Book Review: The Broken Spoke: Austin's Legendary Honky-Tonk

Donna Marie Miller

The Broken Spoke: Austin's Legendary Honky-Tonk

As the Broken Spoke rolls through its fifth decade, the local honky-tonk finally gets a properly bound documentation. Following last year's big-screen detailing, Honky Tonk Heaven, Donna Marie Miller dives into the story of Spoke proprietors James and Annetta White, and their endeavor's half-century as a two-stepping outpost on South Lamar. Tension between tradition and change plays a necessary backdrop to the account, contemporary condos now overshadowing the dance hall, but the Spoke's ability to survive amid urban boom while retaining its foundational ethos makes a compelling case for the honky-tonk as the most essential venue in Austin. While the Armadillo World Headquarters cohabited rednecks and hippies locally, the Whites' veneration of cowboy counterculture did as much to cement the unique hybrid defining the capital city as Willie Nelson. Miller brings the Spoke to life with loving detail through extensive interviews with the proprietors, who extrapolate on the overflow of photos that line their walls. While The Broken Spoke: Austin's Legendary Honky-Tonk overly relies on the owners' recollections, the author understands that their history is inextricable from the business, and alternates between the Whites' personal trials and professional peaks. Ultimately, that tight focus gains poignancy as the family becomes as familiar as James White's classic stage introductions.


The Broken Spoke: Austin’s Legendary Honky-Tonk

by Donna Marie Miller
Texas A&M University Press, 244 pp., $24.95

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Broken Spoke
Faster Than Sound: The College Kids Are Alright
Faster Than Sound: The College Kids Are Alright
First-ever KVRX Fest offers a buzzing platform for indie artists, Symphony Square, and industry-aspiring students. Also, Broken Spoke daughter Ginny White-Peacock needs “robot legs.”

Rachel Rascoe, May 17, 2019

Waltz Across Texas
Waltz Across Texas
As development encroaches on the Broken Spoke, rest assured there will never be another like it

Margaret Moser, Aug. 2, 2013

More Music Reviews
<i>Me & Mr. Cigar</i>
Me & Mr. Cigar
Butthole Surfers singer Gibby Haynes debuts a deeply weird and wonderful young adult novel.

Alyssa Quiles, Feb. 21, 2020

The Messenger: The Songwriting Legacy of Ray Wylie Hubbard
The Messenger: The Songwriting Legacy of Ray Wylie Hubbard

Doug Freeman, Dec. 6, 2019

More by Doug Freeman
Five Days Worth of David Ramirez Love Begins Livestreaming Today
Five Days Worth of David Ramirez Love Begins Livestreaming Today
Acerbic ATX balladeer hosts a daily show all week to benefit HAAM

March 23, 2020

Austin Music Awards Went Off Without a Hitch in a Show of Communal Strength and Support
Austin Music Awards Went Off Without a Hitch in a Show of Communal Strength and Support
The night everything cancelled in the capitol

March 20, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Broken Spoke, James White, Arnetta White, Texas Book Festival 2017

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle