Now Showing: The Pettit Brothers

CD Review
By Gary E. McKee

Fifty years in the making! After playing music together since they were knee high to a ukulele, The Pettit Brothers (TPB) have released their first full-length studio CD.  Backed by a seasoned group of studio musicians the TPB takes listeners on a journey from a mournful country blues ballad to a rollicking, buck-dancing bluegrass party, with a stop off at a honky tonk for a couple of cold ones to ease the pain of lost love.

White Freight Liner Blues: TPB captures the driving bluegrass feel of this song while the fiddle and guitar signals the wide open highway. Lonnie’s voice while not attempting the high notes that Townes Van Zandt sometimes attempted, captures the weariness and restlessness of the man going out on the highway to listen the big trucks whine and haul away his mind from his troubles.

Driving Nails in My Coffin: This is Ernest Tubb’s 1944 ode to excessive beer consumption over the loss of a woman. The steady lockstep of Brian Lux’s stand-up bass and drummer Terry Kirkendall pushes the band along in a delightful gallop, while steel guitarist Nathan Fleming’s prowess on old-school steel provides a counterpoint to the gallop. Lonnie is picking his mandolin as only Lonnie can.

Hold Watcha Got: TPB’s rendition of a song recounting an attempt to rekindle a relationship captures the feel of the ‘King of Bluegrass” Jimmie Martin’s original recording. Sean Orr’s fiddle kicks off a shuffle punctuated by the rhythm system allowing Darryl Pettit’s self-assured plea to his woman to wait for him to come back home to wring true.

Why You Been Gone So Long: A relatively new song written by Micky Newberry begins with Brian’s thumping bass drawing the rest of the band into a bouncy song with Darryl’s inquiring twang and Larry Wilson’s guitar plucking.

I Still Miss Someone: TPB takes you back to Johnny Cash’s lament from the 1950s, as Lonnie’s sad regret of a love lost brings a tear to your eye and the need for a beer for it to fall into. Wilson’s interpretation of Luther Perkin’s signature spare guitar work does the job quite nicely.

Trouble in Mind: TPB’s rendition of this 1924 blues song is given the bluegrass treatment with Lonnie’s mandolin complementing Darry’s weary, yet hopeful lyrics.

Dark Hollow: An old-school bluegrass song about a fellow who would rather be anywhere else besides the now empty house that his woman left him in. Sean’s fiddle and George Carver’s harmonica add sparkle to this sad song.

Way Downtown: Doc Watson’s classic bluegrass song with Sean’s inspiring “hoedown” fiddle break ties in with Darryl’s strong guitar work in this fun song.

‘Til the Coast is Clear: Hal Ketchum/Fred Koller’s song of a honky-tonk with all the ingredients of the drinking, smoking, and marital misdeeds associated with them. Carver’s gorgeous resonator guitar with Sean’s relaxed, yet precise fiddling sets the stage for this cheatin’ song.

You Done Me Wrong: Sean’s unique voice and the band’s true to the original Cajun arrangement makes it hard to miss this song by two guys named Ray Price and George Jones. Larry Wilson’s rhythm playing keeps this jaunty song bouncing along.

Bottom Dollar: Lonnie’s vocal captures the feeling of a guy who is down to pocket change, but it’s not the first time, and he realizes it’s his own doing. Nathan Fleming’s steel guitar licks echoes the vocals familiar weariness on this Billy Joe Shaver classic.

Old Home Place: Lonnie’s declaration of self-sorrow over what his life has become after his woman run off closes out this fulfilling band of songs.  This 1970s bluegrass classic is given a faithful treatment by the whole band as Lonnie’s voice carries the song like the geese fly south and the wind blows cold.

You can see and hear TPB almost every Wednesday night at Sengelmann’s Saloon in Schulenburg, and weekends playing in honky tonks from Austin to Houston. For a schedule, buying the CD, and more, check out



Brothers in Harmony

By Gary E. McKee

L-R: Brian Lux, Darryl Pettit, Sean Orr, Lonnie Pettit, Jim Schubert, and Chase Hrncir @ High Hill Store, Oct. 31, 2015./McKee photo

L-R: Brian Lux, Darryl Pettit, Sean Orr, Lonnie Pettit, Jim Schubert, and Chase Hrncir @ High Hill Store, Oct. 31, 2015./McKee photo

Lonnie and Darryl Pettit’s childhood wasn’t exactly the Partridge family, but Momma Pettit had a voice that was as crystal clear as Joan Baez’s and like the Johnny Cash song, Daddy played bass, and little brother, Garrett, and sister, Kari, joined right in to fill their house with music.

