My favorite honkytonk – Ginny’s Little Longhorn

Sunday Afternoon at Ginnys Jun 18th 2006


Ginny’s Little Longhorn, Austin’s infamous honky-tonk can be very easily missed as one drives through the commercial district on Burnett Road in Austin, Texas. Nestled amongst modern day commercial icons such as Sonic and HEB rests a place that promises to take its patrons back in time to a place where country music was more easily defined.

The façade is deceivably non-descript. The building is white cinderblocks with University of Texas orange trim and a handmade sign above the front door indicating that this is indeed the location of the honkiest, tonkiest beer joint in town.

Its obvious the history that these walls contain and preserve, but more importantly is the history that these four walls continue to make on a weekly basis. While many outside of Austin may not recognize the names that grace the small stage, I assure you that you will never be disappointed by taking a chance and stopping in to hear whos playing on any given night. Ginny has impeccable taste in real country music.

Stepping inside the door of Ginny’s takes one instantly back in time. The atmosphere is eclectic but homey. There’s no attempt at creating any pretentious, uniform aesthetic décor. Like the performers that grace its stage, Ginny’s is what it is.

A pool table takes up residence in the back while a small corner at the front is set aside as a combination stage/dance floor. A diverse collection of tables and chairs share the center space while the bar lines the west wall, ornated with Christmas garland, a matching set of hanging sofa lamps circa 1970 and a barrage of bar-related paraphernalia. The rest of the wall space belongs to tangible evidence of the tiny honky-tonks history a collection of family photos covers the back wall and the stage area is decorated with the faces and autographs of the countless of artists and bands that have entertained its patrons over the years.

Predominant is the homage that’s paid to Ginny’s favourite son, Dale Watson. In fact, it would be a hopeless task to take a full band photo of anyone performing on stage on any given night and not have Dales picture show up in the shot. Its impossible.

Dale Watson has certainly done his part to help mark Ginny’s as a must see on any one hardcore honkytonkers peruse through Austin. The buzz today is that the prodigal son is returning from his self imposed sabbatical on July 16th to his usual Sunday afternoon gig.

This afternoon however Ginny’s stage belongs to Redd Volkaert.

The Canadian born master-telecaster is most likely known as being one of Merle Haggard’s trusted sidemen through the years, but Redd is most than capable of taking ownership of the center spotlight.

As I write my notes for this piece, the band shows up with their equipment. There are no semi trucks of lighting tracks and smoke machines. There’s no super-sized jumbotron to set up. There are no road crews to handle the heavy work while the star performers rest up for their entrance. These guys park in the same parking lot as the rest of us, walk through the same doors and carry and set up their own equipment. Those who are have only experienced country music via mainstream, arena filled venues may find it remarkable and somewhat humbling to see extraordinary legends such as Redd and steel guitar master Cindy Cashdollar in such ordinary circumstances.

Now that the band began to arrive the rest of the chairs that had sat empty around me were now filling up rapidly. The clock on the wall was rapidly approaching 4:00 on this hot Fathers Day afternoon. The energy level at Ginny’s was heating up as well. The band puts the final touches on their equipment, as Redd turns on the house P.A. system and the sound of Johnny Bush singing Lonestar Beer and Bob Wills Music fills the air before the band takes its rightful spot.

What happened next was pure honky-tonk magic. From the first note of steel-drenched, tele-driven instrumental steel to the last Redd Volkaert and friends shows the ever growing crowd that real country music is indeed live and well and living in Austin, Texas.

If you get the chance come spend a Sunday afternoon at  Ginny’s and rejuvenate your passion and enthusiasm for  country music the way its meant to be experienced and shared.

One Response to “My favorite honkytonk – Ginny’s Little Longhorn”

  1. […] to the North, but I’ve often been tempted by Dale Watson’s frequent appearances at Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon. Take Country Back has a nice writeup of this infamous Austin […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: