Tag Archives: The Broken Spoke

Craig Hillis at Southwestern Historical Quarterly reviewed my book

16 Oct

The Broken Spoke: Austin’s Legendary Honky-Tonk. By Donna Marie Miller.
(College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2017. Pp. 256. Illustrations,
notes bibliography, index.)

Donna Marie Miller has written a very good and essential book. It is a
story of a native Austin family, the bar and restaurant business that patriarch
James White opened in 1964, and the countless characters both on
and off the stage who have populated this legendary honky-tonk for more
than half a century.
It is a good book because it is well researched, well organized, and well
written. Over a twenty-seven month period, Miller collected more than
one hundred oral histories from the White family and from employees,
patrons, and musicians and their representatives, thereby creating a valuable
trove of primary source data. She carefully explored the main currents
of Texas cultural history and Austin music history. Additionally, she
sought out films, videos, and audio recordings that were relevant to her
story.
Miller organized the book in seven sections, delineated by decades, and
within each section she wove together three dominant themes she calls
“braids.” The first covers local, state, and national events as they affected
the evolution of the Broken Spoke and the growth of the Austin music
scene. The “center thread” (11) depicts the life and times of the White
family, and the third braid presents the cast of characters—employees,
patrons, dancers, musicians—and their role in the story. This “braided
narrative structure” (11) enables the reader to experience the interplay
of the three story lines in a common historical setting.
Miller writes in an accessible and direct journalistic style. Her comprehensive
research is evident through her command of the material and
her free-flowing narrative. She sprinkles enough spice and lighthearted
anecdotes through the story to hold the reader’s interest and keep the
pages turning.
The Broken Spoke is an essential book because it analyzes a live music
venue, and in Texas, especially in Austin, the live music venue is the essential
cog in the wheel of our vibrant music scene. Whether a small folk club,
a rock ‘n’ roll joint, a multi-thousand seat concert hall, or a venerable
honky-tonk, these locations provide the economic bedrock upon which all
other aspects of the music scene unfold: the paychecks to musicians that
in turn underwrite managers, agents, music publishers, producers, studio
engineers, and related audio and video projects. Live music revenues
translate into musical instrument sales, advertising produced by copywriters,
graphic artists, and printing companies, and countless other commercial
enterprises that account for Austin’s multi-million dollar annual
entertainment and tourism industry. Miller successfully portrays how the
activities of the White family, the personnel and patrons at the club, and
an endless stream of musicians come together to facilitate the role that
the “Spoke” plays in the local and national music community.
Miller’s book calls the Broken Spoke “Austin’s Legendary Honky-
Tonk,” a bar, a restaurant, a “real country joint” (4), and “the last of the
true Texas dance halls” (6). It is also a home away from home for some
of country music’s biggest stars, a showcase for up and coming acts, a
blue-collar country club, an after-hours conference room for Texas legislators,
a country dance studio, a community center, and a country music
museum.
Most importantly, The Broken Spoke is a quintessential American story.
It is an authentic Norman Rockwell-like portrait of a strong, dedicated
family whose work ethic, commitment to each other, and shared vision
are now fueling a third generation. Having survived and thrived in an
extremely tough business, the Whites have nurtured a Texas tradition. The
Broken Spoke: Austin’s Legendary Honky-Tonk is an essential companion to
any student or enthusiast of Texas music and cultural history.
Austin, Texas Craig Hillis

Gallery

Rotary Club of Austin book talk Aug. 14, 2018

16 Aug

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My SXSW 2018 presentation and book signing 3.13.2018

28 Mar

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Capitol of Texas Rotary Club book talk/signing 2.7.2018

8 Feb

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OLLI/LAMP Presentation 1.30.2018 at UT’s Thompson Center

30 Jan

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My LIVE interview with Dear Texas Radio

23 Oct

DMMiller book cover for launch 4-22-2017Please listen to the recording of my LIVE interview by Dear Texas Radio host Roxanne Burkey at 7 p.m. (Central Time Zone) Tuesday Oct. 24, 2017.  

