CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The old joke goes something like this: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.
But for three West Texas buddies known as The Flatlanders, the path to the legendary New York City concert venue involved a brief recording career more than 40 years ago, disbanding for decades, finding success as solo artists and a reunion followed by a decade of on-again, off-again touring and recording.
The Carnegie Hall gig came, finally, this past Saturday.
"We had the most amazing time at Carnegie Hall," said Butch Hancock, who helped form the country rock band with fellow Lubbockians Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely in 1972. "We were in there less than 24 hours, but we got to hang with our family and friends and soak it all in. It was a great time.
"Since we got back together a decade ago or so, we've gotten used to all sorts of stages. But the sound system there and the entire crew there were just amazing. It was a special treat. A pleasure.
"It felt great to be standing on the stage at Carnegie Hall after all these years."
Ely recalled his first time in New York, shortly after the group's first recording sessions in 1972. He ended up playing on street corners during the Christmas season in the Big Apple.
"The first corner I played wasn't bringing many tips," Ely said. "So I was told to move to a corner on 57th Street. People were scurrying by doing their shopping. It was so cold, I could only play a few songs at a time before I would have to stop to warm my fingers."
On stage Saturday night, Ely recalled that chilly memory.