A pretty, young blonde girl had shown up, looking a little scared but very determined. She waited her turn and set up to play her three songs for us. When she began to sing, everyone noticed immediately that this one had something special. If only we could get her to face the audience when she played. Enter San Antonio native, Terri Hendrix.

And enter indeed, with a bullish tenacity that, we all soon learned, wasn't going to stop. Fast forward five CDs and 10 hard years of woodshedding and dues-paying, and Hendrix finds herself in control of her destiny - with a loyal legion of fans and something new to give them - her magnificent sixth CD, The Ring.

Hendrix takes us through another personal journey on The Ring, with glimpses of bad relationships ("I sleep alone because my heart has turned to granite" on "Another Planet"); insomnia ("unpaid bills and past mistakes" on "Night Wolves"); anger ("I'm spinning off and I don't know how to land" on "Spinning Off"); and anxiety ("I'm holding it together while I'm falling apart" on "The Facts").

Hendrix' songs grapple with life's "peaks and valleys" that challenge you to reconsider your own situation - or maybe inspire you to grab someone you have been meaning to talk with and actually tell him or her how you feel. Regardless, all her material is resoundingly soulful in texture and thought-provoking in theme. Musically, The Ring stands on its own.

But are her songs a personal journey down the path of musical self-therapy? Nope. "The only bags I let myself carry are those that I take to the airport. Even then, I try to travel light," says Hendrix via e-mail. Yet, she adds, "I try to convey a thought as honestly as I can `through my songwriting`. And, as far as my songs go, I stay out of their way."

Ultimately, everything ends up okay in a Terri Hendrix song, and on the positive side, she pays homage to those who gave her life meaning. Hendrix praises motivational mentors in "Prayer For My Friends" and "Goodbye Charlie Brown." On the title track, she lends insight into her early family life; it's a beautiful ballad of a ring that her father spent years making from a coin for her mother. It illustrates another lesson learned: control through patience and diligence.

Hendrix recently returned home from a West Coast tour to promote her new CD, and is thinking long-term: "I'm going to be 35 this February and I'm happy, musically. I feel that I've carved out a nice place for myself in this business."

And she has: Her machine is well-honed and geared for national status, with all cylinders firing. Her band is more than solid, a trio consisting of all-around musical maestro and business partner Lloyd Maines, bassist Glenn Fukunaga, and drummer Paul Pearcy. Her fan base is loyal, her PR and bookings are solid. Indefatigable, Hendrix is a product of her own exhaustive work ethic: Her schedule has her playing 150 to 200 shows a year in a variety of rooms all over the country - from songwriter showcases and intimate rooms such as the Tin Angel in Philly or the Cactus Café in Austin to smoky honkytonks like the Luckenbach Dance Hall.

"Really, as long as I'm playing and there's no chicken wire or big screen TVs, I'm happy," she says. "`But` I really do miss Cibolo Creek `Country Club`. It was in a class of itself." She goes on to talk about the past "gatherings" there, where "I watched total strangers become friends. Some people married and had children. Then they brought their kids to the shows. It was a real special thing.

"If I have a positive impact on others by doing the music that I do, that's a plus. A real plus. It makes the journey worth the while."

This Saturday, November 30, Hendrix brings her band, new songs, and friends to the River Road Icehouse in New Braunfels to recapture the magic. "This annual event `the Saturday following Thanksgiving` is my hope to reunite everybody and welcome new folks into the circle, too." She has also invited her pal, Shelley King, to be a part of the show. "She's a real hard worker and good person," Hendrix assures.

And I'll bet the farm that on this night there won't be any nervous kid with her back to the stage. The audience will see a seasoned performer well in control of a booger show. And I know she's hoping that everyone there will remain a part of her world - and maybe become part of each other's, too.

November 30
River Road Icehouse
1791 Hueco Springs Loop Road
(830) 626-1335

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