I discussed my book, The Broken Spoke: Austin’s Legendary Honky-Tonk, published by Texas A&M University Press. (John and Robin Dickson Series in Texas Music, sponsored by the Center for Texas)

James and Annetta White opened the Broken Spoke in 1964, then a mile south of the Austin city limits, under a massive live oak, and beside what would eventually become South Lamar Boulevard. White built the place himself, beginning construction on the day he received his honorable discharge from the US Army. And for more than fifty years, the Broken Spoke has served up, in the words of White’s well-worn opening speech, “. . . cold beer, good whiskey, the best chicken fried steak in town . . . and good country music.”

LINK: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/deartexas/2017/10/25/dear-texas-radio-show-176-with-donna-marie-miller

 

My book launch party April 22, 2017

10 Feb

Texas A&M Un3rdcoverrevisionmiller_jkt5-2iversity Press and I launched my book, The Broken Spoke: Austin’s Legendary Honky-Tonk, Saturday April 22 at the Broken Spoke, 3201 South Lamar Blvd.  Book signings were provided by James and Annetta White and myself.

Ben Rogers played for tips in the dining room from 6 to 8 p.m. Terri White offered dance lessons in the dance hall at 8 p.m. for $8 per person. Afterwards, Alvin Crow and the Pleasant Valley Boys performed in the dance hall  for an additional $12 per person cover charge. 

Order books at: http://www.tamupress.com/product/Broken-Spoke,8735.aspx

 

My review of Dale Watson’s new CD posts to Elmore

6 Dec

Dale Watson – Elmore MagazineHonky-tonk singer, songwriter, guitarist and Lone Star beer aficionado Dale Watson provides a stout and tasty remix of 12 country music classics with his newest CD, Under the Influence. Watson covers his favorite artists’ songs that span more than 50 years – from Bob Wills’ 1939, “That’s What I Like About the South,” to Merle Haggard’s last top 40 hit of 1989, “If You Want to be My Woman.” Watson intoxicates listeners with Mel Tillis’ (Wine) Pretty Red Wine and Ronnie Milsap’s 1974 hit, “Pure Love.” The silver-haired crooner with an Elvis pompadour charms with dizzy abandon on Conway Twitty’s 1960 hit, “Lonely Blue Boy.” With earnest, he performs Lefty Frizzell’s 1958, “You’re Humbuggin’ Me,” and Little Richard’s “Lucille,” last recorded by Waylon Jennings in 1977.

The Lone Stars – Don Pawlak on pedal steel, Mike Bernal on drums and percussion and Chris Crepps on upright bass and background vocals – join him on the album, along with Earl Poole Ball on piano and T. Jarod Bonta on piano. Watson rose to international fame with his 2013 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman and breakout hit single, “I Lie When I Drink.” The founder of Ameripolitan music tours 300 days per year, and often plays Austin’s Broken Spoke or the Big T Roadhouse near San Antonio.

Also please see my review posted on Elmore magazine’s website at:

http://www.elmoremagazine.com/2016/12/reviews/albums/dale-watson-3

My Dolly Parton feature about her tour posts to Elmore

14 Nov

dp_puresimple_0Dolly Parton, with 25 certified gold, platinum and multi-platinum Recording Industry Association of America awards, has sold more than 100 million albums, but prefers her life “Pure & Simple”… which happens to be the title of her latest album and a 60-city tour — her first in 25 years — that ends December 10th in Thackerville, OK.

Parton plans to sing many of her number one hits from Billboard’s Hot Country chart – including “Applejack,” “9 to 5,” “Here You Come Again,” “I Will Always Love You,” “Islands in the Stream,” “Jolene” and “Coat of Many Colors.”

Her concerts often draw lots of “Dollies,” cross-dressers, “who look more like me than I do,” she said during her November 3rd virtual press conference, which Elmore Magazine took part in.

