Here at Uproxx, we love a good ol’ honky-tonk almost as much as we love summer itself. And the two fit together as naturally as, well… beers and twangy country tunes. But honky-tonk knowledge is like a centuries-old cooking technique: It’s either handed down or discovered through trial and error.
With this in mind, we thought, “who better to tip us off to some of the nation’s best honky-tonks than Midland?” The Texas-based country trio only got together in 2013 (after a decade of friendship and some late nights jamming), but they’ve quickly made a huge splash. Their sound combines old-world country with a laid-back, almost yacht rock-ian chill. Cowboy-chic and wildly photogenic, bandmates Mark Wystratch, Cameron Duddy, and Jess Carson exude a good-natured vibe and sense of humor that evokes laconic film heroes of the silver screen. Like three different versions of Paul Newman in Hud.
The neo-traditionalist band is currently on tour in support of their Billboard-charting album On The Rocks. Check their recommendations below but be warned: This list is dramatically weighted toward the Lone Star State. What else would you expect from a crew of Texas-based troubadours?
Poodie’s Roadhouse – Driftwood, Texas
Poodie’s is where we cut our teeth, it’s our local spot and will always have a special place in our hearts. Just the fact that they let us play there, in the beginning, was such a privilege.
It’s no wonder that playing Poodie’s was a big deal for Midland. Having hosted music legends like Willie Nelson and Billie Joe Shaver, Poodie’s has a rich history of providing a platform for some of Country music’s favorite performers. This is a legendary Texas dive that serves expectation-defying American classics amongst Tex-Mex inspired appetizers in a rowdy setting that’s always loud and never boring.
Billy Bob’s – Ft. Worth, Texas
It’s America’s largest honky-tonk and it’s been one of country music’s Mecca’s for decades. We’ve now played there twice and shot our Burn Out music video there. It’s a part of our story.
Billy Bob’s is another legendary Texas spot that has a long history of legendary performers gracing their stage. Housed in what was once an open-air barn built in 1910, Billy Bob’s is home to live pro bull riding and has been seen a number of times across the small and big screen — showing up in Walker Texas Ranger and Over the Top, the beloved Sylvester Stallone arm-wrestling-trucker-movie.
Broken Spoke – Austin, Texas
We had to earn our way to the main stage, starting in the front room playing happy hour. It’s always an honor to get to step on that stage. Thanks Mr. And Mrs. White!
The owners of the Broken Spoke proclaim that it’s the “Last of the true Texas Dancehalls and damn sure proud of it!” With bands playing Wednesday-Saturday night, and dance lessons five days a week, the Broken Spoke is a honky-tonk heaven.
Luckenbach – Luckenbach, Texas
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😘 We started the day off with zero plans and endjng up bruncing to end the bachelorette weekend 🍳, a quick stop at another Fredericksburg winery 🍷 and a #pitstop to visit #luckenbachtexas 🐓 This day has me leaving #Texas with lots of memories and a face that hurts from laughing all weekend 😂 (and I think this is the only way a “kissy” face is appropriate 😘) #TexasForever
If you don’t know you should ask Willie and Waylon why this place is so special.
Not currently being able to ask Willie and Waylon anything, we’ll just have to take Midland’s word here. Luckenbach is a blast from the past — harkening back to old-time Texas with its large dancehall and general store.
Luckenbach’s photo-friendly atmosphere brings patrons from all over Texas into the dancehalls, making it a can’t miss honky-tonk this summer.
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Jackson Hole, Wyoming
We shot the single artwork for Drinkin’ Problem leaning against the famed saddles in that bar. Wyoming is also where we all decided to take a shot at being “Midland” together. We’re looking forward to playing back to back nights for New Years this year.
Lover’s of the old west will salivate over the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, as this legendary Wyoming watering hole is famous for its western cowboy aesthetic, extensive collection of western memorabilia, knobbled pine architecture, and of course, genuine saddle bar stools.
Grizzly Rose – Denver, Colorado
We’ve now sold this legendary spot out twice and… what can we say, we always enjoy the altitude adjustment.
Grizzly Rose is one of the top clubs in the country for country music. It’s no wonder, the place is full of rustic charm. They have a large pool hall, a smokehouse grill, a smoking room, an arcade, and 2.000 square foot dancing room. The Grizzly Rose has seen performances from some of the most prestigious names in country music, from the rootsy sounds of Willie Nelson to the modern pop-country stylings of Taylor Swift.
Gruene Hall – Gruene, Texas
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Two Ton Tuesdays are back tonight and EVERY Tuesday night this summer! Join us for swing dance lessons from 6-7pm and then hang around to practice what you learned when Two Tons of Steel takes the stage at 8:30pm. Tuesdays are fun for all ages here at the Hall! Grab your kids, your grandparents, your friends and neighbors and come on out! 🎙🎶🍺 #gruene #gruenehall #gruenetx #texasbucketlist #texastodo #nbtx #newbraunfels #innewbraunfels #texashillcountry #hillcountry #satx #atx #texasroadtrip #rockabilly #swingdance #dancelessons #twotonsofsteel
Gruene is the oldest Honky Tonk in Texas, which means it’s been played by legends. People love the intimacy of it there. If you want to see how intimate and unique Gruene is you should really watch our iHeart live special on Youtube. It gives you a nice glimpse into this storied venue.
Gruene Hall wears its pedigree as one of the world’s oldest continually operating dance halls on its sleeve, as the building has changed very little since it was first built in 1878. A high pitched tin roof and advertisements from the 1930s give Gruene Hall a charming old-world look that makes it a favorite amongst artists trying out new material, and patrons looking for a good place to dance and drink.
Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace – Bakersfield, California
It’s the house that Buck built. It’s like one part museum, one part steakhouse, two parts honky-tonk. The place is basically heaven for country music nuts like us.
Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace is a celebration of everything country and honky-tonk all through the lens of recording artist Buck Owens. Owens was an architect of the Bakersfield country scene — though he preferred to call his music simply “American Music” — and everything about the Crystal Palace just screams AMERICA.
The Troubadour – West Hollywood, California
If you’re playing in the City of Angeles and you want to rock out on the stage where many greats have played you need to hit the Troubadour. It’s not only special to country music, but to every genre. Selling it out was one of our greatest nights on tour.
Anywhere Midland goes, a honky-tonk ensues. Whether in the deep south, the Colorado Rockies, or the palm tree-lined streets of Hollywood at the Troubadour, you can be sure if Midland are performing people are bound to be drinking, dancing, and having a great time. This classic venue is many things to many people, but as longtime fans of the spot, we definitely approve of its honky-tonk designation here.