Texas Music Trail - Panhandle Plains Region
Traveling the Texas Music Trail through the Panhandle Plains Region
We begin our journey in Amarillo and continue to Lubbock. Our first stop is the US Route 66 historic district.
1. US Route 66 Sixth Street Historic District
Get your kicks on Route 66. Once known as the Main Street Of America, Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in the United States inspiring a hit song recorded by everyone from Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode and Texas’ own Asleep at the Wheel.
The Golden Light Cafe is the oldest restaurant in Amarillo and perhaps the oldest restaurant continuously operating in the same location anywhere on Old Route 66. Golden Light Cantina features live music every weekend as well. Open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., cover is usually $5. Top drawing acts include: Macon Grayson, Stoney LaRue, Mickey & the Motorcars, Bo Salling and the Brakes Are All Gone and Lonesome Goat.
3. Tarpley Music
Opened in 1968, by Bill Tarpley, Tarpley Music Company is a full-line musical instrument retail and repair store. Tarpley sells, and repairs pianos, organs, guitars, sound systems, and band instruments. Instruction offered. Specializes in sound system design and installations. Tarpley rents a variety of band instruments on a short- or long-term basis. Tarpley also has a large selection of recording studio equipment. Tarpley Music Company has four locations to serve you. Locations in Amarillo, Lubbock, San Angelo and Clovis, NM.
4. Cadillac Ranch
This roadside art instillation in Amarillo has inspired songs by both Bruce Springsteen and Chris LeDoux and has been featured in music videos by James Brown, Cage the Elephant and Brooks & Dunn.
5. Terry Stafford gravesite
Terry Stafford (1941-1996) is best known for the Top 10 hit “Suspicion” and his 1973 recording of “Amarillo By Morning” a song he co-wrote with Paul Fraser. Originally recorded by Elvis Presley, Stafford’s recording of “Suspicion” featured one of the earliest uses of a synthesizer on record. The single rose to number three on the Billboard chart in 1964, kept out of the top spot by the Beatles. “Amarillo By Morning” peaked at number thirty-one on the Billboard Country chart in 1973. Ten years later, George Strait would take it to number four on the same chart. Stafford is buried in Section 1A Lot 60 Space 3 in the Llano Cemetery in Amarillo, TX.
6. Eck Robertson Gravesite
Alexander Campbell “Eck” Robertson (1887-1975) is commonly credited as producing the first commercially available county music recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1922. Born in Arkansas, his family settled in the Texas Panhandle outside Amarillo. He recorded four fiddle duets with Henry Gilliland on June 30, 1922 and returned the next day to record six additional fiddle tunes including “Sally Gooden”/”Arkansas Traveler” released on September 1, 1922. A musician since the age of 16, Robertson continued to perform and record. He died in 1975 in Borger, TX and is buried at the Westlawn Memorial Park Cemetery where his tombstone reads "World's Champion Fiddler."
Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) is recognized as one of the most significant figures in American music, inspiring generations of musicians. He composed hundreds of songs including folk, blues, children’s, political and protest songs. Born in Okemah, OK, Guthrie followed his father to Pampa, TX in 1929. While in Pampa he formed the Corn Cob Trio and the Pampa Junior Chamber of Commerce, making his first attempt at a musical career. The Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center is housed in the former Harris Drug Store where Guthrie worked at the soda fountain. In his autobiography, he writes that he found his first guitar in the back room of the store. The center is open Tuesday through Friday and hosts a weekly Friday night music series.
The museum does not have a permanent music exhibit, but does have music-related items in their archive including Bob Wills’ fiddle and a guitar from Buddy Knox. These items are available by appointment only by calling (806) 651-2254.
