A rendering of signage for the New Lonesome Rose honky tonk on St. Mary's Street. Credit: Courtesy / Mama Tried SATX, LLC

Once home to many country western dance halls since lost to time, San Antonio will see its first new honky-tonk music venue emerge on the St. Mary’s strip this fall.

In early October, the former Phantom Room is set to become the Lonesome Rose, an old school honky-tonk run by a partnership focused on Tex-Mex music styles.

“The one thing that I like to stress … it’s a San Antonio honky-tonk,” said musician and songwriter Garrett T. Capps, a partner in the enterprise who will help book bands and produce shows.

“The locals get first dibs” on scheduling, Capps said, and once the monthly schedule is set, “then we can start thinking about bands from out of town.”

So far, bands already booked for regular shows are The Swindles, Two Tons of Steel, D.T. Buffkin, Big Cedar Fever, and Drew Moreland, Capps said.

Though the schedule is subject to change as the Lonesome Rose gets up and running, Capps said, live music shows will be regularly scheduled Thursday nights at 10 p.m., with two shows each Friday and Saturday night starting at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Covers will be in the $5 range.

“You just give people something to depend on – quality music, $5 at the door – [and] it’s gonna be a good night all around,” Capps said.

If successful, the Lonesome Rose will help locals recall the good old days when San Antonio was “the hotbed for all touring acts,” Capps said, from the 1920s and ’30s up through the 1960s. “There was badass country music all over town back then,” he said.

Then in the late ’60s and ’70s, Willie Nelson, Doug Sahm, and fellow “outlaw” country artists established Austin as the music capital of Texas. Capps and partners Danny Delgado, Miguel Delgado, Andrea Vince, Joey Cano, and Hillary Woodhouse – collectively dubbed Mama Tried SATX, after the Merle Haggard song of the same title – aim to bring the tradition back to town with a club modeled on classic Texas dance halls such as Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar Saloon in Bandera, Riley’s Tavern in Hunter, and Gruene Hall in New Braunfels.

“It’s gonna look way different” than the Phantom Room, said Danny Delgado, who was also a partner in that venture. “The vibe and the style … is going to be really cool, its going to have that old school, honky-tonk bar, ‘divey-but-not-too-divey’ feel,” he said.

An old jukebox, cigarette machine, and other vintage décor collected from Texas towns will give the club a timeless feel, so that “when you walk in there, it looks like it’s always been like that,” Delgado said.

The Lonesome Rose name was decided upon by the group of partners, Capps said, in honor of the traditional American folk song “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” made famous by artists as diverse as Nelson, Elvis Presley, Mitch Miller, and the 19th-century Christy Minstrels.

Though now an officially designated “Music Friendly Community,” San Antonio as a destination for country music is still overshadowed by Austin and Nashville. However, if the lyrics of its namesake song hold, the Lonesome Rose may one day supplant at least one of those towns:

But the yellow Rose of Texas
Beats the belles of Tennessee

Nicholas Frank

Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with an indie rock...