Your memories and photos: 50 years of the Broken Spoke
The Broken Spoke is celebrating its 50th anniversary with special performances this week. In Peter Blackstock’s story on the anniversary, we asked for your memories and photos from Austin’s favorite honky tonk. Find your stories and photos below. Have one to share? Email memories and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or photos only to email@example.com.
TRAVIS CROOKS: Back in the ’60s my band played the Spoke when you had to move the jukebox and move tables to dance. My band was Travis and The Western Gentlemen. We played even after the back was built. Later I came back with a group called Mesquite. James has always been and will be the best to play for. There has been Big Gills Club, Skyline Club and others but the BROKEN SPOKE is still STANDING!
JEANNIE COOK: This picture (above) was taken of my husband and me about 20 years ago at the Broken Spoke. My hubby, Ed Cook, was a bartender at the Spoke in the early 70’s, but if you asked him what he did he’d tell ya “I slung beer.” Ed played the role of “Santa” at many Broken Spoke Christmas parties over the years.
JIM CAMPBELL: My name is Jim Campbell and I stay in Scotland. I have been travelling to Austin over the last 20 odd years to visit my dear friend. On one of my early trips second or third I think, I was taken to the Broken Spoke. It is a night I will always remember. The Texans being the friendliest and most hospitable people I have met, the folks at the Spoke made me most welcome. I had a great time and the music was fantastic. I have been in a few of your great dance halls, New West, Ropers, Don’s Depot….. even out to the Cotton Club in Granger to hear The Can’t Hardly Play Boys…I love your music, your people, your life and your music…(I know I said music twice). I can’t wait to be in Austin again…. Thanks….Yee Haw..
CAROL MONTGOMERY: Ace in the Hole with George Strait was playing the night we met. I remember our first dance around the dance floor. Those were the days you could dance right up to George, stop a minute, and listen to him face to face. We danced to every song that night. We were in perfect sync with each other. Michael said “We sure do fit good.” He was right! 34 years later we still refer to those words spoken the night we met at the Broken Spoke. “We still fit good!” Happy 50th Broken Spoke!
DON FLORUS: I along with friends and kinfolks started a dance band in Flatonia, Texas, called The Velvets in the early ’60s. In the beginning, when we were kids, we thought we were rock and rollers because that’s what was popular at the time. But our roots were really country. I picked up the fiddle at age seven and learned to play it. We worked up a large following in South Central Texas. Some of our competition was B.J. Thomas and the Triumphs, Roy Head and the Traits, and The Moods. Country music suddenly became popular in the seventies. Although we weren’t great musicians, we had a leg up on our competition because we could play the “Cotton Eyed Joe” and had a pedal steel guitar in our band. Besides the large dance halls in the rural areas, we began to play large clubs in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. We played the Broken Spoke many times, but discovered that we could make more money playing for a percentage of the gate at Dessau Hall, the Silver Dollar and El Paso Cattle Company (does anyone remember those clubs?). Although we played a large variety of music, what I loved about the Spoke was that we could play all country. Two things that stand out in my mind about playing the Spoke were, if I wasn’t careful, my fiddle bow would hit the ceiling, and, occasionally, when we would slip in a rock song due to requests, Annetta would come running to the stage and say “we’ll have no more of that.” The last time I stopped by the Spoke, which has been a couple of years ago, they still had one of our old dance posters on the wall. Thank you James and Annetta and have a happy 50th.