9. Buddy Knox Gravesite
Buddy Wayne Knox (1933-1999) was born near Happy, TX and began playing music in his teens. In college he formed the band the Orchids with Jimmy Bowen, Donald Lanier and Dave Alldred. After a show in Amarillo in 1955, Elvis Presley encouraged the group to record, stating that Rock and Roll was "fixing to happen." Fellow West Texas musician Roy Orbison directed them to Norman Petty Studios. Their first single “Party Doll” was a hit. Knox is said to have coined the term Rockabilly for his style of music. The band’s momentum was slowed when Knox entered the army but his service did afford him a chance to reconnect with Elvis at Fort Hood. Knox continued to record into the 90s and is buried in plot S-18 in Dreamland Cemetery in Canyon, TX.
10. Amarillo Highway
“Amarillo Highway” is the lead track on Terry Allen’s 1979 album “Lubbock (On Everything)”. Recorded in Lubbock, the song mentions several area towns in the first verse “I'm a high straight in Plainview/A side bet in Idalou/An' a fresh deck in New Deal” and concludes “As close as I'll ever get to Heaven/Is makin' speed up old eighty-seven/Of that hard Amarillo Highway”.
Norman Petty Studios in Clovis New Mexico was the recording destination for musicians from the Texas Panhandle Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Roy Orbison, Buddy Knox, Waylon Jennings, Sonny West, Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, Charlie Phillips, Jimmy Bowen, and Johnny Duncan all recorded with Petty. Tours of the 1950s era studio are by appointment only through the Chamber of Commerce at (575) 763-3435
Read more about Normal Petty
Raised in Plainview, Jimmy Dean (1928-2010) pulled himself from poverty to national prominence as a television entertainer and businessman who started the Jimmy Dean sausage company. The Jimmy Dean museum opened in 2016 and tells the story of his life, including memorabilia, video, records and photos from his personal collection. Dean is best remembered for his 1961 number one single “Big Bad John” and his 1963-1966 variety show which featured not only many country music stars, but also exposed the Muppets to a national audience through Dean’s regular guest Rowlf the dog.
13. Bob Wills Monument
Bob Wills (1905-1975) the “King of Western Swing” was born in Kosse, TX and the family moved to a farm outside Turkey, TX in 1919. Son of a state champion fiddle player, Wills also took up the instrument and the mandolin. He performed with the Light Crust Doughboys and performed on the radio in Fort Worth before forming the Texas Playboys in 1934 and the band made their first recordings in Dallas in 1935. By the 1940s the band enjoyed million selling records, concerts that outdrew Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey and a syndicated radio show. He continued to record and tour in the 1950s and 60s, disbanding the Playboys in 1965 after suffering two heart attacks. Wills was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1968 and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. He died at age 70 in 1975, but his legacy remains. Wills was inducted posthumously to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
14. Bob Wills Museum
Established by the Wills family, the Bob Wills Museum exhibits many wonderful photographs of Bob's career. Many family mementos, fiddles, clothes, and awards pay tribute to this legend. Museum hours are Monday through Friday, 8am-12pm and 1pm-5pm, or by special appointment.
The last Saturday in April transforms the sleepy West Texas town of Turkey into the center of the Western Swing universe with their annual Bob Wills Day.
Read more about Bob Wills
Listen to Bob Wills on Spotify
15. Waymore's Package Store & Waylon Jennings Museum
Photos and memorabilia of Littlefield native are displayed in this the store still operated by his family.
"Levelland" is a 1995 song about the city written and recorded by James McMurtry on his Where'd You Hide The Body album. Robert Earl Keen also recorded a version of the song in 1997 on his Picnic album.
Levelland is home to South Plains College and their annual Camp Bluegrass
17. Crossroads of Music Archive, Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University
In 1999, the 76th Legislature of the State of Texas passed House Concurrent Resolution number 65, designating Lubbock and West Texas as the Music Crossroads of Texas. The West Texas region has produced a copious number of musicians, artists, and entertainers that have had an undeniable influence on music, art, and culture throughout the world. In the spirit of the House Concurrent Resolution 65, the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University created the Crossroads of Music Archive. The Crossroads of Music Archive was established in 2002. Since then, the archive has become the official repository of Michael Martin Murphey, the Kerville Folk Festival, the Tommy and Charlene Hancock Family, Jesse “Guitar” Taylor, Keith Ferguson, David Box, Texas Shorty, among many others. The archive contains over one-hundred music collections and continues to grow.
18. Ralphs Records
Open since 1979, Ralph's Records, Tapes and CDs is one of the three largest record stores in the state, housing more than one million new and used record and tapes in its large two-story building across from Texas Tech University. Owner Ralph DeWitt grew up in Houston and San Antonio and specializes in Texas music, although his three stores carry music from every genre. If it's ever been on vinyl, Ralph probably has it. We carry all the new releases as well as oldies from the '40s to the '90s. Ralph's has CDs, cassettes, LPs, 45s, t-shirts, posters, sports cards, music and sports memorabilia.
Music store opened in 1961. Jent's House of Music sells and rents a full line of musical instruments. We have three 4,800 square foot buildings that house our facilities. Jent's has a complete band instrument repair shop, a keyboard technician and two outside sales representatives. Jent's is the West Texas dealer for Baldwin pianos and Rodgers church organs.
20. The Cotton Club (CLOSED)
Originally opened on 50th street in 1938 to host orchestras and big bands, the Cotton Club began booking country and western acts in the 1940s. The venue hosted Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys on a regular basis. In 1955 Lubbock musician Buddy Holly attended a performance by Elvis Presley and met the King of Rock and Roll. The original location burned down in 1958. Musicians Tommy and Charlene Hancock constructed a new version of the club on the Slaton Highway in 1962 and began performing there. Waylon Jennings, the Maines Brothers, Joe Ely and Stevie Ray Vaughan all performed at the venue until it closed in 1982. Since that time it has remained closed but may be available for rental.
21. The Palm Room (CLOSED)
The Palm Room opened on September 14, 1956 and hosted local orchestras and appearances from the Barons, Chuck Cabot, Larry Fontaine, Harry James and Tony Douglas. In 1967 the Tropics Club was added and included a year-round indoor pool. A change in ownership in 1971 saw Jimmy and Dorothy Blakley booking county and western swing and appearances from the Sons of the Pioneers, Hank Williams, Sammi Smith, Anne Murray, Ray Price, Bill Anderson, Glen Miller and even Janis Joplin. The venue is closed now, but is available for rental.
Read more about The Palm Room on Facebook
22. Buddy Holly Gravesite
Charles Hardin Holley (1936–1959) know as Buddy Holly was one of the major figures in early Rock and Roll and Rockabilly. He is often credited with defining the traditional rock band lineup of two guitars, bass and drum and with the evolution of the band as a self-contained unit recording their own songs. He was among the first class of musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and continues to be a major influence on popular music.
23. Stubb’s Memorial
Born in Navasota, Christopher B. “Stubb” Stubblefield’s family moved to Lubbock in the 1930s where he learned to cook while working in local hotels and restaurants. He opened his first Bar-B-Q restaurant, Stubb’s, in 1968. By the 1970s Stubb’s was the center of the local music scene hosting Jesse Taylor, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Terry Allen, Butch Hancock, Joe Ely, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Willie Nelson, Robert Cray, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. One of his favorite sayings was “I want to feed the world”. Closing in the mid-1980s, Stubb followed Ely and other musicians to Austin where he served Bar-B-Que at Antone’s nightclub until opening his Austin restaurant.
24. La Feria Records
Opened in 1953, La Feria Records is a Hispanic music retail outlet selling, compact discs, novelty items, t-shirts. In-store and mail order.
The Buddy Holly Center, a historical site, has dual missions; preserving, collecting and promoting the legacy of Buddy Holly and the music of Lubbock and West Texas, as well as providing exhibits on Contemporary Visual Arts and Music, for the purpose of educating and entertaining the public. The vision of the Buddy Holly Center is to discover art through music by celebrating legacy, culture and community.
