Thursday, January 9, 2020

Hal Ketchum & Gruene Hall: A Match Made in Music Heaven

Many musicians have played Gruene Hall, building its legacy with music and memories, but only one artist also used a hammer and nail. Did you know Hal Ketchum worked at Gruene Hall?

Hal Ketchum at Gruene Hall

Originally from upstate New York, Hal moved to New Braunfels in 1981. One Sunday while at his home near the heart of Gruene, he heard some music he liked and followed it straight to the Hall!

It was just a normal Sunday at Gruene Hall. A favorite no-cover band was playing, patrons were enjoying the music and a cold drink. But, normal turned extraordinary when the handsome stranger sauntered through the side door by the old cigarette machine. Hal walked over to the band, talked to the musicians for a minute, then pulled out his harmonica and started playing along. He fit right in! He had found his place, his people.

Soon a fixture at the Hall, he worked as a carpenter during the day and pulled out his guitar to play no-cover shows at night. Have you ever noticed the basketball goal in the beer garden at Gruene Hall? That's Hal's handiwork. How about the wooden doors at the front of the Hall that open and close over the old swinging doors? Yep, those are Hal's too.

His career took off in 1991 when his first single "Small Town Saturday Night" hit number one. A string of hits followed, earning him an induction into the Grand Ole Opry in 1994 as its 71st member.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Mulling Over Glühwein

By Connor Brown at The Grapevine in Gruene

      A New Year in New Braunfels is always in accompaniment with new memories, hope, and love as we all wander into another year of exploration and improvement. With it we enjoy some cooler weather, chilly nights by the fire, and all the wonderful beverages that simply belong to the season. Nothing is better than walking through Gruene as the sun sets, enjoying a piping hot cup of Glühwein, and being surrounded by people and things we love. But what is Glühwein, and why should we love it?
      Many of us are familiar with the world of mulled wine or are at least familiar with the concept, but those who aren’t fear not! Mulled wine is called many different things across the world, but as proud New Braunfelsers, we like to adhere to our German heritage and simply call it Glühwein. Traditionally, Glühwein is made from dry red wine and mulling spices like clove, star anise, cinnamon, orange zest, and sugar. Letting these ingredients simmer creates an aromatic and delectable warm beverage to sip through holiday markets and other outdoor activities, keeping us warm and motivated. However, this can be a process for those less handy in the kitchen, and luckily this elixir is available by the bottle ready to heat, then drink.

      Schmitt Söhne is a notable winery from Longuich, Germany that has been making wine along the Rhone for over 200 years, and with the wonders of industry, excellent and authentic German wine can be found especially in New Braunfels- and their Glühwein is on the menu at The Grapevine! This particular Glühwein is semi-sweet with notes of cinnamon and orange zest that makes for the perfect porch companion. Simply pour from the bottle, heat (don’t boil!), and serve!
      For hundreds of years Glühwein has been served across the world, and wine drinkers rejoice to have their own winter beverage. But even if wine’s not your thing, most people can agree on its effectiveness to combating cold weather and keeping the festive spirit alive. So, grab your favorite mug, pour up a cup of cheer and enjoy the season while it lasts!

Friday, December 27, 2019

2019 Gruene Hall Year in Review

      What a year! In 2019, the Gruene Hall stage hosted everything from new favorites like Charley Crockett to old faithfuls like Pat Green, the southern soul of Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears to the rockabilly swing of Two Tons of Steel. And don't forget about the special shows: the birthday parties (Roger Creager!), festivals (Tanya Tucker at Gruene Music & Wine Fest), and holiday specials (Wynonna and the Big Noise Rockin' Roots Christmas). We were named Best of New Braunfels and partied with friends in low places.

      We could be here all day talking about the good music that's filled the Hall this year, but who wants to read it? How about a playlist you can listen to whenever you want? We did it. Take a look back at a year's worth of music with the 2019 Gruene Hall Year in Review playlist! It includes the most-played song of each ticketed show this year

Just the hits, y'all, so sing it if you know it!

Visit the Gruene Hall Gallery or follow us on Instagram to see more pictures from 2019.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Playlist: Deck the Hall

Can't get enough Christmas music? We've got you covered!

A unique soundtrack for the season, hear some Gruene Hall favorites and their Christmas cheer. Sing along to classics and originals from Willie Nelson, George Strait, LeAnn Rimes, Dale Watson and more!

