Digital Storytelling and Visitor Analytics for City and Cultural Institutions
On November 10, 1964, a small cafe opened up for business in Austin, TX. Inspired by fond memories of the James Stewart western, "Broken Arrow," the owner, James White, named the cafe The Broken Spoke.
For some reason, customers at the Broken Spoke took to dancing to the jukebox, so White moved the pool tables around to make more space for people to shake their stuff, but one room wasn't enough. People kept dancing in any pinch of space they could grab, even in the dirt parking lot out front. When some customers started to play the songs they had written, White seized the opportunity and expanded the Broken Spoke with a dance floor in 1966.
In the early days, local groups performed at the Spoke. After a while, White was able to book well-known musicians like Bob Wills, Roy Acuff, Tex Ritter and Ernest Tubb. In the 1970s he started booking "outlaw" bands that were rebelling against the mainstream music scene in Nashville. Two such performers were Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson. Throughout the years the Broken Spoke has had a plethora of performers with everyone from the Dixie Chicks to Jerry Jeff Walker.
In 1988 Alvin Crow and James White formed the Broken Spoke Company, a record label that White says is, "all for fun. There's no fancy recording studio—just the stage at the Broken Spoken on Monday when it's closed." White is both a singer and a songwriter himself, and you can enjoy him talking about his club and hear a portion of his song, "The Broken Spoke Legend," by tapping on the video below:
The Broken Spoke is a side of Austin's music scene not readily visible. Unlike the soulful and strange rock and blues clubs that dot the weird city, the Broken Spoke is the essence of Texas country music. Although honky-tonk country dance halls like this are becoming a rarity, the Broken Spoke keeps on trucking.
Cover Photo Credit: Knowsphotos via Flickr