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Billy Bob's Texas, Fort Worth, Texas
A Texas Gem for World Class Entertainment
by Carl Burnham
The large crowd was buzzing on our return visit to Billy Bob's Texas, as Kevin Fowler was to take the stage later that night with his unique, rowdy Texas style. Now celebrating it's 26th year, Billy Bob's Texas continues to showcase the best country music around.
We arrived close to 9 p.m., just in time to see some live professional bull riding at it's finest. The bulls were especially ornery, and gave the bull riders plenty of challenges. It takes a special cowboy to get up on one of these 2,000 pound beasts, much less ride for a few seconds. The shows are held every Friday and Saturday at 9 and 10 p.m., with only a $2.50 entry fee charged. The first prize winner that night was Jeff Reynolds, who won $320 by riding the bull appropriately named Bull Wasp. The top prize at the end of the year for lucky riders is the $5000 Finals and the Billy Bob's Cup.
With the range of entertainment offered under one roof, it's no surprise that Billy Bob's Texas has been voted the Country Club of the Year (nine times) by the Academy of Country Music. We admired lots of country music memorabilia along the walls, with photos, signatures, and hand imprints of the famous that have performed there over the years, including Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Glen Campbell, Pirates of the Mississippi, and and more mainstream artists such as Huey Lewis, Three Dog Night, and B.B. King.
Loretta Lynn recently gave an outstanding performance there, still performing her hits. In the Guitar Bar next to the bull riding are many signed guitars on display that artists have used, including Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Kenny Chesney, Kevin Fowler, John Anderson, Garth Brooks, Eric Clapton, and George Thorogood, to name a few. From seeing all the history, you gain a full appreciation for the contributions these artists have made to the genre, and preserved for all to see here at Billy Bob's Texas.
While waiting for the show to begin, many play pool, video games, gaze at all the memorabilia, browse the Billy Bob's store, or get their photo taken on a bull (stuffed of course). Dance lessons are available Monday and Thursday evenings, with hands on lessons led by Wendell Nelson on Mondays.
After watching crowds take to the dance floor underneath the golden saddle, we ordered some mouth watering BQ brisket at Billy Bob's Bar B-Que & Steak Restaurant. Some interesting memorabilia here on display include vintage photos, an old gasoline pump, and mountain lion. Oh, and did I mention the one-of-a-kind burger buns, signed by the likes of David Allen Cole, Delbert McClinton, and others?
The highlight of the evening was when Kevin Fowler and his band took to the stage. I have followed his career take off after his big country hit "Beer, Bait, & Ammo". His new album, Bring It On, is set to hit the stores September 25th. He played several new songs during the show, plus old favorites, "The Lord Loves The Drinkin' Man","Butterbean", "Hard Man to Love", "Don't Touch My Willie", "100% Texan", "J.O.B.", and "Loose, Loud, & Crazy".
His fans are quite devoted, and identify with his Texas roots, redneck style, and sense of fun. As Kevin so aptly puts it, "I want my music and live shows to function as a way for fans to escape the weekly grind and let loose."
His band is quite talented as well, and include fiddler Chris Whitten, Tracy Martin on lead guitar, Gary Herman-Bass on harmony, and Ken Tondre on drums. The fiddling talents of Chris Whitten were showcased during the perfect ending to the show with "The Devil Went Down to Georgia".
When visiting Fort Worth, Billy Bob's Texas is a must see in the historic Stockyards. We would like to thank Marty and staff for their hospitality and for assisting with our feature.
Read about our earlier visit for a performance by Wade Hayes.
Billy Bob's Texas
2520 Rodeo Plaza
Fort Worth, Texas 76164 Google Map