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Dance Halls & Dreamers

Mike Sudhalter  |  October 27, 2009


Gruene Hall in Gruene is the oldest
Dance Hall in the state of Texas

Give me a Saturday night. My baby by my side. A little old school Pat Green and Robert Earl Keen, and I'll be alright. Sorry, Justin Moore. This is Texas, not Arkansas.

And while we appreciate Nashville, Texas Music is much closer to our hearts.

That's why I really loved reading this book, Pat Green's "Dance Halls and Dreamers." The stories were written by Luke Gilliam and the photos taken by Guy Rodgers III.

The coffee-table style book features stories and photos about 10 Dance Halls in the Lone Star State, told from a different performer - Willie Nelson (Billy Bob's Texas), Cory Morrow (Luckenbach Dancehall), Pat Green (Gruene Hall), Jack Ingram (Bandera Cabaret), Robert Earl Keen (John T. Floores), Randy Rogers Band (Schroeder Hall), Cross Canadian Ragweed (Stubb's Bar B-Q), Kevin Fowler (Coupland Dancehall), Ray Wylie Hubbard (Sons Of Hermann Hall) and Wade Bowen (Saengerhalle). All but Saengerhalle are still operating today.

The photos are excellent, and they really capture what it's like to be out at a Dance Hall on a Saturday night in Texas.

I've been to Billy Bob's twice, but I can't wait to check out some of these music venues - all located deep in the Heart of Texas. Sorry, Texarkana and Orange.

Green adds a personal story about each of the venues, and Gilliam does a great job talking about the personalities outside of the premier artists themselves - musicians, concert-goers, tour managers, bouncers, Dance Hall owners.

Texas Music fans have often said it's all about the fans, and this book seems to reflect that sentiment.

Many of these Dance Halls look run down and abandoned from the outside, but the magic is inside.

Like Fowler said about the Coupland Inn and Dancehall in Coupland, Texas - between Houston and Austin - "Nothing is changing around here but the date. The walls and floors are the same old nasty funk that was on there 75 years ago. If I had a every beer that has spilled on that dance floor, I could drink for a lifetime."

This book probably has some of the best "pull-quotes" of anywhere around. Take the one from Morrow, concerning Luckenbach Dance Hall:

"Every artist becomes tangible, approachable when you get here...we're all on the same level. You pretty much shake hands and talk. If you are drunk and spit in my face, I'll kick you in the nuts and you'll go away. But if you are cool, I'll sit and talk, smoke a cigarette and we can hang out."

:: Posted at 12:55 PM by Mike Sudhalter ::
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