Editor’s note: There are plenty of happenings in Dallas this weekend. Here, we home in on one. See the full schedule on our Things To Do page.
Nowadays, Robin Macy is known as the founding member of the Dixie Chicks–but in 1981, she was just another of aspiring musician in Dallas, struggling to make ends meet. One night, she stood outside of Poor David’s Pub in the rain, listening to the band through a propped-open door. She didn’t have money to pay for the cover, but she still has fond memories of that night.
Thirty-something years later, Macy will return to Poor David’s in the Cedars this Saturday night with her band, Cherokee Maidens and Sycamore Swing. The longtime Dallas resident stays in Kansas now, but she visits her musical home every now and then. We called her up ahead of the concert Saturday to see what she’s been up to.
There’s a funny story about your first time at Poor David’s Pub. Can you tell us about it?
I had moved to Dallas in 1981, and B.W. Stevenson, I was listening to him perform, but I didn’t have the money to go in. It was raining, and the door was propped open because it was muggy, it was hot inside, as it always is in those small, intimate rooms. So that was my introduction to Poor David’s Pub.
That was before it was even on Greenville Avenue. Shortly thereafter, the iconic place that we all grew up and cut our teeth at was the one that was on South Greenville Avenue. I was probably there hundreds of times. So it is a reunion of sorts, it’s really bittersweet and a beautiful thing to come back home, my musical home.
You have roots in Dallas, but where are you from originally?
I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri playing bluegrass music. that’s my hometown, but I’m 60 and I’ve lived one-third of my life in Missouri, one-third of my life in Dallas, and now I’ve been in Kansas for the last third of my life. I was in Dallas for my 20s and my 30s. I worked for KERA, the NPR affiliate there, and I had a radio show on Sunday nights. Some people might remember me from that; it was pretty popular and it featured Texas songwriters.
Do you make it back to Dallas often?
I get back maybe once or twice a year, and it’s usually on a musical pilgrimage. I’m going to the Kessler to see an artist that I love. I’m also in search of great Mexican food, cause there ain’t none up here, sister! I’m going to Austin to chase some old ghosts down there, as well. But I’m pretty firmly rooted up here on the high plains of Kansas, where I run a historic landmark called the Bartlett Arboretum. I also have a concert series here so I’m a promoter, and I write and perform songs that are linked to the environment and taking care of the planet, and are inspired by my work here at the Bartlett Arboretum.
What do you think about how Dallas’ music scene has changed since your time here?
I have been away from Dallas from 22 years, and not only has the scene changed, but the music’s changed. But that’s what’s so great about coming back to Poor David’s–there’s hillbilly dust there! My picture’s still on the wall. So, I do feel like certain niches and certain parts of Dallas–there are certain traditions that just haven’t changed, and that makes my heart sing.
I know how Dallas has exploded since I left. We hardly ever went north of 635 when I lived there in the early ‘80s. It was a much different scene then.
My music has always been an homage to the past, no matter what genre I was playing in or even songwriting, it really hearkens to another time, and Dallas was an important player in the dawn of American cowboy music, American Western Swing, and Western Music. So yeah, I think my picture’s over there in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
What can people expect at Saturday’s show?
We’ll be playing Western Swing in the tradition of Bob Wills and Asleep at the Wheel, we will also do some original compositions that speak to where we live–we’ll do a song called “Prairie Home Lullaby,” we’ll pay tribute to Woody Guthrie…but pretty much everything falls into the acoustic and vintage country, much like the Kens Burn documentary is speaking to now. All of America is waking up to roots music thanks to Ken Burns! It’ll be music that’s in the vernacular of how America’s music was birthed.