By Gary E. McKee
Schroeder Hall, the legendary South Central Texas dance hall, built in the late 1800s, has reopened its doors after a brief respite and will be featuring Chris Rybak, on Saturday, July 16. Schroeder, still owned by Doug Guller, Austin-based restaurant and dancehall owner, has a new manager, Corrine Abbott. Corrine is a native of El Campo, and has a degree in food and beverage management from the University of Houston. She has brought her Wharton County roots to Schroeder and is presently booking polka bands to perform on a regular basis. In between polkas, the hall will be appealing to different genres of Texas music - contemporary country, Red-Dirt Country, indie rock and nationally recognized touring acts.
On November 19th, all cattle trails and roads will lead to the hall as Schroederfest will commence a day-long celebration of BBQ cookoffs, adult beverages (full bar), vendors, singing in the courtyard with Jon Stork, and culminating with The Charlie Daniels Band that evening.
As the cooler months come around, Marty Haggard and Kevin Fowler will perform on the same stage that has seen a variety of legends. Bob Wills, Adolph Hofner, George and Tammy, Jimmy Heap, Roy Clark, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Larry Joe Taylor, and Robert Earl Keen top the long list of music heroes.
Chris, the Accordion Cowboy, is a natural fit for this venue as it resides in the early Spanish ranching grants that date back to the late 1700s. Cattle were driven from this area to Louisiana to feed the Spanish forces fighting the British during the American Revolution.
As the cattle industry evolved and German/Czech immigrants migrated south, many of them found work on the Tex/Mex ranches and brought their music with them. They began jamming with their Mexican co-workers (Nortiño music) and the blending of the two musical cultures produced a unique sound (Tejano). The accordion-driven Tejano music was absorbed by Tex/Mex/Czech musicians such as Santiago Jimenez, Johnny Rodriguez, and Adolph Hofner.
Chris' influences have been a combination of Myron Floren and the Jimenez brothers – Flaco and Santiago – with a strong Hank Williams flavor.
This Slavic/Hispanic sound will be channeled by Chris in this old hall (now air-conditioned) that has its roots in a community that was once named Germantown. During World War I, the name was changed to a little less Teutonic-sounding name, Schroeder, which was in honor of a resident killed fighting the Germans in Europe.
Visit schroederhall.com for the soon-to-be weekly dance and event schedule at one of the last vestiges of Texas rambling dancehalls. Also appearing in July are Jake Worthington on the 9th; George Navarro on the 23rd; and Jarrod Birmingham on the 30th.
Schroeder Hall is roughly between Goliad and Victoria and has a self-contained RV park across the road for those travelers who wish to stay the night and explore this history-filled area of Texas.