Texas' disappearing dance halls

-via KVUE, Austin-

AUSTIN -- Some of the biggest stars in country music got their starts playing in small Texas dance halls.

But some of these Texas institutions are fading into the past while others thrive and remind the next generation of a time gone by.

"The day I got out of the army I started building the Broken Spoke. That was 1964, and I was 25-years-old," said James White, the owner of the Broken Spoke in Austin.

Mr. White is now 75. His beloved Broken Spoke still shines like the rhinestones on his red and black country western shirt.

He built a dance hall institution on two concepts: Cold beer, which was 25 cents a bottle in those days, and good music.

Acts like Bob Wills, Willie Nelson, George Strait, and Dolly Parton were regulars on Spoke stage. Their old photographs line the wall James White's memorabilia room.

"I had over 20 country music hall of farmers who performed here," said White.

That superstar power has kept the Spoke rolling.

Just 45 miles south the place that claims to be the oldest continually operating dance hall in Texas has cashed in on the star power, too.

Everybody who's anybody and many who started as nobody in the world of country music have graced the stage of Gruene Hall.

Manager Shane Roch said, "There's guys who play you know for free for tips on Sunday all the way up to Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett [and] Los Lobos."

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