Austin Answered: Where was the old Soap Creek Saloon?

8:34 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 Opinion
Willie Nelson and Charley Pride host a Country Music Association party at Soap Creek Saloon in 1976. Contributed by Scott Newton

Reader Jim Wolverton asks of our Austin Answered project: What was the location of Soap Creek Saloon off Bee Caves Road back in the 1970s? He remembers going there as a 19-year-old.

If you never visited the legendary music venue, its then-remote location outside the city limits surely must appear shrouded in the fog of history. Even if you did go — given the heady times — you might not recall the exact spot very well.

The short answer: You headed out RM 2244 just past Old Walsh Tarlton to about 3200 Bee Cave Road — the original address is gone — and took a left onto a rutted dirt road that led up to a roadhouse on a hill.

The original building no longer exists. Former owner George Majewski told the American-Statesman in 1996: “There are now $200,000 condos where my septic tank used to be.” Imagine what those condos go for in 2017.

The longer answer: Soap Creek was a matchstick for cultural fusion — home to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Marcia Ball, Doug Sahm and others — when musical styles mixed at the Armadillo World Headquarters, Castle Creek and elsewhere.

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“Soap Creek Saloon, actually, had more to do with sinking the nail of the times — hippies mixing with rednecks — than the Armadillo,” says Eddie Wilson, keeper of the Armadillo flame. “We were more ‘All in the Family’ by comparison. Soap Creek was out of town. Right before your eyes, you could see the rednecks coming out of the hills with the slightly longer hair. It was the hippie chicks’ fault.”

In 1978, Soap Creek moved into town, first to the old Skyline Club, a venerable country spot on North Lamar Boulevard, then later to South Congress Avenue and Academy Drive before closing in the 1980s. In the Austin Chronicle, the late Margaret Moser called the alignment of that final Soap Creek with the Continental Club and Austex Lounge the “South Austin Triple Crown.”

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