a settler named T.J. Shaw who built a log home in the mid 1800s and called Spring Creek home for his family.
“Research shows that he was a tanner and carpenter by trade, and that he and his family were hard-working people. I have also read that in those days there were Tonkawa Indians nearby but they were peaceful people. More settlers started moving into the area shortly thereafter,” Tim detailed.
“The tabernacle itself was erected in 1904 for the purpose of families gathering for weddings, funerals and special occasions. At that time the tabernacle was simply a brush arbor with nothing but a grass roof, dirt floor, with no walls, windows or doors. In 1914 the grass roof was replaced with a metal one. In 1932 the families put in a concrete floor, which is still there today, and also put in walls, windows and doors.”
Since there were no shopping malls, bowling alleys or movie theaters back then these people created their own means of entertainment, which happened to be music.
“We might refer to it as pickin’ and grinnin,’” Tim said, adding that the Musical actually began as a sort of contest for locals to show off their talents. It outgrew the barn and was moved to the tabernacle, where it was headed by Eddleman Pickard and Gaston Floyd.
“I actually remember Gaston Floyd from my childhood days,” Tim recalled. “These two men ran the Spring Creek Musical for decades and people came from near and far to see the great talent on stage.
“As time moved on and Father Time claimed the lives or abilities of those men, Kenneth and Nadine Murphree stepped in to fill the void. You see, Nadine was the daughter of Mr. Pickard. These two fine people kept the tradition going for decades also.”
The torch was eventually passed again to David Floyd and Lisa Floyd Waters. Those two, along with Tim, are keeping the tradition alive today.
Tim’s father, Louis Lewelling, purchased the ranch Tim currently lives on in 1957. His parents would take him to the Musical throughout his youth.
“I remember standing in front of that stage in amazement watching performer after performer. I’ll have to give these years credit for the love I had and still have for music,” Tim said. “There are pictures in my mind that will never go away.
The performers were not George Jones, Merle Haggard and Patsy Cline, but in my eyes they may have well been.”
Likewise, time took Tim away for several years before fate brought him back.
When his dad died in 2016, Tim and his wife, Peggy, made the decision to sell their house in town and move out to the ranch in Spring Creek. Tim said he knew it was what his dad would have wanted.
He also discovered the festival he loved so much as a child was now in need of his help.
“At that time Peggy and I started coming to the monthly musical on occasion, which I had neglected to do for decades because I was too busy working for a living and most of that time we were not living in the area,” Tim said. “To my surprise, we did not see the huge crowds and numerous outstanding performers that I recalled seeing in my youth. Sometimes there were as few as just two or three people in attendance.
“I also noticed it was the same two or three people performing every month. This made me sad. I remember telling Peggy that I believed this longstanding tradition looked like it was going to die.”
Not if Tim had anything to say about it - and Tim has never been one for a lack of words, whether they be spoken or in writing. Many of his memories can be found in his recently released book “Avalon of the Heart,” but more on that in a bit.
“God blessed me with many things, and a couple of them are ‘the gift of gab’ as well as blessing me with numerous friends that are singer/songwriters in the music industry. I made a decision one night to offer my help in attempting to revive the monthly event,” he remembered.
“They accepted my offer and our team has done a pretty good job of bringing back the old days. I needed David and Lisa both desperately, and as it turned out they needed me.”
Tim said 2018 and 2019 were very good years, but since Covid hit, it has been a struggle to keep momentum going.
“We had to cancel a few months because of this pandemic, but we have had a few good months as well,” he said.
For the Musical, Tim does scheduling and is the emcee on most nights. He also hunts down local talent, and said he has yet to meet or hear about someone who has not heard of the Musical.
“One other thing that needed to be done was replacing the walls, doors and windows that were about to rot,” Tim said. “After all, they had been there since 1932. In 2018, I asked some of my musician friends from the Austin area and as far away as Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to help us out by putting on a special concert to help us raise money to restore this old building.
“They all said yes, just as I knew they would. They are special friends of mine.”
With help from money donated from the Parker County Historical Society and his talented musician friends, they raised enough money to remodel the Tabernacle.
The list of those who performed to help save the Tabernacle included Slim Bawb Pearce, Howard Yeargen, Red Dvorak, Town Walsh, Charlie Bishop, Dean Ferrell, Steve Judice, Danny and Debi Brooks, among others.
“Also, many thanks to Terry Kendig and his crew along with about 20 locals who did all the labor. With this many people it only took about three or four days to completely redo walls, windows and doors,” Tim said. “I’ll add that David Floyd was most instrumental in supervising this project. Without him, it would not have happened.”
Now back to the book Tim wrote, “Avalon of the Heart.” Avalon is also the name of Tim’s ranch. It comes from his love of the band Van Morrison and the lyrics of one of his favorite songs they recorded, “Avalon of the Heart.”
“When Peggy and I decided to move out here to the ranch after my dad had passed away, I decided to give it a name. You would think that would take some time and a lot of thought, but as I recall, it only took me about five minutes,” he said. “Avalon is a mythical island off the coast of England where King Authur’s sword, Excalibur, was forged.
“Also, I will note that my name, Lewelling, comes from the country of Wales. If you were to trace my family tree it would end up in Wales, I believe.”
The song describes making a brand new start, which is what he, Peggy, and the Musical were doing. Some of the lyrics are:
“Goin’ down by Avalon,
“Sweet Avalon of the Heart.
Goin’ down by Avalon,
Gonna make a brand new start.
Well, I came upon the enchanted vale
Down by the viaducts of my dreams.
Oh near Camelot, hangs the tale
In the ancient vale.
Oh the Avalon sunset
Avalon of the heart.
Oh me and my lady
Goin’ down by Avalon.”
Like the Musical, Tim’s book has also been a success. He said he wrote it because he wants his grandchildren and generations to come to know “who we are and where we came from.”
“Here we are one year later, and I have had hundreds of books delivered to me that I have signed and sent to people from Florida to Washington State and from Michigan to Arizona and many states in between. It is also for sale through Amazon, and they have sold a lot,” Tim said. “I never dreamed it would do this. I give credit to God for this. I made a lot of Biblical references in the book, and I think maybe he wanted more people to see it than just my family members.”
Like his beloved Musical? If the event brings a fraction of the joy to others that it has brought to Tim, it has earned its special place, and hopefully, continued longevity.
Buy Tim's book here: