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The Alamo Hotel and Lounge

Bars | Places | Politicos

Talk about spooky... The Alamo Hotel even looked like it was haunted... which it was. Haunted by the ghosts of old Texas politics, haunted by the residual effects of time and social stratification. However, the Alamo Lounge was one of those places where the counter culture seeped into, bit by bit, and took it over. Much like Spellman's, The Lounge was the venue for many a-starvin' Austin picker. Probably the most interesting product of the Lounge is Lyle Lovett. He seemed to be the leader/headliner for a weekly picker session.

In those days, it seemed like the Alamo stood alone at the corner of 6th and Guadalupe. Now, it's hard to imagine that spot could have been so isolated even though isoaltion was what many of it's denizens craved.

I just watched "Be There To Love Me", the Townes bio-pic, and was reminded that the video for Willie and Merle's "Pancho and Lefty" was shot at the Alamo Hotel during its final days. Watching that video, actually looking "through" the video to see a snapshot of old Austin is very rewarding. Here is an outstanding memoire on the Hotel and the shoot: Pancho and Lefty, Part 1 and Pancho and Lefty, Part 2


Bars | Scenes

Spellman's was a small (very), old (very), rustic (very, very) beer bar off of West 5th St. It was one of the first places that I recall that had near constant live music from local songwriters and pickers. Townes, Blaze, Jubal, etc. I didn't appreciate them at the time beyond the good background music for afternoon beers and evening (mostly feeble) attempts at meeting someone new of the opposite sex.

I recall the guy that introduced me to the afternoon gang at Spellman's saying "These are good people. I've loaned them money when they asked." That impressed me most because we were so broke back then that even the thought of having money to loan was inconceivable.

The Tavern


You're never far from 12th and Lamar!

The Tavern has a special place for me personally because it was one of my main hangouts and I had a major crush on waitress Syliva. The guys that I hung out with at that time really only had one play in the playbook: beer at The Tavern until about 9:00, Mexican food at one of our spots, strip club to close the evening. Sounds like a rut but the folks and fun at Tavern kept if fresh.

BTW: Ever been locked in at a bar after the staff closed and left? I checked that box at good'ole 12th and Lamar.

Rome Inn


Wow. Low cover ($1), cheap beer ($1 pitchers), close to campus (lot's of coeds), and Double Trouble who seemed like they lived upstairs. It's Texas French Bread now... quite a transition.

Soap Creek Saloon


Another legend. If your car could make the drive up the dirt road to get there you deserved all you got inside. Cobras, Savages, Double Trouble, lot's of hazards.

Liberty Lunch


Everyone has a fond memory of the Lunch. There's LL without the roof, LL with the roof, etc. The Lunch brought Reggae to town before anyone knew it was cool. I saw many shows but a real standout was an early days "Rank and File" show... that and the time that that punk band threw bottles from the stage.

Jake's on 5th

Bars | Restaurants

Remember Jake's? They had a typical "beer joint" style menu but the fried oysters were the best... you just didn't want to watch them being dipped out of the bucket in which they were stored.

You could count on a celebrity sighting on any given night at Jake's. For some reason, Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw seemed to frequent the place. Darrell Royal was also a regular.

When they announced the closing, I made it a point to visit one last time. I sat at the bar near the door, ordered up a fishbowl, drank it, and proceeded to the door, empty fishbowl in hand. I still have that massive piece of glass.