Monday, January 12, 2009

Corkey's in Houston

Lindy Pollard, a Houston honker, recently queried me about the location of the old Corkey's in Houston, his curiosity pricked by an article I'd done on Blaze Foley in No Depression. Blaze and Gurf Morlix were Corkey's regulars.

My first guess, that it was the jazz club at the top of a high rise at the corner of Montrose and Richmond, was wronger than rain. That was Cody's, Lindy said.

Lindy seemed to recall Corkey's was in the Montrose on Hawthorne Street maybe.

Drivin' Ivan Kuper, the producer of Joe King's "Houston El Mover" b/w "Party Weekend"and Los Vertigos drummer, remembered it like this:

"It was on Hawthorne St. east of Montrose Blvd. I think it was around until the late 80’s. It was in an old bungalow that became a site for several townhouses due to Montrose gentrification. It’s where the second string of Houston songwriters held court: Shake Russell, David Rodriguez, Lucinda, etc. (before moving to Austin)"

Then Jim Barham and Bruce Bryant, who are finishing their film documentary on Houston's storied Anderson Fair "For The Sake of the Song: The Story of Anderson Fair" (, tracked down Shake Russell, who remembered Corkey's well, telling Bruce, "It was on Hawthorne St (600block) east of Montrose blvd and down the street from Cody's(the roof top club). Remember? Happy New Year!"

Who says no one cares about old clubs that have died and gone away?
Can't wait for the Anderson Fair movie. I've seen a rough cut and was fairly blown away. Bruce and Jim make a strong argument that no venue alive or dead has honored the Texas singer/songwriter like Anderson Fair has.

Bruce Bryant adds a P.S.: "I remember that Corky's had lots of shade...the bar was in the music room...very friendly place. Reb Smith (a fiddle player and picker) was robbed right outside on his bicycle one night....made him dare they rob a poor folk singer!"


Anonymous said...

I use to frequent Corkey's , in the Montrose. I worked some , for KLOL , and even landed a job , at
"The Type House" , which was directly across the street from Corkey's.

There was some great music , in the Montrose , during the 70's.
Sadly , The young drunken stage clutcher is no more.

I've resorted to listening to old LP's , taking viagra , and wondering.... " Where have all the fowers Gone."

Karen DeFlores said...

I went to Corky's so often that I decided to take a job there, and was a cocktail waitress for about a year, back in 1980. I waited on Billy Gibbs, and he was a great tipper and real nice guy. I remember seeing Blaze Foley there, Uncle Walt's Band, Danny Everitt and the Coldcuts, John Vandiver, Shake Russell Band, Jean Kilbourne, Gary P. Nunn, help me out with some others!

Anonymous said...

623 hawthorne

Kat said...

I worked there as a waitress too. My favorite part of the club was the "star" section at the front of the club. Along with the Coldcuts/Blaze/Uncle Walt, I saw Ron Crick plenty of times and the great Tommie Lee Bradley, the Dishes, and more. Then eventually I got gigs there when I played with Buxdelux. We played the night Hurricane Alicia happened!

One of the craziest memories from there was the rule that when Shake played "Deep in the West", we weren't allowed to ring the registers. Silence reigned during that song.

Anonymous said...

I almost lived at Corkey's in the late 70s. To one of the posters here, it was Jimmy Don and the Coldcuts, not Danny Everitt.

Dr. Rocket and the Sisters of Mercy were regulars, as were my favorites, The Dishes. Alan Haynes played regularly. Got Johnny Winter's autograph when he was in the audience one night. A fellow named Pettigrew owned it in those days. On Hawthorne, a block or so down from a great restaurant, The Tivoli Inn.

Anonymous said...

In a moment of "back when times were really good"...

Google landed me on one of my favorite places, Corky's in Montrose.

The drinking age was 18, Shake Russell was the band to see, many nights at Steamboat Springs, the RailHead, and Corky's. Once the bars shut down, Billy Shakespeares or Harlows for breakfast.

