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Hondo's honcho Chris Graham just doesn't like cover charges. As a result the daughter of legendary Hondo Crouch and her husband John always draw large crowds to their Main Street location for great food and music. Photo by Phil Houseal

Hondo’s is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to around midnight, with live music every Thursday through Sunday evening, plus Saturday afternoon. It offers a tasty lunch and dinner menu. Hondo’s is located at 312 West Main. Phone: 830-997-1633. Web site: www.hondosonmain.com.

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It’s Hill Country

by Phil Houseal
Dec 14, 2005

Hondo’s is one of the best places in the Hill Country to hear Hill Country music. It has all a music fan desires: authentic atmosphere, great food, full bar, and... no cover charge.

“Chris just doesn’t like cover charges,” manager John Phelps said of owner Chris Graham.

Hondo’s, of course, is named after the legendary Hondo Crouch, Chris’s father and Texas’s iconic son. Like Hondo - the man, Hondo’s - the club, exudes the essence of “hill country.”

Step inside and you’ll feel at home with the comfortable chairs, crackling fireplace, and old-fashioned bar complete with brass rail.

The music tumbles from a cozy stage with hand-painted canvas drop-curtain, and moves outside into the gazebo during the summer.

Hondo’s first opened its doors in 2003 downtown, and last year moved to its current location on Main across from the Pioneer Museum. The club is also moving in a slightly new direction musically.

According to Phelps (hereafter referred to as J.P.), Fredericksburg has been blessed with a rich source of musical talent within a two-hour drive. Hondo’s takes advantage of that fact by featuring live music Thursday through Sunday. It has already earned a reputation as a coveted forum for singers, songwriters, and new talent. J.P. wants to emphasize that even more.

“We are trying to feature the singer/songwriter rather than cover bands,” J.P. said. “And we want to identify more of the up and coming stars, the emerging artist rather than the established artist. That will be our focus.”

This Sunday, you can experience a sample of the “Hondo’s” concept. The South Austin Jug Band, a dynamic 5-piece group out of Austin, takes the stage to back its latest CD release.

“I booked them because several people urged us to get them in here,” J.P. said. “They are a great, talented, Austin band. They have just put out a new CD, which we have been playing.”

That CD is "Dark & Weary World,” which was recently at #12 on the Americana music chart. The name of the CD does not exactly reflect the band - an acoustic, all string, blues/country/newgrass-influenced group of 20-somethings. One reviewer called them “... white punks on a Bob Wills bender” who “hop around on stage like bantam roosters.”

“We were fortunate to get them here,” JP said. “They were looking for new markets to play, so they agreed to come to Hondo’s. We are hoping people will give them a listen.”

Despite Graham’s dislike of cover charges, she has relented to an occasional ticketed event such as this so the club will be able to bring in larger groups and more diverse artists.

It is another way Hondo’s is helping highlight and define “Hill Country” music.

“I believe there is a Hill Country type of music,” J.P. said, “but I have a hard time defining it. It is Hispanic, rock, electric, folk, and country - but not ‘cry in your beer’ country. The music is about living here, which is very different from living anywhere else. The point is, performers like Almost Patsy Cline, Ben Beckendorf, and Thomas Michael Riley are singing about their lives.”

“That appeals to me.”