The singer/songwriter/screenwriter/movie producer and business leader performs December 6th in Austin, a place she fondly remembers from 1991, when she wrote and starred in Wild Texas Wind, a made-for-TV movie with scenes filmed at famed venue, the Broken Spoke. Gary Busey co-starred, with cameos by James White, Ray Benson and Willie Nelson. Her friendship with Nelson spans more than 50 years, and Parton described him as “one of the sweetest, most generous people I know.” She received the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award 
on November 2nd at the 50th Country Music Awards.

Now, at 70 years old, Parton still has dreams of creating a new line of makeup, clothing lines, more movies and lots more music. “I am just now gettin’ started good,” she says.

Parton has written 3,000 songs, including “Only Dreaming,” her personal favorite a cappella track off her 43rd studio CD, Pure & Simple. The fourth of 12 children created Dollywood, a $300 million theme park located in the Knoxville-Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, as a place for her family and friends. She also founded the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, with 100 million free books donated to children across America and Canada.

Parton grew up singing gospel music and admiring the great Kitty Wells and Rose Maddox; at just 10 years old, she first performed at the Grand Ole Opry. Parton’s career truly began on The Porter Wagoner Show in 1967. “It makes me feel proud that I’ve done something to inspire and to influence other people,” she said. Today, Parton refers to herself as “the goodwill ambassador of country music.”

Please also see my article posted on Elmore magazine’s website at: http://www.elmoremagazine.com/2016/11/music-news/hello-dolly

Also See Dolly Parton’s tour schedule:

http://dollyparton.com/tour-schedule-upcoming-events

 

Elmore posts my story about the Feb. 4 private Willie Nelson concert

12 Feb

Elmore Magazine | Willie Nelson and Asleep At The WheelAbout 200 very lucky country music fans were treated to a private concert by Willie Nelson, Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel February 4th at the famed Broken Spoke; Thursday nights in February will never feel so hot again in Austin, Texas. The founder of Girling Home Health Care Inc. sponsored the city’s biggest private event of the year at its oldest and most beloved honky tonk. Unable to attend her own birthday party due to the onset of sudden illness, Bettie Girling, the widow of the late Robert Girling, watched the party via Skype from her bed at home across town. Nevertheless, Nelson and Benson sang “Happy Birthday” to Bettie together with all of her invited guests who also enjoyed a barbecue feast and spirited drinks. For about an hour and a half and just inches away from his audience, Nelson sang a hit parade of songs that marked more than 50 years of his professional music career, beginning with the 1961 number one hit, “Hello Walls,” followed by “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” (1975) and “On The Road Again” (1980).

The 82-year-old Red Headed Stranger closed the night with an intimate crowd sing-along on “The Party’s Over,” a song Nelson wrote and Claude Gray first recorded in 1959. All evening Benson accompanied Willie on guitar and backup vocals together with keyboard player Emily Gimble, the daughter of the late Texas Playboy Johnny Gimble. Other Asleep at the Wheel members included fiddler Katie Shore, steel player Eddie Rivers, mandolin and fiddle player Dennis Ludicker and David Sanger on drums. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and his wife, Cecilia, also made a brief appearance together at the celebration, flanked by several Travis County deputies. Dozens of other local celebrities, including writer/actor/filmmaker Turk Pipkin sat on the dance floor to take photos up close and personal. Closing time came early – 10 o’clock– at the red, rustic and barn-like Broken Spoke, a 51-year-old icon that has withstood the test of time and new development along a one-mile stretch of South Lamar. Its 76-years young founders, James and Annetta White, both waved goodbye from the porch as dust settled in the Broken Spoke’s dirt parking lot and Nelson’s tour bus left for a Feb. 9 appearance in Charlotte, N.C. a.

Please also see my article as it appears on Elmore magazine’s website by following this link:

http://www.elmoremagazine.com/2016/02/reviews/shows/willie-nelson-and-asleep-at-the-wheel

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