10 Honky Tonks in 10 States
No matter where you go in the US, you'll find country fans and a honky tonk that feels like a second home. Whether it's a hole-in-the-wall dive bar or a multi-level cavernous club, it doesn't really matter as long as there's cold beer and good music. Great American Country took a virtual road trip and discovered some pretty colorful places. Check out 10 honky tonks that made their list and then see the complete list, 50 Honky Tonks in 50 States, on GACTV.com.
Looking for more Americana? Take a look out our 50 States, 50 Landmarks slideshow.
By Jamison Rotch with Erin Mercer
Providing high quality entertainment for the L.A. area – that’s Lower Alabama – for 30 years, Cowboys is the destination for country stars looking to connect with fans in the Heart of Dixie. Their list of past performers is heavy on Hall of Famers - Hank Williams, Jr., Merle Haggard, and Don Williams to name a few – and it continues to draw a new generation of stars. If cuttin’-a-rug on the ample dance floor isn’t your thing, the 5 pool tables, 4 bars and a full kitchen provide a pleasant alternative to a night of two-stepping.
We know, we know. The word "SportZone" doesn’t exactly conjure up images of sawdust floors, fiery fiddles and steel guitars, but in Delaware country fans will take their music where they can find it. And since the SportZone started up a country night on Wednesdays there has been a line out the door to try line dancing. That’s one small two-step for man, one giant country leap for The First State.
It’s an age-old dilemma for any hardcore country fan making plans for a night out on the town: Do I go line dancing…or check out a rodeo? Well, this one-of-kind club makes the answers easy for folks in Wichita, KS, by offering both under the same roof. Every 30 minutes from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday night the lights turn on, and a bull takes off.
The spot where John Michael Montgomery cut his teeth as a performer, the Austin City Saloon has been one of the top live music venues in Kentucky since 1981. Line dancing fans will find a dance floor with plenty of room to strut your stuff. As for cowboys looking for something a little dangerous, there’s a mechanical bull with your name on it.
Since it opened its doors in 1981, 4 million country fans have walked through the doors of this downtown Baton Rouge Honky Tonk. In the beginning it provided early opportunities for young artists who would go on to have Hall of Fame careers. George Strait played four shows in the early ‘80s, Dwight Yoakam in ’86, Garth Brooks in ’89 and Toby Keith in ’93. Today the venue is still a hot spot for a new generation of stars, with Luke Bryan, Jamey Johnson and Jason Aldean performing in the last couple of years.
If you’re looking for a great country Honky Tonk, head over to Ropers Rockin’ Country. Living up to their motto “A kick above the rest” since 1992 in the college town of Hattiesburg, Ropers Rockin' Country offers up crawfish boils, country karaoke in the Howlers Saloon, and the best dance floor in the Magnolia State.
While not exactly your traditional Hony Tonk, this hot Santa Fe spot offers up the Spanish version of western swing dancing with live Flamenco music. Set inside an 1835 adobe building, the oldest restaurant and bar in the city serves up live music seven nights a week, but call ahead to find about their Flamenco dinners. A culinary note: be sure to try one of the 35 varieties of tapas offered on the menu.
Since opening in 1991, this Charlotte North Carolina Honky Tonk has hosted concerts for the likes of Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, Charlie Daniels, Brook & Dunn and so many more (including Easton Corbin, pictured above. If there isn’t a big name act in town, award-winning house band Out of the Blue is more than up to the task to inspire a big night of boot-scootin’.
Another longtime veteran in the Honky Tonk game, this giant truck stop has hosted live music on its stage for over 40 years. Their ”Up & Country” has tapped a pipeline to Music City to import fresh live country music to the Portland area every weekend and features “big name” acts 4 to 6 times a year, including Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Brooks & Dunn, Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert, to name a few. The venue seats several hundred and the two large dance floors bring out enough big ol’ belt buckles that would earn a tip of the hat from a Texan. And don’t let the fact that it’s a truck stop fool you; actors, musicians, and even the President of the United States (George H. W. Bush have paid the Pondersoa Lounge a visit.
The self-proclaimed 8th Wonder of the World, this legendary Honky Tonk has been entertaining music fans since the 1940s. The supergroup Alabama got its start playing for tips on the Bowery stage and performed as the house band until 1980 (back then, they were known as Wild Country. Memorabilia from the group’s career and early playing days adds to the dive décor. Live music is still being served up 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Take a look at pictures from the spectacular WaterFire sculpture and performance in Providence, Rhode Island.