Asleep at the Wheel broke in the stage at the grand re-opening of the historic Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas, TX on Thursday March 30. 2023. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Last night, the historic Longhorn Ballroom‘s grand re-opening showcased the music of Asleep at the Wheel featuring Brennen Leigh and Joshua Hedley.
The classic country house music set the tone as patrons eagerly entered to witness the rebirth of the beloved Dallas venue. The dance hall pays tribute to its roots while giving the venue a modern edge. The room featuring shadow boxes full of Texas music artifacts from legends with ties to the Longhorn Ballroom, such as Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Stevie Ray, the infamous Jack Ruby (who once owned the Longhorn Ballroom) and more.
Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson remembers playing Longhorn Ballroom the night Bob Wills died, and the opening night carried an air of nostalgia and grace.
The historic Longhorn Ballroom marquee lit up for the opening weekend. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Attendees being welcomed on opening night at Longhorn Ballroom. Photo: Jessica Waffles
The building across the way from the ballroom is being converted from what used to be the motel that housed touring artists and patrons. Photo: Jessica Waffles
When it comes to preserving music history and lifting up artists, new Longhorn Ballroom owner Edwin Cabaniss is a champion of Texas.
During the introduction of the night, Director of the Texas Music Office Brendon Anthony said, “Edwin Cabaniss and everyone who works for that team have proven over the years that they can find these properties that are important to us – and important to Texas music – and invest in them, revitalize them, put music back into them and through their effort revitalize these neighborhoods that so desperately need it. And we are absolutely certain that’s what’s going to happen here out of an incredible hub like Longhorn Ballroom.”
Cabaniss shouted out the families of Bob Wills, Dewey Groom and Raul & Rosalina Ramirez in attendence, all previous owners of the Longhorn Ballroom.
“We are nothing more than stewards of this property. We hope that it’s set up to survive the next 75 years,” Cabasniss said. “Welcome to the Longhorn Ballroom! Welcome Asleep at the Wheel!”
The ballroom entry way displays photos of many of the artists that have played the venue since its original opening in 1950. Photo: Jessica Waffles
A photo of Bob Wills with a quote by Merle Haggard inside the shadow box with Bob Wills artifacts. Photo: Jessica Waffles
The history of the Longhorn Ballroom is the hero of its story, spanning over almost a century of historical music events. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Through every pace around the ballroom, the detail and care given to its restoration plus new features illustrated the respect employed in the process.
Whether you grew up in a time when its doors were swung wide with honky tonk shows, or you’re curious in seeing it for the first time – its presence is that of greatness. When you enter the property, you are standing on hallowed ground. Take a gander at the section of the venue that doubles as a Texas music history museum, and you’ll understand.
The opening weekend continues tonight (March 31) with Old Crow Medicine Show with special guest Joshua Ray Walker, and Saturday (April 1) Morgan Wade and Lucero with Kaitlin Butts (SOLD OUT).
Check out the Longhorn Ballroom’s current calendar on their website, which includes two nights with Emmylou Harris, Dinosuar Jr., Polyphonic Spree and Snarky Puppy.
Director of the Texas Music Office Brendon Anthony opened up the show, introducing the man of the hour – new Longhorn Ballroom owner Edwin Cabaniss. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Edwin Cabaniss graces the stage during the Longhorn Ballroom’s grand re-opening night. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Edwin Cabaniss’s ambitions plans for the Longhorn Ballroom strike a chord in the music community, creating a magical-moment effect on the promising opening night. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Brennen Leigh (left) and Joshua Hedley (right) performed with Asleep at the Wheel for the Longhorn Ballroom grand re-opening Thursday night. Photo: Jessica Waffles
It didn’t take long for music lover to put on their dancing shoes at the historic dance hall. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Ray Benson recently celebrated 52 years of being the leader of Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel. Photo: Jessica Waffles
The Southeast section of the venue features several shadow boxes that contain Texas Music artifacts from legends with ties to the Longhorn Ballroom, such as Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Stevie Ray, Jack Ruby and more. Photo: Jessica Waffles
A few of the music history shadow boxes from the Longhorn Ballroom collection, curated by Warwick Stone. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Ray Benson performing for the grand re-opening of the Longhorn Ballroom was a full-circle moment for Asleep at the Wheel. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Asleep at the Wheel in full swing at the Longhorn Ballroom. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Brennen Leigh on stage at the Longhorn Ballroom. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Director of the Texas Music Office Brendon Anthony and Ray Benson shared a few words about music on stage in-between sets at the Longhorn Ballroom. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Attendees read the shadow box dedicated to the infamous 1978 Sex Pistols performance at Longhorn Ballroom. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Joshua Hedley borrowing Ray Benson’s “prettiest guitar.” Photo: Jessica Waffles
The Longhorn Ballroom now doubles as a music history museum. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Ray Benson sang his Asleep at the Wheel song “Bob Wills Is Still the King” to cheers from the crowd. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Asleep at the Wheel played two sets for the opening night at the Longhorn Ballroom. Photo: Jessica Waffles
An artifact from the Ray Benson shadow box. Photo: Jessica Waffles
A list of 1975 events at the Longhorn Ballroom inside “The Outlaws” shadow box. Photo: Jessica Waffles
B.B. King and James Brown’s shadow boxes are places side-by-side inside the Longhorn Ballroom. Photo: Jessica Waffles
Jessica Waffles is a freelance photographer/videographer and regular contributor to KXT.
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