Back in January, The Iron Horse Pub started 2017 off right by being voted one of The 10 Best Live Music Venues in Texas by Best of Texas (bestthingstx.com). This is a very big achievement for a small pub in a small town in the Lone Star State, and they are in the mix with tremendous venues like Concrete Street Amphitheater, in Corpus Christi, the Moody Theatre, in Austin and Granada Theater, in Dallas.
This isn’t the first award for the downtown bar. Danny stated, “The building alone has been up for numerous historical awards. It became a historic landmark, a state landmark, and then we got a local landmark designation. We were put up for a state award, where we were a runner up for the entire state of Texas for small businesses, and then last year, John and I won Small Business Persons of the Year.” “Danny was also awarded the Spirit of Texoma Award, “ John added.
In September of 2000, John Dickinson and Danny Ahern started a legacy in the historic downtown Wichita Falls. “It was natural for us to work in the downtown area, primarily because we wanted to get into the business and the most affordable way for us to do it was at this spot.”, John said. Any patron of the Iron Horse Pub can tell you that the number one thing that makes it stand out it has always been… customer service. “To tell you the truth, we were getting tired of some of the service at the places we were going. The music was not that good and the beer was terrible. They didn’t know how to take care of draft beer.”, John mentioned.
“ One of the biggest factors for me was that John and I met when this was the Beer Garden, so when it closed down, we both missed the place. I missed the building. The inside, the brick walls… there’s something about this building. There’s no other place like it. You can’t build this.”, Danny added.
In 17 years, they’ve booked over 1,500 bands and they have always managed to bring some musical magic to this area. There is definitely a vibe that happens with certain groups that play throughout Texas, exclusively at The Iron Horse. Bands like Queen for a Day, Dirty River Boys, and Del Castillo have all mentioned the energetic atmosphere as compared to other venues. “ Yeah, but it’s the same for us and the same way for the customers, too. People come in here and just get slayed. Watching people like Ian Moore play “Magdelena” or something like that can be a moving experience… brings you to tears.”, John acknowledged. (Side note: Danny turns 40 in Sept and is bringing back Queen for a Day…SCORE!!!)
As far as selection of the bands, it all started with that ‘Austin feel’. In the beginning. “John had a vision to go toward Austin… we really wanted Austin Blues, Austin Soul, Austin everything, but the town and our bar kept evolving so we quickly figured out that we should diversify.”, Danny noted. “ We also wanted to keep the memory Frank’s Place going by booking the bands from there, like Mike O’ Neill and Daddy-O, bigloo, and you (James Cook), and Ramiro. We had the inside scoop on the most notable musicians in the area.”
So… 17 years of incredible music… who are their favorites? Much like your kids, it’s hard for Danny and John to choose their favorite bands. John listed Leon Russell, Joe Bonamassa, and Bone Shakers, and then commented on intimate nights with artist like Joe Ely and Michael Martin Murphey. Danny added Del Castillo, Queen for a Day, Los Lonely Boys, Ian Moore and Andy Frasco. Yes… all of those artist have played at the Iron Horse Pub. And don’t forget Rick Derringer! And twice the Iron Horse Pub has featured the original drummer for The Beatles, Pete Best, with his band, The Pete Best Band, all the way from Liverpool England!
With a great selection of beer, a magnificent listening room, friendly staff, and some of the best names in music, whether locally, state wide, or even world-wide for almost two decades, it’s no wonder they started 2017 with the honor of being voted one of the 10 Best Live Music Venues in Texas.
Cheers to the Pub!!!