Monday night Ray Benson gets to kick up a little of the dust he helped create.
In truth, there’s little to no dust anywhere at the new Rattle Inn — the place is sparkling from the front door to its canopy rooftop — but the Austin legend and his band Asleep At The Wheel will do plenty of stomping to mark the grand opening of the Nueces Street bar he’s opened with partners Matt Luckie and local restauranteur Kevin Williamson. Monday night's performance at the intimate Ray’s Backstage live music room is the first in a week of events scheduled to throw the bar’s doors wide open.
“My first question was, ‘When’s Ray playing?’” Luckie said of the partnership first proposed three years ago by Williamson. The idea was to take advantage of some leased property just off Sixth Street next to Luckie’s Star Bar and Willamson’s Ranch 616 restaurant. “Ray’s been pumped about this from the very beginning, and he’s always wanted a place of his own to call home. The trick will be keeping him home enough.”
Benson’s association brings cache and the opportunity to book outsized acts in the 200-capacity club with an intimate bar area marked by a series of snakeskin booths, a forest’s worth of taxidermied wildlife, cedar plank bar-tops and other adornments that give the place a luxurious western feel. The real showpiece of the property, though, is its upstairs observation deck that gives a startling view of downtown Austin, offering a bit of an escape for customers who want to get away from the music downstairs.
There’s lots of things in terms of national reach for acts that Ray [Benson] brings into the picture that would never be possible. . .He’s a Texas legend who’ll bring something a little bar guy would never be able to pull off otherwise.
“Live music with a rooftop is a nice combination, and I think it will be what helps us keep going,” Luckie said. “When we were here for New Years Eve, were watching the fireworks going off perfectly positioned in front of us up on the deck, that’s when it felt like this place was really special and we had something.”
The Joel Mozersky-designed space reportedly cost more than half a million dollars to create and also features plenty of Benson’s personality; frames full of backstage passes adorn the walls of the club, where the bar-top is inlayed with his own vinyl 45s and his famed collection of Route 66 memorabilia.
Benson’s team will handle the majority of the club’s booking, which will naturally hue toward the roots and country sound he’s built his career on and fit the theme of the Rattle Inn very well.
“There’s lots of things in terms of national reach for acts that Ray brings into the picture that would never be possible,” Luckie said. “He’s a Texas legend who’ll bring something a little bar guy would never be able to pull off otherwise.”
To that end, Benson’s previously nomadic birthday party blowout will take place at the Rattle Inn on March 13 and lead into what’s becoming a packed schedule for SXSW and beyond.
Rattle Inn’s opening week schedule:
Monday - Asleep At The Wheel - 8 p.m. - $30
Wednesday - Ray Benson song swap (feat. special surprise guests) - 8:30 p.m.
Thursday - United Way charity benefit, featuring live music by Shurman - 7:30 p.m. - $20 donation at the door
Friday - Mike Kelly happy hour (5:30 p.m.), Lucas Hudgins at 9:30 p.m.
Saturday - Smokestack Review CD release - 9:30 p.m.