California’s Country Past

By B-Bendin’ Honky-Tonker, Dave Gleason

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I grew up the suburbs of Northern California, in the East Bay town of Concord. In the early 1970’s this area had a real country feel to it – many ranches with horses surrounded by walnut orchards, and plenty of open space.

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Also typical of this era, there were plenty of bars and honky tonk rooms featuring ‘Live Country Music and Dancing’ nightly. My dad played these places on the weekends in various bands, doing the popular songs of the day, as well as the classics.

Rooms like The Black Bart Saloon, Pix Patio, The Country Road West, and The It Club all had bands playing 6 and 7 nights a week. All of these places are, of course, gone, and forgotten history.

Northern California at this time was a hotbed of California Country music from Sacramento down through the San Francisco Bay Area, clear down to San Jose. It was a rich and thriving circuit loaded with the kind of bars that country musicians today dream of playing – the ‘Real Deal’ kind of places.  Now this land is over-developed and over populated (sound familiar?) and any elements of the country life have long been paved over.

There is still plenty of California Country to find though, such as a drive through one of my favorite areas – Highway 99 through the Central Valley.  It’s a real dose of what is left of California Country. Highly recommended.

This post was submitted by Dave Gleason.

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