If I was going to feature a Dancehall in Texas, I figured that starting with the State’s oldest and longest continuously running would only be right. And, there is really only one song that immediately comes to mind when considering such a location.
This week, we are keeping a Texas sunset in mind as Gruene Hall takes spotlight to Pat Green’s “Take Me Out to A Dancehall” from his LP “Carry On” that released in February 2000. Now, 20 years later, the song continues to shine.
I first met Pat at a record store signing in 2004, when as a fresh faced teen, I was on a mission to impress someone with a signed copy of Pat’s release “Lucky Ones”. At the time, Cactus Records was in a different storefront than where they currently are positioned alongside Shepard Dr. in Houston. The difference between locales is probably a city block and a half, which at this point just feels like a fun fact certain Houstonians could point out. There was a long line waiting to get some face time with the singer. I was more into commercial hip hop than Texas Country in that moment, but as the line moved quickly to meet Pat, I still had to shake some nerves.
Pat is a personable and charismatic guy, who has made a living from writing and performing a collection of work that would shape a specific sub genre of Country Music. Texas Country as it was labeled, depended on voices like Pat’s, Cory Morrow, Kevin Fowler and Josh Abbot just to name a few. Most of these artists weren’t as frequently played on many of the major Country stations as often as the Nashville sounding Country Pop that was being produced. Many of these artists would work smaller venue circuits, selling their merchandise to turn enough of a profit to live off of and continue chasing their dream. Pat graciously signed my CD as I kept on walking/ being shuffled through to accommodate the line.
The second time I saw Pat was actually a little surreal to me, even to this day. It was around 2007 as I returned to Houston from a stint in Central Texas. Pat was playing the main stage at Rodeo Houston and it just so happened that my employer had a connection or two to Pat’s team. In an unprecedented pulling of strings, a large group of us were escorted with camping chairs onto the floor of NRG stadium as the lights were down to sit near the sound board as Pat crushed his set. Pat swung by right before to say hello, and touched base with an old friend in my boss before being shuffled to the stage. I remember seeing fellow musician Jack Ingram walk by us before he was called to perform a tune that night.
I am not a great dancer, but I can keep a rhythm. So much of western dancing is about balancing a solid lead with cues that improvise above a basic understanding. However, at the end of the day, the music plays on. Gruene Hall has been the longest continuously running venue, hosting events since 1878. The boards which make up the venue have seen many an evening, never hearing the skip of a beat.
I love the shot I was able to secure for this week’s post well before all discussions of Covid began. The venue was starting to fill that Friday evening before dusk, as is typical for Gruene. Families walked about and there was a pleasant air of peace surrounding that evening. I wanted to choose this post this week because it very much may feel juxtaposed to the evening in Gruene with things that are happening in the world right now. And, while I will choose to refrain from commenting on the discourse of the world right now, I am going to trust that things will take a page out of a decent two step and just keep on moving and swaying to the continuous beat of a relaxing song.
Be Safe. Be Well.