Exhibitions and programs reflect the diverse cultural characteristics of the region and encourage interaction between artists and the community. The Center collects, preserves and interprets artifacts relevant to Lubbock's most famous native son, Buddy Holly, as well as to other performing artists and musicians of West Texas.
The West Texas Walk of Fame, featuring the Buddy Holly statue, by sculptor Grant Speed, is located inside the Buddy and Maria Elena Holly Plaza, just west of the Center, on the corner of Crickets Avenue and 19th Street. The Plaza is open to the public dawn to dusk, year round. The West Texas Walk of Fame, and its induction process, are a project of Civic Lubbock, Inc.
The Cactus Theater was opened as a neighborhood movie theater in 1938 and operated as a movie house until 1958. It sat vacant until 1995 when music producer Don Caldwell reopened it as a music venue and live theater. Texans Joe Ely, BJ Thomas, Gary Morris, Jerry Jeff Walker, the Maines Brothers, Nanci Griffith, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Marcia Ball, Gary P. Nunn, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Eric Johnson, Junior Brown and the Crickets have all performed at the venue.
Annual Events Featuring Live Music in the Panhandle Plains Region
See a full list of annual events in Texas featuring live music on the Texas Music Office Event Calendar.
Bob Wills Day (Turkey, TX)
For years now, the last Saturday in April has been the day that thousands of fans from across the USA and literally the world over, transform the sleepy West Texas town of Turkey into the center of the Western Swing universe. Turkey, Texas is the hometown of Bob Wills, the innovator of one of the few truly American forms of music known as Western Swing. This unique genre is a fusion of Country, Western, Jazz, Blues and even Gospel music, and unlike most forms, fans don't go to a concert to just listen to a Western Swing band, they go to dance!
TEXAS Outdoor Musical
TEXAS Outdoor Musicial, a family friendly chronicle of the Texas Panhandle of the 1800s is performed every Tuesday through Sunday from June through August at the Pioneer Amphitheater in Palo Duro Canyon. Produced by the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation, the show has been performed annually since 1966.
Old Mobeetie Music Festival (Mobeetie, TX)
The Old Mobeetie Music Festival is a family-oriented three-day music jamboree held in July with stage shows as well as "shade-tree pickin" around the camp sites. Camping in the rough is available along with over 100 electrical hookups. The Old Mobeetie Jail Museum is open to visitors during the festival. Performers include local bands as well as musicians from the surrounding states.
Saint’s Roost Celebration (Clarendon, TX)
Since 1877, the first week in July welcomes the Saints Roost Celebration to Clarendon, TX. Activities include a guitar pickers contest, western dances, rodeos, arts and crafts fair, parade, and reunions. Past performers include Leon Rausch, Jody Nix, Red Steagall, Johnny Bush, Frenchy Burke, Moe Bandy and others.
South Plains College Camp Bluegrass (Levelland)
Held in the third week of July, Camp Bluegrass is a large social event, with public concerts, held on the South Plains College campus.
XIT Rodeo & Reunion (Dalhart, TX)
Every August the XIT Rodeo and Reunion features a PRCA rodeo with more than 900 contestants, a parade, a free chicken wing feed, a free pork chop feed, and the World’s Largest Free Bar-B-Que. XIT also includes three nights of live country music. Headliners have included Shooter Jennings, Charlie Robison, Blackhawk, The Buster Bledsoe Band, Tommy Gallagher, Bart Crow Band, and JB and the Moonshine Band.
Pampa's Annual Tribute to Woody Guthrie (Pampa, TX)
Each October the city of Pampa honors the life and legacy of Woody Guthrie. The weekend kicks off with a free jam session at the Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center on Friday night and features an open house on Saturday with an evening concert at the MK Brown Civic Center’s Heritage Room.
More Texas Music Pioneers from the Region
Buck Ramsey (1938-1998)
Cowboy poet and singer from New Home, TX
Billy Walker (1929-2006)
Country singer from Ralls, TX