On Thursday of SXSW, I headed out to the Broken Spoke on South Lamar for the Twangfest Day Party. The Broken Spoke is a honky-tonk dance hall, that (according to their website) has a history that dates back to Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. So much about the Broken Spoke is remarkable, but it’s certainly curious to see high-rises in construction on either side of this meeting hall/barn-like structure. On the inside, not much has changed at the Broken Spoke. It’s a restaurant, a bar, and a music venue with a huge dance floor. I saw Kelly Hogan, Bruce Robinson and Kelly Willis, and Dale Watson there. I also caught a bit of the Carper Family and Ron Sexsmith in the small restaurant-like front room.
When I arrived, I wandered around to check the place out, and eventually sat down at a table on the edge of the dance floor. Shortly thereafter, I was joined by an older couple who were Austinites and regulars at the Broken Spoke. Thanks to these nice folks, I got a thorough history of not only the table at which we were sitting, but also the property, the room, the repairs to the ceiling, etc., the owner, and the way things usually work at the Spoke. They were generally appalled and irritated that folks were gathering on the dance floor as Kelly Hogan was taking the stage (there’s a sign, and eventually the dancers cleared out the standers). These folks were so nice and informative, and introduced me to other regulars and friends — it was like my own official tour! But the best part was that I got to dance my first official two-step. I’ve
gushed about mentioned that I love the Empty Bottle on Fridays, but I certainly fell in love with the Broken Spoke on my first visit!
Thursday night, I went down to Sixth Street with plans to see Rodney Crowell, Shonna Tucker, Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, and Emmylou Harris. I saw Rodney Crowell and Shonna Tucker, and was pleasantly surprised to see Shonna’s band is mostly Athens guys that I know. I was heading toward Antone’s to catch Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale when I got a text saying that the Waco Brothers were doing a surprise/secret show on the rooftop of a very random bar. I changed directions, and went to see the Wacos. The stage was quite small, which didn’t quite suit the Wacos, but they made the most of it. And there was a fog machine, which was fun and funny.
After the Wacos show, I went to grab a bite to eat with a friend, and as we were eating on the back patio, apparently Ice Cube, LL Cool J, and Public Enemy were performing just on the other side of the patio wall. We were able to catch glimpses of the performance on the building-turned-gigantic-vending-machine-turned-screen, and we were certainly able to hear them. And with that, I called it a night.