Pack-a-Seat History, Remembering Lou Houston

Hello fellow players,

To all my wonderful readers, I thank you for all the comments I have gotten recently on my steel guitar subjects. It’s pretty hard coming up with new and fresh ideas to write about, but with your ideas that I get from emails back to me of things you want to hear and know about, you are helping to make my job easier.

I have a few things this week I want to mention. One of the things is the history of the pack-a-seat which is very unique to steel guitar. However, there are even some members of the Nashville Symphony that don’t even play steel guitar that have pack-a-seats. For instance, the harpist in this organization plays on a pack-a-seat.

I remember back when the early seventies after meeting Duane Marrs, him telling me he was going to invent a custom fold-up seat just to use to play steel guitar with. I told him the only way I’d be interested in even seeing one would be if he would build in some space to carry volume pedals, picks, strings, cords etc.

I said, “We have enough things to carry around anyway so I don’t know how feasible it would be to have to carry our own chair.”

Then one day Smiley Roberts shows up with a new chair that he and Duane built to my specs called a pack-a-seat. I congratulated them but still hung on to my belief that I was already carrying enough stuff and didn’t need any more to carry around.

About five years later, a girlfriend bought me one as a Christmas present. I took it to my job at the Opry, then took it to the club I was working and on the way back home that evening, I was totally sold on the idea.

Soon after, I opened my steel guitar store. I just could not keep enough of them in stock. The perfect height, strong and not wiggly and it held two volume pedals and all my accessories. It made my regular steel guitar case enough lighter that it was worth making an extra trip to the car every night after the job.

I congratulated Duane on the fine job he was doing building these things and when I found out I was about the last guy in Nashville to get one, I kind of felt stupid for not getting one in the beginning. Definitely it helped my playing because every time I sat down to play, I was in the same wonderful position to the steel guitar and felt the same amount of comfort every time I worked.

Over the years I have sold hundreds and hundreds of these units. In the beginning the price was $25 to $50 for just a plain one with no back, but that was when I could buy a brand new Sho-Bud double neck for $750 too.

Now days the pack-a-seat is just as important a piece of equipment to the steel player as his amps or guitar are. I have sold many of them to players only to have them come back a week later and buy another one. It seems as though the wives liked to kidnap them and use them as seats for their sewing machines, keeping thread, bobbins and needles in the little compartment. It’s quite the deal for the serious seamstress.

Now days things have gotten modern to the point of optional features such as extra wide compartments, extra compartments on the side, seat backs that can be very handy for those steel players that have any kind of a back problem like myself.

Personally I like the built in power strip because as we all know, there are many things we have to plug in and about all we can do is go to work early in a club to try to and beat some of the other instruments to the power plugs. By the way, naturally we still stock all kinds of steel guitar pack-a-seats.

Update on close restaurants when you’re visiting me in the Hendersonville area. As you may remember, I blasted the Blue Goose restaurant last time we talked about restaurants. This restaurant is now gone. It seems as though many other people agreed with me and quit going there.

We have a meat and three restaurant named Fast Freddy’s that is doing very well after about four months of being in operation. It’s a meat and three that serves a pretty decent breakfast also. My favorite in the whole town of Hendersonville, out of at least fifty restaurants, is the Chop House. Very inexpensive lunches and extremely high quality food.

Do any of you remember the steel guitar player Lou Houston? Lou was the first steel guitarist to work with Conway Twitty. Actually I think he knew Conway before he even got the job, which he worked about three years before getting off the road and passing the job on to John Hughey.

Lou has also left us, however he was a pretty unique player along the lines of Sneaky Pete from the California boys. I think he did a wonderful job with Conway. And don’t forget Buddy Emmons birthday was Friday. We all need a birthday and the more we have, the better. I mention Buddy because he is a legend in steel guitar that knows no equal. On this everyone seems to agree.

Don’t forget we have free shipping in the continental United States on all guitars from now until the end of February.

See our monthly specials at …

The friend to all bar holders,
Bobbe Seymour

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123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
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2 Responses to Pack-a-Seat History, Remembering Lou Houston

  1. Pete King says:

    I hired Lew to play steel and sing at the Country Hayride Opry in Excelsior Springs, Mo., in the fall of 1977. We became the best of friends and I flew him on several occasions to sessions, shows, whatever, and he wanted to learn to fly (I am an instructor) but we never got around to starting. There was a report that Lew hated to fly but I never saw that in more than thirty years of our friendship. I believe he was simply a genius on the steel and not a whit behind as a singer either. I have hundreds of tapes with projects we undertook where I refused to record without him. Many stories I wish I could find a forum and an audience to pass along these gems.

    Pete King

  2. Donna Cagle says:

    I would love to get with you regarding Lew Houston and your work together. I live in Oklahoma and will be gathering as much as possible for a Memories & Melodies of the Good O’l Days for 2023. Lew passing was in 2003 be my pleasure to honor you both and others from back then to now. Oklahoma City had a Jude & Jody Furniture store and on the weekends back then Country music bands from everywhere would play in the back of that store. Please contact me at Thank you

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