Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman looks at one of the state’s most famous dance halls.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Friday on KXT and Saturday on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you.
And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KERA radio’s 90.1 at Night.
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This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll look at a classic Texas dance hall that has become a world famous tourist destination.
On November 10, 1964, James White opened the Broken Spoke on South Lamar Blvd. in Austin. Originally, the Broken Spoke was just a café, but when customers began dancing to the music playing on the jukebox, White decided to expand the building to include a dance hall and stage. A number of legendary country musicians performed at the Broken Spoke in the early years, including Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, Tex Ritter and Ray Price. During the progressive country music movement of the 1970s, a new generation of Texas artists played the hall, including Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Jerry Jeff Walker. More recently, Alvin Crow, George Strait, the Dixie Chicks, Asleep at the Wheel and countless others have graced the stage. The Broken Spoke has been featured in National Geographic, on PBS and in several major motion pictures. It continues to offer live music nightly, attracting crowds of local music fans, as well as busloads of tourists from all over the world.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll learn about a Texan who drew from Hispanic, Anglo and African-American influences to become one of the most well-respected jazz musicians of the 1940s and 1950s.