Making more than music at The Walburg Restaurant

Eleven-year-old Brianna joined the Walburg Boys on stage and plied the fiddle confidently. Years earlier, when she was five, Rusty Swanson of the Walburg Boys sat down with her during a break and showed her some fiddle basics. She left yearning to play more, so she took lessons when her family returned home to Maryland. She and her family now visit The Walburg Restaurant each summer to saw the fiddle and reminisce with her Walburg “family,” who are eager to catch up on what’s taken place since the previous summer.

Brianna isn’t the only one who is drawn to The Walburg Restaurant. Folks flock there to enjoy the biergarten, fresh-brewed German Oktoberfest beer, and mouth-watering German-American dishes like bratwurst, schnitzel, sauerbraten, and Weiner schnitzel. The restaurant also features an arcade for the kiddos and live music for everyone, all nestled in the quaint German community of Walburg. The down-home, family-oriented environment brings people back to a place where friendships are formed.

In addition to being one of the restaurant’s owners, German born and bred Ronny Tippelt is also the lead vocalist and accordionist of the Walburg Boys, the house band at The Walburg Restaurant. The group began as a duo when the restaurant opened in 1987. Since that time, Scott Fischer, Rusty Swanson, James “Duck” Harris, and Steve Quenan have joined the group, bringing with them decades of individual experiences, performances, and associations with famous musicians such as Dan Seals, Tanya Tucker, Willie Nelson, and Hank Williams, Jr.

Ronny is recognized internationally for his yodeling expertise. Scott plays the bass guitar and credits his abilities to his uncles, who, he laughs, “would drink into the wee hours, singing Hank Williams and Roger Miller while coercing me to play the guitar until my fingers bled.” Duck is the lead guitar player and, although he’s never had a guitar lesson in his life, is known among band members as the Al Di Meola of the Hill Country (Di Meola is famed for his jazz and Latin fusion styles). There’s no fiddlin’ around with mediocrity for Rusty, who has sawed the fiddle with the best of them, including the Lonesome Dove Band. Steve takes time from his downtown  business, Quenan’s Jewelers, to drum it up with the band. Seeing jazz drummer Buddy Rich perform convinced a young Steve that he, too, wanted to be a drummer.

Individually, each musician is impressive. Together, they raise the roof with knee-slapping, foot-tapping music that has “three-year-old girls dragging their grandfathers onto the dance floor for a flap and a twist to everyone’s favorite, the Chicken Dance,” says Ronny. The band is as versatile as they are talented. They play Cajun, Zydeco, Country, R&B, Rock & Roll, and other genres with as much flair and energy as they bring to Bavarian and German music. “They play music for all ages and engage the audience with their boyish charm,” says the bar manager. The Walburg Boys love the audience, in fact. It’s not uncommon to find the band members chatting with folks during their set breaks or to hear them ask audience members to join them on stage for a number.

After the music stops, the last customers pay their tabs, and the lights dim, the band is simply a group of best friends, along with the rest of the staff members, among whom they count a resident fox, a roadrunner family, three rabbits, a cat, and two owls. These musicians love each other and they love their customers, who are also like family because the Walburg Boys have gotten to know them so well over the years.

Don’t miss Oktoberfest!

The Walburg Restaurant
3777 FM 972

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