If you’re a little fiddle player, or the kind of little guitar picker that proudly displays his (sort of) calloused fingers, Gruene Hall is the stuff dreams are made of.
If you didn’t know any better, you might pass right by the place and not look twice at the unassuming building with it’s whitewashed facade. Frankly, it looks more like a chicken house than anything one could call legendary.
Walk through that little screen door though, and you find yourself on the same ground where once stood some of the true greats – Ernest Tubb, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and some of my personal favorites too Lucinda Williams, Kelly Willis, Charlie Robison and Slaid Cleaves.
As the oldest still operating dance hall in Texas, you’d think they’d get the bug to renovate, pretty and polish it up a little, but they don’t and they like it that way. I do too.
Everyone of those tables is covered in carved names. The floor is creaky and old and there are a few spots you might just fall through if your two-stepping gets too rowdy. Gruene Hall is hanging on to it’s history though, it’s grit. It wears each and every flaky bit of paint and gouged wood as a badge of honor. It is a true testament to aging gracefully.
I told my aspiring musicians that as for me, if I were going to rosin up my bow, I’d rather play a place like that than a big fancy auditorium any day. If I was going to make music I’d want to be down in it, where I could see the dust flyin’ off the boots, you know?
I’m just sayin’ that it’s good, really good, that in an age of fast fame and bright lights there’s still places where it’s the music that matters.