Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio at night

Photo by Blue Rock staff

Wimberley couple builds space for artists to flourish

Sitting in their front yard under “the singing tree,” a storybook cedar with massive wind chimes hanging from its branches, Billy and Dodee Crockett reminisce about where each chime came from. As the soothing sounds echo through the evening breeze, the two reflect on the symbolism of this tree and meditative spot made in honor of legendary songwriter Jesse Winchester. It represents the culmination of their goals in building their Wimberley home: Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio.

Dodee and Billy met over sno-cones when they were fifteen. While their careers took them in different directions—Dodee pursued finance and became a managing director at Merrill Lynch in Dallas, and Billy pursued music in Nashville—they never let go of their connection. Twelve years later, Billy followed his heart to the Hill Country, and when he moved to Austin, the time was right: they married in 1994.

Dodee explains how they landed in Wimberley: “We were living in Dallas, both working on master’s degrees at SMU, and for spring break we went down to Wimberley. We took a motorcycle drive and ended up at this cul-de-sac and saw a For Sale sign. We walked through the woods and came out on the ridge with the view of the blue rock in the river, thinking, ‘Wow, what is this place?’”

Blue Rock interior

Photo by Blue Rock staff

They bought the land and began considering its possibilities. Billy explains, “We wanted to build something that was true to Dodee’s gifts and mine.” That something would be Blue Rock.

The setting of Blue Rock is enchanting. Billy and Dodee not only built a beautiful home here but also created an artist retreat, recording studio, house concert and workshop venue—a place for art to thrive. “We wanted to create a legacy,” Dodee says, “a place where people would feel that it was their spot to be dedicated to their art. I would love it if people came back to Blue Rock and said, ‘I made that album here,’ or ‘I finished that book here.’”

“When artists are here, they’re able to turn off all the distractions,” Billy adds. “It’s total immersion. We are developing a connection around art that is rare, maybe because what is already echoing off the walls is eleven years of experiences with audiences and performers.”

Nestled in the woods on a hill with majestic views, Blue Rock blends in seamlessly with its surroundings. Beyond “the singing tree” out front is the main home and adjacent world-class studio, complete with sound equipment by famed audio designer Rupert Neve. Down one path through the trees is “The Quiet House” where artists can stay; other winding paths lead to fire pits and spaces to sit and let the creative juices flow.

Billy and Dodee Crockett

Photo by Rodney Bursiel

Thirteen years ago, when designing began, architect Lou Kimball asked for songs he could listen to in order to tap into their vision. Dodee chose James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes,” inspired particularly by one verse: “It won’t be long before another day / We’re gonna have a good time / And no one’s gonna take that time away / You can stay as long as you like.”

They marvel at the creative magic that seems to happen at Blue Rock as they recall the day Australian band The Heart Collectors—while recording an album there—started playing the first notes of “You Can Close Your Eyes” for Billy. He explains, “They wanted to include a cover on their album, and this song had just come to them. I was blown away. Little did they know that song was in the bones of the entire place.”

Another remarkable moment was the day that Lyle Lovett booked the studio to record his album Release Me. Billy says, “Sometimes I have to pinch myself. The only thing we had expressly wanted [for Blue Rock] was for Lyle Lovett to make a record here. We thought if we’re building this, who are we building it for? We imagined Lyle.”

Singing tree

Photo by Ashley Brown

Billy and Dodee believe in helping artists breathe life into their best work, and their unique talents complement each other perfectly in their lives and roles at Blue Rock. Dodee explains, “I sit with artists and ask, ‘Who do I know who can help you?’ And Billy asks, ‘What do I know?’ He can get to the heart of a song and how it lands. And I want artists to be able to sustain their lives with those songs.”

They’ve built an extraordinary home. They’ve supported artists and played a role in putting countless creative works into the world, from albums to literary journals . . . all while pursuing their individual goals in Dodee’s world of finance and stewardship and Billy’s world of music and touring.

Billy and Dodee are excited to continue fostering connections that inspire creatives to make a living from their art. They’ve seen that when artists are valued and supported, great art can emerge. For many musicians, writers, and creative minds, Blue Rock—a work of art in itself—is a place for that to happen.

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