The Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe
The Strand Historic District of Galveston is home to one of the finest listening rooms in Texas. Just around the block from the 1894 Grand Opera House, in a three storied red brick building that is over 100 years old, you’ll find The Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe.
Some might wander by and dismiss it as just another bar but upon inspection you’ll notice that the beverage selection is limited. That’s because this is not just a place to grab a drink and escape the Texas heat, although the Star Bock (half Lone Star, half Shiner Bock) will help you do just that. This is a room where lyrics still matter.
In July of 1973 Townes Van Zandt recorded the now infamous album, Live At The Old Quarter, in a series of performances that captures his essence perfectly. Over forty years later artists like Ray Wylie Hubbard, Joe Ely, Lisa Morales, Adam Carroll, and Hayes Carll continue to add to it’s legacy with regular sold out performances.
Wrecks Bell designed the room with the songwriter in mind as well as the audience, particularly an audience that is there to listen. The walls are aligned with memorabilia of Texas songwriters including a framed picture of the aforementioned Townes Van Zandt who keeps watch over the stage. As a singer/songwriter there are few places that one feels so at home while also feeling as if you’re slightly out of place. While performing at The Old Quarter you can’t help but look up and catch Townes staring directly at you. If there are flaws in your song they are certainly magnified in this particular spot. When you leave at the end of the night you’re motivated to go straight home or to your hotel room and work on your craft.
As a listener there are very few places that are comparable to a night at The Old Quarter. There are plenty of places down the road that can provide you with a loud party atmosphere, but if it is music that you’re searching for this is the spot. There’s definitely magic in the room and it’s due in large part to the love and respect for words and melody that Wrecks and Janet Bell carry with them as they open it’s doors each day. This is a special venue and I hope that you will take the time to stop by and catch a show sometime soon. Grab a Star Bock, have a look around at the history that hangs on the walls, then find a table, sit back and listen. Whether it’s a well known name or someone you’ve never heard of I can assure you the artist on that stage is worth a listen. There’s a good chance that you will connect with that performer in a very meaningful way before the night is through. When it is over the artist and listener alike will understand a little bit better what Townes felt when he wrote It’s All For The Sake Of The Song, because that’s exactly what it is at The Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe.
Photos courtesy of Wrecks Bell
Rodney Hayden's debut album The Real Thing was released in 2002 by Rosetta Records, a label owned by his mentor Robert Earl Keen. He's since released over a half dozen records and toured worldwide while building a loyal fan base. He's also a talented songwriter, having collaborated with artists George Strait, Gary Allan, Johnny Rodriguez and more. He lives in San Antonio with his wife and young son.