Of course, the boot-scuffed concrete floors, cinder-block walls, and corrugated ceilings of John T. Floore Country Store can’t actually talk, but they sure do tell some stories. “The rafters have all kinds of things hanging from them—cowboy hats and farm tools,” says managing partner Mark McKinney of the renowned café turned honky-tonk on the outskirts of San Antonio. “There is a legend that John Wayne hung his boots up here and never marked which pair so they wouldn’t get stolen.”
The Redheaded Stranger’s career launched here. Several circa-1960s hand-painted signs still announce WILLIE NELSON EVERY SAT. NITE. Another proclaims, WORLD’S BEST HOMEMADE TAMALES. Order one of them with an ice-cold Shiner Bock before taking a turn on the dance floor to celebrate the landmark’s seventy-fifth anniversary.
The party kicks off with a two-night set from Robert Earl Keen and the Randy Rogers Band (Friday, April 14, and Saturday, April 15). The rest of the 2017 lineup is filled with audience-favorite country, blues, and Americana acts. “Bands come here and tell me they’ve played venues all over the country and there’s no place like Floore’s,” McKinney says. “I don’t have an easy answer for what the magic is.” But even if he did, a magician never reveals his secrets.