Legendary Gruene Hall nominated for coveted country music honor
One of Texas' most iconic dance halls is finally getting its due. For the first time in its 145-year-old history, Gruene Hall has been nominated as Best Club of the Year by the Academy of Country Music.
It's an honor that has been a long time coming. Built in 1878, the legendary venue bills itself as "the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas." Over the years, the honky tonk has hosted some of country music's most celebrated names, including Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Merle Haggard. It has also been an early testing ground for countless musicians. George Strait, Hal Ketchum, and Lyle Lovett are among the fresh-faced talent that kickstarted careers on Gruene's stage.
Throughout all those barn-burning performances, Gruene Hall has remained largely unchanged. Its original layout has been preserved, with side flaps for open-air dancing, a bar in the front, a small lighted stage in the back, and a huge outdoor garden. Today, visitors two-step under Gruene's tin roof seven days a week.
"We've been extremely fortunate to have so many cool things happen at the Hall, and being nominated for an ACM Award is another example of one of those unexpected things we get to be a part of," says Mary Jane Nalley, cofounder of Gruene Hall, via a release. "It's our first time being nominated, which is kind of crazy and super thrilling."
Other nominees for the award include Coyote Joe's in Charlotte, Grizzly Rose in Denver, Joe's on Weed Street in Chicago, and Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth. Notably, no Nashville venues made it to the shortlist.
The 58th Academy of Country Music Awards will be hosted by Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks on May 11 at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Gruene Hall, however, will be kept on pins and needles a little longer. The Industry Award winners will be announced at the Academy of Country Music Honors, a special event held in August at the hallowed Ryman Auditorium.