After dinner at the unique Gristmill Restaurant we walked next door to Gruene (pronounced "Green") Hall. The Hall is a 6,000 square foot, wooden, tin-roofed, barn-like structure that was built in 1878 by Henry (Heinrich) D. Gruene and, except for installing electricity, doesn’t appear to have changed very much in the past 135 years. The Hall is located in the historic town of Gruene, which is now part of New Braunfels, TX. The hardwood flooring and the wooden benches and tables have been worn smooth over the years. Neon beer signs provide most of the light.
Gruene Hall is about as "Texas" as you can get. Willie Nelson & Family, The Mavericks, Radney Foster, the Joe Ely Band, Gary P. Nunn, the Texas Tornados, Jerry Jeff Walker, Asleep at the Wheel, Delbert McClinton, Ray Price, Charlie Robison, Shooter Jennings, The Marshall Tucker Band, Dwight Yokum, Jerry Jeff Walker, Gary P. Nunn, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Merle Haggard, and Todd Rundgren all have gigs scheduled at Gruene Hall in just the first six months of 2014. Although there were no big names last night, “The Georges” were a very good Rock-a-Billy band and put on a good show. They played from 6 to 10 PM for free so they sold T-Shirts and CD’s and passed the tip bucket around. Just honest people trying to make a living doing what they love to do. Make music.
The walls in the bar are covered with framed photographs of artists who have performed in the Hall. Although Gruene Hall hosts mostly Texas artists, there are still many other artists. The “rogues gallery” of photos includes Bruce Robison, John Hiatt, Nanci Griffith, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Kris Kristofferson, Robert Earl Keene, Lucinda Williams, Pat Greene, Ernest Tubb, George Strait, Lyle Lovett, Garth Brooks, Gregg Allman, the Dixie Chicks, Aaron Neville and even Little Richard, Arlo Guthrie, Taj Mahal, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddly, Leon Russell, Miranda Lambert, Buddy Guy, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Dr. John, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Hootie & The Blowfish, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Susan Tedeschi, Levon Helm, and John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers. Gruene Hall was also used as a set for the movie, Michael, which starred John Travolta.
Even the beer said Texas. Ice-cold Lone Star and Sheiner Bock in longneck bottles are big sellers at Gruene Hall. Beer at $3.75 a bottle along with no admission or cover charge (not last night at least) is hard to beat.
Boots, cowboy hats, and jeans are commonplace, but you may see anything from short shorts to suits and ties. Pretenders, posers, and real cowboys/cowgirls were scattered throughout the crowd.
Gruene Hall patrons are music lovers of all ages, from babies in strollers to nonagenarians (that’s 90 to 98 year olds by the way) with walkers. No joke, last night’s crowd included a group of twenty or thirty senior citizens, with at least five of them using walkers to get around, and none of whom looked to be younger than eighty years old. They were escorted by several young women who were either tour guides or caretakers. It was hard to tell the difference. They made me feel (almost) young. No way was I going to leave before they did!
Gruene Hall is simply an ageless honky-tonk. If you ever make it to New Braunfels, TX be sure to check it out.
Here are a few photos of the Gristmill and Gruene Hall I took with my iphone (no flash, so a little grainy).
(we ate INSIDE1)
Like I Said, Ageless!