Country Music in Bull Creek

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a small neighborhood nestled within the green Austin hill country.  Just a ways down the creek from my childhood home is the Bull Creek Party Barn, a music venue that featured artists such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmy Buffett, Janis Joplin, and the Lost Gonzo Band in the 1970s.  Although the Bull Creek Party Barn is no longer open as a music venue, it served an important role in Austin’s live country music culture.


While originally built 40 years earlier as a gathering place for ranch hands, the Bull Creek Party Barn started to get rented out for weddings, concerts, fraternity parties, and dances in the 1970s.  Former owner Judy Johnson recalls that “We had all kinds of parties out there.  Everybody wanted their party there.  We paid Jerry Jeff Walker $5,000 to play, but Willie played for free”.  The fact that Willie played for free showed that the artists were enjoying the shows as much as the fans.  Many country music artists found Austin’s live music culture and enthusiastic crowds to be a breath of fresh air compared to Nashville’s conservative image and formulaic recording process.

Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson playing at the Bull Creek Party Barn in 1975

Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson playing at the Bull Creek Party Barn in 1975

While most concerts nowadays would be located downtown at a crowded venue, stories of the Bull Creek Party Barn in its heyday evoke images of both hippies and bikers sprawled across blankets and in front of camp fires, all drinking beer and smoking and enjoying good music.  For me, a big part of music is about bringing people together in a positive way.  I think it is really cool that country music could bring together two groups of people who would probably not hang out under normal circumstances.  Here, country music provided a place where all sorts of people could have a shared interest.

The Bull Creek Party Barn ca. 2014

The Bull Creek Party Barn ca. 2014

The Bull Creek Party Barn is one of those things that seemed to happen at the right place at the right time.  It seems like the combination of people, nature, partying, and country music came together in just the right way.  Although I take pride in knowing that famous musicians such as Willie Nelson and Janis Joplin had at one point played shows in my small neighborhood, I also feel slight regret in knowing that I was born about 20 years after these shows were performed.  Nevertheless, the Bull Creek Party Barn is an important part of Austin’s country music culture.


Filed under Austin, Live Music, Outlaw

2 Responses to Country Music in Bull Creek

  1. Mark Anderson

    Yeah!!!!!! This is what I like to see. It’s awesome how something with so much history is so close to where you grew up. I wish I could have lived next to something that cool…..The town in grew up in was not as exciting. I also wish I could have gone to these concerts and parties that the Barn hosted, I’m pretty jealous of the 1970s. I agree with the fact that music brings mass amounts of people together in a positive way, which is why I feel so many people are fans of going to concerts whenever they can.

  2. Dustin Hixenbaugh

    Brent: I have seen that picture of Waylon & Willie several times, and it blows my mind that it was taken just a few miles from the house I stayed in when I first moved to Austin. You’re right that an event like this probably couldn’t happen in 2014 — at least, not if people knew about it in advance. Austin may well be the live music capitol of the world, but unfortunately so much of it happens at giant and/or overly commercial venues (like ACL).

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