Broken Spoke to celebrate 57 years, pay tribute to James White Thursday

For more than 50 years, if you knew the Broken Spoke, you knew James White.

"If there was no James White, there would never have been a Broken Spoke," said Ginny White-Peacock, White’s daughter. "My parents brought me out here for the first time when I was 11 days old."

Since her father passed away in January, keeping the place running has been a family affair.

"This is his dream, and we want to keep his dream going," she said. "It’s so important because in Austin places like the Broken Spoke are disappearing quickly."

Every family member has a different role, standing by the woman that stood by James White for more than half a century.

"We were together 60 years," said Annetta White. "I was right there beside him all the way."

They were dating when the Broken Spoke was just a pipe dream. Then, they worked side by side to run the venue, though Annetta was usually working behind the scenes.

It became a staple of the Austin community over the years - continuing to stand as other dance halls closed down. Their stage has played host to a laundry list of country music stars. The dance hall was even featured on the cover of George Strait's album "Honky Tonk Time Machine."

At White’s memorial service in January, there were a few hundred guests, but over 85,000 viewed his funeral online. With the COVID-19 situation appearing to improve, his family decided to host another opportunity for people to pay their respects. For Annetta, it makes sense to hold the event at the Broken Spoke.

"After the viewing of the body I came over here and people said, ‘What are you doing here?’ said Annetta. "I said, ‘This is where James is, this is where I want to be.’"

At Thursday’s event, they’ll celebrate the Broken Spoke's birthday and pay tribute to White.

"I first played here around 1971 or ‘72," said Alvin Crow, who will be one of the musicians performing at the event. "To me this is not so much a birthday party for the Broken Spoke as it is a celebration of James White’s life and his friends getting together and celebrating."

Thursday’s birthday celebration and tribute to James White is free and will be held from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.

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