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Willie Door

A true German-style dance hall, Gruene Hall is the classically simple structure: a long building, doors at one end, stage at the other, open-air side flaps along the walls in between the two. A no-frills structure built for one simple thing: pile in and have a good time! Not just a dance hall, the spacious building has always served as the social center of the community hosting everything from official meetings and friendly gatherings to birthday parties and badger fights.

This straightforward layout means everyone would enter at the front of the building and musicians are no exception. (There wasn't another option because there is no "backstage door" or green room in an 1878 dance hall!) The artists meander through the crowd on the dance floor, making their way to the stage at the rear of the building. Like so many things in the music industry, all that changed with Willie Nelson.

In 1998, Willie was scheduled to play Gruene Hall for a flood relief benefit concert. That night, the house was packed, showing no clear path through which made Willie a little nervous. They had to figure out another way to get him to the stage. With a spontaneous stroke of brilliance, the window flap next to the stage was opened, chicken wire cut, and make-shift stairs were pushed against the building. He climbed in through the window and The Willie Door was born!

Getting the invitation to use the Willie Door is seen as a symbolic right of passage. For some artists, even after getting the nod, they won't use the Willie Door out of reverence for the iconic star. It's one of the many things that adds to Gruene Hall's iconic history.

Friday, November 8, 2019

2019 Best of New Braunfels

The 33rd annual Herald-Zeitung's Reader's Choice awards came up Gruene this year! 

Best Margarita

Frozen or rocked, a Cantina del Rio margarita is exactly what you want when you're craving a margarita. Don't believe me? The proof is in the pudding…I mean, tequila. It's been voted Best Margarita in New Braunfels every year since 2012! When you set the standard, you better bring it on…and these do!

Best Patio

Housed in the bones of an old cotton gin, the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar is charmingly historic but the patio really takes the iconic restaurant over the top. Tucked in the trees on the bluff overlooking the Guadalupe River where thousands of tubers float by every summer, it's a breathtaking juxtaposition to be surrounded by nature but also "in" a restaurant. It's really something special, making it the Best Patio in New Braunfels.

Best Chicken Fried Steak

There's good chicken fried steak, then there's the BEST chicken fried steak. Voted the Best Chicken Fried Steak in New Braunfels, the Gristmill serves it up crispy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside, flavor all around. The only thing you should be worried about is how much gravy you'll need!

Best Attraction

It isn't a big, flashy building. But, waiting at the end of the street, Gruene Hall will pull you in like a magnet. Whether you're looking for history (it's over 100 years old), music (that stage is a right of passage for many musicians) or just a cold beer (and signature sangria!), it is everything you think it should be…and more! With so much history, it's no wonder the oldest dance hall in Texas was voted Best Attraction in New Braunfels.

Best Live Music Venue

Cold beer? Check. Seasoned dance floor? Check. Legendary musicians? Check. The Gruene Hall stage has hosted everything from superstars to up-n-comers, from country to rock, from solo artists to full bands. Every spot in the house feels like the front row, creating a genuine intimacy between audience and performer. With a growing number of new music venues in the area, being voted Best Live Music Venue in New Braunfels is definitely a tip of the hat to the one that started it all.

Best Place to Dance

Is there any doubt? The floor boards at Gruene Hall are the same boards laid when the dance hall was built in 1878. With over 140 years of dancing and stomping, every shoe has left its mark. In the beautiful old wood, you can see all the soles, and all the soul. To dance on that floor really is something special.

Best Sliders

Have you ever had a hamburger so good, you wished you had another…and then maybe another? Mozie's knows! Order the Best Sliders in New Braunfels, and you get 3! Soft bun, juicy patty, melty cheese. Times 3.

Best Hill Country Day Trip

In a region so abundant in natural beauty, cultural richness, and day trip-worthy destinations, it's an honor for Gruene Historic District to be named Best Hill Country Day Trip out of them all! Whether you're looking for food, wine, shopping, music, or just plain "taking it easy" floating the river, there truly is something for everyone here.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Playlist: November on the Gruene Hall Stage

November is here and it brings a TON of great music to the Gruene Hall stage! Hear from favorites like Jason Boland & the Stragglers, Drive-By Truckers, Wade Bowen, Cory Morrow,  and more. View the full calendar and start planning!

For a mix of the November Shows at Gruene Hall, check out this playlist >>