Back in the
horse and buggy days, Texas dance halls were hubs for social activity
in German communities throughout the Hill
Country. After World
War II, rural dance halls, like Pat's Hall, became proving grounds
for future stars of American popular music.
Smiley Whitley was one of the early stars to play Pat's Hall. Smiley
played a triple-necked Fender steel guitar and fronted a 10-piece
western swing band.
Sonny Burns was another popular performer in the early 1950s. Sonny
was a talented honky-tonk artist and a friend of George Jones. Unfortunately
Sonny shared many of George's bad habits.
The Rolling Stones played Pat's Hall on August 7, 1954. No, not
the legendary English rock group but an Austin-based rockabilly
band fronted by singer Leon Carter.
Most of the men and women who played Pat's Hall week in and week
out were hard-working troubadours who toiled on the Texas dance
hall circuit. They had weekday jobs and played music on weekends.
They had strong regional followings, many of them made records,
but they never gained the popularity to make it big.
Those artists included Jimmy Heap, Bubba Littrell, George Chambers,
The Moods of Country Music, The Debonaires, Clifton Jansky, Adolph
Hofner, Fiddlin' Phil Trimble, The Rounders, The Metheny Brothers
and the Circle C Band.
Occasionally a performer on the dance hall circuit would break out
and become a star on radio and the Grand Ole Opry. A short list
of stars who performed at Pat's Hall included Jack Greene, Johnny
Bush, Moe Bandy, Charlie Walker, Hank Thompson, Kenny Price (from
the television show Hee Haw), Wanda Jackson, Fiddlin' Frenchie Burke
and Bill Mack - a country singer and songwriter best known as the
Midnight Cowboy on Radio Station WBAP in Fort
On rare nights, Pat's Hall hosted legends. Willie
Nelson played Pat's Hall on June 8, 1968. George Strait and
the Ace in the Hole Band took the stage on October 22, 1976.
music and dancing were always front and center, Pat's Hall offered
a variety of entertainment. Pat's sometimes hosted wrestling matches.
The baseball diamond behind the dance hall was home field for the
Fredericksburg Giants of the Hill Country League. Local high school
teams played there too.
But with each passing year Pat's Hall had a harder time paying the
bills. The cost of doing business rose. Profit margins shrank. Dance
halls had a hard time competing with television.
Bands demanded more of the gate. Insurance rates climbed. Beverage
tax rates increased.
Texas dance halls fell victim to shifting demographics. Most dance
halls were in small towns. Rural working class patrons were always
the backbone of the business. As Texas became a more urban state,
the popularity of dance halls declined.
Johnny Paycheck played the final night at Pat's Hall in June 1985.
After that another Texas dance hall shut the door and turned out
The party was over.