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2012-09-27

Honoring legendary Silver Dollar Saloon

By Mary Allyce Special to the Courier

Some years ago, a hit song celebrated "The Queen of The Silver Dollar." It's debatable whether "the queen" ever visited Arkey Blue's Silver Dollar. However, if she didn't she's one of a very few honky-tonk aficionados who hasn't walked through the red door on Main Street, down the stairs and onto the sawdust covered dance floor of the 2012 Bandera Music Hall of Fame Legendary Venue.

The voting membership of the Bandera Music History Project Hall of Fame recently recognized the Silver Dollar Saloon's nearly 45-year reign as the go-to place for great atmosphere and great country music in Bandera by naming it to the 2012 Hall of Fame.

For all of those 45 years, Arkey Blue has been the guiding force behind this venerable venue - in the office, on the stage, behind the scenes, fronting his band or hosting the parade of celebrities, politicians and tourists from all over the world who make the Silver Dollar a must-stop on their itinerary.

In any given week, visitors to the Silver Dollar will likely encounter a variety of Europeans or travelers from Australia, South Africa, Canada and Japan. Visitors usually look to experience a real old time, western honky-tonk and maybe dance a step - or two - to live music every weekend and where the jukeboxes play country favorites all day. Toss in an assortment of colorful local characters, eclectic décor and unique ambiance and it's no surprise the Silver Dollar has also caught the imagination of a variety of film and television productions. Canadian, Japanese, French and Swedish filmmakers are just some of those drawn to this iconic setting.

Asked in an earlier interview why he thought he'd had such a long and successful run in a business that often has a revolving door of ownership, Arkey Blue said, "I think we have a family atmosphere here.

People feel comfortable here." That's proven by asking most of the staff at the Silver Dollar, many of whom have served as bartenders or musicians for years. Or ask any of the locals who consider the Silver Dollar a home-away-from-home and who stop in for a cold beer or soda and to chat with old friends on a daily basis.

And then there are the artifacts. The Silver Dollar is not only a magnate for tourists and locals who want to have a cold longneck, a hot game of pool or a turn around the dance floor, it's a veritable museum of its breed. The artifacts include photographs of country music stars, Cesare Massey's violin, a table signed by Hank Williams Sr., vintage pinball machines, innumerable memorabilia belonging to and emblematic of Arkey Blue himself and so much more it could take a tourist's entire vacation to appreciate it all.

Fans of Arkey Blue's Silver Dollar have known how special a place it is for decades, but when this landmark honky-tonk celebrates its 45th anniversary next May, it can also proudly wear the title "Legendary Venue."

Join the BMHoF when it honors and awards the Silver Dollar - along with five other worthy honorees - at its annual award ceremony, beginning at 3 pm, Sunday, Oct. 21, on the informal stage behind the Bandera County Public Library. The afternoon will be a musical tribute to the venues, musicians and music that have made Bandera famous.