SALADO, Texas — He's been riding with the king for four decades.

"From the old days," Ronnie Huckaby said. "From Bo's Barn."

Huckaby plays piano in the Texas Jamm Band, but for going on 37 years, he's been the leader of the famous Ace in the Hole Band, touring alongside the King of Country Music, George Strait.

George Strait keyboard case still
The case perched near where Ronnie Huckaby played piano June 22, 2019, with the Texas Jamm Band. Huckaby has toured with George Strait and the Ace in the Hole Band since 1983.
Kurtis Quillin, KCEN

All as a kid from Waco, Texas, and a graduate of the now-defunct Richfield High School.

"I always think about it," Huckaby said. "I always think about my high school. We have our 50th reunion coming up here in a few years."

Over the course of 37 years, Huckaby, alongside guys like Benny McArthur and Mike Daily, have done it all: From shows in Central Texas, to the biggest crowd at a country music concert ever when more than 104,000 people listened live at AT&T Stadium in 2014.

"When I lived in Waco and was just starting off playing as a teenager, a lot of times, you come down this way, you go over to Killeen and play around Fort Hood," Huckaby said. "We played in Temple at Peppermint, the old Peppermint Lounge, places like that. I think about all that when I'm in this neck of the woods."

Kurtis meets the Ace in the Hole Band
From left to right: Mike Daily (left, steel guitar), Benny McArthur (fiddle, guitar, vocals), KCEN's Kurtis Quillin and Ronnie Huckaby (piano) after sitting down to talk about 37 yeras touring with George Strait.
Linda Brown

He was also in the 1992 film Pure Country.

Now, you can see him in the back, coke bottom atop his keyboard, playing classic country tunes along with originals as the Texas Jamm Band plays statewide with crowds big and small.

Just two weeks removed from a crowd of 52,000 at Ohio Stadium, the group helped put on the surprise of a lifetime for a beloved golf course superintendent in Salado, John Weaver.

"It's just kind of mind-blowing," Daily said. "Even though we've been doing it for so long, you do get used to it to a certain extent, but it never ceases to amaze me."

And while the road to the top may be long and winding for a kid with a dream and an instrument, one man from Waco who's made that trek over four decades shares a message:

"Don't do it unless you can't live without it."

Watch the full interview with the group here:

For the Texas Jamm Band's schedule, click here.

For George Strait & the Ace in the Hold Band, click here.