Lonnie and Darryl Pettit grew up in a family that cherished music. Their parents, Bill and Betty, were active members of the folk music circuit in the late 1950s and early 1960s and hosted in their home many of the touring coffeehouse circuit folkies. The touring professionals would give lessons to the whole Pettit family starting all the younger Pettits on their musical journey. Garrett became a respected member of the Houston stage musical scene, and Kari became a music teacher and the mother of The Ginn Sisters, a critically acclaimed national touring act.

What? No Amp?
When the family relocated to the Navidad River bottom in High Hill near Schulenburg, their acoustic sound was an anomaly among the local Czech/German music culture. The few rock and rollers then couldn’t figure out why they still played acoustic string instruments and didn’t plug in into amplifiers.

          After high school Lonnie and Darryl played in numerous bands, both singularly and together around Houston. Darryl sharpened his acoustic six-string picking skills with the Broken String Band, the traveling house band for the Chelsea Street Pub chain that had locations throughout Texas and neighboring states. Meanwhile, Lonnie focused on his mandolin skills and for several years, Lonnie played in a band called Rooster Junction at resorts in the Cayman Islands. The brothers reunited and did a three-year stint at one of the most unusual clubs in Houston. This was Los Truncos, a giant, multileveled enclosed tree house. The Pettits would move from branch to branch performing at each table, which was on a separate level from the others. If anyone went to Sam’s Boat on Richmond in Houston in the early 1980s, The Corona Beach Band was an institution there for six years with Lonnie’s voice serenading the crowd. For the next decade and a half, the Pettit brothers, played hundreds of weddings and parties in the Central Texas area.                

Jammin' at Momma's
In the mid-1990s, the Pettit family began holding a Wednesday evening jam session at Momma’s Pizza, which is in the Von Minden Hotel in Schulenburg. Local musicians soon began stopping by and it rapidly became the place to hear good acoustic traditional music. When younger brother Garrett began managing Sengelmann Hall, a great opportunity opened up. The Wednesday night Momma’s jam did a chord progression to the lower level stage of Sengelmann’s. Great live music, plenty of room, and great food came together to make Sengelmann’s Saloon a weekly oasis for the music lovers in the surrounding counties. As the weekly jam progressed into the new millennium, a core group, who now make up The Pettit Brothers Band emerged playing tight, extremely danceable old school country

          This ensemble consists of Darryl, Lonnie, Jim Schubert, Chase Hrncir, Brian Lux, Sean Orr, with special guests stopping by on a regular basis. 

Meet the Pettit Band
Jim Schubert, based in Austin, has been playing mandolin music over the Southern United States, embracing different styles of mandolin, jazz, and rockabilly to name a couple, in addition to standard bluegrass and all infused with a tinge of the blues, the basis of all American music.

Chase Hrncir, from Moravia, Texas, Lonnie’s protégé, has been playing mandolin for six years, learning from Lonnie and others at the weekly jam.

Anchoring the drummerless band, is a bass fiddle, Brian Lux, who has deep family roots in Schulenburg. Brian has been a musician for over three decades. While attending Texas A&M he discovered that the stand-up bass was to be his instrument of choice. In his life’s travels, he found there was always a need for a good bass man, whether it was rockabilly, rock and roll, jump, jazz, country, or swing. Brian has played them all quite well, and returning to his family’s home, has been with the band for three years.

Widening the Pettit Brothers sound is Sean Orr, from Bastrop, who has spent decades playing fiddle and guitar in a multitude of bands and different styles. He has played Texas style fiddle at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and is an expert on getting the “twang” out of his electric guitar to replicate the honky tonk sound. In addition to Texas fiddle, he honors his Celtic heritage by playing intense Irish fiddle in Sean Orr’s Kick Ass Irish Band.

The band has been touring Central Texas playing several nights a week with a recent return engagement in New Orleans. Even more recently they filled the dance floor at the kick-off party for the Second Annual Festival of Texas Fiddling sponsored by Texas Folklife and Texas Dance Hall Preservation. Check out the band’s schedule and buy the CD at, or better yet, come see them live!