Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 8 Jukeboxes

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Along with pickled pig's feet and a steady supply of Slim Jims, a good jukebox is a prime element for any great bar. But, like dinosaurs, jukeboxes are a vanishing breed. Unlike digital jukes, iPods or DJs, jukeboxes require love, care and maintenance, as well as -- among the truly great ones -- some thought.

Until recently, Poison Girl had a killer jukebox, but it went down and owner Scott Walcott hasn't been able to get a mechanic familiar with his type of machinery, so it's currently on hiatus. Last year Under the Volcano's dollar-swallower shorted out and caught fire, so there are perils that most civilians wouldn't necessarily consider.

But with that in mind, here are eight local jukeboxes that only make the party better.

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8. Big Star Bar: Owner Brad Moore's tastes can be described as eclectic and kitschy. Of course Big Star (the band) is featured, part of the overall large-scale mix of old-school hitmakers: Sly & the Family Stone, Metallica, Tupac, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Elvis Costello, Robert Earl Keen Jr., ZZ Top, Patsy Cline, Janis Joplin, Thin Lizzy, Commodores, Green Day, Liz Phair, Beck -- you get the idea.

Moore also goes in for interesting juxtapositions: Beyoncé next to Jay-Z, Patsy Cline squeezed in between ZZ Top and Sublime. And Big Star gets a huge thumbs-up for its Mod greatest-hits compilation, Sound of the Jam. Biggest (not best) oddity? Taylor Swift. Hahaha, yeah, that's funny, Brad. 281-501-9560, 1005 W. 19th, Web site


7. Warren's Inn: Warren's on Market Square is one of the city's great lounges, and the jukebox here is an eclectic mix of classics that reflect Houston's diversity and its sense of "lounge." This may be the only jukebox on Planet Earth with Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Andrews Sisters, the Ink Spots, Morrissey, Kinky Friedman and Kenny Chesney. Seriously.

The "mixed-up-ness" factor is actually Warren's greatest asset; in fact, it's almost bewildering, especially if one is looking for an overarching theme or musical pattern in a list like this: Steely Dan, Ray Charles, Herb Alpert, Jimmy Reed, Bob Wills, Dave Brubeck, the Platters, Louis Armstrong, Marty Robbins's Gunfighter Ballads (!), Booker T., Sarah Vaughan, Fats Waller, Aretha, Al Green, Sonny Stitt and Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding.

Biggest oddity? That this box contains both Harry Nilsson and Kenny Chesney. That's just warped. 307 Travis, 713-247-9207, Cool bars like Warren's don't need no stinkin' Web site.

Location Info

Venue

Map

Big Star Bar

1005 W. 19th, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Warren's Inn

307 Travis, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Grand Prize Bar

1010 Banks, Houston, TX

Category: Music

The Ginger Man Pub

5607 Morningside, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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Category:

La Carafe

813 Congress, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Under The Volcano

2349 Bissonnet, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Robbie's Lounge - CLOSED

8518 Long Point, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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11 comments
scott whitt
scott whitt

You should always listen to Van fucking Halen. 

wms
wms

yawn. to each his own.

AllenK
AllenK

Good list.  I have spent a good amount of money in many of those.  Another really good jukebox that has an eclectic mix that shouldn't work, but does is the jukebox at Next Door Bar. One of my favs in the city now.  My favorite was the pre-fire jukebox at Cecil's.  It was epic, but sadly didn't seem to come back with nearly the same selection after the fire/renovation.

wms
wms

Yep, Next Door is a good one. And Cecil's used to be pretty epic.

Jdbjr
Jdbjr

The jukebox at Kay's Lounge is pretty good. Almost unfair though because it has just about everything you can think of on it. One of those new boxes that holds about five thousand songs.

wms
wms

Yeah, those massive boxes don't count for our purposes.

wms
wms

As one bartender said during the research for this, "It only takes one person with $5 and bad taste to ruin an entire night."

Josh
Josh

Or someone with $5 and a good sense of humor. We used to go into bro hangouts and play Reign in Blood or Chaos A.D. over and over then leave.

Lola's has a very good jukebox as well. Lots of local classics like I-45 and Spunk and some 80s and 90s alt classics

wms
wms

Agreed on Lola's. Thanks

WestSideBob
WestSideBob

I'm with ya on the satellite jukebox.  It doesn't matter the genre, there's just some stuff out there that shouldn't be allowed over public airwaves.  There are times I believe the song was played to annoy everyone else in the establishment.  That's when it's time to close down the tab and move to the next joint down the road.

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