Armadillo World Headquarters
Texas Renegade is onstage at Goode's Armadillo Palace (5015 Kirby), but the most renegade thing about the San Marcos country-rockers is a solo by harmonica stud Kasey Klepfer that squirts its way to sampling Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun."
That's not to say the band isn't any good, because it is. But a name like "Texas Renegade" on the marquee led Nightfly to hope for mid-song shootouts, bare-knuckle fisticuffs to defend someone's sister's honor, a blind white guy on guitar like in Road House. That sort of thing.
Alas, the quintet performs its set without a hint of trouble, and the mellow crowd, which is predominantly white and mostly between 25 and 45 years old, seems thankful for it.
Goode's Armadillo Palace
"I don't go out often," says Claudia Blackman, a sales manager for a building materials company, "but if I do go out, it's here. It's a place I feel comfortable going alone."
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Most of the action at Goode's happens in the main room, which acts as both Texas History Museum and music venue and is dominated by a sizable bar in the center. A small alcove up-front features a pool table, shuffleboard — has there ever been a stupider, more frustrating game? — and some very well-kept bathrooms.
Besides the gigantic metal armadillo keeping watch over Kirby out front, what immediately leaps out about Goode's is the roughly one million Old Texas relics adorning the walls or preserved in glass cases. Seriously, it's a lot of stuff.
You know how the walls inside of an icehouse are totally packed with knick-knacks and odds and ends? It's just like that, except more thematically consistent.
"I think the decor is very authentic, very Texas," says Natalie Santibanez, a Long Beach native-turned Texan. Her family, she admits, thinks all Texas bars look like Goode's.
"It somewhat resembles my own home decor — rustic feel, earth tones and tin accents."
What pushes the decor past "touristy annoying" or "kitschy" and into "charming," though, is that it's all genuine. The Palace itself is less than five years old, but the neighboring Goode Company Barbeque opened back in 1977. Company founder Jim Goode and son Levi have been assembling their collection for years.
Family pictures adorn the walls, most notably a large framed shot of Jim Goode in full-on 1800s garb. Between the '80s and '90s, he was a regular in Chuck Wagon cookoff competitions, preparing cowboy grub just like they used to on trail drives, right down to drinking beer out of those little metal cups.
Even the stuffed animals have back stories. A large longhorn head, for example, is rumored to have killed an El Paso man back in the early 1900s when it accidentally fell on him during a shootout in a saloon. Presumably, Texas Renegade was not playing that show.
If you're hankering for Texas music, history and comfort food under one roof, Goode's offers scant reason to complain. It still would've been cool to hide behind some barrels while a gruff-yet-noble sheriff squared off against some mustachioed villain in the parking lot, though.
Goode's Armadillo Palace
Goode's has become an almost can't-fail spot when it comes to seeing live Texas music. The stage is tucked into one corner and sits about a foot off the floor, providing an engaging and intimate atmosphere for some of the area's finest talent (Roger Creager, Cory Morrow, occasional out-of-towners like Shooter Jennings). Admittedly, we're not the biggest country-rock fans, but even we've heard of rapscallions Jarrod Birmingham and Rodney Hayden, playing the Armadillo Friday and Saturday nights, respectively. (Find them on the Web at www.jarrodbirmingham.com and www.rodneyhayden.com.) If you've yet to visit Goode's, this weekend seems like a fine time. Don't wait until the rodeo rolls around again because, oh my goodness, it probably gets just obnoxious in there.
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