I worked for Corky, at Carlos and Lefties on Richmond, and occasionally hit his country and western bar a block north. Last I heard, Corky had passed.

there used to be many of the great, street level bars, in Montrose, a sophisticated 18 year old I was, hanging out in the likes. I remember the jazz bar up top of the tower, cannot remember the name, and the basement floor bar called the Rubaiyat, next to the Steak and ALe on SW Freeway, where I came of age in the seventies.

The Texas Opry House and Arlo Guthrie. A Thanksgiving tradition. Remember the long picnic tables?

They were great times. Rory

norieok said...

For anyone that stumbles upon this old post, I'm an archivist at the Woodson Research Center at Rice University. We are creating a 1960s-1980s Houston folk music archive. We already have a sizable collection of folk audio recordings via our college radio station KTRU. Through a folk archive, we can preserve a part of Houston's history and make it available to the public for research. We would like to collect photographs, scrapbooks, correspondence, business papers, memorabilia, fliers, schedules, posters, lyrics, notebooks, audio, and video.

If you have materials that you would like to donate, please contact me at

jowdjbrown said...

My first guess, that it was the jazz club at the top of a high rise at the corner of Montrose and Richmond, was wronger than rain. commercial moving Houston

Anonymous said...

Not Corky's (though it was a fave!), but there used to be a two-story yellow house on Fairview(?) that had live music. I remember a really rocking New Year's Eve there around 1983 or 1984, as do other friends of mine, but none of us can remember the name. Ring a bell anyone?

steve b said...

yes, i remember that place on fairview at mandell, it had great music, we lived on maryland and used to walk there. later on i had a friend who's parents i found out, were the owners. i can't remember the names of either. lol. i want to say quasimoto's.

Anonymous said...

I was a friend of Reb Smith. I used to spend a lot of time at Anderson Fair, Theodores, Carnaby's, Corky's, and Firzgeralds. All very cool. Theodores and the Fair were my favorites. Living in the Montrose in the mid-70;s was amazing. I could walk to all those places from my house. The music was fantastic and the food was great. People were all cool.

Anonymous said...

I worked at Corky's as a waitress, bartender, and front door entrance fee (depending on who was playing); Corky owned the bar, not Les Pettigrew (he was the manager). Eileen Pettigrew, Les's wife worked there, as well; the great John Vandiver was murdered in his home from a drug related incident...Shake Russell still plays the live venues around Houston, Austin; one night when all the customers were gone and we were closing up, I heard a grandfather clock strike 3:00; I looked at Corky and said "where is that clock?" He smiled and said "there is no clock here now..but there used to be". Before Corky owned the house, there were two sisters that lived in the house together who had passed away. Corky said they still walked around in the upstairs part of the house where his office, the place was haunted? Go figure. We always made the cheese queso/chips and veg for Happy Hour..sold lots of Pina Coladas. Jean Kilbourne had a voice like an angel, she ended up singing at my wedding; it was a great time!

Michele McMyler said...

I too worked as a waitress and bartender from 1982-1984, What a wonderful place. Les & Eileen were the owners then and when the lease was sold, due to Montrose gentrification, Les decided to try opening a new place on Highland, maybe, due to other circumstances,Les decided to sell the business to 2 woman, (accountants) who opened a spot close to Rice, many of us who worked at Corky's on Hawthorne went over to the new place, which tried to compare, but alas did not. I ended up heading back to college and kept in touch with some of the best people I've met. Every once in a while I'll google a name or place from that time in my life and am always so excited when I find a post. Unfortunately, that is how I found out about Ron Cricks death. He opened up for so many bands and was just a great guy. Shake Russell, The Dishes, Uncle Walt's Band, How about Lyle Lovett on Sunday nights? Corky's was a special place, great musicians, co-workers and customers!

Unknown said...

For anyone who stumbles upon this old post, Reb Smith was my uncle and passed away when I was very young. I'm trying to find any music or videos featuring him, or photos. If anyone knew him and has such things, would appreciate if you shared them with me. My email -